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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Blog Posts by Rebecca Sheffield, Ph.D.

Thank You to Everyone Who Participated in the Cogswell-Macy Act Hill Day, 2018

The Cogswell-Macy Act Hill Day, February 28, 2018, was an activity of Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD), the American Foundation for the Blind, National Association of the Deaf, and other advocacy partners. Our heartfelt thanks go to Barbara Raimondo, Executive Director of CEASD, who helped us coordinate the registration process with participants from schools for the Deaf and other advocacy groups in the Deaf/hard-of-hearing (DHH) community. In addition, she made office visits, recruited attendees from the DHH community, and facilitated communicationthe list could go on. Barbara's leadership was an integral part of making the event so successful. Our day started bright and early at 8:30 a.m., in the Rayburn House


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


AFB's Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, Bids Adieu to Summer Interns

The American Foundation for the Blind's DC office has been very fortunate to have shared our summer with several fantastic interns! Today is the last day of Ms. Ann Pilewskie's internshipplease join us in wishing her well as she returns to continue her Ph.D. studies at "the" Ohio State University! Over the past two months, Ann has shared her experience and expertise in transition and supports for young adults (especially those with multiple disabilities)she is a passionate advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, and we have no doubt that she's going to continue to be a leader and advocate in our field. If you haven't already, check out Ann's fantastic guest blog post on VisionAware,


AFB Joins Coalition Urging Careful Use of Data in Disability Stories

Recently, the Washington Post discussed Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in both a headline story and a Sunday editorial. The article and editorial drew pessimistic conclusions based upon selective interviews as well as analysis of data from the Social Security Administration SSDI and SSI Annual Reports. On April 13, the Talk Poverty website, run by the Center for American Progress, published a strong statement about the Post’s use of data in its story and editorial: “Not only does the Post’s reporting paint a misleading picture about SSDI, but the data analysis they published is just plain wrong.” The Washington Post issued a correction to the original article, but


Be a Part of Cogswell-Macy Act Hill Day: A Bipartisan Bill to Transform Special Education for Students with Sensory Disabilities

On Wednesday, March 1, more than 120 advocates for children who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deafblind will visit congressional offices in Washington, D.C., sharing their stories and asking our new Congress to rally behind students with sensory disabilities in support of the newly reintroduced Cogswell-Macy Act. "This bipartisan bill will help the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) keep its promise of a free and appropriate education for all students who are


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


ALERT!—Historic Bill Breaks Down Braille Barriers for All!

BLINK Act on Fast Track for Congressional Action! In a surprise move early this morning, key leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have reached bipartisan agreement on brand new landmark legislation requiring all sighted students across America to exclusively learn and use braille. The bill, entitled the Braille Literacy Is Necessary Knowledge (BLINK) Act, was only introduced late last evening in an attempt by the bill’s champions to thwart mobilized opposition by proponents of vision dependency. Under the BLINK Act, which somewhat radically makes trafficking in printed textbooks and inaccessible electronic instructional


Get to Know the DataFerrett! The Census Bureau and AFB's Webinar March 26th

Last month, the AFB Policy Center ramped up our focus on demographics and data with two exciting projects: our Research Navigator edition, “Just how many blind folks are there anyway?”, in collaboration with the Census Bureau, we presented the first in a series of webinars about exploring existing population data in the field of vision loss


Diving for Data: Finding the Numbers We Need in a Sea of Statistics

Upcoming Opportunities to Learn More! As we begin 2015, the AFB Policy Center has jumped feet-first into the wide (and deep!) world of demographics and data. Hopefully you saw the latest edition of the Research Navigator, “Just how many blind folks are there anyway?,” where we tackled seemingly simple (but actually very complicated) questions about population and demographic statistics for adults


How Do Schools Meet the Needs of Students with Visual Impairment Who Are English-language Learners?

According to 2013 data from the American Community Survey (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014), an estimated 668,000 American children and youth ages 5 to 21 are blind or have trouble seeing. Of those, over 159,000 (almost 24%) speak a language other than English at home. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees that if these children have a visual impairment or other disability which impacts their access to education, then they are eligible for special education services, including individualized evaluation and educational supports and instruction. At the same time, both IDEA and Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act require special


Feedback From the Field: AFB Organizes Letter to the Institute for Education Sciences Advocating for Research in Blindness, Visual Impairment, and Deaf-blindness

The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, responsible for sponsoring and conducting research and disseminating evidence to support education practices and policy. IES sponsors research through grant competitions run by its national centers, including the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). In August of 2014, IES asked stakeholders to provide feedback about the focus and work of NCER and NCSER, in order to help ensure that the centers are supporting and promoting significant, meaningful research. The American Foundation for the Blind organized a national conference call of professionals in the fields of blindness/visual impairment (BVI) and


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