President Obama Signs Historic Technology Access Bill
Millions of Americans with vision loss will soon have improved access to the digital age after years of barriers. On Friday, October 8, joined by disability-rights advocates and technology industry representatives, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The new law requires that smart phones, television programs and other modern communications technologies are accessible to people with vision or hearing loss. According to AFB's President & CEO, Carl R. Augusto, "This law builds on the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ensures that people with disabilities can fully participate in the 21st century. We applaud the many advocates and lawmakers who fought tirelessly to make this law a reality."
Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy and Paul Schroeder, VP, Programs & Policy, led the way by influencing key provisions of the bill and working closely with lawmakers and other organizations in the disability community to advocate for its passage. The U.S. House signed the bill with bipartisan support on September 29. That signing and the passage were covered by a number of news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), The Washington Post, and National Public Radio (NPR). According to Richert, "For millions of Americans just like me who have been largely shut out of the amazing technologies most people take for granted today, the new law means we'll be able to work more productively, respond to emergencies more safely and effectively, and participate even more in society and culture. It's about moving from isolation and dependence to inclusion and opportunity." In today's digital world, smart phones, DVD players, and the Internet have become part of the workplace, the classroom and daily life. This legislation, said Schroeder, "marks a huge step forward for people with disabilities, it will improve job opportunities, education opportunities, and more."
Twenty years ago, when the ADA was signed into law, no one could have predicted the new technologies that now shape daily lives and work routines. A number of members played a key role in moving the legislation forward. In the U.S. Senate, the bill was championed by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), with the support of Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Senator John Ensign (R-NV). In the U.S. House, it was championed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), with the support of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).
To read more about the impact of the presidential passage of the Technology Access Bill, read the full press release.
News and Announcements
CareerConnect® Introduces the Job Seeker's Tool Kit
On October 4, CareerConnect launched The Job Seeker's Toolkit, a comprehensive, self paced online course for students and job seekers to obtain lasting learning on career exploration. The Job Seeker's Toolkit brings you:
- Great tips & advice
- Useful employment tools
- Easy navigation
- Capability for professionals to follow the progress and provide feedback on assignments
The courses provide registrants with guidelines for exploring the careers and for conducting successful job searches. Courses offered on The Job Seeker's Tool Kit are presented through a number of modules on the ever popular AFB CareerConnect website. The first few modules are designed to help job seekers with vision loss develop and hone job seeking skills, while the final module provides information on maintaining employment. The Job Seeker's Toolkit also allows professionals and families to register and follow a young adult's progress and provide feedback. Learn more about the tools necessary for finding job opportunities by visiting www.afb.org/careerconnect .
Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI)
As a reminder, the 2011 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) will be held on March 11-12, at the Downtown Renaissance Seattle. Pre-conferences will take place on March 10 and will cover a number of subjects, such as optic nerve hypoplasia, Orientation and Mobility (O&M), and recreation. For the latest updates on JLTLI, visit www.afb.org/JLTLI11.
Call for 2011 Access Awards Nominations
AFB announces an invitation for nominations for the 2011 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. The effort should be one that has a national impact or can be a model for replication on a national level. Letters of nomination should be e-mailed to: Marc Grossman, AFB, 2011 Access Awards Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, read the full press release.
Nominations must be received no later than Friday, October 29, 2010.
Updates on Judy Scott and Natalie Hilzen's awards
Judy Scott, Director of the AFB Center on Vision Loss, and Natalie Hilzen, AFB Press Director and Editor-in-Chief, recently received honors for their efforts to serve the communities of individuals with vision loss. On September 13, Judy was officially inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, an award established by The Governor's Commission for Women to honor the state's most accomplished women. The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, performed the ceremony. A video about Judy, which showcases the Center on Vision Loss, was also featured during the event and will be permanently displayed in the museum at Texas Woman's University. The video can be viewed through the museum's website at http://www.twu.edu.
Additionally, the American Council of the Blind of Texas recently selected Judy as the recipient of the "Who's Who Among Blind Texans Award!"
The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), the field's foremost professional organization, recently honored Natalie Hilzen with the prestigious C. Warren Bledsoe Award. The award, which was given at the AER International Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, typically acknowledges publications that have made outstanding contributions to literature related to blindness. Recognizing an editor with this award was a decision made by the nominating committee to acknowledge Natalie for her "incredible contribution to literature used around the world to help practitioners that serve families with infants, children, youth, adults, and elderly persons who are blind and visually impaired." Learn more about Natalie's publications, including the latest update to the award-winning Foundations series, by visiting the AFB Bookstore today.
Call for Papers — JVIB 2011 Special Issue: A Celebration of Orientation and Mobility
As the 50th anniversary of the first university preparation program for orientation and mobility (O&M) practitioners approaches, the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) invites papers that examine research and practice on mobility. Guest editors for the issue, which will be published in October 2011, include Richard G. Long, Ph.D. COMS and Diane L. Fazzi, Ph.D. COMS.
As the world becomes increasingly fast-paced and the built environment more complicated, the practice of imparting O&M instruction to people who are blind or visually impaired becomes all the more challenging. Papers on topics on the profession and innovations and challenges for practitioners are invited for this special issue. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2011. To learn more about submission topics, guidelines and other details, please visit AFB's JVIB webpage.
Learning Features to Support Professionals
AFB Web Operations recently improved the AFB eLearning Center to better support direct service providers and students. Features added to the website now include:
- the ability for teachers to sign up groups of students, or for students to indicate their association with a teacher
- the ability for learners to return to assignments over time, then to send the assignment to a teacher
Also, because many staff members of state and other agencies cannot receive e-mail attachments, Web Operations added a feature to allow users to download the Continuing Education Certificates they have earned directly from the course. To learn more about the information presented on the eLearning Center, visit the site.