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On Tuesday May 14, at 4:00 p.m., E:60 will air a segment on Beep Baseball. The segment will feature local legends, The West Coast dogs. This will be the team’s fourth championship in a row–seventh in thirteen years.
How do blind and visually impaired kids learn the life skills their sighted peers pick up visually? Last month our three-day workshop during a beautiful, sunny weekend at Enchanted Hills Camp provided another enriching and educational experience for youth ages 16 to 25 years old who are interested in how to be successful in their vocational, academic, and personal lives.
“I’m so glad I came to Transition Summit again! It’s been so helpful in my career pursuits, especially in learning leadership skills.”
The young people were placed in teams and challenged with hypothetical problems that they worked together to solve. One such challenge was to imagine that they were out hiking alone, lost, with a storm coming in and 20 minutes of daylight left. They were tasked with building a shelter that would keep them warm and dry, with just the things they found around them. Though overwhelmed at first, the young people quickly learned how to break down the challenge into more simple, solvable steps – a skill that will serve them well in the workplace and in life.
As an extra added bonus, keynote speaker and graduate chemistry student and Chemistry Camp leader Hoby Wedler talked to the group about maintaining enthusiasm and a positive attitude, cultivating professionalism and how to solve problems creatively.
“Do they have Transition Summits for sighted people? They should! This is so helpful. I have sighted friends who could benefit from all of this information.”
If you are interested in attending next year’s Transition Summit program contact LightHouse Community Services Director John Liang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-694-7334.
By: Catherine J. Kudlick
Note from the LightHouse: Ms. Kudlick is the Director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability and a professor of history. She has been a friend of the LightHouse for many years and agreed to let us post the following article:
For Easter I went to visit my parents who are in their mid-80s and still live in the house where I grew up. Over the past few years my father has been proof of that saying in the disability community that if we live long enough, we’ll become disabled in some way. His eyesight has been declining due to macular degeneration. I’ve watched with fascination as the eagle-eyed fellow who shepherded my mother from whom I inherited my eye condition and me around to our various eye doctors became the one who Mom and I helped.
Interestingly, the things that we all thought would be beyond horror turned out to be something he took in stride. They live in San Jose, a city dominated by the car if ever there was one. Non-drivers because of our eyesight, my mother and I had always taken public transit, but Dad had been aloof, viewing it as a necessary, less-desirable alternative for his wife and daughter. And yet the day he traded his car for the bus, he seemed relieved, even freed. Maybe his inner New Yorker came back to sit on vehicles with a cross-section of the local community, yet maybe too his wife and daughter had paved the way for demystifying transit. In fact, he found his fellow passengers fascinating, especially how the well-dressed, largely white eco crowd interacted with the mostly Latino day-laborers, those of all races either too young or too old to drive, interspersed with the occasional grump whose car or license had been impounded. After years of listening to me and Mom complain about the car culture and advocate for every possible transit initiative, he became even more zealous than both of us combined, telling everyone about routes and projected improvements and the like.
But my father’s real gift from the disability community came from my having discovered the iPad’s accessibility. Several years ago I began hearing about this out-of-the box feature built into iOS called VoiceOver which made Apple mobile devices fully accessible to blind and low-vision users by making everything you touched on the screen talk. I knew you could make the letters bigger by spreading your fingers, but otherwise unless you’d been around blind people who used the text-to-speech feature, it seemed counter-intuitive: tiny flat screen, few buttons, no knobs. Poking at it, I felt frustrated, but something deep down told me that if so many of my blind friends (only two qualified rocket scientists) were raving about how great it was, there had to be something to it.
Bored on a transatlantic flight, I pulled out my iPod Touch and started fooling around with the VoiceOver practice screen that comes on every Apple mobile device beginning with 3GS. It’s a bit of a learning curve because when you turn VoiceOver on, you use different gestures to make things happen, so there’s tons of trial and error as you try to master new ways of interacting. For example, there’s something called a “rotor” that allows you to switch languages, how fast it speaks, whether it reads individual words, characters, or paragraphs, and lots of other things you can set up by slowly moving your thumb and index finger like you’re turning a knob. One, two, three, finger swipes allow you to jump to a new article or chapter by flicking your finger. The advice provided by blind iPhone users on the web is useful, if hilarious, with descriptions such as “think of it like you’re removing a bug.” I can only imagine how all my swiping and tapping – not to mention any accompanying facial gestures or unintended exclamations – must have appeared to the guy sitting next to me who finally somewhere over Greenland plucked up the courage to ask “what game is that you’ve been playing?” But my perseverance was rewarded, because by the time I arrived in London, I owned that thing: books and webpages with pinhead-sized print and apps with cryptic logos all came to life. I could access nearly everything, except for a chunk of apps that hadn’t been designed with access in mind. (I would LOVE for every description in the App Store to say whether or not it was compatible with VoiceOver.)
As my father’s vision continued its slow, inevitable decline, he grew more and more depressed about having first to read his beloved New York Times with a magnifier, then on a cc-tv, then online with ever larger fonts. The New Yorker with its shiny paper and precious print had been out a long time ago. “The lights are going out, kid,” he said one day. Always mentally-alert and a voracious reader, he was withdrawing more and more into himself.
Something in his sadness clicked: I thought of my father not as an old guy losing his sight but as a blind person with possible links to the same community that had nourished me. The reasons for my failure to make this connection sooner are perhaps the topic of another blog, rooted as they are in the barriers our culture continues to draw between disability and old age. But however it came about, I finally realized that my own experience and, by extension, the expertise of my fellow blind people with VoiceOver could open a new chapter for my father.
When my partner and I showed up with an iPad, Dad seemed intrigued but skeptical. He tried the gestures, but they didn’t seem to work, the voice talked when it wasn’t supposed to and failed to talk when he seemed to need it most. Too fast, too slow, the swipes and pokes felt silly and did nothing. I tried to help, but wondered if he needed his own equivalent of my transatlantic flight. A week later, he sounded defeated on the phone. I could tell he wanted to learn and sensed somewhere that he could. But he needed a cheerleader, so I came back home and sat with him on the couch, maybe just like he sat with me as I held my first book in my lap when I was learning to read. “All the blind people do it,” I kept saying, “and they do it only through touch and hearing!” We practiced, furrowed our brows, we cheered, we laughed and rewarded ourselves with chocolate. By the end of the two hours we sat together, he’d mastered enough of the gestures to experience results. I left only once I knew there was no turning back.
This was two years ago. Since then, I’ve told him about apps like Bookshare.org and the National Federation of the Blind’s free access to hundreds of newspapers and magazines through their amazing Newsline for the Blind. He constantly sends links to articles in the Times, keeps up with the local paper, and has added new magazines to his repertoire like Wired and the Guardian. He follows stocks and financial news of every sort, sports, and reads novels. Together at home a couple of days ago for Easter, we compared notes and swapped gossip from our reading. “Go figure,” he said, shaking his head, “Who would have thought that blind people would have given me back the ability to read!”
Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is investigating experiences, both positive and negative, of users of travel aggregation websites such as Priceline.com, Orbitz.com, Kayak.com and other similar websites. In particular, DRA is interested in hearing about any problems that blind or low vision users who reside in California might have experienced regarding barriers when attempting to make hotel arrangements, purchase airline tickets or utilize other services that these websites provide. If you are legally blind and have use these aggregation sites please contact DRA and share your stories. Contact Michael Nunez by phone at 510-665-8644 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Are you looking for something to spice up your summer plans? If so, NFB STEM-X, the latest National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) program, is just what you’ve been waiting for! This inquiry-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program will provide participants with learning opportunities in STEM disciplines ranging from engineering and robotics to the science of cooking.
If you have attended or heard about previous NCBYS programs, like NFB Youth Slam or NFB Project Innovation, you are familiar with the exciting opportunities such programs provide. So, follow the link below and apply today! And don’t forget to tell your friends to do the same! Applications close at 11:50 p.m. on May 15, 2013.
To learn more, or to apply please visit www.blindscience.org/STEMX.
Questions about the program can be directed to Natalie Shaheen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Computer Vision Lab at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, in San Francisco, is looking for volunteers to participate in research experiments under the direction of Dr. James Coughlan.
The goal of these experiments is to investigate the use of computer vision and other sensor-based methods of extracting visual and other information from indoor or outdoor scenes, or from existing images, and of conveying this information using audio, visual and/or tactile output to be useful to blind and low vision individuals. Example of specific applications of this research include: finding and reading aloud printed signs, visual displays, and product barcodes; detecting traffic intersection crosswalk patterns to provide useful guidance to a blind or visually impaired pedestrian who wishes to cross the intersection; and identifying the nature of an image presented in a computer document or website.
This research is supported by grants from federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).
Each volunteer will participate in one or more sessions, each lasting approximately 1-2 hours, to be conducted within the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute building at 2318 Fillmore St., or at locations within walking distance of the Institute.
If you volunteer, you will receive compensation for participating in the experiment at the rate of $30 per hour. Transportation expenses to and from Smith-Kettlewell will be reimbursed with appropriate receipts.
You can participate in these experiments if you are 14 years or older and are:
- Blind or low vision
- Able to walk safely and independently (using a long cane or a dog guide)
- Located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
If you are between 14-17 years of age, you will need your permission from your parent or guardian to participate in the experiment; your parent/guardian is welcome to accompany you during all experiments, but is requested to refrain from interfering with the experiments in any way to avoid biasing their outcome.
If you meet these requirements and are interested in contributing to this important research by participating in experiments, or would like to hear more detailed information about the experiments, please contact Mr. David Vásquez (who is assisting Dr. Coughlan with recruitment and experiments) by phone at 415-345-2116 or by email at email@example.com.
Walmart now offers ScripTalk Talking Prescription Containers with prescriptions filled by Walmart to mail order customers across the country and at 33 in-store locations. For more information, including how to order by phone from anywhere in the U.S. and a list of in-store locations, please click here.
Want to order right now? Call Walmart toll free at 1-888-227-3403.
In a VisionAware blog post dated March 26, 2013, Maureen Duffy penned an intriguing post about former LightHouse Board President Gil Johnson. To read the in-depth post, please visit the VisionAware blog. But first, here’s a short excerpt to whet your appetite:
No one else in my parents’ families had experienced vision loss, so neither my parents nor siblings had any familiarity with blindness. I don’t recall that less was expected of me than of my brothers and sister. There must have been activities that my parents didn’t want me to do or didn’t let me participate in, but I have always felt like I could do what I felt capable of doing. When my judgment was wrong, I learned from the mistake.
One evening I went with my father to keep an appointment he had. I elected to wait in the car
and while he was gone, I pretended to drive the car as many kids will do. I turned the wheel this way and that, shifted the gears using the clutch pedal, pressed the brake, and made motor sounds.
I heard a scraping sound from under the car and got out to see if I could tell what it was. I couldn’t find anything wrong, but I stopped playing and set the emergency brake. Soon I heard my father outside, saying “Where are you?” Apparently, I had steered the car around the corner and bumped into a lantern placed in front of a barricade on the street.
On another occasion, I went with my father to a fishing resort where he had some work to do. I wandered out on to a fishing pier and at the end found a row boat tied to the pier. I thought the boat should be closer to shore, so I got in, untied the boat, and began to row. Very shortly, I discovered that I couldn’t see the shoreline or the pier. I heard my father calling out “What are you doing out there?”
I wasn’t very good at rowing and was going around in circles and getting further from shore. He coached me back in. He didn’t say anything about either event, nor did he tell my mother – and I certainly didn’t tell her.
As part of its long-standing commitment to customers with visual impairments, Bank of America announced that it is enhancing the accessibility of its award-winning Online and Mobile Banking security features. To read more about Bank of America’s commitment to the blind and visually impaired click here.
California residents who receive Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance or who earn less than $15,000 per year can receive free cellphones and service!
Those who qualify will get basic cell phones, plus 250 text messages per month.
To apply for the program, customers request a phone from Assurance Wireless by calling 800-395-2171 or visiting assurancewireless.com.
Once the necessary paperwork has been submitted, customers will receive a free phone within 10 days. After receiving their phones, they will get an application from the state of California. They must return that form within 45 days along with proof of eligibility. If eligible, they can continue receiving free service.