From NFB.org

Subscribe to From NFB.org feed
Updated: 10 hours 43 min ago

The Power of the Run Dialog for Accessing Things Quickly

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:27
Blog Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2018Author: Karl BelangerCategories: Access Technology

The Run dialog has been around in Windows since the days of Windows 95, and can be accessed using the keyboard shortcut Windows+R. In Windows 10 the Run dialog can also be accessed from the Windows+X menu, and it has been in various locations in the start menu in older versions. The Run dialog consists of a box to type in, with Ok, Cancel, and Browse buttons. You can enter many different commands into the box, from launching screen readers or Microsoft Office programs, to opening websites, and even getting quick access to various Windows settings and administrative features. Using the Browse button it is possible to browse, using a standard Open dialog, to any program or file on the computer. Throughout this post there will be many commands that can be typed into the Run dialog, which will have quotes around them. When typing these into the dialog on your computer, do not include the quotes.

Launching Screen Readers

Job Access with Speech (JAWS), NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), and Narrator can be started using the Run dialog. For NVDA, regardless of version, simply open the Run dialog and type “nvda” and press Enter. Similarly, Narrator is also launched by typing “narrator” in the Run dialog. The installed version of NVDA will start. For JAWS, it is necessary to enter the version number as well since it is possible to have multiple versions of JAWS installed. To launch JAWS 2018, the latest version, type “jaws2018.” To launch older versions, simply include their version number instead: “jaws18,” “jaws16,” etc. This can be very useful if you do not have a keyboard shortcut configured to launch your screen reader, or if you are on someone else’s computer that you know has a screen reader on it. Simply press Windows+R, type the command for the desired screen reader, and press enter. If done correctly, the screen reader will launch in a couple of seconds. If done incorrectly, you will usually hear an error sound. After that, press escape a few times and try again.

Opening Websites

The Run dialog can also be used to open websites, not only in your default browser, but in any browser installed on the computer. To open a site in your default browser, simply open the Run dialog and type the address. For example, to open the National Federation of the Blind home page, just type www.nfb.org in the box. If the address doesn’t have the “www” in front, then add the “http://” to the front, as in http://nfb.org. To open a site in a specific browser type:

  • For Mozilla Firefox: “firefox www.nfb.org
  • For Google Chrome: “chrome www.nfb.org
  • For Microsoft Edge: “Microsoft-edge:www.nfb.org”
  • If Internet Explorer is still needed for something: “iexplore https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/index.html”
Opening Microsoft Office Programs

It is also possible to run any Microsoft Office program from the Run dialog. Running them in this way is equivalent to selecting them from the start menu or a desktop shortcut. Typing “winword” opens Microsoft Word, “excel” opens Microsoft Excel, “outlook” opens Microsoft Outlook, and “powerpnt” opens Microsoft PowerPoint. These will work for all modern versions of Office, from at least 2007.

Opening Windows Settings, Administrative Features, or Anything at All

It is possible to do many more things with the Run dialog, from opening system settings like Programs and Features, Task Manager or Device Manager, other programs like Calculator and the Command Prompt, or just about anything at all on your computer. To open many of the user folders in Windows, such as Documents, Downloads, Music, etc., just type the name of the folder in the Run dialog. To open any other folder or file, simply type the full path of the file. For example, to open a file called demo.docx, the path would look something like “c:\users\user\documents\test.docx.” This also works for files on USB or other removable drives provided you know the drive letter.

Opening Windows Programs

Some other programs besides Office can be opened from the Run dialog.

  • Open Calculator: “calc”
  • Open Notepad: “notepad”
  • Open Command Prompt: “cmd”
Opening Control Panel Items

These settings are still valid in Windows 10, but are mostly for older versions of Windows as more and more items are being included in the Settings app in Windows 10.

  • Open Control Panel: “control”
  • Open Date and Time settings: “Timedate.cpl”
  • Open Device Manager: “devmgmt.msc”
  • Open Disc Cleanup: “cleanmgr”
  • Open Ease of Access Center: “utilman”
  • Open Internet Options: “inetcpl.cpl”
  • Manage computer power settings: “powercfg.cpl”
  • Open Programs and Features: “appwiz.cpl”
Windows 10 Settings

Here are some commands that open specific pages within Windows 10 Settings.

  • Open Settings: “ms-settings”
  • Open the Apps and Features page, equivalent to Programs and Features: “Ms-settings:appsfeatures”
  • Open the Power and Sleep options: “Ms-settings:powersleep”
  • Access Bluetooth settings: “ms-settings:Bluetooth”
  • Adjust Date, Time and Time zone: “ms-settings:dateandtime”
Resources for Run Commands

Here are two resources for a vast quantity of options from the Run dialog, some of which are included in this article. There are probably even more commands than listed in these articles, so go ahead and search on Google to see if you can open the program you’re interested in through the Run dialog.

How to Access Individual Settings Directly in Windows 10 Using Run Dialog Box

A Complete List of Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts and Run Commands

Tags: access technologywindows

New Accessibility Features Coming to PrestoPrime EMV System

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:01

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNew Accessibility Features Coming to PrestoPrime EMV SystemE la Carte, Applebee’s® Grill + Bar, National Federation of the Blind, and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco Announce Collaboration to Make In-Restaurant Table-top Tablets Accessible to Blind Guests

Redwood City, Calif. (January 9, 2018): E la Carte, Inc., creators of the PrestoPrime™ EMV System™ for full-service restaurants, and Applebee’s® Neighborhood Grill + Bar, announced today a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco to produce a text-to-speech capability for the PrestoPrime EMV System that will be incorporated into all current and future Presto tablets, including those used in Applebee’s Grill + Bar restaurants nationwide. This enhancement is a result of collaboration among these organizations and several blind members of the NFB in California to develop new functionality that enables blind persons to interact with the Presto System.

The new Presto tablet functionality enables blind persons to independently order menu items, pay their bills, and perform other functions using the tablet that is provided for guests to enhance their in-restaurant dining experience. By performing certain gestures, blind patrons can turn on the text-to-speech capability of the tablets in order to access the new functionality. In addition, blind patrons can take advantage of the audio jack available on newer PrestoPrime EMV tablets to activate the text-to-speech capability by simply plugging in a pair of headphones. The audio jack on PrestoPrime EMV tablets can be found and identified by a Braille tactile label located next to the jack.

E la Carte and Applebee’s have been working with the National Federation of the Blind and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco for the past several months to develop the new functionality, which has been tested by blind consumers. This continued testing, and the related feedback, will help E la Carte to fine-tune the technology to provide a user-friendly experience for blind consumers that is similar to other mobile and small screen device applications.

“Like many new technologies, the E la Carte system has the potential to provide the blind with greater independence than ever before, since we will now be able to access a restaurant’s menu choices in the same way that other customers do,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We therefore applaud E la Carte in its efforts to provide to blind diners the same access to the Presto System that sighted persons enjoy, while also helping the restaurants who deploy the system comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable laws.”

“E la Carte is proud to have produced a PrestoPrime EMV user experience for blind persons,” said Rajat Suri, founder and CEO of E la Carte. “The assistance we received from the National Federation of the Blind and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco was invaluable to the achievement of a user experience that is familiar and comfortable for blind users.”

“We are thrilled with this outcome,” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin, “Thanks to this collaboration, the E la Carte tablet will work for blind people, not just at Applebee’s, but at any restaurant that uses it. We hope others will follow their lead.”

The new accessibility functionality will be included as a standard part of the Presto System and tablets and is available to all E la Carte customers.

Attorneys at Brown Goldstein & Levy LLP, Disability Rights Advocates, and TRE Legal Practice helped facilitate this collaboration.

###

About E la Carte and PrestoPrime EMV System

E la Carte, developers of the PrestoPrime EMV tablet and PrestoPrime EMV System, leads the table-top dining revolution with its guest-facing, pay-at-the-table, e-commerce system. Installed in over 1,800 restaurants across the nation, including Applebee’s (a division of DineEquity, NYSE:DINE) and selected Outback Steakhouse Restaurants (a division of Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., Nasdaq: BLMN), the Presto System enables restaurant guests to take greater control over their dining experience by allowing them to order from a full menu, play exciting interactive games, and pay their bill directly from the table. The PrestoPrime EMV tablet also provides operational and financial benefits to restaurant operators which drives increased profitability, and unlocks restaurant data that was previously inaccessible, enabling smarter decisions around guest satisfaction. E la Carte’s new dual processor, secure PrestoPrime EMV System is software compatible with the current generation Presto System - more than 90,000 of which are at work every day in more than 1,800 restaurants across the United States - and includes twice the memory and four times the flash storage of the current generation, and a securely partitioned payment module that enables point-to-point encryption (P2PE) security, EMV, and multiple forms of payment, including PIN-entry payment, Magstripe, and NFC capability for contactless payment systems such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

About 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

About LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco

Founded in 1902, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. We offer blindness skills training and relevant services such as access to employment, education, government, information, recreation, transportation and the environment. We also pursue the development of new technology, encourage innovation, and amplify the voices of blind individuals around the world.

National Federation of the Blind Announces Winners of 2017 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 15:15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, January 4, 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 Winners of 2017 Onkyo Braille Essay ContestCompetition Encourages Braille Usage Among the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland (January 4, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), in celebration of World Braille Day, is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. The NFB administered the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest on behalf of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union and encouraged all countries in the Region to participate

The essays were required to be written in Braille and could cover a variety of proposed topics related to the importance of Braille. There were two groups of competitors: a junior category for persons up to age twenty-five and a senior category for persons aged twenty-six or older. Each winner received a substantial cash prize, a plaque, and other gifts from the Onkyo Corporation.

The seven winners from the North America/Caribbean Region were as follows:

 

Otsuki Prize

Jessie Mabry, Connecticut, US

 

Excellent Work Award, Senior

Tammy Frost, Minnesota, US

 

Fine Work Award, Senior

Jennifer Spears, Colorado, US

Jamie Lloyd, St. Catherine, Jamaica

 

Excellent Work Award, Junior

Kristen Steele, Iowa, US

 

Fine Work Award, Junior

Fernando Reyes, New Mexico, US

Hannah Neils, Minnesota, US

The essay contest, sponsored by Onkyo Corporation, a Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer, and the Braille Mainichi, part of the Mainichi Newspaper Company in Japan, was created to promote Braille literacy and to encourage the sharing of social and cultural information among blind and low-vision persons.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are pleased, once again, to have been a part of this important contest. There can be no doubt that the ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is the key to education, employment, and success for the blind. Despite the undisputed value of Braille, however, less than 10 percent of blind children in the United States are learning it. We congratulate the contest winners and commend them for demonstrating the positive impact Braille has had on their lives through their essays, and for raising awareness of the importance of Braille literacy as they live the lives they want.”

###

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.

Blind People Condemn Nepal’s Ban on Blind Everest Climbers

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 16:51

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, January 2, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgBlind People Condemn Nepal’s Ban on Blind Everest ClimbersNational Federation of the Blind and World Blind Union Call for Rescission of New Ban on Blind Mountaineers

Baltimore, Maryland (January 2, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the World Blind Union (WBU), which represent the United States and global blind communities respectively, today stated their opposition to a new ban on blind climbers participating in expeditions on Mount Everest, recently announced by the government of Nepal.

“The National Federation of the Blind is surprised and disappointed that Nepalese authorities have banned blind people from participating in expeditions on Mount Everest,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “While we recognize that this climb should not be undertaken by the unprepared or inexperienced, the ban on blind climbers is arbitrary. The first blind person to attempt this climb, Erik Weihenmayer, summited on May 25, 2001 in an expedition that we were proud to sponsor. This proves that blindness, by itself, does not prevent a climber from safely summiting Mount Everest.”

“Blind people regularly engage in all manner of activities, both ordinary and extraordinary,” Mr. Riccobono continued. “Despite the wide-ranging evidence of our capacity, however, society continues to arbitrarily restrict what we may do, and low expectations continue to create artificial barriers that prevent us from fully participating in our communities. There is no more evidence that we should not climb Mount Everest than that we should not walk the streets with our white canes, ride amusement park attractions, or raise children, all of which are things that some have tried to prevent us from doing, but which many of us have done successfully.”

“Most blind people will never climb Mount Everest, but neither will most of the sighted. The issue is not whether a climber is blind but whether he or she has the adventurous spirit, physical endurance, and requisite skill. As in all other endeavors, we demand to be judged by whether we have qualities relevant to the task at hand, not on the single characteristic of blindness. Nepalese authorities should immediately rescind the ban on blind climbers and should reconsider banning any other climbers with disabilities,” Mr. Riccobono concluded.

Dr. Fredric Schroeder, President of the World Blind Union, said: “Climbing Mount Everest is challenging and dangerous, and it is not surprising people would assume it is too challenging and dangerous for a blind person to attempt. But Erik Weihenmayer, a blind man, did just that and did it successfully. Excluding blind and partially sighted people from equal access based on assumptions reinforces and helps perpetuate economic and social isolation. Few blind people will attempt to climb Mount Everest—as few sighted people will attempt to climb Mount Everest—but Nepalese tourist authorities should recognize that they have neither the knowledge nor wisdom to justify the exclusion of blind people from attempting to achieve the seemingly unachievable, especially since it has already been done.”

###

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.

Leveraging Technology to Achieve Greater Braille Literacy

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:54
Blog Date: Friday, January 5, 2018Author: Bre BrownCategories: EducationGeneral

I am fond of a blog post entitled Braille Is Not Dead (So Stop Trying to Kill It). The author articulately and systematically discusses the reasons why Braille remains critically important now and into the future and demonstrates that, while quite useful, audio alone should not be considered sufficient.

As a Braille instructor, I have encountered occasional resistance from students who believe Braille is becoming increasingly obsolete in the face of exponential technological advances. They will sometimes ask why they should work diligently to acquire a code which, in their minds, will soon be relegated to the past—being left in the metaphorical dust by an irrepressible digital juggernaut. Some of them are caught off-guard when they hear my reply.

Braille and technology are not mutually exclusive. In point of fact, thanks to KNFB Reader, NFB-NEWSLINE®, and countless other tools, Braille is more readily available than it has ever been through the interconnectedness of screen readers and electronic Braille displays. Consequently, students are able to cultivate Braille reading and writing acumen thanks to an endless supply of Braille-ready content.

Gone are the days when Braille production was so infrequent or problematic that reading material could be difficult to obtain and was, by necessity, closely guarded. Let us be mindful not to discount Braille’s efficacy given its availability. Active literacy is essential in today’s highly-competitive and ever-changing labor market and can go a long way toward dispelling long-held, stubbornly entrenched low expectations.

Once shown statistics regarding the correlation between Braille literacy and employment, many students redouble their efforts and are rewarded with markedly improved reading speeds and far greater written accuracy. Generally, as students realize increases in speed and proficiency through a combination of hardcopy and electronic Braille, and as they are able to apply the code in a variety of personal and professional contexts, they gain a much greater appreciation for its elegant and edifying influence.

Louis Braille and his intrepid students gave us a timeless gift. As we celebrate World Braille Day, let us never forget their courage and sacrifice. The ability to write in contracted Braille on Apple iDevices is testament to Braille’s enduring, life-altering power. In all its forms, Braille Rocks!

Tags: braillebraille literacyworld braille day

Braille Opens Doors Previously Closed

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:41
Blog Date: Thursday, January 4, 2018Author: Gary WunderCategories: EducationGeneralStories

As a child words meant everything to me. I loved to hear people talk and tell stories. One of the things I liked the best was when people read, but exactly what they were doing both perplexed and amazed me. When they told me a story, it would vary a bit. When they read me the story, it was always the same, and it was clear they weren't always the storyteller.

What was reading, I asked, and dutifully they showed me the newspaper, the magazine, or the catalog. When they read the newspaper, it usually had something to do with a soon-to-be cure for blindness. When they read from a magazine, it was usually about someone I had heard on the radio or television. When they read from the catalog, it was usually about something I really wanted for Christmas, and the more they read me, the more I liked it.

The newspaper, the magazine, and the catalog all had slightly different textures, but I couldn't get where the words came from. The texture was smooth and pleasant to the touch, but how did they find words? I asked, and again they answered. They said that the words came from letters, and they taught me the alphabet song and how to spell things like cat, dog, mom, dad, and even my name. The letters were fun to sing, and it was easy to memorize these words and spell them back, receiving praise on being a good boy, a bright boy.

But if the words came from letters, where could I find them on those pages? I was told they were different shapes, but I certainly couldn't feel shapes. I finally concluded I had to be content with the fact that grown-ups could read and children could not.

At six years of age I went off to school, and one of the things they said they were going to teach me was Braille. They put in front of me a book, and in addition to some of the smooth surfaces I had felt with other reading material, this one had bumps. They told me that the bumps were letters and started showing me a, b, and c. This was cool because I could feel the shapes and knew the song. Then it hit me with a joy that I have seldom experienced. These weren't just letters: they were letters that made words; I was learning to read. I remember asking in amazement, "Is C A T cat in Braille?" They said that it was, and they affirmed that mom and dad and even Gary were still the same.

I understand the problems we have in training enough teachers who are competent in Braille and even how many of those who are committed to it cannot read quickly enough to make a story interesting in the same way that my mom, dad, and grandma could. What I can't understand is how anyone could discount learning a reading and writing system, whether the shapes that make it up come from ink or toner or dots. I read rapidly enough that sharing stories with my children and grandchildren took place in just the same way the stories were read to me. The only difference is that I read with my fingers and they read with their eyes. Oh, there is one other difference: my children found their reading experience enhanced by turning off the lights, sitting close to me on the couch, and sometimes putting their head on my shoulder.

For more than thirty years of my life, the paycheck that I brought home came from analyzing complicated syntax necessary in writing and reviewing computer software. Being able to grapple with spelling, punctuation, and document layout is now what I do for a living, writing not for computers but for human beings. I learned from Braille how to read and write in large part by being able to touch the work of authors who were masters in their craft. Most of the words I know how to spell came from remembering what they felt like on the page and being able to reconstruct them in my own writing. Braille is beautiful, Braille is a blessing, and I am so fortunate to have the world under my fingertips.

Tags: braillebraille literacyworld braille day

Celebrate World Braille Day by Raising Awareness

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:56
Blog Date: Tuesday, January 2, 2018Author: Chris DanielsenCategories: EducationGeneral

Each year, January 4 is celebrated as World Braille Day. It marks the birthday of Louis Braille (1809-1852), the French inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind. In Louis Braille’s time, the code was only used at the Parisian school for the blind where he studied and later taught. Today, there are Braille codes for virtually every written language in the world, so that blind people everywhere can become literate and acquire the opportunities that literacy brings.

The National Federation of the Blind is proud to celebrate Braille. At the same time, it is sobering to remember that the number of blind children being taught this crucial reading and writing tool in the United States is at an all-time low. The most recent available statistics from the American Printing House for the Blind suggest that only about 8 percent of blind K-12 students in the United States are Braille readers.

Considering the Braille literacy crisis, it is important that we continue to make the case for Braille. Braille is the only method that allows blind people both to read and write independently. While other tools, such as recorded or text-to-speech audio, are useful to blind people, only Braille provides us with true literacy. A correlation has been demonstrated between knowing how to read and write Braille and better educational and employment outcomes. Yet because of the false perceptions that Braille is hard to learn or that new technologies can replace it, Braille instruction continues to decline. The irony is that technology, such as Braille notetakers and displays that can connect to computers and smartphones, has made Braille more available than ever before.

Every day, thousands of blind people use Braille for everything from shopping lists to labels for canned goods, from reading novels to solving math and scientific equations, from learning a piece of music to composing one. The increasing availability of Braille signs makes it easier for blind people to get around hotels, office buildings, government facilities, university campuses, and more. Braille is as flexible as print, can be learned in roughly the same amount of time, and can be read just as fluidly.

There is much that needs to be done to combat the decline of Braille literacy, but one way that each of us can help is to create awareness of how Braille makes it possible for blind people to transform our dreams into reality. On World Braille Day, let’s commit ourselves to showing more blind people and more members of the sighted public how this versatile code helps us live the lives we want.

Tags: braillebraille literacyworld braille day

Braille Literacy: Success for Everyone

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:30
Blog Date: Wednesday, January 3, 2018Author: Alison TarverCategories: EducationParenting

My son Nicholas was born into this world with a bit of difficulty to say the least. The hows and whys are not as important as the journey that Nicholas and my family have been on since April 2006. Nicholas is an eleven-year-old boy who has multiple disabilities. His visual impairment, cerebral palsy, processing issues, and epilepsy are just hurdles he tackles, not his defining characteristics. Braille has been the key to his successful journey both in and outside of the classroom.

I can briefly explain how Nicholas became a competent Braille reader in mainstream sixth grade. First, I would say get a team together. Sometimes it takes a village to support all the needs of children with multiple involvements. I gathered together people who had positive attitudes and wanted nothing but the best for my child. So “Team Nicholas” consisted of his teachers, a paraprofessional, a Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Mom and Dad, a connection with the Louisiana Center for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind, and numerous healthcare providers. Next, we introduced Braille in kindergarten and focused on it daily.

Here comes the critical step when instructing children with multiple disabilities: “TAKE YOUR TIME, AND THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!” Every step involved in teaching a new process to Nicholas had to be broken down. For example, when I taught him to dress himself, I couldn’t teach him to put on his shirt and his pants at the same time. First, we mastered putting on his shirt and practiced that one skill for months until he had it down pat; then we worked on the pants. This was the same process used with his Braille learning. He could master that dot 1 was a Braille a, but initially had difficulty spelling “cat” and remembering all the Braille cell combinations as well as how to spell “cat.” It was a step by step process. But little by little, he got it and continues to get better and better. Over the years, Team Nicholas has figured out the methods that give him the most efficiency and productivity.

With the help of blind role models, educators, and fellow parents, I have been able to understand all the options available to Nicholas—whether it be hardcopy Braille, refreshable Braille, screen readers, or other forms of auditory feedback. I can tell you that Braille has always played an integral part, and Nicholas would not be as successful if he had not learned the code.

Finally, don’t forget about extracurricular activities for your blind child. Thanks to LCB, I found out about the National Federation of the Blind BELL Academy, which Nicholas has attended five times during the summer. I cannot say enough about Braille enrichment programs! They have been paramount in Nicholas’ Braille reading and writing success.

If you are the parents of a blind or visually impaired child and have fears about his or her learning path using Braille, I can without a doubt tell you, you can do it and you can succeed! With passionate teachers, likeminded parents, supportive paraprofessionals, and deep-rooted connections to the National Federation of the Blind, Braille literacy is possible.

Tags: braillebraille literacyworld braille dayeducation

Sheltered Workshop and Honda of America Manufacturing Sued for Disability Discrimination

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 14:09

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Friday, December 15, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgRegina Kline or Kevin DochertyBrown, Goldstein & Levy(410) 962-1030Sheltered Workshop and Honda of America Manufacturing Sued for Disability DiscriminationSheltered Workshop Employee who Earned Subminimum Wages Brings Unique Employment Discrimination Action

Today, Michael A. Denoewer, an individual with autism, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against his former employer, U-CO Industries, a sheltered workshop located in Marysville, Ohio, and Honda of America Manufacturing (Honda), for which U-CO is a Tier 1 Supplier.

Mr. Denoewer alleges that U-CO Industries, his former employer, discriminated against him because of his disabilities when it failed to evaluate him for jobs in the workshop that he was otherwise qualified to perform and that provided higher pay, greater opportunities for advancement, and additional training opportunities. Instead, during the nearly seven-and-a-half years that he was employed by U-CO Industries, Mr. Denoewer was relegated to piece-rate work for which he received as little as $1.38 per hour after taxes. Mr. Denoewer asserts that these actions were based on erroneous assumptions and stereotypes about his disabilities, and not on any objective assessment of his abilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Denoewer’s lawsuit against Honda is one of the first of its kind to be brought for aiding and abetting a sheltered workshop’s discrimination. Honda contracts with U-CO Industries for parts that are used in Honda’s new vehicles. As a Production Associate at U-CO Industries, Mr. Denoewer worked to assemble materials for Honda’s Owner’s Manuals. Because U-CO Industries is a Tier 1 supplier for Honda, a coveted designation that allows the workshop to supply Honda with components that go directly into new vehicles, Honda, in turn, closely monitors U-CO’s operations, labor costs, workforce composition, and workplace methods. Mr. Denoewer alleges that Honda aided, abetted, incited, and compelled U-CO into doing acts declared discriminatory under Ohio law, including discriminating against him on the basis of disability by relegating him to less desirable positions within the workshop.

“Paying workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage reflects low expectations based on false perceptions of our capacity,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, which is assisting in this litigation. “Relegating workers like Michael Denoewer to low-paying, dead-end work based solely on the characteristic of disability is the very definition of discrimination. The National Federation of the Blind is committed to making sure that workers with disabilities are valued for what we can do and afforded the basic rights to which all workers are entitled.”

“Michael Denoewer understands that he has rights like any other employee and that U-CO Industries and Honda have obligations to evaluate him on the merits, not based on unproven and erroneous assumptions about his capabilities,” said Regina Kline, an attorney for the Plaintiffs. “That an employer holds itself out as a special employer of people with disabilities does not immunize it from the obligations that attach to any other employer under the ADA. Moreover, contractors must be aware of the labor conditions in sheltered workshops to avoid aiding and abetting discrimination. It vitiates the very purpose of disability employment programs to deny employees like Michael Denoewer the opportunity to advance within the workshop’s operations.”

Marc Maurer, another attorney for the Plaintiffs, explained, “The ADA and its provisions prohibiting employer discrimination flow from the presumption that people with disabilities have value and can contribute in the workplace and society. Paying workers with certain characteristics subminimum wages and refusing to consider them for jobs for which they are otherwise qualified sends the false message that they have no value and violates the law.”

The Complaint is available at http://www.browngold.com/wbcntntprd1/wp-content/uploads/Denoewer-v-UCO-Honda-Complaint.pdf.

###

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.

What I Learned at NFB Youth Slam

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:45
Blog Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2017Author: Camryn GattusoCategories: EducationStories

I am Camryn Gattuso, fifteen years old, and a sophomore at Tuslaw High School in Massillon, Ohio. I have been totally blind since birth and have been educated in a typical public school. I have attended Space Camp® in Alabama for three years in a row, and after receiving my Advanced Space Academy® Wings I wanted to try a different STEM camp. I applied to the STEM program put on by the National Federation of the Blind and was picked to attend.

This is what I did while attending the 2017 NFB Youth Slam. My parents and I drove to Baltimore, Maryland, where I was dropped off at Towson University to start my week at Youth Slam with the sixty other students from the USA. After registration we followed our program marshals to the dining hall and had lunch together. After lunch, we had an activity that was supposed to get us acquainted with each other. The object was to blow up a balloon and see whose would pop first. Then an instructor told us the rules for the week and what would happen if we didn’t follow them. After that I went to my room and met my roommate, Marley, from Utah.

The next day after an early breakfast, I went to my first class, Installation Art. Our instructor’s name was Ann, and she told us that we would be working all week to make an exhibit to show at the conclusion of Youth Slam. We would also be going to White Marsh wetlands the next day to collect random items or ideas that we could use in our project. During the first day we spent over two hours learning where all the tools and the other necessary items for our project would be kept. I figured I would use a motor in my project and was shown the three types of motors they had available. The one I was particularly fascinated by was the 180 motor, which when connected to a controller box, moved back and forth similar to the way a bird flaps its wings.

After we were dismissed from Installation Art, we had some free time before the evening program of Karaoke. At this session I sang two Disney songs, “Beauty and The Beast” and “Let It Go”. Then we went back to the dorm room, and I was fascinated at the Cozmo robot that my roommate brought with her from home.

The next day I continued with my project in Installation Art. My class then boarded a bus to White Marsh wetlands in the afternoon. We were supposed to listen and tell the people in charge how many different bird calls we heard, which was really fun. We were then given a project to identify by feel whether the plants in that area were living or dead. Then we put on rubber boots and went into the water and tried to catch random aquatic lifeforms with a net. Next a forest ranger took us on a nature walk along a wooden boardwalk where we were told about different plants native to the area. We then returned to the university for more afternoon session work.

My next day session was the Chemistry of Cooking, where we learned how to prepare food items. Later that day we had a jam session. I played songs on the piano and listened to others as they performed their talents.

The following day I continued Installation Art, and I came up with the brilliant plan of making a bird with flapping wings using the 180 motor. I learned how to use a hot glue gun in creating my project. I made the head out of foam, body from piece of cardboard, and the beak out of a triangular-shaped piece of paper. After making sure everybody’s projects worked, we set up our exhibits that would be display at the end of the week. Later that day, I went to a session called Hot Stuff, where I learned how to solder wires together or to a terminal.

That night there was an outdoor carnival set up for us, and we had hot dogs and cotton candy. The funniest thing that happened that night was when I was sitting on the concrete outside, this kid walked up to me and asked, “What is this?”

I raised my head and yelled, “You know full well what it is. It’s a person!” I was surprised that he didn’t know that I was the person sitting there.

The next day, I did some finishing items for my Installation Art project. The afternoon session that day was 3D Printing the Stars, where we all got to feel 3D models of stars and other things. The evening session was yoga. We got to make essential oils, and then we learned different yoga positions. There was relaxing music in the background, which sounded good and calming.

The final day was when everyone got to see what their peers had learned to make. Everyone was fascinated by my bird project, and I was most fascinated by the computer science projects where the kids programed audio games on computers. This required knowledge of JAWS to play the games. In the afternoon, we went to the NFB Jernigan Institute, where I listened to presentations on the college application process. Then we finished up with a block party in the garage at the NFB Jernigan Institute. This consisted of a dance and food for us and was the conclusion of a fun-filled and educational week-long program.

I’m looking forward to possibly attending another Youth Slam if chosen to participate again.

Tags: NFB Youth SlamSTEMeducationsciencetechnologyengineeringmathart

Organization Says Senate Tax Bill Disastrous for Education, Employment of Blind Americans

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgOrganization Says Senate Tax Bill Disastrous for Education, Employment of Blind AmericansNational Federation of the Blind Denounces Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Baltimore, Maryland (November 29, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind officially opposes the United States Senate’s current Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

The organization cites a probable dramatic increase in unemployment among blind Americans, which already approaches sixty percent, as the reason for its opposition.

According to projections by the Congressional Budget Office, the losses in tax revenue under the TCJA will be so high, at least initially, that they will trigger the “pay-as-you-go” rules of the Office of Management and Budget. This will eliminate funding for vital programs and services for the blind, such as Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding. These vital services link blind people to educational and employment opportunities by providing the training and resources that they need.

The 2015 American Community Survey, the most recent data available, reported that, for working age adults reporting significant vision loss, only 42.0% were employed.

“The detrimental impact the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have on blind Americans cannot be denied,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “This bill slams the door on education and vocational rehabilitation, and ultimately on employment, for some seven million blind Americans. We call upon the United States Senate either to protect these critical programs and services, or to vote no.”

###

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.

Catastrophic Impact on Vocational Rehabilitation

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 15:19
Blog Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2017Author: NFB Government Affairs TeamCategories: Advocacy

Much attention has been given to Congress’s planned tax reform efforts and the varied effects those changes will have on Americans. However, one aspect of the Senate Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that no one seems to be talking about is the drastic effect it will have on people with disabilities.

Though not explicitly mentioned in the legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may inadvertently eliminate federal funding for public vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. As this letter from the National Council on State Agencies for the Blind explains, VR programs provide critical training for people with disabilities to secure and maintain employment. Defunding of this program will not only curtail gainful employment opportunities for people with disabilities, but also negatively impact other programs such as the Social Security trust fund and Medicare.

We must strive to maintain our financial freedom and independence. Please call your two senators and urge them to guarantee that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does not trigger mandatory spending cuts that will eliminate or reduce vocational rehabilitation funding. You can reach your senators by calling (202) 224-3121 and asking for the appropriate office.

Tags: tax reformvocational rehabilitation

Review of Freedom Scientific's ElBraille

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:13
Blog Date: Monday, November 27, 2017Author: Karl BelangerCategories: Access Technology

The ElBraille consists of a small Windows 10 computer built into a case for the Focus 14 Blue Braille display. The case feels quite sturdy, and the overall concept is a very good one. The unit comes with instructions in Braille and a protective carrying case which feels well-built and should do a good job of protecting the ElBraille. Unfortunately, there are several issues that, when taken together, make the ElBraille a much less appealing option.

Purchasing the ElBraille

Unlike similar devices, VFO has decided to take a modular approach with selling the ElBraille. The ElBraille is just the computer dock for the Focus 14. If you currently own a Focus 14 and/or a JAWS license, you can use those. If not, you must buy the ElBraille at $1,795 and the display and JAWS separately at their regular prices. The price for the unit itself is rather high, especially when the hardware specifications of the device are taken into account. With an Intel Atom® processor and two gigabytes of RAM, the ElBraille is roughly comparable to budget friendly Windows tablets.

Physical Description

The ElBraille consists of two parts: the dock, which holds the processor, battery, and other internals; and a Focus 14 Blue Braille display. The dock consists of a tray with an open front end, which is also higher at the back. The Focus 14 is inserted into the ElBraille back end first. The USB cord is plugged into the left side, then the display is lowered until the hooks at the front edge engage with the slots in the bottom of the display. Along the left side are a micro-HDMI port and a slot for a SIM card to connect to an LTE network. The right side has a headphone jack, an SD card slot, a USB port, and the proprietary charging port. There is nothing on the back of the device. On the top left edge there is a power button, and behind that a cover over the Focus display’s USB port and power button. Behind the display on the top of the ElBraille are four buttons, with a volume rocker in between the second and third. From left to right, these buttons access the ElBraille menu, provide battery and network status, announce and display the time and date, and open the notes application. When connecting or removing the charger, the ElBraille plays an ascending or descending tone and also vibrates the device.

ElBraille Custom Menus and Applications

The buttons on the back edge of the ElBraille provide access to a number of custom functions. Pressing the first button opens a menu with direct shortcuts to a number of programs including the calculator, Firefox, Skype, Balabolka book reader, a notes program, and Microsoft Office 365 (if installed). There is also a utilities menu which provides access to settings and documentation for the ElBraille. Pressing and holding the first button brings up a self-voicing menu where you can force restart JAWS or restart/shutdown the system. Pressing or double-pressing the second key once announces the battery or network status respectively, and the third key announces the time or date. The fourth key opens the ElNotes application, which allows for taking both text and voice notes, which can later be reviewed, and the text notes can be searched.

The ElBraille menu provides quick access to a variety of applications. The Miranda instant messaging program, Skype, Firefox, the Balabolka book reader, and Windows Live Mail all come preinstalled. The menu also provides access to the calculator, Notepad, and a submenu for MS Word, MS Outlook, etc., if they are installed. The utilities submenu provides access to ElBraille settings, where it is possible to change when the device beeps or vibrates, whether the LTE modem is on or off, among others. Also under utilities are a keyboard editor where the physical buttons can be reassigned, a firmware updates feature, and help documentation.

Using the ElBraille

When the ElBraille is turned on by pressing and holding the power button, the device will vibrate, then start emitting a series of short beeps. As each stage of the boot finishes, the device will vibrate again and the beeping will pause. This repeats a few times until the beeping stops and JAWS comes up talking. The Focus will also turn on and off several times. The first time JAWS loads, it will present you with the update authorization screen. Otherwise, there is no first run experience; you are dropped at the Windows desktop. For anyone who has used a Braille display with JAWS as the primary means of accessing a computer, turning on the ElBraille will be just like booting up any other Windows PC. For those who haven’t used a Braille display with JAWS extensively, a tutorial would come in quite handy. There are a lot of keys to learn, some of which are layered, some context specific, and while having the Braille manual is useful, a simple on-device tutorial to familiarize users especially with the keyboard emulation, would make the learning curve a lot less steep. Having no first run setup means that users will have to know where to look to connect to Wi-Fi, set the time and date if it is incorrect, add their Microsoft account, etc.

Performance

With a processor clocking in at under two gigahertz and just two gigabytes of RAM, I wasn’t expecting a lot out of the ElBraille. After using it and putting it through its paces, it generally holds up well when doing one thing at a time or using a couple light duty applications, but it slows down once you get a few windows open. The most immediate thing I noticed was the lag when using alt+tab. With only a few things open, moving between applications regularly took over a second, sometimes as much as two. The next issue was that, in some situations, the display would update long after JAWS had started speaking. One area where this was particularly noticeable was in Excel. For example, if I wrote the sentence, “This is a test,” in cell A1, then moved away and back, JAWS would announce “This is a test.” The display would update, then JAWS would announce “A1”. Instances like this make the ElBraille very difficult to use without speech, as it would be very easy to move past content unintentionally if the display isn’t keeping up. I also noticed fairly frequent long loading times, which would sometimes cause the device to stop responding entirely for a few seconds, slow download speeds compared to other devices on the same network, and a couple of hard crashes with nothing particularly strenuous going on. These crashes required a hard reboot by holding in the power button until the device turned off as the emergency menu even stopped working.

Other Observed Design Oddities and Issues

The ElBraille comes with a version of Windows 10 that is from sometime in the first part of this year, as it is before the creators’ update. Furthermore, the 32-bit edition is installed rather than the 64-bit. While neither of these are deal breakers in themselves, it is not possible to directly upgrade to the 64-bit edition without doing a clean install, and it is disappointing to see a new device starting behind the curve, especially given the accessibility improvements in the creator’s update.

No Sleep or Hibernate

It is not possible to put the ElBraille into any form of standby mode. There is only full on or shut off. This is very unfortunate and has several implications. First, there is no way to carry the device around without potentially causing unwanted button presses. It is possible to use a JAWS-specific lock command to lock the keyboard keys, but then JAWS makes an announcement that the keys are locked every so often. The next problem is that there is no way to preserve battery life without a full shutdown. While the battery life is very good, if you’re not going to use the ElBraille for a while, it is necessary to do a full shutdown, then wait for it to boot when you go to use it next.

Occasional Extra-Long Startup

With no apparent cause, upon turning the ElBraille back on after a normal shutdown, the unit will take several minutes to boot, rather than the usual 20-30 seconds. The system eventually boots normally, but this can still be disruptive and confusing.

Potentially Inadequate Ventilation

While the ElBraille does have a fan, there are only a few holes which might be ventilation, some under the Braille display. The carrying case looks like it may even help the device retain heat. This means that the ElBraille can get quite warm under even light operation, and adding in charging the battery can be enough to make the fan come on. This isn’t helped by the speed problems feeling worse when the unit was warm, which leads me to believe that the ElBraille’s processor has some aggressive overheat protection.

Final Thoughts

As a media consumption and light duty productivity machine, the ElBraille works just fine. It runs well with just one or two things open, the speakers sound good, and the battery life is great. However, with specs in line with under $200 Windows tablets, the ElBraille doesn’t hold up as a productivity device. The Braille lag, long load times, and delays when switching between applications all contribute to a significant blow to efficiency when attempting to work on multiple things at once. Given all of that, the steep price, and that it is based around the relatively fragile Focus 14, potential users should consider carefully what they plan to use it for before purchasing.

Tags: ElBrailleaccess technologybrailleBraille display

A Day of Service

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:16
Blog Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017Author: Melissa RiccobonoCategories: GeneralParenting

It’s Thanksgiving already! This time of year always makes me reflect on all I have to be thankful for and how my family and I can help others. My husband and I try to help our children understand how much they have to be thankful for and how important it is to give to those in need. Unfortunately it is not always easy to truly put these lessons into action. We are faced with obstacles—my husband’s busy travel schedule, our children’s sports schedules, homework, school meetings— and at times wanting to help but not knowing what we can do to truly make a difference. So when my husband and I heard there was going to be an event at our children’s school where families and staff would gather to fill bags for people experiencing homelessness, we jumped at the chance to put obstacles aside and participate with our kids to make a difference in our community.

I am sure every family who participated in this project has a story involving overcoming their own obstacles in order to arrive at the school on time. On this particular Saturday morning, our family’s biggest obstacle was our ten-year-old, who is absolutely NOT a morning person. Although he had been excited about this project the day before, it somehow had lost its luster overnight. Never mind that he was being awakened later than on a normal school day. Never mind that he had just been talking about wanting to help the homeless people he passes on his way to and from school. It was a Saturday, and it was morning! Two perfectly good reasons to stay in bed! Luckily I am used to our son in the morning, and by my great skill as a negotiator (or perhaps by luck) I was able to get him up, moving, and excited again about the service project.

Our next obstacle was hats and gloves. I will never understand how we can have so many hats and gloves in our house, how every day my husband and I remind our kids to put their hats and gloves in their coat pockets so they can find them, and yet, especially when we are trying to get out the door quickly, hats and gloves have disappeared! Luckily, on this Saturday, we were able to find the missing hats and gloves and were able to arrive at the school on time.

Once we arrived at the school, the obstacles disappeared. Everything was organized very well. We took a bag from one end of a table and walked down a line of tables, putting various items into each bag. At the end of the line there were materials you could use to draw and/or write a message to go into your bag. All of us enjoyed filling our bags and talking to the other families and teachers who were participating. Since my husband and I are both blind, we dictated messages to our children so they could write them for us. This gave them practice writing, and we were able to have conversations with them about how to spell words, which punctuation they should use, and what type of pictures they were drawing. I lost count of how many bags we filled, but by the time all of the supplies were gone, there was quite a large pile of bags ready to be delivered to people who really needed them. I think every family left the school feeling proud we had overcome our own obstacles and had done something to make our world a better place.

This story is not remarkable in the least. Yet it will always be a wonderful memory for me of a time my family was able to be of service to others. No one asked my husband or me if we were really sure we would be able to walk around the room and fill bags. No one questioned our daughters who happen to be blind about their abilities either. We were seen as any other family. As blind people, others are often more eager to help us, whether or not we need the help, than they are to allow us to help them. It was wonderful that, on this day, this was not the case. We were able to overcome our small obstacles to join with others to make a reasonably small, yet no less real, impact in the lives of people who need help. During this holiday season, I hope others will overcome their own obstacles in order to create their own memories of service.

Tags: blind parentscommunity servicethanksgiving

Senators Warren and Hatch Introduce New Higher Education Legislation

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:27

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Friday, November 17, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgSenators Warren and Hatch Introduce New Higher Education LegislationAIM HIGH Act Promotes Equal Access for the Blind and other Students with Disabilities

Washington, DC (November 17, 2017): Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have introduced the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act, S. 2138.

The legislation will authorize the creation of voluntary guidelines to help colleges and universities meet the needs of blind students and students with other disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to read print. The National Federation of the Blind and other advocates support the bill.

The guidelines will be created by a commission made up of people with disabilities, developers, manufacturers, and representatives from colleges and universities. The commission will also develop a list of national and international information technology standards as an added resource for these institutions and the companies that serve the higher education market.

Approved Quotes for This Release

“This legislation is critically important to blind Americans and to me personally, as the father of three children, two of whom are blind,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We applaud Senators Hatch and Warren for taking this step to give colleges and universities the information they need to provide the equal education to which the blind and other students with disabilities are entitled.”

"As new technologies enter university classrooms across the country, it's essential that students with disabilities are able to take advantage of these innovations and fully participate in the college experience with their peers," Senator Warren said. "I'm glad to join Senator Hatch to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will help colleges select accessible materials that allow all students to succeed."

“Since I took office, I have championed an even playing field in education for students with disabilities,” Hatch said. “As technology has evolved, so has the need for students with disabilities to gain access to innovative learning materials. This bill establishes an independent commission that will create high-quality accessibility guidelines to benefit both students with disabilities and institutions of higher education. As a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I’m happy to work with Senator Warren in moving this bill through the legislative process to remove barriers in the classroom for students with disabilities.”

###

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.

Not a Long White Cane but a Short Black Tail

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 09:32
Blog Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017Author: Danielle TrevinoCategories: General

It’s the spring of 2004, and I’m a nineteen-year-old college freshman majoring in voice. I’m on top of the world because I’ve just received my admission letter from The Seeing Eye—it’s official, I’m getting a guide dog! This is very much needed good news. This first year has been rough. Between getting my textbooks and access technology for last fall right before Thanksgiving break, and the music department’s unwillingness to accommodate me, I’ve been feeling pretty defeated and alone.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2004. Abbie and I have been a team for just over three months, and I’ve been told that my dog is too distracting to be on stage. In fact, last time I performed, my vocal coach had another student take Abbie outside and said that if I didn’t keep singing, I’d fail. I’m pretty sure this is wrong but I don’t know where to ask for help. I feel so helpless and alone.

Ten years later I’m loving my life with my second dog. We travel a lot for work, and I am extremely confident with her. New York, Chicago, Washington, DC — we’ve been there done that. Has it always been smooth sailing? Absolutely not. Along with the discrimination that guide dog teams have experienced since the 1920s, there are these new forms of it popping up, like rideshare drivers speeding off the minute they see my dog or flight attendants who force me to sit in the bulkhead of airplanes. At times, it’s been scary and definitely frustrating, but I know now that I am not alone.

For years, I’ve heard that the National Federation of the Blind “hates” guide dogs and that they are not welcome at the training centers in Colorado, Louisiana, and Minnesota. This myth is so pervasive that when I was offered a job with the NFB, people were surprised that I was excited for myself and for my guide dog. I learned very quickly that it all came down to a piece of an article that was taken way out of context.

The fact of the matter is that the Federation fights every day for the rights of those like myself who choose to travel with guide dogs.

The National Association of Guide Dog Users, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, has a hotline one can call for advice on cases of discrimination or to get clarification of the laws of individual states. There’s even a NAGDU app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone which gives the user access to the law whenever and wherever it’s needed. Not to mention that thanks to the efforts of the NFB, rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are being held accountable for their refusal of passengers with guide dogs.

There are many people who are exploring the idea of getting a dog. One very knowledgeable resource who is more than happy to answer questions about working with a guide is the First Lady of the Federation, Melissa Riccobono, who has worked dogs for years.

It’s now 2017. I am almost nine months into working with my fourth dog, a beautiful black lab named Schulz. A lot has changed in the thirteen years since I first picked up a harness handle. I have learned and grown and though I have no regrets, I do often wonder if things would have played out differently if I had reached out to the NFB when I was struggling in school. Would I have had the confidence to fight for my place on that stage with my guide dog at my side or would I have still decided to change my major? How different would my life be today? What I am certain of is that there are countless experiences out there in the world for us to have, and it’s exciting and scary, but with Schulz walking by my side, and the NFB behind me—supporting me, fighting for me, and loving me (and my dog)—I know that I am unstoppable.

Tags: guide dog

Firefox 57 and Screen Reader Compatibility

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 14:46
Blog Date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017Author: Eric DuffyCategories: Access Technology

If you are a screen reader user and also a user of the Mozilla Firefox web browser, please pay close attention to the following information. Do not update to the soon-to-be-released Firefox 57. This upgrade represents such a significant technical and performance change that it’s going to be known as Firefox Quantum. The changes in Firefox Quantum are designed to improve the speed and security of the browser. This, unfortunately, also impacts on the user experience for screen reader users, most screen access software is completely incompatible with Firefox Quantum and those that still function will exhibit a serious deterioration in performance. At this stage, the National Federation of the Blind access technology team, VFO, and NV Access are all recommending that users switch to using Firefox’s Extended Support Release (ESR) version in order to have the latest browser security features and to avoid 57 until it is suitable for use with screen readers.

You can download Firefox ESR here.

Freedom Scientific Statement on Firefox Quantum
NV Access statement on Firefox Quantum

Tags: screen readerfirefoxaccessibility

Bittersweet Ballet Recitals

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:27
Blog Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2017Author: Mary Jo HartleCategories: Parenting

My six-year-old daughter just wrapped up her second season of ballet lessons. The company holds an annual recital each spring. I have to admit, attending the recital is a bit bitter sweet for us. We love being there and supporting our little girl, but watching ballet dances isn’t exactly blind-friendly. But here’s what we do to try to get the most out of the recital.

For starters, the instructor reserves the front row for us and puts our daughter in line on that side so she is closer for us to see. This does nothing for Jesse who really doesn’t have much vision, but for me it allows me to kind of make out where she is. I’ve used either binoculars or a magnifier app on my phone to view the dance. I’ll admit that I feel a bit conspicuous watching with something like this, especially when I’m already sitting on the front row. I also have a little bit of a blindness philosophical battle going on inside, as some of my blindness training promotes “blending in” or not taking special privileges like front-row seating just because I am blind. But I’ve decided that if it helps and allows me to get more out of the situation, especially since this involves my child, I’m going to take advantage of it and not worry about what others think or say, whether it’s sighted people thinking I’m weird or blind people judging me.

I still don’t get a great visual of what is going on, but it’s something. I then describe what I’m seeing to Jesse, which engages him a bit more as well. This isn’t a strategy we use all the time though. For example, if we are attending a play or movie and there is an audio descriptive service or guide, we’ll use that instead as it would be more useful. But for a children’s dance recital, it works pretty well.

Sometime either prior to or after the recital, we have our daughter do a solo performance for us at home and show us her favorite moves or parts of her dance. She then describes what she is doing or will pose for us to feel how she is standing so we can learn some of the moves. She loves the attention and teaching moments. It also gives us a bit more insight into what she is learning and how well she is doing.

I think about all the things we’ll watch our children participate in the future: sports games, recitals, plays, etc. It’s always going to be a little bittersweet not being able to see them make that great shot, give that funny expression when they make a mistake, or perform that solo. Right now our children are young, and while they know we are blind, I don’t think they quite get that this means that we can’t see them when they are performing, but hopefully our presence, cheers, and support will make up for what we may not see. And who knows. When I die, maybe I’ll be able to review a heavenly video of my life and see these highlights in all their visual glory and technicolor while enjoying a jumbo bucket of calorie-free buttered popcorn.

 

Read more from Mary Jo at Making It on the Playground.

Editor's Note: 

This article first appeared on Mary Jo's blog, Making It on the Playground, which chronicles her life as the blind mom of three young children.

Tags: blind parentsparentingchildren's activities

National Federation of the Blind and Automakers Host Conference on the Promise of Autonomous Vehicles and the Disability Community

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgScott HallAlliance of Automobile ManufacturersDirector of Communications & Public Affairs202-326-5571National Federation of the Blind and Automakers Host Conference on the Promise of Autonomous Vehicles and the Disability CommunityDiverse group of attendees focus on accessibility of autonomous vehicles for the disabled

Baltimore, MD – Yesterday the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (“Auto Alliance”) hosted a conference titled “The Promise: Autonomous Vehicles and the Disability Community”. The event was hosted at NFB’s Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.  

The conference brought together representatives from government, the automotive industry and advocates for the disabled to discuss the advances, challenges, and path forward for autonomous vehicle development.

“Historically, accessibility has been a costly post-purchase vehicle modification for most people with disabilities, and nonexistent for the blind,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The National Federation of the Blind was therefore pleased to co-host this first-of-its-kind gathering of disabled consumers, automotive industry representatives, ride-sharing providers, and policymakers, laying the groundwork for accessibility to be included in the development of promising new vehicle technologies rather than as an afterthought. Discussion between industry and disabled consumers has already had a positive impact on the Senate’s AV START legislation, and our continued work together will pave the way for autonomous vehicles to become tools that will truly enhance independence and opportunity for the blind and other disabled travelers.”

“Automakers have been developing self-driving technologies for years. We are motivated by the tremendous potential for enhanced safety for everyone and the opportunity to provide greater mobility freedom to people with disabilities and the elderly,” said Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Auto Alliance. “Given the enormity of the social benefits, we are anxious to work with stakeholders and government leaders to develop the policy framework to realize these benefits as soon as we can.”

The conference was a key step in the ongoing conversation about how autonomous vehicles can be developed and deployed safely, while considering the needs of those 57 million Americans with disabilities.

Autonomous vehicles offer disabled Americans opportunities for increased mobility and independence, as well as reliable transportation that could vastly increase employment opportunities.

The National Federation of the Blind and Auto Alliance urge Congress, the Administration, and original equipment manufacturers alike to consider the needs of the disabled as they continue to develop the laws, regulations, and technology that will bring autonomous vehicles to the masses.

The day’s speakers included representatives of the disability community (including the National Association of the Deaf, National Federation of the Blind, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Association of People with Disabilities, United Spinal Association, American Council of the Blind, and National Down Syndrome Society); the automotive industry (including General Motors, Audi of America, Daimler North America, and Volvo Car Group); government (including representatives from the office of Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and other stakeholders (including representatives from Uber and Securing America’s Future Energy).

###

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.

Blind Teens Fight Challenges in New Documentary

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 09:50

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017Category: Affiliate and ChapterChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgBlind Teens Fight Challenges in New DocumentaryNational Federation of the Blind Promotes Film to Increase Understanding Among Educators and Public

Baltimore, Maryland (October 25, 2017): Connor wants to be a sponsored skateboarder. Sarah wants to travel the world. Nick dreams of being a rock star. Carina wants to be the first member of her family to graduate high school.

These four teenagers are each trying to achieve their dreams. But they face an additional challenge: they are blind.

Blind people of all ages, their families, educators, and others who face discrimination based on low expectations will learn from these inspiring young people and their stories in Do You Dream in Color?, a new, critically acclaimed  documentary. The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland Greater Baltimore chapter in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center and the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will host a screening of the film. The event will take place on November 4, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (415 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201). The screening is free and open to the public. The documentary depicts the problems that blind students experience in public schools and other challenges that they face due to low expectations and misconceptions about blindness. A town-hall-style discussion with audience questions answered by local blind individuals will follow the showing of the film, and the National Federation of the Blind will give a presentation on resources available to families with blind youth.

View the trailer and learn more. (http://www.doyoudreamincolor.com)

Awards and Praise
  • 2017 National Federation of the Blind Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award, Top Prize
  • Official Selection, Dallas International Film Festival
  • Audience Choice Award, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
  • Advocacy Award, Superfest: International Disability Film Festival
  • “powerfully human" -- Truth on Cinema
  • "a film that will touch your head and your heart" -- Unseen Films

“Watching this film made me more determined to fight for blind kids, like my own, against a public education system that too often fails them,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The National Federation of the Blind believes that the stories told in this film will spark discussion and enhance understanding of the true challenges faced by the blind, as well as demonstrating that blindness itself is not the characteristic that defines an individual or his or her future."

###

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.

About Enoch Pratt Free Library

Enoch Pratt Free Library provides equal access to information, services, and opportunities that empower, enrich, and enhance the quality of life for all. It serves both the residents of Baltimore with locations throughout the city as well as residents of greater Maryland with its State Library Resource Center.

Pages