DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners April 23, 2021

Online “Youth Adventures” Events Open to All

Future In Sight, in New Hampshire, is offering free activities on upcoming Saturdays, all from 10 am to 12 noon. Tomorrow, April 24, the “Table Read of Scooby Doo” will bring “that loveable mischievous Scooby Doo to life, as we read in character an episode of this endearing cartoon.” On May 8, a “Making Windchimes” workshop will be the activity. A list of materials needed will be provided ahead of time to all who sign up. Other activities include “Baking Springtime Lemon Muffins” on May 22, “Making Pinch Pots,” and “Summer Kick-Off Design Your Own Tactile T-shirt.” For more information or to sign up.

Join A National Online Dialogue to Promote Equity in Employment

“You can help us advance racial and social equity in employment for people with disabilities.” So states the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Women’s Bureau in inviting participation in their online dialogue site. They are seeking input to guide their work to remove barriers and improve access to employment. Opportunities to join in the conversation are available until April 26 by visiting here.

Invitation to Upcoming Virtual Galas

The AAPD (American Association of People with Disabilities) Leadership Awards Gala on April 28 features a celebrity-filled roster of guests, including President Biden; Taraji P. Henson, award-winning actor, producer and activist; Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Fight; Jane Pauley, Host, CBS “Sunday Morning,” among others. “This year’s Gala will provide a unique opportunity for AAPD’s partners, supporters, and colleagues to demonstrate their continued support for disability inclusion.” The event begins at 7 pm EDT. Reserve your free tickets here.

Lavelle School for the Blind‘s Believe Virtual Gala on April 29 at 7 pm EDT “will showcase the outstanding achievements of our students as we take you on a special journey through the halls of Lavelle.” Students, parents, teachers, and staff will be featured to underscore that “Seeing Isn’t Always Believing.” Individual ticket prices start at $10 for students and $25 for adults. For more information and tickets.

Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship Fund

Application Deadline April 30
The Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship Fund (SCFS) aims to increase “college access and success for many motivated yet underserved youth and young adults.” Students in high school or already enrolled in undergraduate programs may apply, if they meet other eligibility requirements, related to income, U.S. residency, age and GPA. Candidates come from many different backgrounds across the nation. To learn more about the scholarship and to apply, click here.

Visiting National Parks Virtually with Audio and Audio-Described Tours

It’s National Parks Week (April 17 – April 25), and finding audio described information can be a bit of a treasure hunt, but the treasures, once uncovered, are worth the effort. The National Parks site offers a “Find Your Virtual Park” page that includes, if you scroll down the page a short list of Featured Podcasts and Audio Programs. Listeners can learn about the importance of desert soil crust at Arches National Monument, Utah; hear the history of St. Croix Island in Maine in English, French or Passamaquoddy; and for the youngsters, check out a series of songs for Junior Rangers from the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. Fans of President Teddy Roosevelt can learn how two family tragedies brought about his ventures in ranching in the Badlands of North Dakota at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park page. Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska’s introductory video is audio described, as is a video postcard from a visitor who kisses a fish. Have a particular park, seashore or historic site in mind? Go to the site and search for “podcasts”, “audio” or “audio described tours”.

Camp GDB Keeps It All About Dogs, Seizes Opportunity to Create New Program

Guide Dogs for the Blind in northern California and Oregon, like other organizations, moved their camp program to a virtual platform. Traditionally, the camp is a residential experience that introduces 14-17 year olds to what it’s like to live and work with a guide dog while enjoying social time and traditional camp experience. While those who participated in 2020 didn’t get a residential experience, they did get to meet campers from around the world via Zoom. In two sessions per day, campers learned how a guide dog is trained, met with a naturalist who introduced bird and animal sounds, played bingo, identified dog health issues with a veterinarian (what exactly, is Canine Justin Bieber syndrome?), and made s’mores and hot chocolate with ingredients provided in each camper’s materials box. Eighteen campers participated and, as you can see from their highlight video, a fun and informative time was had by all. Virtual camp continues in 2021 from June 28 through July 2, and since it’s Zoom, up to 24 campers can participate from anywhere, so register here.
In addition to the virtual camp, GDB found opportunity during pandemic restrictions. According to Camp Director Jane Flower, older teens and young adults were clamoring for their own camping with dogs experience. With COVID restrictions still in place, and vaccinations available only to those over 18 when staff were planning for summer 2021, GDB decided the time was right to provide an in-person camping experience for 18-24 year olds. As a result, from July 18-24, twelve campers will have the full residential experience at GDB’s Oregon campus while they stay at Oral Hull Park and work in the kennel, learn about veterinary care, spend an overnight with a guide dog, hike the trails at the 13-acre park and socialize while gathered ’round the campfire. Application and registration information will be posted soon. Learn more.

Unique EdgGuide Technology Augments Indoor Experiences Via Micro Navigation

New technology piloted at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science allows visitors who are visually impaired to gain detailed and accurate information not only about what is written on exhibit cards but also all about the surroundings that are observed by people who are sighted. A partnership between the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) and CACI, a technology provider, EdgGuide is accessed by downloading a free app featuring the program onto a cellphone and pairing it with sensors. Users inquire about their physical surroundings within the building and get
pre-recorded information in response. EdgGuide Plans call for extending the use of EdgGuide to other indoor venues, such as government buildings, entertainment sites and cultural landmarks. Mike Hess, CEO of BIT notes: “Technology is the great mitigator of all humanity and accessibility technology is especially impactful to the disabled community.” For more information: EdgGuide

Zoom Fatigue: New Research Study Shows Higher Rates in Women

Recently published research from Stanford University studied the psychological effects of “Zoom fatigue,” related to the increased use of this conferencing platform during the past pandemic year. The results found a higher incidence of zoom fatigue in women. A number of nonverbal factors contribute to this phenomenon, including mirror anxiety (viewing yourself, unnaturally, during video meetings), being physically trapped, “hyper gaze from a grid of staring faces,” and the cognitive weight of “producing and interpreting nonverbal cues.” Daily usage of zoom was shown to predict fatigue – and women reportedly have longer meetings and shorter breaks between meetings. Given that virtual meetings are likely to continue even as the pandemic subsides, the report offers tangible recommendations – for individuals as well as employers — to alleviate the situation. An abstract and link to the full report can be found here. And read about it in The New York Times.

Adapt Your Home to Meet Your Visual Needs

Home modifications can make a tremendous difference in how well an individual with vision loss can remain – or become – independent in performing activities of daily living. The article low-vision” “Home Modifications for the Visually Impaired,” featured on the Hire A Helper blog, expands on this theme, offering tangible tips for making changes that are fairly simple, inexpensive and valuable. Although each individual’s vision and needs vary, some overall recommendations can help in adapting the home environment. With a range of advice, from lighting to furniture arrangement, to how to eliminate safety hazards, to use of contrast, tactile markings and organization, those with low vision or total blindness can pick and choose adaptations to meet individual needs. Links to resources are provided as well.

For those with wet age-related macular degeneration, “My Home In Sight Kit” is available from Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation. The kit offers simple, yet significant, updates that can help those with AMD adapt living spaces to changing vision. For more information and to order a free kit.

And In Honor of Earth Day: Listening to Meteor Showers and Other Sounds of Earth and Sky

They can be observed falling through the sky, usually in the predawn hours if all the conditions are in alignment. But for many people with visual impairments these phenomena were unavailable in any form. In recent years, scientists became aware that the showers also make sounds, which some describe as hissing, buzzing or sizzling. Now, recordings of the sounds made by meteor showers have made this phenomenon more accessible for all. In 2011, Air Force Surveillance radar recorded echoes of the Perseid meteor shower and in 2015, the cries of a meteor shower were captured as it streaked across the Earth’s atmosphere. So, when the Eta Aquarid shower, which is associated with Halley’s Comet, appears in early May, tune in.

From 1999 to 2005, NPR aired a series called “Lost and Found Sound,” short sound clips from its archives that cover sounds collected by recordists over the past century. Listening to the Northern Lights is an eight-minute recording by Steve McGreevey of Natural Radio – the sound of the Earth’s magnetic field – in Alberta, Canada. Spring is one of the best times for listening to the lights, which tweet (like a bird), whistle, sigh and hiss as McGreevey explains the sounds, his recording process, and space weather. Learn more about the radio signals created by lightning, solar winds and other natural phenomena that lie just beyond our perception — because although their frequencies fall within the range of human hearing, they are radio waves that our ears don’t perceive. tNatural Radio explains it all.