Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Resources for Partners September 18, 2020

October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month, so we’ll be including employment info over the next weeks. We’ll find resources for providers, resources to share with the business community, and some for job seekers themselves. We also want to include individual success stories, so if you have worked with someone who stands out in achieving their employment goal, or want to share examples of outstanding creativity in delivering placement services, we’ll be happy to tell the story. And we hope that businesses will move beyond awareness to making the offer and hiring!

Digital Accessibility Resources for Your Business Contacts

PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology, “provides a blueprint for anyone seeking to launch a successful initiative to drive the development of emerging technologies that are accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities.” Its website is wide and deep, including sections on Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles, Extended Reality and Digital Accessibility. PEAT, which is funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the federal Department of Labor, has vast resources for all business sectors. Look at good practices to make your online application accessible to Make your recruiting tools accessible. Wondering “How does accessibility work and who should be overseeing decisions, recommendations and managing requests at your company?” Go to the podcast section of the site and listen to or read What Department Should Oversee Accessibility? Need a good approach to staff training? There is general information plus a detailed guide on training for the specific roles of Leaders, HR, CIO and Procurement, IT, Marketing and Legal departments. And there’s a link to the “Introduction to Inclusive Talent Acquisition” course developed by Perkins School with Harvard EdX.

In Australia, the Centre for Inclusive Design includes its own list of digital resources and tools on its Digital Accessibility and Recruitment Guide. They note “Online recruitment sites have replaced print media as the most up-to-date and popular method for job searching. Imagine the experience for a person with disability. The process is made just that more difficult.” Their list of resources (most free) includes a guide to accessibility for people with a cognitive disability, automated tools for web accessibility, a color contrast analyzer, and document accessibility checkers.

Career Tips for Job Seekers

Diversity Inc. recently ran three articles on “Job-Seeking in the New Normal.” Here’s a brief rundown of the highlights:
1) connect with someone in the organizations where you’d like to work via professional social media like Linked In
2) create an online portfolio of your work
3) learn what the company needs, and develop an idea around that need
4) before the interview, make sure you have all the meeting details – meeting platform, interviewer names, who is placing the call – and don’t be afraid to ask
5) check your camera and microphone and do a run through ahead of time
6) as a backup to tech, make sure you have interviewer’s phone and email
7) keep a positive outlook Read full articles here.

Smartphone based approach to vision care

London-based Peek Vision “develops solutions to help health services deploy limited resources more effectively, and work towards 100% eye care coverage” through its Peek Solutions suite of smartphone apps and other software (for Android). Its smartphone based eye test can be administered anywhere, and is often used by traditional classroom teachers in areas where eye services are unavailable. “The Peek school eye health system uses our clinically-validated vision check app to screen children for distance vision problems at school. Information on children requiring further examination is automatically sent to a local eye care professional who can provide treatment (e.g. glasses, eye drops) or refer them on for specialist care. Parents or carers automatically receive personalised SMS (text) or voice messages reminding them of follow up appointments. The school also receives an SMS list of the children in their school who require further support.” Read about the vision exam at Peek Acuity.

Where to get a free eye exam and free glasses

All About Vision, which supports the efforts of Essilor Vision Foundation and OneSight to eliminate vision issues, has a good listing of services on its page “Where to get a free eye exam and free eyeglasses”. They include information and links to AOA’s InfantSEE and AAO’s Eye Care America free or low cost eye examinations and free glasses from Sight for Students and New Eyes. There are also details about Medicare and Medicaid coverage for Eye Care.

Tired Eyes

Help for visual fatigue due to remote learning is the topic of an article reposted on Perkins Paths to Technology from the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It’s good advice not just for students but for anyone who spends a lot of time on screen. To do’s: break up visual tasks; adjust room lighting and monitor brightness; connect computer/laptop to a TV if both allow HDMI input; utilize accessibility options on devices; find and use audio options. Avoid visual fatigue.

Foundation Fighting Blindness survey – deadline is Monday, September 21

FFB is conducting a survey to determine interest in content for future webinars. Questions center on medical therapies and supports. Take about 10 minutes to complete the survey.

Telephone for the Basic User

Do you find smart phones complicated and difficult to use ? The good news is that there is a phone that has physical buttons and not a touch screen. Blindshell is an accessible phone developed specifically for people experiencing vision loss who may not need all the bells and whistles of a smartphone, but do want some of their features. Think of this as a flip phone with physical buttons. Do many basic tasks like texting, email, and making calls. You will need a phone plan to use it. There is an excellent discussion about Blindshell at here.

Talking Tags

Way Around for Android and iOS is a “simple tag-and-scan system [that] lets you record a custom description for any item plus details like washing instructions or expiration dates.”. Purchase tags from the app developer and tag all and anything that you want to label. Add a description to an item, then just open the WayAround application, scan the tag and your smartphone will read the description you recorded. WayAround also lets you select specific information from the tag, like description of item only or washing instructions only. The tags come as stickers, magnets, buttons, and clips, and cost about a dollar each. Thank goodness they’re reusable.

Learn more about WayAround here, and enjoy this video ad made by two students in the ESP transition program at the Polus Center in Massachusetts here.