Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners May 7, 2021

Today marks the beginning of a new phase of growth for “Resources for Partners,” as we send the bulletin to you via the Partners for Sight web portal. Although presented in a new format, the content continues to focus on sharing news and information and working with our partners to carry out the RDPFS mission of fostering the independence of people who are blind or visually impaired. This is a work in progress and changes will be made as we move along. As always, we also welcome your input for future articles. Please send suggestions to: [email protected].

Graduation 2020 and 2021 – Virtual, Live and Streamed

In 2020, when most graduations occurred virtually, snagging a great speaker was top of mind at the residential Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. George Thompson, a computer science and technology teacher at the school, enlisted the help of other faculty members so that the traditional Power Point presentation of student highlights and photos could be delivered on Zoom. Blogging on Paths to Technology, Thompson delineates 7 Lessons Learned in creating the perfect presentation.

The Speaker Who Climbed Mount Everest In a separate post , Thompson writes how the school snagged that great speaker, Erik Weihenmayer, blind adventurer and author, to not only be the guest speaker at graduation, but also to conduct a virtual field trip with the students, who would otherwise have missed out on their final school outing.

At the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind, the May 2021 graduation ceremony will be in person, but guests and vehicles are limited by order of the state’s Department of Education. The school’s students, along with those from other high schools in Hawaii, are invited to post a selfie or graduation photo to a school page and tune in to KITV4 to view their school’s graduates.

The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind is holding separate ceremonies for its students, with blind students’ commencement on June 3, while commencement for deaf students takes place on June 4. In-person attendance is limited to seniors, up to four family members and school personnel who are directly involved in the ceremony. The graduations will be live streamed on the FSDB website so other family members and friends can attend, and seniors, who will rehearse the day before in full cap and gown, are invited to decorate their caps for the ceremony. Full details here.

Graduation Celebrations and ….

If graduation is virtual in your area, make it a celebration they’ll remember. Pure Wow has 17 ideas for invitations, virtual parties, and gifts, including where to order a cap and gown if your student’s school isn’t providing them.

Braille masks make celebrating in person safer, especially if it’s hard to socially distance. Fine Art America and Red Bubble are sites that host Braille designs by many artists and Red Bubble has a page of visual impairment masks as well, with many of them themed for CVI. Prices vary with most between $8 and $20. Some quantity discounts are available to those who want every guest to have a mask. Finally, New Vision, a Lake and Sumter County Florida service agency, is offering Braille face masks with the word “Love” in white braille characters on red print letters. The black masks are made by the Louisiana Association for the Blind. When in stock, they’re $6 each, 2 for $10. You can Order yours today!

… Gifts They’ll Enjoy

Start with a cardBraille Cards by Amber’s Etsy shop has a Braille Graduation Card – Tactile Braille Greeting Card with foam graduation diploma and cap with tassel in color(s) of your choosing. It’s $8.00. Quilling Card’s braille card is made by deaf artisans. What’s quilling? “Colorful paper strips are tightly coiled and arranged to read ‘Congrats Grad’ in an artistic interpretation of braille along with a printed translation.” $12.00

National Braille Press offers an impressive array of print and braille magnets with quotes from the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Oscar Wilde and Solomon. One we think is perfect for grads: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain…” — Vivian Greene. Magnets are just $5, but for a more extravagant gift, NBP has the Braille Me display in stock and ready to ship for $515.

Over at American Printing House, a look through their voluminous catalog turned up a number of gift ideas, but the one that stuck out was the Transition Tote System Backpack. Looks like it has special pockets for just about any kind of technology grads will need as they move along their road to success. $72.00

For a traditional graduation gift nothing beats a watch. Number 3 on Everyday Sight’s list of best watches for blind people, is an economical square talking watch that is just $10.95 from Independent Living Aids. Check out their entire collection.

Graduating Harry Potter fans might appreciate a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The ebraille download is $10.99 from NBP, and a hard copy from Braille Bookstore is offered in four braille versions beginning at $71.95.

Lupus and Eyes: World Lupus Day, May 10

A chronic, systemic condition, lupus can affect any organ in the body, including the eyes. This year’s World Lupus Day message is “Make Lupus Visible” to heighten awareness, support and research for this debilitating condition. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the most common involvement of the eyes is through retinal vascular lesions, or blood vessel changes. Lupus can also cause damage to skin around the eyes, dry eyes, inflammation and nerve damage. Sometimes side effects of medications can be the source as well. Lupus-related eye damage can cause mild to severe vision loss and, in some cases, lead to legal blindness. The best advice, of course, is to seek treatment from an eye care professional to limit the damage as much as possible. Read more about it: How Lupus Affects the Eyes

“Eye2Eye” Peer Support from Rutgers School of Health Professions

Rutgers University’s Eye2Eye Program continues to offer “access to emotional support for a variety of visually impaired individuals and for their families… ” The phone-based, Peer Support program for people in the U.S. includes clinical assessment, resource information, referrals and outreach activities – provided by individuals who are visually impaired. For more information: Eye2Eye Program.

Remote Tours, Travel, Technology Tips and Other Events of Note

Learn more about folk art from the American Folk Art Museum tomorrow, May 8, from 10 – 11:30 am by joining the virtual Verbal Description Tour. Visit via zoom: Virtual Tour Saturday, May 8 at 10 am.

Future In Sight is offering a “Virtual Visit to Greece” (from New Hampshire) for adults May 20 from 11 am – 1 pm. Tour guide and native of Greece Valentini Kalargyrou will share her own videos and join the call to lead the way into Greek food, language, history and culture. Other upcoming events for adults are a Book Club Discussion about “Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest that Ever Lived,” on June 3 and “Decorate a Tactile T-Shirt” on June 17. These events begin at 11 am as well.  For more information or to sign up.

Some events are coming up for Future In Sight’s Technology Group as well. “Best Podcast Apps and How to Use Them, on May 12 at 10:30 am – 12 noon, will review podcasts for Android, iOs and the internet – and explain terminology, how to subscribe and more. Other sessions, also at 10:30 am: “Microsoft Outlook: Beyond Basics,” on May 26, and “Oodles of Google! Discover Google Apps; Their Benefits, Accessibilty, and Navigation,” on June 2. Technology Group: For more information and to sign up.

Prom Dreams

In 2020, Overbrook School for the Blind held its prom virtually, as a Grand Masquerade. On May 29 at 7 p.m., everyone gathered on Zoom, but during the previous two nights, students were prompted to set up a cardboard prom background, make sure they had a good lighting source, and use the Zoom app to set up their video and audio. The prom page even included Zoom keyboard shortcuts. With the technology taken care of, mask information was next, with a buying guide, and resources for DIY mask makers. The photos show that masked or unmasked, everyone had a great time. From the school calendar, it looks like Overbrook students will prom in person this year, and for others, particularly those who attend local schools, attending in person Veroniiiica with Four Eyes has tips for those with low vision from the “prom-posal” to photos, to ideas for your sighted date, and even how to handle rude comments.

Coming Up

May 13, 7 p.m., DREAM SEEKER Spring Concert at Overbrook School for the Blind shares “stories and songs of what dreaming can do for the soul. Includes selections from previous concerts as well as newly recorded material by Voices and Ladies of Overbrook. Listen at

Emojis and Screen Readers – Descriptions That Don’t Say Much

“What’s a thinking face exactly? How about a persevering face?” So asks Arielle Silverman, who blogs about a variety of blindness and a wide range of disability-related topics on her website, Disability Wisdom. We found Silverman, a Ph.D. and consultant, during our prom research and recommend her blog post on special proms and authentic inclusion, but we also found this interesting post on what happened after she updated her screen reader to describe Emojis. It actually took a sighted commenter to make sense of those little faces for her. Read “Hearing Faces: Reading Emojis While Blind”.

New Apple AirTags Help to Locate Misplaced Items

Just released last week, Apple AirTags could be “game changer” for people who are blind or visually impaired — as well as a substantial source of revenue for the company, according to Axios AM. The AirTags use Bluetooth trackers to help identify an item’s location and “have them play a sound.”  They utilize features on the latest iPhones that guide users to items, “offering details like ‘It’s eight feet ahead on your left.’” Using voiceover, a person who cannot see can even ask Siri for help in locating a specific AirTag and receive voice directions. For more information, and pricing: Axios AM: Item 9 on AirTags.

Bark to the Future: Robot Guide Dogs – What Do You Think?

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have designed “a robot dog to help in ways similar to real guide dogs.” The robot comes complete with a computer brain, lasers and cameras to map out the environment – even a leash. Starting with a robot from Boston Dynamics called “mini cheetah,” the researchers developed a “dog” that can perform the duties of a live guide dog along with additional services, like downloading a map depicting the route the dog will take. Read more about it here.