Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners October 16,2020

Shout Out for Vision Rehab Services

Part 8 of Vincent Grasso’s You Tube Channel, My Visually Impaired Life, is all praise for blindness services. In 15 minutes, Grasso takes his audience through his own story about rejecting, then seeking out services at Future in Sight in New Hampshire, and how his life changed. He recounts his experiences with accepting a white cane, home management, bill paying using a CCTV, being “mopey” but benefiting from joining peer support groups and joining in on sports activities. He even gives a detailed “how to” for painting your home which he learned from a totally blind friend. We actually found the video on the site of the Montana Association for the Blind, and recommend it for all anyone who is exploring but reluctant about getting services. Why get blindness services


The Business Case for Employment and Accommodation – A conversation

“Accessible Solutions for Employees” from the Future of Work podcast series at PEAT is a conversation with Mike Hess, founder of the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT). Hess, who gives a brief history of his own career ladder from coder to entrepreneur, discusses some of the tried and true best practices for engaging employers in hiring blind professionals. Hess noted that as companies look to diversify their hiring practices, the next 36 months may be as critical for people with disabilities as for other marginalized groups. He tells companies, “So, as you are really looking at your recruiting practices, as you’re looking at your hiring practices, all that, the time is now. Like do the, you know, adding the professionals with disabilities community to those efforts is seamless and it absolutely fits fine. Listen to “Accessibility Solutions for Employees”

BIT, based in Denver but with nationwide connections, offers placement services to “people who have developed professional goals, who have a marketable skill set, and who have a specific idea of where they would like to take their career. …our connections are typically for higher level positions.” There is a Salesforce certification class and a mentoring program for teens, Little BIT. To learn more, go to BIT

And headed in a different career direction….

Dan Mancina is a student working on his masters in vision rehabilitation therapy, a motivational speaker, a pro skateboarder who travels the world teaching children with vision impairments his sport, and the entrepreneurial founder of Keep Pushing, Inc., which aims to build the “world’s first accessible skatepark in Michigan (Dan lives in Livonia). It will be equipped with skateboards, pads, and adapted terrain for blind and low vision skateboarders.” Last year, Dan, who uses his white cane when he skates, partnered with Adidas on a workshop for 10 children at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. The kids put their own skateboards together from parts and then had their first skateboard adventure. Dan’s gotten pretty well known, is very up front about his diagnosis and how he has managed his retinitis pigmentosa and his life since being diagnosed, so there are lots of videos and articles out there about Dan and his work. Here’s a sampling: Dan’s Story, Inertia article,Braille Institute skate clinic

Winners – Poet and Filmmaker

John Lee Clark is a DeafBlind poet, essayist, translator, and a leader in the Protactile movement. Clark is also one of the first 20 winners of the $50,000 “Disability Futures initiative, a new fellowship established by the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support disabled artists.” He is the author/editor ofWhere I Stand, Deaf American Poetry, and Deaf Lit Extravaganza. In the Protactile movement, which supports the emergence of a fully tactile language, Clark is a core team member for the DeafBlind Interpreting National Training and Resource Center.
Also among the 20 fellows, Rodney Evans, an award-winning filmmaker, chronicles the lives of four artists with visual impairments (including himself), in a feature-length documentary, Vision Portraits, which played in theaters late in 2019. Visit Evans’ website to view a trailer, or to see the film on Kanopy with a university or public library card.

Four in One App for Independent Living

Seeing Assistant is an app with several modules for iOS and Android from Transition Technologies, S.A., of Warsaw, Poland. Move can be used for pedestrian navigation “anywhere in the world.” It has the features of other navigation apps, and “allows you to navigate to the desired location without having to constantly being on-line. With this feature, you do not have to worry about problems with network coverage of your provider or while being abroad, roaming charges.” Home “not only [reads] the code from the box, but also through access to the internet, provides information on the product itself. You will be able to distinguish …orange juice from apple during shopping, and you’ll not only learn the taste of yoghurt even before opening but also learn how much sugar, fruit and other ingredients” it contains. Read text with the Magnifier module using the phone’s back camera, then switch to the front camera and use it as a mirror for makeup and skin care. Light is a detector that gives information about the intensity of light nearby via modulated sound. Use it to turn lights off before going out or retiring for the night; detect flashing lights to determine battery charge level; analyze the light to learn about surroundings. Learn more here.

Elected and BVI

Dan Crenshaw, U.S. representative from Texas’ 2nd district, currently serving
Thomas Gore, one of the first two senators from Oklahoma, elected 1907
Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor, Washington state, currently serving
Robert Mahoney. member Michigan House of Representatives, 1955-1972
David Paterson, governor of New York, 2008-2010
Doug Spade, member Michigan House of Representatives, 1999-2004
F.B. Teter, member Washington House of Representatives, 1919-1923
Mo Udall, U.S. representative from Arizona, 1961-1991

Speak Out on Ticket to Work Changes

The Office of Disability Employment Policy published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register on a proposed transfer of the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program from the Social Security Administration to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The President’s budget for FY 2021 wants to improve program structure and coordination and transfer administration of the program to DOL. Comment by November 13 View the Ticket to Work Request for Information