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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB eNews

July 2012

AER and AFB Join Forces to Provide Access to Research in the Blindness Field

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is proud to announce a new agreement that will bring the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB), the international peer-reviewed journal of record in the blindness field, to the thousands of professionals who comprise the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) membership.

Beginning January 2013, JVIB will be provided as a membership benefit for AER members and will be designated the official journal of AER.

JVIB is the essential professional resource for information about visual impairment and blindness, delivering current research and best practice information, commentary from authoritative experts on critical topics, and a calendar of important events. For over a century, JVIB has served as the cornerstone of the field's literature. Available online 24/7, the journal offers immediate access to information across the blindness field.

As a result of this new arrangement, JVIB will expand its subscriber community to the more than 4,000 professionals in AER, who provide services to people with visual impairments. AER members, many of whom already contribute to the journal as peer reviewers, authors, and Advisory Board members, will have the opportunity to strengthen their involvement with the journal through participation in special online events and by providing input to JVIB on news items, selection of special issue and other topics, and issues of concern that should be included in the journal.

The journal that will be received by AER members in January will reflect changes planned for next year to bring JVIB to the forefront of today's fast-moving information options:

  • The introduction of a JVIB ebook, accessible on multiple hand-held devices, including the Kindle, Nook, iPhone, and iPad, to replace the print issue; at the same time, the journal will continue to be available online and in ASCII, PDF, and braille-ready formats;
  • A publication frequency of six times per year instead of monthly, incorporating the same number of peer-reviewed articles as in the past; and
  • An ongoing online newsfeed presenting the Calendar of Events and News from the Field features.

A forthcoming FAQ will be available on both AER and AFB's websites to provide information to AER members and to JVIB subscribers.

News and Announcements

New Website Offers Information and Support for Adults with Vision Loss

Are you or a family member having difficulty seeing? Or perhaps been diagnosed with an eye condition such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy? If the answer is yes, you're not alone: vision problems affect 25 million Americans, and that number is on the rise.

To support this growing community, AFB and Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation launched, a free, easy-to-use informational website for adults with vision loss, their families, caregivers, healthcare providers, and social service professionals.

The new VisionAware combines two stand-alone resources from AFB and Partners for Sight (Senior Site and the former VisionAware, respectively) into a single, comprehensive website offering dynamic social networking and customized guidance for adults of all ages with rich content and practical tips on living with vision loss.

Visitors to the new VisionAware will find:

  • Free, practical tips and resources for adults with vision loss, their families, friends, caregivers, and related professionals
  • Information on eye diseases and disorders
  • Different ways to connect, including message boards and social media channels like Twitter and Facebook
  • Breaking news on the latest developments in vision loss treatment via the VisionAware blog
  • Directories of helpful services, products, and resources

The new VisionAware complements AFB’s family of websites, which are designed to expand possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential. For more information, visit

More Video Description Coming to a TV Near You

If you're sick of asking the person next to you to describe what's happening on screen during a movie or your favorite television show, you're in luck.

As part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), several of the most popular television networks are making certain primetime and children's programs accessible to viewers with vision loss by adding video description. For now, these networks are required to provide approximately four hours of video description per week, beginning July 1, 2012.

The networks required to provide a set amount of described programming under CVAA are ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS.

If you would like more information on video description, including step-by-step instructions on how to access description services on your TV, please visit our Video Description webpages.

Accessible Drug Label Bill Gets President's Signature

On July 9, President Barack Obama signed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. This act includes provisions that will establish national best practices for pharmacies to use in providing accessible prescription drug labeling to their customers with vision loss.

These provisions will serve as a valuable supplement to existing requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws that obligate pharmacies to ensure effective communication and barrier removal for people with disabilities.

Sign Our Petition to Help Students Succeed in the Classroom

Astronaut, doctor, scientist, poet, or president...a child's dream should always be within reach. But for thousands of children living with vision loss, these dreams fade away far too quickly.

Visually impaired students require better educational assistance, but schools are not properly prepared to help our students reach their full potential.

Soon, Congress will be considering the Anne Sullivan Macy Act—a bill initiated by AFB. Named in honor of Helen Keller's extraordinary teacher, this legislation would require schools to:

  • Provide braille texts and teach braille to students who need it
  • Offer accessible classroom technology
  • Include orientation and mobility training as part of regular instruction
  • Increase the number of special educators trained to teach visually impaired students

Please sign the petition and help make a difference for the millions of children with vision loss.

New Webinar Offerings

AFB eLearning has three upcoming webinars. On August 2, a webinar on low vision technology titled Using Video/Electronic Magnification Tools for Accessing Printed Information will be held. Participants will get an in-depth look at closed circuit televisions or video or electronic magnifiers, with an emphasis on their strengths and weaknesses for accomplishing specific tasks.

The Computer/Screen Magnification Technologies: Hardware and Software webinar will also be held in August and will cover accessing computers and other electronic devices for people with low vision. Topics include:

  • Display property adjustments to operating system and application software
  • Accessibility features of operating systems
  • Cursor enhancement software
  • Screen magnification software, low-cost and mid-priced magnifiers, full-featured magnifiers

The Other Useful Technologies for People with Low Vision webinar will be held in September and will review auditory and tactile tools useful for certain tasks. Topics include:

  • eBook readers—auditory/visual
  • Cell phones—auditory/visual
  • Tablets
  • GPS—auditory/visual
  • Calculators/dictionaries—auditory/visual

Additional information on these webinars will be posted to the AFB Bookstore.

Ike Presley Elected to AER

Ike Presley, national project manager for AFB, has been elected to a two-year term as the AER representative for District 5. District 5 comprises Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Presley has also been asked to serve as a subject matter expert committee member for the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

From the Blogs

How to Order Walmart Talking Prescription Containers

Lee Huffman, editor-in-chief of AccessWorld, explains how to get accessible drug containers from Walmart.

Christine Ha Cooking Her Way to Being Next MasterChef

Joe Strechay, CareerConnect Program Manager, discusses the rise of Christine Ha, an accomplished chef who just happens to be blind.

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