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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Blog Posts by Joe Strechay

Christine Ha Interview: Visually Impaired Chef, Author, and TV Personality

Christine Ha, Chef and Author Interview 3 with Christine Ha, winner of MasterChef U.S. season 3 on FOX, New York Times best-selling author of Recipes from My Home Kitchen (2013), co-host of "Four Senses, Canada" on AMI, and AFB Helen Keller Achievement Award winner Interview Date: September 11, 2015 AFB CareerConnect: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. AFB and AFB CareerConnect truly value you, your representation as a role model, and the passion and talent that you bring to the world.

Living (and Succeeding) with Vision Loss

If you havent read this USA Today piece on what its like to be visually impaired, you should. Every year or almost every year, my friend Mickey Damelio includes me in his Florida State University class called the Blindness Experience, which he has designed over the years. I feel lucky to have gone to graduate school with Mickey at Florida State University. He became one of my first friends from the program when he asked me to attend the free MTV on Campus concert with his wife and him. He is also the guy who introduced me to Paralympic sports and goalball. We were in a class on the psychosocial aspects of blindness taught by Lynda

Attending and Presenting at the Helen Keller Achievement Awards in New York City

I’ve made it back to West Virginia after all of the excitement and fun at the American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Keller Achievement Awards. I had the honor to attend last year, when Christine Ha won a Helen Keller Achievement Award; she’s a connection of mine and an inspiration, so that was a real blessing. This year took it to a whole different level, though, as I was able to assist our AFB Board Trustee, Cathy Burns, in presenting Charlie Cox with his Helen Keller Achievement Award. Actor Charlie Cox won the award for his work in accurately portraying the blind character Matt Murdock in the Netflix series Marvel's

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

Standing Ovation for Netflix on its Audio Description Announcement

Big news from Netflix this week: the internet television network announced that it is adding audio description to its platform as a setting. This is huge news for those of us with vision loss. When I read and started talking to people about this announcement, I literally got chills. We all have our outlets for entertainment, relaxation, and even stress relief. Netflix is one of mine; it’s something I truly enjoy. I view it via my Apple TV or my iPhone. And up until today, unless my wife or a friend fills me in on what’s happening on the screen, I end up missing facial expressions,

Working with Charlie Cox in Preparation for His Role as Daredevil

Last night, we got a wonderful shout out from Charlie Cox during his interview with Seth Meyers. I had the pleasure of helping Charlie prepare for his new role as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer-by-day who fights crime at night, on the upcoming Netflix television show, Marvel's Daredevil. All I can say is that I was truly lucky to work with such a great person and dedicated actor. I was extremely impressed with the care and effort that Charlie put into preparing for his role. In my job at the American Foundation for the Blind, I prepare youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired for employment and the professionals working with them. I manage the AFB CareerConnect program

A Blind Professional's Take on the Batman Episode, "This American Life"

A friend of mine sent me a link to an episode of NPR's "This American Life" on Dan Kish. I had not heard it yet, though I do listen to that show often. I listened to the piece right away, and I thought I would share my take on the piece. First of all, Dan Kish is an extremely successful and brilliant individual who is blind. He has trained youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired on how to travel independently for a long time. He founded World Access for the Blind, and trains individuals in the skill of echolocation, orientation and mobility, and independence. I should preface this by

ESPN's Stuart Scott Brought the Cool to Sports Coverage and Dealt with Vision Loss

As an avid sports fan, and someone who was a bit more than obsessed with sports growing up, the passing of Stuart Scott after a long battle with cancer was extremely sad news. I will admit that I spent more than my share of time in front of the television with ESPN on. I watched college basketball games late into the night and started my day with "Sports Center" and a few sports pages. For me, Stuart Scott was my idea of the coolest sportscaster on television. I can remember

Blind Boy Has White Cane Taken From Him, Replaced With A Pool Toy

Recently, you may have read a story or seen it on the news about the little boy whose white cane was taken away from him because of behavior reasons. I wanted to take a minute to discuss this situation and why this is so wrong. The purpose of the white cane is to be a tool to allow a person or child who is blind or visually impaired independence. As a person who is blind or visually impaired who depends on the use of my white cane for travel and independence, I am truly upset by this. We teach youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired to keep their cane with them. We encourage them to use it. The white cane is a tool and a pool toy is not a

The Joy of Voting Independently as a Blind or Visually Impaired Citizen

Man voting with an accessible voting machine Yesterday was Election Day, the day that we all head to the polls to cast our ballot for our chosen candidates for the many races impacting our lives. By all, I mean a decent amount of the population, especially during a non-presidential voting year. I can't tell you the pride and joy that I get out of being able to vote. It is not even just voting; it is that I was able to go to my polling location and ask to use the accessible polling option. Then, crazy thing, I was able to access the ballot and vote without the assistance of another individual. What a conceptto want to

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Expect. Employ. Empower.

Each October, we mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” AFB’s CareerConnect team is dedicated to building tools, content, resources, and awareness around employment for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We believe it is an exciting time in the United States with so many big changes and legislation working toward equality for persons with disabilities. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress. I often hear stories around the United States from professionals working in the blindness field and for

Celebrating White Cane Safety Day with People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

If you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of using the white cane or the long white cane. I speak around the United States to youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired about employment, postsecondary education, and various other topics. I couldn't do it without the training I received in the area of orientation and mobility (O&M). I received my first white cane from an O&M instructor from the State of New Jersey's Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I can't say it was love at first sight, but I definitely gained confidence in myself, the use of the white cane, and my skills over the years. The NJ Commission for the Blind and

John DeWitt Leaves a Legacy of Access and Mentorship for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

I recently learned that John DeWitt passed away. He was the founder of DeWitt & Associates, an organization that provided technology assessment and training in New Jersey for persons who are blind or visually impaired. He also worked for the American Foundation for the Blind from 1978 to 1989 as a resource specialist. John's passing was a great loss to New Jersey, the blindness community, his family, and all of the people he touched through his work and volunteering. I grew up in New Jersey and I also worked for the state for a period. I knew of John prior to my work, but I first had the opportunity to speak to him when he spoke at a "Circle of Bell Ringers" at the Joseph Kohn Training Center in New Brunswick,

AFB Launches an App for AFB CareerConnect and It's FREE!

You might be excited or just ecstatic that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has just launched the CareerConnect App with some of your favorite features of the CareerConnect resource center. Hold your applause and high-pitched sounds of jubilation for the full deal on this momentous occasion. Am I hyping this app? Oh, yes! But I will tell you that this launch is just the beginning of more great things to come. AFB has worked hard to include some of the new and exciting features that vision professionals, job seekers, youth, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired use from CareerConnect. The CareerConnect App includes four main tabs, and it follows the model of the widely used AccessWorld App (a free monthly technology magazine that

Dressed Up, Inspired, Impressed: My Thoughts on AFB’s Helen Keller Achievement Awards

Last night, I had the great opportunity to attend the American Foundation for the Blinds Helen Keller Achievement Awards fundraising gala at the Marriott Downtown in New York City. This was my first opportunity to attend the event, as I was in the area for work. I thought I would share with you my impression of this outstanding occasion. The Achievement Awards were initiated in 1994 to honor our long-time employee and internationally recognized icon, Helen Keller. I cannot begin to explain how

Lessons from J.W. “Bill” Marriott on Leadership: Developing and Listening to People

I learned a lot at the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference, but overwhelmingly people tell me that the conversation on leadership between AFBs CEO, Carl Augusto, and the J.W. Bill Marriott, executive chairman and chairman of the board at Marriott International, stood out as the conference

Peter Butkus, Athlete Who Is Legally Blind, Shows His Skills on the Court and Off

If you haven't heard about Peter Butkus, you might want to take the time to read more. Peter is a senior at Mendham High School in New Jersey, where he plays center for the school's varsity basketball team. Why is this so significant? Peter was born with an eye condition called Stargardt's disease, which is a juvenile form of macular degeneration. Stargardt's impairs his central vision, making it almost impossible to see faces, numbers on a basketball jersey, or the score board. Peter is legally blind, but he is not allowing that to stop him from succeeding in life on and off the court. Peter joins a growing list of amazing athletes who happen to be legally blind. You may have read about Charlotte Brown, the nationally competitive pole vaulter from Texas, or past U.S.

AFB CareerConnect Thoughts on the WSJ Article, "Are You Disabled? Your Boss Needs to Know"

You may have recently read the Wall Street Journal article by Lauren Weber about bosses asking employees to disclose whether they have a disability. Ms. Weber frames the issue pretty accurately, and I loved the comments included overall. Starting next week, all federal contractors (i.e., companies that do contract work for or with the U.S. federal government) will have to 1) ask whether their employees are disabled and 2) employ a minimum of 7% disabled workers or demonstrate that they are taking steps to hire disabled workers. This new language specific to federal contractors is a great follow up to President Obama's initiative for the U.S. federal government to become a model employer

My Top Eleven from the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference

Each year, after the AFB Leadership Conference, I like to put together a list of my top 10 favorite things I learned or experienced. This year, I knew 10 wouldnt cut itit took some effort, but I managed to whittle the list to 11. This was the largest and most well-attended conference since our first, nearly 30 years ago. We had some 440 attendees, and from what I could tell, they enjoyed it as much as I did. 11) The Thursday summits were a new feature this year and they proved to be extremely popular. For me, the highlight was the amazing participation and enthusiasm that came from the National Transition Summit. The session reunited and reinvigorated the National Transition Network Forum group, and those who participated seem motivated to continue to the

Watching "Growing Up Fisher"

Spoiler alert: this post provides details and description from the premiere episode of "Growing Up Fisher." Last night, I watched the premiere of the new network situational comedy television show, "Growing Up Fisher." I was pretty excited to watch this show for a few reasons: To see the portrayal of a father who is blind as a main character To check out how they depict the dog guide and its work The show has some really funny and talented people associated with it My Reaction I really enjoyed the show; it provided a background to the father, his career, blindness, and the family dynamic. The show has him using a chainsaw to cut down a tree, and the show alludes to him cutting down other trees after the

Thoughts on “Anchorman 2,” Its Portrayal of Blindness, and Seeing It with Description

Last weekend, my wife and I went to go see Anchorman 2. We love going to the movies, and I love the experience even more now that we have a local theatre that provides video description (hat-tip to Cinemark. I hope the other theaters in my area follow their example). I was pretty excited, because I loved the first Anchorman. First, a little background: It is an outrageous and inappropriate comedy that is not meant for children. Will Ferrell plays Ron Burgandy, an anchorman who leads a team of newscasters from a San Diego television

This White Cane Day, Slim and I Are Ready to Strut Our Stuff

On October 15, we celebrate National White Cane Safety Day, or as I call it more plainly, White Cane Day. So, you might remember that the nickname for my long white cane is "Slim," as I have written about him on the AFB Blog and FamilyConnect Blog in past years. That's right: I am 35 years old, and have a nickname for my long white cane. You know, my white cane and I travel the country, and I depend on this tool to protect me in many environments. No, I am not a member of Seal Team

My Favorite Time of Year: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

As my favorite month of the year kicks off, I think of all of the exciting updates I will be providing about AFB CareerConnectnew content and stories. I don't just love October because of Halloween, and getting to dress up (though I have been known to enjoy the whole costume tradition and Halloween partiesI make a mean pirate). No, the real reason I love October is because it's National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It focuses on my favorite topics: employment and persons with disabilities. I speak year-round on this topic, but during this month you all get it from many different sources.

On Martin Luther King, Jr, "I Have a Dream," Inspiration, and Mentors

As you likely already know, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington, DC. I think about how appreciative I am to live in a country where people such as King have stood up for the rights of all individuals, including persons who are blind or visually impaired. Helen Keller is also one of those people who stood up for the rights of all. She educated populations about how persons with disabilities can be an integral part of society. I am psyched to work at an organization where Helen Keller also manned a desk. I grew up with Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of my major idols

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Phony Service Dogs?

Imagine my surprise when I read the following in Monday’s edition of the New York Post: Liars use phony vests and ID tags to get fake service dogs into posh New York restaurants. Huh? No surprise here, but was just blown away by this. As you may know, AFB headquarters are located in New York City (although I mainly work out of the Huntington, WV, office), as are over three dozen other blindness agencies. Over the last few years, service dogs have been introduced for a variety of different jobs, in addition to

Call for 2014 AFB Access Awards Nominations: Who Is Setting the Bar for Accessibility?

The American Foundation for the Blind is getting started with the AFB Access Awards process earlier than in past years, because the awards will be presented on February 28, 2014, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. You will find everything you need on the Access Award Nomination Submission Guidelines and Format. Visit the Previous Access Award Winners page, too, and

Calling All Transition and Related Professionals: Come to the National Transition Forum at the AFB Leadership Conference

I am pretty psyched to let you all know about a cool opportunity. I know some of you were involved in the past National Transition Network Forum work, and some of you were not. But I wanted to let you know that we will be having a section of the pre-conference at the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference focused on the National Transition Network. For those who don't know what the National Transition Network is about, it was framed around sharing innovative programs and methods for the transition of students who are blind or visually impaired. It typically involved programs from schools for the blind or visually impaired.

AFB CareerConnect Launches New Blog

Are you ready for a blog full of career pointers, employment tips, job seeking advice, and CareerConnect updates (plus all kinds of related rambling) from yours truly; my colleague, Detra Bannister; CareerConnect Mentors; and a slew of friends out there? I hope sobecause we have some exciting news! Without further ado, here is the new CareerConnect blog! Our first post is up and running, and contains some important newsLesson Plans for Professionals. As a rule, I tend to “decorate” my posts with

On Charlotte Brown and Other Young Athletes With Vision Loss

You may have caught the recent New York Times about Charlotte Brown and Aria Ottmueller, two high school track athletes with visual impairments. They are not being publicized for competing against other athletes with vision loss, but against their sighted peers. These athletes are examples of the roads being paved in the United States for persons with disabilities. Many could not imagine athletes with limited sight competing and succeeding in the pole vault or

IBM Research Raises the Bar on Accessibility

I consider myself lucky to attend a number of conferences specific to blindness, visual impairment, and technology. Well, at the 2013 AFB Leadership Conference, IBM Research just raised the bar for accessibility in my eyes. The innovative work they're doing to create accessibility options for educational videos got me out of my seat. I feel like I am now an IBM Research groupie. The work that Chieko Asakawa, Hiro Takagi, and Peter Fay presented on during the preconference and general conference is making video description and captioning for video content a realistic option for large

Get Your Children Thinking About Employment

Thursday, April 25, is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day How many of you are thinking about bringing your son or daughter to work? My opinion? I think you should speak to your workplace to see if you can bring your child to work on that day. "Hey AFB, can I bring my Australian Shepherd to work? So, she may not be a human child, but I pretty much treat her like my child." On a serious note, I can tell you a little bit about why I believe this day is so important to me and for children who are blind or visually impaired. I can tell you that my parents bringing me to work on occasion made a big

Get Connected Through AFB's Message Boards

One issue people with disabilities often face (and, granted, this is sometimes self-imposed) is isolation. In the case of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, this could be related to mobility or transportation. The good news is, with technology, we have the opportunity to connect with others in so many different ways. The American Foundation for the Blind offers a whole collection of message boards covering all kinds of topics and for different audiences. These message boards are forums where registered users can post topics or reply to topics with

Wall Street Journal Story Sheds Light on Common Issue for Job Seekers with Vision Loss

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story titled "When It Comes to Hiring, Blind Workers Face Bias." It examines a study conducted by our friends at the National Industries for the Blind, and the many misconceptions employers (and hiring and HR managers) have when it comes to hiring potential employees with vision loss. They are just thatmisconceptions. NIB's president and chief executive, Kevin Lynch, had a few interesting things to say on the matter, and I agree

Getting Prepared for Careers, Jump Onboard the Employment Train!

Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct the first of six teen employment workshops for students who are blind or visually impaired. These workshops are being held in multiple states, the first of which was with the Overbrook School for the Blind ( in Philadelphia. The workshops allow me to work with teens and associated professionals on self-awareness, career exploration, pre-interview skills, and the job interview. They are really focused on the needs and present levels of the students, and are applicable to high school age students at various levels.

A Salute to Our Veterans: Thank You for Serving Our Country!

Veteran's Day is November 11, and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of the persons who have served our country, including my father, uncle, grandfather, and many friends. I also want to thank all the soldiers still protecting us, at home and abroad. As with our friends at the honorable Blinded Veterans Association, the American Foundation for the Blind values our veterans, and we offer great resources that are utilized by persons with vision loss, veterans especially. AFB has a family of websites that include

An Examination of the Portrayal of People with Disabilities in Popular Media

Warning: this post contains a handful of self-promotion. That said, what do Christine Ha, Erik Weihenmayer, Geri Jewell, and Marlee Matlin all have in common? Well, they are all mentioned in an article I wrote titled "The Media’s Impact on Public Perception of People with Disabilities" for the October 2012 AccessWorld. In the article, I cover some of the major portrayals of persons with disabilities that had an impact on my perception thereof, both good and bad. It's no secret I'm a fan of MasterChef Season 3 winner Christine

Said the Protégé to the Mentor: Happy National Disability Mentoring Day!

As you might have read, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but in conjunction with this month-long observance is also National Disability Mentoring Daywhich is October 17. I believe far too many people don't realize the impact mentoring can have, both on others as well as themselves. We all have been impacted by mentoring, whether we know it or not. We have family members, friends, coworkers, and other persons who are or have been mentors to us. I can personally tell you

My Buddy Slim and I are Celebrating White Cane Safety Day!

October 15th is White Cane Safety Day, and my white cane, Slim, and I are celebrating out in the community. Yes, I have a nickname for my long white cane, and yes, it is Slim. I am a white cane man, and I don't leave home without him. In all seriousness, I am psyched to be trained to use my long white cane, as it allows me a feeling of comfort, safety, and confidence when I am traveling through the community or even around the country. No, I don't fly on my white cane like a witch flies on a broom, and no, my white cane doesn't have magical powers. I was trained on

Thoughts on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

With October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), I am ready to give my standing ovation to a few groups these next few weeks. I will be providing a few posts during this stretch, and they all will relate to National Disability Employment Awareness Month in some way. I am not trying to take anything away from our friends, Major League Baseball, but as CareerConnect Program Manager here at AFB, this month is like the playoffs for me. (Although, as a Yankees fan, I'm pretty pumped for those playoffs too.) Over the past two years, I have been

Winner Is Served: Christine Ha Takes Top Prize on MasterChef

It's been no secret that here at AFB, we're all pretty big fans of Christine Ha, the visually impaired contestant (and now, champion) of FOX's MasterChef, which concluded last night. As winner, Christine takes home some pretty sweet prizes$250,000 and a cookbook dealperfect for a person who describes herself as both a cook and a writer! Join us in congratulating Christine on this wild achievement, and if you haven't been keeping up with MasterChef or Christine's progress, here are two posts from earlier in MasterChef's season, as well as our interview with her. (And don't forget to read

On Neil Armstrong, Joe Strechay, Cupcakes, and Space

Neil Armstrong recently passed away, and the United States lost a great hero. I can't say that I saw his walk on the moon because I wasn't alivebut, I have seen the clips, and heard his immortal words. With Armstrong's passing, I started thinking about when we will see a person who is blind or visually impaired being launched into space. On these space missions, there are very specific roles for the personnel onboard. With all of the efforts and focuses on S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) for students who are blind or visually impaired, I believe (and

Meet Connor Boss, Miss Florida USA Contestant, Legally Blind

A few weeks back, you might have seen features on ABC's Good Morning America, CNN, and other media outlets about the Miss Florida USA, contestant with a visual impairment called Stargardt's Disease. You may have heard that Connor Boss finished fourth overall in the competition, but won a few hearts and opened some eyes along the way. I saw her interview on Good Morning America and loved her upbeat attitude about

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

Christine Ha Cooking Her Way to Being Next MasterChef

Have you heard about Christine Ha? She's a contestant who’s blind on MasterChef, the FOX Network Primetime reality television cooking competition starring Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot. These star chefs and food critic judge aspiring cooks from around the country on their culinary skills. Christine is a University of Houston graduate student and a food blogger who shows off her skills in many ways. "You have an excellent palate!" said Chef Gordon Ramsay about Christine Ha. Ms. Ha is coming straight from MasterChef to answering some questions for AFB

MasterChef Cooks Up Positive Portrayal of Blind Cook

I was catching up on some television recently when I caught the season premiere of MasterChef, starring Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich. My wife said to me, "Wait, I think I just saw a white cane." She rewound the recording and there was definitely a woman using a white cane. "Oh no," I said, "how are they going to portray her on this show?" We continued watching, and they teased it a little bit. They had her as the last person to compete for a spot on the episode. MasterChef features cooks from around the country

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,

Time to Pack! The 2012 AFB Leadership Conference is this week!

Wow, the AFB Leadership Conference and Preconference with the Florida Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind or Visually Impaired is just about here! Which means, it's almost time to head to St. Pete Beach, Florida, to see some great sessions presented by some of the top speakers from around the country. All of the partners have pitched in to create a great event. I am looking forward to seeing my friends from around the nation and from Florida. I

Be Kind, Rewind: How Your First Job Affects Your Entire Career

I often have the opportunity to give presentations or workshops to professionals, adults or teens who are blind or visually impaired. I speak about the employment process, resources, and the route to a career or successful employment. It always brings me back, thinking about my very first job. It was at a video rental store that also provided photo processing and enlargements. I started working there when I was14 years old, through a bit of a fluke. I'd decided I wanted a job,

The Top 10 Reasons to Attend the AFB Leadership Conference

With the AFB Leadership Conference and Preconference, along with Florida AER, quickly approaching, we're busy packing our swim trunks and preparing for some amazing sessions. The reasons to attend are endless, but for fun, here are our top 10: You haven't been to the beach in a while and AFBLC will be held at the beautiful Tradewinds Resort on St. Pete Beach, FL. Bring your sunglasses and sunscreen because it will be a hot conference packed with quality informationdon't

Judi Dench's diagnosis sheds light on macular degeneration

Perhaps you know her as "M" from some of the James Bond films. With Oscar season upon us, maybe you recall she nabbed the Best Supporting Actress honor for 1998's "Shakespeare in Love." And at this point, you've probably read the headlines: Judi Dench has been diagnosed with, and is receiving treatment for, macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a degenerative eye condition

Forget Blind Dating, Try Online Dating! I Met My Valentine Online!

With Valentine's Day upon us, I am preparing for a very special day, as it is my first one married to my beautiful and intelligent wife, Jen. In honor of this day, I am going to tell you a little about how we met. If you have seen the commercials for eHarmony and other online dating sites, you may have heard that 20 percent of all people getting married today met through online dating sites or through social networking. This really isn't news to meI knew people who met their spouses online in the mid-90s. But maybe the real questions are: Why has online dating become so popular? What's the draw? Well, I have my own answers

Blind Student Learns to Use a Chainsaw. Surprised? Don't Be.

I saw a story on CNN recently about a student who is visually impaired who learned how to use a chainsaw. I think this illustrates that many are not aware of what people who are blind or visually impaired are capable of. I can say that I am legally blind, with less than one percent of my visionI have used a chainsaw. I also help my father-in-law in the spring and summer doing hay. This entails collecting bails of hay, throwing them on the back of a truck, stacking, and then putting them in a barn. This is not my career. My career is based on creating content dealing with career exploration, education, employment, and technologyI use a

The 2012 AFB Leadership Conference* Is Making Waves in St. Pete Beach, Florida — Check Out the Action-Packed Agenda!

*Formerly known as the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute It's time to register for AFB's annual conference, and although it takes place May 4-5 (with a preconference day on May 3) at the fabulous Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, FL, it isn't just palm trees, beach, and sunshine. AFB has teamed up with some amazing partners in the state of Florida, including the Florida Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). In addition, we will have Dr. Karen Wolffe as the preconference keynote speaker and Kevin O'Connor as the conference keynote speaker. This year's

Celebrate Digital Learning Day!

February 1st is nearly upon us. You may be wondering, "What's the significance of that?" Well, it is not Groundhog Day. That is February 2nd. It is not Valentine's Day. That is February 14th. Nor is it Presidents' Day, which is February 20th. It will be Digital Learning Day, a nationwide celebration of online learning, technology, and educational systems. The celebration honors the great innovation that has been made in the delivery of educational content via webinar, webcast, podcast, eLearning courses, apps, and more. It truly is an exciting time for education because this allows people in remote areas to access learning content

Nothing 'Wimpy' About Including Customers with Vision Loss

Perhaps by now you've heard about the South African burger chain, "Wimpy," cleverly promoting their braille menus. It really is pretty neatthey've created braille text on their burger buns using sesame seeds. The braille spells out phrases such as "100% pure beef burger made for you." The sesame seeds were placed on the buns prior to baking using tweezers. These special buns were given to 15 people who are blind or visually impaired from three local organizations. According to the article, these 15 people then sent out information about the

I Want Some Stevie on Dancing with the Stars!

I heard Stevie Wonder was on recently on "The View," mentioning that he is working out, losing weight, and would like to be on Dancing with the Stars (which he also mentioned back in 2008). Personally, I love the idea; we can hopefully get rid of the image of Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Al Pacino's character is told the approximate dimensions of the dance floor, then tears it up without a missing a step. Yeah, I am not buying that! I am, however, buying Stevie Wonder ripping it up on Dancing

I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

While attending a conference a few weeks ago, I attended a great session on self-employment, which really got me thinking. I have previously written about working from home, but haven't yet addressed starting your own business. I reached out to some friends who are self-employed, and all shared some common attributes and similar thoughts. Some things to consider: It requires working many more hours than you would in a typical 9-to-5 job. Most people (the ones I spoke with, at least) work 80 hours or more a week, often closer to 100. They stressed to me,

The AFB Leadership Conference 2012 – Coming Soon!

It may only be November, but I am already getting excited for the AFB Leadership Conferenceformerly the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institutewhich is paired with Florida AER and partners this year. The conference will be in sunny St. Petersburg Beach, Florida in early May of 2012. The Sunshine State holds a special meaning in my heart, as I have lived, gone to graduate school, and worked in Florida. How can you not like the beach and the beautiful Gulf Coast? Beautiful weather aside, why attend? Glad you asked. Amazing Sessions.

White Cane Safety Day - Raise your cane in the air! (Oh wait, put it down!)

Did you know that October 15 is White Cane Safety Day? If you said yes, you are correct. It has been observed on that date since 1964, with localities celebrating it throughout the country. White Cane Safety Day is about celebrating and creating awareness about the white cane and its use. I use a white cane, but I have also been an orientation and mobility (O&M) instructor. An orientation and mobility instructor is a professional who teaches persons who are blind or visually impaired how to properly use a cane and travel safely and efficiently through their environment. The white cane is many things, but overall it is a tool that allows

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Christopher Columbus-style

Two significant observances occur in October – Columbus Day (October 12), and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (all month long!). However, I have no clue if Columbus employed any persons with disabilities. If he didn't, he should have. Let's suppose for a moment Christopher Columbus was alive today. He would be smart to hire a visually impaired navigatorthey would be using AccessWorld (AFB’s free online technology magazine) to find the best accessible GPS. AFB is setting sail and picking up speed in promoting National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a special

Inspiration from a Pop Star: Lady Gaga's 'Born this Way'

I'm not sure how many of you bought Lady Gaga's new album; it just came out a couple weeks ago. Well, I did. A few of the songs offer positive messages, but one in particular stands out. I'm sure you've already heard this song on the radio or seen the video on TV: "Born This Way" (which is also the album's title) has quickly become an anthem for all who are proud of who they are. I think this message needs to be embraced by those with visual impairments (or any disability). Lady Gaga didn't write the song alone, but she definitely delivers it amazingly. Simply put, she represents being who you are. I am not saying that those with a

Apple helps you to take control of your TV!

Our cable boxes might not be accessible, but the good news is that there is something we can easily navigate using built-in voiceover: Apple TV. The second-generation Apple TV allows you to access iTunes (for movies, TV shows, podcasts, music, and more), Netflix (in an accessible manner), YouTube, Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association subscription services, and Internet radio. Note that you do have to subscribe in order to use Netflix (a basic streaming plan that includes movies and TV shows goes for about $8 a month), and iTunes also requires you to pay for most content. Set up is relatively easy. With some

Working from Home: Everybody Likes the Idea of It!

"Hello there, do you want to work from home? Do you want a shorter commute?" Working from home is a hot topic and has been for a while. Often people think of all the positives about working from home, but do not grasp the negatives. Most of us receive emails telling us about the latest work-from-home opportunity, but many of these turn out to be scams. I am Joe Strechay and I work for AFB in the CareerConnect program. I write about employment issues. I get the opportunity to look at a lot of "work from home" opportunities some valid, many not. The idea of working from home is very enticing; your commute is limited to a desk in your home, you are your own onsite supervisor, and the dress code is very lenient (I prefer