Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB eNews

Spotlight on…

The Joint AFB Leadership and Arizona AER Conference in Phoenix

Russell Shaffer, Joe Strechay, and Chris Downey during the Friday morning general sessionThanks to our attendees, sponsors, co-host, ally, partners, and presenters, we had another hugely successful conference! In conjunction with our conference co-host, the Arizona chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER); conference ally, VisionServe Alliance, as well as our excellent local partners, we had our second largest conference ever, with an audience of 415 people from 39 states and eight different countries. We also had a record number of exhibitors—nearly 30 organizations and businesses from around the country joined us this year.

Two AFBLC attendees enjoy the general sessionHighlights included the AccessWorld Magazine Tech Summit and Showcase; a plenary panel featuring leaders from Google, Comcast, Microsoft, and the Web Accessibility Initiative on the changing landscape of technology developments and accessibility; an inspiring discussion with TED speaker and architect Chris Downey and Walmart executive Russell Shaffer on career success and vision loss; the first presentation ever on the Apple Watch’s accessibility features; the VisionServe Alliance-led leadership track; and AFB’s sessions on research, advocacy, and authorship.

Please mark your calendars now for the 2016 and 2017 Leadership Conferences, which will both be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Alexandria, VA: March 3-5, 2016, and March 2-4, 2017. If you are interested in sponsorship, advertising, or exhibiting opportunities, please contact Amanda Kolling ( We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Hot Topics

AFB Creates an Accessible Video Player and Makes It Available As a Free Download

AFB’s new, accessible HTML5 embedded video player is now available as a free download. The AFB Accessible Player makes it easy for people with vision loss to play videos online, something that can be fraught with accessibility challenges.

Many current video players are designed for mouse only, with no way to interact with the controls via the keyboard, which is what most users with vision loss use. Other video players have buttons with unlabeled images, so people using screen readers and people with low vision can’t easily fast forward, pause, or rewind the video. The controls on the AFB Accessible Player, however, are labeled with text, so they work with any kind of assistive technology, such as screen-reading software, braille displays and screen-magnification software, as well as a mouse. The buttons can also be adjusted to user needs for contrast and font size by using a website’s options to change color schemes or font options. Videos can be expanded to full screen, which is helpful for users with low vision. The video player can be used either as an embedded YouTube player or as a standard player, and the custom control layout supports both English and Spanish languages. The player also provides fallback options for older browsers.

HTML5 is the standard supported by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which provides enhanced functionality for modern websites and helps make the Internet more accessible.

AFB's new HTML5 player is available for download free of charge at

Tools for Professional Development

iPad for Babies and Toddlers

AFB eLearning is pleased to announce its newest webinar offering, iPad for Babies and Toddlers: Early Intervention for Children with Visual Impairments. Toddler and teacher work with an iPad as mother watchesThis webinar focuses on the results of a pilot study and curriculum that uses the iPad to teach children with visual impairments and/or multiple disabilities. iPad for Babies and Toddlers will help anyone who works with children with visual impairments and or multiple disabilities gain valuable knowledge on how the iPad can be a successful educational tool when used with a goal-directed curriculum.

The webinar presenter is Laura Campaña, M.A., Director of the Infant and Early Childhood Program at Junior Blind of America. Laura has worked with children with special needs for over 14 years and has been working at Junior Blind of America for over 4 ½ years with children ages birth to 6 years.

This webinar has been approved for continuing education credit by ACVREP and can be purchased for $49 from the AFB Bookstore. The webinar is pre-recorded 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. Don't delay. Purchase this informative webinar today!

Teleseminar on Federal Regulations Affecting the Vision Loss Community

In this free national teleseminar jointly sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and National Industries for the Blind (NIB), you can get a better handle on what the U.S. Congress and key federal agencies are doing in two key areas of interest to the vision loss community: education and vocational rehabilitation policy. A panel of nationally recognized leaders and expert advocates will share their observations with us and take your questions.

Are you interested in:

  • learning more about how the extensive array of proposed new federal regulations implementing the Rehabilitation Act and related legislation could impact you, your clients, and your program? If these proposed rules go through, how will services to people who are blind or visually impaired be affected across the country?
  • understanding how the U.S. Congress is planning to change national policy concerning elementary and secondary education and how these changes will impact students with disabilities, including students with vision loss? How will these proposed changes interact with America's special education system?

There is no need to register or RSVP for this free two-hour interactive teleseminar. To join the conference call, simply dial the toll-free number below at least 10 minutes prior to the May 21, 2:30 p.m. Eastern, start time. Dial 1-866-939-3921 and when prompted, enter the pass code: 6909253. We look forward to your participation in this opportunity for our community to come together to discuss some of the most critical current issues in education, rehabilitation and independent living we face today.

Awards and Events

Join Us at the Helen Keller Achievement Awards

Drawing of a city skyline with marquees celebrating this year's HKAA honorees: Apple Inc., Charlie Cox, Ward Marston, Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.

You are cordially invited to AFB's 19th Annual Helen Keller Achievement Awards on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

Join us at the J.W. Marriott Essex House New York as we celebrate individuals and organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving quality of life for people with vision loss. The 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Award Honorees are


  • Apple Inc.
  • Charlie Cox
    Actor, star of Marvel's new Daredevil series on Netflix
  • Ward Marston
    Musical artist and producer/recording engineer
  • Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Past awardees include leaders from business such as General Motors, McGraw Hill, and Time Warner as well as giants from the performing arts including Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Patty Duke.

Proceeds from this stellar fundraising gala will enable us to continue to provide our vital programs and services that remove barriers, create opportunities, and expand possibilities for people with vision loss. Your generous support is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

There will be a reception, auction, and dinner with live music. For reservations or to place an acknowledgment in the dinner journal, contact Suzette Williams, e-mail or call (212) 502-7621.

Awards Presented at AFBLC

(l. to r.) AFB CEO Carl Augusto, Russell Shaffer, and Steve Hart, regional vice president at Marriott InternationalAs is tradition at the AFB Leadership Conference, the presentation of our most prestigious awards, including the Migel Medal, Access Awards, and Corrine Kirchner Research Award, was a highlight.

We began Friday morning with the presentation of the Stephen Garff Marriott Award to Russell Shaffer, senior manager of corporate affairs–constituent relations at Walmart. Our thanks to Steve Hart, regional vice president at Marriott, for presenting this very special award for us.

Text Box: Back row, r.: Carl Augusto; Rob Sinclair, Microsoft; Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast; Rob Nevin, MIPsoft; Paul Schroeder. Front row, l. to r.: Rob Felgar, Odin Mobile; Joel Snyder; Venkatesh Chari, Orbit; Peter Balyta, TI; and Tuck Tinsley, APH.

On Friday evening, Comcast, Microsoft, MIPsoft, Odin Mobile, Joel Snyder, Ph.D., Texas Instruments Education Technology, Orbit Research, and American Printing House for the Blind (APH) were honored with the 2015 Access Awards for their commitment to innovation and access for all.

Text Box: Dr. Gaylen Kapperman, Carl Augusto, Dr. Rosanne Silberman, and Dr. John Crews (not pictured: Judy Brewer).

Saturday afternoon, we presented this year’s Migel Medals to Judy Brewer, Dr. Gaylen Kapperman, and Dr. Rosanne Silberman. The Corinne Kirchner Research Award was presented to Dr. John Crews of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



From the AFB Blogs

The Fun and Joy of Motherhood As a Visually Impaired Mom by Lynda Jones on the VisionAware Blog.

How to Say "No" at Work as a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired by Shannon Carollo on CareerConnect Blog.

Seeing Colors With My Brain Versus My Eyes by Maribel Steel on the VisionAware Blog.

Think Less, Believe More by Detra Bannister on the CareerConnect Blog.

"I have great joy in the tulips...": A Helen Keller Quote in Honor of Earth Day by Helen Selsdon on the AFB Blog.

A First Look at the Apple Watch and Its Accessibility by Kelly Bleach on the AFB Blog.

Like Our Programs? Support Us!

If you like the work we do, please consider making a gift to AFB.

AFB in the News

Please check out our “In the News” webpage for recent media articles featuring AFB, our experts, and issues related to blindness and vision loss.

Connect with Us

AFB employs a number of social networking tools to keep you in the loop:

services icon Directory of Services

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.