DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Resources for Partners November 13,2020

Around the World with COVID-19

Blind Abilities, a podcast website, has 21 interviews (so far) from around the world with blind citizens talking about how they are experiencing and adapting to life during the pandemic. Listen while Gerardo Gera, from Tampico, Mexico, points out how citizens are affected differently by which political party controls the district in which they live, and then discusses how the regulations imposed affect the lives of blind and visually impaired people and how Gera himself is managing day to day. Blind Abilities stresses “when we share what we see through each other’s eyes, we can then bridge the gap between the limited expectations and the realities of Blind Abilities.” All podcasts and blogs, many of which deal with access technology, are created by blind or visually impaired people. The app is free, so subscribe and receive up to date Podcasts automatically in the Podcatcher of your choice. RSS feed

Managing College at Home Successfully

This article for a general audience from Child Mind has a number of ideas for parents of college students during remote learning. Among them: start with compassion; “model how you handle planning and organization in your own life”; encourage the same type of project collaboration remotely that occurs on campus; be willing to listen to their ideas while they brainstorm; achieve a quiet work atmosphere for all by matching their college work schedule to your own work from home schedule; be sensitive to the technical issues that may arise and realize that the issues may actually come from the college, like the professor we heard of who lectured for 80 minutes but didn’t realize that as the host he had to let the students into the class. Read article here. Our tester had some difficulty using the screen reader on this site.

Chromebook accessibility features

Many schools are providing Chromebooks to students learning from home. Google’s Chromebook accessibility features fall into the categories of display and visuals, audio and captions, spoken feedback or motor. Full screen or docked magnifier, customized caption styles, Select-to-Speak spoken feedback (which also highlights the selected text), sticky keys and dictation are on the menu along with a multitude of other features. Scroll down for instructions on Chromebook accessiblity.

How Using Accessible Technology Inspired a Career

David Tseng, Google’s Technical Lead for Chrome OS accessibility, says as a young person, “My “pen and paper” consisted of digital braille displays. My textbooks and exams came in digital formats… My interactions with computers meant listening to computerized text-to-speech. Looking back, all of this nudged me to wonder how these crucial pieces of my daily life worked, and led me to study them in college and beyond.” Now, he works to develop new Chromebook features like ChromeVox and Dictation and improve the Automatic Clicks. A blind tech engineer’s story.

Looking for Work? Try these events

Ability Job Fair’s next event happens on December 3. They have all types of accommodations to make the online job fair experience successful, including ASL live interpreter services, screen reader and other technologies, plus online face-to-face interviews with employers. Past employers have included Google, Aetna, American Express and the National Institutes of Health. In between fairs, there’s a current job board here.
CareerEco, “the new career ecosystem, is a virtual recruiting platform and talent community for jobseekers, prospective graduate students, academic institutions, and employers who leverage the power of technology and embrace innovation” has links to a number of virtual job fairs occuring between November and March. Users can turn on High Contrast from their webpage.

Your opinion about guide dogs, please

AFB and Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California are partners in a study that “seeks to determine why guide dog ownership is much more prevalent among people who are blind or visually impaired in the United Kingdom, compared to the United States and Canada.” AFB has begun the initiative with a survey. “Are you blind or do you have low vision? Do you live in the U.S. or Canada?” Those who answer yes to both questions are asked to take their survey about guide dog use. Learn more and take the survey.

Passport to the Arts

This Lincoln Center program for children with disabilities and their families begins its free Passport season today, November 13, at 4 p.m. with “Creating Sounds with Our Emotions” and continues through January with workshops on opera, chamber music, jazz, call and response technique, dance, and theater. Families must register for the current workshop season, which takes place via Zoom, but past performances, including a calypso session with Etienne Charles, can be found on the Passport at Home page. Families can listen, but the session includes an introduction to the performers and their instruments plus directions for making simple musical instruments to play and dance to those calypso rhythms. There are lessons about the geography and music of Caribbean nations, too (calypso originated in Trinidad and Tobago). There’s an accessibility widget on the site, too.

Speaking of Widgets

Last week we included an item about AccessiBe, an AI company that promises to make companies’ websites accessible within 48 hours. Our tester tried one website that uses AccessiBe and found it didn’t completely deliver on its promise for screen reader users. Matt Krieger, RDPFS board chair, did a little research and came upon this blog by Colleen Gratzer, an specialist in accessible design and branding. In Episode 60 of her blog, Creative Boost, “Overlays and Plugins Aren’t the Answer to Accessibility”, Gratzer notes: “When I was on a site with one vendor’s overlay, I couldn’t use the tab key to go through the page via the keyboard. I had to use the overlay’s keyboard functionality, which kept looping me in and out of that option. This is frustrating and makes for a poor user experience because it changes the way someone is used to getting around a site. Not only that, it’s requiring them to take an additional step to do so.” At many points in the blog, Gratzer’s findings mirror those of our own tester.
If you’ve used one of these quick accessibility overlays, plugins, or widgets, write us about your experience. With accessible websites a hot topic these days, we need to learn all we can.

Draw up a Plan for a beautiful garden in 2021

The Hadley Growers discussion group meets Wednesday, November 18 at 4 p.m. Central time for a session on simple and creative Garden Design Basics. Call in from any phone at 929-205-6099 Meeting ID: 448 101 015 or create/sign in to your Hadley account to join from computer or mobile phone.

Dare to Be Remarkable Transition conference

This three-day national training conference for education and rehabilitation professionals who work with blind transition-aged students or adults will be held via Zoom through the NFB Jernigan Institute from December 15 through December 17. The conference is seeking breakout session presenters in the areas of Structured Discovery methods and principles across the lifespan; Agency-wide philosophy and culture on blindness; Educational technologies, policies, and practices for teachers of blind students; Rehabilitation methods, principles, and policies that effect instructors and administrators; Teaching Structured Discovery methods and techniques in core subject areas (Cane Travel, Braille, etc.); Successful transition from education to rehabilitation. Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) strategies and programs. Questions about presentations to Edward Bellor 318-257-4554. Deadline for proposals is Monday, November 15, so you’ll have to work over the weekend to get your proposal in on time. Full information and agenda at a glance.

Drumming for independence

The web was abuzz this week with the story of the young British girl drummer who challenged the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl to a drum off and won. A search for blind drummers turned up two YouTube videos about Hibiki Sakai, who appeared with his favorite band, Def Tech. Beyond Hibiki’s appearance with the band is the story behind it, and how drumming set him on the road to learning the skills he needs to be independent and helped his parents realize he could live independently. Take five minutes to watch here and here. When Hibiki and his family speak, the English translation appears as text in the video, but the overall narration works well.