Dots and Dashes 1/11/19

Happy new year! “Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features information on World Braille Day, a request for assistance from Netflix users, the latest Advocacy Update, information on ACB’s scholarships, NIB’s Virtual Career Fair, and much more.   UN General Assembly Affirms World Braille Day To read the full release online, visit http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/news/Pages/UN-General-Assembly-affirms-World-Braille-Day.aspx. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the World Blind Union's resolution affirming World Braille Day.  The purpose of the World Braille Day, celebrated every January 4, is to raise awareness of the importance of braille to converting the written word to tactile form for the benefit of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide.   Attention All Netflix Users ACB entered into a settlement agreement with Netflix in 2016 to make more of their programming available with audio description. They also committed to make their website accessible by blind and visually impaired customers. If you are a Netflix user, please send Kim Charlson any issues you have noticed with Netflix, particularly the website, the app, and the search capability. ACB only has a few more days under the settlement agreement to pass along issues that need to be addressed. You can assist us by telling us what you have experienced firsthand when using the website or the app. Netflix has done so much with their audio-described content; we want to be sure the tools to locate that programming are working for everyone. Send any comments to Kim Charlson at kim.charlson@perkins.org by no later than Monday, January 14th.   First Podcast of 2019 In the first ACB Advocacy Update of 2019, Claire Stanley provides a few teasers for upcoming episodes and discusses some of the interesting articles that have recently been posted on ACB’s social media accounts. Listen online by visiting http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-january-4-2019.   Annual Affiliate Certification Now is the time for all affiliates to be working on their annual affiliate certifications – and there are a few affiliates we haven’t heard from yet. If your affiliate’s membership chairperson has changed, we need to know that as soon as possible to give that person time to train in AMMS and make any corrections, deletions, additions, etc. Contact Sharon Lovering in the ACB national office, slovering@acb.org or (202) 467-5081, with your updates. The next AMMS training session will be held on Saturday, January 12th at 11 a.m. Central time. If you cannot attend, you can find a recorded session under the help tab at https://certification.acb.org/login.php, or contact Lane Waters in the Minnesota office, (612) 332-3242. This introductory session is more descriptive in nature; we will discuss how the program works and its features. Further training is available for specific screen-reader and screen-magnifier users.   NIB Virtual Job Fair National Industries for the Blind is holding a virtual career fair on Thursday, January 17th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern. It is open to legally blind job seekers, as well as veterans and their spouses, who are interested in full-time positions in contract management support (CMS). To register, visit CareerEco.com/Register/NIB. For a list of participating agencies/employers, visit CareerEco.com/Details/NIB.   ACB Scholarships Available The American Council of the Blind has a great opportunity for students who are legally blind to earn a scholarship, whether you are going to a technical college, an entering freshman, undergraduate or a graduate student. Over $55,000 in scholarships are awarded to students each year. Scholarships are awarded to students who are legally blind. To be eligible, you need to be legally blind in both eyes, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and be involved in your school/local community. The application deadline is February 15th, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Central time. For more information, contact Nancy Christine Feela at (612) 332-3242 or (800) 866-3242 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Central time. To apply, visit http://acb.org/2019-scholarship.   Happy 10th Birthday, Audio Description Project! In January 2009, Joel Snyder and former ACB president Chris Gray proposed the idea of establishing an initiative to promote and celebrate the development of audio description — the Audio Description Project (ADP) — to then-president Mitch Pomerantz. Mitch appointed Kim Charlson to lead ADP's steering committee, a position she held until her "promotion" several years ago to ACB president. Since then, Dan Spoone has ably steered the ADP toward its current vibrant level of activity with the important contributions of Dr. Joel Snyder, the project's director, and Fred Brack, the ADP webmaster. To read a summary of the ADP’s work through 2018, visit http://acb.org/ADP-10th-anniversary.

ACB's Audio Description Project: Our First Decade

Happy 10th Birthday - Audio Description Project!  In January 2009, Joel Snyder and former ACB president Chris Gray proposed the idea of establishing an initiative to promote and celebrate the development of audio description — the Audio Description Project (ADP) — to then-president Mitch Pomerantz. Mitch appointed Kim Charlson to lead ADP's steering committee, a position she held until her "promotion" several years ago to ACB president. Since then, Dan Spoone has ably steered the ADP toward its current vibrant level of activity with the important contributions of Dr. Joel Snyder, the project's director, and Fred Brack, the ADP webmaster. For a review of the ADP's accomplishment over the past decade and throughout 2018, please read Our First Decade report below.  ADP First Decade Report by Joel Snyder, Director of Audio Description Project   The purpose of the American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ADP) is to boost levels of description activity and disseminate information on that work throughout the nation. Its major goal is to sponsor a broad range of activities designed to build awareness of audio description (AD) among the general public as well as its principal users, people who are blind or have low vision. 2018 is our 10th full year of activity. I’d like to acknowledge some individuals who have done so much to make the ADP a success: Chris Gray, former president of the ACB, was especially welcoming of the idea for the ADP when it was proposed; Mitch Pomerantz continued that support and appointed Kim Charlson as the first chair of our steering committee — Kim, a long-time advocate for AD, is now ACB’s president and has been a strong advocate for the ADP’s work; and succeeding Kim as the chair of our steering committee is Dan Spoone — he established our subcommittee structure. That structure, along with Dan’s superb organizational savvy, has allowed us to do so much. And, of course, Fred Brack, our top-notch webmaster — he has built our website into the go-to repository of information on all things AD. Here’s a brief summary of our work throughout 2018 and over the past decade: The ADP Conferences: the July 2018 gathering in St. Louis was our fifth full gathering of AD consumers, producers, advocates and many other supporters. We hold this conference every other year in conjunction with ACB’s annual conference and convention. We have hosted speakers and participants from two dozen countries over the years. The 2018 conference was a great success: multiple panels and individual speakers included our luncheon speaker, actress Marilee Talkington, and a screening of "Dealt," the story of Richard Turner, a master "card manipulator" (magician) who is blind. In our “off” years, we present a half-day of activities and sessions focused on areas of particular interest to AD consumers like “Audio Description Accessibility and Technology”; an “Open Forum with Representatives from Major Providers and Streaming Services” and “Audio Description Advocacy” The Audio Description Institutes: In July 2018, we presented our 14th Audio Description Institute. We hold them twice a year, in February in conjunction with ACB’s midyear meeting in Washington, D.C. and then each summer along with the ACB convention. The July 2018 St. Louis session involved 17 registrants as well as contributions from AD consumers — Dr. Francisco Lima, Estelle Condra (wife of a registrant) — and special guest Kathleen Zieder, President of ACVREP. The 2018 AD Achievement Award winners were announced: Performing Arts — MindsEye Radio/Marjorie Moore - St. Louis, MO; Media — Rooted in Rights - Seattle, WA; Museums/Visual Art/Visitor Centers — Tennessee School for the Blind and Julia Cawthon - Nashville, TN; International — Amos Be'er, CEO, The Central Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired People, Israel; Special Recognition-International — Antonio Vazquez Martin, Aristia Producciones SLU-Madrid, Spain; Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description-Research and Development — Dr. Francisco Lima-Recife, Brazil; and the Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description—The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM) The ADP website — acb.org/adp — now has over 2,300 “likes” on the ADP Facebook page. We continue to broaden the ADP reach on Twitter. In 2018, we provided weekly updates on audio-described DVDs and Blu-ray discs (over 150 in 2018) and created a master list of over 1,500 titles now available on streaming platforms. We also provided updates on TV shows including audio description and our comprehensive listing of broadcast television programs with audio description. D.C. Aid Association grant award — $15,000 was awarded to ACB for an ADP project and is being used to develop an audio described tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Insect Zoo” (in process). The BADIE (Benefits of Audio Description In Education contest): the 2018 version of the contest was announced in September 2017. We received 36 entries (the most ever) from students ages 8-18. Our 2018 grand prize winner was introduced at the midyear meeting and gave a stellar reading of his award-winning essay. We are currently reviewing almost 30 entries to the 2019 contest. ACB and the ADP have been principal advocates for AD before Congress, the FCC and the U.S. Access Board. We were active in establishing the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act in 2010, and we continue to work toward an increase in AD on broadcast and cable television. As a member of FCC/Disability Advisory Committee Video Programing subcommittee, we stressed the need to determine the substantive nature (if any) of visual information included with emergency announcements and how it might be described most effectively, emphasized the need for digitized information regarding broadcasts with AD, and lobbied for the establishment of multiple SAP channels. Ongoing work with Martine Abel and Frederic Schroeder of the World Blind Union resulted in a landmark survey of member nations regarding the state of AD in their countries. The survey was distributed in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The final report is available at http://acb.org/adp/docs/WBU-ACB%20%20AD%20Survey-FINAL%20REPORT.pdf. We worked with United Airlines on including AD with in-flight entertainment system. We’re working with the Italy-based ADLAB PRO as a member of its evaluation committee, examining training programs for audio describers. We consulted with several individuals on obtaining AD for cruise vacations, and have developed and distributed a white paper on the state of description/access for blind passengers and cruises. Ongoing work on developing a certification effort with the ACVREP (the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals) — we produced a white paper on certification for distribution to the field for feedback and held two open conference calls as well as open sessions at the July 2018 ADP Conference and the August 2018 LEAD Conference. Applications for membership on the initiative’s Subject Matter Expert Committee are currently being reviewed. The ACB publication The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description is now available as an audio book through the NLS, in text and MS WORD from the ACB Mini Mall, and has been published in Russian, Portuguese and Polish print versions (Spanish, French and Arabic versions are in early stages of development). We have collaborated on AD projects with the National Park Service including, most recently, the UniDescription initiative focused on accessibility to NPS brochures and other materials. In St. Louis, in conjunction with the ADP Conference and the Institute, we screened an audio-described film, “The Shape of Water” for approximately 65 attendees at the ACB Described Film Night screening. Continued to earn income from Amazon.com fees associated with the purchase of DVDs on the ADP website. Since 2009 and the inception of the ADP we’ve earned well over $10,000; in 2018 alone, almost $1,100. We partnered with the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute to conduct focus groups that were essential to the establishment of the Video Description Leadership Network and the UniDescription project. We are proud to have developed the first-ever audio-described tour of The White House, voiced by the legendary blind announcer Ed Walker. We also produced live AD for each of the last three inauguration broadcasts on ABC. In September of 2017, we produced “The Eclipse Project”— live audio description of the total eclipse of the sun. The program was broadcast on ACB Radio and many other outlets around the nation. The D.C. Aid Association for the Blind has generously supported several ADP-produced efforts: the first-ever audio-described tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum, description for the Washington, D.C. residency of Axis Dance Company, a unique collaboration with Arena Stage where we offered AD at every performance of two of Arena’s major productions. We have also produced description for special media projects including live audio description for the ABC broadcasts of the 2016 and 2012 presidential inaugurations, the 30th anniversary DVD of “The Miracle Worker,” “War Against The Weak,” a feature film presented at the “disThis” film series in New York City, a film produced for the United Nations’ International Labour Organization in Geneva —“Count Me In!”, the Arts & Entertainment Network documentary “Barack Obama” and WETA’s “Mosque in Morgantown.” In 2010, the ADP produced a “guideline of guidelines” — a collection of AD best practices noted in AD guidelines produced around the world. It’s available on our website, as is the first published paper on audio description: Gregory Frazier’s 1977 seminal “An All-Audio Narration of the Teleplay ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.’” Finally, it has been my honor to spread the word about the good work of the ADP, speak on audio description and train describers in more than 40 states and in over 60 countries — in the last 12 months domestically in Denver, Seattle, St. Louis, Iowa City, Minot, ND, New York City, Columbus, Houston, Austin, Venice, FL, Scranton and San Diego and internationally in Canada, China (Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong), Taiwan, South Korea, Belgium, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Cyprus, Israel, Morocco, Singapore, Brunei, and Germany. Survey of Worldwide Audio Description Activity A year ago, the ACB's Audio Description Project joined forces with the World Blind Union to survey organizations around the world on the availability of audio description in their country.  The survey consisted of just eleven carefully chosen questions, and users from 69 countries responded.  Their final report is now available. Read the AD Survey results here.
 

Dots and Dashes 12/14/18

“Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features news about autonomous vehicle legislation, a job application deadline, remembering George H.W. Bush, a request for your assistance with Quest Diagnostics, a fun audio-described video with music on unusual instruments, and more. Autonomous Vehicle Legislation Pending Autonomous vehicles will significantly increase the independence of millions of blind Americans, but we need a law to ensure the successful and safe operation of these vehicles. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate has the opportunity to pass the AV START Act. Our senators must work to bring this bill to the floor and pass this legislation immediately; it will positively impact the lives of so many blind people. Please contact your Congressional representatives to promote and pass the bill. To contact your senators, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.   Deadline Nears to Apply for ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs The American Council of the Blind (ACB) seeks a Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs to work in its national office in Alexandria, Va. For the job description and other details, visit http://acb.org/vacancy-advocacy-director. The application deadline is December 19th.   Remembering George H.W. Bush On the Dec. 5th episode of the ACB Advocacy Update, in remembrance of President George H.W. Bush, Claire Stanley and Tony Stephens will discuss the contributions he made to the disability community with the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. Listen by visiting: http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-december-5-2018.  If you would like to make a $41 donation in honor of George H.W. Bush, visit http://www.acb.org/giving-tuesday-donation.   Quest Diagnostics As we all know, businesses are often turning to computer screens and tablets to sign people in. We have received a report that a Quest Diagnostics lab required a customer to sign in via such a tablet; no receptionist was present to help.  Because Quest Diagnostics is such a commonly used lab, ACB would like to know whether other people have experienced similar circumstances with Quest Diagnostics. Please share any experiences with Claire Stanley at cstanley@acb.org.   NRTC Needs Your Participation Please participate in a survey about job retention and career advancement by the NRTC on Blindness & Low Vision at Mississippi State University. The survey may be completed electronically at http://tiny.cc/retention_advancement, or you may call (662) 546-0737 and schedule an appointment to participate by telephone. Please share your experiences attempting to keep or advance in a job, even if those experiences were not successful. Participants who complete the survey may enter into a drawing for a gift card for $100. The survey is long – it may take you 30 to 40 minutes. If you have questions or need more assistance, please call Anne Steverson or Adele Crudden at 1-866-676-7266 or email at acc155@msstate.edu or ac41@msstate.edu.   What’s Aira? The Nov. 29th episode of the ACB Advocacy Update features Aira. We speak with Aira reps to understand more about the service, hear about some great holiday deals, and learn about the world of AI. You may listen to or download it at http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-november-29-2018.   For Your Holiday Enjoyment Enjoy this special holiday audio-video presentation from the American Council of the Blind with description provided by Joel Snyder of the ACB Audio Description Project. Rory Hoffman, a Nashville-based musician, plays “The Twelve Days of Christmas” on multiple unusual instruments. View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11skGLNEzN0&feature=youtu.be. Rory Hoffman was raised on a small ranch in North Dakota. He grew up recording and touring with the family gospel band. He started teaching himself to play guitar and piano at age 3. By age 5 he was the drummer in the family band. He currently plays over a dozen stringed, keyboard and wind instruments. Rory has played the Grand Ole Opry numerous times, as a soloist and as a sideman with Ricky Skaggs, Kathy Mattea and John Cowan. Working with these stars and others has enabled him to play several notable festivals, including Telluride with John Cowan, and Djangofest as part of the John Jorgenson Quintet. He has performed in Norway, Italy and Jamaica, and enjoys any opportunities to travel the world, experiencing the culture and sharing music. When not out on the road touring, Rory is proud to be in several local Nashville bands, including 50 Shades of Hay, and the Gypsy Hombres. “Tour de Fourth,” Rory’s latest album, entered the world in 2016. It features music that demonstrates Rory's skill and diverse interests in country, western swing, jazz, polka, Latin, gypsy jazz, bluegrass and gospel music. It is a mix of original songs, and fresh arrangements of standards.

Dots and Dashes 11/30/2018

“Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features a job announcement, holiday shopping information, a fascinating panel on artificial intelligence and accessibility, an update on the ACB Holiday Auction, and more.   ACB Seeks Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is seeking a Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs to work in its national office in Alexandria, Va. For the job description and other details, visit http://acb.org/vacancy-advocacy-director.   AI for Accessibility People with disabilities have long relied on technology to provide improved access, and creative innovations that regularly advance personal independence. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting tool that can apply machine learning to complex accessibility challenges, automating functions that currently require human intervention. What can AI do for accessibility, and what's next? Join ACB and Verizon for a conversation featuring creative industry leaders using AI to address pervasive accessibility challenges. View it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanCounciloftheBlindOfficial/.   ACB Holiday Auction Coming Up Soon  Excitement fills the air; everyone is ready to bid and buy and have fun with the ACB Radio Holiday Auction.  It's coming up on Sunday, December 2 from 7 p.m. to midnight Eastern Time (4 to 9 p.m. Pacific), or until all items are sold. You can pre-register as a bidder for the ACB Radio Holiday Auction. This means that you won't have to wait to place your first bid the night of the auction while we obtain your name, address, phone number and email address. The auction pre-registration line is open through close of business today.  Call (877) 630-7190 to pre-register by phone, or pre-register by email by sending your name, phone number, email address, and the state where you live to auction@acb.org.  If your call goes to voicemail, please leave the requested information after the tone; be sure to speak clearly and include a phone number where you can be reached if necessary.   Free Holiday Shopping with Aira! We’re excited to announce a special shopping opportunity exclusively for ACB members who are Aira Explorers. Aira is offering ACB members 120 minutes of free Aira service for any tasks related to shopping, valid November 23 through December 25, 2018. How can I take advantage of this offer? Be both an ACB member and an Aira Explorer. Connect with an Aira agent and ask them to add “ACB Member” to your profile. Go shopping with Aira! Make sure you tell the agent that you’re an ACB Member and that you’re using the ACB Shopping Promotion. ACB affiliates should reach out to their members to explain how the offer works, and to ensure members know to update their Aira profiles to reflect their ACB membership. Get ready to make the most of your shopping this holiday season with Aira! Remember, as an ACB Member you’re getting 120 minutes of free Aira service, valid from Black Friday through to Christmas. Just make sure an Aira agent adds “ACB Member” to your profile! P.S. – Aira is free to use in any Walgreens store.   Thanksgiving Blessings  The November 20th episode of the ACB Advocacy Update is now available for download at http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-november-20-2018. Join Claire Stanley and Tony Stephens as they discuss the many things blind Americans have to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season.   Thank a Veteran In the November 13th episode of the ACB Advocacy Update, Claire Stanley and Tony Stephens reflect on the sacrifices and contributions our veterans have made over the years, and the impact it has made for Americans who are blind and visually impaired. You may download it at www.acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-november-13-2018. Remember to subscribe via your favorite podcast app. Comments and questions may be directed to advocacy@acb.org.   A Note from Your Editor If you received the November large-print edition and noticed that the pages were all out of order, you’re not alone. There was a problem in the printing process that caused this major error. United Book Press/Ironmark has reprinted the issue and sent it out. You should have your copies in hand shortly.

Artificial Intelligence: New Visions of Accessibility

Link to video: https://youtu.be/1sN2hUpkHFo People with disabilities have long relied on technology to provide improved access, and creative innovations that regularly advance personal independence. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting tool that can apply machine learning to complex accessibility challenges, automating functions that currently require human intervention. What can AI do for accessibility, and what's next? Join the American Council of the Blind and Verizon for a conversation featuring creative industry leaders using AI to address pervasive accessibility challenges. Speakers include Anirudh Koul, AIRA, Head of Intelligence and Research J. David Grossman, The GPS Alliance, Executive Director Reagan Payne, GM, Manager, Emerging Technologies Policy Tony Stephens, American Council of the Blind

Vacancy Announcement: Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is seeking a Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs to work in its national office in Alexandria, VA. The primary duties of this position will include: Leads the promotion and development of ACB's advocacy and legislative agendas (e.g., strategic goals, initiatives). Recommends actions to be taken and policies to be adopted by ACB. Oversees the implementation of resolutions adopted at ACB Conventions. Represents ACB on advisory committees and consultative bodies seeking organizational input. Monitors bills, speeches, and statements of government leaders, political influencers, regulators and legislative bodies. Monitors media, research reports, and analytics on issues of interest to ACB. Leads the drafting of proposed legislative and regulatory language for presentation to Congressional offices, administrative agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. Prepares written comments on pending legislation and proposed regulations. Presents oral comments on pending legislation at public sessions with regulatory bodies and Congressional committee hearings. Develops and maintains ongoing working relationships with members of Congress, Congressional staff and agency administrators to promote ACB's legislative and advocacy agendas. Establishes and maintains cooperative relationships with other disability and civil and human rights organizations to expand ACB’s sphere of influence. Creates and enhances collaborative relationships with corporations and private stakeholders in order to influence the usability and accessibility of their product and service offerings. Plans for and executes annual legislative seminar and Congressional fly in, including securing policy influencers and other stakeholders to present to ACB members. Serves as staff liaison to ACB committees, including ACB’s Resolutions Committee that meets at the annual conference and convention. Provides technical assistance to ACB members and affiliates pursuing advocacy projects. Oversees, and in complex situations responds to, requests for information and advice concerning the rights and/or obligations of individuals and organizations regarding blindness-related issues, and providing referral to other appropriate sources of assistance. Prepares external communication on legislative, judicial, and administrative developments for ACB content channels (e.g., ACB Radio, social media) and external content channels. Ensures that ACB members receive timely communications regarding ongoing legislative and advocacy initiatives. Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director. The Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs reports to the Executive Director. The successful candidate must have: Strong attention to detail. Excellent written and oral communication skills, including public speaking. Drive to take initiative with limited guidance. Knowledge of service-delivery systems and government programs impacting people who are blind. Ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities simultaneously. Ability to effectively direct and manage the performance of direct reports. Ability to respond promptly and meet deadlines. Ability to locate and quickly comprehend laws and regulations. Knowledge of applicable laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, and executive orders. Knowledge of the democratic political process. General familiarity with assistive devices and technology used by people who are blind or visually impaired. Ability to travel as circumstances require. Ability to work evenings and weekends as needed, including participating in meetings and conference calls with ACB committees and affiliates. Desirable skills or training include general familiarity with assistive devices used by people who are blind, and a degree in political science or law, or other specific disability-related advocacy training. Experience in the use of social media to communicate organizational messages is highly desired. Salary depends upon experience. Applicants must send a resume, cover letter, and brief writing sample by e-mail to search-committee@acb.org. Applications must be received in the ACB national office by no later than December 19, 2018.    

Use Aira for Free for Your Holiday Shopping

We’re writing to share some exciting news from our friends at Aira. We’re excited to announce a special shopping opportunity exclusively for ACB members who are Aira Explorers. Aira is offering ACB members 120 minutes of free Aira service for any tasks related to shopping, valid from the Friday following Thanksgiving, November 23, 2018, (Black Friday) through to Christmas, December 25, 2018. How can I take advantage of this offer? Be both an ACB member and an Aira Explorer. Connect with an Aira agent and ask them to add “ACB Member” to your profile. Go shopping with Aira! Make sure you tell the agent that you’re an ACB Member and that you’re using the ACB Shopping Promotion. ACB affiliates should reach out to their members to explain how the offer works, and to ensure members know to update their Aira profiles to reflect their ACB membership. Get ready to make the most of your shopping this holiday season with Aira! Remember, as an ACB Member you’re getting 120 minutes of free Aira service, valid from Black Friday through to Christmas. Just make sure an Aira agent adds “ACB Member” to your profile!

Dots and Dashes from Washington 11/2/18

“Dots and Dashes from Washington” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. Many are success stories. This issue also includes a dash of sad news.   Accessible Voting The Oct. 24th episode of ACB’s Advocacy Update podcast features Claire Stanley and Tony Stephens from ACB’s advocacy team as they focus on equal access at the voting booth going into the November 6th mid-term elections. They share the current state of accessible voting in America and offer resources for when access barriers rise. Email question and comments to advocacy@acb.org.  Link to podcast: http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-october-24-2018   Looking for a job? Sign up with Aira for 100 free minutes! To recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), Aira is pleased to announce a special program available to ACB members to foster employment opportunities. Aira, the service that connects people who are blind or low vision with remote sighted assistance, supports employment by providing customers (also known as Explorers) free service for activities related to finding and securing employment. The Aira Employment program has been available to our Explorers since February 2018. We offer free service to job-seekers as they navigate employment sites, fill out applications, build resumes, choose outfits, and travel to and from meetings with prospective employers. Aira will extend this opportunity to ACB members who are not Aira customers yet, so they can use the Aira app on their smartphone for 100 minutes of free employment-related service. Individuals will be able to initiate this temporary Aira Account for employment services starting November 12, 2018. How Does This Offer Work? ACB affiliate leaders are asked to reach out to their members to collect the names, mobile number, email contact, and state for ACB members who are not already Aira Explorers and who wish to use Aira to help find a job. Then, we ask that affiliate leaders send the contact information they’ve collected to Paul Schroeder at Aira who will ensure that ACB members are validated to use Aira as a Guest for the employment-related offer. To reiterate, this is for ACB members who are not currently Aira Explorers. How Will ACB Members (Aira Guests) Access the Offer? To use this opportunity, individuals must download the Aira app onto their smartphones (iPhone or Android). The Aira app is available in the App Store, Play Store, or at https://www.aira.io/app. Sign up for a free Guest account by tapping the banner at the top of the home screen that says “Tap to use Aira as a Guest for FREE.”  A Guest can use Aira at many locations where Aira Access has been deployed, as well as with certain offers in the “Call using a Free Offer” section of the app. From November 12, and once Aira receives the name, mobile number, email contact, and state for ACB members interested in this opportunity, we will authenticate temporary Aira accounts for 100 free minutes for conducting job-finding activities.  Aira will also offer a free month of service for any ACB Guest who finds a job and signs up for an Aira plan. As this offer is specifically designed to help foster employment, please be aware that our agents will be asked to end sessions that are not related to job-seeking. In addition, the 100 minutes will only be available for use through the end of December 2018. Aira is truly enthusiastic about its partnership with ACB and the opportunity to improve the employment situation for people who are blind or have low vision.   Focus on Diabetic Retinopathy The Halloween episode of the ACB Advocacy Update is now available! Listen in this week as Tony Stephens and Claire Stanley focus on one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States — diabetic retinopathy. They share some good news from several months ago out of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and discuss the challenges toward leading an active life and access to good nutrition for people who are blind. Listen to the podcast on our website by visiting: http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-october-31-2018. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast treats from, and feel free to leave comments (please, no tricks). Email advocacy@acb.org with questions or comments on the latest episode.   ACB 2019 Leadership Meetings ACB will hold its 2019 leadership meetings Feb. 23-27, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Alexandria. Room rates are $120 per night, plus tax. Make your reservations by calling (703) 683-6000, or visiting the Crowne Plaza’s website, https://tinyurl.com/y8suupom.   Tony Stephens Leaving ACB We regretfully announce the resignation of Tony Stephens as Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, effective November 14th. He is leaving us to become executive director of a community-based nonprofit in Baltimore.  In his nearly three years with ACB, Tony has clearly elevated our legislative, regulatory, and direct advocacy efforts through his passion, optimism, and humility. Simply put, he has been a great teammate and we are all far better for having worked alongside him.  He will most certainly be missed. He has agreed to work with me and others in ACB to complete projects that are in process after his departure. Furthermore, Tony has expressed a sincere desire to remain an active member. I plan to take him up on his offer. With his departure, Tony leaves big shoes to fill. Stay tuned for a position announcement and the beginnings of the recruitment process. We wish Tony much success in his future endeavors and encourage folks to reach out to him in the coming weeks.    The next issue will have even more news and successes, so stay tuned!

Looking for a job? Sign up with Aira for 100 free minutes! 

To recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), Aira is pleased to announce a special program available to ACB members to foster employment opportunities. Aira, the service that connects people who are blind or low vision with remote sighted assistance, supports employment by providing customers (also known as Explorers) free service for activities related to finding and securing employment. The Aira Employment program has been available to our Explorers since February 2018. We offer free service to job-seekers as they navigate employment sites, fill out applications, build resumes, choose outfits, and travel to and from meetings with prospective employers. Aira will extend this opportunity to ACB members who are not Aira customers yet, so they can use the Aira app on their smartphone for 100 minutes of free employment-related service. Individuals will be able to initiate this temporary Aira Account for employment services starting November 12, 2018. How Does This Offer Work? ACB affiliate leaders are asked to reach out to their members to collect the names, mobile number, email contact, and state for ACB members who are not already Aira Explorers and who wish to use Aira to help find a job. Then, we ask that affiliate leaders send the contact information they’ve collected to Paul Schroeder at Aira who will ensure that ACB members are validated to use Aira as a Guest for the employment-related offer. To reiterate, this is for ACB members who are not currently Aira Explorers. How Will ACB Members (Aira Guests) Access the Offer? To use this opportunity, individuals must download the Aira app onto their smartphones (iPhone or Android). The Aira app is available in the App Store, Play Store, or at https://www.aira.io/app. Sign up for a free Guest account by tapping the banner at the top of the home screen that says “Tap to use Aira as a Guest for FREE.” A Guest can use Aira at many locations where Aira Access has been deployed, as well as with certain offers in the “Call using a Free Offer” section of the app. From November 12, and once Aira receives the name, mobile number, email contact, and state for ACB members interested in this opportunity, we will authenticate temporary Aira accounts for 100 free minutes for conducting job-finding activities. Aira will also offer a free month of service for any ACB Guest who finds a job and signs up for an Aira plan. As this offer is specifically designed to help foster employment, please be aware that our agents will be asked to end sessions that are not related to job-seeking. In addition, the 100 minutes will only be available for use through the end of December 2018. Aira is truly enthusiastic about its partnership with ACB and the opportunity to improve the employment situation for people who are blind or have low vision.

American Council of the Blind 2019 Scholarship Application Program

Please take a few moments to review the instructions before proceeding to the online application.
This will ensure you have submitted all required documentation in a timely manner.
Please copy the instruction page prior to proceeding so that you may reference them as needed.

Scholarship Application Instructions

The American Council of the Blind scholarship application process must be completed online.
Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (CST) Friday, February 15, 2019.
Please do not leave any questions blank. Incomplete forms will NOT be considered.
You will need to include the following documents with your completed application:

  1. Certification of legal blindness from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or physician. (This hard-copy letter may be mailed.) Legal blindness is defined as an individual who cannot see better than 20/200 in the best eye with glasses or contact lenses or whose visual field in the best eye is 20 degrees or less at the widest diameter with glasses or contact lenses.
  2. Official certified transcripts from the school you are currently attending. Entering freshmen will need to include their high school transcripts and graduate students will need to include undergraduate transcripts. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, a 3.0 cumulative grade point average is required. (This hard-copy letter may be mailed.)
  3. Two letters of recommendation from a current or recent instructor, career counselor or employer. (Only Microsoft Word or rich text formats will be accepted; these may be emailed separately to: nfeela@acb.org.)
  4. Proof of acceptance from a post-secondary school. Entering and transferring students must submit a notice or letter from the admissions office certifying acceptance or consideration for admission. If this is not available when the application is submitted, it must be submitted as soon as it is available. Students continuing at the same school attended during 2018-2019 will not need to submit this document. (Only Microsoft Word or rich text formats are preferred; this item may be emailed separately to nfeela@acb.org.)

 

Only the application supplements which cannot be emailed must be mailed and postmarked no later than Friday, February 15, 2019, to:

American Council of the Blind Scholarship Program
Attn: Nancy Christine Feela
6300 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 195
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430

If you wish to make sure your application information was received, you may call Nancy Christine Feela at (612) 332-3242 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (CST).
Your scholarship information will be shared with your state affiliate of ACB unless you request that it not be shared.

The scholarship application contains several essay-type questions.


If you cannot allow yourself enough time to complete it in one sitting you will want to create a user login and password which allows you to save your application as a draft and return to it later.


If you already have a user login you do not have to create another one.


To create a user log in, visit www.acb.org/user/registerProvide your first name and last name, create a username, add your email address, and then click on create new account.

A member request will be sent to the ACB administrator who will respond back to you within 24 hours providing a temporary password to use when logging into the ACB website.

  • Go to acb.org. Click the Sign In link. This brings up the Membership Page where you can enter the user name you created and the temporary password.
  • Click Log in.
  • At the top of the page under User menu click on 2019 ACB Scholarship Application link.
  • This brings you to ACB’s Scholarship application.
  • Complete the required information and if you need to exit, click on Save Draft.

You should then be able to logout and return to the site at another time and finish the application.