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RDPFS Resources for Partners October 7, 2022

Free Virtual Conversation with Composer Anthony Vine on October 10, 2022

Dr. Leslie Jones, Executive Director of the Filomena D’Agostino Greenberg (FMDG) Music School, will lead a conversation with Brooklyn-based composer and FMDG Music School Teaching Artist (Creatives Rebuild New York) Anthony Vine about his music and career on October 10, 2022 from 6 to 7 pm Eastern Time (ET). This program is part of the Conversations with “The Fil” series, which seeks to inform people about musicians, writers, dancers, and “actors of note” who are blind and visually impaired or “are making accessibility and inclusion a hallmark feature of their work.” Learn more about the artist at the website and read the event listing from the FMDG Music School for Conversations with ‘The Fil’ featuring Anthony Vine. To RSVP and register for the program, please email [email protected].

Free Virtual Forum to Cover “Unlocking the Power of Accessibility”: October 11 – 13, 2022

Those attending the 2022 Interagency Accessibility Forum (IAAF) will join in celebrating accessibility as a basis for inclusion, diversity, and equity in the federal government. Keynote addresses, presentations, and panel discussions will focus on “Unlocking the Power of Accessibility.” The forum will also feature virtual workshops hosted by subject matters experts in accessibility who work within their agency to ensure that people living with disabilities have equivalent access to information and digital services. According to the event listing, from GSA, the forum will have something for everyone, from those who are new to IT accessibility to veteran content creators, to acquisition officials, business analysts, project manager, developers, testers, and others interested in the topic. Workshops will take place on October 11, 2022 from 12 to 4 pm ET, with the conference program occurring on October 12 to 13, 2022 from 10 am to 4 pm ET. Find out more About IAAF 2022 here and register for the Annual Interagency Accessibility Forum.

Upcoming NDEAM Events

National Disabilities Employment Month (NDEAM), is being celebrated throughout the nation this month, with events and promotional materials marking the occasion and spreading the message for NDEAM 2022: “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” Here are two free events that are available online:

On October 13, 2022, from 10 to 11:15 am ET, join in the U.S. Department of Labor’s NDEAM Employer Chat on Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Assistant Taryn Williams will speak with corporate, disability advocacy, and labor employers who have been recognized for their “innovative approaches to fostering supportive, mental health-friendly workplaces. Learn more here about the NDEAM Employer Chat on Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being and register here for this free event.

On October 25, 2022 at 3 pm ET, a hybrid event, both in-person and online, is available from Clemson University on Shifting from Compliance to a Culture of Inclusion. Charnessa Warner, Director of Student Disability Services at the University of Chicago, advocates for the inclusion of students with disabilities to discredit the false belief that students with disabilities are not academically capable. Find out more details on the Clemson website listing for Shifting from Compliance to a Culture of Inclusion. To register directly for the webinar, go to the Meeting Registration.

Helping People to Vote Privately and Independently in 2022

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been helping people to vote privately and independently for several years. Their Voter Resources page lists and explains much of what they offer. Some highlights include:

- a section on voter information by state which lists elections websites for every state, as well as a link to find all NFB state affiliates to contact with further questions;
- NFB’s National Center for Non-Visual Election Technology, which hosts a wealth of information for blind voters as well as election officials, including on the importance of voting, voter registration, and training for poll workers;
- links to current and past voter surveys;
- a section on their legal efforts at the state and federal level to make absentee ballots accessible and to amend the Help America Vote Act (HAVA); and
- video tutorials for some of the most commonly used ballot-marking devices (BMDs). Similar tutorials for the use of voting machines can be found on some websites for state boards of elections as well, such as this one from New York, which includes a transcript.

If you are a person living with vision loss unsure how to go about exercising your right to vote, the NFB offers a place to learn about the process and gain information.

New Bill in Congress to Make Websites and Apps Accessible

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

“’Digital innovation is only as powerful as it is inclusive.’” That quote from Representative John Sarbanes is the message behind the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act. This bill, introduced on September 29, 2022 by Sarbanes in the House of Representatives and Senator Tammy Duckworth in the Senate, would require that websites and apps be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. It would mandate that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission establish a national framework for the accessibility of websites and software that can readily evolve along with future technological developments. As Senator Duckworth states, “’Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and well before, so many Americans relied on the Internet to work from home, order home goods and connect with loved ones — and yet, too many websites and apps remain nearly impossible to use by Americans with disabilities, barring them from these experiences and opportunities. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Sarbanes to finally help make the web and other technology more accessible for all users, including those in the disability community.’” Sarbanes added: “’As new and emerging technologies have been incorporated into our daily lives, digital inaccessibility has prevented Americans with disabilities from reaching a broad range of health, education, employment and other critical resources. To address this civil rights issue and remedy this longstanding inequity, we need uniform, consistent standards that lay out what true digital accessibility is and provide adequate mechanisms to enforce it. The Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act will require federal agencies to provide clear regulations for reducing barriers to web accessibility and help businesses and state and local governments work toward compliance.’” Several leading disability rights advocates provided input in the development of the bill, with the American Council for the Blind (ACB), the American Foundation of the Blind (AFB), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), commending Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes for introducing the legislation, highlighting the support and collaboration of the disability community in preparing the draft. You can read much more about the bill in the write up in the ACB press release entitled Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes Introduce Bill to Make Websites and Mobile Applications Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities.

Access Board Seeks Public Comment on Accessibility Guidelines for Self-Service Transaction Machines

Touchscreen kiosks and other self-service transaction machines (SSTMs) are increasingly prevalent in many public places, government offices, and other facilities, making it possible for users to conduct a variety of transactions. SSTMs generally have touchscreens with on-screen buttons or a keyboard rather than a physical keypad or other tactile controls. Without the physical controls, many people who are blind or have low vision, as well as those with other disabilities, cannot use the machines unless information is provided audibly. The U.S. Access Board has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on different types of SSTMs for individuals with disabilities. They are also seeking comments on accessibility related to SSTMs, including their use and design, location, and economic impacts on small business, nonprofit, and government organizations in implementing accessible SSTMs. The issuing of the notice is based on requirements for ATMs and fare machines included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards as well as related provisions for hardware standards relevant to information and communication technology in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards require that ATMs and fare vending machines be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who use speech output, braille, and other features. Comments from the public are due by November 21, 2022 and can be submitted via any of the following methods:
Federal Register, by selecting the link at the top of the notice;

Regulations, gov e-rulemaking portal, by clicking on the “Comment” link;

By emailing [email protected], including docket number ATBCB-2022-0004 in the subject line; or

Regular mail: Office of Technical and Information Services; U.S. Access Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111.

For more information, visit the web page entitled U.S. Access Board Seeks Public Comment on Accessibilty Guidelines for Self-Service Transaction Machines.

“Ready?” “Yes.” “Play!” Part 2: Some History on Blind Tennis in the United States

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Blind tennis just scored an ace in Australia last week. Their inaugural 2022 Blind and Low-vision Championship, “the first national event of its kind,” according to Blind Tennis Victoria, was held from September 30 to October 2, 2022. To mark this occasion, and in a continuation of our series on blind tennis, this article explores some recent history of the sport in the United States, going back to 2010. At that time, Sejal Vallabh, a student at Yale University, founded Tennis Serves, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching blind tennis to children and adults who are blind and visually impaired, after experiencing the sport during a summer internship in Tokyo. Her organization operates in California, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. It was profiled in this article from The New York Times in 2012, this one by the Wall Street Journal in 2013, and this TEDx talk given by Vallabh in 2015. Tennis Serves has a Facebook page, although it has been inactive since 2015. Also in 2015, Court 16 developed a blind tennis instruction program on Long Island and in Queens, New York. While not much has been published on it recently, their Facebook page does appear active, and this article from CBS New York provides some background. Finally, Lolina Fernandez, the current representative for the United States to the International Blind Tennis Association Executive Committee, founded Eyes of Hope (Miradas de Esperanza), “which works with children learning blind tennis both in the United States and in Mexico,” according to this page from the American Printing House. While countries such as Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom may feature blind tennis more prominently, the U.S. has had a variety of programs spring up just in the last twelve years. Future articles will cover the current state of these programs.

“Celebrate Your Beautiful Eyes” During Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15, 2022, commemorates how U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large. In marking Hispanic Heritage Month, the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that it’s time to “’celebrar tus bellos ojos’” (celebrate your beautiful eyes). NEI emphasizes ensuring that Hispanic communities have the information needed to protect their eye health, especially those individuals at higher risk for eye diseases, and highlights the career experiences of eye health professionals who are Hispanic. Individuals of Hispanic/Latino origin have high rates of conditions like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma and “almost 8 out of 10 (of these individuals) don’t know they have it” and “Too many Hispanics/Latinos aren’t getting regular dilated eye exams,” which can detect eye diseases when they are often easier to treat. Public education efforts focus on heightening awareness of the importance of regular eye exams and treatment for eye diseases. To spread these messages, NEI’s National Eye Health and Education Program (NEHEP) offers a variety of resources in English and Spanish, including handout articles, fact sheets, infographics, videos, and more. Find out more by visiting the NEI webpage on Hispanic Heritage Month. For additional information on the background of the commemoration, check out the listing on Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Love Your Eyes:” World Sight Day is October 13, 2022

As noted in a previous Bulletin, October 13, 2022 marks the celebration of World Sight Day, with the theme of “Love Your Eyes” underscoring the need for eye care for everyone. Each year the second Thursday of October is celebrated as World Sight Day, a UN observance although not a public holiday in any nation. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), as well as Lions Clubs have actively promoted the occasion for many years. IAPB urges people to pledge to take better care of their eyes and asks eye care professionals and organizations to conduct eye tests and care for patients. Read more from IAPB at their webpage on World Sight Day and from Observances Global Public Holidays listing for background on the occasion. Happy World Sight Day!

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