July 2010 Issue  Volume 11  Number 3

AccessWorld News

AFB CareerConnect Seminars

AFB CareerConnect presents two new, free online seminars for professionals working with children and adults with visual impairments.

Session 1: What's Next…Postsecondary Training Preparation for Students with Visual Impairments

Release Date: June 15, 2010
Length: 90 minutes

Dr. Karen Wolffe, Career Counseling & Consultation, will discuss available resources and critical skills that young adults with visual impairments need to acquire before graduation from high school to be successful in postsecondary training programs. A panel of young adults (and service providers) will join her for a discussion of self-advocacy techniques.

Session 2: Technology and Visual Impairment in Higher Education

Release Date: June 16, 2010
Length: 90 minutes

Ike Presley, project manager of professional development at AFB, will discuss current trends in technology and implications for both high school and postsecondary training. Tips for the transition into postsecondary education will highlight technological solutions for everything from lectures to labs. Current students will join Ike to share their personal experiences and advice.

Both seminars will be available live on your computer. For more information, and to register for one or both webcasts today, visit the webcasts page, call 1-800-232-5463, or e-mail careerconnect@afb.net.

Ingram's VitalSource Delivers Accessibility Release for Bookshelf

VitalSource Technologies Inc., an Ingram Content Group company, has announced an "accessibility release" for its industry-leading VitalSource Bookshelf e-textbook platform.

The release, which makes the application more usable for visually impaired students, contains extensive internal feature and function enhancements, as well as support for third-party screen-reader applications. These new features include the new Document Type Definition v3.4 and VitalSource's "MathSpeak" program, which adds rich English-language articulation to MathML tags. In addition to the accessibility features, the new release also includes enhanced navigation for users, automatic updating of content, enriched reference and dictionary options, and simplified content ingestion for publishers.

Windows, Macintosh, and online updates were released in June, and iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad releases are planned for August.

AFB Consulting, AFB's accessibility consulting arm, has worked with VitalSource for months, reviewing applications and recommending new accessibility features.

American Foundation for the Blind Expands Presence in Huntington, West Virginia

The American Foundation for the Blind has opened a new 6,000-square-foot office and optics lab in Huntington, WV. Foundation leadership and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 16.

"West Virginia has been instrumental in helping us expand possibilities for the 25 million Americans with vision loss and we are extremely proud to be a part of the wonderful community in Huntington," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO. "We have an impressive team working for us at AFB TECH and we've been welcomed with open arms by the leadership and people of this great state."

AFB TECH, the technology arm of AFB, first opened in Huntington in 2001 with just three staff members. The office has now grown to almost 20 employees and several interns from Marshall University. AFB recently relocated its finance department and other key positions from its New York headquarters to West Virginia.

"West Virginia is honored to be home to AFB's optics lab," said Gov. Joe Manchin. "It's amazing to think that the technology being developed and implemented right here in Huntington is making a world of difference for so many across our nation."

AFB TECH has garnered national recognition for its work to make critical technology--from lifesaving diabetes equipment to smart phones--accessible to people with vision loss. Also located at the Huntington office is AFB CareerConnect, a Web-based program for blind and visually impaired students, job seekers, and potential employers that works to combat the shockingly high unemployment rates among people with vision loss.

AFB TECH is now located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, Suite 350, Huntington, WV 25701. Learn more about AFB TECH online.

Free Computer Games for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

This article offers a list of free educational computer games for blind or low-vision children.

Scientists Unveil Bionic Eye for Future Implantation

Researchers have unveiled a prototype bionic eye that will be implanted into Australia's first recipient of the technology. The prototype, developed by Bionic Vision Australia scientists at the University of New South Wales, is expected to improve vision and prospects for independence for patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. The researchers hope that future prototypes may allow users to recognize faces and read large print.

The device, which is currently undergoing testing, consists of a miniature camera mounted on glasses that captures visual input, transforming it into electrical signals that directly stimulate surviving neurons in the retina. The implant will enable recipients to perceive points of light in the visual field that the brain can then reconstruct into an image.

U.S. Bills Could Change Size, Shape, Texture to Help the Blind

The U.S. Department of the Treasury will soon unveil its plans for a new universal American currency that better accommodates the blind and visually impaired.

The change is in response to a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that upheld a lower court's ruling that the U.S. Department of the Treasury had violated Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by not providing currency readily identifiable by the blind and visually impaired.

At an October 2009 American Council of the Blind affiliate meeting, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing showed some attendees prototypes that had notches, holes, foil, and raised dots. It is likely that the new bills will feature some combination of these changes.

The new currency is expected to be rolled out in the next five to eight years.

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