From the desk of Jason Eckert
Executive Director of Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting on the many reasons why I am thankful.
First, I would like to acknowledge the talented group of colleagues and friends who devote their professional lives to working in the blind and vision impaired community. Thank you for what you do to make life better for those living with blindness and vision impairment. You are charged with the task of promising hope and then delivering on that pledge. Your commitment, creativity, and high service standards have contributed enormously to the thriving community we are today. Thank you for your hard work, generosity, and your willingness to serve your patients, students, participants, and each other, often going above and beyond the call of duty.
I also recognize and am thankful for the advances in technology and medicine that help improve the lives of those living with blindness and vision impairment. Let me add how the growing ability to work from home has increased employment opportunities for those with disabilities. I have heard many anecdotes about people who are now able to seek, maintain, and thrive in jobs because they can interview and work from home, a silver lining of the post-COVID world for which we can be grateful. Hopefully, the employment needle has permanently moved in a positive direction for people living with disabilities.
The culmination of the developments described above has also advanced awareness that people living with vision loss have the right to experience independent and fulfilling lives, interacting equally and fully participating in all the communities they wish. I am grateful that people with vision loss now have more opportunities to be their best selves and live their best lives.
If you are living with vision loss experiencing what I have described and are making these strides, thank you. I know how hard you have worked and how long you might have waited for this moment. The entire community can be grateful for our collective success and thankful that we have built this community and are committed to continuing to move it forward.
Therefore, as a proud member of the blind and vision impaired community and on behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff of Readers Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, I wish you all a well-deserved and very happy Thanksgiving filled with bright moments of joy and abundance.
Whether cooking for Thanksgiving or other holidays, a number of websites and apps provide recipes that are accessible and result in a tasty dish. AccessWorld from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) offers information about some of the resources and tips on how to make best use of them. The Food Network, for example, has a website and an iOS app called “In the Kitchen.” To navigate the website using a screen reader, they suggest using the “hot keys for headings, links, and forms.” When using the In the Kitchen app, voiceover might note that you’re on a different page, which can be overcome by swiping back to the page or closing and then re-opening the app. The Food.com website provides recipes from home chefs as well as recipe reviews. Check out more about these online offerings for Accessible Recipes for Holiday Cooking and Entertaining. In reviewing the article, please note that one of the offerings cited, the Yes Chef app, is currently unavailable for downloading.
Tips for Helping Guests with Low Vision
Simple adaptations in your Thanksgiving preparations can “help your low vision loved ones experience a happy turkey day.” The Hope Vision Foundation offers tangible suggestions to accommodate guests, such as clearing the floor of toys, books, and other potential obstacles, setting a table with high contrast settings, and explaining where foods are on a plate using the clock method (like stating that the meat is at 6 o’clock, for example). Read more about Simple Changes You Can Make on Thanksgiving.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Broadcast to Feature Live Audio Description
You can watch the 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® with live audio description, broadcast by NBCUniversal, accessible on the Secondary Audio Program channel (SAP) through Descriptive Video Works. The additional audio narration will describe the “rich visuals of the Parade.” Television audiences across the nation can experience the action via special broadcasts on NBC and Telemundo, from 9 am to 12 pm in all time zones, and via livestream coverage on Peacock. Check out parade details from NBC Entertainment in 95 and Marching On! Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Ushers in the Holiday Season November 25 on NBC.
This year’s celebration of the Festival of Lights begins the evening of Sunday, November 28, 2021. The festival continues for a total of eight nights. Here are a couple of noteworthy Hanukkah resources we found:
Jeremy’s Dreidel, a book for young children, tells the story of a boy who makes a dreidel, a spinning top used at Hanukkah celebrations, for his father, who is blind. Jeremy creates a braille dreidel in a workshop with other children. His project draws a great deal of attention from his workshop mates, helping to increase awareness of the needs of people with vision impairments, particularly during the holidays. Read the review from LibraryThing to learn more about Jeremy's Dreidel.
Hanukkah Books in Braille
A number of books for young readers about Hanukkah are published in braille and available from a variety of sources. For example, Hanukkah Lights tells about the traditions of the festival; The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes describes how a young girl includes her elderly neighbor in the family’s festivities. Read more about these and other books in the article from Paths to Literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired: Hanukkah Books in Braille.
Tech It Out from Hadley features a discussion on November 23, 2021 at 7 pm CST called “Listen Up: Accessing Music and Podcasts.” Listeners will learn how to access radio stations, find out about new artists, subscribe to podcasts, and “even download music for listening without an internet connection.” The “Tech It Out” series, available the fourth Tuesday of each month, provides technology tips from a tech expert and the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences. For more information and to sign up go to: Hadley Tech It Out discussion groups.
TEC Talk Live from the Vision Forward Association presents demonstrations and discussions of assistive technology for people with vision impairment. Usually held bi-weekly on Thursdays at 11 am, sessions can be joined via Zoom or live on YouTube. The next two programs are “Exploring the Blindshell 2 Phone” on December 9, 2021 and “Everyday Tech for the Kitchen” on January 6, 2022. To register or for additional information, go to TEC Talk Live.
Expert presenters will speak about a wide range of topics regarding diabetes, including nutrition, diabetic retinopathy, medications, devices, and insurance coverage during the Blindness and Diabetes Webinar, offered via Zoom on Friday, December 3 from 12 to 3:30 pm EST. CE credit is available for eligible participants through The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). More information and a registration link are available for the Accessible Pharmacy event: Blindness and Diabetes Webinar.
Workshop on How to Make Shopping More Accessible
As the holidays approach, this workshop, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 from 6 – 7:30 pm EST, will provide tips and techniques to make online shopping more accessible. Comparison shopping on Amazon and Google, navigating sites with “varying levels of accessibility,” and where to buy accessible products are among the topics covered. For more information and zoom links for the program, scroll down to Tech Workshops from the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library in the November, December News Lion.
Online Shopping: Two Sites Operated by Blind Entrepreneurs
Interested in shopping for all-natural products like aromatherapy, bath accessories, and essential oils? Mountain Crafted is an online home family business owned and operated by Barry and Debra Carver, both of whom are blind. Inspired by the natural beauty of the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the Carvers have utilized accessible technology, like screen readers, and their own entrepreneurial skills to produce and sell their product line. Would you like to find shirts and hoodies that can be selected based on the sense of touch rather than sight? Two Blind Brothers, a company run by siblings Bradford and Bryan Manning, both of whom lost vision due to Stargardt disease, produces casual clothing in Dallas, Texas. The Mannings make their products at the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, exclusively employing workers who are blind or visually impaired, and their profits benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness. To check out the products from both companies, go to their sites: Mountain Crafted and Two Blind Brothers. For additional background information about these entrepreneurs, read the article from Starfire Dynamics: Blind Entrepreneurs And Their Success.
Audio descriptions of movies, video, and other media platforms are vital to the curriculum for students who are blind or visually impaired throughout their educational careers. The BADIE contest is enlisting students to experience media with audio description and then report on their experiences. “Students, tell us what you think about the way the video was described and what impact it had on you.” Contestants have the chance to win prizes – for themselves and their teachers, as well as recognition for their school. Students ages seven through 21 are invited to apply by the application deadline of January 31, 2022. For more information about the contest and how to enter, check out the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) Listening is Learning (LIL) website listing: Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE).
A short documentary, announced by Yahoo Sports, highlights the “engaging stories of the blind and visually impaired fantasy managers of the league…” Yahoo produced the video, documenting its All Blind Fantasy League (ABFL). The video shares how features, such as enhanced screen reader support, options for adjusting contrast, and customizable font sizes, have made a popular game accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. To watch the documentary and learn more about the League, go to the article entitled Yahoo Sports' documentary short features All Blind Fantasy League.
Having Trouble Reading Standard Print? Enjoy today’s bestsellers in easy-to-read large print: Select Editions Large Type Books
Enjoy the best in current fiction, romance, mystery, biography, adventure, and more. Reader's Digest Select Editions Large Type features expertly edited best-selling books in every volume. You get a full year of exciting reading (five volumes in all), for the low nonprofit price of $20. Indulge your love of great reading in a format that is comfortable and pleasurable to read. A portion of the proceeds from each subscription helps to support Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation’s work and dedication to improving the lives of blind and visually impaired people.
Subscribe to Reader’s Digest Select Editions Large Type today or Give a Gift Subscription. To order your subscription by phone, call 1-800-877-5293.
Note to Readers: Since Thanksgiving is next week, we will not be publishing the bulletin this coming Friday. Resources for Partners will return the following Friday, December 3.
Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!