Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners January 15, 2021

Honoring Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King Day is not only a Federal holiday, it is the only holiday designated a National Day of Service. “Observed each year on the third Monday in January as ‘a day on, not a day off,’ in 2021 AmeriCorps and the Presidential Inaugural Committee are working together to encourage you to engage in volunteer service in honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Although it’s likely too late to create and register a project, you can recognize star volunteers at any time with a Presidential Service Award, which “honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too”.

BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King virtually on January 18 at 11 a.m. with speeches, poetry and arts performances. Featured artists include Vy Higgensen’s award-winning choir Sing Harlem!, Brooklyn-based poet and 2020-2021 BAM Artist Resident Timothy DuWhite, spoken word artist Ashley August, and leading artists and changemakers. The event is free, but RSVP in order to attend.

Looking for braille/print books about Dr. King for young folk in grades 3-7? The NBP February Book of the Month is “Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank”. The School Library Journal noted, “Born the same year and treated as inferior due to their race, both Martin and Anne dreamed of a world where equality and justice prevailed. By using key events from their lives to show the forces arrayed against them, the author makes the resilience and positive outlook of both figures even more evident.” Available from National Braille Press

The Presidential Inauguration

A search for virtual accessible inauguration exhibits and activities at our District of Columbia museums and sites turned up very little, but The Dimenna Children’s History Museum at the New York Historical Society honors Inauguration Day with a free, virtual event , “An American First—Women and the Vice Presidency”, on January 20 at 3 p.m. Learn more about the job of Vice President and “Commemorate Kamala Harris’ inauguration as the first female Vice President with our historical interpreters as they explore how [Geraldine] Ferraro helped pave the way. Registration required.
If you’re participating in the inauguration virtually this week, you may want to cook commemoratively. Eat like President Biden with some pasta and red sauce with ice cream for dessert, or cook like VP Harris with a whole roast chicken or a tuna melt, says Eat This. Honor past presidents by making some of their favorites at home: eggnog (Washington), limburger cheese spread (Harding), onion sandwich or lemon custard pie (Coolidge), green goddess dressing (Eisenhower), or peanut butter cookies (Garfield). Jefferson favored Mac & Cheese, and FDR Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, but John Quincy Adams’ love of fresh fruit may make him a healthy eating originalist. Create an eclectic menu or order in from all the Presidents’ favorites here.

Free Braille Copies of Declaration of Independence and Constitution

National Braille Press, through a grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, is offering free Unified English braille copies of Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution. Free copies are limited to one per order here.

Braille Literacy Month Continues

Nikhil’s story I was introduced to braille from a young age, but as I grew I mostly read and wrote with a CCTV or other assistive technology. As the years progressed, I did learn more and more of the braille code with the help of my TVIs at school, but time they could allot for braille instruction had to compete with time for adapting class materials, taking tests with a reader who could describe any figures or diagrams on exams, and ensuring that my other academic accommodations were met. When the switch was made from EBAE to UEB I had to unlearn some contractions and relearn others, but I made up for the time lost and eventually gained a strong command of the braille code and its many contractions. I continue to be a slow reader, as I do not read braille very often. I read text using a screen reader, but I write braille every day of my life. I am thankful for my braille skills every time I pick up my smartphone: I use an iPhone and make extensive use of the Braille Screen Input (BSI) feature that is a part of the built-in VoiceOver screen reader. In fact, I use it for everything I possibly can: texting, entering passcodes, dialing phone numbers, typing URLs, and so on (see my tips in the next item). I use BSI because it beats dictation in terms of accuracy and touchscreen typing in terms of speed, plus I no longer have to worry about using dictation in public. Technology and braille have only been mutually beneficial in my life, and their presence and significance have increased together over the years. I am grateful to have the opportunity to use technology more freely and efficiently with braille and to employ and reinforce my braille skills with technology. This Braille Literacy Month, I pay tribute to Louis Braille and his truly brilliant and timeless invention that has served to empower the blind and visually impaired since the nineteenth century and that will continue to do so in the Digital Age and beyond.
Become a Braille Screen Input Power User Today, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for iOS’s Braille Screen Input (BSI) that will bolster your smartphone prowess—and productivity.
Searching for Installed Apps: You’ll never need to read through your apps again. Just activate BSI on the home screen and start typing the name of the app you’d like to launch. Swipe up or down with one finger to hear the matches, and then swipe right with two fingers to open the app you want to use.
Dialing Phone Numbers: Navigate to the Keypad in the Phone app, activate BSI, and just start typing. Don’t forget the number sign. When you’re done, exit with a two-finger scrub or by rotating the rotor and double tapping the “Call” button.
Entering Passcodes: BSI works on the lock screen and allows you to enter your passcode. Since you no longer need speak your code aloud, you can enter it in public. In fact, BSI makes entering your passcode to unlock your device so easy that you can ditch fingerprint and face ids and six-digit codes altogether for much stronger alphanumeric codes. Don’t worry, there’s no limit to the length of alphanumeric passcodes, so you can bring your security—along with your finger strength and memory—to the next level. Don’t forget the number sign, and remember that BSI supports symbols, too. Have fun! Typing in URLs and Filling Out Web Forms: Use BSI to enter URLs, no matter how complex (remember that dots 4-5-6 followed by dots 3-4 make the forward slash). And you can use it to fill out web forms. You’ll have to experiment though, as many web forms and BSI don’t work well together.

A Better Priced Braille Display

On our intern Ahmat’s Wish List for 2021 was better pricing for adaptive technology hardware. While its price may still make it out of reach for many, India-based Innovision’s Braille Me display has many attractive features, especially since its advertised price is $515 if purchased through NBP. Braille Me can be used with screen readers like NVDA and VoiceOver, and connects to a mobile device or a desktop. The Innovision website states its product offers “instant mobile connectivity and access to books in braille at your fingertips…Braille Me has been tested rigorously in harsh conditions like dust, humidity, heat etc. The body of Braille Me is reinforced from inside to sustain drops even from human heights.” Details and user manuals are available on NBP’s webpage , and technical support and training are a phone call away. One year limited warranty, too.

National Braille Press Needs Your Input

“National Braille Press is developing a new program that will provide braille resources directly to TVIs and other professionals who work with blind or visually impaired students.” The goal is to increase the ways in which teachers themselves are served so they can better serve their blind or visually impaired students. “We want to hear experiences, suggestions, and frustrations from TVIs, O&Ms, Paraprofessionals, Classroom Teachers, and anyone who works with blind or visually impaired students. The survey will help us determine which resources we will directly provide to teachers through the upcoming program. Please complete the survey and share it with your contacts, too.

Free Accessible Online Graphing Calculator

A favorite among math teachers, the online Desmos calculator provides access to a free internet graphing calculator. The Desmos team has now redesigned its calculator for screen-reader accessibility, and it even provides comprehensive documentation on configuring your screen reader—whether you use JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, TalkBack, or even ChromeBox. The calculator supports the verbalization of the operations of a scientific calculator and provides auditory tracing of graphs. Learn more from the official YouTube video and from the thorough documentation.

Mark Your Calendar

Move to a Healthier You…
Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Karpas Health Information Center in New York City has two upcoming online movement classes, Gentle Movement and Fall Prevention (10 Friday mornings beginning January 15) and Qi Gong and Breathworks (six Thursday mornings beginning January 21). Become a member of Karpas Health Online by completing a form here, then get info and zoom link here.
…then stretch and give virtually
Whether you’re a beginner or highly experienced, buy a ticket for National Braille Press’s Saturday morning, January 23rd Bend for Braille Yoga class led by Jillian Ricks, a Registered Yoga Teacher, braille reader, friend of NBP, and owner of Jillian’s Healing Arts Center in Soddy-Daisy, TN. “Jillian will use description to lead virtual studio attendees through an hour long class and will also be available after class for a Q&A”.

Enjoy Jazz to Save Birdland

Fundraising efforts to save iconic New York jazz club Birdland will culminate in a free streaming concert on Jan. 24. The lineup for the event includes former President Bill Clinton, Clive Davis, Elvis Costello, Jeff Daniels and Leslie Odom Jr. The “Save Birdland: A Celebration of Music, History and Community” will start at 7 p.m. ET to help bring awareness to the GoFundMe set up to help the club pay off debts incurred over the span of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find other performers and info at

If only we had found this sooner

We’ve had our fill of “fake news” by now, but for teens (or anyone), NBP offers 34 fake news stories from the satirical news outlet The Onion, including, “Supportive Parents Encourage Child’s Interests In Anything Within 15-Minute Drive.” and “Independent Film Made By Dependent 27-Year-Old.” Available in both contracted and uncontracted braille. To order. Looks like an opportunity to present a good critical thinking lesson, too.