Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners August 28, 2020

Remote Learning – A New Semester

The Virtual ExCEL Academy from Paths to Literacy and American Printing House for the Blind ran for 10 weeks from March 23-May 29, 2020. ExCEL, the acronym for Expanded Core Education Learning, offered sessions on topics like problem solving skills, doing math on the abacus, and coding plus how to use access technology software and favorite apps. With a continued need for virtual learning connections, it’s great that the lessons have been archived on a YouTube Playlist. Paths to Literacy’s blog also featured “Things We’ve Learned About Remote Online Instruction” this week.

Accessible Online LSAT Prep Course and Test

The Law School Admission Council is partnering with Khan Academy to offer “thousands of official practice questions from actual LSAT exams. Create a customized practice plan that works with your schedule,” says LSAC. Khan Academy’s free web-based LSAT prep course is accessible with JAWS, reports Ahmat, who had some difficulty locating other accessible and free digital LSAT prep materials.
Fall 2020 LSAC tests are being administered and proctored remotely as the LSAT-Flex. LSAC is offering assistance to test takers who need a quiet or private room in which to take the test, but Ahmat reports after speaking with them that students are expected to find their own space with a reimbursement from LSAC for any costs incurred. Those who had accommodations in place for the in-person test will have the same accommodations offered to them for the remote test. info here.

Mentoring for Current, Prospective Students and Recent Law Graduates

The American Bar Association’s Mentor Program for students with disabilities offers “the opportunity to gain insight into the legal profession from an experienced attorney who practices in an area of interest, and/or who shares similar personal experiences with the mentee, such as a disability.” Once the program receives a mentee application, it works to achieve the best match for both mentee and mentor. The program welcomes mentors as well, who may or may not have a disability. Mentees can enroll here.
Full information at: ABA mentor program

Braille Webinars for Families and Others

The Dots for Families blog at Paths to Literacy offers 15 free downloadable PDF or BRF braille lessons that teach sighted people to create cards, labels and other documents for family members or friends who read braille. The lessons offer a beginning knowledge of Unified English Braille by reviewing key points for each lesson and then completing short reading and writing exercises. Connect with Dots for Families. For those who do not have a Perkins Brailler handy to complete the writing lessons, there’s a link to Duxbury’s free Perky Duck a computer program that allows your computer keyboard to simulate a braille writer using the letters sdf = 1,2,3 and jkl = 4,5,6).

The Entrepreneurship Game

In Canada, one in six people who are blind or visually impaired is self-employed, according to the 2018 International Levels of Employment Survey (ILES). Venture Zone Global is a mobile application developed by Canadian National Institute for the Blind as a component of CNIB’s programming for entrepreneurs. Your task in the game is to open a company to sell products and make a profit. Begin by deciding your funding source – the bank, friends, family. The game is fully accessible, with a good narrator that walks through how to play the game. Ahmat was able to play it but found the tutorial that is part of the game was a bit buggy, as did other reviewers. Free for Canadians, but costs .99 cents US for people from other countries, which is donated to the CNIB Foundation. Get the game, which is available in both English and French, here. There is also a walk through podcast for those with a Soundcloud account at Venture Zone podcast.
Creating Young Entrepreneurs Who Make Smart Business Decisions
Is opening a lemonade stand in winter a wise business decision? In National Braille Press’s book Lemonade in Winter, two young entrepreneurs find out. The book outlines the steps they took to open their business, and then follows up with a series of questions to help readers understand how to make a business successful. NBP also features tips on what young entrepreneurs need to learn and do before starting a venture from Jessica Beecham, a young entrepreneur who is blind. “Combine your passion with the right education and training”, learn what tools blind entrepreneurs use in their businesses; train for success in O&M, technology, independent living skills and learn braille for labeling and creating presentations; make health and fitness part of the daily routine. Find more about Lemonade tips here.

Getting Around and Seeing the World – apps, apps and more apps

One of Ahmat’s favorite apps is Moovit, which provides real time information “whether you ride the train, subway, bus, light rail, ferry or metro, use dockless scooters, bikes, ride-sharing like Uber” for anyone and in a multitude of languages. Ahmat uses the application to find the nearest bus stops and bus arrival times as well as to get step by step directions to get you to the bus stop. Once on the bus, track the bus’s route so you’ll know when you’ve arrived at your stop. Moovit is free for your iphone, ipad or Apple Watch. Get the app here. Moovit has also collaborated with Microsoft and Aira so users can “call remote agents through the Aira app, who are then able to view a live stream via the passenger’s smartphone and direct them using Moovit’s route mapping services, which are integrated into the platform”. Read more about this nationwide service at cities today.

Envision is a smartphone app that empowers blind and low vision users to be independent by speaking out the visual world around them. It describes itself as describes itself as “a swiss-knife with new features being added all the time”. Take a picture of a scene and Envision will describe it. Scan and read documents. Take a picture of a long document or just hold your phone over it and read it. Envision recognizes objects or you can select an object from their existing list and scan with your camera to find that object. It can recognize faces and the user can train it to recognize faces of friends and family. It can even recognize handwritten text in 60 languages. Try it free for 14 days and compare with similar apps. For both iOS and Android. Get the app and more info here. Envision, which is based in The Netherlands, has introduced, in partnership with Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, a line of smart glasses in addition to the app (cost 1899 euros). While we don’t usually mention requests for donations in the bulletin, Envision has an item in its online store that we just had to include. “Behind Envision is a small team of passionate designers, engineers and creative thinkers who are constantly working on creating the best experiences for users all over the world. This requires us to guzzle down several cups of coffee a day. If you would like to show your support and appreciation for what we do, you could pitch in and buy us a coffee. We will be sure to send you a picture and a note!” It’s 5 euros.

Parks and Recreation

More than 26 million adults with accessibility needs spend $17.3 billion annually on travel, according to a 2015 study, I Love NY tourism officials said. With that in mind, “I Love NY unveiled Accessible New York, an initiative designed to enhance the travel experiences of visitors with disabilities.” In the first phase, over 100 accessible attractions are listed by category, including blind/low vision. An especially interesting feature of the site is the Ally Toolbar that “allows our visitors to use tools that read any page on our website aloud and customize the appearance of our site with a visual toolkit” that works throughout the website. Among the featured activities for people who are blind or visually impaired or deaf: Adaptive Ski Lessons at Gore Mountain, the National Comedy Center, and TR’s Summer White House on Long Island. BONUS: New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation free or discounted admission for individual or vehicle to state parks, historic sites, and recreation activities like cross-country skiing, swimming and tennis to travelers with accessibility needs. Discounted cabin and campsite rentals, too. NYS parks access pass info N.B. Ahmat found that the application form, which is in PDF format, can be read with JAWS with some difficulty.

A lifetime America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass is available to visitors with disabilities for free at a long list of sites or for $10 through the U.S. Geological Survey Store. Pass allows free admission for up to 4 adult passengers in a vehicle. Although children under 16 are admitted free, according to information on Trip Savvy, “Children with permanent disabilities can also qualify for an Access Pass, which will allow caregivers to enter the federal recreation sites for free when accompanying the child.