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Archive for December, 2010
Bill Barker’s Braille Radio Reading Room for December 2010.
By Serena Olsen, guest blogger
Act One: Training
Okay, so my days of “rest” are actually Fridays and Sundays. I have discovered, however, that “rest,” in this context, is not the verb meaning “take it easy; relax.” It is more like a noun—as in, “this is the only time you have to get everything done that you never get to because you are too busy working and training.”
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, I get in anywhere from 2 to 4 miles of running a day currently—this distance is creeping upward as the Big Day draws near. Mondays and Wednesdays are for that all-important cross-training. Fridays and Sundays, of course, are for the “rest” of my life. This, on top of my split job personalities—commuting alternately into the East Bay, then the City, the East Bay, then the City … and so on—some days hitting both of them in the same day and often being out after a full work day for some work-related evening event. Then comes the training, packed in with my social events, like hosting my roommate’s baby shower for 30, catching Flowers of the Four Seasons at the Berkeley Art Museum and a work holiday party. But, the training is important and I am sticking to it!
Act Two: Let’s Get This Party Started!
The LightHouse Half Marathon is more than just a personal goal for me to conquer something new and get in great shape in the process—I am also doing this to benefit the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I do this because it is important to me to make as many people aware as possible how important the services of agencies like the LightHouse are to the blind and how vital financial contributions are to its programs. I could easily just be running the half marathon for my own purposes, but have pledged, instead, to also raise $100 for every mile I run. A hundred bucks. Thirteen miles. A summer of memories and empowerment for Enchanted Hills’ youth.
Act Three: The Big Picture
There are over one million blind people in America. Some 57% of working-age blind people do not work. A great number of these people eke out a sub-poverty existence on a variety of government programs. For me, these programs were a springboard to a higher standard of living—they enabled me to get the education and training I needed to make a better life for myself. When blind youth connect with competent blind peers and mentors and get the skills training and opportunity they need, their chances for living a successful and independent life skyrocket.
I know a better life is possible because I am living it. $100 a mile. Thirteen miles. How far can you help me get? How far will America’s blind youth get?
To donate to a fundraiser for Team LightHouse, go to http://active.com/donate/teamlighthouse and search by name to support LightHouse programs like Enchanted Hills Camp.
Are you interested in protecting the environment, communities and human health? Would you like a challenging, exciting and progressive career that utilizes your skills in a workplace that appreciates diversity?
EPA is seeking talented people with disabilities who have an interest in HUMAN HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION and ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE. We seek people who have degrees in ENGINEERING, PHYSICAL SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, CHEMISTRY, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT/SCIENCE and ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, who would like an opportunity to gain professional workforce experience in our San Francisco, California Regional Office.
- Competitive Salaries
- Opportunities to Work with Career Professionals in Emerging Environmental Programs
- Immediate Training and On-Going Career Development
- Excellent Health Insurance, Life Insurance and Retirement Benefits
- Flexible Working Hours and Excellent Vacation Benefits
U.S. CITIZENSHIP REQUIRED
First consideration date: January 15, 2011
To be considered for future openings send in a resume and your Schedule A documentation to Philip Kum at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Schedule A hiring authority or documentation visit http://schedule-a.info/ or call Philip at (415)947-3566.
(Equal Opportunity Employer)
-by LightHouse guest blogger and volunteer Brian McCallen
Want to hear described classic movies at the click of a mouse? Well look no further than the Narrative Television Network’s (NTN’s) new website. An Emmy-award winning leader in audio description, NTN has a page for FREE DOWNLOADS of your favorite classic movies. Some of the best classic films for download from NTN include: A Star Is Born, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Third Man.
Best of all, the movies are available to download for FREE! No account is required! All you need is RealPlayer and at least a 28.8 Kbps Internet connection.
I just downloaded one movie from NTN called The Big Lift. I simply went to the website at http://narrativetv.com/films.htm and clicked the title. Then RealPlayer opened, and I was able to hear the described film in just a few seconds. Pretty easy, huh?
The Department of Justice will be holding a hearing in San Francisco on Monday, January 10, 2011, to seek public comment on proposed changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice is in a position to make decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for years to come.
If you are interested in making public comments or submitting your comments about the proposed changes, please visit the following URLs. Please note that there is a different URL for each topic the DOJ is seeking commentary about.
1. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations:
2. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Movie Captioning and Video Description:
3. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services; Accessibility of Next Generation 9-1-1:
4. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by State and Local Governments and Places of Public Accommodation; Equipment and Furniture:
To schedule your public testimony, email Scott Shea at email@example.com.
One of the biggest dangers guide dog users face while traveling with their guide dogs is attacks or interference from aggressive dogs.
In an attempt to help increase awareness of this problem and the importance of responsible dog ownership for the pet-owning public, The Seeing Eye has launched a survey across the U.S. and Canada that will take an in-depth look at dog attacks and interference. The data collected from the survey will be essential in strengthening cases with law enforcement and animal control officers, as well as with legislators who can help shape future laws to protect guide dog teams.
The survey is open to all guide dog handlers in the United States and
Canada, and a summary of results can be shared upon request. The survey will take from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on your answers. You may access the survey at the following link:
For those who can’t take the survey online, call The Seeing Eye’s main number at 800-539-4425 and ask for extension 1520. Leave your name and phone number, and a volunteer will return your call to conduct the survey by telephone.
All those who respond by Friday, January 7, 2011, will be entered in a
raffle to win a $100 gift card.
Medi-Cal recipients can earn $100 for participating in a two-hour discussion group about how people with regular Medi-Cal feel about the program. The discussion groups will help a local organization learn how to improve care, work better with patients, and understand patient needs and problems with getting services. You must be a San Francisco County resident to participate.
• People with disabilities between the ages of 21 and 64 years who have Regular Medi-Cal (also called Fee-For-Service)
• Parents of children (up to age 21) with special needs; children must have MediCal (either Regular Medi-Cal, also called Fee-For-Service, or Medi-Cal through a health plan)
• Caregivers for people with a disability between the ages of 21 and 64 years who have Regular Medi-Cal (also called Fee-For-Service)
• Seniors (65+ years) who have Regular Medi-Cal (also called Fee-For-Service)
Each two-hour discussion group will be in downtown San Francisco. Participants will receive $100 for their time. This is not clinical research. All responses are strictly confidential.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 or Thursday, January 13, 2011
(You must qualify to participate. The time and date depends on the group you are in.)
Please call Elizabeth at (650) 871-6800 between 10:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. as soon as possible since seating is limited. You can also leave a message during other times with your first name and phone number, and you will receive a call back within 24 hours.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently announced the addition of a revolutionary new feature to NFB-Newsline, the free audible information service for the blind and others who cannot read print due to a physical or learning disability. With this job-listings feature, blind and print-disabled people will be able to easily and independently search for job openings that match their education, skills and interests.
“The addition of this exciting new feature will address a critical need of blind and print-disabled Americans for timely and independent access to job listings,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The availability of these listings will be of tremendous help in reducing the estimated 70 percent rate of unemployment among this population. Subscribers can search through hundreds of thousands of job listings from all across the country and look for openings in their hometowns.”
With the addition of content from a national job classifieds provider, Newsline subscribers can conduct searches for job openings in dozens of categories such as banking and education, and if desired, can narrow the search to look for certain keywords within the listings. Subscribers can save their searches and request that a particular job listing be sent to them via email; the email will contain the listing as well as a link that will provide a web page with the position’s application form.
NFB-Newsline allows those who cannot read conventional newsprint due to a visual or physical disability to access publications as well as television and job listings over the telephone, on the Web or by download to digital talking book players or MP3-playing devices. To learn more about Newsline, visit http://www.nfbnewsline.org/.
-by LightHouse guest blogger and volunteer Brian McCallen
Accessibility for the blind and visually impaired at some of America’s major hotels may get better! Hilton Worldwide, who owns the Hilton, Doubletree, and Hampton Inns, announced an agreement early this month with the U.S. Department of Justice to take steps to improve accessibility at its hotels, websites, and reservation systems. The chain is responding to a decree recently filed by the federal court for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by its franchised hotels. The decree says that Hilton failed to provide accessible provisions at their hotels built after 1993 and calls for improvement.
The decree requires Hilton to survey the chain’s hotels for ADA violations in public areas and guest rooms. The Hilton chain will need to guarantee disabled customers an accessible room. Furthermore, the hotels will provide accessible room information, such as amenities offered to disabled customers over its Internet reservation system. Speaking of reservations and the Internet, Hilton plans to improve its website and follow the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level A. The guidelines call for companies to provide website text for disabled individuals in alternate formats (e.g., audio).
This agreement sounds great to me. But as a visually impaired person, I wonder how Hilton plans to make its hotels more accessible for the blind and visually impaired? So I contacted Hilton worldwide in McLean, Virginia and asked them.
Their spokesperson provided the following official statement: “Hilton Worldwide has taken a number of steps in the past to ensure compliance with the ADA at the hotels that it owns or manages, including not charging extra fees for service animals, offering service animal training and providing qualified readers or brailed materials. As part of this agreement, Hilton Worldwide developed a package of changes to enhance accessibility at hotels within the Hilton Worldwide network, on its websites, and through its reservations system. The proposed changes Hilton Worldwide will make are incorporated in a Consent Decree with the DOJ and include conducting a survey of all post-1993 owned hotels to ensure their compliance with the ADA. Hilton Worldwide will also designate a national ADA Compliance Officer who will serve as the company’s primary administrative contact on disability issues for all hotels.”
The spokesperson explained further the enhancements to their reservations process, as mentioned above.
Despite the hotel chain’s past troubles in their service to the disabled, I’ve actually had a great experience with the Hilton family of hotels as a visually impaired person. Over a year ago, I stayed at the Hilton in Southern California on a family vacation to Universal Studios Hollywood.
The hotel in Universal City was very spacious! It had plenty of room between the double beds and the TV to move around in. So I wasn’t worried about bumping into them and hurting myself. The elevators and hotel restaurant were easy for me to find, since they were close to the front desk. But the best part of the hotel was the soft pillows and sheets that helped me fall fast asleep for a full eight hours during each night of my stay. Coincidentally, during my visit, the Universal City Hilton was hosting the annual Braille Challenge with teenage blind and visually impaired contestants, making me feel more welcome as a low-vision person to this spectacular hotel.
The only issue that posed some challenge was with access to the nearby park and shops. The path to Universal Studios had no obvious signs showing the way and was poorly lit. I even found myself walking in the roadway because the direction and path to follow was not clearly marked. However, the hotel provides a free shuttle directly to the theme park and is definitely the option any disabled person should consider. A really neat thing offered by Universal Studios is a VIP pass for the disabled at no extra charge. However, we learned about this accommodation from the theme park gate attendant and not from the hotel’s concierge where we purchased the tickets. With the VIP pass, the theme park workers let me and my family be one of the first admitted to each park attraction.
Even though there’s room for improvement, the Hilton Worldwide hotel chain appears to be working hard to make a blind person’s travel experience a more enjoyable and memorable one.
For more information on the decree, check out: http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2010/11/hilton-and-doj-announce-precedent-setting-accord-for-alleged-ada-violations/130487/1. You’ll find links to PDFs of the full decree and its key provisions. Also, to check out all of the Hilton hotels and to make reservations, log onto: www.hhonors.com. You can find hotels by city and state, country, address, or airport code.
Brian McCallen is a resident of Livermore, California. Brian is visually impaired with core vision in his right eye and distortion in the left. He is currently volunteering for Access to Information Services at the LightHouse. In his spare time, Brian surfs the web, listens to the radio, or watches TV. He loves Japanese animation (anime) and the late local news. Brian also likes to travel. His favorite places are New York, L.A, and Las Vegas.
Visit Adaptations, the LightHouse store, on Thursday, December 16 and Monday, December 20 for featured discounts and extended holiday shopping hours. The store will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on both days.
Take advantage of the following in-store offers:
10% off CCTVs, Digital Magnifiers and the iBill
20% off everything else
Complimentary gift wrapping
Complimentary holiday card Brailling
Adaptations is located at 214 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.