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for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Browse By Topic: Conference Recaps

It Takes a Village to Make a Successful Conference

We hope you found the 2019 AFB Leadership Conference to be inspiring, invigorating, and informative and that you left feeling better prepared to LEAD: Learn, Engage, Advance, and Deliver. We had 40 distinct opportunities to LEAD at the conference. The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) at Mississippi State University hosted an all-day Older Individuals Who are Blind Program managers meeting on Wednesday, that attracted nearly 60 participants. The three general sessions included an

Education Track Offerings at AFBLC19

Education track sessions emphasize collaboration, research, and personnel preparation. Orientation and mobility readiness standards, preparing teachers to work with children who have neurological visual impairments, funding university programs, and encouraging research are just some of the topics addressed. Register for the AFB Leadership Conference <img align="left" width="300" style="margin-right:10px"

Leadership Track Highlights from the 2019 AFBLC Program

Thanks to generous support from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the 2019 AFBLC Leadership Track will provide attendees with fresh perspectives and the opportunity to learn new tactics for successful leadership from top speakers. The full program is now available

The 2019 AFB Leadership Conference Registration Site Is Now Open!

We are thrilled to announce that the moment you've been waiting for is hereregistration is now open for the 2019 AFB Leadership Conference (#AFBLC19)! Join us at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, as we bring together leaders in the field to share research and advocate for equal education and employment opportunities, as well as to address the needs of an aging population. The conference will have five primary areas of focus: leadership, aging and visual impairment,

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion at the 2018 Helen Keller Achievement Awards

On Thursday April 4, 2018 AFB presented the Helen Keller Achievement Awards (HKAA) to three very impressive recipients. The awardees were Facebook and Microsoft, for their exemplary roles in creating accessible products or improving the accessibility of their already-popular products; and Haben Girma, for her advocacy and dedication to creating equal opportunities for people with disabilities. This is the first time AFB held this prestigious gala on the eve of the

A Great Day of Education and Advocacy at Gallaudet

This week, AFB participated in a first-of-its-kind event with students, professionals, and advocates from all three sensory disability communitiesblindness and visual impairment, deafness and hard-of-hearing, and deafblindness. The event was the result of excellent partnership with many groups coming together over several months to plan an informative, accessible, interactive event. Accessibility was everywhere! ASL interpreters, tactile ASL interpreters, pro-tactile support, braille, large print, and electronic files. The event was co-hosted by the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD), the

Report From Day One of CES 2018, a Global Technology Event

It’s the time for college bowls, NFL playoffs, New Year’s resolutions, and, of course, all things technology at CES in Las Vegas. The show officially kicked off on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, with lots of attention to self-driving vehicles, voice-controlled everything, robots galore, and audio products with hearing enhancement. A big thank you to the Consumer Technology Association for supporting attendance by disability advocates, including Lee Huffman and me. Here are a couple of highlights so far. We’ll have a full wrap up in AccessWorld next month. Alexa in the Shower?

Dispelling Misconceptions About Blindness at the 2017 San Diego Maker Faire

Kirk Adams and I were pleased to participate in a variety of activities during the 2017 San Diego Maker Faire in Balboa Park, October 7 and 8. In conjunction with Dr. Melissa Ganus of Quality of Life Experiments, I participated in the Human Library on October 7 at the San Diego Museum of Man. Several individuals representing a variety of communities were brought together to serve as living books to be checked out. The concept was to provide a

My Perspective on the 2017 Cogswell-Macy Act Capitol Hill Day

For the second time, the American Foundation for the Blind, joined by other groups representing students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deafblind, held an advocacy day on Capitol Hill for the Cogswell-Macy Act. A vast and diverse group of advocates came from 29 states with the intent of convincing members of Congress to support a bill that would immensely help to give children with sensory disabilities an equal chance to excel in the classroom and beyond. We kicked off our Hill Day with a briefing at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington,

Wrapping Up the 2017 AFB Leadership Conference

From left to right: Bernadette Kappen, Ph.D., Executive Director of the New York Institute for Special Education, Mark Richert, Esq., Kirk Adams, president and CEO of AFB, Lee Huffman, editor of AccessWorld Magazine, Matt Kaplowitz, President and Chief Creative Officer of Bridge Multimedia, Tanseela Molani, Design Researcher for United Airlines, and David Jeppson, Executive Director of Computers for the Blind The AFB Leadership Conference has been jam-packed. We were so proud last night to honor Bridge Multimedia,

Celebrating the Foundations of Education

Left to right: editors Cheryl Kamei-Hannan, M. Cay Holbrook, Ph.D., and Tessa S McCarthy at today's launch of Foundations of Education, Third Edition On March 3, 1887130 years ago to the dayAnnie Sullivan arrived in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The minute Annie met six-year-old Helen Keller, she began to sign into her hand, laying the foundation for Helen’s education. Not four weeks later, the now famous moment at the water pump took place, and Helen understood for the first time that everything had a

Welcome to the 31st American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference

Kirk Adams is president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. It is my pleasure to be in Washington, D.C., welcoming attendees to the 31st American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference, and my first as president and CEO of AFB. We are delighted to have a record number of attendees this year, as well as a record number of exhibitors, including our lead exhibit sponsor, Humanware. I want to thank our conference co-host, Virginia AER, and conference ally, VisionServe Alliance, as well as our partners: Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind

Accessibility in Digital Publishing: Notes from a Summit

New federal regulations on accessibility for digital and web publishing are expected to have a significant impact on the publishing industry. The American Foundation for the Blind was pleased to co-sponsor, and AFB staff were pleased to attend, a summit on accessibility in publishing, along with many other publishers and accessibility experts, hosted by the Center for Publishing Innovation. Discussions included the impact of revisions to Section 508 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the

More Firsthand Accounts from People Who Attended the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

VisionAware peer advisor Audrey Demmitt recently attended the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. She writes, “As a consumer and paraprofessional who works with the visually impaired and blind community, I found it both informational and inspirational. I came away feeling very encouraged by all the efforts, research, product development and initiatives that are taking place on behalf of those who live with vision loss." She was particularly impressed by all of the accessible technology presented at the conference. Read her full report on the "Visually Impaired: Now What?" blog:

Thank You to Everyone Who Attended the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

Thank you to the 400 wonderful attendees of the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference, who made the conference a fabulous place to network and meet other dedicated professionals from around the United States and abroad! We wouldn't be able to pull off this conference without the longstanding support of our sponsors, including presenting sponsors JPMorgan Chase & Co, and the Consumer Technology Association(tm) (CTA) and CTA Foundation, and our partners: Vision Serve Alliance, Conference Ally Maryland School for the Blind Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Day 3 of the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

It's the final day of a packed 2016 AFB Leadership Conference. Last night we celebrated our retiring President & CEO Carl R. Augusto's 25 years of outstanding leadership and service to the American Foundation for the Blind. If you are able to, please join us in honoring

Day 2 of the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

The AFB Leadership Conference (AFBLC) seeks to improve the quality of programs and services to blind and visually impaired children and adults. AFBLC provides a forum in which leadership personnel, in both education and rehabilitation, have the opportunity to increase their awareness of student and client needs, expand their knowledge, refine leadership skills, and share concerns and strategies. We were delighted to speak with Tanya Hilligoss, director of outreach for the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, another first-time participant in an AFB Leadership

Speaking with More AFBLC 2016 Attendees

Paige Berry, of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, shared her thoughts on returning to the AFB Leadership Conference (AFBLC). The AFBLC seeks to improve the quality of programs and services to blind and visually impaired children and adults. AFBLC provides a forum in which leadership personnel, in both education and rehabilitation, have the opportunity to increase their awareness of student and client needs, expand their knowledge, refine leadership skills, and share concerns and strategies. To find out more and register for the upcoming AFB Leadership Conference, please visit

Kicking Off the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference

Susan Mazrui, her service dog, and presenter Deborah Marriott Harrison Congratulations to Susan Mazrui, current director for Public Policy at AT&T and a former AFB Trustee, who received the 2016 Stephen Garff Marriott Award! The award honors a blind or visually impaired individual who has served as an extraordinary mentor or who has attained remarkable professional success. Mazrui currently works on disability-related public policy issues and serves as the co-chair of the Federal Communications

An Interview with a First-time Attendee at the AFB Leadership Conference

Year after year, the AFB Leadership Conference covers the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of blindness and offers many opportunities to learn from the best and brightest minds in our field, make new connections, and reunite with old friends. To find more information and register for the upcoming AFB Leadership Conference, visit In 2016, we spoke with Megan Doddformerly with the East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, now Director of the AFB Center on Vision Lossat her first ever AFB Leadership Conference. Hear what she had to say about her experience. (See full transcript below.)

AFBLC 2016 Has a Valentine's Day Treat for You!

As our special Valentine to you, we’re giving you an extension on the Early Bird Rate! Now you can register for the 2016 AFB Leadership Conference at the lower rate until February 16—but after that, rates are going up, so don’t delay! If your agency is sending three or more people, please contact Scott Truax about a group registration discount. Also note that hotel rooms at the group rate are going

Day 4 at CES: Home, Health, and Fitness

Paul Schroeder at the MagicaVision booth On the second day of the official CES, John Lilly and I spent most of the day among the home, health, and fitness area of the show. At Whirlpool we learned that a line of “connected” kitchen appliances will soon be launched in the US. As with the connected washer and dryer, these are toward the top of the line, so they won’t be cheap, but the Whirlpool app does seem to work reasonably well with VoiceOver and they are interested in continuing to improve it. Every year, CES attracts a bunch of start-up companies and entrepreneurs who seem right out of Shark Tank casting.

Day 3 at CES 2016: The Grand Opening

CES 2016 officially opened on Wednesday January 6, and as Lyle Lovett might say, CES is not large, it's huge. Encompassing over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit and presentation space, there is just no way to convey the absolute awesomeness of the size of this thing. Read the full report on day 3 of CES in AccessWorld(r), including our impressions of Casio's new "2.5D" printer, a system for producing tactile graphics and braille. We also took a look at Vuzix's iWear headset and M300 Smart Glasses, and reported on the conversation between Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer

Day 2 at CES 2016

As you read this, the CES show, an annual event about all things technology, is only just now opening, but lots has been happening already. Press events dominated Tuesday's schedule. I attended presentations by LG, Panasonic, and others. Read the full report on day 2 of CES in AccessWorld(r), and you can also follow AFB on Twitter or Facebook for additional updates. I'll have lots more as the week of CES 2016 goes on, so stay tuned!

Attending the 2016 CES, a Global Technology Event

With a big thank you to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)(tm), AFB is again attending "CES(r)," the global technology event that takes place in early January in Las Vegas. CTA, formerly the Consumer Electronics Association, again made it possible for John Lilly (who works in our tech office in Huntington, WV, and me to attend the show, along with a select delegation from the disability community. We’ll do our best to provide updates throughout this week as we try to see as many of the over 3,600 exhibitors that attend. Yes, that’s 3,600the show is huge! CES features all aspects of the industry and it has served as the proving ground for innovators and

The Top Twelve from the 2015 AFB Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona

Russell Shaffer, Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Walmart, Joe Strechay, AFB CareerConnect Program Manager, and Chris Downey, Architect, talking about success and vision loss We just closed up our 2015 AFB Leadership Conference, and I would love to share some highlights. It was a fast-and-furious conference with no reference to the current Furious 7 film. The conference was jam-packed with unique and informative content from experts from around the United States and abroad. Our final head count was somewhere around 420 attendees from 38 states

Attendee Highlight: the AFB Leadership Conference 2015

It's been a great conference in Phoenix, AZ, so far. Day 2 of our Leadership Conference is well underway! This annual conference, which kicked off yesterday and runs through Saturday, covers the most pressing and relevant topics in the field of blindness and offers many opportunities to learn from the best and brightest minds, make new connections, and reunite with old friends. So far, we've taken a deep dive into research with our public policy team, gotten our tech on with AccessWorld magazine, learned about Non-24 Disorder, Googled our docs, gone in depth with Apple VoiceOver, and much more. We

CSUN 2015 Exhibit Hall: 3D Printing Is Coming to People Who Are Blind

Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. Check out her first dispatch, too. As

CSUN 2015: Cameras for Everybody!

Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. The exhibit hall opened here on Wednesday, and I made my first pass. I missed a lot, but I can tell already that there are a few

AFB’s Vice President Paul Schroeder's Visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Our VP of Programs and Policy, Paul Schroeder, got up close and personal with the Mercedes self-driving concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place earlier this month in Las Vegas with lots of gushing about the latest in huge televisions with remarkable pictures. Oddly, the show gave more and more attention to automotive technology. For those of us with vision loss, the other exciting trend was captured in an opening keynote by Boo-Keun Yoon, Samsung President and CEO, who described his company’s commitment

Alternative Interfaces to the Android: CSUN Day 3

Stopping at booths in the CSUN exhibit hall last week, I saw a lot of innovative problem-solving. One of the problems I saw companies trying to solve was, simply put, how to make smart phones more usable for people who are not really users of technology, and who are blind or visually impaired. These solutions, in the exhibit hall this year at least, mainly centered around the use of the Android, with suites of applications "on top" of the usual operating system. Some of these solutions altered or added to the hardware, as well. The BraillePlus 18 PDA from the American Printing House for the Blind is such a device. It has a braille

Tablets! Surface, Android, Nexus, iPad: CSUN 2014 Assistive Technology Conference, Day 2

Most years, there's a trend in the exhibit hall. A few years ago it was iOS apps, hardware accessories, our old product now works with the iPhone, and so on. Last year it was STEMscience, technology, engineering, math (I know you knew that already) and every other booth had a solution product, website, program, or new feature. This year tablets, tablets, it's raining tablets. There's a different tablet for every attendee. I would exaggerate if I said every booth showed tablets, but lots of them did, or hardware to go with, or software to run on, products that incorporate, etc. Google has a big presence this

Braille, Tablets, What's Cool: CSUN 2014 Assistive Technology Conference, Day 1

We're at CSUN! What is it? It's the huge Technology and People with Disabilities conference in San Diego. AccessWorld magazine always has a full highlights article after the conference has ended, but here I'll tell you about a few things I've seen. It's a little random, as I've spent most of my time in the exhibit hall, and I've skipped some booths because they were too crowded. Cool Designs, Fashionable Looks in Assistive Technology When did assistive technology start to get cool-looking? Some of the products are still their old

Mark Your Calendar: M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology

G3ict (The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs), an advocacy initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID), is presenting the 2nd edition of the global conference and showcase, M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology for Seniors and Users of All Abilities next month. Organized by G3ict and E.J. Krause and Associates, in cooperation with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Summit is the only program of its kind focusing exclusively on mobile accessible services and assistive technology solutions

A Look Back at the American Foundation for the Blind 2013 Leadership Conference

From April 18-20, AFB hosted its annual flagship conference (formerly titled the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute), together with Illinois AER, in Chicago. With over two dozen exhibitors and more than 400 attendees, we made many new friends and reconnected with old ones. In spite of some initial bad weather, attendance was strong. A day of pre-conference sessions gave way to Friday morning’s keynote address from Chieko Asakawa, Ph.D., of IBM Research-Tokyo. Blind since the age of 14, Asakawa discussed the history of disability technology in a speech entitled "Accessibility Ignites Innovation." The keynote set the tone for the next two days, as the multiple sessions

As CES wraps up…

There are just a couple of other items I want to share from CES. I did get a chance to play with the Fleksy keypad from Syntellia. As many know, this is an app for Android and iOS that allows text input using a touchscreen keyboard using the relative position of your finger touches to mimic the qwerty keyboard. In other words, you start typing where you think the letters are, and Fleksy fills in what it thinks you're typing. It works quite well and I found the learning curve to be very short. I can see why so many users are finding this popular. One serious drawback is that you can't use Fleksy directly in the iOS email. Instead, you enter what you want to type and paste it into an email. Bone conduction headphones are gaining in popularity. With these headphones, the

More updates from CES

Day 2 at CES featured some TV, some audio, some speech and a nice little company making nifty headphones. OK, so I sort of surrender to the TV juggernaut that is CES with a visit to Panasonic. But, this is a blindness access story and not a (super high-def, screen as large as my garage story). Some of you have probably heard about television sets from Panasonic that are available in England with great speech output for on-screen menus, channels and the like. And, we've been asking, and asking, why not here in the US? Well, Panasonic is going to release a whole bunch of televisions in the US market with

Updates from CES

After taking in a couple of sessions focusing on tech and seniors, William Reuschel and I tackled the exhibit floor (the lifeblood of CES). We got a chance to check out the Sensus from Canopy (a maker of game controllers for the iPhone), which has developed a nifty prototype for doing braille input on the iPhone using a touch-sensitive case. The input controls are on the top and back side of the case, with the fingers curled around the two ends of the phone). I was able to get the hang of brailing fairly quickly. It's not quite ready for primetime, but could prove interesting for those who would prefer braille input to the touch-screen QWERTY keypad. Possibly of greater value might be the zoom control that Canopy is developing to enable individuals with low vision

Off to Vegas for CES 2013

I am heading out to the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for my first visit. CES is a huge event, with just about every tech company (and a whole lot of non-traditional tech companies) showing off their new products. I'll try to let you know what I find regarding accessibility for people with vision loss. But first, a big shoutout of thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) who is assisting AFB and the Hearing Loss Association of America to be able to get the most out of the show and meet with companies and find out what's going on regarding accessibility for

AFB Will Be Rolling Deep to the 2012 AER International Conference

The American Foundation for the Blind is prepped and ready to head to the 2012 Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind or Visually Impaired (AER) International Conference in Bellevue, Washington. We are "rolling deep" to the conference, prepped to present, attend, and show off our amazing exhibit! Our exhibit is in a prime location, exhibit space number one! As you enter the exhibit hall, AFB will be the first booth that you encounter. We will be showing off the titles you know and love from

The AFB Leadership Conference with FAER: Sunburned, Well-Fed, and Educated

...And maybe add "A Few Fruity Drinks!" to that title. I am just getting back in the swing of things after a great AFB Leadership Conference with Florida AER in St. Pete Beach, FL. I can tell you that it was hard to get back behind my desk after returning from our beautiful location at the Tradewinds Island Resort. I would prefer to set up my desk on the white sand beach with the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico in front of me. Still, I was glad to have the opportunity to connect with a number of friends and colleagues at the conference and I contacted them to get their feedback on preconference and conference highlights. Great partners, sponsors, presenters,