Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

RDPFS Resources for Partners September 8, 2023

Readers, please note: Beginning this coming week, on September 11, 2023, the Resources for Partners Bulletin will be issued on Mondays. This way readers can begin the week with the information, news, and resources related to fostering the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired, integral to the mission of Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation. As always, we welcome submissions of relevant news, events of note, and resources. Please send entries to [email protected].

September is Healthy Aging Month

As people age, they face a higher risk for common eye conditions and diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataract. During September, Healthy Aging Month, the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health asks that we “help raise awareness about eye health and aging.” Many eye diseases have no early symptoms; however, regular, comprehensive eye exams can help adults to protect their vision by identifying eye conditions and diseases early, when they are generally more treatable. NEI provides many resources to let people know how to protect their vision as they get older, including videos and webinars, articles and fact sheets, and infographics and infocards that can be shared online. NEI also offers information to help the public Learn how vision rehabilitation can benefit people with a visual impairment. For additional details and access to other resources, visit the NEI webpage on Healthy Aging Month. For general news about Healthy Aging Month and to find promotional ideas and materials on how people can stay healthy as they age, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services webpage on September National Health Observances: Healthy Aging… [...]

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Remembering September 11, 2001: A Tale of Two Men and Their Guide Dogs

by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern: As we prepare to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania, one of the memories that stands out is the tale of two individuals with blindness who navigated to safety with their guide dogs. On that clear morning, September, 11, 2001, Omar Rivera was working at the headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A senior systems designer, he reached his office in Tower One of the World Trade Center after traveling by subway from the Bronx with his guide dog, Salty. The yellow Labrador was sitting beside Rivera’s desk. At the same time, seven levels above, on the 78th floor, Roselle, another guide dog, was with her owner, Michael Hingson, a computer salesman. Although unknown to the other, both mens’ lives would be forever changed after two planes crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. When Rivera and Salty heard a loud boom and the building began to sway, Rivera grabbed Salty’s lead, and the guide dog navigated him down the crowded stairwell. About halfway down, a co-worker, trying to help, tried to take Salty’s leash but the dog refused to leave Rivera, instead guiding him to safety. From his location, Hinson called his wife and then made sure his staff evacuated. He later described his 78-floor descent with Roselle: “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job, while debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.” Roselle led Hingson through smoke, debris, and fleeing workers, until they reached a subway entrance, where they helped another woman who had been blinded by falling debris. In 2002, Salty and Roselle were awarded The Dickin Medal, a British honor marking the service of animals. That same year Rivera and Salty received a ‘Partners in Courage’ award from the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the guide dog school where Salty trained and a Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation partner organization. Roselle was posthumously named American Hero Dog of the Year in 2011 by the American Humane Society. Read more about their experiences in the Wikipedia piece on Salty and Roselle, the covetrus great pet care webpage about Honoring the Hero Guide Dogs of September 11th, and SouthCoast Today article on Partners in courage. [...]

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Blindness and Mental Health Webinar: September 29, 2023

Join Accessible Pharmacy on September 29, 2023, beginning at 12 noon, for a free webinar on mental and behavioral health for individuals who are blind or have low vision. Presenters will discuss psychology and therapy, medications and genomic testing, supportive peer and community resources, and mental health hotline information. The webinar will include captioning and a live ASL interpreter. After registering, those attending will receive a zoom link as well as call-in phone numbers sent to email. For more details, visit the Accessible Pharmacy web page for the Blindness and Mental Health Webinar. [...]

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National Parks and Accessibility

Late summer and Autumn can be an enticing time to take to the road and visit a national park. Roads and facilities may be less crowded and the fall weather may cooperate as well. The National Park Service (NPS) affirms its commitment to making its facilities, programs, services, and employment accessible to visitors and employees with disabilities. A lifetime pass, “The Access Pass,” is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who “have been medically determined to have a permanent disability (does not have to be a 100 percent disability).” The pass, which is free but requires a $10 processing fee, provides admission to national parks as well as more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by federal agencies. Each park is given the responsibility to provide information about planning a trip to their facilities with accessibility in mind. Visitors who are blind or have low vision may find a range of information on individual park websites. This can include programs offering tactile maps, models, or other displays, with their location; the availability of audio description; and alternate formats, such as large print, braille, and digital. More details about offerings for individuals who are visually impaired are covered on the NPS webpage on Accessibility: Blind/Low Vision. For information about a specific park’s accessibility features, visit the individual park’s website. For additional details about national policies, visit the NPS webpage on Accessibility and here learn more or obtain an Access Pass. The “Eight Most Accessible National Parks in the U.S. for Travelers with Disabilities” According to a recent article in Reader’s Digest, “Parks, preserves and historic sites managed by the National Park Service are becoming more inclusive.” The NPS commitment to accessibility is realized in its work to make its offerings available to all individuals with disabilities. As stated by Jeremy Buzzell, manager of the NPS Park Accessibility for Visitors and Employees Program, “’When people think about accessibility…they think about people in wheelchairs who can go down trails. It’s a lot bigger than that.’” He affirmed that “’It’s how we’re making it accessible to people who are blind, hearing impaired…What we want to do is remove as many barriers as we can.’” The Reader’s Digest article offered their “top picks” for the most accessible national parks in the U.S., including: – Death Valley National Park, California:  Includes extra support for those with sensory sensitivities; features an online accessibility guide and a sensory guide rating park attractions in the areas of sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California: Two neighboring parks that just released an accessibility film series to show prospective visitors who have vision, mobility, or hearing challenges the many ways they can enjoy the sites. – Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho: Features audio-described park guides as well as large print and braille versions of the map and guide for visitors with vision impairment, along with other accessibility offerings. – Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas: Provides sensory kits to help manage sensitivities, including noise-reduction headphones, sunglasses, and “textured fidget toys” for loan. Service dogs are allowed to go anywhere within the park as well. – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan: In addition to extensive services for wheelchairs through “power track chairs,” the park offers support for visitors with blindness or low vision, or those with deafness or hearing loss. – Yosemite National Park, California: Committed to “making its rugged terrain more accessible;” Buzzell from NPS encourages visitors to contact the park ahead of time to communicate their needs and work with them to solve problems. – Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky: Provides an audio version of the cave tour as part of its accessibility offerings to experience the site’s “spectacular geological formations, like stalactites and stalagmites.” – Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado: Features regular night-time talks about stars in its accessible amphitheater, along with modifications like balloon-tire wheelchairs for those with mobility challenges. For more details about these parks, and other accessibility offerings in the NPS system, read the Reader’s Digest article on the 8 Most Accessible National Parks in the U.S. for Travelers with Disabilities. [...]

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For the Upcoming Jewish High Holidays: Free Accessible Jewish Calendars and Prayer Books

For more than 90 years, The JBI Library (formerly known as the Jewish Braille Institute) has been providing access to the written word for people of all ages who are blind or have low vision, as well as those who have physical or reading disabilities. Audio, large print, and braille materials are currently offered free of charge. For the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, they are making accessible Jewish calendars, prayer books, and other materials available so that anyone who wishes to can participate. For more information and to receive materials, click on the JBI webpage to Order Our Calendars and High Holy Days Prayer Books in Large Print, Braille, and Audio. If you are not yet signed for JBI, you will need to visit the webpage for  Eligibility and Registration. [...]

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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 $25. Indulge your love of great reading in a format that is comfortable and pleasurable to read. A portion of the proceeds from each subscription supports Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation’s work and dedication to fostering the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired. Each subscriber also receives a large-print calendar free of charge. 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. [...]

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