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American Foundation for the Blind Statement on the Department of Education Rescinding Guidance Documents on Students' Rights

Last Friday, October 20, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) announced that it had rescinded 72 federal guidance documents relating to children's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. OSERS wrote in a newsletter Friday that a total of 72 guidance documents that help clarify students' rights had been rescinded on October 2 "due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective." Of the documents, 63 were from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 came from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).


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


The Gift that Keeps Giving: Reviving an Historic Home in Monroe, N.Y. with Strong Ties to Helen Keller

Helen Selsdon here, the archivist at the American Foundation for the Blind. Back in March 2016 I received an email from a gentleman asking me about a house called Rest Haven in upstate New York. I knew about this house and its connection to AFB and I wondered what he wanted to know. Little did I anticipate the wonderful story that was about to unfold. It is my great pleasure to introduce Timothy Mitts, the man behind an incredible campaign to save an historic building that was once owned by AFB’s President M. C. Migel and enjoyed by Helen Keller. Here is Tim’s story: On March 23,


Helen Keller on Trying to Make the World 'A Little More As I Want It'

Image: Helen Keller walks in her garden in Westport, Connecticut, 1950. It is wintertime. Keller is seen smiling, facing the camera. She wears a long coat and woolen hat. She holds a wooden branch railing with her left hand. As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to review the progress that is being made to digitize the Helen Keller Archive. This is a mammoth task, and we are well on our way to accomplishing the work of preserving and disseminating online the over 80,000 items in the collection. We are simultaneously working on another major objective: to


Let's Go Vote! What to Do if You Encounter Problems at the Polls as a Blind Voter

It's almost Election Day. People with vision loss can have the greatest impact when everyone takes action, registers, and voteswhether voting early, absentee, or on Election Day, November 8th! First equip yourself by knowing your rights, and the potential impact of voters in the disability


When You Can't "Catch 'em All": Overcoming Social Isolation As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Image: Left to right, William Reuschel stands with Aaron Preece, looking at an iPhone, while Aaron's guide dog, Joel, appears to look for a Pidgey. It's time to dust off the old Gameboy, find the faded trading cards, and watch cartoons starring Ash Ketchum because Pokémon is making a HUGE comeback. The makers of Pokémon, Nintendo America, in cooperation with Niantic Labs, have introduced a new mobile app game, Pokémon Go. This international craze has taken over the world. It is in the news, on social media, and all over town. But what


Meet Kirk Adams, the New President and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

AFBs Communications team sat down with Kirk to ask him a few questions about his new role, his vision for the future, and his hobbies. Heres what he had to say. Tell us about your new role at AFB. What are you looking forward to? I am honored to be the American Foundation for the Blinds (AFB) new president and CEO. Ive long admired AFBs commitment to making the world a more equitable, inclusive place for people with vision loss. So Im excited to build upon AFBs impressive history and to work with the staff, board, and leadership in the field and individuals in the community to find ways to achieve our


Four Ways Google Is Building a More Accessible World for the Visually Impaired

On the heels of major accessibility announcements from Twitter and Facebook, tech giant Google recently highlighted its own efforts to build a more inclusive world for people with disabilities. Here are four ways Google is working to improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired: 1.


Join Parents and Teachers in Supporting the Cogswell-Macy Act on April 14th!

The American Foundation for the Blind needs your help! This week, we are asking all of you to support the Cogswell-Macy Act, the most comprehensive special education legislation for students with sensory disabilities to date. Call in on April 14th to ensure key resources are available to these students and their parents and educators through and expansion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Parents and teachers around the country are rallying around this bill. We asked for stories about the importance of


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 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


What Do You Do When Sighted People Grab Your Arm in Public?

Editor's note: We weren't too surprised to read the following question in the most recent installment of "Dear Prudence" on Slate: Q. Blindness: I am blind, and I wear dark glasses and use a cane. My problem is that everywhere I go, strangers will come up and grab me to help me walk and yell at me as if I am deaf. I know they mean well, but it throws off my balance when they grab me and it’s scary. I get a headache from people yelling at me. I can hear quite well so what can I do? Being blind does not mean I can’t walk or hear. I find myself staying home rather than deal with people. Suggestions?


"Democracy is a searching test of character" Helen Keller

Helen Keller’s book "Let Us Have Faith" was published in 1940. Her words are a timely reminder of the importance of vigilance in the face of prejudice and bigotry. Helen was acutely aware of the dangers of political and social discrimination. Seven years earlier, in 1933, her book entitled "How I became a socialist" was burned by Nazi youth during the book burning frenzy that took place in Germany. The following excerpt from "Let Us Have Faith" counsels us to be active participants in maintaining our democratic freedoms. "...Democracy is a compound of faith embodied in fellowship, knowledge and action. These cannot be sundered


Save the Helen Keller Archives: Day 2

Welcome to the second day of our 8-day #BeAMiracleworker campaign. We are thrilled to report that our total has risen by $2,212 and we have reached $12,957. Please help us reach our $25,000 goal by September 30th. Every dollar we raise will be matched by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Donate now and be a miracle worker. And don’t forget to follow the campaign’s progress on Facebook. A Supreme Communicator "I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to


Helen Keller: An Artificial Eye

Hello to all those Helen Keller aficionados out there! For this week’s look Inside the Helen Keller Digitization project, I am posting a newly photographed item (left hand image above) it’s the receipt for an artificial eye for Helen Keller. On the right hand side is a photograph of Helen taken at the Perkins School for the Blind, circa 1888. The receipt


Helen Keller: An Important Voice

Image: Inside pages from Helen Keller's passport issued December 1950, including headshot of Keller wearing a hat. This week on Inside the Helen Keller Digitization Project, University of California, Berkeley, English professor and author of Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller Georgina Kleege, describes her excitement at the prospect of gaining access to previously unavailable materials including transcripts


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


Recent Poll: Disability Issues Could Have a Major Impact in the 2014 Elections!

Recently, RespectAbility (a national, disability-focused nonprofit) collaborated with major political pollsters to ask questions of likely 2014 voters in battle-ground states (states whose choice of U.S. Senate candidates in the November elections is uncertain and thus will determine the balance of power in the Senate). The poll results clearly indicate that candidates must consider disability issues in the upcoming elections! The poll found that 56 percent of likely voters in the battleground states identified as disabled and/or had a close friend or family member with a disability. This held true


The Need for Access: AFB Testimony on Intellectual Property Law

Note: The following is testimony made by Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, on how copyright law affects those with vision loss. For a primer on this topic, please see All Rights ReservedHow Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Out. Video of this testimony is also available from the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hearing on Chapter 12 of Title 17


Gift Ideas for Friends and Family Members who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: AFB Has You Covered

Editorial note: Visit our 2014 Gift Ideas for Friends and Family Members Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired roundup for fresh ideas! This time of year, we’re all searching for gift-giving inspiration. If you have a close friend or family member who is blind or visually impaired, here are some gift-giving guides you might want to check out. From young children to working-age adults to seniors who are gradually losing


Attention Blindness Professionals: JVIB Wants Your Input

Are you interested in employment and transition? The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is planning a free online event that will coincide with the November-December JVIB Special Issue on Employment and Transition, edited by Karen Wolffe. The week of November 18th, JVIB will be hosting an open forum with a blog by Joe Strechay, program manager for