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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Blog Posts by Elizabeth Neal

How Does the Department of Justice's Withdrawal of Proposed Regulations Change How the ADA Applies to Websites?

On December 26, the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially withdrew pending rulemakings that would have clarified exactly how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to web services. In 2010, the DOJ started the rulemaking process to create new regulations for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments. These "Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPRMs) have now been withdrawn. For two different, but complementary, perspectives on this news, we recommend Lainey Feingold's excellent blog post, No ADA Web Accessibility Regs? No Excuses and the Seyfarth ADA Title III News & Insights


2017 Gift Ideas for Friends and Family Members Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

As we approach the holiday season, we start trying to find gift ideas that will surprise and delight the people we love most. If you have close friends or family members who are blind, visually impaired, or losing their sight, explore these updated gift guides from the American Foundation for the Blind. AFB has pulled together appropriate, useful, fun gift ideas for all agesfrom very young children to working-age adults to seniors who are gradually losing their vision. Before you start shopping, learn how you can help AFB every time you shop


"Failures Become Victories If They Make Us Wise-Hearted" - Helen Keller

"...Let us not forget the treasures which the swift years have laid at our feetthe strength, the sense, the courage to meet difficulties and overcome them. Nothing else matters very much. To keep on trying in spite of disappointment and failure is the only way to keep young and brave. Failures become victories if they make us wise-hearted." -Helen Keller, in a 1921 speech she gave at the reunion dinner for Wright-Humason School, sharing memories of past classmates and her time spent at the school You can enjoy the


AFB Staff Members Report Back on Three Different Approaches to Experiencing the Solar Eclipse

Yesterday, AFB staff experienced the solar eclipse with a variety of high- and low-tech approaches. Associate Director of Web Services Crista Earl used the new Eclipse Soundscapes App created by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium. AFB Press Executive Editor Alina Vayntrub went old-school, using a colander to cast shadows of the eclipse against a white piece of


From Helen Keller to Netflix: Making Popular Culture Accessible

Helen in her dressing room in a vaudeville theatre, circa 1920 On June 15, the American Foundation for the Blind will be honoring Netflix with a


A Conversation with Architect Chris Downey

On June 15, the American Foundation for the Blind will be honoring architect Chris Downey with a Helen Keller Achievement Award for his exemplary leadership in accessible design, and dedication to creating enriching and helpful environments for people who are blind or visually impaired. Downey lost his sight in 2008, and has since gone on to found his own consulting firm, Architecture for the Blind. He specializes in designing workplaces, museum environments, and vision


For Teacher Appreciation Week, Enjoy Helen Keller's Tributes to Her Teacher, Annie Sullivan

"What do I consider a teacher should be? One who breathes life into knowledge so that it takes new form in progress and civilization." - Helen Keller in a speech to the National Education Association, 1938 <img src="http://www.afb.org/image.asp?ImageID=7607" alt="Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan playing chess, 1900. Helen is about to move a white queen. She has already captured one of Anne's black pawns, which


Celebrating Louis Braille's Birthday and AFB's Commitment to Braille Literacy

Every January 4, we celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille, who developed his famous braille code when he was only a teenager. Learn more about the creation of the braille code by exploring AFB's Louis Braille Online Museum. The American Foundation for the Blind's recognition of the importance of braille has been a constant throughout the 95 years of our existence. AFB took the lead to standardize the English braille code, making it cheaper and easier to produce. Our first CEO, Dr. Robert Irwin, was in the forefront of the delegation that successfully brought


Gift Ideas for Friends and Family Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

It's that time of year again, when we're all searching for gift-giving ideas. If you have close friends or family members who are blind, visually impaired, or losing their sight, you may want to explore these updated gift guides from the American Foundation for the Blind. From young children to working-age adults to seniors who are gradually losing their vision, AFB has you covered. Before you start shopping, learn how you can help AFB every time you shop online! Would you like to be able to donate to AFB quickly and easily, without increasing the cost


Happy Thanksgiving From the American Foundation for the Blind

Transcript: Thanksgiving dinner at Palawoo, 1918. (Left to right) Elsa Kingsley, Mrs. Mary Kingsley, Polly Thompson, Helen Keller, Myra Kingsley, Maybon Kingsley, Mrs. Macy "Teacher" -- We are doing our best with a 14 lb turkey that Mrs. Kingsley brought in with all the "fixins." How much have we all both as individuals and collectively the [sic] be thankful for this wonderful day with the World War over. The American Foundation for the Blind is grateful for all of you, who share our vision of a world where the millions of people who are blind or visually impaired have equal


Happy White Cane Day, from the American Foundation for the Blind!

White Cane Day is October 15! Every year since it was first established in 1964, this day has been set aside to celebrate the white cane as a symbol of independence and mobility for people who are blind or visually impaired. In honor of White Cane Day, the American Foundation for the Blind is celebrating across its entire family of sites: The AFB Directory of Services can connect you to agencies around the country that offer orientation and mobility trainingthe use


5 Great Ways to Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of everyone's skills and talents. This year’s theme is "#InclusionWorks." The American Foundation for the Blind is proud to participate in NDEAM every year. Here are some ideas for ways you can use AFB’s resources to celebrate and support a workforce that is fully inclusive of people who are blind or visually


Reflections of a First-Time Attendee at the Web For All Conference

Crista Earl, AFB's Director of Web Operations, and I were excited to attend the Web For All (W4A) Conference this year, in Montreal, Canada to share information about the AFB Accessible Video Player. Web accessibility is an important part of our work at the American Foundation for the Blind. We are committed to making our website and all of our productsfrom


Facebook Launches Its Own Approach to Making Photos Accessible to Blind Users

Today, Facebook announced a new feature, "automatic alternative text": Using Artificial Intelligence to Help Blind People ‘See’ Facebook. The feature takes advantage of Facebook's object recognition technology to offer people using VoiceOver on iPhones or iPads a description of their friends' photos. The descriptions are coded as alt text, a standard HTML attribute that allows web designers to provide text alternatives for images. "This step toward automatically describing photos helps those of us who are blind or visually


Big News: Twitter Is Adding Alt Text for Images

Twitter released a blog post today announcing Accessible Images for Everyone. The post explains, "Starting today, people using our iOS and Android apps can add descriptions also known as alternative text (alt text) to images in Tweets," and goes on to describe how to enable the new feature. “We applaud Twitter’s access efforts. Tens of thousands of people who are blind or visually impaired use Twitter every day, and they will be excited to use and benefit from this increased level of accessibility,” says Lee Huffman,


Usability and Accessibility Go Hand in Hand

I was delighted to see this article from the Nielsen Norman Group on why Placeholders in Form Fields Are Harmful. Placeholders are those words that lurk in your online forms, frequently an almost unreadable pale gray. The example the author provides in the article is a password field where the label "Password:" appears above the form field, and the hint "Must have at least 6 characters" appears as light gray placeholder text inside the form field. The intent is to help users, by giving an example of the type of information they are supposed to provide, or more details about what is required. The actual effect, however, is frequently one of the following: Sighted users may


Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing Accessibility

World Usability Day (November 10, 2011) was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in over 43 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice. The American Foundation for the Blind wholeheartedly supports the goals of World Usability Day. Technology should be easy to useby everybody,