Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners March 12, 2021

Women, Eye Disease and Vision Impairment

“Women account for more than two-thirds of the world’s population of blind and visually impaired persons.” In the United States, because women, on average, live longer than men, they have a higher chance of developing age-related vision loss, specifically due to macular degeneration and glaucoma. Women’s Eye Health, based at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research, seeks to empower women and families to adopt lifestyle changes to improve their eye health. WEH has redesigned and produced eye health brochures and resources, covering such topics as an eyecare provider checklist, healthy lifestyle, eye safety, and information about specific eye conditions. Their website is produced in partnership with the National Eye Institute National Eye Health Education Program and Women in Ophthalmology and “features content written by women for women.” For more information: Women’s Eye Health

Houston Area Visually Impaired Network HAVIN) Insight Expo: April 10

Registration is open for the 2021 HAVIN Insight Expo, which addresses the question of “Where Do I Fit In?” The Expo’s featured presentation will “explore where we find ourselves fitting in among other blind and visually impaired people…” Registration is free for this virtual event. For more information, or to register: HAVIN Insight Expo 2021

Say My Meme” Podcast Describes Memes for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

“A mixed breed. Mostly white and dark brown fur…And, it looks like she’s looking up at her owner, totally pissed.” This colorful description of “Grumpy Cat,” the celebrity feline, is just one example of the descriptions offered on the new podcast, “Say My Meme.” On the show, founder Will Butler (of Be My Eyes) hears descriptions such as these from cohost Caroline Desrosiers (founder of Scribely, the alt text business). Butler, who is legally blind, “gets the same experience as his audience.” He notes that he now can have “more dynamic conversations with friends because he can now reference memes.” The podcast airs each week and covers themes, such as cat memes, sassy memes and ‘90s memes. For more information. To subscribe to the podcast, use the search terms “Say My Meme,” to sign up wherever you get your podcasts.

Careers in Social Work

Social workers often play a large role in addressing the needs of people with vision impairment. Careers in social work can also provide good opportunities for those with vision loss. For individuals pursuing a social work career, a number of resources can be explored:
The National Association of Social Work (NASW) Spring Virtual Career Fair, on March 30,
provides opportunities for employers and job candidates to explore the options currently available in social work. Networking, career advice and interviews are among the offerings. To register or for more information.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) represents more than 750 accredited undergraduate and master’s degree social work programs, educators, practitioners and agencies nationwide. Focused on professional development and quality social work education, CSWE offers a forum for leadership and professional development. CSWE’s website includes a directory of accredited social work programs: Directory of Accredited Programs

Another resource, Social Work Degrees, includes information specific to “Social Work degree programs geared towards up-and-coming professionals interested in working with clients with disabilities such as deafness and blindness.” Their website contains information related to social work education specifically geared to disabilities as well as general skills gained through this training. For more information: Vision and Hearing Impairment: Disabilities Social Work Degrees

Networking in a Pandemic

Networking is key to success in the world of work, whether you are currently employed, running a business or seeking a job. In the March issue of Able News, “‘Getting Out There’ When Not Going Out – Networking in a Pandemic” describes the importance of networking to people with disabilities. “Real networking is about offering value to others – it’s staying in touch, making connections, giving time and offering help. Whenever a person is supporting someone else, they are networking.” It includes tangible tips, such as use of LinkedIn, becoming proficient in virtual platforms like Zoom, virtual volunteering, and the value of information interviews. Able is free to readers, but you may need to subscribe. To subscribe: Able News home page. If you are already subscriber, click here for the complete article.

Careers: Partnerships, Accessibility and Support Leading to Positive Outcomes

Akasia Perran is a Junior Administrator for Salesforce who says, “I love bringing Salesforce Marketing and Cross-Cloud Consulting to our clients,” but achieving her dream job took time. Perran became legally blind five years ago, and decided to move to a career in technology. Through free courses offered by Salesforce in partnership with the Blind Institute of Technology, she earned certification as a Salesforce Administrator in just six months. Then a sometimes frustrating six-month job hunt led to her current position. Perran’s advice to job seekers: 1) Showcase passion and drive in everything that you do. 2) The world is changing fast! Stay educated about business trends and the evolving workplace. 3) Be your own superhero—after all, nobody believes in you more than yourself! 4) Never give up. Keep going. You will succeed.

In November, Mike Hess, founder of the Blind Institute of Technology, spoke with UN News in a first person interview where he said his job as head of BIT is “to go out there, kick in doors and let employers know just how easy it is to seamlessly integrate people with disabilities and add value to the bottom line and the corporate culture…. I’m a glass half full person, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had to ask myself if a small non-profit like ours could survive, as most of revenue comes from placing people with companies.” According to Hess, funders have come through with grants that let BIT continue to have conversations with businesses and say, “we have grant money, we have passionate students, and they need work experience,” and to point out that with their deep knowledge of assistive technology for what Hess called “desk jockey” jobs, the pandemic has created opportunity both for businesses and for job seekers who are blind.

Transferable Skills: From Figure Skating to Job Interviews

A search for information on blind ice skaters found this article about deaf blind figure skater Lisa Ferris. “At one time, she would skate three to five days a week. She’d skate before she went to work. She took ballet and pilates classes and as many private lessons that her budget would allow. Her guide dog would come to the rink with her.” When Lisa became a mom raising twins, her career on the ice was curtailed, but the lessons learned continued. “It’s ok to do something even if it is going to take a ton of work, even if you will never be the best at it. It can help and motivate you in a lot of other ways and bring value to your life. This, I did not learn until adulthood and I think I missed many opportunities because of it.” Now Lisa writes a blog called “Skate Therapy,” and one of her posts is a review of a book written by the author who wrote the original article about Lisa. (Talk about a turn of events.) Lisa credits that article, which was posted on the internet, with helping her manage job interviews. “The figure skating article [which interviewers had read] allowed me to talk about what it is like to be a Deafblind skater, how people reacted to me, misconceptions I had to dispel, different ways I got around and worked with my disability, etc. Along with just the usual stuff people like to hear in interviews like working towards goals, working with others, being well-rounded, etc. (I think I got both jobs!). Read Lisa’s entire post here and don’t miss Adventures in Swimming Deaf Blind“. It’s a practical, warm, and lighthearted guide to how she manages herself, a guide dog, a cane and technology at the gym and pool.

Guggenheim Museum’s Mind’s Eye Virtual Programming

The Guggenheim Mind’s Eye programming for visitors who are blind or have low vision in March features the current exhibition, “Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism.” Sculptural work from postwar America, the 1960s and 1970s, in the Guggenheim collection will be explored through verbal description and conversation. The program, which will be offered twice, may be accessed through Zoom or by phone. It is free, but space is limited. To register for one of the programs, RSVP by March 17. Register here.

March 14 – 3.1415926535897932384626433……..

It’s the day to have pizza, bake a pie, or engage in nerdy activities to celebrate Pi and get more comfortable with math. Students at Washington State School for the blind who memorized as many digits following the decimal in pi as they could got to splat a pie in the face of those administrators. Twenty-five digits earned a pie throw at a lower level administrator, but 50 digits earned a throw at superintendent Scott McCallum. “Several students covered McCallum with fruit, crust and white stuff on top,” reported the local Columbian News. For less exuberant ways to celebrate, make a list of words that begin with p-i or start memorizing those pi digits (up to 100) by listening to the Pi Song. Enjoy a dice game where players must roll the dice in pi order, or try writing a pi-ku (3 syllables, then 1, then 4). Find more ideas, some of which can be adapted for children with vision loss at and Reader’s Digest magazine urges writing a poem in Pilish (it’s a real language), or doing something irrational since pi is an irrational number, and reminds everyone that March 14 is also Einstein’s birthday.

News From Our Readers

VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has recently produced a cookbook, “Cooking Blind & Sighted” in both PDF and JPEG format. This accessible digital cookbook contains over 120 recipes to add to the repertoire of home-cooked meals during this prolonged period of COVID-19 living. Proceeds support VISIONS services in the New York Metropolitan Area. For additional details: VISIONS Cookbook

The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School (FMDG Music School) Performathon, scheduled for March 21 from 2 – 5 pm ET, seeks sponsors for individual performers. Proceeds support FMDG’s work with students  as an independent music school. This student-led, virtual event is free to attend and open to the public. For more information.

On March 16, the Hadley School Resource Roundtable will explore “Gadgets and gizmos galore!” – independent living devices, room by room, that make everyday tasks safer and easier. Join the discussion and share favorite devices as well. The session is free, with registration required. Sign up here.