Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners January 8, 2021

National Braille Literacy Month

On its home page this month, the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation states:
“As a sighted person, it can be easy to dismiss Braille and the extreme importance it has for those right here in our community… One of the more alarming thoughts is that Braille is quickly becoming extinct. So, why is this a big deal?” Raquel O’Neill, LCSW and President of Blind Connect and Angela’s House, told an audience from NBCF. “Half the battle of learning Braille is just knowing the English language. Learning Braille teaches so many skills including versatility… Of the 30 percent [of blind people] who are employed, 90 percent know and use Braille daily.”

RDPFS intern Ahmat, who emigrated to the U.S. from Chad when he was thirteen, reinforces these statements in his personal story. “When I was in Sudan and Chad, I never knew a system like braille was available for the blind. In Chad, I went to school and did everything by memory. I couldn’t read nor write at that time. When I came to the United States, I had the chance to learn how to read and write braille (while also learning English). I could not do either before. There is debate among the blind as to whether, with the advancement of technology today, braille is still important. For me, technology goes in hand in hand with braille. In the past, using the Perkins brailler or slate was the only way to write in braille. Now, you can use iPhone’s braille screen input or get a braille display that connects to your computer. A screen reader or speech software can never replace braille because braille is still crucial for literacy. Simply, as a blind person, there is no ideal way for one to learn how to read or write without braille”.

The Way of Mackenzie Scott’s Philanthropy – in her own words

The big news in philanthropy these past weeks has been Scott’s multi-billion dollar donations to organizations filling basic needs or working toward systemic change throughout the country. Last July Scott stated: “I’ve been inspired by the capacity of individuals to lift others.” In her posting, “384 Ways to Help on, Scott discusses her team’s selection process: “Because our research is data-driven and rigorous, our giving process can be human and soft. Not only are non-profits chronically underfunded, they are also chronically diverted from their work by fundraising, and by burdensome reporting requirements that donors often place on them.” This latter statement is one often heard this year, as funders have been urged to respond differently to the magnified needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fundraising – “Make Change Happen for Your Nonprofit”
Small donations add up when a nonprofit participates in Coin Up . Donors download the app, select a cause, link a bankcard to their account, and the change from transactions goes to your nonprofit. The list of participating nonprofits is available to all users, and makes giving easy for donors who wish to give in small amounts. Donations are transferred to the nonprofit’s account electronically each month via payment processing partner Wepay. Nonprofits get full instructions on how Coin Up works and can register to participate at the company’s website. Get the app from Google Play or the App Store.

Navigating the latest phase of the CARES Act for nonprofits

There are several provisions of the recently passed CARES act that are of significance to nonprofits, wrote Steve Dub in a January 6 Nonprofit Quarterly posting. The limited universal charitable deduction of up to $300 per taxpayer for 2020 is extended for 2021. The National Council of Nonprofits added that married couples can now deduct up to $600, up $300 from the original act. Organizations that received a PPP loan of up to $150K now have access to a one-page “EZ” forgiveness form. PPE and other COVID-related expenditures are now forgivable. Nonprofits that employ 300 or fewer employees and show a 25-percent reduction in gross revenues are eligible for the new round of PPP loans – up to $2 million. Follow the links above for complete information.

Opera Every Day

New York’s Metropolitan opera offers free streaming events for general audiences and for students. “During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark.” Encore presentations from the Live in HD series are available free of charge for 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The streams are also available through the Met Opera on Demand apps. For more information. Listeners will need to click on the menu option at the top left of the page then select On Demand. Free Student streams, curated by young opera lovers and offered weekly, are here.

Or enjoy classical music

Classical MPR has a long list of free concerts from orchestra and chamber ensembles around the world. Enjoy the Israel Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society from Lincoln Center, and a long list of others. The list doesn’t seem to have been updated recently, but a little exploration will turn up some beautiful selections.

Social Media Accessibility

Some individuals with vision impairments use social media without major accessibility issues, but for others, accessing the content on social media poses significant challenges. A recent article on gave Instagram “brand or business” posters 5 Ways to Make Your Instagram Account More Accessible Right Now, with an emphasis on media readers who are deaf or blind. “Visually impaired author and campaigner Dr. Amit Patel started his Instagram account, @blinddad_uk, to show people that “having a disability doesn’t hold you back from doing everyday things”. One hint included: “Consider how your audio supports the viewing experience.” Instagram recently rolled out the ability to create IGTV captions in 16 languages.

For Accessibility, Create Camel Case Hashtags
When more than one word is put together without spacing, the screen reader reads them as one word. When creating hashtags, write the number sign and the first word in lower case, then capitalize the first letter of each additional word in the tag, e.g., #partnersForSight. This is known as camel case writing.

U.S. Access Board’s January Meeting to Address Access to Virtual Platforms (January 13, 2-4 p.m. ET)
“It is important that platforms for remote events are inclusive of everyone.” Open to the public, the meeting will feature a presentation on conducting virtual meetings and events that are accessible to persons with disabilities. “Guest speakers from the Department of Homeland Security [Brandon Pace] and the Federal Communications Commission [Gerard Williams] will explain what makes virtual platforms accessible and highlight common access issues. They will also cover best practice recommendations and resources for platform accessibility.” Further information, contact Rose Marie Bunales at “[email protected].
Zoom link Meeting ID: 161 002 0084
Call-in numbers: (669) 254-5252 or (646) 828-7666 or (551) 285-1373. The agenda does not appear to include time for comment by attendees.

At the ‘Fil Music School Open Houses, Sunday, January 10th at 3 pm and Wednesday, January 13th at 7 pm, meet the school staff and hear presentations about braille music, the production of braille music and large print music, and demos exploring accessible music technology as well as individual instruments including guitar, piano, woodwinds, voice, and drums. Learn about class offerings for the Spring semester, too. RSVP to [email protected] to receive the Open House Zoom link.

Join Picture This!, an audio described tour of works in the Metropolitan Museum’s Crossroads exhibition on January 21 from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm. Adults 18 and over who are blind or partially sighted can register and receive instructions to join this free event by calling 212-650-2010 or emailing [email protected]. More information at Met Museum Events

New Year’s Resolution – Drink More Water

My Water and Drink Reminder app will help you stay hydrated with custom daily water goals, water requirement calculator, notifications to drink more and motivational rewards. Install the app from the App Store or Google Play.