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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB eNews

October 2014

Spotlight on…

AFB CareerConnect®

Photo of older woman receiving computer trainingLooking for work or know someone who is? Or are you well established in your field and eager to lend a helping hand to others? Maybe you’re interesting in changing fields or just brushing up on your job skills. Whatever your career goals, AFB CareerConnect has you covered. With National Disability Employment Awareness Month well underway, it's the perfect time to visit CareerConnect, AFB’s employment information resource developed specifically for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired. CareerConnect presents employment information, career exploration tools, and extensive job-seeking guidance for students and adults with vision loss and the professionals who work with them.


  • provides employment and job search information developed specifically for the visually impaired job-seeker;
  • helps new job seekers and students who are blind or visually impaired to explore careers and find mentors;
  • assists experienced professionals and new job seekers with vision loss who seek advice about interviewing skills, resume building, disability disclosure, or any of a number of other topics related to a successful job search;
  • offers detailed lesson plans for teachers and professionals working with those who have vision loss and are new to the job search process or need to brush up on employment skills;
  • offers success stories to inspire and encourage job seekers to think big; and
  • provides information to anyone interested in the wide variety and interesting array of jobs performed by adults who are blind or visually impaired.

Visit CareerConnect today for the tools you need to succeed in the workplace. And if you have an Apple device, such as an iPhone or iPad, you can access all of this great content wherever you go with the new CareerConnect App™! The CareerConnect app is designed to be used on the go for job search tips, quick lesson ideas, and career advice. Key features include the CareerConnect Blog tab, providing current info about navigating the employment process; transition-related lesson plans grouped by topic; and Our Stories, packed with informative personal stories from people who are blind or visually impaired and successfully employed in various fields. The CareerConnect app is available for download for iOS devices, and new features will be added throughout the coming year.

Hot Topics

Halloween Tips and Treats


It's trick or treat time, but all we have are treats to make your Halloween a monster smash! Head to FamilyConnect for some great insights on pumpkin-related crafts and choosing costumes for your little ghoul or goblin.


Kathy Martinez in Disability Employment Awareness Video

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, Kathy Martinez, is featured in a new video for VisionAware. The video focuses on the employment of older workers with disabilities, including older persons with vision loss. It was created in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and honors the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

In rolling out this year’s theme (“Expect. Employ. Empower.”), Assistant Secretary Martinez stated, “We all have a role to play in—and benefit to gain from—increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year’s theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation.”

New Issues of AccessWorld Focus on Employment and Holiday Gifts

The October issue of AccessWorld is focused on employment, with articles that provide strategies, insider perspectives, and information about employment resources. 2014 Employment Resources for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired by Joe Strechay is full of great information and resources for job hunting.

The November issue of AccessWorld is our annual holiday issue and will feature articles about accessible shopping websites and reviews of accessible gifts. Janet Ingber will evaluate,,, and L’OCCITANE en Provence. Deborah Kendrick will provide an extensive list of accessible technology gifts under $100. The November issue will also feature reviews of the Beamz music device and the Mountbatten Braille Writer Learning System. Make sure to sign up for AccessWorld alerts or download the free AccessWorld app for your Apple device.

Celebrating Employment Awareness As a Family

FamilyConnect has launched a collection of articles written specifically for families that gives guidance on how parents can support career awareness and employment with their children. The series ranges in the age categories of baby/toddler , preschoolergrade schooler, and teenager.  Links to content and courses available on CareerConnect that bring families into the transition process are available. All FamilyConnect content for this project is available in English and Spanish. This project is unique in its focus on activities for very young children while educating families about issues in career development and employment. We are grateful to the May and Stanley Smith Foundation for supporting our efforts to address this important topic for families.

Braille Bug Has a New Look…and Fun Stuff You Can Buy!

A mug, tote bag, and t-shirt with the Braille Bug designVisitors to AFB’s popular Braille Bug® site are in for a pleasant surprise. The site, which offers a comprehensive introduction to braille for school children, teachers, and others now has an updated design featuring larger print and an easier-to-read font. Many sighted children and adults visit the Braille Bug site each year to learn more about braille—in fact, over the last year, Braille Bug received millions of page views! In response to the site’s popularity, we are offering several Braille Bug products through the AFB Bookstore. Choose from a mug, t-shirt, or tote bag to show your Braille Bug pride! Check back with us for some other products sure to make great holiday gifts, including jewelry featuring inspirational quotes from the incomparable Helen Keller. Proceeds from the sales of these items help support AFB programs and services.

AFB Launches New PSA

Our new public service announcement (PSA), titled “Breakthroughs,” hit national television in honor of Blindness Awareness Month. The PSA highlights breakthroughs from nine decades of AFB’s history—from the creation of the Talking Book in the 1930s to the passage of landmark communications legislation in 2010. A longer version of the PSA, which contains video description and more breakthroughs, is also available on the AFB website and Youtube Channel. To learn more, read our press release.

Explore AFB’s New Impact Section

Over 20 million Americans experience vision loss. AFB's programs are changing lives. Infographic shows map of America populated by people, many of whom are holding white canes or wearing glasses, professionals with dog guides, families holding hands.

AFB now has a comprehensive Our Impact section that illustrates our achievements through infographics and testimonials. Taking information culled from our program evaluations, this  vibrant new area on our site demonstrates AFB’s impact in helping those new to vision loss, supporting parents, preparing job seekers, improving access to technology, strengthening the vision loss profession, and promoting literacy and inclusion.

Tools for Professional Development

JVIB Special Issue Discusses Service Delivery Models in Education

In the November–December 2014 special issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness(JVIB), Service Delivery Models in Education: Specialized Schools and Itinerant Programs, readers will find a wealth of information on a range of programs and models from across the United States that meet the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments, including students with additional disabilities. It was the intent of guest editors Eugene McMahon, Ed.D., executive director of the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind, and Sharon Z. Sacks, Ph.D., acting superintendent of California School for the Blind, that the articles included in this issue would motivate professionals to reach beyond the status quo and consider innovative approaches and strategies for meeting the unique educational needs of students with vision loss.

Articles discuss the role of specialized schools in the continuum of placement options, present the findings of a longitudinal study of students educated exclusively in general education settings, and describe educational strategies for including students with visual impairments in physical education. The issue's robust practice section includes information on how to meet the needs of visually impaired students by diversifying service delivery, sharing expertise across disciplines, creating work opportunities at school and in the community, developing peer support networks, and promoting braille literacy by utilizing a distance-education model.

The issue, which is sponsored by the American Printing House for the Blind, will be available in a variety of formats—all of which can be found online November 2014.

AFB eLearning Center to Offer FREE Consumer Protection Webinar

The AFB eLearning Center will be offering a free webinar of special interest to service providers who work with economically vulnerable consumers. “An Introduction to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)” will be presented by Daniel Dodd-Ramirez, assistant director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, CFPB; Pattyi Avery, program specialist in the Office of Financial Empowerment, CFPB; and Naomi Karp, senior policy analyst in the Office for Older Americans, CFPB.

The CFBP was established by Congress to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws and giving consumers the information they need to understand the terms of their agreements with financial companies. The CFBP webinar will provide an overview of the bureau’s primary functions and will describe CFPB tools, resources, and avenues of collaboration available to consumers, service providers, and organizations.

The free webinar is scheduled for release in November and will be available for download from the AFB Booktore. It can be viewed at the learner’s convenience.

New CVI Focus Series Available

AFB’s eLearning Center is pleased to announce that the five-part CVI Focus Series: Assessment, Intervention, and Literacy for Individuals with Cortical Visual Impairment is now available.

This series of five webinars by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy, director of the Pediatric Vision Information and Evaluation Program at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, presents in detail a thoughtful, structured, and sequenced approach to intervention work with individuals diagnosed with cortical visual impairment (CVI). The cost of the series is $179; individual webinars are $49 each if purchased separately.

When you purchase the webinar series, you have the opportunity to bundle it with the book, Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention, at a 10% savings. Simply click the link on the series product page to add the book to your order.

These webinars are prerecorded and will be available to you for a full year to access as often as you like when it is most convenient for you. There is no specific date and time you need to be available.

Earn professional development credit by purchasing certificates for this eLearning offering: $100 for the series or $25 each for individual webinars. Don't delay—purchase this informative series today!

Awards and Events

Join Us for the Joint AFB Leadership and Arizona AER Conference in Phoenix

Collage of images representing Arizona (cacti, flowers, Phoenix skyline, palm trees)

Registration is now openfor the 2015 AFB Leadership Conference (AFBLC), which will be held in conjunction with the Arizona chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), the professional association in the blindness field, at the Phoenix Renaissance Downtown, April 9-11. Fees are $125 for one day, $200 for two days, and $250 for three days. AFBLC attendees are eligible for a special hotel rate of just $179/night at the beautiful Renaissance Phoenix Downtown. Please visit the Marriott reservations page or call 1-800-309-8138 to book your room today. We also have sponsorship and advertising/exhibiting packages available.

This annual conference covers the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of blindness and offers many opportunities to learn from the best and brightest minds in our field, make new connections, and reunite with old friends while earning ACVREP and CRC CEUs.

The AFBLC attracts established and emerging leaders in the blindness field. Conference attendees include technology experts, corporate representatives, university professors, teachers of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation professionals, and parents. They come from diverse organizations and institutions spanning the public and private sectors, including school districts, schools for the blind, Veterans Administrations, hospitals, private agencies, and universities.

The 2014 AFBLC attracted over 440 attendees from 39 states and 8 countries.

From the AFB Blogs

Recent Poll: Disability Issues Could Have a Major Impact in the 2014 Elections!

Election Day is just around the corner and a new poll says that candidates must consider disability issues in the upcoming elections.

Celebrating Disability Mentoring: Saying Thanks to Our CareerConnect® Mentors

Do you have someone who has given you great life and career advice? Have you thanked him or her lately? Detra Bannister, AFB CareerConnect employment specialist, explains why there’s no time like the present to express your appreciation.

Helen Keller: Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize

Did you know that Helen Keller was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? We think she should have won, of course, and so did many others. Read from two letters that were sent in support of her nomination.

Celebrating White Cane Safety Day with People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

AFB CareerConnect Program Manager Joe Strechay talks about joining the (white) cane gang.

An Interview with Michael Peters, Tournament-Based Fishing Angler

AFB recently connected with Michael Peters, a tournament-based fishing angler. Michael has glaucoma, which has led to some vision loss, but he has found ways to adapt to his low vision status. Using information from his eye specialist and from AFB, he has learned to continue doing what he loves and is eager to share his knowledge and encouragement as an AFB CareerConnect mentor.

The Need for Access: AFB Testimony on Intellectual Property Law

Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, recently provided Congress with his expert testimony on how copyright law affects those with vision loss. For a primer on this topic, please see All Rights Reserved—How Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Out. Video of this testimony is also available from the U.S. House of Representatives.

Privacy, Courtesy, Efficiency: Break out the Headphones!

AFB’s Director of Web Services, Crista Earl, makes an appeal for headphone use when using your smartphone and provides some handy tips as well.  

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