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Back to School

children getting on a yellow schoolbusThe days are getting shorter and cooler and that means goodbye to summer and hello to another school year. For parents sending their kids off for the first time or for seasoned veterans of the morning rush, AFB has a wealth of insightful tips to make the transition a smooth one. Read the latest entries on A Parent’s Voice, FamilyConnect’s blog for parents and caregivers of children with visual impairments. AFB blogger Shannon Carollo explores improving school confidence in your child who is blind or visually impaired. Another of our bloggers, Irwin Ramirez, offers some excellent tips for college students with visual impairments. On the Visually Impaired: Now What? Blog, Lynda Jones writes about Going to School with the Dinosaurs as a Visually Impaired Student; Maribel Steel discusses Lessons Learned in the School of Life by People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: Part Two, and Empish Thomas Just in Time for School: Shopping Online Made Easier for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

If you have other education questions—perhaps about your individualized education or individualized family service plans—visit FamilyConnect’s Education Section. And if you’re interested in keeping up on this topic, sign up for a free FamilyConnect account to take advantage of our track by email alert function so you never miss an update.

Hot Topics

AFB’s President & CEO, Carl Augusto, to Retire in Spring 2016

Photo of Carl AugustoCarl R. Augusto, AFB’s president and CEO, will retire in the spring of 2016 after 25 years of service to AFB. Augusto, a longtime champion of people with disabilities and a preeminent leader in the field of blindness, joined the organization in 1991. Under his leadership, AFB has made significant strides in leveling the playing field for people with vision loss, especially in the areas of public policy, education, technology, aging and employment.

"This has been my dream job from beginning to end," said Mr. Augusto. "AFB is a very special place with a talented and committed staff and board. I feel fortunate and honored to have spent my career doing what I love and working alongside colleagues who share my passion to ensure people with vision loss have an equal shot at achieving their dreams."

A change agent known for his collaborative leadership, Augusto has forged numerous strategic partnerships and alliances within the vision loss community and beyond to address critical issues and expand opportunities for people with vision loss. This includes broadening AFB's scope to influence corporate America to make its products and services accessible.

Augusto has led AFB's move into the digital era. He significantly bolstered its technology program and created and expanded the organization's award-winning web programs and services, increasing access to AFB's information and services. He oversaw the establishment and growth of AFB TECH, the Technology and Employment Center at Huntington (West Virginia), and the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas. In addition, he has strengthened AFB's leadership role and spearheaded efforts to help AFB attain greater financial stability by professionalizing its fundraising program and exercising rigorous fiscal discipline.

Augusto is the fifth chief executive of the American Foundation for the Blind since its founding in 1921.

Judy Scott, Long-Time Vision Loss Champion, to Retire from AFB

Judy Castle Scott, a longtime champion and pioneer in the field of vision loss, will retire this fall after 34 years of distinguished service to AFB. Scott is currently the director of the AFB Center on Vision Loss and Web Programs, a role that allows her to fulfill her dream of providing hope, help, and connection to people affected by sight loss.

Scott has dedicated her professional life to helping people with vision loss to live independently, believe in their capabilities, and pursue their dreams. With over 40 years’ experience in aging and visual impairment, she has championed many successful campaigns to fundraise and develop new programs for people impacted by vision loss. Most notably, she envisioned, created, and led a $2.3 million campaign to fund the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, a national demonstration and training site to help individuals and their families learn how to live successfully with a visual impairment.

In addition to her work leading the AFB Center on Vision Loss and AFB’s Web Programs—CareerConnect, FamilyConnectVisionAware—Scott led AFB’s National Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss, a coalition of 140 vision rehabilitation professionals who worked to increase federal funding for independent living programs for adults with age-related eye conditions. Her efforts also helped to make significant public structures such as the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Terminal D, AT&T Cowboys Stadium, and the American Airlines Center more accessible for people with visual disabilities.

AFB’s AccessWorld App Version 2.0 Is Now Available

AccessWorld app logo, AFBAccessWorld, the American Foundation for the Blind’s popular online magazine dedicated to technology is available on the go via the AccessWorld app. And now it’s newly improved as AccessWorld Version 2.0 has been rewritten from the ground up to be much more responsive and include the following features:

  • Automatic updates on new issue launch
  • Ability to search the full AccessWorld archive
  • Enhanced table of contents with author information for each article
  • Improved article sharing through e-mail and social media
  • Full interface refresh, including text resizing through pinch to zoom and toolbar control
  • iPad support

The new app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store

Tools for Professional Development

AFB Press Releases New Book Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments is a hands-on guide for teachers and professionals working to improve their students’ reading skills. Students learn to put together the essential components of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension—and teachers are provided with targeted teaching strategies for each component. Written by Cheryl Kakei-Hannan and Leila Ansari Ricci, Reading Connections addresses the needs of students who read print, braille, or both and is consistent with methods for teaching reading to students who have, or are at risk for, developing reading disabilities.

Reading Connections helps teachers assess individual student reading performance, create a balanced plan of reading for each student and collaborate with other teachers, parents, and administrators.The book includes helpful resources and tools, including case studies of successful teaching efforts, an informal assessment that helps determine student strengths and needs, a list of resources for addressing the specific components of reading, and ready-to-use classroom activities.

Reading Connections is available for order on, iTunes, Barnes and Noble online, and in the AFB Bookstore. It is available in print, e-book, and online subscription formats.

New eLearning Webinar Discusses the Use of iPads in the Classroom

AFB eLearning will soon release its newest webinar, iOS in the Classroom: iPad Learning Success for Students with Vision Loss.

This webinar is for direct service providers who work with students who are visually impaired. It provides strategies for orienting students to the iOS operating system with a focus on iPads.

Participants gain a broad understanding of how best to implement Apple’s mobile screen reader into a student’s educational experience for optimal classroom learning.

iPad Learning Success for Students is presented by Larry Lewis. Congenitally blind from cataracts that developed into a juvenile form of glaucoma, Lewis is a strong advocate for braille literacy. In 2006, Lewis founded Flying Blind, LLC, which provides diverse curriculum development, training, and reselling services.

iPad Learning Success for Students with Vision Loss will be released in the AFB eLearning Center in early September at ACVREP CE credit for the webinar will also be available.

New Edition of Burns Braille Guide Features Unified English Braille

A perennial favorite resource for teachers and transcribers, the Burns Braille Transcription Dictionary has been revamped as the Burns Braille Guide to usher in the new era of Unified English Braille (UEB) and will soon be released by AFB Press. The revised and updated edition, written by Mary F. Burns, reflects the range of changes introduced in the transition from English Braille American Edition (EBAE) to UEB. This easy-to-use reference guide includes common braille to print and print to braille conversions, as well as punctuation, new UEB contractions, and general rules and terminology. It contains the complete list of shortforms from The Rule of Unified English Braille maintained by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB).

Burns Braille Guide: A Quick Reference to Unified English Braille, Second Edition will be released in mid-September. It will be available in print, e-book, and online subscription formats on, iTunes, Barnes and Noble online, and in the AFB Bookstore.

Live in the Dallas Area? Attend Free Seminars at the AFB Center on Vision Loss

The AFB Center on Vision Loss will host two seminars in September: “Don’t Be Afraid to Go to Work” on the 10th and “A Review of Assistive Technology from Baum” on the 15th. Education or rehabilitation professionals and people with vision loss are invited to attend both events for free. For more information, please call or e-mail Neva Fairchild, national independent living associate, at 214-438-5316 or

Awards and Events

Call for Migel Award Nominations

AFB is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. The Migel Medal recognizes professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.

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 2, 2015. Nominators should send a one-page description of the nominee and his/her accomplishments to Scott Truax, Program Manager FamilyConnect at, or fill out our online nomination form at You must also submit two letters of recommendation with the nomination.

From the AFB Blogs

Tips for Teaching Reading from Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
by AFB Staff on 8/26/2015, posted on the AFB Blog

Helen Keller: An Artificial Eye
by Helen Selsdon on 7/29/2015, posted on the AFB Blog

25 Years After the ADA: Blind Still Missing from the Workforce
by Carl Augusto on 7/21/2015, posted on the AFB Blog

When Your Eyesight is Declining and You Need Help with Work and Daily Living Activities
by Shannon Carollo on 8/26/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

Can Happiness Happen at Work for Someone Who is Blind or Visually Impaired?
by Katy Lewis on 8/24/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

Educating Sighted Students as a Teacher who is Blind
by Ashley Sodosky on 8/20/2015, posted on the CareerConnect Blog

Parents of Children and Teens with Visual Impairments: “Your Goals” in Orientation and Mobility for the New School Year
by Shannon Carollo on 8/20/2015, posted on the FamilyConnect: A Parent's Voice Blog

A New Stem Cell Immune Rejection Discovery Shows Promise for Treating Retinal Disease 
by Maureen Duffy on 8/25/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

New Research: Faulty Immune Cells May be a Cause of Vision Loss in Macular Degeneration
by Maureen Duffy on 8/20/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

Meet Doug Anzlovar and the New "Low Vision Focus @ Hadley" Program at The Hadley School for the Blind
by Maureen Duffy on 8/17/2015, posted on the VisionAware Blog

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