Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners September 2, 2022

Recognizing Labor Day and Preparing for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2022

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

As we approach Labor Day 2022, it’s important to remember that this holiday represents more than the close of another summer season and a return to school. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) describes Labor Day as “an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.” According to an article from the DOL, Labor Day was not always celebrated in September. By 1894, when Labor Day was designated a federal holiday, 31 states had created their own local versions. Oregon was the first to celebrate Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. The first Labor Day celebrations in September seem to have taken place in New York City, on September 5, 1882, and again on the same date in 1883. While Labor Day in September goes back to the early 1880s, Oregon’s example shows that the early history of Labor Day highlights the relevance of supporting the causes of labor throughout the year. These initiatives are particularly relevant to people with disabilities. According to American Community Survey data from 2019, only 44% of working-age people with visual impairments are actively employed, compared with 79% of those without disabilities. This reminds us that people with disabilities still face barriers when seeking to become productive members of the work force. As we celebrate the contributions Americans make through their labor, let us also remember that there are individuals who wish to participate in the work force but are denied that opportunity. Let us acknowledge these job seekers and their efforts to improve this statistic.

The “What Can You Do” Campaign and National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The recognition of Labor Day also reminds us that another annual event will soon be taking place, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), celebrated in October and organized by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the DOL. The theme for this year’s NDEAM is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” According to the DOL, the 2022 observance “recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.” Central to this theme is What Can You Do, a public awareness effort released by the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE). “The CDE is a collaborative of several leading disability and business organizations convened by ODEP to work together to address disability employment.” What Can You Do consists of a series of public service announcements (PSAs) showcasing different aspects of the value that workers with disabilities add to the workplace. The “Who I Am” PSA features several workers with disabilities, including a person living with vision loss, discussing their full identities and how their value at work goes beyond their conditions. In the “I Can” PSA, seven adults with disabilities first talk about what they can do for work, and then turn the discussion to employers, with one stating “But I can’t put my skills to work for your organization if I’m not given the opportunity.” Although this PSA was first released in 2010, given the statistics for employment of those who are visually impaired, the message of this PSA, of the “What Can You Do” campaign, and of this year’s NDEAM are as relevant today as ever.

Free Virtual Web Accessibility Conference, September 7 and 8, 2022

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Web Accessibility in mind (WebAIM), a project of the Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice at Utah State University, will hold its first-ever virtual conference on web accessibility on September 7 and 8, 2022. The Web Accessibility In Mind conference, developed in partnership with PopeTech, will provide web developers and professionals with varied perspectives on best practices for accessibility. Zoom presentations will take place from 12 pm to 5 pm Eastern Time (ET) each day with an hour break starting at 2 pm. Conference presenters include disability rights lawyers such as Lainey Feingold; accessibility professionals such as Mike Paciello, founder and CEO of WebAble; and representatives from major technology corporations such as VMware Accessibility Senior Staff Architect Sheri Byrne-Haber. All sessions will be captioned and recorded, and there will be live ASL interpretation. Register here for the Web Accessibility in Mind Conference.

WebAIM, according to their “About” page, is “one of the leading providers of web accessibility internationally” and has worked with corporations, governments, and religious groups on the accessibility of their web content. The project has created an accessibility tool called WAVE that gives web developers an idea of their pages’ most serious or obvious accessibility errors. Each year they produce a report covering the one million most visited homepages ranked by accessibility. Their website also includes a feature enabling visitors to check any one of the homepages included in the report. WebAIM conducts and reports on screen reader user surveys as well, most recently in June 2021. These studies document changes in accessibility preferences and perceptions over time. For example, WebAIM recorded a significant decline in popularity of the screen reader JAWS over a decade, eclipsed by NVDA in 2019, and then regaining the top position in 2021. They also found that most users will first navigate through the headings on a webpage and that many rely on proper use of heading levels. WebAIM sends out updates through a free monthly newsletter, a Twitter page, and a blog. For more information about their work, visit the WebAIM website.

More Events of Note:

Free and Virtual: “Dark Room Ballet” Introductory Classes

Are you or someone you know interested in learning ballet at a beginner level? Starting tomorrow, September 3, 2022 from 4 to 5:30 pm Eastern Time (ET) and for eight weeks, Dark Room Ballet is offering its “Open Level Dark Room Ballet Class.” No prior knowledge is required for the classes, which are developed to meet the educational needs of people who are blind or have low vision. Sessions introduce students to basic ballet terminology to prepare for participation in their “Open Level Dark Room Ballet Class.” The introductory series covers anatomical concepts like “foot sensitivity and mobility,” “torso stability,” balancing without sight, and the use of tape on the floor for orientation. Classes are held on Zoom, with an option to call in via phone. To find out more about the classes or to register, check out  Dark Room Ballet Introductory Classes for Blind and Visually Impaired Adults--New Cycle Begins Saturday, September 3rd.

An Encore: Virtual Music School Open House for Students, Families, and Caregivers: September 6, 2022

On September 6, 2022 at 6:30 pm ET, The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School (The Fil or FMDG Music School) is holding a second virtual open house, which had originally been planned as an in-person event. Prospective students, parents, caregivers, and others can meet the teachers and learn about classes and lessons, which are available in person and virtually, and ensemble offerings as well as special events occurring between September and December 2022. The FMDG Music School helps people of all ages pursue the study of music while addressing the challenges posed by vision impairment. For more information and to RSVP to this online event, please email [email protected].

Teaching iPhone to People with Low Vision

Instructors helping older people with low vision learn how to use their smart phones can sign up for a free, self-paced course on “Teaching iPhone for Low Vision: Where Do I Start?” Participants will learn about features that can make it easier for clients to see what’s on their phone and how to customize the view. Specifics that will be covered include foundational first steps to teach iPhone accessibility, features that make the phone more useful to those with low vision, and how the use of Siri can increase “confidence and independence.” The course, which is eligible for continuing education credit, will also share strategies to motivate clients to use their phone as part of achieving goals for independence. This curriculum was developed and is provided by the National Research and Training on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) at Mississippi State University. Learn more about and sign up here for Teaching iPhone for Low Vision: Where Do I Start?

September is Sports Eye Safety Month

Each year, hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treat nearly 30,000 sports-related injuries. “The good news is that 90% of serious eye injuries could be prevented by [using] appropriate protective eyewear,” according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). To increase public awareness of the importance of donning protective eyewear while playing sports, Prevent Blindness has declared September Sports Eye Safety Month. New data show that in 2021, more than 26,000 sports-related eye injuries were treated nationwide. The highest rate of injuries occurred in the category of “’non-powder guns, darts, arrows, and slingshots.’” For young children, ages 0 through 12, “’pools and water sports’” reported the highest injury rate. Injuries may include eye infections, irritations, scratches, or trauma. To avoid mishaps, here are a few pointers from Prevent Blindness on finding eye protection for sports:

- For those who wear prescription glasses, an eye doctor can fit the player with prescription eye guards, which can be purchased at optical or sports specialty stores.

- Eyeguards made of polycarbonate are the most impact resistant, are shatterproof, and provide ultraviolet (UV) protection.

- When considering eye guards with lenses, be sure that the lenses stay in place or pop out if and when an accident occurs. Lenses popping against the eyes can be extremely dangerous.

- Each sport has a specific standard set by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), an organization that develops standards globally. When purchasing a device/protector, be sure the package has the appropriate ASTM standard for the sport.

The AAO urges spectators at sporting events to be careful, to be aware that balls, bats, and players may land in the stands. They recommend that spectators “keep their eyes on the game” and be on the lookout for stray balls and other flying objects. For those with reduced vision, AAO and Prevent Blindness advise checking with an eyecare professional about what eye protection is appropriate and whether they recommend participating in any “high impact or high-risk” sports.

For more information, read the press release entitled September is Sports Eye Safety Month at Prevent Blindness as well as the AAO web page on Sports Eye Safety.

U.S. Wins Bronze Medal in First Blind Baseball International Cup

As noted in a previous Bulletin, the first WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) Blind Baseball International Cup took place from August 20 to 21, 2022 in the Netherlands. Team USA participated in the event, along with teams from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands. The U.S. Team scored the bronze, defeating Germany by a score of four to one in the bronze medal game. In the United States, Baseball for the Blind (is) set for growth, according to the WBSC. Lions Clubs are aiming to expand the sport through “efforts on the ground…” in the New York Metropolitan area and elsewhere. For additional details about the event's results, visit the webpage on the WBSC Blind Baseball International Cup Schedule and Results. Read more about the sport by visiting the 2022 WBSC Blind Baseball International Cup here.

Congratulations Team USA!

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Happy Labor Day: Enjoy the holiday weekend!