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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

December 2015 eNews

Happy New Year!

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Happy 2016! The past year has been marked by so many exciting accomplishments, it was hard to pick just five to revisit. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store, and we wish you every success in the new year!

1)  Created VisionConnect, a free, accessible iOS app that provides a directory of services and training available in the United States and Canada for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired

2)  Received a $275,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize the Helen Keller Archives

3) Aired our "Breakthroughs" public service announcement (PSA) on Comcast and NBC cable channels thanks to a generous donation of $2 million in airtime from Comcast NBCUniversal

4) Released some of our most popular book titles to date, including Vision and the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children; the Burns Braille Guide; O&M for Independent Living; and Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss, Third Edition

5) Created an accessible HTML5 embedded video player (American Foundation for the Blind Accessible Video Player) and made it available as a free download for Web developers

For more information on our accomplishments and services, read our 2015 Annual Report.

Spotlight on…

The 2016 AFB Leadership Conference in Washington, DC

Photo of the Lincoln Memorial

The 2015 AFB Leadership Conference (AFBLC) in Phoenix was a huge success, so we’re looking forward to another excellent meeting, this time at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, March 3-5. You won’t want to miss this conference as we’ll celebrate AFB’s 95th anniversary, as well as another major milestone—the retirement of our beloved president and CEO, Carl Augusto.

Another not-to-be-missed event is Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment: A National Conversation, hosted by AFB and the American Printing House for the Blind. This motivating, informative dialogue is designed to unite a core group of people who will work together to build upon prior knowledge, initiate research, and discuss best practice interventions in support of the CVI population. This event will take place on Thursday, March 3; attendance is limited and will be first-come, first-served. There is an additional $15 fee (lunch provided). Attendees must register for Thursday and indicate on the conference registration form that they plan to attend this workshop.

Those interested in aging and vision loss should check out our track designed just for them. And we haven’t forgotten our techies—the AccessWorld Magazine Tech Summit and Showcase is back again this year. For more information on session topics, review the agenda.

Registration is open; register early for the best rate. If you represent an agency that would like to send three or more people to the conference, please contact Scott Truax about a group discount. And don't forget to book your hotel room at the special group rate of $189/night at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. If you prefer to speak with a reservations specialist, please call 888-236-2427 and reference our conference to get the group rate.

If you are interested in sponsorship, advertising, or exhibiting opportunities, take a look at our options or contact us directly for more information.

Our thanks to our generous sponsors: JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Delta Gamma; the Consumer Technology Association (CTA); Google; Vanda; CTIA, IBM, LifeScience Technologies, T-Mobile; and HumanWare.

Hot Topics

Cindy Watson Is New Director of the Center on Vision Loss in Dallas

Cindy Watson has been named the new director of the AFB Center on Vision Loss and Web Programs. A known leader in the field of blindness, Watson is charged with overseeing the AFB Center on Vision Loss, a national demonstration center dedicated to helping people with vision loss live independently. In addition, she will lead the organization's CareerConnect, FamilyConnect and VisionAware programs. Watson, a former member of the AFB Board of Trustees, joins the organization from the Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, where she served as director of Contract Services. Previously, she was a fellow at the National Industries for the Blind and provided vocational rehabilitation teaching, counseling and employment assistance for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Blind Division. Watson succeeds Judy Scott, who recently retired from AFB after 46 years of service in the field of vision loss.

AFB Welcomes New Board Members

In the late fall, AFB welcomed five new members to its national Board of Trustees: Sally Giittinger, Brenda Gumbs, Meg LaVigne, Roman Rubio and Russell Shaffer.

Sally Giittinger has served as administrator for the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired (NCECBVI) since 1998. She is the past secretary/treasurer of the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSSB) and has served on numerous boards and committees, including those of the Advisory Council of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities and the Braille Institute's National Braille Challenge Advisory Committee.

Brenda D. Gumbs has been a human resource practitioner for 30 years, and a senior executive for the last 20. Most recently, she held the position of executive vice president of people and culture at Perfetti Van Melle, North America.

Meg LaVigne is president of television at Litton Entertainment and is responsible for several divisions in the company, including television syndication, news and public relations. Prior to joining Litton Entertainment, LaVigne was vice president/general manager of the CBS-owned television stations in Atlanta, Ga. and Norfolk, Va.

Roman G. Rubio, M.D., M.B.A., is senior vice president at Avalanche Biotechnologies, Inc., where he leads the translational medicine group, which is developing treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and color vision deficiency. Previously, he worked at Genentech, where he was the global head of ophthalmology and led the late development for Lucentis, a drug used to treat wet AMD, and lampalizumab, a treatment for geographic atrophy (advanced dry AMD).

Russell Shaffer is senior manager of Corporate Affairs, Constituent Relations for Walmart Stores, Inc., where he is responsible for leading the company's stakeholder engagement and corporate strategy for people with disabilities and aging communities. Shaffer is legally blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and currently chairs Walmart's Advocates for Disability Awareness and Education employee resource group.

Awards and Events

AFB Names 2016 Migel Medal Recipients

The 2016 winners of the Migel Medal, the highest honor in the blindness field are Michael Bina, Ed.D., Gordon Gund, and Llura “Lulie” Liggett Gund. Established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, the Migel Medal honors professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. The awards will be presented to recipients during AFB’s Leadership Conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, on March 5.

Michael J. Bina has served as president of the Maryland School for the Blind since 2008, where he is responsible for statewide programs that serve 56 percent of Maryland students who are blind or visually impaired. Dr. Bina is a past president of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB). He has served on the AFB board of directors and currently serves on the United States Association for Blind Athletes and VisionServe Alliance boards.

Gordon Gund is chairman and CEO of Gund Investment Corporation in Princeton, N.J. He is also the chairman and co-founder of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), a national non-profit dedicated to finding causes and treatments for retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, which Gund is blind from, and age-related macular degeneration.

Llura “Lulie” Liggett Gund is president of the New Jersey chapter of FFB, and a member of the of the national FFB founding group. She also serves as a member of FFB’s national Board of Trustees. In 2013, Gund retired as vice president of the George Gund Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Since 1997, she has served as a member of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s (NCF) Board of Trustees, and has previously served on NCF’s Campaign and Development Committees.

From the AFB Blogs

A Magical Movie Clip for the Holidays: Anne Sullivan Macy and Helen Keller
by Helen Selsdon on 12/23/2015, posted on the AFB Blog

Playing Santa at the Atlanta Center for the Visually Impaired's Early Intervention Program
by Ike Presley on 12/15/2015, posted on the AFB Blog

"Democracy is a searching test of character" Helen Keller
by Helen Selsdon on 12/10/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

Tips for Working with a Recruiter or Headhunter as an Individual Who is Blind or Visually Impaired
by Shannon Carollo on 12/29/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

That’s a Wrap: Recap of the Top 10 AFB Holiday Hits for Career-Minded Job Seekers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired 
by Katy Lewis on 12/23/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

Have Yourself a Merry Little Work-Related Celebration as an Employee Who is Visually Impaired
by Detra Bannister on 12/22/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

A Survival Guide for the Holidays When You Have a Child Who Prefers Calm
by Shannon Carollo on 12/22/2015, posted on the FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice Blog

Holiday Reflections
by Scott Truax on 12/21/2015, posted on the FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice Blog

The Understanding of a Sibling
by Emily Coleman on 12/31/2015, posted on Raising a Child Who is Blind and...

Quality Eddie Time
by Emily Coleman on 11/25/2015, posted on Raising a Child Who is Blind and...

New Research on Marijuana Use for Glaucoma: Is Education Enough, or Is Emotional Support also Necessary? 
by Maureen Duffy on 12/29/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

New Genetic Research in Macular Degeneration: The International AMD Genomics Consortium
by Maureen Duffy on 12/22/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

Our Readers Want to Know: Why Am I Having Visual Hallucinations Along with My Vision Loss?
by Maureen Duffy on 12/15/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

A Three Step Process for Setting Goals for the New Year
by Sheila Rousey on 1/1/2016, posted on Visually Impaired: Now What?

Finding My Voice: Overcoming My Fears of Singing in a Cantata, as a Blind Person 
by Mary Hiland on 12/28/2015, posted on Visually Impaired: Now What?

Depression During the Holidays and Beyond
by Audrey Demmitt on 12/22/2015, posted on Visually Impaired: Now What?

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