Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners May 26, 2023

With this issue of the RDPFS Resources for Partners Bulletin, we are altering the format for our articles, based on reader feedback. For each piece, the first few lines will be included in the Bulletin email, with a link to continue to read the entire article. The intention is to shorten the email and provide easier access to all of the items featured. We welcome your input. Please send any feedback to Janet Weinstein, Editorial Director, at [email protected].

June is Cataract Awareness Month

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), more than half of Americans over the age of 80 either currently have cataracts or have undergone surgery to remove them. Additionally, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among Americans, and the leading cause of blindness globally. Therefore, in an effort to “educate the public on risk factors, symptoms, types of cataract, and cataract surgery,” June has been declared Cataract Awareness Month. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, causing the blocking or refraction of light as it passes through the eye. This disrupts the ability of the lens to focus images onto the retina, which in turn transmits those images to the brain. There are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing cataracts, including older age, long-term UV exposure, diabetes, and smoking. Fortunately, the prognosis for cataracts is generally good. They’re treatable with outpatient surgery that has a success rate of 95 percent. Noted by Jeff Todd, the CEO and president of Prevent Blindness, “The good news is that vision loss from cataract can be restored with treatment. We encourage everyone to learn the facts about cataract and the steps that can be taken to see clearly.” This sentiment is reinforced by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). “During Cataract Awareness Month in June, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public that early detection and treatment of cataracts is critical to preserving sight.” To read more about cataracts and the commemoration, check out the press release on Cataract Awareness Month from Prevent Blindness, AAO’s blurb on their Eye Health Observances calendar, as well as this article from National Today on Cataract Awareness Month – June 2023. [...]

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Healthy Nutrition Tips for Eye Health

As Healthy Vision Month nears its conclusion, it’s an opportune time to recognize the role nutrition can play in maintaining eye health year round. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) website features an article with pointers for a “vision-healthy” diet. Generally, the same foods that help your heart and your body, such as fruits, vegetables, and fish, are good for your eyes. “’Some nutrients keep the eye healthy overall, and some have been found to reduce the risk of eye diseases,’” according to Rebecca J. Taylor, MD, an ophthalmologist in Nashville, Tennessee. Among the recommended food types are: – Orange-colored vegetables and fruits with Vitamin A, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, and apricots. – Fruits and vegetables with Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, like oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits as well as peaches, red bell peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries. Antioxidants can help to prevent or slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration. – Foods with Vitamin E, such as avocados, almonds, and sunflower seeds, which can help to keep cells healthy. – Fish with omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and trout, which can lower the risk of developing eye diseases later in life. – Leafy green vegetables with lutein and zeaxanthin can protect the macula, which provides our central, most-detailed vision. These include kale, spinach, and broccoli, to name a few. – Beans and zinc protect the retina and may also minimize the damaging effects of light. Food options are beans like black-eyed peas and lima beans and offerings containing zinc, such as oysters and poultry. Read the full article, which also covers vitamin supplements, by visiting the AAO webpage with the article on Fabulous Foods to Boost Eye Health. [...]

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New Accessibility Features for Smart Phones and Tablets to be Released Later This Year

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   In a press release from Apple, the technology company previewed accessibility features that will launch later this year focused on cognitive, visual, hearing, and mobility accessibility. For individuals who are blind or have low vision, one major new feature will be added to the Magnifier app on iPhone and iPad.  The app already allows users to enlarge images for easier viewing and provides people and door detection as well as image description for a captured visual. This new feature, called Point and Speak, will read aloud any text that a user is pointing towards with their finger, making it easier for people with low vision to interact with objects that have several text labels. A video included in the press release demonstrated this innovation in operating household appliances. It showed a person moving their finger across the keypad of a microwave, with each label being read aloud as it’s passed (“Cook Time”, “Pizza”, “Power Level”, “Add 30 Seconds”). In addition to this major new feature for users with visual impairments, a couple of smaller improvements are coming as well. One involves improving the implementation of Text Size across Mac apps, such as Finder, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Notes, making it easier to adjust text size as needed. The other is improving Siri’s voices in VoiceOver, making it sound more natural and expressive even at high playback speeds and allowing users to adjust Siri’s speed anywhere from 0.8x to 2.0x. To read more in-depth information about these improvements for users with visual impairments, as well as other accessibility features coming to Apple platforms, be sure to read the press release entitled “Apple introduces new features for cognitive accessibility, along with Live Speech, Personal Voice, and Point and Speak in Magnifier.” [...]

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Funding Allocated to Expand Employment of Youth with Disabilities

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:   The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that their commitment to allocating $1.5 million to the Center for Advocating Policy on the Employment of Youth (CAPE-Youth) this year, with a total anticipated availability of $7.5 million for the Center over the next five years. The funding comes through the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which also supported the founding of CAPE-Youth in 2019. According to their website, CAPE-Youth “seeks to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities by helping states build capacity in their youth service delivery and workforce systems.” This aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts towards creating a more inclusive workforce. The available funding will “support research, engage with the workforce system and its partners, and identify effective policies and practices that support disabled youth employment.” Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams explained that ‘“While the Office of Disability Employment has historically focused on the needs of disabled youth, rapid shifts brought on by the pandemic make education and employment especially critical today.”’ She added that ‘“This funding opportunity will help identify effective transition solutions for building an equitable workforce.”’ To get more information, you can read the full press release stating that the US Department of Labor Announces $1.5M Funding Availability To Support Policy Development to Expand Employment of Disabled Youth. Also be sure to check out CAPE-Youth’s website. [...]

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Call for Nominations: Champion for Children’s Vision Award

The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH) has announced its call for nominations for the ninth annual Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award. This honor recognizes significant achievements by an individual or organization to “improve public health approaches for children’s vision and eye health at the state or national level.” The award commemorates the work of Dr. Bonnie Strickland, former Director of Services for Children with Special Health Needs, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to establish a comprehensive system in the United States for children’s vision. Nominations are sought for those who have put in place innovative solutions to overcome barriers to healthy vision in children with solutions that can be replicated and sustained. Nominees need to demonstrate an impact in one or more areas, such as training and education, public awareness, reduction of health inequities, making the connection between overall health, and early childhood and learning. The application deadline is noon ET on July 1, 2023. The award will be presented on September 14, 2023 at the Annual Meeting of the NCCVEH. For additional award criteria and other details, visit the webpage with information About the Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award. Download an Individual Nomination Form here and download a Group Nomination Form here. [...]

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Tips for Making Your Child’s Mental Health a Priority

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in six children ages two through eight years has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or development disorder. Diagnoses increase as children get older. Although this number may seem high, Perkins School for the Blind explains that this is a positive statistic, since it means that many children are receiving an appropriate diagnosis, with support, for their mental health. To help make your child’s mental health a priority, Perkins offers four tips, including: 1) Be an example for your children by reaching out for help if you need it; 2) When children voice concerns or shows “signs for distress,” take them seriously; 3) “Make mental wellness and self care a family affair.” 4) Learn the distinctions between sadness and depression by reaching out to professionals. Perkins points out that “Just like we need care for the different areas of the body, our brains need just as much attention.” Learn more by checking their social media, with this link to their Instagram page on “May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth!” Resources cited that can be helpful to all ages are: – NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Health), where the #MoreThanEnough campaign has been launched to help everyone “come together and remember the inherent value we each hold—no matter our diagnosis, appearances, socioeconomic status, background, or ability.” Find out about the More Than Enough Mental Health Month campaign here. – Project AWARE, building on or expanding the capacity of State Mental Health Agencies that oversee school-aged youth. Learn about Project AWARE here. – Mental Health America, which offers a free toolkit related to mental health to support students, businesses, and organizations. [...]

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“Going Blind” Film Now Available Free of Charge

The highly recognized film, “Going Blind: Coming out of the Dark about Vision Loss,” is now available at no cost to anyone who wishes to experience it. This announcement has been made as part of the “Going Blind and Going Forward” campaign underway through A Closer Look, Inc. The film, which chronicles the experiences of individuals dealing with progressive vision loss, is available with captions and audio description. It can be used for educational purposes and filmmaker Joe Lovett can speak with groups or classes as well. An outreach tool kit is also available for ideas and assistance in presenting this production. In order to watch the documentary, go to, complete a survey about how the film is being used, and get access to the film. [...]

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