The UCB Flier
A publication of
Utah Council of the Blind
For the latest news updates call the Utah Connection 801-299-0670 or 1‑800-273-4569. (You may also leave a message at the end of the announcement.)
Mail correspondence to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UCB Flier is available in large print, Braille, audio CD, as a data (Microsoft Word and a plain text file) CD, and by e-mail. If you would prefer to receive your newsletter in a different format, please call the Utah Connection or send an e-mail to email@example.com and let us know.
In This Issue
Join Us on May 18 for Dinner and Great Entertainment............................. 6
Interested in Becoming a Ham Radio Operator?........................................ 9
The UniDescription Project: Seeking to Bring Unity to the World of Audio Description............................................................................................... 11
History of UniD........................................ 12
Audio Descriptions Produced by the UniD Project 14
The UniD Apps....................................... 16
The Bottom Line..................................... 18
Partnership Formed Between the American Council of the Blind and USBLN (US Business Leadership Network)............................................. 19
About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) 21
About the American Council of the Blind. 22
Settlement of Groundbreaking Lawsuit Paves Way for Blind Voters to Access Absentee Voting Program............................................................ 23
Gaming Has Many Visually Impaired Fans. Why Not Serve Them Better?................................................................................................................. 29
Gaming the games................................. 34
‘Never Be Afraid’: Arlington’s Kate Crohan a Hero to Her Students.......... 36
Inspiring and Impacting Students............ 37
Encouraging Confidence........................ 39
Why We Need Emoji Representing People with Disabilities..................... 41
LightHouse is Featured in the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s New Exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision......................................................... 49
New Menu Planning App.......................................................................... 52
Ginger Cookies......................................................................................... 54
General UCB Information......................................................................... 58
Upcoming Board Meetings...................... 59
Note to Braille and Audio Readers
Article links are omitted from these versions for ease of reading, but may be found in the newsletter archived on our website at utahcounciloftheblind.org
Articles and announcements included in this publication are presented for your information and interest. They reflect the opinions of the respective authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the UCB.
During the last several months, I had the privilege of team teaching a technology class with Vicki Flake. I want to take the time to thank her for working with me. We were able to cover a broad range of topics and had a lot of fun. We enjoyed doing them, and hope that they were helpful.
We are not going to be continuing them as they are right now, but are thinking of doing them on different topics and less frequently, if we have enough interest.
Rick and I are considering doing a periodic class on introduction to smart phones. This would teach basic gestures and help individuals decide whether smart phones are the right option. We would love to hear the feedback on that and other suggestions. If anyone is interested, please let me know. You may email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a message on the Connection.
I also wanted to let everyone know that ScriptTalk is available for Android users and will be available for iOS shortly. If anyone is not aware of what ScriptTalk is, it is a device that identifies and reads prescription labels. The pharmacies place a special label on the bottle. The patient is loaned a device that will read them audibly. The stand-alone devices are still available to users, but Envision America has also created the apps so that they are easily available to everyone. For those who do not know, prescriptions can be made available in large print, braille, and audio. You may check with your pharmacy and find out which is available. Not all pharmacies are aware of this, and it may take some research to find out. If you need assistance, please let us know, and we can help.
Tina Terry, President
On the evening of Friday, May 18, at 5:30 p.m. we will be having dinner at DSBVI along with a great program of music and fun. The cost for this great event will be $7. Please get your payment in to the UCB post office box by May 10; and, if you would like to participate in the program, please leave your name and phone number on the Utah Connection.
Story Crossroads is pleased to announce that their Tuesday night concert as well as the Festival evening concerts offer audio descriptions from May 22-24, 2018. Overall Festival Schedule is available as a Word or pdf document upon request. Audio files of these announcements of these opportunities will be available on April 25, 2018. Please spread the word. Feel free to call Founding Director Rachel Hedman at (801) 870-5799.
In the meantime ...
National Storytellers Dave and Carol Sharp also known as Glastonbury Duo will perform on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 from 7:00pm-7:45 pm at the Blind Center (250 North 1950 West, Suite B, Salt Lake City, UT) as a celebration of kicking off the 3rd Annual Story Crossroads Festival on Wednesday, May 23 at the Murray City Park (495 East 5300 South, Murray, UT - morning) and the South Jordan Community Center (10778 S. Redwood Rd., South Jordan, UT - evening concerts). The Tuesday night concert is free and our Scout and Family Fun night. Then the Festival is $1.00/student or senior and $3.00/adult. Go to the Story Crossroads website at www.storycrossroads.com or go directly to the Festival schedule at https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/.
More About Glastonbury Duo: Travel back in time as Glastonbury Duo plays music from the Celtic countries, Tudor England, and Renaissance Europe. Carol and Dave Sharp play many kind of music, including harp and flute, songs of long ago, and rousing dance tunes. Glastonbury Duo includes period costumes, hand carved instruments--to touch and feel afterwards, and storytelling with elements of culture, history, and language. Vocals are sung or told in Gaelic, Welsh, and English.
Story Crossroads Festival Funders: National Endowment for the Arts, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), South Jordan Arts Council, City of Murray, Utah Humanities, Utah Valley University, and many other individuals
Contact: Rachel Hedman at email@example.com or call/text 801-870-5799 or check out http://www.storycrossroads.com.
Until we tell again,
Story Crossroads Executive Director
A celebration of folk and the fine art of storytelling on a worldwide level
PO Box 274
West Jordan, UT 84084
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/storycrossroads/
Have you ever thought of what fun it would be to be a ham radio operator: talking with people all over the world, able to report fires to the proper authority, communicating important information when disasters occur, etc.?
Well, the UCB is starting a ham radio operator class this fall. It will happen during 90-minute sessions for approximately six weeks on Tuesday evenings and will probably be held at DSBVI, 250 North 1950 West (we're waiting for final approval). Richard Morris, a sighted instructor, will teach the class with the help of Linda Reeder, a blind ham radio operator.
Why are we waiting till fall to start the class? Because every three years the pool of questions that make up the licensing exam changes; and everyone must pass this exam to get a ham radio license. This is the change year; the new question pool comes out in July. And besides, so many activities occur during the summer that it would be hard to expect everyone to attend all six classes then.
So, this article is to let you know that the class will happen this fall and to hope you'll want to participate. A future UCB Flier article will be written before the class starts and will include more details.
In the meantime, if you have questions that just can't wait till the next article, feel free to call Sandy Ruconich at 801-461-0265. She may not know the answers, but she'll do her best to find them out!
Hope to see you in class this fall!
Article Link: http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pubnew.asp?DocID=aw190303
The term "audio description" is most commonly associated with verbal descriptions of scenery, characters, and events in television, film, and theater productions. Though this is the most common application for audio description, it can be applied in other arenas, such as describing a painting, artifact, or landscape. The UniDescription project (UniD) from the University of Hawaii aims to bring audio description to these areas by providing audio description for National Park Service brochures and other visual media. In addition, they have produced an open source tool that allows others to produce audio description in a variety of formats. The UniD project also has an app containing audio-described National Park Service brochures available on the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. In this article, I will detail the project and its history as well as explore the iOS and Android apps.
The UniD project began in 2014 when the National Park Service through the Harpers Ferry center partnered with Dr. Brett Oppegaard, professor in the School of Communications at the University of Hawaii to produce audio description for National Park brochures. The original grant provided funding for about 40 brochures and a digital container for storing and organizing the content. In addition to Dr. Oppegaard, Dr. Megan Conway and Dr. Thomas Conway from the University of Hawaii Center for Disability Studies became part of the project.
The team first produced the Web tool called UniD, which is used for creating the audio descriptions. Descriptions can be produced in audio format (MP3) but also in digital text (HTML) so that a user can use their own screen access software to read the descriptions. Subsequently, the team began working to produce audio descriptions for National Park brochures. Three parks originally joined the effort with 7 taking part in the first "Descript-a-thon" to produce audio descriptions in a shared space. The first descriptathon took place in September 2016. The most recent took place in February 2018 and included 30 parks.
In addition, the team has been researching and presenting on their research methods and findings during the development of this project. For example, Dr. Oppegaard presented a paper regarding the project at the International Communication Association Mobile preconference in May of 2015. With a grant from Google and in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind (ACB) the UniD team produced audio description for brochures in parks across California.
The team has also released a mobile app on both iOS and Android, which houses over 50 brochures for national parks across the country. In November of 2017, the team tested the app live at Yosemite National Park. The Web tool used for creating the descriptions has seen use outside of the project as well. For example, the embassy of Afghanistan used the tool to audio-describe their brochure for their disability rights conference, and a student at the university of Milan used the tool in their thesis.
Most descriptions are housed in the UniD apps though some brochures have been provided on the UniD site. When viewing descriptions on the site, I used the latest version of the NVDA screen reader and the Firefox Web browser. The descriptions listed on the site provide the content of the brochures in HTML format and can also be viewed through an embedded Web player for prerecorded audio. When navigating the controls of the Web player, I found that buttons were not always read correctly. This took the form of the label of a button being read in place of another. For example, if I moved from the "Play" button to the "Rewind" button, it may say "Play" instead of "Rewind." This was not a persistent issue so only served to cause momentary confusion. In addition, if you use a screen reader it may start repeating the word "stopped" when the page for a brochure loads. This seems to be caused by indications from the audio players on the page; halting speech from the screen reader stops these instantly.
The descriptions as part of the UniD project follow a similar format. Each brochure will have a "Quick Overview" section that provides a high-level description of the brochure and its contents. Photos and text might be mentioned but are described in their entirety in other sections. On the website, each section of the brochure is proceeded by a heading with an audio player below the photos and/or text.
I found the descriptions to be quite well written. I was particularly impressed with the map descriptions, which are quite detailed. As an example, when describing the location of the Denali national park in the state of Alaska, the description continues to describe the shape of the state and place its borders in context to other regions. The descriptions of landscapes are quite picturesque and will often provide details on the colors and appearance of physical features such as mountains or trees. I was interested to see the numerous descriptions of wildlife in the Yellowstone National Park brochure. There is a section of the brochure that depicts many animals that can be seen in the park. After listing the animals, each is described. The descriptions are incredibly detailed; the animal's physical features are described along with their posture, orientation to other animals, and size.
The UniD apps can be downloaded for free from the iOS app store and Google Play Store. Both apps are identical; if there are differences in how VoiceOver or TalkBack interact with the apps it will be noted below.
When you first launch the app, you are presented with a welcome screen. It contains a sample description and information regarding the app and project. I found that it was possible to swipe left out of the welcome page to the content beneath even though it is not shown visually.
The app's main interface contains a vertical list of brochures. You can search for a specific brochure and also have the ability to sort the list by name or by state. Loading a brochure presents an HTML page with the brochure's contents. The key difference between the presentation in the app and on the UniD site is that it is possible to show only the text, audio players, or both. The brochure shown as text only appears quite similar to the brochures on the website simply without the audio players beneath each section. The page does look significantly different with text hidden. When viewing only audio content, you will see each section displayed one after another. Activating any section will launch the audio player and begin playing.
I only encountered a few issues when using the apps to view brochures. When a brochure is launched, it must first load. If you navigate with left or right swipes when using VoiceOver you may encounter a situation in which you will cycle between the brochure title and the loading message. If you touch somewhere on the display, you can then navigate through the brochure with swipe gestures. Playing audio content using the Web player worked well on iOS but when I did so on Android, TalkBack repeated the word "Playing" continuously during audio playback. I was unable to find a TalkBack setting that would prevent this.
The UniDescription project has already made significant strides in bringing accessibility to print brochures at national parks with at least 50 available in the app by my count. In addition, the fact that the Web tool that is used for creating and distributing the descriptions is free and open source can serve as a useful tool for other institutions. I could easily imagine the format of the brochures used to provide descriptions of items at museum exhibits and the print information accompanying them. The descriptions in the brochures were excellent; I particularly appreciated the attention to detail in the descriptions of images and maps. There were a few minor issues in the smartphone apps, though nothing that would prove a barrier to use. If you are visiting one of the national parks described by the UniD project or simply want to learn more about the various parks and monuments in the US, the UniD project would serve as an excellent resource.
Partnership encourages corporate America to be more inclusive of people who are blind or visually impaired
Link to Press Release: http://acb.org/usbln-acb-partnership
Washington, D.C. (February 26, 2018) – US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) announce collaboration to increase the rate of employment for people who are blind or visually impaired and advocate for enhanced workplace accessibility.
“ACB is excited to collaborate with USBLN and its members to increase employment of people who are blind or visually impaired and advocate for increased accessibility in the workplace," Said Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director. "Collaboration is a core value of ACB, and working with USBLN provides opportunities to educate and advocate for corporations to hire, employ and support people who are blind or visually impaired, ensuring application, on-boarding and on-the-job processes are accessible."
As a non-profit business-to-business network, USBLN works with corporations to become disability-inclusive in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN network currently comprises of over 130 corporations actively advancing their policies and programs for people with disabilities.
The ACB-USBLN partnership will strengthen business diversity initiatives, as well as enhance USBLN’s current programs and services for talent with disabilities.
“Corporate America is realizing the true untapped potential of talent with disabilities,” said Jill Houghton, USBLN president and CEO. “Forming a partnership with ACB enables us to continue to advance opportunities for talent who are blind and visually impaired.”
USBLN (US Business Leadership Network) unites business around disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. USBLN has more than 130 corporate partners spanning the technology, healthcare, financial, transportation, entertainment, and retail industries. USBLN serves as a collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network Affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. USBLN has various nationally recognized tools and programs, such as the Disability Equality Index and the leading disability-owned business enterprise (DOBE) certification program, to bridge inclusive companies with people and organizations within the disability community.
The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading consumer grassroots organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all people who are blind and visually impaired. For more information visit http://www.acb.org.
San Francisco – March 20, 2018 – The California Council of the Blind, an association of blind and visually impaired Californians, and two individual plaintiffs announced the final settlement of their federal lawsuit against the County of San Mateo and the State of California challenging the unlawful and discriminatory exclusion of blind and low vision voters from the County of San Mateo’s absentee voting program. A copy of the settlement agreement is available here: CCB v San Mateo Settlement Agreement
As a result of the groundbreaking legal action culminating in this final settlement, blind and low vision voters in San Mateo County were able to cast their absentee ballots independently in time for the November 2017 election. “The California Council of the Blind is very pleased to bring the lawsuit to such a successful conclusion,” said Judy Wilkinson, President of the California Council of the Blind. “This settlement marks a major milestone in our efforts to provide blind and low-vision voters with equal access to absentee voting in California.”
“San Mateo’s implementation of the accessible absentee voting tools has been fast, inexpensive, and smooth,” added plaintiffs’ lead counsel Lisa Ells of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld. “We look forward to the other counties following suit so that all California voters with vision impairments can take advantage of the convenience of absentee voting without sacrificing their right to vote privately and independently.”
In September 2016, the parties had stipulated to and the Court ordered a framework for certifying and implementing an accessible absentee voting system in San Mateo County. AB 2252, which for the first time established processes and procedures for the review and certification of a Remote Accessible Vote by Mail System (“RAVBM System”) for voters with disabilities, had been signed into law on July 22, 2016, paving the way for the Court’s order.
RAVBM systems allow blind voters and voters with other print disabilities to vote absentee independently. Voters can download their ballots onto a computer equipped with their preferred assistive technology, fill out the ballots, and print and mail their completed voting records to elections officials just as other voters would return traditional absentee ballots. Many other states and jurisdictions across the country already offer blind and low vision voters a method to vote absentee privately and independently.
On October 12, 2017 the California Secretary of State certified two accessible absentee voting systems, the Five Cedars Alternate Format Ballot and the Democracy Live Secure Select system for use in California paving the way for San Mateo County to announce on October 25, 2017 that it had implemented the Democracy Live Secure Select System for disabled and low vision voters to use in time for the November 2017 election and all future elections. In doing so, San Mateo became the first county in California to deploy such a system.
The final settlement, which is in effect until December 31, 2020, requires the County to take a variety of steps to ensure that its absentee voting program is fully accessible to blind and low vision voters, including:
• Offering voters with disabilities an opportunity to vote using an accessible absentee voting system in all elections;
• Equipping vote centers with computers with screen access software so that blind and low-vision voters who do not otherwise have access to the needed technology can vote using the accessible absentee voting system;
• Training relevant County staff on operation of the County’s accessible absentee voting system and to answer voters’ questions about the system;
• Developing protocols for notifying the public about accessible absentee voting system outages and a plan to promptly remedy such outages;
• Adopting a comprehensive plan to publicize the County’s accessible absentee voting system to the disability community;
• Offering resources to help educate the public about how to vote using the County’s accessible absentee voting system and a phone line that the public can call for assistance troubleshooting any technical difficulties that they encounter with the system;
• Collecting data regarding use of the County’s accessible absentee voting system and periodically reporting this data to Plaintiffs; and
• Offering relevant forms in a format so that blind and low-vision voters using screen-access software can complete them independently.
San Mateo further agreed to pay plaintiffs $810,325 in legal fees as part of the settlement.
The State of California has also agreed to continue to include members of the disability community in the testing of new accessible absentee voting systems and new versions of existing systems to ensure that any new technology is readily accessible to people with disabilities, and to pay plaintiffs $354,175 in legal fees.
Lisa Ells, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, (415) 433-6830, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Rubin, Law Offices of Robert Rubin, (415) 624-8454, email@example.com
Judy Wilkinson, President, California Council of the Blind, (510) 388-5079
A few years ago, Madden NFL graphics developer Karen Stevens won a “game jam” — or hackathon — at the video game company Electronic Arts.
Her pitch: tweak the code to make it possible to adjust, brightness and contrast controls, opt for bigger menu icons and change the colors -- you know, for people who are colorblind. "Turns out one out of 12 men are colorblind, and one out of 200 women," Stevens says. "There are probably half a million color-blind Madden players, so it really makes an impact."
As the Game Developers Conference packs the streets of downtown San Francisco this week, let's take a moment to assess how the industry is addressing diversity from an accessibility perspective.
As surprising as it may seem, given the visually intensive nature of most games today, there are visually impaired people all over the world playing games -- whether they were designed with them in mind or not.
Four years after that hackathon, Stevens is now EA’s Sports Accessibility Lead, making sure accessibility is “baked in” to product development from the start.
Stevens also spreads the gospel by giving talks at conferences. “It’s a mindset, not a feature," she told last year's GDC. It really should be considered in every step of the process.”
This year, she also spoke at #GAconf, a conference totally focused on accessibility that was held Monday in San Francisco.
"Just because a game isn’t designed to be accessible, doesn’t mean people can’t play it. Like, when I started my role, people were already playing EA games -- blind. They just didn’t have any support, so they would struggle with things, but they would still play."
Redwood City-based EA isn't the only company to prioritize the kind of customization that expands who can play its games. Last year, for instance, Microsoft introduced the “co-pilot” feature, that allows two people to share one controller. Ostensibly, blind gamers could pair up with sighted friends.
"Even though we were building it for gamers with disabilities in mind, it opens up a whole new variety of ways to play on our platform," says Evelyn Thomas, a program manger on Microsoft's Xbox.
"Parents with children who aren’t necessarily that skilled yet in playing games. Two people sitting on a couch and playing together on the same game. One person in the turnt of the tank and the other person steering," Thomas explains.
Hankering for a more immersive experience, Marco Salsiccia of San Francisco is the very kind of gamer likely to benefit from the work Stevens and Thomas do.
Salsiccia lost his left eye to retinal cancer as a baby, and related complications took his right eye about four years ago. "My vision just went dark one day, in a matter of 30 minutes, and it never came back."
Among other things, the blindness ended his first career. " I was a motion graphics animator and a Visual FX artist," he says with a sigh.
These days, when he’s not working as an accessibility consultant for Lyft, Salsiccia still gets together with his sighted gamer buddies to get as close to the games he used to play as possible. "I have a photographic and eidetic memory, so I remember a lot of the games that I played. So while they’re playing it, I can visualize what the levels look like, like where enemies were. Like, 'Careful around this corner. I know it’s going to come up.' Being able to sit here and just listen to the experience was fun, though I do miss actually playing it."
His experience reflects a common truth about gaming: it's as much about socializing as it is about the games. "Gaming is in fact the way many teens bond with their friends, and accessibility barriers mean, unfortunately, that there will be social distance between blind teens and their friends," writes Bryan Bashin of San Francisco's LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
"Yes, there are a number of blind gamers who play games designed to be nonvisual, and many really enjoy these. But it is the enjoyment of a ghetto, and the key social benefits of connecting with other gamers in person or online is lost with blind-specific games," Bashin adds.
Salsiccia plays online in game rooms with blind or otherwise visually impaired players from all over the world. It’s a trip to watch him play, because I’m staring at his laptop, but nothing’s happening on the screen.
He reels off the games he can play. "Monopoly. Uno. Blackjack. Yahtze. Battleship. Shut the box. Cards against humanity. I’m able to come into a game room, open up a little table. people can join me, or I can invite my friends and we can all play rummy together or any of the games here.
"But a lot of the games that I’ve found are accessible, aren’t necessarily immersive," he adds.
Now, a blind or visually impaired person can play an immersive game, like Madden NFL, by paying close attention to the verbal descriptions, music and other audio cues. As more game designers send vibrations to the controllers, those provide non-visual cues as well. And of course, these gamers are more likely than the average to really read the manual.
One gamer in England who goes by the moniker “SightlessKombat” has developed an international reputation playing first-person shooter games. You can watch him on his YouTube channel.
But there are also immersive games that put the audio front and center -- like The Nightjar, a sci fi thriller set in outer space.
The Nightjar Trailer: https://youtu.be/zeBFCQ-aBds
Salsiccia explains, "The whole experience is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, so you have his voice in your ears, guiding you through the game, while your character’s trying to escape a space station that’s been overrun by aliens and is being sucked into the event horizon of a black hole."
"There are some games that almost hit that level of immersion, but there could be more," Salsiccia says.
Nothing will perfectly replace the visceral delight Salsiccia used to get playing with visually immersive games for. But the technology is getting better with each passing year … as is the attitude among game developers.
In a classroom at Perkins School for the Blind, a high school student with her hair in Bantu knots, wearing pink eyeglasses and an Aeropostale jacket, wants to write a “Thank you” note to a friend on a Braille Valentine’s heart embossed on a card.
A smiling Kate Crohan, an Arlington resident, whose light brown hair falls to her shoulders, asks the student what she wishes to say in the message. She walks her through each step, teaching her to use the Braillewriter, so the message, “Happy Valentine’s Day, thank you for the blanket” fits into the Braille drawing. When the card is finished, the student holds it in her hand and smiles.
“I love interacting with students,” said Kate, 69, who was born blind and teaches assistive technology to people with visual impairments at Perkins in Watertown, Massachusetts. “It gives me joy to see them use what they have learned and become independent.”
Kate, who has been teaching for the past 20 years, inspires and shows her students that blindness is neither a disability nor an obstacle in life – there are no limits to their future, and they could be or do anything they desire.
Before joining Perkins in 2008, Kate worked at the Chelsea Public Schools and The Carroll Center for the Blind, a rehabilitation center for the visually impaired, in Newton. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in May 2011 with a master’s degree in vision studies.
“Students learn that they can count on Kate to listen to them, take them seriously, and always treat them respectfully,” said Kathy Bull, a retired home and management teacher from Perkins.
Daisy Russell, 21, a student at Wheelock College pursuing an undergraduate degree in Educational Studies, was six when she lost her vision overnight from a stroke. She said, at that point in her life, she was unsure of herself, her capabilities and what her future would look like as a blind individual.
Russell first met Kate at the summer program, Carroll Kids, held at The Carroll Center for the Blind.
She reminisced about the time when Kate climbed a tree while they wandered around the campus of The Carroll Center. Russell said she had never climbed a tree before, and as a newly blinded child, thought this would be something she would never experience.
Russell said Kate encouraged her as she explored the bark of the tree trunk. Clad in her flip-flops, she stepped up to a part of the tree and stood there, breathless. Although only a few feet off the ground, Russell was thrilled because she had just climbed her first tree.
That same summer, Russell recalled gathering around a griddle with her fellow eight- to 10-year-old students as Kate instructed them how to make chocolate chip pancakes. At nine years old, Russell learned that blind people could cook.
“Suddenly, everything I thought I would never be able to do, became possible,” said Russell. “Kate truly turned my whole outlook on my future around.”
Like Kate, she wants to be a teacher of the visually impaired, and this semester is doing her practicum in Kate’s class at Perkins.
Tanja Milojevic, 28, who has low vision, graduated from Simmons College and has a master’s degree in vision rehabilitation therapy. Milojevic said, during her senior year at Chelsea High School, she was self-doubting and reluctant to push her boundaries. She wasn’t sure if her grades and SAT scores were good enough and was worried if she could handle college on her own.
She remembered sitting beside Kate in the classroom biting her nails and playing with her hair, while Kate reassured her. Kate helped her create a list of schools, and break down a basic essay template, which Milojevic had written, to reuse for various schools and scholarship applications.
Milojevic said that when she wanted to change the download version of a book from an MP3 file to Braille ready format, Kate advised her to first read the manual, and try everything she could think of before asking for help. Kate’s independent thinking approach helped Milojevic to learn on the fly at Perkins, where she now works as a Braille production specialist.
“Kate teaches us to overcome problems that may at first seem insurmountable,” said Milojevic.
Kate recalled a former Chinese student who lost his vision in his late thirties after moving to the United States. He got a sense of the English alphabet after learning Braille. Learning to live without vision was scary for him since he was accustomed to a set of way of life. He would not leave his house without a family member. Now he does, with his cane, Braille notetaker and iPhone.
For Kate, teaching the visually impaired has been a humbling experience because she not only has to teach, but also be a role model for her students. She feels lucky that she is not afraid to try.
“Never give up or be afraid to make mistakes,” said Kate with a smile.
‘Having accessibility and inclusion of all types be a priority in tech is a huge issue.’
When Carrie Wade first heard the news that Apple was proposing emoji to represent people with disabilities, she felt happy — then immediately curious about what sorts of emoji Apple had come up with. Wade has cerebral palsy and works at the American Association of People with Disabilities. To finally have emoji made specifically for people like her felt like an important step forward.
“Of course there are going to be people who say this is inconsequential and it doesn’t matter,” Wade tells The Verge. “But this is one of those instances of small-scale media representation that is there now and wasn’t there before. That kind of progress is always a good thing.” She was also “pleasantly surprised” to see the service dog emoji.
Apple submitted a proposal for the 13 new emoji to the Unicode Consortium a couple of weeks ago; they include a prosthetic arm and leg, hearing aids, as well as people using sign language and a wheelchair. The emoji were well received, although several people in the community pointed out that they are just a starting point.
“Really when you look at diversity among disabilities, this represents part of the community but not all,” says Rachel Byrne, VP of projects and programs at the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. But, she adds, “it’s wonderful to have diversity within the emojis.” (In its proposal, Apple acknowledged the emoji are “not meant to be a comprehensive list.”)
Apple worked with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, as well as the American Council of the Blind and National Association of the Deaf, to develop the emoji. Ideas were bounced back and forth, and the results are exciting, according to Tony Stephens, director of advocacy and governmental affairs of the American Council of the Blind.
Stephens says he’s excited that the emoji include a person with a white cane, the universal symbol for the blind, instead of a person wearing sun glasses, which is more of a stereotype. Having a white cane emoji can also help educate people about what the cane means, so that drivers can pay more attention when they see a pedestrian using one. “It brings awareness to the diversity of people that are using smartphones these days,” he says.
Representation has long been an issue in media. Movies and TV shows often resort to stereotypes when dealing with characters with disabilities: blind people are often portrayed as having heightened senses, like a better hearing, Stephens says. Disability is also often linked to tragedy on the screen, says Wade.
There have been improvements lately: Stephens points to an M&T Bank ad casually including a blind woman with a guide dog, while Byrne mentions the TV show Speechless. But there’s still a long way to go, and the Apple emoji are a step in the right direction. “Having accessibility and inclusion of all types be a priority in tech is a huge issue,” Wade says, “so I’m hoping, in whatever small way, that this signals progress and also it just means that people can have fun and have more options for how they express themselves.”
As we wait for the emoji to be approved, which could happen as soon as this month, The Verge spoke with Wade about what she thinks of the emoji, how they can be improved, and why they matter.
The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What do you think of the emoji?
I think it’s a great development. Emojis are sort of an emerging language, especially among younger generations, so it’s always great to watch those formats sort of progress, to be more inclusive and not just be the same icons we’ve all been seeing since we were 12-year-olds and first starting out on the internet. Of course, there are shortcomings: disability is too big of an umbrella to be fully encapsulated into any sort of emoji. But I thought it was good that those shortcomings were acknowledged up front. So while there’s certainly room for improvement, I’m excited to see this progress. Hopefully everything will be approved and they will be well received and frequently used, so that the further inclusion that wasn’t part of this first round will be possible in the future.
What are the shortcomings?
There are certain disabilities that are largely invisible, that can be difficult to illustrate for exactly that reason, [like] any sort of chronic illnesses, psychiatric disabilities, developmental disabilities. The disability community is vast and there are folks with disability in every other demographic. Disability doesn’t just look one way, it doesn’t just feel one way, it doesn’t just manifest one way in somebody’s body or mind. So expanding the definition of disability beyond readily apparent physical disabilities to include a larger swath... that’s definitely some progress that we need everywhere, including emoji options and technological communication.
Why is it important to have emoji representing people with disabilities?
This is a language that more and more people are using to communicate with each other every day, and the idea that there are actual people represented in emojis means that every community of people should be represented. People might argue that it’s not as important to have a disabled emoji versus a character in a TV show, but I think that it is important because people my age and younger — I’m 29 — we’re using these things to communicate with each other all the time. It’s like a second language on our phones and I think to not see yourself represented there, it says a lot.
What are the biggest challenges in getting representation in media?
I think the biggest challenges with representation [have to do with] a sort of stigma and a misunderstanding of what disability means in people’s lives. Up until now, there’s been this one-sided illustration of what having a disability can mean for your life: the vast majority of media — although it is changing — have had this tragic element and sort of imply that whatever else is going on in your life, if you have a disability, in some level you must be sad about it. As somebody with a lifelong disability, I completely understand those feelings. There is some level of frustration and difficulty that comes with having a disability. But I think that having media double down on this tragic narrative really does the rest of us — real folks with disability in the world — a huge disservice.
There are different ways of looking at disability that aren’t based in tragedy. People who create media that’s not necessarily super inclusive; it’s not that they aren’t well meaning, it’s just that they don’t have a very holistic and wide-ranging view of what disability means. Those problems can be in part rectified with hiring more actual disabled people both behind and in front of the camera, as creators and as performers. I would say, changing the voices in the room can make disability inclusion more of a priority from the beginning. Emojis in their own small way are an illustration of that and there’s certainly room to move forward after this. But I think it’s a great effort to start
This month, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision launches at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, to explore how multi-sensory design amplifies everyone’s ability to learn, explore and satisfy essential human needs and experiences.
The exhibition, which runs from 13 April until 28 October, explores design through all the senses with interactive installations, created in collaboration with more than 65 contemporary designers in the fields of product, interior, graphic, and interaction design, data visualization, scent design.
Many of the designs were created to promote independence for people with disabilities. The diverse lineup includes several designs by the LightHouse’s MAD Lab including TMAPs of the area surrounding the Cooper Hewitt Museum, our Talking BART Maps and two DCS printed floor plans of LightHouse to showcase how tactile design contributed to Chris Downey’s architectural process.
The exhibition was organized by Andrea Lipps, Cooper Hewitt’s Assistant Curator of Contemporary Design, and Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt’s Senior Curator of Contemporary Design around several key concepts:
• Design is multisensory, engaging the whole body
• Senses interact and transform each other
• Materials have sound, temperature, weight, and other tactile qualities
• Sound is a vibration that can be felt on the body and skin and trigger mental images
• Language and past experiences influence perception making each person’s sensory experience unique
“Across all industries and disciplines, designers are avidly seeking ways to stimulate our sensory responses to solve problems of access and enrich our interactions with the world,” says Cooper Hewitt’s Director Caroline Baumann. “The Senses shares their discoveries and invites personal revelation of the extraordinary capacity of the senses to inform and delight.
“Within the inclusive environment created for the exhibition, there will be over 40 touchable objects, as well as services, such as audio and visual descriptions of the works on view, to ensure the exhibition will be welcoming to visitors of all abilities, an important step forward in our ongoing commitment to making Cooper Hewitt accessible to everyone.”
The Senses: Design Beyond Vision will launch at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York on 13 April and run until 28 October 2018.
To contract for custom tactile maps of your neighborhood, workplace or university or propose a project, visit http://lighthouse-sf.org/braille-and-accessible-design/.
I have recently found out about an app that I am finding very helpful and fun. For years I have been searching for an accessible meal planner. Last month on the Applies newsletter, I found an app called Paprika 3. It is an IOS app that allows for browsing cooking websites, downloading, creating weekly or monthly menus, creating grocery lists, and much more.
Paprika 3 has a browser that compiles many of the cooking websites and allows for searches for recipes or ingredients. Some of the sites are great for diets such as gluten free, Atkins, vegetarian. Once you find a recipe you just tap the download button and then save. The next step is to add it to a menu or grocery list. The thing I love about the grocery list is that it compiles all of the recipe ingredients and separates them into the proper category for you making shopping much more efficient. The app also has a pantry section to allow the inventory of things that you may already have. I have also been able to add my own recipes so that I can add them to our menu. It is a great way to keep all your recipes in one place. When you have set up a menu, the app will give you reminders for the meals that you have planned for each day.
The hardest thing for me to learn on this app was how to get out of one website and search another, but once I got the website cleared, I have been able to do many other searches. It is a very extensive app so takes some time learning but is worth the effort. There are many more benefits to Paprika 3 and I do recommend it to those of us who are constantly wondering what we should fix for meals. The cost for it is $4.99 which is very reasonable compared to some of the menu planners I have used before.
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside. Beat oil with 2 cups of sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses and beat well. Add half the flour mixture and beat well. Add remaining flour mixture. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 minutes. Cookies will be light brown and fluffy. Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
We often become aware of blind or visually impaired individuals who need adaptive technology to gain or maintain their independence, but who cannot afford to purchase the needed item. If you or a family member have technology that is no longer useful or needed by you, please consider donating it to the UCB to help others in need of such items. Also, be aware that, because we are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the value of these gifts is tax deductible as a charitable contribution on your income tax returns.
Remember UCB in Your Will
Make a bequest to the Utah Council of the Blind in your will or trust. The executor will need to know that we are a non-profit charitable institution under IRS 501(c)(3) and that checks should be sent to:
Utah Council of the
PO Box 1415
Bountiful, UT 84011-1415
If you shop at amazon.com, just use the smile.amazon.com web address, where you have the opportunity to select a charity to support with your purchases. Amazon then contributes a small percentage of most of your purchase to the charity of your choice. The easiest way to set the UCB as your charity of choice is as follows:
· Go to www.smile.amazon.com and login as you normally would.
· Activate the “Your Account” link
· Arrow down or use a links list to find “Change Your Charity”
· Go down to the form field (just before the search button) and type in “Utah Council of the Blind”
· Tab to the “Search” button and press the spacebar
· In the Results you will see “Utah Council of the Blind”, tab to the “Select” button immediately following it and press the spacebar.
· A pop-up window opens telling you that your purchases will now support “Utah Council of the Blind”
· Whenever you shop at Amazon, use the smile.amazon.com site, and it will remember your selected charity.
Donni Mitchell volunteers in the UCB Office at DSBVI, 250 N 1950 W, Salt Lake City, UT, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. If you wish to make a purchase, we recommend you give her a call at 801-520-3766 to be sure she is there when you visit to purchase cab coupons, t-shirts, screwdriver/hammers, 20/20 pens, signature guides, or measuring cups and spoons.
The UCB maintains a listserv to keep our computer users up-to-date on interesting information as it comes along and to help facilitate an open dialogue between our members. To join the UCB Listserv, send a blank email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a request to verify your wish to subscribe. Just reply without changing or adding to the message.
We are always looking for articles, book reviews, or interesting tidbits of information from our readers or other interested persons. The deadline for submitting items for publication is the 1st of the month, e.g. the deadline for the July newsletter is June 1st. You may e-mail any articles you wish to submit to our editor, TerriLynne Pomeroy, at email@example.com, or send Braille or print to UCB Newsletter, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415; please allow extra time for processing Braille or print.
If you have questions or concerns for any board member or to be placed on the agenda of a board meeting, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will receive a timely reply.
Members are invited and encouraged to attend meetings of the Board of Directors. These are typically held the fourth Monday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at DSBVI in Conference Room R (in the north hallway), except as noted.
· Monday, May 28, 2018
· Monday, June 25, 2018
· Monday, July 23, 2018