This year’s commemoration of World Diabetes Day marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. In recognition of this occasion, events are being held across the United States and around the world. A virtual panel discussion, hosted by Lions Clubs International in California, features a panel discussion of new technologies, research toward a cure as well as the psychological aspects of diabetes. Lions Clubs have supported programs for people who are blind or visually impaired since 1917 and this event, focusing on diabetes, now a leading cause of vision loss, underscores their commitment. You can join in the event through Free Registration for World Diabetes Day 2021. Check out other events and more information announced by the International Diabetes Federation: WDD Events in United States and about WDD.
Check Out Innovative Products and Services at the Virtual Technology Fair November 23, 2021
The Carroll Center for the Blind’s Virtual Technology Fair will feature informative presentations, assistive technology exhibitors in breakout rooms, and products and services needed to “live as independently as possible.” This event is free and open to people who are blind or visually impaired, family members, friends, and professionals. Among the featured sessions are “How to Advocate for More Accessible Apps and Websites,” “Top Ten Ways to Use Amazon’s Alexa,” “iPhone iOS Accessibility,” and “Tips and Tricks for Windows Screen Reader Users.” To learn more and register go to The Carroll Center for the Blind Virtual Technology Fair.
Workshops from the Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library:
Intro to Google Docs: On Thursday, November 18, 2021 from 3 – 4:30 pm ET, learn how to get the most from this free tool using your screen reader. The focus will be on “enabling accessibility, understanding menus, and the fundamentals of document editing and collaboration.”
Accessible Tech Tools for Language Learners: Find out about language learning tools, such as Mango Languages and Duolingo; translation apps from Microsoft and Google; and more on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 from 6 – 7:30 pm ET. Podcasts for language learners will be covered as well.
For more information and zoom links for these and other programs, check out November, December NewsLion: Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.
Sight Tech Global Conference Set for December 1-2: Free and Virtual
The second Sight Tech Global conference will bring together experts in advanced technologies, in particular AI (Artificial Intelligence), covering accessibility and assistive technology for people who are blind or visually impaired. Ten “fireside and panel sessions” will feature the latest developments occurring through Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and other leaders in the field. Breakout sessions will be held as well. The event is free, virtual, and “very screen-reader friendly.” To find out more and register, go to the TechCrunch listing: Sight Tech Global agenda announced.
Join in the Foundation Fighting Blindness National Vision Webinar on Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 12 pm ET. The program will offer insights into a number of treatments in clinical development. Among the interventions to be reviewed are “cone-saving and cone-restoring treatments for retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome, and related conditions;” clinical trials for Stargardt disease, and gene therapies for Leber congenital amaurosis. For more information and to register, go to National Chapter Vision Webinar: Update on Emerging Therapies.
Tips from The Blind Cook
For those who are hosting a Thanksgiving feast, a check list from Christine Ha, The Blind Cook, can help to enjoy a “stress-free holiday.” Planning is key and she provides a timeline for getting ready. More than one week before the big day, invite guests, plan the menu, and buy necessary supplies. A week ahead, buy groceries, prep casseroles, and cook your gravy. She details what to do, step by step, as the day approaches as well, including prepping pies, ingredients for other dishes, and more. Check out Countdown to Thanksgiving: A checklist to help you host a stress-free holiday.
Having Low Vision and Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Cooking
After Holly Bonner was declared legally blind, she was wary about cooking a turkey. “I was terrified that my visual impairment would limit my ability to prepare a healthy, delicious feast,” she recalled. With instruction from her Adult Daily Living (ADL) skills teacher, Bonner gained the encouragement she needed to take on the task of preparing her Thanksgiving meal. She shares her experience and advice about what worked for her “as a low vision cook.” First, Bonner recommends choosing a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey to decrease cooking time and the chance of errors. She provides a list of ingredients as well as supplies to stock up on ahead of time and explicit directions for preparing the turkey and cooking it on Thanksgiving Day, including the use of a talking meat thermometer. Read Bonner’s account of her experience, from Low Vision Specialists of Maryland & Virginia in Low Vision and Thanksgiving Ready: Cooking Your Own Turkey.
Involving Your Child in Meal Preparation
Planning for Thanksgiving week can be very intense, whether traveling, hosting relatives, or contributing to a feast. However, it can also provide an opportunity for a child who is blind or visually impaired to improve their cooking skills “and shine.” One way to do this is to ask the child and siblings to take part in preparing a dish that could be roasted, steamed, grilled, baked, or even microwaved. The key takeaway is that “you are giving your child the gift of pursuing mealtime independence and safe cooking techniques for people who are blind or visually impaired…”as well as “the gift of your time and attention.” Even babies or toddlers can help, with simple tasks like adding sliced fruit into a fruit salad, or mashing white or sweet potatoes. For details on involving a child, read the Family Connect piece Inspired by the Holidays: Enlisting the Help of Your Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired with Your Thanksgiving Meal Preparation.
Remote Job Opportunities Available Now
Remote job opportunities, available in growing numbers since the onset of the pandemic, can offer flexibility and other options that benefit people with disabilities or chronic illness. Seven companies that are recognized as inclusive employers are cited in The Mighty as having openings for a wide range of positions – Data Scientist, Global Community Manager, Inclusion Interview Content Engineer, Copywriter, Producer/Editor, Customer Support Associate, Market Researcher, and Customer Strategy & Operations Manager, to name a few. Read more about these positions: 7 Remote Job Opportunities. These employers are cited for their inclusion in hiring by Chronically Capable, a digital marketplace connecting jobseekers with disabilities or chronic illness with inclusive workplaces.
How Remote Work Can Change Lives
“As someone in the blind and low-vision community, the expansion of remote work has been an economic game-changer.” Rachel Christian, a journalist and personal finance writer who is legally blind, attests that remote work has had a very positive impact on career opportunities for individuals who are blind or have low vision. For in-person work, transportation can be a major hurdle, especially in areas lacking public transportation. Office set ups can pose challenges as well, such as a sun-drenched office. With remote work, Christian was able to control her environment with optimal lighting and accommodations built into her computer. As a result, her writing speed “spiked” and she picked up additional work. Read her story in Business Insider: Remote work has finally made me -- a legally blind person -- feel like I can thrive at my job...
Students with visual impairment have an opportunity to learn to code through the use of robots and specially created lessons through the use of SAS® CodeSnaps, a free app that teaches the basics of coding. The initiative is a combined effort by the analytics firm SAS and programmable robot developer Sphero®. The CodeSnaps app encourages students to “work together, hands-on, to control Sphero BOLT, a programmable robot ball.” To adapt CodeSnaps for teachers of students with visual impairment, SAS worked with the Perkins School for the Blind. Adaptations included adding braille to code blocks and incorporating a tactile meter stick for students to measure distances. Read more about how SAS and Sphero bring coding to students with visual impairments.
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, began offering audio description of its offerings in June of this year. The Peacock app, available free from the iOS Apple Store or Google Play Store, brings audiences NBC shows as well as other shows and films and original content. As of last month, more than 100 of Peacock’s titles offered audio description. For those needing help with the service, they do not provide phone support, but do have accessible chat support and an extensive help section. To activate audio description (AD), those with some usable vision might be able to do this independently. However, for individuals without usable vision, sighted assistance is probably needed to activate this feature. Once activated, “AD should remain on.” For a comprehensive description of the service and its accessibility, check out the article from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind): Streaming Video Services Part 7: Does Peacock Have Wings? A Review of the Peacock Streaming Service from NBCUniversal.
Birthday meals often include a surprise cake and a waitstaff rendition of “Happy Birthday.” For singer Natalie Te Paa, who is blind, this year’s surprise celebration took a new turn, with the presentation of a plate featuring a chocolate message wishing her a happy birthday, written in Braille. She was very touched by this gesture – as well as by the fact that the video of her celebration has gone viral on TikTok. She noted that “’The fact that people have responded so much and so well to it just shows how much the world needs kindness right now, how much the world needs a message of hope, needs to see people …going above and beyond for each other.'” You can check out the story and the video on TODAYallday: Watch restaurant surprise blind customer with birthday message in Braille.
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