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Browse By Topic: Social Life and Recreation

Remembering Stan Lee: A Superhero Who Helped Change the Way the World Sees Blindness

This week we lost a legendary figure in the field of comic books and entertainment, Stan Lee. Among the many characters he helped develop for Marvel Comics is the first blind superhero, Daredevil. About his visually impaired crime-fighter, Lee said: "The one thing that worried me about DaredevilI wondered if blind people would be offended, because we were exaggerating so much what a blind person can do, and they might have felt that we're making it ridiculous. But I was so pleased. After the books were published, we started getting letters from charities for blind people, like the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York. Letters saying, 'We've been reading these stories to the people here and they love them, and they're so

Animal Tales: Letters from Nella Braddy Henney to Helen Keller

Helen Keller with sheep in Scotland, 1932 Among her many roles, Nella Braddy Henney was a friend, agent, and editor to Helen Keller. Nella and her husband, Keith, spent their summers on Foss Mountain in Snowville, New Hampshire. With her teacher, Anne Sullivan and secretary and companion, Polly Thomson, the trio spent time at Nella’s summer home and would go on daily walks with Nella. Before leaving after a visit in 1938, Helen wrote to Nella that “your nest of peace is twice blest.” She continues, "

Sharing Our Progress in Making the Helen Keller Archive a Gold Standard of Accessibility for Other Digital Archives

We were so honored today to present at the Society of American Archivists 2017 Annual Meeting to discuss the Helen Keller Archive digitization project, and our work to create a

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

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,

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

Pokémon GO: Let’s Catch ’em All!

By William Reuschel and Aaron Preece Image: Aaron Preece stands with his guide dog Joel and a Pidgey Pokémon. Pokémon mania is sweeping the nation once again! The latest incarnation of the game that has players collecting and battling fictional creatures is called Pokémon GO, but this version is a little different from past games. You cant play GO on your couch. In fact, youll have a hard time playing it indoors at all. Pokémon GO is all about getting players outside and interacting with various points of interest around their towns.

A Breath of Fresh Air: Helen Keller and the Importance of Playgrounds for Children

Helen Keller was always a vocal supporter for the rights of children. In 1923, she wrote a fundraising letter on behalf of the National Playground and Recreation Association of America. In it she passionately advocated for the need for outdoor spaces where children could run around safely and enjoy themselves. Keller instinctively understood that play is as important to the healthy development of a child as is study indoors. Read her words below they are as applicable today as when she wrote them over ninety years ago. I have been asked to write a letter on behalf of the "National Playground and Recreation Association of

Helen Keller: Transformation and Renewal

As holidays and spring time approach it is a good time to reflect on Helen Keller’s love of nature and its possibilities for transformation and renewal. In September 1940 a year after she and her companion Polly Thomson moved into their new home in Westport, CT Keller wrote to her close friend "Uncle Walter." Here is an excerpt from that letter: This place is already amazingly transformed. Between jobs at the desk Polly and I have worked with our faithful Herbert to make our four acres shady in

"Live each day with gentleness, a vigor, and a keenness of appreciation" Helen Keller

Below is an excerpt from Helen Keller’s essay Three Days to See. Enjoy her beautiful and wise words. ...Sometimes I have thought it would be an excellent rule to live each day as if we should die to-morrow. Such an attitude would emphasize sharply the values of life. We should live each day with gentleness, a vigor, and a keenness of appreciation which are often lost when times stretches before us in the constant panorama of more days and months and years to come… …Now and then I have tested my seeing friends to discover what they see. Recently I was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the

Save the Helen Keller Archives: Day 5

Welcome to this, our fifth day of our 8-day #BeAMiracleworker campaign. Every dollar we raise will be matched by the National Endowment for the Humanities. For a short time only, your gift of $10 will be worth $20, $25 will bring in $50 – you get the idea! We need to raise the money by this coming Wednesday, September 30th. Donate now and be a miracle worker. And don’t forget to follow the campaign’s progress on Facebook. In the Realm of the Senses "I can tell music from other

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.

Helen Keller in Paris: Tourism, Nostalgia and Memory

Image: Helen Keller holds baguettes and stands next to Polly Thomson, 1952 This week’s blog for Inside the Helen Keller Digitization Project is a wonderful piece by David Serlin, associate professor of communication and science studies at the University of California, San Diego. Enjoy! One of my favorite objects in the

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

Helen Keller Sees Flowers and Hears Music

Helen Keller was interviewed in her home in Forest Hills, Queens by Hazel Gertrude Kinscella in 1930 for Better Homes and Gardens. The article, entitled "Helen Keller Sees Flowers and Hears Music" is excerpted here; it appeared in their May issue. Read on and enjoy! "...You wish to know what home and garden mean to me,” she said, at once. " "My garden is my greatest joy. I feel that I am in the seventh heaven when among my plants. I feel the little heads pop up to look at me my poppies, pansies, and pinks. We had a fine time in

"Nature has the power to renew and refresh.." Helen Keller

Helen Keller reveled in nature. Her enjoyment of physical exercise and her love of the outdoors is beautifully captured in an article written 80 years ago this month and published in "The Guardian," a magazine "For Leaders of Camp Fire Girls." Read the transcription below and become inspired to stretch those limbs and enjoy the spring! Introduction: Among our hundreds of thousands of joyous Camp Fire Girls there are some who are blind, some who are deaf and some who are otherwise handicapped. We thought of them especially when we read Helen Keller’s article in Good Housekeeping which she called "Nature’s

Self-driving Bicycles Add to Transportation, Fitness, Independence for Blind Riders

I heard such exciting news this morning! A well-known drone company, Auto-Fly, and a major bicycle manufacturer, Trekker, have teamed up to make a self-driving bicycle. The new device has pedals and seat much like a conventional bike, but the steering and braking are handled by electronic and mechanical devices based on recreational drone technology. What's exciting about this? Soon I'll be riding my bike to work! Imagine, the only obstacle to riding my old-fashioned bike is ... obstacles. With the new drone-bike, I set my destination on my phone, hop on my bike, and pedal. The bike navigates the streets

"Helen Keller In Her Story" Oscar Winner 1955

Sixty years ago, Helen Keller was given an honorary Oscar as inspiration for the movie Helen Keller in Her Story a documentary by Nancy Hamilton about her life; she turned 75 that year and had spent 6 decades fighting for those with vision loss. Decades earlier, in 1916 she delivered an address on the Midland Chautauqua Circuit in which she said: I, for one, love strength, daring, fortitude. I do not want people to kill the fight in them; I want them to fight for right things. And that she most certainly did! In addition to her work for those with visual impairments, Helen

Helen Keller: On the Subject of Love

On the eve of her 80th birthday in June 1960, Helen Keller gave an interview looking back on her life. She spoke with Ann Carnahan, a journalist, about her "secrets of joyous living." Question: What is the greatest virtue a person may have or cultivate? Answer: Love. Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things. Love is true

Wise words from Helen Keller

Wherever you may be and whatever you are doing If you are bathed in sunshine or wrapped in snow take a few moments to enjoy and reflect on Helen Keller's wise words: "It is beyond a doubt that everyone should have time for some special delight, if only five minutes each day to seek out a lovely flower or cloud or a star, or learn a verse or brighten another’s dull task. What is the use of such terrible diligence as many tire themselves out with, if they always postpone their exchange of smiles with Beauty and Joy to cling to irksome duties and relations? Unless they admit these fair, fresh, and eternal presences into

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

Comcast Announces New Talking Guide for Access to Television

Comcast has just announced a solution to a huge television-watching problem. What is the problem? Imagine if there were a way to turn on the description (the special feature to narrate the visual elements of a show for people who are blind or visually impaired) on your favorite shows! Imagine being able to check your television to find out what is on right now, or up next, the name of the show, the channel the show is on, or the channel the TV is tuned to. (If you are wondering what "description" could be, check out this overview of audio description.) Back in the olden days, I bought a device at Radio Shack that had, among other features, a button that would

Happy Halloween! Tips and Articles from the American Foundation for the Blind

It's almost Halloween night! But what if your child is visually impaired, and not a big fan of dressing up in costumes? Whether you're excited or filled with Halloween dread, here are some ways to have fun with the holiday: Get tactile: NAPVI mom Maria Dibernardo shared some great pumpkin activities for children who are blind or visually impaired. Get creative: Emily Coleman a teacher of students who are visually impaired who is also the mom to Eddie,

An Interview with Michael Peters, Tournament-Based Fishing Angler

Recently, our CareerConnect(r) Employment Specialist, Detra Bannister, chatted with Michael Peters, a tournament-based fishing angler. Michael has glaucoma, which has led to some vision loss, but he has found ways to adapt to his low vision status. Using information from his eye specialist and from AFB, he has learned to continue doing what he loves and is eager to share his knowledge and encouragement as an AFB CareerConnect mentor.

Let's Play Beep Baseball!

Get into the swing of things and play some beep baseball! Beep baseball is an adapted form of the traditional sport. It consists of a ball that is larger than a softball, which beeps consistently so players are able to hit it when pitched, and find it in the field. There are two bases rigged with a buzzing sound that are triggered when the ball is hit, so the runner knows which way to go. Beep baseball is a great opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired to run without a cane. The rules of beep baseball help make the game safer and simpler to score. Rule modifications include: There are a total of three bases: home,

Take a Hike! Enjoying Hiking After Vision Loss

Take a Hike! It's a great time of year to get outdoors and get moving, so AFB is talking about hiking as a recreational activity for people who are blind or visually impaired. VisionAware's Ashley Nemeth shares her love of hiking and offers helpful tips on hiking with a cane and with a guide dog. FamilyConnect blogger Emily Coleman shares a parent's perspective on

Getting Into the Swim of Things as a Person Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Come on in; the water's fine! AFB continues our summer recreation series with a look at swimming. Swimming can be an excellent activity for people who are blind or visually impaired. Whether you are looking to swim some serious laps, get a great workout, or just cool off on a sweltering day, get the latest on the quintessential summertime activity. Before you head to the beach or the pool, read up on VisionAware's Tips for Swimmers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. Children or beginning adult swimmers might need to swim

Helen Keller's First Experience of the Ocean

Helen Keller loved the ocean, but her first swimming trip as a young girl took her by surprise... "My most vivid recollection of that summer is the ocean. I had always lived far inland and had never had so much as a whiff of salt air; but I had read in a big book called Our World a description of the ocean which filled me with wonder and an intense longing to touch the mighty sea and feel it roar. So my little heart leaped high with eager excitement when I knew that my

Celebrate Summer with the American Foundation for the Blind

AFB is kicking off our summer recreation series. Throughout the summer, we'll highlight our favorite recreational activities, along with great resources for making the most of the season. First up: We're heading off to summer camp! Audrey Demmitt, struggling with her own vision loss, spent a summer working as a nurse at a camp for the blind and was forever changed by the experience: "The growth and learning that takes place in a camp setting is invaluable and cannot be replicated. There is often a sort of magical transformation that takes place in a camper. And they leave with powerful memories of being included, succeeding at new

Five Boroughs in Tandem...Cycling!

I like to talk about technology...but sometimes the outdoors just takes over. Last Sunday was the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, a fabulous event here in NYC, in which about 32,000 people ride bicycles through the city. I rode on the back of a tandem bicycle. See this great VisionAware article about tandem cycling to get inspired. So, what technology comes into play when cycling? Let's start with the bike. I rode with a new group

Enjoying the Paralympics and Getting Outside for Winter Fun

A blind skier and his guide Hello everyone, Since it's Winter Olympics time again, I figured I would do a follow-up to my previous blog post that I had written about my skiing experiences as a blind person. I wanted to give you all an update, and share some more adaptations, ones that proved extremely useful during my recent ski trips. For example, I utilized my accessible GPS software's "breadcrumb" and "point of interest" features to map out the trails; I have used

This Valentine’s Day, Send a Helen Keller eCard... and Other Gift Ideas for People with Vision Loss

Perhaps AFB's most famous advocate said it best: "Cultivate love for love is the light that gives the eye to see great and noble things." With Valentine's Day right around the corner, Helen's wise words have never rung truer. In light of this upcoming special day, why not share the love with a Helen Keller eCard? Our Helen Keller eCards are high contrast and large-print, featuring beautiful photos, with quotes from Helen. These electronic cards are accessible for people who are blind or have low vision, and allow you to type in

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

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

Welcoming People Who Are Visually Impaired to Your Worship Community

[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from Diversity and Visual Impairment: The Influence of Race, Gender, Religion, and Ethnicity on the Individual, edited by Madeline Milian and Jane Erin. This excerpt was authored by Virginia Bishop.] The inclusion of visually impaired people in a religious community does not usually happen by accident; it is more often the result of planned efforts. Although each congregation is different, there are some general guidelines that may help in designing a plan. If enduring

Hijinks Ensue: Audio Describing a Live Screening of Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry"

We're pleased to provide a guest post today by Madeleine Fix, on the experience of providing live audio description for a classic movie. By Madeleine Fix Recently I provided audio description (AD) for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry," screened in the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) Summer Movie Series at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio. The service is

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

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

Blind and Visually Impaired Runners Hit the Pavement at the California International Marathon

Are you a runner with vision loss? Have you ever thought of running a marathon? If not, this may inspire you to dust off your running shoes. If you are a runner, this may inspire you to push yourself to the next level. In partnership with VSP(r) Vision Care, the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) will host the 4th Annual USABA Marathon National Championship, held in conjunction with the California International

Cinemark Announces Greater Movie Theater Accessibility

Last week, Cinemark Holdings, Inc., one of the world's largest motion picture exhibitors, announced it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theaters. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain's conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is already underway, and all of Cinemark's theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by

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

Finding Fitness, Sport and Recreation: From Physical Education to the Paralympics

[Editor's Note: The following post is authored by Dr. Lauren Lieberman. Dr. Lieberman is a graduate of Oregon State in the Movement Studies in Disabilities Program, and is currently a Distinguished Service Professor at SUNY Brockport in the area of Adapted Physical Education. Dr. Lieberman is the founder of Camp Abilities, a developmental sports camp for children with visual impairments. She is also co-author of the upcoming AFB Press book Physical Education and Sports for People with Visual Impairments and

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

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