Celebrating the CVAA
October 7 marked the 10th Anniversary of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. “In addition to requiring smartphones be made accessible to consumers who are blind and visually impaired, the CVAA also created, for the first time, regulations that provide audio-described content on major broadcast and cable networks.” American Council of the Blind celebrated with an online conversation with three leaders from the communications industry, Larry Goldberg of Verizon Media, Susan Mizrui of AT&T and Tom Wlodkowski of Comcast/Xfinity. What’s happened in those ten years? The communications field has moved from “do we have to” (compliance) to “how do we do it better” (how do we anticipate barriers that will arise); from creating access to making accessibility part of daily life for everyone; and advances like a talking touchscreen on refrigerators, a Peloton bike that makes it possible to participate in a workout, accessible stock charts and a blind fantasy football league. CVAA anniversary
Careers in tech access
Asked about the future of the CVAA, Mizrui looks forward to the “development of a profession that is [baked in] at corporations, not on the fringe”. Goldberg said he gets calls from companies regularly that are looking for employees with accessibility skills. Those looking to enter the field should know the WCAG guidelines, participate in tech fairs or maker events, have skills that cross disabilities, move beyond disability and are adaptable to changes in the field. Job boards like a11yjobs have recent listings from Spotify, Apple, Amazon, the US DOJ and the University of Illinois.
Audio Description in Action…
Comcast introduced its first talking guide at the 2015 Oscar ceremonies. Their national campaign, Emily’s Oz, reimagined the film through the eyes of 7-year-old Emily, who is blind. “…the cool part is how we bring her vision to life in a way she’s never experienced before,” said Wlodkowski about the video. Adweek’s article about the project includes an interesting video about the making of the spot….
and in Motion
Our Space, Our Place in Boston begins Putting It Together: Dance and Audio Description, on Sunday, October 25 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The online program, for middle and high school students who are blind and low vision, runs for five consecutive Sundays and combines movement (beginning ballet, hip-hop and dance improvisation), literacy (students describe their dances via audio description), career exploration (work with and learn about the field from an audio-description professional), and performance (students perform and excerpt from “The Urban Nutcracker”. Fees apply but scholarships are available. To register, email [email protected] or phone (617) 459-4084.
White Cane Awareness Day, October 15
The white cane was introduced in the 1930s as an aid to independent travel. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson established White Cane Safety Day to enable blind people to “come and go safely on their own.” The Braille Institute in Los Angeles explains the law and has safety tips for people who are sighted, including “Stop your car at least 5ft. from a crosswalk.” The National Federation of the Blind notes that “the emphasis has shifted over time away from safety, and toward independence and equality,” so the day is now promoted as White Cane Awareness Day. NFB chapters host white cane events as part of NFB’s Meet the Blind Month campaign. Find downloadable proclamations for local government and a list of local chapter activities like a virtual talent show (complete with clogging tutorial) at Meet the Blind Month.
Giving Back: White Canes for the Holidays
Last December, Cameron Evans , a 17-year-old from Magna, Utah, donated 100 white canes to his alma mater, the Utah School for the Blind. For his Eagle Scout project, Cameron, who mainstreams at his local school after learning the skills he needed at USB, collected donations and worked with Amazon to purchase canes at discounted prices through Ambutech. Ryan Green, the school’s director, noted ““The school deeply appreciates this generous donation as white canes are vital for our students who are blind or visually impaired. We are proud of Cameron for achieving this goal.”
Celebrating National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)
Increasing Access and Opportunity
That’s the theme chosen for the celebration of the 75th birthday of NDEAM by the U.S. Department of Labor. A downloadable poster is available in English and Spanish.
The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in New York City is hosting a series of six webinars on topics from “Leveraging the ADA to Request Reasonable Accommodations” (October 14, 10-11:30 a.m.) and the New York ABLE Program (October 28, 10 a.m. – noon). Register at MOPD to attend or to get the recording.
October 22 – 2-3:30 p.m.
Helen Keller Services is hosting a free virtual webinar, “Increasing Access and Opportunity” featuring speakers from Sodexo and CVS Health, companies that “lead with Inclusion and Access in their business ecosystem”. Keynote speaker Roberto Cabrera is a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf-Disabled, Late-Deafened and Hard of Hearing (DDBDDLDHH) in Los Angeles and a member of the California Association of the Deaf’s Employment Taskforce Committee. Facilitating the event is Kathy West-Evans, leader of the National Employment Team at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, who is one of the most knowledgeable and engaging people in the employment of people with disabilities. American Sign Language interpreters and on-screen captioning provided. Register here.
October 29 – Noon – 2 p.m.
Visions Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired invites you to “Networking and a fireside chat with Russell Shaffer, Director – Global Culture, Diversity & Inclusion at Walmart”. Learn about unconscious bias in the workplace, celebrate the 75th anniversary of NDEAM and even win prizes. Join the Fireside Chat.
Remote Learning – Then and Now
An article in The Conversation, “Remote learning isn’t new: Radio instruction in the 1937 polio epidemic,” draws on the experiences of the Chicago school system in delivering remote learning – via radio – to its 315,000 students when the city was hit with over 100 cases in August of 1937. While deemed mostly successful, some issues that arose included access to lessons for homes without radios, changing teaching style to fit the medium, distracted students, and a need for more parental involvement. Sound familiar? The full article is interesting reading.