Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum served as AFB’s Director of Research from January 2020 to September 2021, lending her decades of expertise to help conduct and analyze research related to workplace technology barriers faced by blind and low vision individuals, guide dog usage, and the impact of COVID-19 on people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision. Many of the studies she led are described in blog posts you’ll find below.

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Resources for Healthcare Workers to Better Support People Who Are Blind, Low Vision, or Deafblind

August 19, 2021
The doors to a healthcare facility open and a man walks in, using a white cane. You’re working the information desk. Do you know what to do? You’re a phlebotomist and you enter a patient’s room. The sign above the bed states the patient is blind. Do you know what to do? We’re betting like many healthcare workers, you have an idea but you’re not quite sure if your idea is “right.” After all, you’ve probably had few interactions, if any, with people who are blind, have low vision, or are…
Blog Topics Research, Health

The Pandemic's Impact

July 27, 2021
On July 20, my inbox and Facebook feed were filled with posts about Paralympian swimmer Becca Meyers, who is deafblind due to Usher’s Syndrome. Her reasonable request to have a personal care assistant with her during the Paralympics was denied by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which cited the strict protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the denial, she withdrew from competing in Tokyo. The pandemic, and an inadequate institutional response to it,…

Share Your COVID-19 Journey

July 13, 2021
I recently picked up my container of Lysol wipes on our kitchen counter and stored it back under the sink. I couldn’t think of the last time I had wiped down groceries or a doorknob. As a person who has low vision, I feel my life is progressing back to how it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet there are other ways it is not. For example, I’m still not comfortable taking a rideshare service like Lyft. I also shudder each time I consider the challenges I had getting myself, my husband…

Reflections on the Education of Students with Visual Impairments

June 10, 2021
I remember as a high school student in Freehold, New Jersey, anxiously waiting for the last bell to ring on the last day of the school year. That bell signaled a summer of freedom from homework and tests. At the same time it signaled that for a couple of months, there would be some friends I would not see or only see rarely. A few days later I’d find myself reflecting on what had gone well for me during the school year and what had not gone so well. Taking the time to reflect on experiences…

Nine Months In: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Education of Children with Visual Impairments

May 21, 2021
As last winter’s holiday season approached, I think we all realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was not going away anytime soon. All facets of our lives were being impacted, including the education of our children. As a family member of two young children shared in the introduction to the just-released Access and Engagement II report, “Everybody has had to adapt to crazy things that are not very normal. People are getting tired of this [COVID-19] stuff but we have to move forward with the…

Share Your Photos: Let’s Show What Education Looks Like in 2021

January 20, 2021
The other night I was watching the local NBC affiliate’s news in Tucson, where I live. A veteran fourth-grade teacher has been teaching online this year. Each morning when she enters her classroom, she is greeted by empty chairs and doesn’t see her students until she logs in to Zoom. She does not like those empty chairs greeting her! One of her student’s parents put an end to those empty chairs by creating life size cutouts of each student and putting them in the chairs. Those pictures sure…

Take the Second Access & Engagement Survey

November 19, 2020
cover of the Access and Engagement report, which is dark blue with white text and four photos of school-aged children engaged in educational activities at home
As the Director of Research at AFB, I spend 8-10 hours a day in front of a computer screen five days a week and often 10+ hours over the weekend. As someone with low vision, all that screen time is tough, especially when I have a visually demanding task or have to learn a new program. The latest one for me is Trello, a tool AFB is now using to track projects. Where exactly is the button I need to start a new project? It took me a lot longer to find it than my sighted colleagues. Frustrating!…

We Need Your Voice

November 16, 2020
We know that families of blind and low vision children are still facing major challenges as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools to move to online education. As a person with low vision who received my elementary education before the first version of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed in 1975, I think of the changes my own mother created for me to receive an equitable education to my sighted peers. My mother let the school administration and…

It Takes a Village: Join the Access and Engagement Village and Advocate for the Education of Students with Visual Impairments

November 5, 2020
Earlier this year, a 10-member research team spent four months analyzing heaps of data from the first Access and Engagement study. With responses from 1,432 individuals in the U.S. and Canada who represented the voices of 455 children, 710 teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs), 138 O&M specialists, and 180 dually certified professionals, this study is the largest we know of relating to the education of students with visual impairments. For all children, families, and…

Five Ways to Use the Flatten Inaccessibility Report

October 1, 2020
AFB is immensely proud to release the report on the findings of the Flatten Inaccessibility Study. Almost two thousand people took part in the study, sharing how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them and highlighting how community decisions have in many cases erected barriers to independence and equal access for those who are blind or have low vision. This report is a tool not only for organizations to advocate nationally for dismantling barriers and creating opportunities, but it also is…