The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) invites participation in its 2021 Virtual Career and Internship Fair. Those attending will have the opportunity to hear from companies “who are excited to give the 411 on their mission, services and disability inclusion practices.” Company representatives will present individually about their mission and work. A question and answer session following each presentation will allow audience members to gain additional, specific information. The speakers will discuss their companies’ professional development initiatives and trainings, available positions, and will provide contact information for follow up. The registration deadline is October 25, 2021. For more details and to register go to the AAPD 2021 Fall Virtual Career and Internship Fair.
As we approach this year’s somewhat more normal Halloween, here are some tips and ideas for children and adults with vision impairment – as well as family members:
Making Costumes Accessible – Using Technology and More: For a child who is visually impaired, “you may want to try and experience the feeling of being (in) their costume, even if they can’t experience the visual elements…” Tactile elements can be helpful, like including a beard to stroke, if in character, or claws for a dinosaur or other creature. Including sound can also be a plus, using bells or other features. You may also want to equip the costume with spooky or other sounds via a phone or tablet. Check out these and more tips from Seable: Tips For A Safe, Fun and Accessible Halloween.
Using the Blindness Cane in the Costume: The website Veroniiiica (Veronica With Four Eyes), a free resource for low vision and assistive technology, shares practical blog posts about living with vision loss. In one of their posts, author Veronica Lewis offers tips for incorporating the cane into a variety of costumes. Costume ideas include “Being Blind as a Bat,” “Adding a Fairy Wand to a Cane,” “Using the Force with a Lightsaber Cane,” and more. She explains what materials are needed and provides background information about each innovative suggestion. Read more about it in Incorporating Blindness Canes Into Halloween Costumes.
Preparing for Trick-or-Treaters: When handing out goodies to trick-or-treaters, a few pointers can help make sure you are keeping “all kids in mind…”. If the child has a vision impairment, you can:
Let them know what the treat is as you hand it out;
Keep walkways and steps leading to your home clear of Halloween decorations;
Consider setting up a table in front of or by your home so that it is easier for you to see kids approaching and meet them outside.
Check with neighborhood parents ahead of time to accommodate any specific needs children may have.
Read more tips from Canada’s reachAbility Association, reported by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation): How to make Halloween more accessible to everyone.
What's Halloween Like for a Blind Person? YouTuber Tommy Edison, who has been blind since birth, shares how he celebrated Halloween growing up. He points out, for example, how he chose which candy to eat after treat-or-treating. Edison would sort out those he could identify, like “Hershey with almonds…So I would eat the ones I knew first…”
This year’s Election Day, on November 2, 2021, offers voters the opportunity to elect candidates for local and statewide offices throughout the nation. In gearing up for these contests, we gathered some information to share about voting rights and access:
Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities: For many years, individuals with disabilities did not have access to voting. For those with blindness or low vision, the ballot itself was not accessible. Federal civil rights laws were enacted to “combat…discrimination and protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans.” The landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, includes in its provisions the requirement that state and local governments ensure that people with disabilities have full and equal opportunities to vote. This encompasses voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots. Other Federal laws ensure additional rights. For example, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 seeks to increase the historically low voting registration rates of people with disabilities and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires polling places in federal elections to provide at least one accessible voting system for individuals with disabilities. For details about these and other Federal voting laws, including how their requirements can be implemented, read about The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities.
A Voting Toolkit, focused on accessible voting for people who are blind or have low vision, is provided by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). The toolkit provides information developed to address COVID-19 concerns, along with ensuring accessibility. ACB’s toolkit details the establishment of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide assistance to states to improve voting systems and access to voting, established through the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Toolkit highlights other relevant legislation and advice on “How to Take Action as a Voter.” Check out the Voting Toolkit: Accessible Voting for People Who are Blind or Low Vision.
If you need accommodations on Election Day, check with your state or local election office to find out what you expect at your polling site. For more information, check out the section on the usa.gov website “Voting and Election Laws” Voter Accessibility Laws.
By Ahmat Djouma
Audiobooks, originally developed for people with vision impairment “as an alternative to Braille,” are enjoyed widely by many people who are sighted as well. In The New York Times article 'Disability Drives Innovation,' writer Shira Ovide discusses the history of audiobooks and how they made their way into the mainstream. Audiobooks, now often heard through smartphone headphones, began as “Talking Book” records in the 1930s in the U.S. The article notes that “Audiobooks are a prime example of a technology developed by or for people with disabilities that has helped all of us.” Another example, curb cuts in the sidewalks, initially designed for individuals with disabilities, have now proven to be useful for many other people. Accessibility innovations benefiting everyone is what this author calls "disability driving innovations" and “They remind us that people with disabilities are not an afterthought in invention but key players.” And if you enjoy listening to audio podcasts, The New York Times is beta testing a new audio app. Visit The New York Times to sign up.
By Ahmat Djouma
AppleVis, an everything Apple resource covered in previous issues of this bulletin, provides a great deal of information and resources for people who are blind or have low vision and use products such as the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple, and Apple TV. This resource includes discussions about software updates as well as app directories, and more. Additionally, they produce a podcast, “AppleVis Unleashed,” where they demonstrate new features of iOS updates and highlight new offerings available from the App Store. Recent podcasts have covered such topics as “How to Use Hide My Email on iOS,” “How to Configure Accessibility Settings on a Per-App Basis on iOS,” and “How to Receive Rain, Snow, and Hail Alerts from the iOS Weather App.” Visit the AppleVis Unleashed podcast to listen. Or just search for AppleVis wherever you download podcasts and enjoy.
Applications are invited for individuals who would like to participate in the Prevent Blindness A.S.P.E.C.T. (Advocacy, Support, Perspective, Empowerment, Communication, and Training) Patient Empowerment Program. They are recruiting people with vision impairment or blindness and "allies" (family members, nonprofit representatives, professionals, etc.). The program seeks to “equip participants with knowledge, skills, and confidence to become advocates for low vision and eye health—at the individual, peer-to-peer, community, state, or national levels." Classes are free and held virtually every two weeks, from November 2021 to March 2022. The application deadline is November 12, 2021. For more information and to apply, check out the Call for Applications to the Prevent Blindness A.S.P.E.C.T. Patient Engagement Program.
The increasingly elaborate, busy backgrounds, sometimes with “flashing flames behind the performers,” can make it very difficult for individuals with vision impairment. Writing in The Mighty, Carola Finch recounts her experiences as a person with a visual impairment when watching reality talent shows. She cites the barriers to vision posed by bright lights and “constantly changing” sets. Read more about her concerns and call to action for TV talent shows in Why Flashy Backgrounds on TV Shows Can Harm People With Disabilities.
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