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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

June 2016 eNews

Spotlight on Technology

We Want to Hear from You!

If you, your family members, and/or friends are blind or visually impaired, then you know all too well that the accessibility and usability of many modern technologies is a mixed bag. With your help, we can tell a more complete story about these technologies and how successfully (or unsuccessfully) they are being used by people with vision loss.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)—the most comprehensive disability and technology policy enacted since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Building on longstanding telecommunications accessibility requirements, the CVAA is intended to revolutionize the way in which people who are blind or visually impaired use today’s most popular technologies, including mobile phones, tablet computers, VoIP office telephone equipment, email, texting, digital televisions and cable/satellite boxes, emergency alerts, and TV programming accessibility through description.

Our goal is to gauge how well these technologies are meeting your needs. By taking a few minutes to respond to these surveys, you can help the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) keep policymakers informed about how well the communications and video programming industries are doing when it comes to offering truly accessible products and services.

To participate, simply visit: and take any or all of the listed surveys—if you don’t have time to respond to each, feel free to respond to the ones that you can and come back as often as you would like to offer additional feedback.

Thank you, and please share this invitation widely!

Hot Topics

AFB Teams with Charlie Cox, Star of Marvel’s Daredevil

Charlie Cox poses with an NYISE student and a Marvel Daredevil bobblehead dollCharlie Cox, 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Award recipient and star of Marvel’s Daredevil, available on Netflix, visited the New York Institute for Special Education to meet with students and sign Daredevil bobblehead dolls. The students were thrilled to meet (and take lots of selfies with) the actor, who portrays Matt Murdock, an attorney by day and superhero vigilante by night, who also happens to be blind.

Learn NVDA with AFB

Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free screen reader that allows people who are blind or visually impaired to use computers. NVDA helps individuals to access information, resources, and opportunities found online. AFB is offering free online video tutorials that will teach participants how to install NVDA on their computers, navigate Microsoft Windows with NVDA, use NVDA Hotkeys, install and use Firefox with NVDA, and how to use Microsoft Word and Excel with NVDA. More tutorials will be added over time. Visit to access the tutorials and learn more.

AFB Awards Scholarships to 11 Outstanding Students with Vision Loss

AFB has awarded its 2016 scholarships to 11 outstanding students who are blind or visually impaired and are pursuing their studies at institutions of higher education. The grants support one of AFB’s most important goals: expanding access to education for students with vision loss.

The awardees are as follows:

The Delta Gamma Foundation Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship:

  • Kayla Prato will be attending Towson University in Maryland this fall, working toward a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in occupational therapy. Kayla would like to work with children who have visual and hearing impairments.

The Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship:

  • Rachel Bodek attends St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, and will continue working toward her master’s degree in teaching. She would like to work with children with visual impairments.
  • Barbara Feltz is enrolled at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., pursuing her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, and would like to work with veterans with vision loss.
  • Dmitry Neronov is pursuing his master’s degree in special education at San Francisco State University in California and currently works as a paraprofessional at a local public school.
  • Ra’Kira Tidmore will attend the University of Alabama this fall, working toward a bachelor’s degree in social work. Ra'Kira does volunteer work at a local hospital and at a nursing home.

The Paul and Ellen Ruckes Scholarship:

  • Lauren Siegel plans to attend North Carolina State University in the fall, majoring in computer science. She founded her school's robotics club, and was a member of her high school’s Science Olympiad team.
  • Cassandra Mendez attends the Ohio State University and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering. Cassandra has had an internship at the Air Force Research Labs.

The R.L. Gillette Scholarship:

  • Winona Brackett is a student at Stetson University, working toward her bachelor’s degree in music, majoring in trumpet performance. She has received multiple awards, including the Quincy Jones Award and the John Philip Sousa Band Award.
  • Precious Perez will attend Gordon College in Massachusetts, majoring in music education and vocal performance. She is a member of the Vocal Apprenticeship Soloists Program with the Handel and Haydn Society.

The Gladys C. Anderson Memorial Scholarship:

  • Christina Ebersohl is working toward her bachelor’s degree in music at Portland State University in Oregon, majoring in music performance and viola. This summer she will attend a music study program at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy.

The Karen D. Carsel Memorial Scholarship:

  • Silpa Tadavarthy is attending Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine for her Doctor of Medicine degree and would like to specialize in neurology. Silpa plans to serve the low-income patient population of North Philadelphia while in medical school.

If you are interested in a scholarship through AFB, please visit our scholarship page. If you are interested in endowing a scholarship fund, please call 888-824-2184. Has a New Look

Visitors to may have noticed a new layout on our homepage. In an effort to make the most pertinent information available easily and quickly, we now have our links grouped under “Resources for Families,” “Accessible Technology,” “Resources for Professionals,” and “Public Policy and Research.”

As always, if you want to keep up with the latest happening at AFB, it’s easy: Just create a My AFB account and indicate your interest areas to have pertinent news delivered to your in-box.

New Edition of VisionAware’s Getting Started Kit Available Soon

VisionAware’s popular booklet for individuals new to vision loss and their family and friends, the Getting Started Kit, has recently been updated, now with a section on tips for those with hearing and vision loss. If you would like to get a copy of the kit, please contact VisionAware’s program manager, Pris Rogers at

AFB Press and Perkins School for the Blind Collaborate on New Resource for Teachers of Students with Multiple Disabilities

AFB Press and the Perkins School for the Blind will soon release a new resource book for teachers, Keys to Educational Success: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities.

Every student has unique learning needs, but addressing the diverse needs of students who have visual impairments and multiple disabilities can be particularly challenging for teachers. Edited by Sharon Z. Sacks and Mary C. Zatta, Keys to Educational Success helps educators unlock their students’ learning potential by providing key program strategies that can be directly applied to classroom learning routines. It includes information about the basics of assessment, individualized educational plan development, and instructional planning and design, as well as specific strategies for essential areas of instruction, including communication, literacy, O&M, behavior intervention, technology, and others. Guidelines for working with very young children as well as for preparing students for life transitions after school are explained. Keys to Educational Success is also an important reference for special education teachers, educational team members, and administrators.

Keys to Educational Success will be available for purchase in late July 2016 in the AFB Store or by calling 1-800-232-3044. It will also be available through, the iTunes store, and It will be published in print, accessible e-book, and online subscription formats.

Meet Kirk Adams

Photo of Kirk AdamsIn May, Kirk Adams officially joined AFB as its sixth president and CEO. He will be traveling extensively this summer, attending the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and World Blind Union conferences. If you are attending any of these conferences, please be sure to introduce yourself.

For more information on Adams, read this interview on his vision for AFB, his take on the challenges and opportunities facing our field, and a bit about his interests. You can also read a message from Adams as president and CEO of AFB.


From the AFB Blogs

Bringing Helen Keller’s History to Life
by Helen Selsdon, posted on the “AFB Blog”

Accessibility in Digital Publishing: Notes from a Summit
by AFB Staff, posted on the “AFB Blog”

Barbara Corcoran's Recommendation for Finding a Mentor
by Shannon Carollo, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

Home Safety Tips That Work at Work for Blind and Visually Impaired Employees
by Katy Lewis, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

Who's Responsible for Your Job Search When You’re Blind or Visually Impaired
by Shannon Carollo, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

Summertime Activities to Advance Orientation and Mobility Skills
by Shannon Carollo, posted on “FamilyConnect: A Parent’s Voice”

Parents Helping Parents: CHARGE Syndrome Tele-Support Group
by Scott Truax, posted on “FamilyConnect: A Parent’s Voice”

Ladies Who Lunch: Lessons Learned During Mommy-Daughter Time
by Holly Bonner, posted on “FamilyConnect: A Parent’s Voice”

New Research Indicates Long-Term Positive Effects of Intensive Blood Sugar Control on the Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy
by Maureen Duffy, posted on “VisionAware Blog”

New Research: Results from the Philadelphia Glaucoma Detection and Treatment Project
by Maureen Duffy, posted on “VisionAware Blog”

Our Readers Want To Know: Can I Continue Gardening with Vision Loss?
by Maureen Duffy, posted on “VisionAware Blog”

How Independent Do You Want to Be?
by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, posted on “Visually Impaired: Now What?”

Happy Birthday Helen Keller!
by Lenore Dillon, posted on “Visually Impaired: Now What?”

Vacationing with Vision Loss: Tips and Strategies
by Sheila Rousey, posted on “Visually Impaired: Now What?”

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