DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners June 11, 2021

Disability and Access Line (DIAL) for COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available
Individuals with disabilities can now receive help to get vaccinated via the Disability and Access Line (DIAL). Callers get assistance in finding vaccine locations, making appointments and securing local resources, such as accessible transportation. Part of the Administration on Community Living, DIAL functions as “a collaboration between a consortium of organizations serving people with disabilities and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.” Those needing assistance can call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 am to 8 pm (EDT) or email [email protected] For more information: DIAL.

Upcoming Webinars
On June 16 at 3 pm CDT, “The Prevalence of Vision Impairment and Eye Diseases among Nursing Home Residents: The Delaware Study” will be presented in a webinar hosted by Vision Serve Alliance. The program will highlight the high incidence of vision impairment among residents and compare findings with those from other studies of nursing homes. Policy and practice implications will be considered as well. Get more information and register here.

On June 18 at 2 pm CDT, “Partnering with Senior Service Providers to Reach Low Vision Consumers” will be presented by the Older Individuals Who Are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC). The program will describe how Minnesota has reached out and is providing services to seniors who are experiencing vision loss for the first time.
For more information and a link to register.

A webinar co-sponsored by Berkeley College and the National Rehabilitation Association’s Metropolitan New York Chapter on June 29 at 12 pm EDT covers “Long Haulers: Post-Acute COVID-19 SyndromeL The Aftermath of Cognitive Disability.” The program will consider long-term cognitive effects of COVID-19 and how to access resources. Participants may be eligible for CRC credit. Find out more and register here.

Coding Camp for Students Nationwide
Middle school, high school and transition-age students with vision loss interested in learning about coding can sign up for an online course in Coding, being held weekdays from June 22 through June 30 from 1 – 3 pm EDT. Offered by the California School for the Blind and American Printing House (APH), the course is offered at no charge, but space is limited. For more information and to sign up.

Online Art Classes for Children
Multi-sensory Summer Art Classes for children ages 6 – 12 who are visually impaired are being offered every Saturday from 9 – 1- am PDT in July by Eye Matter. Classes are offered free of charge – and so are all materials, which will be shipped to students prior to class. Space is limited and registration ends on June 15. More information and a link to register can be found here.

“Magnifier and Wearable Survey” Seeking Participants: Discounts and Prize Drawing Offered

Vispero invites individuals who “use, teach or sell digital magnifiers and head-worn digital magnifiers to participate in a 30-minute survey.” The goal is to get feedback to improve the effectiveness of video magnifiers. All eligible participants who complete the survey will receive a 20% discount coupon toward the purchase of any Freedom Scientific, Enhanced Vision, or Optelec hardware or software product. Respondents will also be entered into a drawing to win a choice of prizes. Drawings will be held each week in June. 
Click here for more information and to take the survey.

Summer Internships 2021 – Virtual and In-Person
The American Association of People with Disabilities has begun its very first virtual summer internship program, combining interns from both 2020 and 2021 who will participate in internship placements, Certificate Programs, mentorship, professional development, and other community activities online. Two interns of note: Dr. Karen Arcos, alumna and volunteer at the Blind Children’s Center who works with children and parents using her bilingual skills, who is interning with the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Bruno Matthew Arnold who, though still an undergraduate, is heavily involved in disability advocacy, academic research, and walkathons for Southeastern Guide Dogs. He’ll be interning in the office of Virginia Senator Mark Warner. Read more about the program and the interns here.
Fifty companies that put on “awesome” virtual internships in 2020 were lauded in an article on ripplematch.com. Familiar names like AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods made the list of companies involving virtual interns in Shark Tank-like competitions. Examples included creating an online portal for small business loans, and a hackathon dedicated to making the internet more accessible for the visually impaired. Keep this list of 50 companies handy for future internship ideas.
Will virtual career experiences continue beyond COVID-19? John Yarham, a British expert, certainly envisions a place for virtual career training in the future, and cites a national virtual work experience program called “My Week of Work”, which 120,000 young people and parents joined in 2020.
Many resources make it easy to explore careers online. CareerOneStop.org has its videos grouped into 16 different “clusters”, with a huge choice of careers to explore. Each career video also has a transcript, training required, average pay, and outlook for this career choice. In Khan Academy’s Careers Series, 14 modules feature professionals describing their career in realistic terms, including pay scale, training, entry level experiences and the career ladder.

Planning a White Cane Day Event? Get a Free Community Outreach Guide
The NRTC “Community Outreach Guide: How to Host a White Cane Awareness Day” offers extensive information about White Cane Day, October 15, its history, proclamation suggestions, event and publicity ideas and much more. Planning takes time, so it’s not too early to start the process. Get your free Community Outreach Guide here. The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC), located at Mississippi State University, provides resources, training and technical assistance to vocational rehabilitation professionals.

New NRTC 4to24 App
A new transition resource, the 4to24 app addresses the low employment rates among young adults with vision impairment. “Youth with blindness or low vision are more likely to attend post-secondary education compared to the general population of youth, yet are still less likely to be employed as young adults…” Factors contributing to these statistics include such factors as job market and employer bias, as well as lack of preparation for employment. The app, developed by the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC), can be used by parents and youth and personalized based on education levels, skills and career goals. The focus: “employment outcomes for youth with blindness or low vision.” Learn more about 4to24’s development and use.

Study Shows Patient with Retinitis Pigmentosa Regaining Partial Sight
A research team led by Dr. José-Alain Sahel, professor of Ophthalmology at Sorbonne University and the University of Pittsburgh, published a study that utilized a technique that yield promising results for individuals with retinitis pigmentosa. Specifically, evidence showed that “injection of an optogenetic sensor-expressing gene therapy vector combined with the wearing of light-stimulating goggles can partially restore visual function in a patient with RP who had a visual acuity of only light perception,” as noted in the research team’s article, available in full in nature medicine. The report revealed that the patient utilizing the combined technique actually oriented toward an object and reached for it. Additional tests showed “a major improvement in visual activities, such as detecting a plate, mug, phone, finding a piece of furniture in a room or detecting a door in a corridor but only when using the goggles.” A report on the study in TIME magazine is available here.

Accessible Fun at Amusement Parks
With the return of summer and the lifting of many pandemic restrictions, a visit to an amusement park may be in the near future for many. Whether or not the park is accessible can be a concern – and is addressed in a guide from offers a time for relaxation and recreation, often including visits to the many amusements parks across the nation. Some amusement parks include attractions with tactile attractions and other features geared toward visitors who are blind or visually impaired. For example, at JT’s Grommet Island Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia, their inclusive playground has “raised tables for building sand castles and sensory boards for those who are blind or have low vision.” Raised sandboxes and musical instruments are available at Noah’s Playground for Everyone in Evanston, Illinois. The park also uses bright colors and textured building materials that make the park easier to get around for those who are blind or have low vision. A guide to these and other amusements park across the nation is offered by accessibleGO.
Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee, Florida offers services for guests with visual disabilities. Audio descriptoin, braille guidebooks, portable tactile map bookets, stationary braille maps and information about service animals are all available. For more information.
Court Ruling in South Korea Allowing People with Vision Impairment to Ride Roller-Coasters
Individuals with vision impairment won access to roller-coasters by the Seoul Cental District Court, following a damage suit filed by three customers at Everland, a major theme park in Yongin, South Korea. Everland had to award each of the customers two million won ($1,750) after the park denied them access to the ride in 2015. “’There is little evidence to support the argument that the roller-coaster would be more risky for the plaintiffs than others,’ the court said. ‘Thus, it should be considered an act of discrimination against discrimination against disabled people.’” Read more about in COOL BLIND TECH.

Wedding Planning: “Learning to Love Without the Visual Details” – a Personal Perspective
“As I began to plan my wedding, I was reminded of how gender and disability intersect.” Annika Konrad shares her experience in preparing for her marriage, shares the many details involved in planning – from selecting the venue, to identifying guests to reading vows to navigating obstacles at the site. A wedding involves many details and, as she notes, many of these are visual in nature. However, Ms. Konrad emphasizes that, as the bride, she was in charge, which means she could control “almost every detail,” including the color of the menu, font sizes and more. And, “Even though I couldn’t see many faces while walking down the aisle with my parents by my side, I knew all those blurry faces were there to support me and my husband and decided to wear the biggest smile of my life.” All told, her special day was full of excitement and “pure joy” that carried her through the day and that she hopes “to find …in many other moments of my life.” Read her full story in THE OUTLOOK FROM HERE.