DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners May 15,2020

Happy 100th Birthday Vocational Rehabilitation

VR100 is a celebration of the entire field of Vocational Rehabilitation. As part of the celebration, OSERS Rehabilitation Services Administration ( RSA), in partnership with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation CSAVR), will highlight VR success stories.

Speaking of CSAVR, its website has a rich list of resources about distance service delivery as it relates to employment, including staff training options.

On May 1, we asked you questions related to delivering services during COVID-19. Responses continue to come in:

Successes:
A job seeker who works with one of our grantees obtained full-time employment with a health insurer – full time days, with benefits!
Grantees are helping their trainees explore jobs that will be in demand as a result of the virus, which has resulted in phone and Zoom interviews
Relationships with organizations like Disablity-IN/Work Without Limits which has a wide network of employers, are growing
The ability to work together remotely is starting to erase some of the barriers to providing service such as transportation and scheduling
e-learning for teachers and other professionals continues to expand through several of our grantees
Virtual home and telehealth visits are becoming a regular mode of service delivery

Challenges:
Orientation and Mobility training is a challenge in general, but certainly for negotiating the campus if colleges reopen in Fall
Although grantees continue to work on curriculum for summer transition programs, there is still uncertainty about whether such programs will take place
New unemployment statistics means greater difficulty getting employers to consider candidates with challenges
Individual donors will spend their funds on organizations on the front lines of this current crisis, putting programs to help nurture the future of the next generation of young people who are blind further down the priority list

Staff:
Grantees are taking into account the needs of staff members who are also homeschooling children when scheduling meetings
Success with Zoom accessibility is moving forward

What providers need from funders:
Assurance that there will still be opportunities to continue and expand programs
Flexibility on outcomes — they may not be as envisioned when proposals were written but success can be redefined as still being there as a resource for people who might otherwise be even more isolated
Federal spending on the current crisis will translate to future deep cuts in state services that will impact all of our programs. Private foundations will play an even more critical role in the next couple of years as more agencies struggle with this dilemma
As grantees continue to test new ways to deliver services, funders can continue to invest in the kinds of innovations that are needed to meet the needs of people with visual impairments and their families and at times be willing to take risks on new strategies and approaches.

Using Zoom effectively

Getting Started With Zoom Meetings: A Guide for JAWS, NVDA, and iPhone VoiceOver Users by Heather Thomas, Accessibility Services Associate at The Carroll Center for the Blind, is the first-ever comprehensive step-by-step text-based guide to Zoom for screen reader users. For your convenience, this guide is available in PDF and Word formats. Cost is $18.

Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective is available for free download it here.

Flatten Inaccessibility is an effort among 16 member organizations who serve people who are blind or have low vision. During April, they conducted a survey about the experiences of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some results are available now here. More results, including those on healthcare, are in the offing. Not surprisingly, transportation was a huge concern for respondents, from feeling unsafe traveling on public transportation to concerns that ride sharing services will be restricted in the future. Concerns about the future of ride sharing services were also discussed on ACB radio’s Tuesday Topics broadcast.

Training for employment?

Free instruction on the basics of tracing and isolating people who came into contact with COVID-19 was launched by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health this week. View information on this five-hour course and enroll here.

Free audio books

This works on the iphone, ipad or iwatch only. Classic books (think back to high school and college English lit classes), children’s, foreign language, non-fiction and several other categories. The books read are open source, and reviews for the site are mixed. Readers either really like this app or really dislike it, but as one reviewer said, “Hey, it’s free!” Free Audiobooks by RB Audiobooks USA LLC

Trying to remain relaxed and alert?

An interesting one from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which isn’t just for farmers anymore. Some studies suggest that the smell of apples, apple cider vinegar, or spiced apples have this effect.

Recovery from Addiction

American Council of the Blind’s community offerings include a weekly (Thursday) session titled Sobriety First: 8pm ET, 5pm PT, 2pm HT for recovering alcoholics and addicts. To sign up for their daily list of community events that are open to everyone, go here.

For a list of AA meetings worldwide, geared to a general audience, the site lists meetings in every time zone, and in languages such as Spanish, Japanese, German, Farsi and Russian.

There are virtual AA meetings in every state. For a list specific to New York for example, go here.

Having difficulty with any of the links? Holding down the Control key and clicking should take you to the right spot. Luddite writer here just figured that one out this week. LOL

RDPFS does not test for accessibility of sites mentioned in this bulletin.