DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners July 24,2020

A Cake With 30 Candles

Sunday, July 26, is the 30th birthday of the ADA. The New York Times has a series, Beyond the Law’s Promise, on how the ADA has shaped modern life for people with disabilities. In his article, “Disabled Do-It-Yourselfers Lead Way to Technology Gains”, David M. Perry, who uses smart technology to help with his dyslexia, notes, “Disability technology can be so quotidian that nondisabled users don’t even notice,” and includes comments from Mark Riccobono of NFB, on the low tech white cane’s longevity, “A couple times a year someone comes to us and says, ‘We have this great new idea for how to replace the cane!’ We try to be objective, but no. You’re trying to solve a problem that’s not a problem.
One comment for the Times team – next time, include that white cane in one of the accompanying photos!

“The New York Times’ special section on disability is available in Braille and audio and has its own style guide” wrote Sarah Scire from the Nieman Lab At Harvard. The Times’ project looked to give writers with disabilities their own bylines, and as “an opportunity to experiment with disability friendly production and design.

Authentic Inclusion

My Blind Spot, which is “dedicated to inspiring digital equity for people of all abilities”, just announced the launch of its Accessability Works podcast, which will focus on authentic inclusion of Ability in the digital world through conversations with thought leaders. Meet the My Blind Spot team and hear founder and CEO Albert Rizzi’s own story here or on all major podcast directories. More conversations coming soon.

Work related Expenses – what must employers cover?

Wondering what work related expenses your organization must reimburse employees who have been working remotely? Blue Avocado’s Ask Rita column may have your answers. It tackles the no connectivity, upgraded internet service, and buying office equipment for home issues. Turns out responsibility varies according to state law.

Leadership

As leaders of nonprofits, you are all well aware that creating policy change, at any level, is a long and arduous task. Writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in December, 2018, Lisa Witter and Odette Chalaby of Apolitical offered Eight Tips for Communicating Ideas to Busy Policymakers (read Civil Servants). “These policymakers face many political, practical, and psychological constraints,” the authors say and posit that this is an “opportunity to educate them about new ideas and influence their decision making.” Among their tips, “aim for short, snappy writing”, make one simple point, “tell them how long it will take to implement your plan,” and be up front about costs. Read the full article.
The SSIR website contains an archive of articles, so sign up for their free weekly newsletters. Don’t miss the article on the history of curb cuts.

Teaching Kids about Kindness – virtually

With his children schooling from home due to coronavirus, CBS’ Steve Hartman started a series of classes called Kindness 101 featuring Meryl and Emmett. Filmed from his home in the Hudson Valley, the series of videos, each about 20 minutes long, covers subjects like Compassion, Patriotism and Service. The classes each have real life examples that bring the theme to life, and are available on a number of platforms, including YouTube. The segment on Service can be found here and as with all YouTube series, one video leads to another. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy.

Born to Run

This week, another fitness/workout opportunity. “United in Stride is a tool for uniting visually impaired runners and sighted guides. Finding the right running partner can be challenging, and incredibly rewarding. Our goal is to make it easier for you.” Create a profile on the site and search for a sighted guide near you. Sighted guides create their own profiles. There are runners and partners throughout the country. Find a guide near you by entering your zip code and mile range. Looks like this might also work for someone traveling to a new area.

Group Fun (remotely for now) for Seniors

New York City-based Visions Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has moved some of its senior center classes to a telephone format. One group began with a health management theme, and the plan was to discuss health issues, including meal options. Enter the Get Food NYC program, which delivers boxes of food to city residents. Those boxes often contain much more than the seniors can use in one week, so the group has moved into recipe exchanges and creative ways to use the surplus they receive. Diana Cruz, director of the senior center, noted that the groups are using Google Hangouts for their meetings. Why not Zoom? Cruz said that the seniors take time to put in their meeting IDs and Zoom has a cutoff time. Google Hangouts – no timeout. Learn about it here.

Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Philadelphia has a storytelling group facilitated by a former teacher. Initial sessions for this group cover the history of storytelling. Similar to the Moth storytelling on public radio, group members are then assisted to craft their own story, either true to life or fictional, to share with the group, although those who want to participate as listeners are welcomed, too. Now that the group has moved to Zoom, ASB is getting requests to join from people all over the country.

THE TECH CORNER

Cash and Travel

Cash Reader uses the camera on your iphone or ipad to read currencies from over 90 countries, including Uzbekistan. Find yourself in a country that does not have an accessible currency reader? Then this is a great application. The app will allow you to try the two lowest denominations for free. To read all denominations, in app purchases for the full version are as low as 99 cents for a month, $17.99 lifetime. A reviewer noted, “I like the vibration feature, which announces the denomination in a non-verbal way [and] that you can recognize bills without a data connection.

Another release from the same developer is Now You Can See Helping Color Blind. This app “automatically adjusts any image to colors you can see” through a filter created for the user’s type of color blindness. Available in English and Japanese. Also acts as a color identifier.

Free Currency Reader and So Much More

Microsoft’s iOS application Seeing AI is now available in Italian, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Spanish in addition to English. The app uses the device’s camera and sensors to capture images and information, then analyzes the data it collects. Most analysis takes place on the phone itself, but more complicated processes require Internet connectivity. The app has “channels” for detecting light intensity, scanning barcodes, and “recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their emotions”. (That’s either scary or a great heads up.) It even reads handwritten text. Auditory feedback guides users through the app and ensures that documents and barcodes to be scanned are properly aligned with the camera. Once the scanning is complete, Seeing AI automatically begins to read the text or provide the product information. The app is designed to work with Apple’s VoiceOver, and is free from the App Store. Seeing AI is a continual work-in-progress, and values community participation and feedback. Ask questions, share your experience, and request new features by sending an email to [email protected]

Something to Laugh About

Google “Blind Comedians” and you’ll find lots of YouTube videos featuring British standup comedian Chris McCausland. In this one, McCausland, who has RP, is a contestant on a British quiz show the British version of To Tell The Truth). McCausland talks about his adventures as a blind person when a downstairs neighbor who is deaf moves in and how technology solved their communication challenges.