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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB eNews

September 2012

AFB Teams with Lions Clubs International to Increase Literacy and Access to Learning Resources

September is National Literacy Month. For the 25 million Americans with vision loss, it's essential to know how to read, write, and use assistive technology in order to fully engage with the world. AFB's partnership with Lions Clubs International is helping to increase literacy and access to learning resources through the Lion's Reading Action Program. Under this program, Lions Club members around the world are committed to organizing service projects and activities that underscore the importance of reading and address specific needs related to illiteracy within their own community. But you don't have to be a Lion to join our campaign—here's how you can help.

To improve access to information and resources for children and families:

To ensure adults new to vision loss can continue to read:

To expand access to accessible technology:

  • Learn about AFB's technology workshops for professionals who serve people with vision loss.
  • Learn more about the critical work being done by AFB's Tech team by reading AFB's online technology magazine AccessWorld® and downloading the AccessWorld mobile app.
  • Reach out to technology companies (through letter-writing campaigns or telephone inquiries) to let them know that making their technologies usable by people who are blind or have low vision is not only critical for literacy, but also leads to better technology design and makes good business sense for companies and their bottom line.
  • Spread the word about NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) and other appropriate free or low-cost technological access solutions for people with vision loss.

News and Announcements

Call for 2013 Migel Medal Nominations

AFB invites nominations for the 2013 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. Nominations for AFB's Migel Medals are due by Monday, October 1, 2012, and should be e-mailed to Scott Truax, Program Manager, FamilyConnect, at To learn about candidate qualifications, past winners, and more, read the full press release.

Call for 2013 Access Awards Nominations

AFB invites nominations for the 2013 Access Awards. 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 who are blind or visually impaired by enhancing access to information, the environment, technology, education, or employment, including making mainstream products and services accessible. Letters of nomination should be e-mailed no later than Monday, October 29, 2012, to Joe Strechay, AFB, 2013 Access Awards Committee, at For additional information, read the full press release.

AFB's eLearning Center Announces Upcoming Webinars

AFB's Ike Presley will present the final 60-minute webinar in his popular series on low vision technology on September 27, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT. "Other Useful Technologies for People with Low Vision" will cover ebook readers, cell phones, tablets, GPS, and calculators/dictionaries. The cost is $25; the entire series is $65. Each webinar in this series offers 1 CEU from ACVREP and CRCC and will be available online in our AFB webinar archives.

A new webinar on coping with the psychological, functional, and technological aspects of macular degeneration will be presented by Chicago Lighthouse staff on October 2, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. EDT. The webinar is based on Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind, a book published jointly by AFB Press and The Chicago Lighthouse. The cost for the webinar is $25.

On October 4, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. EDT, Liz Barclay, editor of Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn, will present the first in a series of six webinars on listening skills. The 60-minute presentation will provide an overview of the book, and explore the connection between listening skill development and literacy skills for school-aged children. The webinar includes a Q&A session with Barclay. The cost for the webinar is $25; the series cost is $99.

Discounts will be offered for purchasing books and related webinars. Find more details on the eLearning website.

AFB Press to Release New Text on Physical Activity, Sports, and Recreation

This October, AFB Press will release Physical Education and Sports for People with Visual Impairments and Deafblindness: Foundations of Instruction, a comprehensive sourcebook that includes methods, practical tips, and curriculum strategies for adapting sports and other recreational activities for persons with visual impairments and deafblindness. The book is co-authored by Lauren Lieberman, Paul Ponchillia, and Susan Ponchillia. Dr. Lieberman is an internationally known expert in physical education and activity for children and adults who are visually impaired. Dr. Paul Ponchillia is a Western Michigan University professor emeritus, visually impaired athlete, and bearer of the Olympic Torch in 1996, who co-founded with the late Dr. Susan Ponchillia, also a professor at Western Michigan University, the Michigan Sports Education Camp for Students with Visual Impairments.

Physical Education and Sports will help teachers of students with visual impairments, special education teachers, and physical education teachers to include students with visual impairments and deafblindness in the full range of physical activities in a safe and enjoyable manner. It will also be helpful to anyone working with visually impaired or deafblind adults who likewise need access to opportunities for recreation and fitness.

Physical Education and Sports for People with Visual Impairments and Deafblindness: Foundations of Instruction will be available in the AFB Bookstore. For publication updates, join the AFB Press Facebook page.

AFB Press Expands ePublications Offerings to Customers

AFB Press has expanded its digital offerings to better meet the needs of students and professionals who have asked for on-demand information that can be read with a variety of e-readers, tablets, and assistive technology devices.

All accessible ASCII files of AFB Press publications can be downloaded immediately after purchase. In the past, ASCII titles were sold on CD-ROM and shipped to the customer.

AFB Press is also beginning to offer its publications in different e-book formats. Users can choose between ePUB or MOBI (Kindle) formats, allowing access on mainstream e-readers. Currently, the publication Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Listening Skills to Student with Visual Impairments is available in the AFB Bookstore as an e-book. More e-books will be added to the AFB Bookstore, as well as the iBooks, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble online stores as soon as they can be converted.

The ASCII and e-book files are available at a cost 30% less than their print counterparts.

AFB Press has long been a leader in providing accessible digital files of publications through its ePublications offerings and in developing accessible delivery systems for online products.

AFB Welcomes New eLearning Director, Announces Upcoming Retirement of Long-Time Champion and Friend

AFB is pleased to welcome George Abbott as director of AFB's eLearning Center. Abbott has been involved in eLearning content development and delivery for a number of years. Previously, he was employed by the Veterans Health Administration, where his duties included ensuring the accessibility of eLearning content. Most recently, Abbott was employed by the Hadley School for the Blind in a variety of positions, including vice president of education and training and dean of education programs.

Maureen Matheson, vice president of AFB Press and Web Programs, has announced her intention to retire as of December 31, 2012. Matheson has overseen dramatic changes in the Press, Web, and many other program areas since joining AFB in 2000. Her drive, enthusiasm, strategic insights, and leadership will be truly missed at AFB. Our very best wishes to Maureen as she prepares to embark on this new chapter.

From the Blogs

Winner Is Served: Christine Ha Takes Top Prize on MasterChef

Joe Strechay, CareerConnect project associate, congratulates Christine Ha on winning MasterChef.

Finding Fitness, Sport and Recreation: From Physical Education to the Paralympics

Lauren Lieberman, an expert in physical education and activity for children and adults who are visually impaired, discusses the role of physical education for children with vision loss.

Tell the FCC to Say NO to Inaccessible Gaming and Communications Technologies!

Join Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, in ensuring the accessibility of key communications features on gaming consoles.

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