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Banquet Listening Parties Create Convention Feel at Home

From NFB.org - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:30
Blog Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2018Author: Melissa RiccobonoCategories: GeneralStories

The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is an experience like none other. From the informative seminars on all types of topics to the excitement of being surrounded by more than 2,000 other blind people. From hearing so many canes tapping and guide dogs working, to the energy of the room on the day of opening session.

All of these experiences cannot be captured easily in words, nor can they fully be appreciated unless you are there in person. However, for a variety of reasons, being there is not always possible.

Luckily we now have the option of listening to the convention online, which at least means you can hear various presentations and catch some of the excitement.

But rather than listening to the entire event alone, why not host a banquet listening party? The banquet, of course, is the highlight of our convention. Attendees sit down and share a meal with others. They listen to an inspiring speech and share their thoughts about the speech. The banquet is about connecting.

Take advantage of this opportunity for connection and fellowship by hosting a banquet listening party of your own.

This year, the banquet will be held Sunday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

What You Will Need
  1. Good Company: Invite others to share in your banquet listening party. You might invite someone you know who has attended many conventions and just cannot attend this year, or you might invite someone who has never attended a convention before. You might invite sighted neighbors or family members so they can listen and learn. You might invite five or ten people, or you might be more comfortable with just one or two others. No matter who you invite, having someone to share the banquet with is an essential part of a banquet listening party.
  2. Good Food: The food can be as simple or as fancy as you would like. Cook a gourmet dinner or order pizza. Provide all of the food yourself or have others bring a dish to share. In 2012, when I hosted my own banquet listening party, I held a chocolate tasting after dinner. It was delicious, and made the evening a little more special.
  3. Good Internet Connection and Speakers: Of course you will need the ability to tune in to the online stream of the banquet. The link to the online stream will be available on the convention webpage soon. I would suggest tuning in right as the banquet is starting so you can enjoy the full experience. Of course, on the West Coast, this will mean your banquet listening party will have to begin around 4:00 p.m. There are many presentations at the banquet and, although the speech is definitely the highlight, the other awards given are certainly a valuable part of the experience.
  4. Good Discussion: Truly talk to those you invite to your party. Connect with them. After the speech is over, talk about it. Our national convention is filled with love, and this love is tangible, particularly in the banquet hall.

We hope your banquet listening party is full of love as well, that it will create great memories for you and your guests, and that attending the banquet virtually this year will inspire you and your guests to do all you can in order to be at the banquet in person next year.

Plug and Play Braille Display? Not Today, But Soon They Say

From NFB.org - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 14:07
Blog Date: Monday, June 11, 2018Author: Amy MasonCategories: Access Technology

Last year, Karl Belanger and I reviewed the state of Braille support across a number of different screen reader and operating system combinations.

One of the biggest difficulties we encountered had to do with the installation and stability of Braille display drivers. Another difficulty was having to locate drivers when a device was heavily optimized for a specific screen reader or operating system, but we wanted to use it with a different piece of screen access software.

In other words, one of the hardest things about using Braille displays is just setting the silly things up in the first place.

Fortunately, the USB Implementers Forum has been working on a solution to this tricky problem. The group, which includes Microsoft, Apple, and Google, announced on May 31 that they have created a standard for a Human Interface Device (HID) compliant Braille display driver.

Here’s what that means when we strip away the “Geek-Speak.”

The USB Implementers Forum recognized that connecting and using Braille displays had been a pain point for a long time, so they decided to simplify that process by creating a set of rules to help Braille displays and computers speak to one another.

Think of drivers as very simple, literal-minded translators. They pass messages back and forth between your computer’s operating system and its components. These components can be things like speakers, keyboards, monitors, hard drives, and yes, Braille displays.

At present, components like keyboards and monitors speak a common language, so they can easily tell one common driver what they need to do, and that driver can relay the message to your computer. These devices might still have unique drivers that allow for special features, but by tapping into one common driver, the user can just plug in their device and start using it - no muss, no fuss. It is not that way with Braille displays.

Right now, every Braille display driver is written by the manufacturer of the Braille display. The manufacturer knows the language of their machine very, very well, but may not be as good at figuring out how to convey its messages to an operating system. This is why Braille displays can be so frustrating to install and keep running, and that is also where the new HID standard comes in.

HID-compliant Braille displays will learn to speak the language of a “master translator” who knows how to convey messages very clearly back to the computer. HID-compliant devices are already in wide use in computing, and Braille displays would benefit greatly by working within this standard.

Whether or not we will see the standard take hold with Braille display creators remains to be seen, but I fervently hope that it does. If manufacturers work with the USB Implementers Forum to make the standard part of their business practices, we have a happy future to look forward to where we can just walk up to any computer, plug in our displays, and get started.

The Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online Banking

From NFB.org - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:39

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgThe Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online BankingNational Federation of the Blind and Boeing Employees’ Credit Union Reach Accessibility Agreement

SEATTLE (June 6, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), its Washington affiliate, and three blind individuals have reached an agreement with the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU). As a part of this agreement, BECU will work in collaboration with NFB and its members to make its website and mobile banking app fully accessible to blind customers.

The work to achieve full accessibility of the website is expected to be completed by March 31, 2019. Improvements to the mobile app will begin this summer and will be completed by May 31, 2019. BECU has also committed to long term policies and procedures (such as an employee training program) to ensure that accessibility is maintained, and pay an undisclosed settlement amount without any associated admission of liability.

Blind people access websites and mobile apps with what is known as screen reader software, which speaks text aloud or outputs it to a refreshable Braille display and will be used for BECU’s website and mobile app. However, websites and mobile applications that are not coded according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0, or other accessibility guidelines, do not interact well with screen reader technology, making it difficult or impossible for blind users to access some or all of a website or app’s information or functions.

“Blind people must budget, keep track of our accounts, pay our bills, make deposits, and transfer funds just like everyone else,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Since these functions are now increasingly and sometimes exclusively performed via web or mobile applications, the blind must have full and equal access to these modern financial tools. We commend Boeing Employees’ Credit Union for agreeing in good faith to aggressive steps that will ensure access to its website and mobile applications now and into the future. We particularly appreciate that BECU has agreed to the testing of these services by blind people throughout the process, and we look forward to working with this institution to achieve the goal of equal access. We urge other banks across the country to meet the same standard of access for their customers and invite them to work closely with us in doing so.”

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at www.nfb.org.

The Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online Banking

Latest News - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:39
Release Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018Category: National

SEATTLE (June 6, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), its Washington affiliate, and three blind individuals have reached an agreement with the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU). As a part of this agreement, BECU will work in collaboration with NFB and its members to make its website and mobile banking app fully accessible to blind customers.

Rideshare Testing: After One Year, How Are Uber and Lyft Doing?

From NFB.org - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:53
Blog Date: Monday, June 4, 2018Author: Valerie YinglingCategories: Advocacy

In May 2017, NFB initiated a rideshare testing program in response to our new settlement agreements with Uber and Lyft. Both rideshare companies had committed to changes intended to eliminate driver discrimination against travelers with service animals. So now, one year into our three-year testing program, are Uber and Lyft demonstrating improvement?

The answer is complicated.

Ask Maura Gay, and she might tell you how on February 21, before she could enter the car, a driver locked his car doors, announced that he doesn’t take dogs, and then sat and waited until he could claim Maura’s request as a “no show” and cancel the ride.

Or, ask Terry Lopez, and he might tell you about his April 7 experience, when a driver refused to transport him, his guide dog, and three friends, because the driver insisted that Terry’s guide dog counted as a person and that the car could not accommodate any more than four people.

These denials and the many others like them are not only inconvenient, they are unjust. Uber and Lyft clearly still have work to do, and the NFB won’t stop insisting on full and equal access, as outlined in the Uber and Lyft settlement agreements, and as required under federal law.

But the news is not all bad. We’ve received numerous reports of successful rides with drivers who understand their legal obligation to transport individuals with service animals.

Accurate ride provision rates have been difficult to identify, however, because of inconsistent data nationwide—frequency of reporting and rideshare market fluctuations both contribute to this. What has become critically important data during this first year of testing, though, are the comments testers provide when they fill out the rideshare survey.

The NFB’s Lyft Testing—Year One report identified that testers’ comments provide the best insight into individual rideshare experiences. These anecdotes are central to our attorneys’ investigations and ongoing dialogue with Lyft and Uber. We assert that reports from testers about a driver putting a service animal in a car’s hatchback, refusing to transport a service animal on a Lyft Line or Uber Pool ride, or taking other discriminatory actions should be used by Uber and Lyft for planning future driver education initiatives.

The clear takeaway from the first year of our rideshare testing program is that we need testers to continue to submit feedback and comments via our short online survey.

If you have a service animal or travel with someone who does, remember to fill out NFB’s online questionnaire every time you request an Uber or Lyft. Let us know if you notified the driver in advance that you were traveling with a service animal, and if that driver responded appropriately or denied your ride. Let us know if you filed a complaint with Uber or Lyft directly, and if so, how the company responded.

Your involvement in our testing program can and does make a difference—it is our best measure of how comprehensively Uber and Lyft are implementing the changes outlined in the settlement agreements.

For more information contact Valerie Yingling at vyingling@nfb.org and visit the following resources.

Disturbing Developments at the Department of Education

From NFB.org - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 11:48
Blog Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018Author: Mark RiccobonoCategories: AdvocacyEducation

The National Federation of the Blind is actively engaged in improving access to education for blind students. Our activities on this front include our push for passage of the AIM HIGH Act, our self-advocacy in Higher Education Toolkit to help students assert their rights, and, when necessary, the filing of discrimination complaints against colleges and universities. In the past, the Office for Civil Rights within the United States Department of Education (OCR) has often been an ally in the struggle to make colleges and universities meet their legal and ethical obligations to blind students. But the recent activities of OCR show troubling indications that we can no longer count on such an alliance.

The most disturbing indication of backsliding at OCR is the recent publication of the office’s new case processing manual. Until this new manual was issued in March, both the Section 504 regulations and OCR’s prior versions of the manual required OCR personnel to investigate incoming complaints of discrimination, with few exceptions. But the new language provides that OCR personnel will dismiss complaints filed by an individual or organization who has filed a complaint before, as well as complaints against multiple colleges. This rule can have no effect, and probably no purpose, other than to make it difficult or impossible for the National Federation of the Blind and other advocates to bring violations to the attention of OCR. Apparently, vigilant advocates who face repeated discrimination and call it out are now considered troublemakers who are wasting the government’s valuable time.

The National Federation of the Blind, along with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), have filed suit to stop this part of the new case processing manual from going into effect. We believe this rule isn’t valid, but our argument boils down to this: OCR is planning to decide what cases it investigates on an arbitrary basis. Obviously, we abhor meritless civil rights complaints, but whether a complaint is actually meritorious should be determined by proper investigation. There is no good reason for OCR to ignore a complaint simply because the complainant has rightfully challenged discrimination before. That approach denies due process to those who bring complaints in good faith and flouts the anti-discrimination laws that OCR is supposed to enforce.

This arbitrary rule change isn’t the only disturbing signal coming from OCR. Recently, the office revisited eleven resolution agreements it had reached with colleges and universities to make their educational content accessible. These agreements, which had required the institutions be proactive about accessibility so that content would be accessible to all current or future blind students, have now been rewritten to require only that equal access be provided when a student requests it. This is, of course, a step backward to the failed ad hoc accommodation model we know so well and which has frustrated so many blind students. Putting the burden on a student to request accessible content from a college or university is unlawful and wrong. It also doesn’t work, as the many thousands of blind students who have waited in vain for accessible course materials from a Disabled Student Services office can testify.

The National Federation of the Blind will do everything in our power to make sure that this failed approach does not once again become the norm.

National Federation of the Blind Announces 2018 Scholarship Program Finalists

From NFB.org - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 08:24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNational Federation of the Blind Announces 2018 Scholarship Program Finalists

Baltimore, Maryland (May 29, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the finalists for its 2018 Scholarship Program, which awards thirty scholarships each year to recognize achievement by blind scholars. The students are listed below in alphabetical order with their home states and vocational goals.

  • Naim Muawia Abu-El Hawa, VA: Diplomat
  • Alexandra Alfonso, DC: Music, Education, and Pre-law
  • Tasnim Alshuli, AZ: Professor
  • Millad Bokhouri, PA: Medical program designer
  • Tyron Bratcher, MD: Rehabilitation counselor
  • Chrys Buckley, OR: Physician
  • Ozgul Calicioglu, PA: Environmental sustainability specialist
  • Olivia Charland, MA: Conservation biologist
  • Purvi Contractor, TX: Aerospace
  • Kenia Flores, NC: Civil rights attorney
  • John Harrison, WI: Advocate
  • Eric Harvey, CA: Near East cultural specialist
  • Justin Heard, GA: Teacher
  • J.D. Humphrey, MI: Ethnomedicine
  • Trisha Kulkarni, OH: Software engineer
  • Amanda Lannan, FL: Teacher education
  • Shane Lowe, KY: Cyber security and business administration
  • Seth Lowman, ID: Sound design and music production
  • Sara Mornis, VT: Writing and psychology
  • Connor Mullin, NJ: Cane travel instructor
  • Sara Patnaude, VA: Victim’s advocate
  • Menuka Rai, ND: Physical therapist
  • Elizabeth Rouse, IA: Attorney
  • Yasmine Marie Sarraf, AZ: Forensic scientist
  • Caitlin Sarubbi, NY: Physician
  • Rilee Sloan, OK: Attorney
  • Harry Staley, Jr., TX: Autonomous vehicle development
  • Matt Turner, ID: Economics and technology
  • Cathy Tuton, OK: Dietician
  • Paige Young, ME: Business administration

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from sound design to international diplomacy, and to welcome each of them to our upcoming national convention and to the family of the National Federation of the Blind. The accomplishments of these outstanding students are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”

Each finalist will attend the NFB’s seventy-eighth annual national convention, beginning July 3, in Orlando, Florida, where the Scholarship Committee will spend several days getting to know each student and then decide which scholarship (ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000) to award each of them. The scholarship winners will then be announced at the banquet of the NFB National Convention on Sunday, July 8.

For more information on the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program, visit www.nfb.org/scholarships.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at www.nfb.org.

National Federation of the Blind Announces 2018 Scholarship Program Finalists

Latest News - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 08:24
Release Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2018Category: National

Baltimore, Maryland (May 29, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the finalists for its 2018 Scholarship Program, which awards thirty scholarships each year to recognize achievement by blind scholars.

apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas to Headline Convention Welcome Concert

From NFB.org - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 15:35

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgapl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas to Headline Convention Welcome ConcertNational Federation of the Blind 2018 Convention Host Committee and Aira Announce Special Performance

Orlando, Florida (May 23, 2018): Allan Pineda Lindo, best known as apl.de.ap from The Black Eyed Peas, will perform live at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on July 6, 2018. The National Federation of the Blind convention host committee—with representatives from the Federation’s Florida, Iowa, and Virginia affiliates—and NFB partner Aira announced today that apl.de.ap will headline a concert set for 7:00 p.m. on July 6, 2018. The event will take place at the convention facility, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

Legally blind in both eyes from nystagmus, apl.de.ap has always lived the life he wants. On November 18, 2008, apl.de.ap launched the apl.de.ap Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping various communities and children in the Philippines and throughout Asia. As a brand ambassador for Aira, he is excited and honored to perform for everyone attending this year’s National Federation of the Blind Convention.

“The National Federation of the Blind strives to make each convention the best ever,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “This performance by apl.de.ap will significantly contribute to an unforgettable week for the approximately three thousand members and supporters of the National Federation of the Blind expected to attend this annual event. We thank Aira and apl.de.ap for this exciting addition to our packed convention agenda. No one will want to miss the 2018 convention.”

Preregistration for the convention is open through May 31 at convention.nfb.org.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at https://nfb.org.

About Aira:
Aira is a service that uses a combination of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and professional agents to provide instant access to visual information. At just the touch of a button, Aira delivers a visual description of your life, as you live it. Anytime, anywhere, and always on your own terms. Enabling those who are blind or low vision to be more efficient with any task that they choose to take on.

apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas to Headline Convention Welcome Concert

Latest News - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 15:35
Release Date: Wednesday, May 23, 2018Category: National

Orlando, Florida (May 23, 2018): Allan Pineda Lindo, best known as apl.de.ap from The Black Eyed Peas, will perform live at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on July 6, 2018.

Senate Committee Votes to Advance Marrakesh Treaty

From NFB.org - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 07:55

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgSenate Committee Votes to Advance Marrakesh TreatyNational Federation of the Blind Commends Committee Vote

Washington, DC (May 22, 2018): The Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate voted unanimously today in favor of advancing the Marrakesh Treaty to the full Senate for its advice and consent. The National Federation of the Blind commends the vote.

“The National Federation of the Blind was a principal leader in the development and negotiation of the Marrakesh Treaty,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “By allowing the worldwide production and exchange of accessible books, the treaty will dramatically increase the availability of knowledge to blind people everywhere. We commend the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its favorable action today, and urge the full Senate to support the treaty so that the door to expanded literacy will be unlocked for millions of blind Americans.”

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at https://nfb.org.

Senate Committee Votes to Advance Marrakesh Treaty

Latest News - Wed, 05/23/2018 - 07:55
Release Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018Category: National

Washington, DC (May 22, 2018): The Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate voted unanimously today in favor of advancing the Marrakesh Treaty to the full Senate for its advice and consent. The National Federation of the Blind commends the vote.

What’s That? The Art of Bird Listening

From NFB.org - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:13
Blog Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018Author: Allan R. SchneiderCategories: GeneralStories

We stop short, folks whisper, “What’s that?” It’s the unmistakable rattle of the beloved kingfisher, the rascal of the water birds, zooming along the river. It went by too fast; my restricted peripheral vision couldn’t locate it, but it caused me to smile. As a beginner two years ago, it was the first species I identified by sound. Shortly before that, at a meeting of the Treasure Valley Chapter of the NFB of Idaho, Steve Bouffard, a local ornithologist with the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History at The College of Idaho, introduced the idea of taking blind people birding by ear. Although never interested before, I was intrigued. I became the liaison, and since then a real-life, visually-impaired birder! And why not? Even when sighted birders do official bird counts, 90 percent of the birds are identified by sound because foliage naturally camouflages birds. Today we are guiding a group of blind and visually-impaired people along a path on the north shore of Veterans’ Pond near the Boise River in Boise, Idaho. Minutes before the kingfisher, we were startled by the primordial grunting of a cormorant on a low perch over the pond. Some were startled; it was more the sound of a dinosaur than a bird. Two birds, neither one “tweeted,” and we moved on.

Suddenly Steve hushes us and we listen: it’s a western tanager, it sounds like a robin’s spring “cheer-up cheerily, cheer-up cheerily,” only hoarser. It won’t be here long; it’s on its spring migration to the mountains just north of us. Identifying birds by their calls and songs sounds daunting, but it’s really not. At a bird feeder, there’ll be house finches, chickadees, and sparrows for sure. Start small; first learn their calls and songs. Then choose two more common birds in your area, learn their songs and calls, listen for them, and . . . well, you’re hooked! Once again, the rhythmic sound of canes on the path checks, there’s another sound, and several people roll their eyes and giggle. It’s the harsh, incessant “oka-wee-wee, oka-wee-wee, oka-wee-wee” of the yellow-headed blackbirds that one of our members already declared, “Isn’t at all pretty like I came here to hear!” But another blind participant said that if he wasn’t here today, he’d probably just be sitting in his chair.

The insistent, subdued stumbling “kar-r-r-r-o-o-o, kar-r-r-r-o-o-o, kar-r-r-r-o-o-o” of sandhill cranes flying overhead hushes us without Steve’s urging. Maybe that haunting, caressing loveliness is closer to what she “came here to hear.” Steve grins at our immersion; he is enjoying the walk as much as we are. He is not atypical among birders. There are Audubon societies and other avid birding groups that love to share their passion. In our case, Steve came to us, but we could have contacted birders in our area on our own. And since we’ve started, a local group gave us a grant for bird skull replicas for blind people to feel a bird’s shape, and another invited us to bird banding and measuring activities.

A rascal again rattles downstream, and no one needs to ask, “What’s that?” Once you know, you know. Our group will likely never forget the enchanting call of the cranes, the grunt of the cormorant, the rattle of the kingfisher, and for sure not the incessantly harsh cackle of the yellow-headed blackbird. And later, as we near the vehicles, there is yet another rattle, and I again smile, remembering hearing that and two years ago asking, “What’s that?” for the only time.

From the Editor: Allan Schneider is an active Federationist, treasurer of his local chapter, and editor of the Idaho state newsletter. One of his favorite hobbies is birding by ear.

Tags: Birding

KNFB Reader 3.0 for iOS Devices Launched

From NFB.org - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 09:38

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgKNFB Reader 3.0 for iOS Devices LaunchedNew Layout, More Document Support, and Other Enhancements Make App Even More Useful for Blind and Print-disabled Users

Baltimore, Maryland (May 15, 2018): The world's best print-reading app for the blind and print-disabled is now even better. The National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV announced today that KNFB Reader Version 3.0 is now available in the Apple App Store.

Since its first release in 2014, KNFB Reader has been allowing users all over the world to get access to print anytime and anywhere. The latest version of this award-winning app, KNFB Reader 3.0, sports a whole new look and feel to help users work better and faster. Navigation within the app is easier, with tabs at the bottom of the home screen to access the major screens and functions quickly and easily.

In addition to the industry-leading print recognition and conversion technology that users already love, KNFB Reader 3.0 now reads e-books and documents in the increasingly popular ePub format, as well as PDFs (image or text, tagged or untagged). This makes it ideal for students and professionals who must read content in multiple formats from multiple sources. The app is also customizable, so that people with different reading needs can tailor its settings to meet those needs. Now able to recognize and read documents in over thirty languages, KNFB Reader 3.0 is a comprehensive reading solution for people who are blind or who have low vision, dyslexia, or other reading differences.

“The National Federation of the Blind has been at the forefront of developing technology to help blind people access print for more than forty years,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We have learned that, as with many accessible technologies, our leading-edge reading solutions benefit more than just blind people. KNFB Reader 3.0 represents the continued evolution of this technology, which now has more features fitting a wider variety of users than ever.”

KNFB Reader 3.0 is a free update for existing customers. For new customers, the app is now available for USD $99.

To learn more about KNFB Reader 3.0, visit www.knfbreader.com.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at https://nfb.org.

KNFB Reader 3.0 for iOS Devices Launched

Latest News - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 09:38
Release Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2018Category: National

Baltimore, Maryland (May 15, 2018): The world's best print-reading app for the blind and print-disabled is now even better. The National Federation of the Blind and Sensotec NV announced today that KNFB Reader Version 3.0 is now available in the Apple App Store.

National Federation of the Blind Member Makes History at the 122nd Running of the Boston Marathon

From NFB.org - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 09:03
Blog Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2018Author: Michael DavisCategories: GeneralStories

I am a long-time member of the National Federation of the Blind and have served as treasurer of the Tidewater Chapter of the NFB of Hampton Roads since 2009. Mr. Stewart Prost serves as our current chapter president. I want to tell all of you how much I appreciate being a part of the National Federation of the Blind. You have no idea how much it meant to me when I was twenty-four and heard Fred Schroeder say that “It is respectable to be blind.” I heard Dr. Schroeder say this at my first state convention in Virginia. I have never been to a National Convention, but I’ve heard they are amazing.

I am writing to tell you that I made history on Monday, April 16, 2018 at the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon. After joining the National Federation of the Blind, I joined an organization called Team Hoyt. Team Hoyt is a unique organization in which runners push people who use wheelchairs in competitive races. Its origins go back to Dick and Rick Hoyt—a father (Dick) who had a son (Rick) with cerebral palsy. Dick started pushing his son in marathons and triathlons. It’s a beautiful story of love, triumph over adversity and, most importantly, the integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of life, including competitive sporting events.

I was never athletic and, because of that and my legal blindness, I was picked last for teams and never picked by coaches, so I never imagined I could do sports. In 2009 I started running as a blind runner with a sighted guide. After my first half marathon that year, I was asked by a very good friend—Dr. Allen “Trey” White, who started Team Hoyt Virginia Beach—if I wanted to push another person with a disability. I decided it would be a great honor for me to push someone else with a disability because I know what it’s like to be excluded because of your disability; I wanted to give a positive experience of inclusion to someone else.

I completed fifteen full marathons between 2009 and 2017, including three Boston Marathons (2013—the year of the Boston bombing, 2014, and 2015); a marathon each in California and Louisiana; and several marathons in Virginia, including two Marine Corps Marathons. I have also completed several other half marathons and shorter races; in ninety percent of these races, I have pushed people who use wheelchairs with a guide runner. My guide runners do not touch the chair; they only serve as my eyes on the course by providing verbal directions.

One of the riders I thoroughly enjoy pushing—because we talk during runs and he smiles and gets so excited when we race—is Ashton McCormick. Ashton is nineteen years old and has Autism. I dreamed that one day I’d push Ashton in the Boston Marathon. I had already survived the Boston bombing so I knew I’d be able to do this. But it took four and one half years for our duo team to get to Boston.

We call ourselves Team Pretzel Hands because my friend Ashton LOVES pretzels.

This year was the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, which had never had a duo team on which a blind runner pushed someone else with a disability. The Boston Athletics Association and I had literally hundreds of emails going back and forth because there were no rules on how to do what I was trying to do.

Last year we qualified at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, and we were accepted for the Boston Marathon in October of 2017. This year, we made history—the first blind runner pushing a wheelchair user in the marathon. We finished in five hours and fifty-eight minutes and seven seconds.

I got to start this year’s Boston Marathon with seven other duo teams, but our team was the only one on which both the runner and rider had disabilities. The marathon itself was covered by ESPN.

The National Federation of the Blind has had a profound effect on how I view blindness, and I thank everyone in the organization for the way you have changed my life. Pushing my friend Ashton in the Boston Marathon is truly a dream that the National Federation of the Blind helped me turn into reality.

Tags: runningmarathon

Annual Run to Support Programs for the Blind Set for June 3

From NFB.org - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:41

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Monday, May 14, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgAnnual Run to Support Programs for the Blind Set for June 3National Federation of the Blind Partners with Baltimore Orioles to Support Programs to Help Blind People Live Lives They Want

Baltimore, Maryland (May 14, 2018)

Event: National Federation of the Blind 6 Dot Dash

Date: June 3, 2018

Place: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Attention Sports, Lifestyle, Health, and Education Editors:

This year the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of establishing its headquarters in Baltimore, will again host the 6 Dot Dash, a unique 6K race to benefit the NFB’s programs that help blind people in Baltimore and across the nation live the lives they want. The NFB is partnering with the Baltimore Orioles to make this year’s race the biggest and best yet! The Oriole Bird will be on hand for this fun, family-friendly event.

The 6 Dot Dash supports NFB programs with a special focus on Braille literacy. Braille is the primary literacy tool used by blind people. It is a raised dot reading and writing medium in which one Braille cell, which represents one letter or number, is composed of up to six raised dots. The NFB’s annual 6K race represents our commitment to ensuring that blind students are taught Braille. Learn more about the race and all the initiatives it supports at www.nfb.org/dot-dash.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at https://nfb.org.

Annual Run to Support Programs for the Blind Set for June 3

Latest News - Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:41
Release Date: Monday, May 14, 2018Category: National

Baltimore, Maryland (May 14, 2018)

Event: National Federation of the Blind 6 Dot Dash

Date: June 3, 2018

Place: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Attention Sports, Lifestyle, Health, and Education Editors:

Introducing Amazon’s New Talking Locker Feature

From NFB.org - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 11:20
Blog Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018Author: Peter Korn, Director of Accessibility, Amazon DevicesCategories: General

Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks where customers can pick up Amazon.com packages at a time and place that is convenient for them. Amazon Locker was introduced in 2011, and has since expanded to over 2,000 locations across 50 plus major metropolitan areas in the US. Hub by Amazon is a similar secure, self-service kiosk for apartment residents that uses the same Amazon Locker kiosk technology for packages delivered by anyone, and was introduced in 2017.

We are thrilled to introduce Amazon talking lockers, our newest improvement in accessibility for Amazon Lockers. We are also thrilled that our on-going collaboration with President Mark Riccobono facilitated our direct interaction with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and their deep expertise in accessible user interfaces, as we worked towards this key innovation.

Accessibility is a high priority for Amazon Locker and Hub by Amazon. Last year, we introduced our first major accessibility innovation - the lower locker preference. This preference can be found in the online checkout experience and allows customers to tell us if they would like their package delivered to an easier-to-reach lower locker slot. The lower slot preference is available at all Amazon Lockers and Hub by Amazon worldwide, and continues to receive positive feedback from customers who use the feature.

In March of this year, the Locker team debuted our latest accessibility innovation, talking Lockers, at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. Amazon Lockers now have a tactile keypad with Braille, and a headphone jack that allows blind and low-vision customers to insert their headphones to receive audio instructions to independently pickup and return packages.

Throughout the design and development of our talking Locker interface, we worked very closely with a number of blind and low-vision individuals both within and outside of Amazon, who shared valuable feedback to help shape our design and customer experience. Recently, at the CSUN conference in March, we had the opportunity to share the talking Locker experience and gather additional feedback from many blind and low-vision attendees. And as of today, the talking locker feature has rolled out to 100% of Amazon Lockers across the US and will expand to the EU and Hub by Amazon this summer. We are also rolling out improvements to the locker’s visual user interface, like larger, higher-contrast on-screen text, that will help low-vision customers.

Amazon Locker remains committed to the independence, security, and accessibility offered by our package delivery solutions. We are also committed to our strong, active partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. In our ongoing collaboration with the NFB, we will continue to improve on Amazon Locker accessibility as part of our ongoing efforts to continue to enhance the overall experience for all of our customers. We look forward to showcasing the accessibility features at the NFB National Convention in Orlando in July, and to bringing talking Lockers to a community near you.

Tags: accessibilitypartnerships

Introducing KNFB Reader Version 3 for iOS

From NFB.org - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 10:31
Blog Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2018Author: Joel ZimbaCategories: Access Technology

KNFB Reader, the mobile app which has provided immediate access to printed information to the blind since 2014, has gotten an upgrade! Tinkering with the features or the user-interface of an app should never be undertaken lightly. We all know of formerly easy-to-use services which suddenly become inaccessible or require learning a new process just to get an everyday chore checked off your task list. We believe these enhancements will make KNFB Reader easier to use while adding more functionality.

The basic operation remains largely the same, but we have added more power and functions. Nearly all the improvements are those most frequently requested via KNFB Reader Support. There is something for everyone, regardless of your print-disability or experience with this technology. Here are a few examples:

  • Many functions are easier to use. For example, Multi-Page mode, formerly known as Batch Mode, now announces itself much more prominently and keeps track of the number of pages captured. Undoing mistakes is just a tap away. Resolving camera permissions and expanding error messages makes KNFB Reader friendlier.  
  • It makes the Cloud easy to access. Those dealing with large numbers of documents kept in multiple places will enjoy improved Cloud access, letting you read documents like inaccessible PDFs and ePubs stored in Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
  • The improved power of mobile devices has let us remove the fifty-page limit on multi-page documents. You can capture entire chapters of a book and store it as a PDF document which can be bookmarked and easily saved for reading on other devices.
  • New features benefit visual readers with dyslexia or other reading challenges. It highlights text by paragraph, sentence, or word as it reads out loud for following along. When capturing documents as PDFs, it is now possible to view the original image as your document is being read aloud. An even more immersive reading experience can be had with full-screen mode and by placing your device in landscape orientation.
  • There are many new options to customize settings to personalize your reading experience.

Not just cosmetic, the re-design of KNFB Reader started from the inside out. Once a Gordian knot, KNFB Reader 3.0 for iOS is built to incorporate future functionality and adapt to change as our increasingly connected mobile world will inevitably do.

This iOS-only update is free to all existing customers. Learn more at www.knfbreader.com. Stay up-to-date by signing up for our newsletter, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter @KNFBReader. Check out our video to learn more.

Tags: technologyprint-disability

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