Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners March 4, 2022

The Paralympics Winter Games Begin Today: Skier Millie Knight to Compete

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing begin today and we are continuing to highlight some of the athletes with vision loss who are competing. Millie Knight, a 23-year-old athlete from Team Great Britain, is one of the most decorated Paralympic skiers of the past decade. She is blind, having contracted an illness at the age of one year, causing her to lose more than 90 percent of her vision by age six. In 2013, Knight started training with Great Britain's Paralympic development squad and competed at the Europa Cup. She went on to win multiple medals through her competitions in the Paralympic and world championships games, competing in all five Alpine skiing disciplines, using a sighted guide. Knight says that she skis with her ears, listening to the sound of her guide's skis, and to the verbal commands from her guide using Bluetooth headsets in both of their helmets. She also uses her remaining vision to catch flashes of orange from her guide’s vest. Knight is hoping to earn more medals in Beijing, in what will be her third Paralympic Winter Games. She is scheduled to compete today in the Para Alpine Skiing competition. Learn more about Millie Knight in The New York Times article, “What It’s Like to Ski Nearly Blind”.

Upcoming Virtual Presentations...

...on Technology

Training programs coming up from The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library include:

March 8, 6:00 – 7:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST): Which Braille Display is Right for You?: From compact, lower cost displays to “full-featured note-takers with touchscreens,” more Braille displays are available than ever. This session will explore what to consider when selecting Braille technology, including such features as the operating system, compatibility with other devices, ergonomics, and more. To sign up, go to: Which Braille Display is Right for You?

March 16, 3:00 – 4:30 pm EST: Intro to Windows Narrator: Built into Windows, this screen reader software does not require downloading. Participants in this training will learn how to begin using this feature, understand important keyboard commands, get technical support, and gain access to the internet. Sign up here for Intro to Windows Narrator.

…on Art

The Guggenheim Museum will be presenting a virtual "Mind's Eye" verbal description virtual program on March 14 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm EST and March 16, from 2 - 4 pm EST. Mind’s Eye programming is offered regularly to participants who are blind or have low vision. This month’s program focuses on how contemporary artists “create and challenge personal and historical narratives through their work.” The work of An-My Lê, Carrie Mae Weems, Zarina and others “who shed light on dark corners of history” will be explored. The same program will be held both days so RSVP for one session by March 10. This event is free, but space is limited. To RSVP, call (212) 360-4355 or email [email protected].

Virtual Art Workshop for Children

On Saturday, March 19 from 10:30am – 12:00pm EST, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lighthouse Guild are offering a free virtual art workshop for children (ages 5–12 years) and teens (ages 13–18) who are blind or visually impaired. Participants will have an opportunity to explore The Met Collection through detailed descriptions, learn innovative drawing techniques, and create their own work of art. All levels of experience are welcome! Please register by Wednesday, March 9. Space is limited. Go to Free Virtual Art Workshops for Youth Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

World Glaucoma Week: March 6 – 12, 2022

World Glaucoma Week aims to increase awareness of glaucoma as a leading cause of preventable, irreversible vision loss. An initiative of the World Glaucoma Association, this annual observance invites patients, eye care providers, health professionals, and the public to “contribute to sight preservation” through a series of activities and events throughout the world. The goal is clear: to alert everyone of the need for regular eye exams to detect glaucoma as early as possible to prevent vision loss. Often called the “sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma usually occurs without warning signs or symptoms until it is advanced. For many patients, early detection and treatment can stop the damage. Learn more by checking out This is World Glaucoma Week #glaucomaweek.

World Kidney Day is March 10, 2022

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at risk for eye problems and vision loss, particularly those who have diabetes or high blood pressure. The theme of this year’s World Kidney Day 2022 (WKD), on March 10, highlights the theme of “Kidney Health for All,” underscoring the importance of healthy diet and lifestyles. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) provides specifics related to vision and eye health, recommending that kidney patients check with their nephrologist about their eyes and emphasizing the importance of regular eye exams. NKF explains the risk of vision loss due to retinopathy, which occurs “when diabetes and/or high blood pressure damage the small blood vessels in the retina…High blood pressure and diabetes may be risk factors for glaucoma” as well. Read more in an article from NKF: Kidney Disease, Dialysis, and Your Eyes.

Scholarships for Students Who are Blind and Visually Impaired

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been chronicling internships and scholarships available for students with vision loss. Following are a few of the leading scholarship opportunities this year.

The Equity Through Education Scholarship from BMO Capital Markets and Lime Connect offers several $10,000 scholarships to students in the United States and several $5,000 scholarships to students in Canada. Applicants must be current undergraduate or graduate students at a four-year university in the U.S. or Canada. In addition, applicants need to be full-time students in Fall 2023 with a minimum 40 percent course load and seeking a degree in business/commerce, computer science, engineering, math, physics, statistics, or a related discipline, and interested in a career in Financial Services with a focus on Capital Markets. To apply, you will need copies of your resume/CV and current university transcripts, an essay related to your career goals in financial services, and one reference letter. Candidates with all disabilities are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Monday, March 21, 2022; the deadline for references is March 28, 2022. For more information or to apply to the Equity Through Education Scholarship, see the Lime Connect scholarship webpage, here.

The William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship from The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) awards $1,000 to two applicants who are studying for a career in services to children or adults who are blind or visually impaired. Applicants must be legally blind and studying full time at a post-secondary level. There are no residency restrictions for this scholarship, so people from any country may apply. The application package requires one to two letters of recommendation and the signed Certification of Visual Status, and must be submitted by April 15, 2022. For more information or to apply, see the AER Information and Criteria Google Doc, here.

Lavelle Fund for the Blind offers two scholarships for students who are legally blind and visually impaired and studying at one of twelve partnering colleges and universities in the Tri-State New York area. The Lavelle-Brother Kearney Scholarship Program, which is competitive and renewable, provides financial support and career preparation assistance to individuals who are legally blind to enter and advance in the profession of their choice. These scholarships are open to undergraduate and graduate students who are legal U.S. residents and demonstrate academic readiness, technological proficiency, mobility and self-advocacy skills, as well as meet financial criteria. Applicants also need to be motivated to work with the Scholarship Program Coordinator and fellow Scholars and participate in additional career development opportunities, including mentorships, internships, and workshops throughout their studies. The Lavelle Leaders Awards are one-time only, non-renewable merit awards of $5,000 offered to two students per year who are also legal U.S. residents and are college Juniors, Seniors, or graduate students at one of the partnering colleges or universities. Applicants need to have exhibited leadership potential, strong academic abilities, and involvement in school and/or community organizations. The submission deadline to apply for the Lavelle Leaders Award is May 31, 2022. To learn more, visit the Lavelle Fund website and select Scholarships, or contact Kate Morris, Scholarship Program Coordinator at (212) 6680-9801, ext. 101; [email protected].

Follow up on Black History Month: Pioneering Eye Specialists

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

As we exit Black History Month and begin March, which is also National Save Your Vision Month, we are highlighting the lives and accomplishments of pioneering Black eye specialists, in both ophthalmology and optometry, Dr. David Kearny McDonogh and Dr. William Hiram Lawson.

Dr. David Kearny McDonogh was the first practicing Black ophthalmology and otolaryngology (ENT or ear, nose, and throat) specialist in the United States. Dr. McDonogh, born in 1821, attended Lafayette College, becoming the first Black person to graduate from a college in Pennsylvania. After graduation, he was “rejected because of his race from every medical school he applied to.” Dr. John Kearny Rodgers, a founder of New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) (now part of the Mount Sinai Health System), who Dr. McDonogh met while at college, helped him attend classes unofficially at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. While he did not receive his medical degree at the time, this training led to Dr. McDonogh becoming a specialist at NYEE, where he treated mostly eye diseases for 11 years. In 1850, Dr. McDonogh took “Kearny” as his middle name to honor his mentor who had helped him achieve success despite having been born a slave and the racial barriers of the time. More than a century later, Dr. Richard Koplin, a cornea surgeon at NYEE, sought to rectify the injustice regarding Dr. McDonogh’s medical diploma, and in 2018, Dr. McDonogh’s great-great-granddaughter accepted the posthumous degree on his behalf. For more information about Dr. David Kearny McDonogh, check out the article, “Celebrating a Pioneering Black Physician and His Remarkable Journey”.

The first licensed and practicing Black optometrist in the United States and Canada, Dr. William Hiram Lawson, graduated from the Toronto School of Optometry in Canada in 1912. He established his optometry practice in Detroit, Michigan, which opened in 1916. Dr. Lawson inspired future generations of his family to enter the profession, including his son Dr. William Emmet Lawson and nephew Dr. Lloyd Dawson, who followed in his footsteps. A pioneer in his field, when he retired in 1950, only 100 Black optometrists were practicing in the United States, representing just four-tenths of one percent of the total number of practitioners in the nation. For more information, check out the article “Dr. William Hiram Lawson, the U.S. and Canada’s First Black Optometrist”, here.

A current initiative aimed at “creating a pipeline for Black students into optometry,” Black EyeCare Perspective, was founded by optometrists Drs. Adam Ramsey and Darryl Glover. Their work aims to cultivate and foster “relationships between Black eyecare professionals and the eyecare industry.” The program, which also helps to connect communities with Black eye care professionals and businesses, includes a “Black Eye Doctor Locator,” which has a database of licensed optometrists and ophthalmologists in the United States. Check out their work on their website: Black EyeCare Perspective.

March is National Save Your Vision Month

National Save Your Vision Month serves to remind people across the nation to prioritize their eye health and vision care through regular, comprehensive eye exams. For more information about National Save Your Vision Month, read the American Optometric Association article, “Save Your Vision Month is here: Remind patients to prioritize their eyes in 2022”.

Intel and GoodMaps Collaborate to Create Fully Accessible Mapping Software

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

In late December 2021, Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer, announced its collaboration with GoodMaps, a fully accessible turn-by-turn GPS app, to create high-quality indoor mapping technology. Both companies laud the precision accuracy of their technology, which uses image recognition and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), to help users navigate to within a few feet of their target destination. The project is part of Intel’s RISE Technology Initiative (IRTI) to create technological solutions that address societal issues. Intel's precision robotics technology has a practical application for users with visual impairments, and testers of the technology have expressed appreciation that the technology can understand the differences between objects in a room, like tables and chairs in a classroom. Engineers are working on future updates that would help users identify where sounds originate from in their immediate environment using a room’s general acoustics. Intel’s director of accessibility, Darryl Adams, who has visual impairments, explained that “’We are applying our reach, scale, and resources to enable everyone—including people with disabilities—to capitalize more fully on the power of digital technology.’” It is Intel's goal to make the world “’a better place’” and to ensure that everyone can participate in the world’s increasingly digital future. They hope that their project will make mapping software more precise, more dependable, and most important, more accessible for users. For more information, read the Forbes article, “Intel, GoodMaps Collaborate On Mapping Software Project To Make Indoor Navigation More Accessible”. And for more information about GoodMaps, check out the GoodMaps website.

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