Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners April 30, 2021

Healthy Vision Month Begins Tomorrow!
May marks “Healthy Vision Month,” a time when the National Eye Institute asks Americans to “spread the word about eye health”… This year’s theme is “Eye on Health Equity,” focusing on increasing diversity to ensure that everyone has an equal chance for healthy vision. Visit NEI’s information page: Healthy Vision Month

Vision Loss & Personal Recovery: Tune in May 7 to Carroll Store Tech

When losing your vision, “understanding the connection between blindness skill development and restoring your self-confidence is key to feeling more at peace with your new world.” That is at the core of the fifth episode of “Carroll Store Tech Talk,” airing May 7 at 2 pm EDT. Hannah Fairbairn, author of When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss & Personal Recovery, joins Jennifer Harnish, Director of Rehabilitation at The Carroll Center for the Blind. They will discuss how rehabilitative techniques related to skills in areas like mobility and technology, as well as interpersonal communications and emotional adjustment, effect the transition to vision loss. Register for the program here.

Usher Syndrome Coalition Invites Sign Ups for 2021 Virtual USH Connections Conference

The Usher Syndrome Coalition 2021 Virtual USH Connections Conference, from May 10 – 16, provides an opportunity to learn about the latest research on treatments for Usher Syndrome and network with individuals with Usher syndrome, families and professionals. Conference registration is $25 for a family. And registration is also available for $10 for Virtual USHangouts for Children ages 8 – 17 with Usher’s Syndrome, bringing together youth and families around the world. For more information and to register.

Registration Open for Virtual Nonprofit OpCon! on June 16

NYN Media is holding its seventh annual – and second virtual – “Nonprofit OpCon! Wednesday, June 16 from 12:30 – 4 pm. Industry experts will cover topics and provide resources to deal with challenges that have emerged from the pandemic. The event promises to “make processes easier for executive leadership, operations, IT, risk, finance, HR and more!” Those interested in participating can get information on programming and speaking opportunities by contacting Lissa Blake at [email protected]. And to: Register for free.

Google Ad Grants Available to Nonprofit Organizations

By now we have all experienced the ads that appear on the top of pages when we search on Google. Businesses pay Google to place these messages. Thanks to Google Grants, nonprofit organizations can receive up to $10,000 per month to spend on search ads. For more information, and to get started: Google Ad Grants

New Website for Learning Ally’s College Success Program

The Learning Ally College Success Program (CSP) now has its own website designed to give users “all the program resources they need to succeed at school, plus exciting new features to help them get guidance and connect to the community for support and networking.” Funded by Lavelle Fund for the Blind, NYC, the site uses maximum accessibility features and a user-friendly search engine. Among its offerings: access to Learning Ally’s educational audiobook library to help students with higher education course requirements and find textbooks and literature as well as on-demand resources like articles, webinars, and podcast. Webinars and other events are also offered to students, parents and professionals. Check out the site: here.

Self Identification Becomes the Norm

“Employees with disabilities may be the largest ‘diversity’ segment of the workforce—20 percent of the U.S population has a disability and an estimated 20 percent of U.S. workers will develop a disability that lasts a year or more during their careers. Yet few will identify themselves as such in the workplace, often because they fear being stigmatized or discriminated against,” wrote the Conference Board in its 2015 report Do Ask, Do Tell. Since then, Federal agencies and their private contractors must collect information to satisfy compliance requirements mandating affirmative action in disability hiring, but more so to “increase hiring and retention of qualified individuals with disabilities to capitalize on their unique skillset, talents, experiences and perspectives, and Ensure they are creating and sustaining diverse and inclusive workplaces, according to EARN guidance, which also offers employers strategies

on encouraging self-identification. In a separate report, EARN clarifies the difference between self-identification and self-disclosure: the term “self-identification” means voluntarily and confidentially
providing information about disability status that is used for statistical purposes only (i.e., data collection and reporting purposes) vs. “self-disclosure” [which] means sharing information about one’s disability in any context other than through a formal self-identification program.”

Following the lead of companies like Eli Lilly and Merck, Google has developed a voluntary initiative called Self-ID in which 62 percent of Googlers participated in 2020. Following data collection on self-identifying employees with a disability, Google set company-wide goals focused on improving product accessibility and disability inclusion. Read their Diversity Report here.

A number of other worthwhile sources address the issues of disclosure and self-identification. The Job Accommodation Network’s site discusses disclosure pre- and post-employment offer. covers a number of topics for job seekers and employers; note, however, that to find information on visual impairment and the job search, you’ll need to go directly to Career Connect. To find the Federal Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form, PDF only in English plus 11 other languages, navigate to this page at

Pilot Program Prepares Individuals with Vision Impairment for Cybersecurity Jobs

A new resource, NSITE’s Cisco Academy training program prepares job seekers who are blind or visually impaired to become Cisco Certified Network Associates. Those enrolled in this 40-week initiative learn how to “install, configure and troubleshoot networks using Cisco products.” Funded
by a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric Foundation of America (MEAF), the Academy gears its programming primarily to people ages 18-26 and covers instruction in communications and leadership as well. Most participants are referred by state vocational rehabilitation agencies and “the program is free for them.” Learn more about it from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.

Making Copyright-Protected Work Accessible:

The Law in Jamaica
Less than ten percent of published material is accessible to people who are visually impaired or have low vision, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In observing International Intellectual Property Week, from April 23 to May 2, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) convened a “Think Tank” on April 23 which considered how to increase access to copyright works among individuals with disabilities. Jamaica’s Copyright Act allows copyright-protected materials to be copied and formats adapted for accessibility among persons who are visually or hearing impaired, although “permission must be sought from the copyright owners. This process… is not always quick or linear,” according to Dr. Marcus Goffe, Deputy Director and Legal Counsel of JIPO, who spoke at the event. Read more about it here.

Expanding Accessibility in Technology and At Work: Microsoft’s Next Steps

To bridge what the World Bank calls a “disability divide,” Microsoft has announced a new “technology-led five-year commitment to create and open doors to bigger opportunities for people with disabilities.” The initiative focuses on three priorities: development of more accessible technology; using the technology to stimulate increased employment and building a more inclusive workplace. In a blog posted this week, Microsoft explains how this new project adds to their longstanding work to “empower people with disabilities. From Sticky Keys…to Seeing AI and the Xbox Adaptive Controller… Read the full blog.

Creative Gifts for Mother’s Day (or any day)

It’s been some time since Perkins Paths to Literacy featured this idea from Education World but it’s still shoe-er good for kids in grades K-5. Just take one of the child’s old shoes, paint or decorate the shoe, insert a plastic bag with potting soil, and add ivy or another plant. Also on Paths to Literacy, Liz Eagan, a TVI from Texas, shared how she guided her second and fourth
grade students through making 3-D art and cards with Braille for their moms. Click on Liz’s byline and you’ll find pages of her blog postings and strategies – every one worth a read.

Egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and hundreds of creative ideas with handprints appear on crafts for kids websites with Mother’s Day themes. Personal Creations is a site that gathers creative Mother’s Day ideas from around the world for kids to make – many of them projects that use tactile objects. Make a teacup card for Mom from an egg carton, pieces of pipe cleaner, flower cutouts and glue, and don’t forget to include the teabag. A cheerful bookmark features popsicle sticks, buttons, and felt or foam flower shapes. Egg cartons make the fun at Easy Peasy and Fun, which has two styles of cards for younger children and those whose art skills are a level up. The Best Ideas for Kids include making cards with celery bottoms and those rascally pipe cleaners. A tutorial video accompanies each of their offerings. Happy crafting!

For those who aren’t crafty, there are traditional Mother’s Day to-dos like breakfast in bed or brunch, but for some virtual gift ideas, Country Living suggests a playlist of Mother’s Day songs, taking a virtual garden tour, ordering a to-go painting kit for an at-home paint-off or a wine selection for a virtual tasting, interviewing Mom or Grand-Mom using tips from Story Corps, or exercising in a virtual class.

Opting for the garden tour? Go to YouTube for a Weekly Walk around Central Park’s reservoir. While it’s not audio described, the host gives enough detail about the flora, fauna, history and architecture to make it worthwhile. Central Park Conservancy in New York City offers the Weekly Walk every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET. The roughly half-hour sessions are free and interactive via Zoom, so register for weekly reminders with a link to access all Weekly Walks going forward. You can also catch the walks on-demand via the Conservancy’s YouTube channel.