by AFB Staff
This time of year, we’re all searching for gift-giving inspiration. If you have a close friend or family member who is blind or visually impaired, here are some gift-giving guides you might want to check out. From young children to working-age adults to seniors who are gradually losing their vision, AFB has you covered:
- AccessWorld® has suggestions for all the gadget lovers in your life—everything from Apple products to audio books, computer games, and watches. This guide includes a list of companies that carry products specifically for people with visual impairments, as well as ideas available from mainstream retailers. Visit AccessWorld's 2013 Holiday Gift Ideas for Children and Adults with Vision Loss
- FamilyConnect® has pulled together a number of suggestions for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired who are looking for fun, accessible games, books, and toys to give for the holidays—as well as gifts and gadgets for their teenagers! Visit the FamilyConnect 2013 Holiday Guide for Parents of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired for great gift ideas, as well as helpful articles and links to other sites' holiday guides and sales
- VisionAware™ has a myriad of ideas to choose from, especially for friends and loved ones who are new to vision loss. Some of them are specially adapted for people with vision loss, and some are inexpensive products that will help you adapt mainstream items, like tactile markings for appliances (a great stocking stuffer). Visit VisionAware’s Holiday Gift Ideas for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
- And for professionals in the blindness field, DOTS for Braille Literacy offers a number of great braille-related ideas, including AFB's own Braille Bug items! Visit the Fall 2013 issue of DOTS for more ideas
And finally, we are proud to announce a new partnership with the Chicago Lighthouse Tools for Living Store™, which carries adaptive technology, independent living aids, lighting products, games, toys, kitchen gadgets, and more.
Please share your ideas below! What have been some of your best stocking stuffers, or big-ticket items, for loved ones who are blind or visually impaired?
Holiday gift preparation photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
by AFB Staff
Tis' the season for giving. AFB is so very thankful to all of you who support our mission to remove barriers, create solutions, and expand possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential. This holiday season, consider participating in #GivingTuesday—a campaign to create a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday—by making a donation to AFB. Your simple gesture of generosity will make a huge difference to someone whom you may never meet, but whose life will be forever improved because of it. More than that, by helping us help so many, you are part of a wonderful ripple effect that creates profound and positive changes for people with vision loss, their families, and the professionals who serve them.
With this in mind, here are 10 reasons to give to AFB. Your donation will:
- Help support AFB's mission, which is to remove barriers, create solutions, and expand possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential.
- Allow FamilyConnect, a joint online resource of AFB and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments, to continue its cause of giving families a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and find resources on raising a child with a visual impairment from birth to adulthood. Consider: Nearly half a million U.S. children under the age of 18 have vision difficulty. Research shows that parents of children with visual impairments often feel isolated, but find connection, information, and support online.
- Continue the services of CareerConnect, AFB's employment information resource for jobseekers who are blind or visually impaired. Consider: The number of unemployed people who are blind or visually impaired is approximately 63%, and in a 2012 survey, 73% of participants agreed that CareerConnect's Job Seeker's Toolkit provided information and resources not available anywhere else!
- Continue the work of VisionAware, a web resource for adults newly diagnosed with vision loss, which helps allay fears and gives people the information and resources needed to maintain independence and continue living a full life. Consider: Among U.S. adults aged 40 and older, the National Eye Institute estimates that 4.5 to 5.5 million individuals are blind, have low vision, or experience age-related vision loss; in addition, low vision and blindness increase significantly with age, particularly in people over 65.
- Support AFB Tech's innovative work. AFB Tech is dedicated to making technology accessible to people with vision loss. A highly trained staff evaluates mainstream and assistive technology and collaborates with industry leaders to ensure the latest products—from smart phones to diabetes monitoring devices—meet the needs of blind and visually impaired consumers. Consider: Over 51 million computer users are likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology due to mild difficulties/impairments. For those with vision loss, assistive technology (specialty hardware and software products such as screen readers or voice recognition) is a necessity to use computers, cell phones, or other consumer products.
- Continue the efforts of AFB's Public Policy team. AFB's Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., collaborates with policy makers in the Executive Branch and Congress to ensure Americans with vision loss have equal rights and opportunities to participate fully in society. AFB's advocacy strategy is backed by a policy team that conducts and analyzes research related to vision loss. Consider: Although great strides have been made in fighting discrimination based on disability, significant barriers still stand in the way of equal access.
- Help maintain the services provided by the AFB Center on Vision Loss, a unique demonstration and information center dedicated to helping people with vision loss find the resources, help, and support needed to continue living healthy, independent lives. Consider: Currently, 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older report experiencing significant vision loss. Further, over the next 20 years, as the baby boomer generation ages, rates of vision loss due to degenerative eye disease are expected to double.
- Fund the digitization of the Helen Keller Archives. Helen Keller bequeathed an extensive personal collection of approximately 80,000 items to AFB upon her death in 1968. The collection includes contracts, correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, photographs, news clippings, artifacts, audio and film recordings, as well as a personal library of over 250 volumes. Consider: Digitization has provided accessibility without deterioration or risk. AFB now hopes to do the same to the thousands of documents in the archive, so that future generations can continue to learn about one of the greatest historical figures of the 20th century.
- Educate professionals in the blindness field. Through AFB Press and eLearning, AFB provides accessible, affordable, and authoritative webinars, courses, and continuing education credits, as well as the leading textbooks in the blindness field. Consider: AFB Press produces more college-and university-level texts and books for professionals on the topic of visual impairment than any other publisher in the world.
- Send a Helen Keller e-card to a loved one! Upon making a donation to AFB, you will have the opportunity to send a personalized note to the recipient of your choice. Consider: Making someone close to you smile.
Those are just a few of the ways your support helps AFB. Remember, AFB depends on people like you to continue our work on behalf of people with vision loss. The majority of our funding comes from individual donors, not from corporate sponsorships, so your support is essential to our success. As we approach this #GivingTuesday December 3, please consider making a donation to AFB—such support keeps our programs running, creating new solutions to help blind and visually impaired people of every generation lead productive and fulfilling lives.
To make a donation to AFB (and send a friend or loved one a Helen Keller ecard), visit: www.afb.org/ecards
"Make a Difference" photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
by AFB Staff
Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a recent article posted on the Professional Development section of AFB.org.
There are important differences between how you teach orientation and mobility (O&M) skills to an adult and how you teach them to a child. Effective instruction of children begins with a careful assessment that takes into consideration their unique development and needs. From the very beginning, an instructor must understand these needs to be able to conduct an effective assessment. This excerpt from The Art and Science of Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Persons with Visual Impairments by William Henry Jacobson describes the first steps to undertaking an O&M assessment of a child.
The first general considerations to take into account when assessing a child include the following:
- What are the child's medical conditions and eye conditions?
- Is the surrounding assessment environment appropriate for someone with those conditions? In other words, pay attention to light, glare, and noise.
- Will a parent or other familiar adult be present when working with a young child?
- Will a member of a student's language group be present when assessing a student from another culture?
- Does the child have any additional disabilities to take into consideration?
- Will there potentially need to be collaboration with relevant specialists?
- Are there any cultural and familial preferences for what the child needs to learn?
To read this article in entirety, please visit the Professional Development section of AFB.org. For more information about O&M assessments for children, including handy checklists and forms, see The Art and Science of Teaching Orientation and Mobility to Persons with Visual Impairments in the AFB Bookstore at www.afb.org/store.
by Mark Richert
So many of us who have been waiting for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to get off the dime and issue their long-awaited regulations on airline website and airport kiosk accessibility were excited this week to finally see them published. However, like so much it seems in the technology and civil rights for people with disabilities context, we are given relatively little and expected to gush with gratitude.
That's certainly the case with these new DOT rules. Even though airlines have been repeatedly challenged to improve website accessibility in the courts for years, even though DOT has been working on these new rules for years, and even though everyone has known for years what the technological solutions are that can make websites more accessible, the DOT decided to give airlines yet an additional three years to improve their websites. Why? After all the delays, and when both the problems and the solutions have been in sight for so long, why the hesitancy?
But this tepid move by DOT on website accessibility cannot possibly compete with their preposterous decision to require that airport kiosks need only be accessible 10 years from now and that only a few of them offered in a given location need comply. Now there's progress in disability civil rights. Ten years from now, probably right around the time when airport kiosks themselves will be replaced with some other heretofore unknown technology, a blind air traveler will have the right to try and determine which of the six kiosks she can use and then hope it works.
What is particularly frustrating for me is that many in the disability community (and industry) have said that they are looking to these DOT rules as a bellweather for what the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) might do in its own anticipated rule-making proceedings on website and other technology accessibility. What we've proposed to DOJ here at AFB is that they take a straightforward approach that simply affirms that, no matter what form or modality is employed, from printed paper materials to websites to mobile apps to telephony to smoke signals, when businesses and governments communicate with people with disabilities, that communication must be effective and afford full and equal enjoyment of all goods, services, programs and activities. The DOJ has been flirting with doing something about website and equipment accessibility in their rules for far too long now, and it's not at all clear as of this writing when we might ever see them. What we've got to do is stop allowing people to think of website and technology accessibility as some exotic and novel thing that geniuses are struggling to achieve. It is here, and it has been here, in so many ways, for a fairly long time.
The problem isn't knowledge about how to get it done; the problem is the will to make it happen. And when federal regulations come out that seem to suggest, by their halfheartedness, that expecting accessibility today is a bridge too far, our government is conspiring with those who would have us believe the lie that technology accessibility isn't achievable right now. For my part, I hope the DOT regs won't be a bellweather for anything except the disability community's outrage and determination to have our government do much better.
Online flight booking photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
by AFB Staff
Are you interested in employment and transition? The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is planning a free online event that will coincide with the November-December JVIB Special Issue on Employment and Transition, edited by Karen Wolffe.
The week of November 18th, JVIB will be hosting an open forum with a blog by Joe Strechay, program manager for CareerConnect, the American Foundation for the Blind's employment information resource for students and adults with vision loss and the professionals who work with them. All those who are interested in employment and transition are invited to visit the blog and post questions or leave comments. All the authors of the special issue have been invited be on hand to join in the discussion, respond to your questions, or ask questions of their own.
Teachers: Consider asking your students to read the blog and post a question for extra credit! A subscription to JVIB is not required to participate in the online event. More information will be posted in the coming weeks. If you would like more information now, please contact Rebecca Burrichter, senior editor, JVIB, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Start here" businessman photo courtesy of Shutterstock.