Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners May 13, 2022

Scholarships for Students Focusing on STEM Subjects: Deadlines Approaching!

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has announced three scholarship opportunities for students who are blind or visually impaired and are focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects. Scholarships are available to students nationwide who are currently studying, or soon will be studying, a STEM subject at a two-year or four-year college or university and include:

The Peter Papano APH STEM Scholarship, now in its second year, which will award $5000 to five high school students seeking to pursue a STEM degree at an accredited college or university, beginning in Fall 2022. Applications must be received by June 17, 2022. For more information or to apply for the “Peter Papano APH STEM Scholarship,” download the application and directions, here.

The new PPG Foundation APH Physical Science Scholarship, granting $5000 to two high school students planning to major in chemistry, physics, or another physical science, at an accredited college or university. Applications must be received by Friday, July 1, 2022. For more information or to apply for the “PPG Foundation APH Physical Science Scholarship,” download the application and directions, here.

The APH Coding Symposium Technology Scholarship, a new $1000 scholarship available to one college freshman, in good standing, enrolled for fall 2022 courses as a sophomore pursuing a degree in technology. Applications must be received by Friday, June 17, 2022. For more information or to apply for the “APH Coding Symposium Technology Scholarship,” download the application and directions, here.

Each scholarship opportunity has different requirements which are detailed in the application, so make sure to check the specifications before applying. For more information about these opportunities, please check out the APH Connect Center’s “STEM Scholarships” webpage, here.

Upcoming Free Webinars…

On Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Importance of an Individualized Approach, May 18, 2022

This webinar is sponsored by The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability (EARN) Inclusion, funded by the US Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). With an introduction by DOL Secretary Marty Walsh, the program will consider how employers can support their employees’ mental health needs proactively to foster more inclusive and productive work environments. Panelists include Toccara Briggs, ADA Team Manager at Intel, Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader at EY, and Wendi Safstrom, President at SHRM Foundation. Safstrom will speak about the results of “Mental Health in America: A 2022 Workplace Report,” produced by the SHRM Foundation. To register for this webinar, which will be held on May 18, 2022 from 2 to 4 pm Eastern Time (ET), visit the EARN web page listing for Supporting Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing: The Importance of an Individualized Approach.

On Childhood Glaucoma, May 21, 2022

At this live program, the 8th World Glaucoma Association (WGA) Webinar, in collaboration with the World Society of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (WSPOS), will examine the state of childhood glaucoma around the globe. WGA offers global webinars free of charge to the “entire glaucoma community” to bring the network together and facilitate the exchange of expertise and scientific knowledge. The program will be held on May 21, 2022, at 2 pm UT (Coordinated Universal Time) or 10 am ET. Recordings of past webinars, on such topics as glaucoma and myopia, lifestyle, and diagnosis, and more, are available with the creation of a free WGA#One account. To find out how to access previous webinars and register for the upcoming program, visit World Glaucoma Association Global Webinars.

Making Strides in Indoor Micro-positioning Technology

by Jaime Rodriguez

Wayfinding technology has come a long way in recent years, becoming a priority for companies such as Right-Hear. Gil Elgrably and Idan Meir, who established the company in 2015, found inspiration while working on a project for a shopping-related startup. They discovered indoor micro-positioning technology which provided coupons in precise locations within stores. Elgrably and Meir mused about how this technology might benefit individuals who are visually impaired and those with orientation challenges. Right-Hear went public in 2016, making more than 800 venues fully accessible. The company noted that they are adding new places to their network every day, providing services in more than 26 languages. Wayfinding, which can include audio aids, smells, or tactile elements (such as braille), helps people with vision loss navigate their environment. With Right-Hear, users can navigate virtually, in real time. GPS apps that rely on satellite positioning for wayfinding are generally unable to assist users inside a building. Right-Hear fills the gap with indoor positioning technology, with accompanying audio assistance, allowing users to have more independence with on-hand assistance when needed. The technology works by connecting to subtle beacons stationed in key locations around hundreds of participating venues in various countries. “Our work gives people who are blind and visually impaired more independence, empowering them to explore indoor locations with confidence, safety and accuracy. As more and more businesses and organizations embrace indoor orientation technology, the more accessible the world will become,” stated Chen Katz of Right-hear in a blog post (found here). For more information, please check out the Right-Hear website. If you are interested in using the Right-Hear app, you may download it free of charge for iOs in the Apple App store, or for Android in the Google Play store.

Empowered Cities Program Seeks to Advance Equity and Opportunity for People with Disabilities

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Across the nation, long-standing equity issues like income disparities and the unemployment rate among working-age people who have disabilities have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. An initiative addressing these issues that began in New York City has expanded to additional municipalities that have become Empowered Cities. This program seeks to empower people with disabilities and their families by promoting financial empowerment and employment, affordable and accessible housing as well as addressing equity issues in healthcare, food insecurity, and more. In New York City, the need for these resources has been underscored during the pandemic, when “the unemployment rate among working-age New Yorkers who identify as having a disability more than doubled…,” while city funding has been cut “to many programs that help people succeed at work.” To help combat such disparities, the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), with support from Citi, has spearheaded the development of Empowered Cities to improve the financial health and stability of people with disabilities by providing free professional financial counseling, educational materials, and other services. The model has grown and is now co-chaired by the Offices of Disability in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. While each of the Empowered Cities has its own initiative, they share key values, including leadership by people with disabilities; catalyzing innovative resources; advancing “locally responsible solutions;” and heightening the collective voice of local leaders. In Boston, for example, the program aims to create a pipeline to train and connect people with disabilities with gainful employment opportunities, based on their skills and interests, while Los Angeles seeks to end disparities in access to food, vaccines, and personal protective equipment, which were exacerbated by the pandemic. The Empowered Cities program is “building a national network of municipal disability leaders who collectively create strategies to improve the lives of people with disabilities and attempt to mitigate any issues they may face due to accessibility, poverty, and the digital divide.” To learn more, check out the Empowered Cities webpage, here. For additional details regarding the challenges in New York City, read The City article, “Unemployment Soars for New Yorkers With Disabilities as Challenges Outweigh New Opportunities.”

Big Data Project Reports Groundbreaking Information on Blindness and Low Vision Among Older Adults

Vision Service Alliance (VSA), in partnership with The Ohio State University College of Optometry, has released initial findings on a project analyzing the rate of blindness and low vision among people aged 65 and older. Reporting on the results from eight states, these briefings also cover the incidence of chronic conditions, “quality of life, and disability indicators among older people with and without blindness and low vision.” The states included are California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. “The Big Data Project briefings are the only studies providing comprehensive descriptions of older people with vision impairment at the state and county levels in one document.” John E. Crews, DPA, former Lead Scientist with the Disability and Health Team in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explained that “’We can apply the content to funding, services, and advocacy efforts in any venue.’” The findings reveal that 7.3 percent of older individuals report blindness or vision loss, which is not distributed equally across racial or ethnic groups or by state or county, “showing a significant impact on individuals with a visual impairment in minority populations.” A breakdown of visual impairment nationally shows the incidence as 6.1 percent among white non-Hispanic; 10.5 percent for Black non-Hispanic; 14.2 percent among Native Americans; and 13.9 percent for Hispanic older adults. VSA plans to complete the project throughout the United States. To read about and download these reports, visit VSA’s website page on Aging and Vision Loss Big Data Project Reports. For a press release announcing the initial findings, go to The Big Data Project: Vision Serve Alliance and The Ohio State University provide groundbreaking data on the rate of blindness and low vision among people over 65 in eight states.

Graduation 2022

As graduation season gets underway, here are a few ideas for cards and gifts to honor and celebrate this milestone in a student’s life:

The National Braille Press (NBP) bookstore provides titles for readers of all ages. Books about computers and technology abound, including such topics as Audio Description: What It Is, Where to Find It, and How to Use It, Dating in the Digital Age, Format Your Word Documents with JAWS and NVDA, and much more. For the graduate interested in nutrition or practical recipes, consider 121 Good-Eating Tips, Cooking Light: Make-Ahead Recipes, or Fast and Fresh Main Courses (Healthy Recipes) – to name a few of the items available. NBP’s catalog also includes jewelry, braille magnets, and other gift ideas. For the complete inventory and pricing, visit the National Braille Press listing of All Books and Products.

Another source, the Braille Superstore, offers cards, books, and novel gifts. Graduation greetings in 12 different card designs featuring such themes as “Victory Won,” “Reach for the Stars,” and “World is Waiting,” are available for $7.95 each, with options for customized words and graphics. For gift ideas, they have novelties like mugs, wristbands, bookmarks, and magnets. Books for all ages can also be found in braille or audio formats. Their “ever-expanding collection of books for adults” now includes Star Trek titles, best-selling authors like Danielle Steel and John Grisham, and classics authors like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. To find out what is available, visit the Braille Superstore web pages for  braille graduation cards here; braille gifts here; and books here.

One more card option is the Quilled Braille “Congrats Grad” card. Their greetings are handcrafted by deaf artisans who use the paper art form of quilling. An “artistic interpretation of braille,” made up of colorful strips of paper tightly coiled and set up, this card includes an accompanying printed translation and features a grad cap and diploma. Each card is $12 plus postage. For details, visit the web page for the Quilled Braille "Congrats Grad" Card.

Braille and tactile cards and gifts are also available through Etsy from a variety of suppliers. Cards include standard messages like “Congratulations on your graduation!” in print and braille as well as opportunities for customization. Pricing for each card ranges from about $5 to $11. Braille-embossed necklaces and other jewelry, key chains, t-shirts, and artwork are among their gift options. For details and pricing from Etsy vendors, visit their page on Braille Graduation listings.

Then there are cards and gifts that can be purchased from Amazon. For information and pricing on braille and tactile cards, visit their listings for braille graduation cards. Braille necklaces, keychains, and assorted jewelry, shirts and other apparel, games like Uno and other gifts ideas can be found on the braille gifts page.

Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

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Attention RDPFS Bulletin Readers: Please Share Your News

Would you like to let others know about a program, webinar, other news, or information?  The RDPFS Resources for Partners Bulletin offers an opportunity to share items of interest to people of all ages who are blind or have low vision as well as professionals, family members, representatives of organizations providing services, advocacy, education and career and vocational training, and more. If you would like to reach our readers or have suggestions for upcoming issues, please email [email protected].