Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners June 26, 2020

Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4
By now, most of you are in some phase of reopening. If you have not yet begun, you are certainly ready or close to it. Some of you will have staff continue to work remotely, some are opening their buildings for fewer days per week, others are only opening their buildings for services like low vision. One low vision clinic that has already reopened has been surprised that seniors are the ones most eager to be seen.

Buildings are being marked with signage and social distancing markers. Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout. As we expect many of you are doing, Helen Keller Services will be taking temperatures and doing health screenings in the lobby and providing masks for all entering. Extra cleaning will be provided. And as noted last week, VIA in Buffalo is providing disinfecting wands to some employees.

Field based staff will carry extra equipment have full PPE (masks, face shield, gloves) for themselves and also an extra supply for consumers.

For those of you who have already started reopening, have there been any unanticipated concerns, or any pleasant surprises?

If you’re still hunting for PPE, some can be found through the New York Preferred Source Program here.

Camping Virtually

Day camp is fun, adventurous, creative and usually in person – but most are virtual for 2020. While Helen Keller Services is maintaining six age-based groups, each with two counselors, and like so many others they’ll be on Zoom. Campers who do not have laptops will have one loaned to them, and will participate in music, dance, arts & crafts and socialization activities. Campers will pick up a box of art supplies beforehand at the agency’s office in Nassau County.
Despite having had to cancel its 25th anniversary celebration, Camp Abilities Brockport is running virtually in 2020. Each camper receives a package known as ‘Camp Abilities in a Bag.’ Instructional videos and guidance will be provided by trained staff. “We sent all the kids bell soccer balls,” said camp director Lauren Lieberman, “bell basketballs, guide wires and tethers and shot puts and discuses. The coolest thing is a soccer trainer. You tie it around your waist and then you tie it around whatever ball you are using. You can kick it, or dribble it and if it rolls away it comes right back. [Campers] will be able to do the descriptive instructions with the support of our coaches and specialists.” Video about the upcoming camp, which features a returning camper who says his goal for the year is to not throw the shotput backward, can be found here.

Dedicated to Families

Live Accessible is an organization that is “dedicated to reaching those with low vision or blindness through sharing resources, product reviews, how to tips, digital content, and encouragement to help them and their families live a more accessible life”. Carrie, Pablo and their toddler son Pablo Joseph are all visually impaired. Their website is a treasure trove of YouTube videos by, for, and about people who are visually impaired and their sighted supporters (see “Inspiration”). Carrie blogs that her little family hit some rough waters in the last year and she had to stop uploading, but she’s back now adding new videos and starting a second channel on how they’re homeschooling young Pablo. There’s an extensive list of links to videos on the “Resources” page, including one from a blind hunter. One could spend days on this site. is for parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. Wonder Baby, the brainchild of Amber Bobnar, mother of a visually impaired special needs child, is a compendium of articles written by parents who want to share with others what they’ve learned about playing with and teaching a blind child. There hasn’t been a new post to this site in four months, and some of the links to resources no longer work, but the list of posts that can be accessed from the Home page is extensive and truly helpful, including the article, “How to Work With Difficult Doctors and Therapists. We hope the site is fully up and running again soon.

The Arts Corner

If you have no idea what a Colorino (Google turned up many sites for an Italian wine before a link at the bottom pointed us to the Colorino color identifier) might be… take a look at GOING BLIND: COMING OUT OF THE DARK ABOUT VISION LOSS,” said one executive director. Through his company, A Closer Look, Inc., Joe Lovett’s film, supported early on by RDPFS, has had enormous staying power. Closed Caption, Audio Described, or Standard versions are available. The film is available for $3.99 here. A Closer Look also has an outreach program, Going Blind and Going Forward, through which you can bring Going Blind to your community. Hosting information here.

Everyone likes lists

10 top school districts in your area, 15 beauty tips for brunettes, on an on. Everyday Sight has numerous lists, including “10 Incredible Blind Painters”, mostly contemporary artists. One of the ten, 25 year old Jeff Hanson, who uses his talent for philanthropic purposes, has raised over $5 million dollars at the age of 25, and plans on making it $10 million by 30.

Deaf Blind Awareness Week end tomorrow

But Helen Keller National Center’s Peer Learning Groups go on. They began back in April, and HKNC is still offering a robust daily roster. Learn all about them here.