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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB eNews

August 2014

Spotlight on… FamilyConnect

FamilyConnect Can Help with Those Back-to-School Jitters

A teacher works with two children with visual impairments in a classroom

Heading back to school can be an exciting, hectic, and stressful time for parents and children. To ease the transition, FamilyConnect, the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB) program for parents of children with visual impairments, has launched a series of back-to-school articles and blog posts to help families get ready for the new school year. Whether you have questions about helping your kids to orient to new buildings or preparing them for the transition into preschool or into the faster pace of middle and high school, FamilyConnect has you covered. FamilyConnect has tips and resources on how to prepare for and have a successful individualized education program (IEP) meeting with school staff.  With all of this information at your fingertips, our hope is that you and your children will greet the school year with ease and confidence.

FamilyConnect was created in partnership with the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) to give parents of visually impaired children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and find resources on raising their children from birth to adulthood.

And there’s a lot more to the site than back-to-school tips! Through FamilyConnect, you can…

  • Talk to other parents on message boards where you can share your stories, questions, concerns, and triumphs.
  • Read blog posts and personal stories written by parents about their own experiences.
  • See hopeful and insightful videos featuring kids with visual impairments and their families.
  • Browse articles by age or topic on every aspect of raising a visually impaired child, from family relationships and social activities, to schooling and assistive technology.
  • Search a nationwide directory of local blindness agencies to find out where you can get hands-on help and professional services in your area.
  • Create a personal profile and receive information, events, and news based on your child’s age, eye condition, and location.
  • Get alerts when new articles relevant to your child appear.

Visit FamilyConnect today and get connected to this excellent resource center!

Hot Topics

Getting Started Kit Is Now Available in Spanish

New to vision loss or know someone who is? The Getting Started Kit is a great resource for people who have been newly diagnosed with an eye condition and are looking for tips on adapting to life with vision loss. And now, it’s available in Spanish!

On VisionAware, our program for adults living with vision loss, you can find the Versión Completa de Texto del Kit de "Primeros Pasos" de VisionAware along with comprehensive information and tips or you can sign up to receive VisionAware alerts and newsletters and receive a free print copy of the Getting Started Kit in English and Spanish.

VisionAware, a free, easy-to-use, online resource center for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers, healthcare providers, and social service professionals, was created in partnership with Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation.

August Is Cataract Awareness Month

Did you know that cataracts are a leading cause of visual impairment that will affect more than half of all Americans by the time they are 80 years old? Delaying diagnosis and treatment of age-related cataracts can increase risk of vision loss and can lead to both physical and psychological effects. Head to AFB’s VisionAware site for more information on cataracts.

Tools for Professional Development

New from AFB Press: ECC Essentials

Right in time for back to school, AFB is pleased to announce the release of ECC Essentials: Teaching the Expanded Core Curriculum to Students with Visual Impairments, edited by Carol B. Allman and Sandra Lewis, with Consulting Editor Susan J. Spungin.

ECC Essentials is the first comprehensive book for teachers working to meet the unique learning needs of their students with visual impairment. It focuses on the education of children and adolescents through the expanded core curriculum by providing the rationale, suggestions and strategies necessary to implement instruction. ECC Essentials gives teachers a road map for helping their students achieve success in school and life.

ECC Essentials helps teachers:

  • Manage time efficiently and effectively
  • Work with students of different ages and ability levels
  • Collaborate with parents and other members of the educational team
  • Conduct assessments
  • Align instruction with state standards and the general education core curriculum
  • Maximize planning effectiveness
  • Reinforce student skills
  • Learning activities in each chapter that combine several areas of the ECC
  • Information about additional resources
  • Specific guidelines and strategies for teaching each of the nine areas of the ECC

ECC Essentials is available in paperback, e-book, and online subscription and can be ordered in the AFB Store at

For publication updates and news, stay connected with AFB Press on Facebook or on the AFB Bookstore homepage.

Awards and Events

Call for Migel Medal Nominations

AFB is now accepting nominations for the 2015 Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field.

The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. The Migel Medal Awards consists of two categories, the Professional Award and the Lay/Volunteer Award.

Professional Award nominees should be those whose career work significantly affects services to people with vision loss on a national level. Prospective candidates include, but are not limited to, professionals with specific training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, assistive technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, administration or related fields. They may work in the public or private sector and their work should span several years.

Lay/Volunteer Award nominees can be volunteers or professionals not employed within the blindness and visual impairment field whose efforts have supported or extended service to people with vision loss. Professionals from these disciplines may include, but are not limited to, those who develop assistive technology equipment and software, health care devices, and improved medical services.

Nominations for AFB's Migel Medals are due by Friday, October 3, 2014, and should be e-mailed to Scott Truax at Nominators should send a one-page description of the nominee and his/her accomplishments, or fill out the online nomination form. You must also submit two letters of recommendation with the nomination.

AFB is also accepting nominations for the 2015 Access Awards until September 15, 2014. The Access Awards honor individuals, corporations, and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. Nominations for the AFB Access Awards should illustrate an exceptional and innovative effort that has improved the lives of people with vision loss by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. The effort should be one that has a national or international impact or can be a model for replication on a national or international level. The awards are presented annually at the AFB Leadership Conference.

From the AFB Blogs

Take a Hike! Or a Swim. We Have Tips for Both

The weather is perfect for a walk in the woods or a dip in the pool, so take a look at our roundup of articles on hiking and swimming with vision loss.

Can CAPTCHAs Be Made Accessible?

AFB’s resident Web accessibility expert, Crista Earl, weighs in and offers a solution for companies looking for a truly accessible CAPTCHA option.

Free Money Identifier for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision: How Do I Get One, and Why?

If you’ve ever had trouble identifying your cash, there’s help and it’s now free. Crista Earl tells you how you can get a free money identifier and how it works.

Helen Keller’s First Experience of the Ocean

Many of you may be enjoying the last dog days of summer at the beach. Hear what Helen Keller had to say about her first “swim” in the ocean.

8 Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Looking for a job? AFB CareerConnect® blogger Shannon Carollo explains how volunteering can be a stepping stone to your dream job.

Interview with Christine Ha, Visually Impaired, New York Times Best Selling Author, Chef, Writer, and TV Show Co-Host

Christine Ha is a woman of many hats—not least of which is the MasterChef toque. Joe Strechay, CareerConnect program manager, caught up with the busy media mogul in the making and Helen Keller Achievement Award recipient to discuss her upcoming projects.

Let’s Paws to Reflect: Dog Guide Use in the Employment Process

Shannon Carollo gives us the scoop on using dog guides in the employment process.

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