50th Anniversary of White Cane Day 10/15/2014

White Cane Day, also known as White Cane Safety Day, or Blind Americans Equality Day, is a national observance, commemorated every year on October 15th. The observance highlights the importance of the white cane as a mobility tool, and celebrates the achievements of individuals with visual impairments and blindness. This year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of White Cane Day.

For more information about events in various cities in Texas, visit the National Federation of the Blind of Texas web site at www.nfbtx.org/localchapters . Links to eleven local chapters are located on the left side, about halfway down the page. You can also call the main number for NFB Texas at (512) 323-5444, or send an e-mail to president@nfbtx.org .

To request a free white cane from the National Federation of the Blind, please visit http://freecane.nfb.org/

Blindness Summit

The first ever Blindness Summit was held at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 12th. Agencies and organizations from across the state provided information based around the three topics of employment, education, and independent living. Each panel presented in both morning and afternoon sessions, and time was saved at the conclusion of each panel for questions and comments from the audience.

The Blindness Summit was sponsored by the American Council of the Blind of Texas (ACBT) and the Alliance of and for Visually-Impaired Texans (AVIT).

Here is a listing of the organizations that presented at the Summit:

Employment Panel:

Albertsons, LLC:
www.albertsonsmarket.com/#1
An equal opportunity employer

Marriott
www.marriott.com
Based in San Antonio, Marriott features a call center, flexible work schedules, and work from home opportunities

Stephen F. Austin State University
www.sfasu.edu
Discussed the importance of training at the school level to prepare students for eventual employment

Texas Workforce Commission:
www.twc.state.tx.us
“Work in Texas” is a an online board for job seekers. Prospective employees can post resumes, search for jobs, and fill out a state of Texas job application.

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind:
www.wsifb.com
Features seven locations in the U.S., including one in El Paso. Staff complete projects for the federal government. Security clearance is required for employment through the Department of Homeland Security.

Education Panel

ACBT
www.acbt.org
Consumer groups for the blind often differ on their viewpoints
regarding certain issues, but they do feature special interest groups and offer opportunities for activism, social activities, and bonding.

DB-MAT
www.dbmat-tx.org/
The Deaf-Blind Multi-handicapped Association of Texas features networking and support opportunities.

East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
www.etlb.org
The various lighthouses for the blind across Texas offer various programs and services. The East Texas Lighthouse features assistive technology training, an i-device lending program, a model apartment for learning independent living skills, and a job mentoring/shadowing program called “Careers on the Horizon.”

Texas Education Agency Education Service Centers:
www.tea.state.tx.us/regional_services/esc/
Region 19 in El Paso mentioned some of the their activities, including a Technology Olympics and Sports Extravaganza.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)
www.tsbvi.edu
Located in Austin, TSBVI’s newly renovated campus proudly offers both residential and outreach programs, including vocational, core curriculum, short-term enrichment, summer school, and early intervention classes.

Independent Living

Bexar County Area Agency on Aging
One of more than two dozen AAA’s in the state, the San Antonio Agency operates through the Department of Aging and Disability and offers a wealth of services, including family caregiver support, health and wellness programs, benefits management, and a nursing home ombudsman.

Memorial Hermann Home Sight Low Vision Services
www.memorialhermannhomehealth.org
Offers a wide array of services for homebound seniors in the Houston area.

San Antonio Independent Living Center
www.sailstx.org
Like the lighthouses, independent living centers offer a variety of services. SAILS offers many programs, including information and referral, peer support, benefits management, and telecommunication devices training.

San Antonio Lighthouse
www.salighthouse.org
This lighthouse offers a low-vision clinic, full assessment of needs, and provides adaptive aids.

The Division for Blind Services also particpated in all three panels.
www.dars.state.tx.us/dbs/
Services include independent living and assistive technology training, information and referral, counseling, and diabetes education.

Disability Groups Plan Rally for March 5th

Since the Legislature is currently in session, three major disability organizations have planned their conferences to coincide, and will join forces at a rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 5th.

SILC, the State Independent Living Council; CTD, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities; and TALAC, the Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference, will feature keynote addresses, breakout sessions, exhibits, and networking opportunities before gathering for a march and rally on the afternoon of the 5th. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to schedule appointments with lawmakers and/or their staff to discuss concerns related to Texas with disabilities.

Other groups such as ADAPT, a grassroots disability advocacy organization; the Children’s Defense Fund; and the National Association of Social Workers of Texas, will participate in the march and rally.

Applications are required to attend these conferences, and if you live outside of Austin, stipends for hotel and transportation may be available.
Please visit the following links for more information:

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities:
www.txdisabilities.org/news-events/ctds-35th-annual-convention

State Independent Living Council:
www.txsilc.org/conference/

Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference:
http://talac.tamu.edu/

15th Annual Texas Veterans Summit Feb. 11 – 13 at Palmer Events Center

The 15th Annual Veterans Summit will be held February 11 – 13 at the Palmer Events Center. The Talking Book Program (TBP) will host a booth during the Veterans Summit Expo, Feb. 12th and 13th, 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. The Expo includes state, local and federal agencies, veterans’ organizations, not-for-profit groups, schools and companies that provide services which specifically assist veterans and their families.

On Feb. 11 pre-Summit seminars for veteran entrepreneurs, women veterans, non-profit groups and veterans service organizations will be offered. The Summit officially starts at 8:00 a.m. on Feb. 12 with an opening session, followed by breakout sessions. The Veterans Expo is open 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The Summit continues on Feb. 13 at 8:00 a.m., and the closing session starts at 10:00 a.m. with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst as the keynote speaker. The Expo is open 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. Also from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 13, Texas Veterans Commission staff will provide direct, one-on-one assistance regarding claims, employment and education.

There is no cost to attend the Summit, but online registration is required. Go to www.tvc.texas.gov/summit.aspx to register.

TBP encourages eligible veterans who attend the Expo to sign up for its free library service. TBP offers digital audio books, large print books and Braille to persons with a visual, physical or reading impairment which prevents them from reading a book or holding a book and turning its pages. Books may also be downloaded from a special website. Digital audio players are loaned at no cost, and return postage is free.

The Veterans Summit is presented by the Texas Veterans Commission and the City of Austin.

 

A Visit to Yorktown Public Library, a TBP Demonstration Site

 

Beth Riesdesel, director of Yorktown Public Library, holds a DTBM.

Beth Riesdesel, director of Yorktown Public Library, holds a demostration DTBM that is kept near the circulation desk.

Yorktown Public Library (YPL) became a demonstration site for TBP after the Library Director, Beth Riedesel, viewed a TBP webinar which encouraged public libraries to partner with us to enroll their patrons who qualify for TBP services. Riedesel says that she wanted the library to be a demonstration site because there are many people in the area who could benefit from the service. She has a Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM) on display near the check-out desk so people will see it and recommend TBP to family and friends.    

I had the pleasure of making a presentation about TBP to the Friends of the Yorktown Public Library on Dec. 5. They are a dedicated group who raise funds to help the library provide the Summer Reading Program, book trucks and furniture, microfilm/digitization of the local newspaper, and any other needs not covered by the budget. During my visit, I was asked to draw the winning tickets for the quilt raffle, which not only featured a beautiful hand-pieced quilt made by several members of the Friends, but also a crocheted afghan, and a framed piece of stained glass crafted by the Library Director’s husband. 

I gave an overview of TBP and a short demonstration on how to download from BARD. Almost everyone present said they knew at least one person who was eligible for Talking Book service, and most took an application. While I was there, Riedesel certified her first application for TBP.

Yorktown is in DeWitt County, about 16 miles southwest of Cuero, and has a population of approximately 2,200. The library serves Yorktown, but also rural areas of DeWitt County, making the service population close to 2,700. When I left, almost every public access computer was in use, illustrating how important YPL is to DeWitt County residents.

TBP is pleased to have Yorktown Public Librarary as a demo site. Your library can become a demostration site too.  Please see our website for more information about how to do this at: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/tbp/application/demositepolicy.html 

Crosspost: Deadlines Set for Comments to FCCs Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

Deadlines Set for Comments to FCCs Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) related to access to emergency information by people who are blind or visually-impaired

Office of the Governor Rick Perry Committee on People with Disabilities    The deadlines have been set for you to file comments in response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) related to access to emergency information by people who are blind or visually impaired and video description.  This NPRM was first released to the public on November 19, 2012.The FCC asks for public comment on its proposal to make televised emergency information that is conveyed visually (such as through an on-screen text crawl) more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to provide that emergency information aurally.  Comment is also sought on the FCC’s proposal to limit the scope of the new rules to television broadcast services and multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) services, and not to Internet-delivered video programming.

The FCC also asks for public comment on how to ensure that television apparatus are able to make video description available and emergency information accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  In addition, the FCC seeks comment on its proposal to limit the scope of the new rules to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record television broadcast or MVPD services.

On November 28, 2012, the Media Bureau released a Public Notice announcing the comment deadlines of December 18th for initial comments and December 28th for replies.  Comment filing instructions are provided in the NPRM.

Comment Deadline:  December 18, 2012

Reply Comment Deadline:  December 28, 2012

Links to the NPRM:

Links to the Public Notice announcing the comment deadlines:

For more information, contact Diana Sokolow, Diana.Sokolow@fcc.gov, or Maria Mullarkey, Maria.Mullarkey@fcc.gov, of the Media Bureau, Policy Division, (202) 418-2120.

 

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Houston VisionWalk — Saturday, October 20th

On Saturday, October 20th from 8:30 am – 12 pm, TBP Reader’s Advisory Librarian Shannon will attend the Houston VisionWalk at Discovery Green Park. The Houston VisionWalk supports the Foundation Fighting Blindness, whose mission is to “drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.”

Registration for the Houston VisionWalk is at 9:00 am and the walk starts at 10:00. There will be music, refreshments, and kids’ activities after the walk.

Shannon will staff a booth at the walk to tell people about the Talking Book Program, demonstrate the DTBM, and talk about BARD. Please stop by to say “hello”. Shannon would love to meet some of our library users!

For more information about the Houston VisionWalk or to sign up to walk, please go to their website at: http://www.fightblindness.org/site/PageNavigator/VisionWalk_Homepage

ILRU Survey on Assistive Technology

“ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) is conducting a survey to assess the assistive technology needs of people with disabilities. The goal of this survey is to determine both the current availability of such technologies and the potential for new, innovative devices. By identifying the assistive technology needs of people with disabilities, ILRU will be better able to work with policymakersand funders to address assistive technology needs.”

The survey is located at this address:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dF9mMzNzblJxOXVVVm5qSm1EY0FWSWc6MQ

If you have any questions, please contact ILRU at 713-520-0232

Public Awareness Provides Outreach to Blinded Veterans

I’m Ruth Wedergren, the Public Awareness Coordinator for the Talking Book Program. My job is to travel around the state and inform people about the Talking Book Program, and to use media to promote our services. My goal is to increase the number of patrons we serve, especially veterans. I’ll be making periodic posts about TBP’s outreach events.

Speaking of veterans…during the third week of August, I’ll be assisting the National Library Service (NLS) with their booth at the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Convention in Galveston. With the convention being in Texas, this is a great opportunity for me to bring more qualified Texas veterans into the program. NLS will distribute general information to veterans from other states, so they can contact their state’s own talking book program. TBP has worked with the Greater Austin Chapter of the Blinded Veterans Association for several years. Many of its members are TBP patrons.

The BVA’s motto is “Blinded Veterans Helping Blinded Veterans.” The organization was formed in 1945 by a group of young men who lost their sight during World War II. In 1958, BVA was chartered by Congress to be the voice of blinded veterans in legislative affairs. Membership in BVA is open to all legally blind veterans of U.S. military service. Blindness does not have to be combat-related, nor must members have lost their vision while on active duty.

Did you know that one in six wounded U.S. soldiers evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered eye injuries? The Texas Talking Book Program wants to make sure that service members who have sacrificed so much for their country know they can still enjoy the pleasures of reading.

Abilities Expo

If you’re going to be in Houston during the weekend of August 3rd – 5th, check out Abilities Expo, a free exhibit of disability-related products and services. Abilities Expo occurs four times per year, in a variety of cities, mainly in the United States. The Expo also offers workshops and adapted recreational activities for adults and children.

The Expo will be at Reliant Arena,
8400 Kirby Dr
Times: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday

For more information, visit:
www.abilitiesexpo.com/houston/index.html
And remember, the Expo is free!