2022 Changemakers Transcripts | american graphics (2023)

Episodes 44 to 66

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we go over everything that's happened over the past year and what we're looking forward to in 2023. It's coming fast. I have three very special people here talking about APH APH products and how things are going in Washington DC in terms of APH, I have APH President Dr. Craig Meador, APHS, Vice President and Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer Anne Durham , and APH Vice President of Impact and Outreach, Paul Schroeder. Hi Craig, Anne and Paul, welcome to Change Makers.

    Dr. Craig Meador: 0:59

    thank you sarah thank you sarah

    Sara Braun: 1:02

    So this podcast is about looking back on the past year and looking forward, but first, as you look back on the past year, what are some of the highlights that you'd like to mention from your respective departments?

    Dr. Craig Meador: 1:16

    Well, 2022, um, I think 2022 was like the beginning of the return to normality. Uh, it didn't start that way. You know we had this adjustment and we started 21 where we thought we would bring everyone back. And then we had the COVID outbreak, and then everything was quiet for a while. And then in January, we went all out, we wanted to go to conferences and, uh, that was, I think that was our, our tipping point where we decided we were just going to be re-commit to both, jump in with both feet, re-engage with the world and, uh, dammit. Uh, not necessarily, uh, being stupid, but definitely taking some calculated risks with our, uh, activity and commitment. And sure enough, we left to go to CES the first week of January, and I think we lost the entire team to COVID. So I went by myself <laughs>, we didn't even set up our booth and, uh, but it was just a weird, surreal experience in early or early 2022. Because the first few conferences we were pretty much, uh, let's see, we went to CES and then to CEC and then ATIA and this all started very easily. All had well below normal attendance. And, um, it was kind of a water test, if you will. But as the year went on, we felt like reality or things were coming back to, uh, uh, the reality that we were familiar with and, uh, that it was very comforting. So that, that, that was just my introduction to 2022. Um, and I, I think as a company, it's not like we've been down for those two years of COVID because we weren't, but I think we were exciting because we're finally, um , nailing our plan that we have been working on for two years. We finally got to reveal that and a lot, um, um, I, I don't know, was, for lack of a better analogy, about as friendly as the debutante ball. You know, we've been doing our job for two years and now we finally have the show, um, show time. And, and there we were.

    Ana Durham: 3:54

    I think that's probably the most exciting thing for me, was being able to reconnect with the field. Um, because we were away from everyone, you know, um, and we did everything we could to really connect with the field, um, through Zoom and, um, sometimes just through the mail, you know what we could do to keep in touch with teachers and students, we have tried during Covid, but there is nothing better than in person. There's nothing like being able to sit there and just have these long conversations and really listen to what's going on in the classrooms and, um, you know, the, the, um, the challenges that teachers face remain. And they've changed so much since before Covid that we've had to learn a lot about them, what's going on around them, and how their world has changed. And we have to adapt in order to better support them. And again and again there is nothing more beautiful than the personal. People will tell you things. They will be much more honest with you when you get personal. Um, and um, you know, they'll tell you exactly what they think about how you do when you're totally personal. And, uh, uh, I, I can't, I can't even begin to express it. That was the highlight of this year for me, being able to be with everyone again in person. To show them what we've been working on, to get their honest opinions, to hear what they really need, what the students really need. Um, that was very eye-opening and very important to our work and very grateful to everyone who, um, reached out and talked to us and was honest. Um, it's certainly shaping the way that we're going to move forward. And, um, that's, you know, of all the things we've done, and we've done a lot this year. That is probably the most important thing.

    Paul Schröder: 5:33

    Sara, this is, this is Paul Schroeder and, and, uh, in the impact and outreach department, of course, the annual meeting, the annual meeting in person, which of course I assume is technically fiscal year 23, but that It is safe. stands out as a great achievement. Marvelous. Everything Anne and Craig said about meeting people. And, uh, we had some wonderful presentations from our own team and also from outsiders to, uh, uh, just the extraordinary keynote address, uh, by M. Leona Godin. And, um, some interesting presentations from people who haven't necessarily attended APH meetings in the past, um, talking about demographics, um, the work that's going on, um, to look at it up close, um, seniors with loss of vision and understand these demographic data. And also the other side of students who are eligible under the Education for Disabilities Act and some of the challenges there. That was fun. The other thing for me, uh, was seeing that we continue to have, uh, great congressional support for our appropriation. Last year it took a little while, we didn't get the final bill until mid-March, so six months of the fiscal year passed. Uh, but we've seen a good increase and, uh, we've, we've continued to, uh, see some in some, some good increases from Congress and we really appreciate this showing support for what we're doing, uh, here at APH. Of course we will talk a bit more about it, but again we are waiting for the next budget bill. Uh, we're a little behind or Congress is a little behind, but we're expecting that to happen by the end of this year.

    Sara Brown: 7:22

    IT'S OKAY. And on the way to the building, there's a lot of noise in those halls right now. Can you tell us about the current renovations that are taking place?

    Dr. Craig Meador: 7:32

    Well, that, uh, was another piece of surrealism or, uh, uh, the new reality is surrealism. Um, we've been in the planning stages of this building for almost two years. We released a lot of energy during the high-level engagement of the Covid board of directors. We have had weekly building meetings and weekly museum committee meetings, sometimes as many as 20 people at both meetings. And so many voices are talking about what is going to happen. And for those of you who are tuning in to this podcast and aren't aware of the changes we're talking about, we're about to make them happen in what will be a $40+ million revamp at APH, if said and done. something. . And that means our buildings for those who have been at APH, you know, uh, our, our buildings are, uh, it's a huge complex. It's a, uh, there were 14 additions out of 150 in some years, the last major release was in the '70s, uh, '70s. And I think there's a part that was built in the early '80s, the back storage. But, but the main part of the building that we exist in, and most of what I say we exist in, most of our front offices exist in the museum. I am this old structure from 1953. And like any building that was built almost 80 years ago, 70 years ago if I can do the math correctly, it shows a lot of wear and tear and has been repaired as needed. , but a major overhaul is long overdue. And so while we were in the planning process for this building, that was, of course, the time when, uh, uh, right before this construction period and things like that all started in the first place, even though it did Before we talked about it, AFB commissioned us to manage the Helen Keller file. So we brought the files on loan to our museum collection, um, and it just became a driving force in building this new museum setup. And as we started moving through the construction process and the museum process, it became very clear, uh, when Anne and uh, uh, Marge Kaiser on our board and Jo Haas, who is, uh, uh, part of the museum The development team that led this effort really came together with the idea that it couldn't just be a museum. In fact, it had to be more of an experience and had to be the most accessible experience available for something of this nature that required a lot of conversation. Paul led groups and led groups, Mike Hudson, our museum director, led groups, um, we've heard, we've heard of various committees. And then we reached out to consultants who specialize in accessibility to bring that voice into that planning process. So two years, I'm going to make a long story here to keep it really short, but, uh, two years of planning and four weeks ago we started interior demolition. At the desired time, we easily have two or two full years of construction ahead of us. The entire front of the building will be demolished, all the walls of the front of the building will collapse, all that will be left will be the floors and internal structures, a completely new museum will be built in the front of our building, extending onto Frankfurt Avenue. And, um, it's going to be a very different and amazing setup when it's all done. And I'm, I'm very excited about that because one of the things that has never felt good about APH APH is the incredible work that we've done. We produce amazing products with partners. Uh, we've had incredible success. And yet, when you walk into our building, it's sorely lacking, uh, it's kind of mediocre. I mean it served its purpose. And it's not like we need great opulence, uh, great structures to feel our worth. But when this new building is built, people will come to see this building and they will come to this building. We will say that something really amazing and magical is happening here. And for those of you who know and have APH, have been with APH and been partners all these years, you're already feeling it. You feel like even if the building isn't there, but for the uneducated public, huh, right now, our building is something to stay away from <laughs>. I mean it's a pretty flat structure. It's not real, it's not, uh, it doesn't exude that cozy vibe. Um, and you know, one of our great catchphrases is "Welcome back everyone." And yet we have this building that basically says, 'Don't bother us, if you have nothing to do here, please go the other way.' So the new building will be a very welcoming building. It will be the heart of Frankfurter Allee. It's going to get a lot of attention and really dig into the work that's going on not just at APH, but APH across the country. And I, I think it's going to be a setting that will make the whole field, uh, very proud of our history and, uh, also of the tradition and the education of, uh, uh, blind and partially sighted students both in school as well as in the workplace. So it's going to be a real show. So we're excited about that, but it's been a long time and we've just started. So this is exciting.

    Sara Braun: 14:06

    And, and Craig mentioned products. Can you tell us about some of the products that launched this year and some of the products that are on the horizon for next year? It's pretty exciting for next year.

    Ana Durham: 14:16

    Yeah, and I'll try to be brief, but you know, Sara, we launched over 40 new catalog products last year, so I don't want us here all day. But you know, just for some quick highlights, you know, and some of these product elements that we're seeing with the UEB updates that are really important. And we have so many braille products in APH that it's taking us a while to get there, but we're getting closer and closer to updating those braille products in UEB. And so were some of those updates this year. But we also added a lot of good staples to our catalog this year. Like the CVI Add-On Guide Kit, the Submersible Audio Light Sensor is one we've been waiting for a while and it came out this year. The In My Backyard tactile theme pack, Telling Time, Flip Over Concept Book, Caterpillar Book, those were all some of the really fun things that came up. Um, I think the voice acting for Chameleon, that was, even though it's not a new product, it was an addition, uh, to Chameleon, that's, uh, you know, for us at APH, it's a whole product team working in that. , just to get these kinds of software enhancements. Um, but that's very important, I think. And we definitely saw the reaction that this was an improvement that the students really cared about. So, um, that was a great project, um, that was a great release this year. And, um, you know, as far as improvements, when we added the code-hopping puzzles, we got a really good response. So, um, you know, I think it works just like a product. Um, I also wanted to mention that the guidelines and games for teaching effective Braille reading that came out of APH Press this year was the first time we were able to make an APH press book available in place of the federal fee. Um, which was really exciting because we know teachers need these kinds of resources. And in the first month alone we had bought about 400 copies of this book, which shows that teachers are very hungry for this kind of information. So we're very excited to get started on many of the APH Teacher Press Books and look forward to seeing more of them next year. So, and I know as we look to next year, the number one question for everyone is Polly: "When are we going to see Polly?" So I'm happy to say that in the spring, around April, sometime should be when Polly will be outside. And if this is your first time hearing from Polly, I doubt anyone listening to this podcast is at this point. But Polly is an early learner of Braille, an electronic, er, WiFi enabled device that will help young children learn and reinforce Braille concepts in a very fun and playful way. And, um, we're very excited. We have a long waiting list. People are excited for the launch of this device and that should happen in the spring and we will launch a number of new learning products next year. Uh, a lot about math. Uh, I know sports fields were supposed to be something that was going to come out and people were really excited about how to represent these, uh, different types of sports fields and in a tactile way. . And another thing that we're really trying to focus on is providing more materials for our Spanish students. And, uh, we're working on it and hopefully we'll see, uh, more products for Spanish learners next year. We are very busy at APH and in our product development departments. We also have a lot of technology being developed in the background, new technology, and, you know, some of that could come out next year, it's going to be pretty tight, uh, on the frontier there. But, uh, yeah, I'm very busy with a lot of new stuff and, you know, hang in there because, you know, we always involve, uh, everyone, uh, in developing and testing all of these products. So it's never really a big secret what we are working on. And, uh, we need everyone's feedback and input.

    Sara Brown: 17:57

    That's really exciting. And one thing I want to say as well, it's just a question I was thinking about, but I think I'll welcome any input. Can you talk about how it felt to have Polly recognized as one of the best inventions of 2022? Is this the first time an APH product has received this honor?

    Ana Durham: 18:17

    I think it's the first time for the time, yes. Yes Yes. But isn't it weird that APH, uh, gets awards? No, I think we got various CES awards and FCC awards and things like that, but it was nice to see it on time and, uh, you know, any time we get an award like that, this is an opportunity. so that we let the rest of the world know how important these learning materials are to students and how important accessibility is to students. So, um, yes, very excited, but not like that, look how amazing we are. It's a great opportunity to talk about our work, which we already know is very important, I would say.

    Sara Brown: 19:00

    Well . So Paul, we're with you. Yes . Can you talk about some of the things that happened in Washington this year?

    Paul Schröder: 19:06

    Well of course I mentioned the funds and, uh, the reload and of course the Department of Education. Uh, we don't talk about that much on the podcast, but I'm very impressed with the work that's coming out of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. This is OSS as we know it from practice. And OSEP, special education programs are part of that. And there was a lot of interest in updating some activities. Of course, we haven't passed the Disability Education Act since 2004. So this is something that has been expected for a long time and won't happen any time soon. But I think the department is doing its best to try to update some of the guidance and technical help that they provide for a lot of things like discipline. And if we look at Section 5 0 4, of course, that's the part of the Rehabilitation Act that, uh, provides for non-discrimination for anyone who receives federal funds. Um, and it has some relevance in the field of special education because a lot of the kids under the age of 5 or 4 are being served. Uh, so the department is trying to deal with some of these issues. We talked a bit at the annual meeting about the need for updated guidance. Uh, the department hasn't issued guidance on blindness and low vision issues since 2000. That came up even before the idea was re-approved, which included some important provisions like the national standard for accessibility of instructional materials for book files. of text. So, um, there's, you know, we don't know if the department is going to, um, make an effort to update the guidance, but we had a really good conversation about it. And the department itself had some people at APH who listened, did a listening session, and have since done a listening session through the Connect Center to get input from the field about interests and needs and issues. um, toward students who are blind or visually impaired with or without other disabilities. So a lot of good things are happening in that regard. The other thing I'm going to mention, of course, is that we, um, I don't know if people knew that, we just had an election. It was very quiet, no one really talked about it, but we did have a midterm election. Uh, Congress is going to change in a big way next year. That the House, uh, the House of Representatives, an organ of Congress, will be under Republican control by a very narrow margin, similar to the very narrow margin of the Democrats in the last two years. And the Senate will remain under Democratic control. So, um, Congress itself will be forced to, um, try to work together. Uh, we'll see, uh, this hasn't worked very well in the last few years, several years. Uh, but maybe, maybe things will change. With a little luck. Um, it certainly makes our job more difficult when Congress can't come together to work on budget bills, um, because they pose a lot of challenges for people waiting to see what the final number will be, um, for them. Appropriation. And that's frustrating for us. It's frustrating for our ex-officio trustees. It's really frustrating for everyone. And, um, we, we, we're looking forward to some level of collaboration, maybe next year, to make things a little bit easier in the world of appropriations. But going back to the department, I'm very pleased with the leadership in the Department of Education, at the secretary level and at the level of, uh, the people that we, uh, work with on special education issues. It's, it's a, it's a very, uh, it's a group with a great knowledge of educational issues and a lot of interest, even at APH, we need to have a, a meeting with the acting assistant secretary, uh, back, uh, a while ago month or so And, and, uh, Katie Neas is her name, she was very involved and very interested, not just in, uh, Braille and things like that, but also the accessibility of textbooks and what could be done to, uh, improve it. using IMUS files and such, uh, to make textbooks more widely available. So I'm really looking forward to working with this group, certainly for the next two years and maybe beyond if, yes, yes, if they stick around.

    Sara Brown: 23:36

    All of you have already said what you hope to see for APH in general over the next year. So I'm going to ask the last and final question. Is there anything else you would like to discuss? Is there anything you'd like to talk about or, you know, elaborate a little bit more, whether it's a 2022 review or a 2023 outlook?

    Paul Schröder: 23:55

    Yes, this is Paul again. I'm going to say one thing very quickly. I'd be remiss if I didn't, because there's always something we need to remind our listeners of, and that means you're the one who really has the power to tell the story of why APH cares. about the services and products we offer, why they are important to students. And, of course, it's very important to tell those stories to members of Congress and their staff and to these offices. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, for, not just for APH acquisition but really on a larger scale, to tell the story of why it's important to teach blind students and why it's so important to make sure blind students get the materials they need, whether they are from APH or from another source. And I hope listeners will reach out to us if they have any questions. If you want to know who to work with in Congress, I'm always happy to give you that information. Uh, if you want to, uh, call an office or send a message, talk about the importance of education and support for blind students, uh, I mean, it makes a lot of sense and it's very important, uh, see you next time, certainly during the first six months of next year as Congress organizes and begins work on the appropriations. This would be an excellent moment to communicate that, that this news.

    Ana Durham: 25:21

    You know, Sara, I also wanted to say, I think sometimes it's hard to measure it over a year, you know, what product came out or what the big hits were, because sometimes it's just how far you pushed that rock. the hill? Mm-hmm. You know, I think for one thing, you know, one particular effort that we really pushed up the hill this year was the dynamic watch. And not just us at APH, but all the partners involved in this area. And there was a lot of rock pushing. And you know, sometimes we've seen some wins, little wins here and there. Uh, you know, one of them was the announcement of our partnership, uh, between Humanwear and, uh, the National Federation of the Blind, which was announced at the NBS conference over the summer, and again at our annual meeting. And another, I think, was the adoption of the eBRF, which was agreed upon by various international organizations, which is a huge, huge achievement. Mm-hmm. <affirming> so everyone is on the same page. And now Daisy will adopt this standard, another great achievement, because this electronic braille standard will make multiline braille navigable for everyone. And, um, and applied to so many other things as well. And, you know, they like small, small victories, but they're there, they're still pushing the rock up the hill. And I think next year, as you know, the prototypes will come out and we'll start our field testing and then eventually we'll see these communities start to build around software development and then at the end of the year start training the teachers on how to use them. This also pushes the rock up the hill even more. It's not the great start yet, but these are all really big things that are going to happen. And, and part of a really important effort that requires not only APH, but everyone in this space is working together to achieve something that we've all been waiting for decades. And, um, and again, kind of hard to measure a year, um, you know, at some of those points, but, but certainly something that I think everyone deserves a big group hug for. I think over the past year for sure

    Dr. Craig Meador: 27:20

    Uh, we, we've been talking about getting back to normal, you know, re-adjusting to society, sort of. Um, and the, we've had some, I've had some great a-has, um, I've been with this company for seven years, and that's the one that Anne has talked to before, and Paul has, is that the company that came out of COVID was not the company that came in Covid mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, we changed because the world was forced to change us, and we accepted that change early. Um, and a lot of that happened through our online presence, through the growth of the services that we offer, we saw the growth of the top, we saw the growth of the reach, we saw the growth of the regional programs, you saw the growth of the Connect Center, uh, uh, the partnerships that were formed not only with universities, but also with Humanware, with NFB, uh and , and many, uh, NTSC and, uh, a bunch of other programs that it's started. None of this existed before COVID. So when we got to the big showcase conference of the summer, which was a uh, I was surprised at how many APH people were at the conference. I think we make up a fifth of the conference <laughs>. And at first I thought, uh, I was Scrooge McDuck. I ask myself, "Who is paying for all this?" And, but the reality was, uh, or consciousness, the big aha, after I've had time to calm down and, um, I, um, I'm lucky to have a lot of good people in my life tell me to basically relax and just step back, see what happens, accept it, relax, and wait to make a decision. And, uh, after leaving, I'm getting over my initial panic. They're really starting to see that we've become an even more integral part of how people work than we did before COVID. Um, and I, that's it, that's not it, it's a humble acknowledgment that people have asked us to work with them, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. And so we've created an expectation within the field, within the communities, that APH will be there to be a partner to help address the needs of these, um, of, from the big players to the little players to fulfilled because APH wants to be a partner. And services have been our fastest growing product in the last two years. That means that we as a company have to react to it. Now that much of this has happened organically, it's time to get down to business mm-hmm. <yes> and create a systematic approach that really begins to look at who we are as a company and where we need to go in the next three to five years so that we can be balanced or better with people, trust and resources. , that we have to do a better job so that we can help continue to help other agencies, programs, businesses, and partners thrive and grow as well as we will ever see. And if we do this right, we will see APH grow and prosper. Um, and what we found is, as Paul and I mentioned, I don't think it was a coincidence, but I think it was, um, careful cultivation of resources in Washington. We, you know, we've always had good support from Osers and the Department of Education, but in the last two years, because we've found solutions at a critical time, I really feel like it's just with open arms in, in DC , uh, for the initiatives we propose, uh, for the work we do. And, um, I feel like we, we have, we've always had strong support, but I think it's at an all time high, and I think that speaks to the work that has gone into that, uh, all the prep work that's been done over Covid and , and the good work we are doing. So that's a lot of responsibility. It's a lot of self-awareness and it's a lot of, uh, like I said, we have to create a system that allows us to be very aware of our efforts and our resources. So I'm looking forward to it. We will start this work very quickly, very soon. Uh, but I think what people have seen in the last two years is going to start to grow and multiply. Um, and I'm looking forward to it. It is, it's scary. It's a big challenge, but, uh, I think it's going to have big, big implications, uh, as we get through it.

    Ana Durham: 32:31

    I think, um, a lot of our partners are coming out of COVID differently as well, and it's almost like we're looking at a lot of where everyone wants to be, needs to be, and how, how they're going to cater. And I feel a new energy and commitment unfolding. And I'm very excited about next year and how we're all going to work together and how we're going to move forward together. Um, I think again, when you come back in person, bring all that glitter, come back in person, plus you can hear each other, you can plan together, right? You have to say, okay, how can we mix this up differently? How can we, how can we work together? How can we work together differently? And there was a lot, um, a lot of that kind of conversation with our partners and a lot of new enthusiasm. And I think we all come out of this better and stronger and with bigger ideas and a new sense of what's possible. And, um, and, and I think, I, I think we're going to see some really cool stuff in 23. Mm-hmm. <nodding>, you know, I'm excited.

    Sara Brown: 33:44

    IT'S OKAY. Well, thank you all so much for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Ana Durham: 33:50

    My pleasure. Thank you Sarah Thank you very much

    Sara Brown: 33:54

    Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I hope you have enjoyed hearing about all the exciting things that happened this year and our plan for next year. Thanks again for your support in listening to Change Makers and see you next year.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown, and today we're getting ready for the holidays and spending time with loved ones. But what do you do when it's obvious your loved one has vision problems? It's not the end of the world. And a few simple tweaks can make the festivities accessible to keep those traditions alive. We also discuss how to handle difficult conversations and what resources are available. First up, we have Melisa Matthews. Melisa is a Digital Content Manager for FamilyConnect, which is part of APH ConnectCenter. She's here to talk about keeping traditions alive and making them accessible. Hello Melisa and welcome to Change Makers.

    Melissa Matthews: 0:57

    Thanks. I am so excited to share many wonderful ideas this time of year.

    Sarah Braun: 1:03

    Can you explain your position in FamilyConnect and what you do and what the FamilyConnect service offers?

    Melissa Matthews: 1:11

    Absolutely. FamilyConnect. Um, my role is really to help families and find resources and information that will not only help families but also professionals and students to be successful. On our website you will find resources such as webinars, blogs and lots of information. Sort of like everything I've shared here. There would be a blog or article written for all these wonderful ideas and it's just one face for families to come and find a connection beyond what's around them. We offer a Parent Connection, which is an opportunity for parents to attend a webinar and share thoughts, concerns, and successes in an open setting. So my role is really to provide information that can help both the family and their child, but really empower parents to know that they are not alone in raising their child who may be blind or low vision.

    Sarah Braun: 2:17

    So this podcast is about aging loved ones and we are talking about traditions. Can you talk about some popular holiday traditions that families can continue when there is only one member who may be blind or partially sighted?

    Melissa Matthews: 2:32

    Absolutely. Um, so I have six old traditions that I'm sure will be carried on from generation to generation. Um, first of all, a lot of families this time of year bake cookies. Umm, not only is this a fun, slightly messy, um, thing to get your hands on, but it's also a great way, um, to share inexpensive gifts with friends and family. Some things to consider, especially since ovens and whatnot can be challenging, is to try making some no-bake cookies or puppy food. This is another one that is pretty simple and has many, many, many flavors. So there's mint or lemon or cookies. And the cream is also another fun option. Personally, I really, really like sugar cookies. You can make lots of fun shapes and I also like royal icing as another way to provide texture. I've seen several cookies you can make with the royal icing because it hardens after you let it dry, you could actually make the cookies in Braille. So that's a fun new thing to do with cookie baking. Another option, um, since a lot of people decorate gingerbread houses, then there are a ton of different ways to make gingerbread houses. Um, I know Costco and a few other places not only have them pre-cut, but they've already built them for you. Um, so that helps. But then again, providing plenty of hand-to-hand textures and decorating the sides and roof of the house before you build it helps prevent it from falling apart. Um, it's another fun activity. At this time of year, many families also host some sort of ugly sweater contest or ugly sweater night. And I would just encourage families to allow the person, um, who is visually impaired or loses their sight, or even the child, to explore Joannes or Michaels with many different textures, many different fabrics, and allow them to decorate their sweater. There is a really good fabric glue as an option or use erm velcro and use hand to hand to help those who are knowledgeable about sewing and know about it independently but with a bit to offer support. Um, so volunteering this time of year is also a great opportunity for many families to take the time to support and help others in need. Operation Christmas Child is a great opportunity to encourage your loved one who may be losing their sight or a child to help choose items to put in a shoebox and send, and possibly reach out to a school or other organization to adopt a family. or a child who needs a little something extra this time of year. I know that many children and some older adults worry that when they lose their sight they are not giving back enough to their own community. And pantries are a great place to help easily restock shelves this time of year. I know some also offer delivery services, so decorating a paper bag for a homebound senior are easy and simple ideas for volunteering this time of year. Another great tradition is of course the big meal for which we all come together. Providing this recipe in large print or braille would help make it accessible to your left, as well as possibly writing and permanent markers in larger print on measuring spoons or cups, as well as using a food chopper. And there are some amazing beginner safety knife kits out there that are serrated and plastic and are a great way to get started on those knife skills whether you're a young person or an older person losing some of their eyesight from safety reasons. that's something to consider. Um, and when it comes to kids, give your child that extra talk time to get their hands dirty, a great way to help out your loved one. Setting the table also means explaining where everything goes and this could be creating a simple tactile map of where the plate would go, the salad plate, where the water would go, a napkin and cutlery for your child or adult to recognize a loved one. one has to set the table. Another great tradition this time of year is reading the night before Christmas or some other special Christmas story. So when you share these stories, it's very important that you take the time and allow your child or loved one to really enjoy the story. And one way to do that and make it more accessible is to provide some of those elements in a realistic form. So for the The Night Before Christmas example, you might want to provide some snow or crushed ice and a bell, perhaps a small figurine of a sleigh and some hoof sounds, and then perhaps something flavored with cherry, um, around the cherry. on his nose to represent, or possibly a stone or part of a brick that would represent the fireplace. This would introduce you as you share the story with the group and your loved ones, giving your child or an adult that time to really enjoy these additional bits of history as they come to life. This time of year, as you might be considering some new traditions, here are some things to consider adding to a game night this year. I know a lot of us are considering buying games, um, for the holiday season, if you can provide them in Braille or large print, game night is a great opportunity. There are some great websites, MaxiAids and 64 Ounce have some custom games like Apples to Apples, Clue, Exploding Kittens. This is unbelievably fun. Sequence cards against humanity. There's also Monopoly or Jumbo Braille, um, playing cards, checkers, and the like. So it's a really fun opportunity to be inclusive and personalize small but important opportunities for your loved ones to participate. And don't forget to bring snacks to share if you invite everyone over for a fun game night. Another popular. At this time of the year many houses are decorated with lights and many of them are connected to local radio stations. So you might be able to work with someone who has a home hooked up to a radio, reach out to them and ask if you can walk through the house and schedule that for your loved one, allow, um, the opportunity to possibly touch any of the decorations, obviously with the permission of the house as well. But this would be an opportunity that when a light show comes on, you can explain to your loved one what is really happening, how the colors change as they play the music. Another favorite for us this time of year is making an ornament. And there are so many ways to use simple things like mints or pony beads that you can create. Place them in a metal cookie cutter and pop them in the oven and they will melt to create really amazing fun garnishes. Another way to, um, create different decorations is with a somersault. It's a simple recipe and you roll it out like cookies and then cut it into shapes. And when they cool down, they can be painted. So this is a great opportunity to get your loved ones involved in creating something this season. One of the most popular, which came out a few years ago, is the hot coconut bombs. This is the new Crave and it's a lot of fun to do. So all you need is a form of, um, melted chocolate and whatever you're going to put in the hot coconut bomb, it could be cocoa powder, mini marshmallows, mints. You just melt the chocolate and you can do it in the microwave. And once the mold, um, you've poured it into the mold, it can get a little messy, but use this descriptive language to help your loved one or child know before it drips completely out of the mold and how to roll it If you put this it will harden in the fridge. Once you take them out, you can place the tops on a plate that you have microwaved to allow the edge to melt a bit and become the glue for the hot coconut. It's always fun to create and wear this on those chilly days or the night before a big celebration. And finally, a new night that we are definitely adding to our list this year is movie night. So there are amazing audio descriptions on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, and many other places that offer audio description movies. So this will be a great opportunity for our family to start a popcorn bar with all the trimmings and enjoy a quiet night in before the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

    Sara Brown: 12:26

    My final question, is there anything else you would like to say, either about FamilyConnect or Christmas traditions this holiday season?

    Melissa Matthews: 12:35 p.m.

    Yes absolutely. I think as far as FamilyConnect goes, I mean, we're still growing and reaching out to families and professionals through social media and stuff, so it's a great space to find and connect with us. As far as traditions go, I think the most important thing I can say to families is that involving your child will take a little more time and maybe a little bit of creative thinking, but there is no reason or limitation for your child to be a part. of everything. your traditions are what you have. And it's exciting to see them take on those traditions and order them year after year. You will find that taking the time to explain things pays off in the long run.

    Sara Braun: 13:21

    Alright, Melissa, that was great. And it just takes a little more time and makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Melissa Matthews: 1:31 p.m

    No problem. It was an absolute pleasure. Thanks again.

    Sara Braun: 13:41

    Next we have the APH Digital Content Manager for VisionAware, which is also part of the APH ConnectCenter. Kate Frederick. Hi Katie and welcome to Change Makers.

    Katie Federico: 13:54

    Thanks. Thanks for the invitation. It's great to be here today.

    Sara Braun: 13:57

    Can you tell us about the services that VisionAware offers?

    Katie Federico: 14:02

    Insurance. So VisionAware is a comprehensive website that has actually been around for a few years and has been a part of the APH ConnectCenter for about four or five years. And we have a variety of resources on our website. So we have everything from blogs written by our volunteer peer advisors to living with vision loss, you know, personal people are, people share their personal stories. We have, um, resources on diabetes, living with it, dealing with it. Um, we also have a section on the site that talks about some of the more common eye conditions for people who may be losing their sight. So maybe something like age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, ret, pigmentosa, things like that. Um, we have a whole section on the site on your eye condition and tips, tips on how to treat it. Among other things, I mean, we could put out an entire podcast, there could be an entire podcast just about VisionAware. Um, we also have, um, another resource on our website, and I think we'll talk about that a little bit later, but it's really cool, our first steps with the Low Vision Guide. And that's something we published a few years ago. It is available on the website as a PDF file. So you can read it on your computer or on your phone or tablet if you want. Or we also have hard copies available from APH that we can send you. So if you're interested in a printed book, we can also mail it to you. And, um, that's just a very comprehensive, very basic getting started guide for people, individuals and families, who might be dealing with vision, um, you know, maybe vision, vision loss, or the need to adjust. change vision.

    Sara Braun: 16:11

    Well, what do you suggest, what do you suggest seeing when they visit this holiday season and see their elderly loved ones? Should they make changes now or just try to sit down with the loved one and have those difficult conversations?

    Katie Federico: 16:29

    I think it really depends on the situation and of course we want everyone to be safe and live independently in their home as if they could. Um, you know, I think we all deal with vision changes or vision loss differently. And so there are several stages of this process. So I think it depends on where the person is on their journey. Um, you know, and, and what the family thinks is best. I don't know if there's, you know, a right or wrong answer. I think it just depends on the situation at hand. Um, and I, you know, one of the resources that we have here is our, um, information and referral hotline, which is run by two people who are also blind. And that's another resource where people can, you know, call and talk to other people who are blind or have low vision and, you know, get their perspective on things as well.

    Sara Braun: 17:32

    What can you do when your elderly loved one refuses to admit that they have problems? It is difficult, it is very difficult for everyone involved.

    Katie Frederick: 5:45 p.m

    It really is, you know, and I think, um, you know, every person, um, is dealing with it in their own way and in their own time. Um, you know, for some people it's, you know, they might be like, oh my gosh, you know, my life is over. I can not do anything else. I'm, I'm helpless But you know, one of the things that we offer at VisionAware is a list of support groups and resources and just, you know, connecting with other people who are in similar situations. Um, we also recently posted a personal story about someone living with glaucoma. And for them it was, you know, they didn't feel, they felt like they were alone until they found a support group of people who were going through the same thing. And they expressed how beneficial it was for them to make that connection and meet other people who were facing the same challenges as they were. So, um, you know, when people are already coming out, connecting them to services, it's through, you know, a condition, older people who are blind are connected to, um, you, you know, some of the other great resources out there, um, the Hadley Institute has some free workshops that people might want to check out, as well as, you know, the history and the blogs and resources that we have here at VisionAware.

    Sara Brown: 19:15

    it's okay . And how do you deal with refusing to seek help? What are some quick and easy ways to ensure your home is more accessible?

    Katie Federico: 19:27

    Insurance. So in, um, again, and in the getting started guide that I referenced earlier, um, one of the sections is about home modifications. So, um, you know, an important factor, um, can be something as simple as lighting. Um, you know, maybe reduce glare by using adjustable window coverings or blinds or blinds. Um, maybe it's, you know, arranging the furniture so there's less glare on the TV or computer monitor. Um, there are many, you know, different lamps that you can use as gooseneck lamps, um, they may need brighter lights. You know, there are also some products, um, APH, for example, sells a product called Color Star, and that's a handheld device that you can hold up to something and it tells you what colors it's seeing. Um, so this could be used to help people identify clothing or other items around the house. There's everything, I mean, there's, there's, you know, things you can do around, um, stairs and stairs. So make sure they are well lit. You can, um, you can mark the leading edge of the first and last tier with something like bright paint or reflective tape that contrasts with the tier. You can use colorful, you know, joggers or walk, uh, to mark running areas.

    Sara Brown: 21:08

    Talk a bit more about the getting started guide you just mentioned. What can you say about that?

    Katie Federico: 21:16

    So yeah, again, this really is, um, a resource that was put together, um, a few years ago, before I joined the team, thanks to a grant from Readers Digest Partners for Site Foundation. But it's a great resource, and again, as I, you know, review it, it's just, you know, it was reviewed in preparation for this podcast, but it just, you know, really has all, you know, home mods, and this section, you know, deals with things like, you know, lighting and stairs and tips for the kitchen. Um, it's about, you know, getting this low vision exam done, what, what that entails, um, transportation, you know how to get around if you've been diagnosed with blindness or low vision. Um, and then we also have our, you know, links to our, our vision of our website, which I have, you know, again, which is part of the ConnectCenter and just has a lot of really good information, um, more of a personal perspective. written. Um, but again, the toolkit or getting started guide is something that we have on the site as a digital PDF file, or it can be, um, you can request a copy or copies of the booklet also sent in the mail, and we're happy to do that too. Um, but it's really great for highlighting some of the few basic things you might want to know about the house, too.

    Sara Brown: 22:57

    it's okay . And the last question I'd like to ask everyone, is there anything else you'd like to say, whether it's about the VisionAware services that are offered or how to handle those difficult conversations with your loved ones?

    Katie Federico: 23:12

    Um, I'm like, you know, um, give VisionAware.org a close read, um, you know, we've got it all. We have a lot of information on the site, um, and we have, you know, things like, you know, some, some articles and resources on, you know what, what family members do, you know what you need to know um, do you know how you can help people adjust to vision loss and vision problems? So, um, it's a really good resource, not just for people who are blind or have low vision, but also for family members, caregivers, and friends. There is a lot to cover. Um, you know, there's really, um, you know, I think when people are, you know, sometimes you're just overwhelmed and you're not sure where to start. And this is where, you know, the ConnectCenter information referral line can come in handy and help, you know, really help, um, understand where, you know, where, where to start. But at VisionAware we have a section that says, you know, after diagnosis, and it's really, you know what to do, you know, what do I do next? Or, do you know how I do, do you know how I start? So, we have a lot, a lot of good information that can be very useful to people. I also want to mention that the American Printing House for the Blind sells a book, um, called The Aging and Vision Loss. It's a family manual, and it's a product sold through the American Printing House for the Blind. And we do have some excerpts on VisionAware, but the guide can also be purchased at APH if that might be helpful to families as they go through the process.

    Sara Braun: 25:23

    IT'S OKAY. Katie, thank you for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Katie Federico: 25:28

    Yes you're welcome. Thanks for inviting me and letting me talk a little bit about VisionAware.

    Sara Braun: 25:37

    We now have APH Information and Referral Services Coordinator, Alan Lovell, here to discuss the calls the I&R Hotline receives for help during this time of year. Hi Alan, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Alan Lovell: 25:53

    Thank you, Sara. Thank you for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 25:56

    This part of the podcast is about the I&R Hotline, also known as the Information and Advice Hotline. Can you explain what this hotline does and what services it offers?

    Alan Lovell: 26:09

    Yes, yes, absolutely. The information and referral hotline is a phone number that has actually been around for, oh gosh, at this point probably almost 50 years. It was originally created by the American Foundation for the Blind and in 2018 was adopted by APH along with other services that make up APH ConnectCenter. Um, it's a hotline that people can call to get answers to questions about low vision and blindness, and, um, maybe what stage of life a person is in, um, if they're having to experience this for the first time time. So when we think of someone who is losing touch or has lost touch traumatically and is new to all of this, can you give us a call to find out what's next? How do I live?

    Sara Braun: 27:06

    it's okay . And just out of curiosity, what are some of the most common questions or topics discussed on the I&R Hotline?

    Alan Lovell: 27:16

    Well, uh, we, kid, we get a lot of different calls and questions, uh, you know, so it's hard to sum them all up, but the most common ones are, uh, calls from people calling someone like a family member, who , as we mentioned earlier, he was talking about someone markedly different than when you last saw him. Maybe the last time he saw her was at Christmas. Um, and, and someone is dealing with a visual impairment right now. We have people calling for that person. Um, grandma, grandpa, my aunt, my aunt or my uncle, whoever it is, they're, they lose their sight. You are in denial. They don't want anyone to help them. You are stubborn. They, uh, still live in their own house. And I think they are afraid that when we deal with the situation, people will perceive them as incapable of living independently. And people don't want to leave their houses. Obviously, if you know someone, an older person has macular degeneration, um, it comes later in life. And if you don't know a blind or partially sighted person, you don't have a frame of reference. So the most common types of calls we get are: What are we doing? Um, Grandma's not that old in every other aspect of her life, she's perfectly capable, but she just has trouble reading or has trouble seeing what she's doing in the kitchen. And I still use the grandmother situation, but she can be anyone. That is the most common type of call we receive. Um, but of course we provide information, um, from birth throughout life. So you might find someone who has been visiting another part of her family and the situation is a child, a child who lives in a rural area whose educational needs are not being met. Uh, how do you find resources to teach this kid what he needs to learn in school, uh, they teach the core expanded curriculum, they have a dedicated teacher for the visually impaired and no, where do they find them, you know? So, uh, you're going to get all these questions during the holiday season the rest of the year. But then again, the holidays are when families get together, and if someone hasn't seen another person for a long time, it's more obvious to that person. She has changed since we last saw her. Their immediate family may not notice because they are with them all the time. Um, maybe someone in the family has a, um, a special interest, um, in living with a disability and, um, has the wherewithal to ask the right questions, when maybe a close family member doesn't, doesn't. the right words or, um, the ability to speak up when they don't know exactly why they're campaigning. So, we are happy to help these people in all these situations. Uh, remember, we, we provide information for the entirety of life birth, er, throughout life

    Sara Braun: 30:56

    During the holidays. Is I&R leadership noticing an uptick during or after the holidays?

    Alan Lovell: 31:04

    Yeah, you know, it's so true that it is. Um, and it's because people or families get together, right? Kids can go out to see mom or dad or grandparents and they haven't seen them for a while and all of a sudden they realize that grandma doesn't see so well, uh, you know, that, that grandma didn't tell us this , you have trouble reading your mail, or you can't read the recipe, or you didn't make the mashed potatoes like you did all those years ago. If we do it. Many people call at this time of year because they are worried about their loved ones, when they realize that things are not the same. And what's next? what do we do? How can this person stay in your home or maintain independence from it? Um, people have preconceived notions about low vision or blindness, and initially they may call us with an idea that they made up in her head, well, grandma is blind, now she has to live in a home. And they will call and ask where, uh, what, what nursing homes are there specifically for blind people? And then we have to follow up with questions like: Okay, what is the actual situation? Who are you calling? What's going on? And we are going to explain to you, blindness does not mean that it is the end of life. Um, if a person has lost their sight due to eye disease, the eye disease that affects aging the most is macular degeneration. It is the most common. Um, and we're going to talk about what practical services and services are available to teach someone to adjust to life with low vision or blindness. And you know, every state has services. Um, so we talk to them about where these services are, how to get them. But in the meantime, as they go through the registration process, we often fill in, er, we talk to them about, do you know what their current visual impairment experiences are? How are you doing? What, what are your greatest needs? And we, um, can talk to them about quick fixes or quick techniques that suddenly give them back something that they had, something, some independence that they felt they had lost. So, you know, the directory of services that's part of APH ConnectCenter is where we go, um, to look up someone's location to see exactly if they're dealing with rehabilitation services or if they're looking for information about their eye condition or support. groups, that's where we can find information, um, the kind of information that we can provide to those people or their families. And, and, and also those of us who work at the ConnectCenter can empathize with where we've worked for a long time in the space, we've, uh, built a knowledge base of the services that are available, or just the simple techniques in life that make life after blindness possible. So, um, you know, it's very common to hear a few more people around this time of year, like I mentioned.

    Sara Brown: 34:39

    And is there anything else you'd like to say about R-Line or its services, or just dealing with your aging loved ones when you see them this holiday season?

    Alan Lovell: 34:50

    Well yes, if you're seeing a loved one who is clearly struggling through life with a visual impairment or blindness, that's not the end of the world. It's traumatic. No doubt. It is much more traumatic for a person who has been able to see his whole life and loses his sight halfway through, than someone, let's say, who was born blind. It's a very different experience, but it's not the end of the world. It's just a matter of learning to adapt. There's technology and, um, resources out there, more available now than ever before. And those of us who are visually impaired or blind are still thriving and contributing to society. So we invite you to call our information and referral services, er, our hotline number is (800) 232-5463, but we're just one part of the APH ConnectCenter. You can go to APH ConnectCenter .org and find our web platforms where we collect information on, um, specific topics for adults and seniors, or families with children who are visually impaired and blind, or, um, job and career seekers. There is all kinds of information out there. In other words, if you type any search term on our site, you're likely to find articles that address the exact situation you need information about. Um, but if you call our phone number, we're available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. m. to 8:00 p.m. m. Eastern time, and you know, we've been there. We've, we've worked in this area for a long time, and if we don't have an answer to your particular situation, damn it, we'll find one. That is our task. We look beyond the information we already have and reach out to the people we work with and know well. Um, it's amazing that networking, um, produces so much information. You know, I've often been surprised that I could find a resource, in a particular situation, you know, very unique or, people working in a field, blind people working in a working in areas that no one thought they would be. Um, we never exclude anyone or anything, um, when it comes to unique resources.

    Sara Brown: 37:51

    IT'S OKAY. Alan, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Alan Lovell: 37:56

    Thanks for having me and happy holidays to all. I know we are close. Hank Thanksgiving this weekend.

    Sara Braun: 38:04

    Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. In the show notes, I've put links to APH ConnectCenter, VisionAware, the I&R Hotline, and FamilyConnect. As always, be sure to look for ways to make changes this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:16

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we are going to talk about everything related to books. That means coloring books, braille stories, APH press, and the braille textbook process. We'll also talk to APH partner PlayAbility Toys and hear their story, learn more about their partnership with APH, and learn about some of their best-selling toys. First we have Karen Poppe, Tactile Literacy Product Manager at APH. Hi Karen, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Karen Poppe: 0:50

    Hello Sarah.

    Sara Brown: 0:50

    Can you tell us about some of the benefits of coloring for students and adults who are blind or partially sighted?

    Karen Poppe: 0:58

    Um, coloring is always a fun topic to talk about, and as expected. There are many benefits of coloring activities and this is probably not an exhaustive list, but some of the obvious benefits of coloring are as follows. Coloring activities allow for self-expression and creativity, and as we all know, there is no right or wrong way to color. It's perfectly fine to paint outside the lines, as we've always heard. . Umm, too, a child's manual and fine motor skills are strengthened and developed during coloring activities. For example, when coloring, the child should say, hold a small crayon or marker firmly and hold the coloring page steady while coloring. Um, sensory efficiency skills like distinguishing between different textures are enhanced during painting activities. And painting is obviously a very inclusive activity, inviting social interaction and engagement with fellow locals and family members. Uh, the coloring also provides instant visual and tactile feedback. Essentially, the results of your own design are immediately available and can be enjoyed immediately. Color activity, support, decision-making and independent thinking and, in turn, builds self-confidence. Finally, painting is an activity that we enjoy regardless of age or visual acuity. And for example my, my mother who is 85 years old, still loves to paint, so she is never too old to enjoy, to enjoy painting.

    Sara Brown: 2:35

    What is an example of an APH product that can be used for coloring activities?

    Karen Poppe: 2:41

    Um, APH offers, um, it's called Color-by-Texture Marking Mats and we've had it available for a number of years and of course you can look on our website and find out more about it. Um, the kit includes a selection of textured mats and encourages students to, um, I think the key word here is to independently select textured embellishments for their own personal illustrations and coloring pages. Therefore, the main objective of this product is to invite technical students to actively participate in artistic activities and to give them the opportunity and empower them to make decisions based on their personal texture and/or color preference. As a field tester, the, uh, Kit clarified years ago, uh, they said that by letting students choose a texture, it gives students more control over their coloring. As such, the kit is particularly ideal for fostering shared art experiences in a variety of classroom settings with sighted peers, whether in the classroom or at home.

    Sara Braun: 3:49

    Now there are color-by-texture marking mats. What are these components and how do they make coloring tasks more accessible and fun?

    Karen Poppe: 4:00

    Oh good question. Um ok, so the main component of the kit, which if you see this on our website, is a very interesting assortment of eight translucent blue mats and they are very stiff and durable vinyl mats. With very interesting textures including, I think there's a rough rough texture, a wavy pattern, um, a bold uneven texture, a diagonally striped matte. There's a small irregular pattern, a zigzag design, and a hatch pattern, making it quite a versatile assortment. Um, the design of one of the eight mats was directly inspired by the field judges who requested, um, or a single mat that we call fun shapes. And it includes, um, raised shapes like, um, a star, a sun, a smiley face that can be transferred onto a coloring page by rubbing it over and making more of a raised relief on the coloring page. The kit also comes with a non-slip tray that provides a stable work platform while coloring and keeps the textured mat securely positioned below and aligned with the student's coloring page. As such, this tray has a black border or frame to assist students with visual impairments, and field testers of the kit indicated that the tray was particularly useful for students with limited fine motor skills. Other kit accessories include a set of tactile coloring pages with raised lines, a box of crayons with braille labels and instructions, both printed and braille, and a convenient storage and carrying case. Therefore, an added benefit of these textured mark mats is that they provide auditory feedback as the child rubs the crayon over the textured surface of the mat. And this auditory feedback is very motivating for some students during these paint and paint activities.

    Sara Braun: 5:58

    What types of coloring pages are provided? Can these coloring pages be purchased separately from the kit?

    Karen Poppe: 6:05

    There are quite a few coloring pages. There's a pack of 25 coloring pages, and they all contain, uh, fairly large blank areas, or blank areas that capture a rubbed texture or pattern. And the raised lines on each coloring page are tactile and visible so you can feel them. And then there is usually a black outline that complements the tactile part. So the types of coloring pages are important and include, um, simple line art of everyday objects or animals like apple balloons, butterfly fish, ice cream cones and pumpkins and teddy bears and many more types of trees and much more. Um, the child can essentially, um, place one of the coloring pages on top of the selected texture mat for utility purposes. He can choose yourself and color with a crayon to transfer any texture he likes, be it bumpy, jagged, or wavy, onto the coloring page. Now some students even like to add a title or a short sentence or even a story that they can build into their coloring pages with a braille pen. If more coloring stencils are required, the replacement pack of 25 coloring stencils or the starter kit can be purchased separately, they are also available with federal funds.

    Sara Braun: 7:27

    Do the color by texture marking mats come with crayons?

    Karen Poppe: 7:32

    Yes, we were very picky about the type we included and it comes with a box of triangular crayons, Crayola brand crayons, so there is a flat surface to apply. We include colored Braille name tags with a clear back that are included and can be applied directly to the flat side of the crayon. So we also have a printing cheat sheet, ahem, for those unfamiliar with Braille, so they know which label to put on which crayon. And I just want to encourage you to experiment with other types of colored pencils please. I know I tend to, I found these twist crayons that I really like because they are less likely to break and may be easier for some students to hold. Hence, these are commercially available and can be easily purchased from any art store or pharmacy etc. you may have in your area.

    Sara Braun: 8:26

    And what coloring techniques are used in these rugs?

    Karen Poppe: 8:31

    Um, just remember that you don't have to use the textured doilies only in combination with the provided coloring pages. Uh, by all means, feel free to experiment with different types of paper for limitless painting activities. Uh, also remember that there is no right or wrong side to the textured paint mat. Try using both sides of a textured mat and you will find that it creates different embossed effects, e.g. B. a large irregular pattern compared to a recessed honeycomb pattern picked up by a single textured mat. Um, you could also experiment with different rubbing techniques. For example, vigorously rub or scratch a crown or texture, or slide or press the crayon into the grooves of the wavy or diagonally striped texture, or simply draw around the individual bumps of a given mat to get that transfer and increase the effect. Colour. page to record.

    Sara Braun: 9:25

    This is really important now. Talk about why the textures captured in the colored mats are useful for touch.

    Karen Poppe: 9:35

    Yes, and it's probably not super obvious, but it's very important for tactile readers to be aware of many different types of textures and familiar with the terminology and vocabulary related to those textures. Many of the texture plates included in the color-by-texture dial mats mimic similar textures found on many screens. Therefore, textures are often used in obvious tactile maps, graphs, and many tactile diagrams because texture marker maps provide the context for early acquisition of important tactile discrimination skills. Specific objectives of the Extended Core Curriculum, or BCC, are supported, including recreation and leisure, sensory efficiency, and social interaction.

    Sara Brown: 10:25

    Can the painting mats be used for other artistic activities and applications?

    Karen Poppe: 10:31

    Oh almost yes. This is important to know because they are very versatile and can definitely be used for other purposes. For example, consider using textured colored doilies to create tactile greeting cards, book covers, personal stationery, or anything else you can think of. Personalize coloring books or business pages by tracing key lines on a chart with paint or glue. And once dry, the raised lines formed a recognizable border for coloring with the textured mats. Another fun use is for thick aluminum foil. Um, and we have, um, we sell thick aluminum foil in aph, and it's also included in a tactical graphics kit. So you want to, um, put that foil on a chosen textured mat and go to the trouble later on by just rubbing your finger or crayon to transfer that texture to the foil. Of course, consider using the texture plate in combination with other aph coloring pages, such as those featured in the many dot painting series or pattern based coloring pages. And another fun option is to press clay or modeling clay onto the textured mats, or transfer the textures to clay sculptures that they might design in art or in an art class.

    Sara Braun: 11:49

    How can teachers and parents create their own coloring pages for their students and children?

    Karen Poppe: 11:55

    Oh, and I'm sure a lot of people are already doing this, but, just for some additional ideas, consider, um, downloading some free coloring pages from the APH Tactical Graphics Image Library. We call it with the initials TGIL. And many of these coloring pages are duplicates, both files. The coloring pages are duplicates of the ones we already included in the Color-by-Texture Marking Mat Kit. And if you have access to a brown pattern, for example, you can record some of the coloring pages in this TGIL. Another idea is to possibly trace the black lines of a commercial coloring page with a cog wheel, or more likely known as a sewing wheel, er, in combination with a rubber sketch pad to create some tactile boundaries for coloring. And remember that you must work the colored side from the back of the sheet when using this method. And also remember that you can create a tactile border with cheap glue or puffy paint.

    Sara Brown: 12:55

    Are there any other products that you would like to mention that are suitable for painting activities?

    Karen Poppe: 13:01

    Okay, I probably won't list them all, but you might consider a few things. APH now offers another Color by Texture Paint Pack of Circus-themed Raised Line Painting Pages, an upcoming podcast, you'll probably find more on some products like Lots of Dots Coloring Series and the Paint Bucket Listen Palette Kits . So maybe stay updated on some of these deals and descriptions. Also consider using other APH drawing materials, such as So when your child draws on this paper, whatever they draw will show up right away, which is great. And with APH's TactileDoodle, kids can easily draw all kinds of images on tactile drill sheets. And you can actually color the drawing slide with crayons. So remember and experiment by placing one of the texture mats under the foil. While coloring the drawing. The film can be used as a canvas for the teacher or student to create their own coloring pages. Really, you know, to sum it all up, the possibilities are only limited by your own creativity and in short, just be creative and have fun coloring no matter your age. Thank you Sara

    Sara Brown: 14:22

    Is there anything else you would like to say about coloring activities for children?

    Karen Poppe: 14:26

    Um, just if anyone has any questions about the information shared, be sure to contact me. My email address is Kpoppe@aph.org.

    Sara Brown: 14:40

    Okay Karen, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Karen Poppe: 14:43

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Brown: 14:46

    Now let's meet Braille Tales, a really cool program that promotes literacy for everyone. We've got Christine Genovely, Prison Braille Coordinator and APH Braille Tales Administrator, here to talk a little bit more about this really cool program. Hi Christine and welcome to Change Makers.

    Christine Genovély: 15:04

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 15:06

    Can you remind listeners of Dolly Parton's Library of Imagination and what it offers?

    Christine Genovély: 15:14

    Yes. So the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is actually a Tennessee-based program that provides free books to children ages zero to six across the country. Um, and that's where we come in because we have a partnership with them to make these books more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Um, so we take the books that Dolly Parton is putting out. We've placed clear Braille labels on the pages, um, so they're now accessible to both blind and sighted readers. And then we send them to two families every two months, um, until the child is six years old.

    Sara Brown: 16:08

    And Braille Tales is part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Describe the books a person will receive. It really is inclusive. And are there new books in the lineup?

    Christine Genovély: 4:20 p.m

    Yes. Um, so the books that are sent through the Braille Tales programs are mass-marketed children's books. They're recent releases, um, new books that you can find in any bookstore anywhere. Um, they're included in your print statement. Um, and then we manually apply clear Braille labels to each page to make the book accessible to both blind and cited readers. So they are print/braille books. Um, and we're doing that to be as inclusive as possible, um, since we're bringing a lot of people into the show that, for example, uh, the father is quoted, but the child is blind, so, uh, that's ours. , our most common dynamic. And the kid can learn the alphabet from him, um, feel the braille on every page, but the parent can keep reading. But we also have quite a few contestants on the show who have the opposite dynamic. It is the blind or partially sighted parents and the children who contribute. And we want them to be able to have the same experience reading these books with their children, so that the parents can read and then the children can participate in the print portion of the book. So we include both to make sure we can reach as many types of families as possible.

    Sara Brown: 18:03

    And tell us how often the books change and when new ones come out?

    Christine Genovély: 6:10 p.m

    Yeah, well we, um, we, are putting our books in order for next year. So basically we're ordering them a full fiscal year at a time. Um, we haven't picked the books for next fiscal year yet, sorry. Um, stumbling over those words. Um, but that's going to show up in the next few months, um, where we get the chosen ones. The rest of this year's books are stubby along Your Nose, The Little Engine That Could, and Play with Clay. We have three more books, um, shipping this fiscal year. Um, but like I said, we haven't decided on next year yet.

    Sara Braun: 18:57

    Books and audiobooks are part of the DPIL. Correct? Can you talk about the audiobooks and how they are part of these Braille Stories and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library?

    Christine Genovély: 19:12

    Um, well, the audiobooks are actually being produced at higher volumes than the, um, physical Braille Tales books. Uh, well, like I mentioned, the Braille Tales books come out every other month. So each family receives six books a year. Um, but the audiobooks are actually included, um, either older titles or titles from other publishers. So there are other stories available on, um, or through the audiobook program. It does not only include the Braille Tales books.

    Sara Brown: 19:51

    And how can someone sign up to receive Braille Tales for their child?

    Christine Genovély: 19:56

    Yes, we will be delighted to have you. That is mainly. Um, what you have to do is go to our website and that's aph.org/braille hyphen tales. Um, the first thing you'll see on this web page is applying for this program. Please go ahead and complete this application online and we will submit and approve and place you in the program. And then you get a book, um, you know, in the next shipment depending on, um, when you apply. It comes easily when the next mail comes out, but it is a very simple application. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes and we'd love to add it to the program.

    Sara Braun: 20:43

    And is there anything else you'd like to say about Braille Tales or Dolly Parton's Imagination Library?

    Christine Genovély: 20:50

    Well, we hope to expand a bit more to bilingual books. It's something exciting, um, um, something new that's happening. We want to be able to add a little more diversity there. So English and Spanish will be our most likely offer. Um, and it will, it will be based on what books we can acquire since we still have supply chain issues. But we hope to add a little more diversity and be a little more inclusive in that, um, department as well.

    Sara Braun: 21:32

    Well . Thank you Christine for joining Change Makers today.

    Christine Genovély: 21:36

    No problem. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 21:44

    Now let's learn more about Talking Book Studio. We've got APH studio head Maggie Davis here to talk about her story, Notable Voices, and the media program described and closed captions. Hello Maggie and welcome to Change Makers. Can you tell us something about the Talking Book Studio and its history? It is very, very, very rich.

    Maggie Davis: 10:06 p.m

    Yes it is. Um, I've only been here about eight years and, um, the studio goes back much further, um, to the 1930s. Um, shortly after, um, the National Library Service established their, um, audiobook program. Um, APH Studio has been producing audiobooks for the National Library ever since. Um, through all the changes in technology. Um, we started out, um, recording on vinyl, um, and after a couple of decades we switched to cassette and then went fully digital in 2012. Um, we accept all kinds of books, nonfiction, fiction, um, for National Service of Libraries. Um, and these are made available for free to those who don't have access to print books. So, you know, blind, visually impaired, um, but also, um, certain physical disabilities. Uh, if you can't hold a book, um, you know, all kinds of disabilities, making books accessible is the whole point, and audio is the best way to do that. Um, so we've been producing these since the '30s, and it's a very rich history as you said.

    Sara Brown: 23:36

    And what does the audiobook studio do?

    Maggie Davis: 11:40 p.m

    Um, well, we get our, uh, book orders from the National Library Service and we file accordingly. We have a cast of about 15, um, voice actors, um, a variety of people here in Louisville. Um, some, um, news personalities, um, some of our local Shakespearean actors, um, and all of our voice actors have been doing this for years and are incredibly talented. Um, I have some people who have been here for over 40 years, uh, uh, recording books and, uh, they clearly love what they do and it's really an honor to work with people like this work. Um, so we get these books from the national library and these storytellers pick them up. Then we take them and edit them to make the audiobooks, and then they are available through this service of the National Library. Um, it's pretty simple, . That's it, that's the essence. Oh, come on. Also, um, we recently started, um, to stop making audiobooks for the National Library. Um, now we're also recording audio descriptions for the digital closed captioning media program. This is a new endeavor for us, um, and it's been a pretty smooth transition. Basically, they send us videos, they send us scripts, we record them, and we make that audio accessible to how-to video viewers.

    Sara Braun: 25:34

    And a question just came to my mind. Storytellers are super popular and some have almost reached cult status. And there are a few that come to mind if you're listening, and you can hear them at airports and even at the beginning of this podcast. And one notable narrator is Jack Fox. Can you talk about him or just some of the narrators?

    Maggie Davis: 25:57

    Yes. It's a pleasure to work with him, um, and an even greater pleasure to listen to. His voice is like melted chocolate. Um, he's, uh, in addition to picking up books with us, which he's been doing for years and years and years, he's also, um, picking up, um, the moving sidewalk warning at the Louisville airport, and I believe you too. it can be heard in airports across the country. Um, he had a role in the, um, Del Toros, um, what's-his-name, the movie The Shape of Water a few years back. He's, uh, the voice of the facility, I guess. Um, yes, he is a man of many talents and his voice can be heard everywhere.

    Sara Brown: 26:45

    Are audiobooks still being produced?

    Maggie Davis: 26:49

    Yes they are . Um, we produce anywhere from two to 300 titles a year, um, just here at APH. And I know there are a handful of other studios across the country that are also producing these audiobooks.

    Sara Braun: 27:03

    How can someone get an audiobook?

    Maggie Davis: 27:06

    Um, these are all registered to the National Library Service, so if you need to access them, um, check them out. Um, I think you can even sign up online. It's pretty easy. Um, a lot of people qualify for this free service, um, I think you just need to get it evaluated by a healthcare professional, um, maybe even a librarian. And then you have full access to this huge library of materials.

    Sara Braun: 27:39

    Now there is the “Described and Captioned” media program. Can you tell us something about APH's involvement in this program?

    Maggie Davis: 27:48

    Insurance. Um, I mentioned them briefly earlier, but um, this is a new company for us. Um, that's a great service. They produce how-to videos with audio description and make them accessible to those who can't see what's happening in the video. Um, so it describes, um, how the logo that appears, describes the action that's happening that you can't hear. Um, they take the videos, they have scriptwriters, and then they send us this script. We produce the sound for you. Um, and, you know, it's already well edited because our technicians are in the studio with our voice actors. Um, so that that nice, clean audio is sent out and incorporated into the videos and the training material is available in an accessible format.

    Sara Braun: 28:46

    Is there anything else you'd like to say about Talking Book Studio or the described and captioned media program?

    Maggie Davis: 28:54

    Um, it's just a real honor to be involved with Talking Book Studio. It has such a rich history of, um, that I've, just, you know, been there for a fraction of, um, on the more difficult days when you're just picking up a very boring book or maybe juggling a whole book. lots of boring meetings more or less. Uh, the big plus is that we enable accessibility. We take this material and produce it for those who cannot access it to have it. Um, the main point of the study, I think we're assuming now that we're just doing audiobooks, is that audio is a great avenue for accessibility. Um, if you're, you know, recently diagnosed with, um, vision loss or a visual impairment, um, the audio is already there, it's already accessible. I mean, obviously, braille has tremendous value. Um, but for those who may develop a visual impairment later in life, the audio is there and it is, they can access it. It's nothing you have to learn. Um, so it's a great opportunity to make many, many things accessible, um, more than just audiobooks beyond these how-to videos. Um, it's menus in restaurants, um, um, instruction booklets, all of those things can also be accessed via audio. Um, so it's, yeah, it's a great honor to be involved in something that's widely available and whose mission, you know, is to make all of this information, all of this stuff, available to everyone.

    Sara Braun: 30:56

    Thank you Maggie for joining Change Makers today.

    Maggie Davis: 31:00

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 31:02

    Next up is APH Press Director Heather Spence. She's here to talk about APH Press in general, what books are in the works, and who has access to those books. Hi Heather and welcome to Change Makers.

    Birch Spence: 31:15

    Hello Sara, thanks for having me.

    Sara Braun: 31:18

    So tell us about APH Press. What kind of books are published?

    Birch Spence: 31:25

    Insurance. Um, an APH imprint publishes educational content, um, including textbooks for teacher preparation programs in the field of blindness and low vision. And you know, we're really trying to support teachers and families and other professionals in this field. Um, so we're an academic press, and our mission is similar to APH's overall mission, which is to empower people who are blind or partially sighted by publishing innovative, well-researched, informative writing that empowers people of all abilities. to be the best they can be to unleash their potential in society. So the audience for our books includes people who are blind or partially sighted, their families, and then the professionals who support them. So our writers are mostly professionals, um, people who have, um, years of direct experience, um, working with clients or students or training future professionals at colleges and universities. Um, so we're the leading publisher in the field of blindness and low vision. That's why we publish world-class educational materials on topics ranging from books on CVI and orientation and mobility to aging and access technology. So we really have a little bit of everything. Um, the press really is well known or widely recognized as publishers of the award-winning foundation series of leading college textbooks, ahem, on blindness and low vision used by vision rehabilitation and special education programs in the United States and abroad.

    Sara Braun: 33:12

    And what books were published this year?

    Birch Spence: 33:16

    That's why this year we launched the second edition of Guides and Games for Teaching Braille Effectively. This is a fun, smaller book that offers unique ideas for adapting a general reading program to the needs of braille readers. So, um, Sally Mangold was one of the original writers of the original book. Um, so the book emphasizes the Mangold reading program, and it's been updated to reflect advances in technology, um, that have made Braille more accessible in a digital format. So things like updateable Braille machines, digital note takers, and translation software. Therefore, the authors also included new research on teaching Braille and current best practices for teachers. Therefore, the activities and games in this book are designed to enhance the teaching of traditional Braille. Um, well, you know, really working on reading from preschool to third grade. And if you're familiar with the original book, chapter six was filled with all sorts of games and activities, and we kept them. Um, all the original games from the first book are still in the book, but we've added some new ones. Um, well, and the exciting thing about this book is that it can be purchased with federal quota funds. So this is the first APH Press book available on Quotation. That was really exciting.

    Sara Brown: 34:54

    And what books are in the works for next year? Can you give a comment, a provocation or a brief description?

    Birch Spence: 34:59

    Insurance. We have two books, um, scheduled for release in 2023, and the first will be the fourth edition of, um, Orientation and Mobility Basics. And you know, this is the classic textbook reference for O&M professionals and students in O&M programs. Um, so it's a two-volume text, um, and it contains contributions from over 50 of the leading scholars, teachers, and practitioners in the field. Um, so this new supplement will address topics like teaching methods, sensory motor skills, um, working with children and adults, and then navigating complex intersections. Um, even with this new addition, there will be an emphasis on the many new technologies and applications that are available to children and adults who are um blind or partially sighted to help them easily navigate their world. And then the other book that we're working on is a new guide for traveling teachers. Um, so this is going to be a smaller book, not as comprehensive as teaching Tick Tricks of the Trade. Um, so a "Itinerant Teacher's Guide to an Effective and Efficient School Year" will be more of a guide geared towards beginning itinerant teachers, and is based on the author's years of experience refining her systems and practices for effective teaching. and effective. In the book, guiding principles are laid out and topics such as organization, the extended core curriculum, and then also working with students with multiple disabilities are covered. So we're excited for these two books to come out next year.

    Sara Braun: 36:54

    Can APH Press books be accessed by everyone, or only for certain people?

    Birch Spence: 37:01

    Anyone can access it.

    Sara Braun: 37:03

    And my last question, is there anything else you would like to share about APH Press?

    Birch Spence: 37:09

    Insurance. Um, I just want to say that we're always looking for ideas for new books or recommendations from the field on existing books that could use an update. Um, I encourage everyone to reach out to us at press@aph.org, which is press@aph.org, to share your thoughts with us. Um, and we're also trying to, um, recruit new reviewers. So if you're interested in being a peer reviewer for any of our books, just drop me an email and let me know what your experience and area of ​​expertise is. We will be happy to add you to our list of experts.

    Sara Brown: 37:53

    Thanks for joining me at Changemakers Heather today.

    Birch Spence: 37:58

    Um, thanks for having me Sara.

    Michael Haynes: 38:02

    Next, we speak with Michael Haynes, Manager of Accessibility Textbooks and Textbooks at APH. Hi Michael and welcome to Change Makers. Thank you. I'm glad to be here with you.

    Sara Brown: 38:16

    So you're talking about the process of making a textbook accessible?

    Michael Haynes: 38:22

    Insurance. Well, our department, uh, I can say that we make textbooks, accessible textbooks basically in three different ways, large print and digital braille and electronic files for braille. Uh, you know, we basically take pre-prepared book edition files based on the original book, whatever they request. We send it to a subcontractor. Uh, we often use files provided by NIMAC called NIS files. These are nice clean files that we use. Uh, we'll send this to the transcriptionist. They will carefully prepare the Braille text, check it with the appropriate codes, uh, UAV or NEMIS music code, you know, and in the case of music books, uh, on top of that, they will also prepare the necessary tactical graphics. Uh, some may still be collages, which is more of a graphic process, but a lot of it is now done electronically. Um, the finished files, graphics, and Braille are returned to APH, qc, by our in-house editors and graphic designers. And they are put into production for embossing and graphic production search and then shipped. We're trying to get the first set of three volumes into production in about 30 days, which is a pretty impressive fear that a full, large braille book could take over 18 months to produce, you know, bigger, you know . , precalculus, or big math or science books. Uh, 60 volume books are not uncommon for a large print edition. We send similar edition files based on the original book to our subcontractor for a first test. They apply styles and formatting, uh, using low visibility readability guidelines when they come back to us here in our department at APH QC, internally by the editors, and then they start production for printing and binding. And again we are offering electronic versions of Braille and large print. We offer braille files fully formatted as ebrf for the low price of $25, which can be downloaded through the Louis catalog and then embossed by the user. You can also get basically plain braille for free, er, requested from us through NIMAC. We take it easy, convert it into a quick braille file, and they can also request and use it on their end. And finally, large print electronic files. Hey, we're using the same files we created for the print version of the book and adding enhancements that the screen reader can use to access the information. The currently available PDF files will help move to pubs in the near future. So quite, you know, a lot of possibilities.

    Sara Braun: 41:05

    Wow. Are you sure. So talk about some of the books you make accessible. Are they just pure textbooks or are they all kinds of books?

    Michael Haynes: 41:16

    it's okay . Basically, the only books that our department can produce, uh, accessible exams and textbooks in an accessible format are core curriculum materials for students' grades K-12. So it would be textbooks, which would also include workbooks and supplies and the like, and also reference books and paperbacks, you know, novels, you know, to be used in a, a, you know, literary setting and classroom. Some digital textbooks. We did some that were adapted, you know, submitted online, you know, as electronic versions. Uh, we don't accept, uh, teacher supplies and, uh, college-level materials are accepted as long as a student uses them, you know, like for an AP course. But we don't just take care of your standard or similar magazines and newspapers.

    Sara Braun: 42:08

    it's okay . And about how many textbooks do you make per year?

    Michael Haynes: 42:13

    Well, in any given year, it's a bit unpredictable how many we'll end up getting. Um, it's influenced by a lot of factors, you know, years of adoption and budgets and new online book series and whatnot. Um, just as an example, over the last five years for our large prints, we've had an average of about 138 requests for new titles per year. Uh, but let's say, for example, just last year, 2022, we had 2,25 new title applications. As you can see, the variation from year to year can be quite large, but the average is fairly constant. Uh, by the way, for Braille we've averaged about 136 new applications a year for the last five years, which I didn't even realize was that close to the, large print, uh, average. But especially this year we had 101 . So there are definitely some peaks and valleys, but let's say, you know, between a hundred and 150 is a good guide.

    Sara Braun: 43:15

    And, uh, recently at the annual meeting, uh, APH President Dr. Craig Meador shared some really interesting statistics on textbooks and accessible textbooks. And he was saying that you all had 101 new Braille textbooks with a total of Braille pages. What is 1,036,235? can you talk about it. Just these numbers and numbers?

    Michael Haynes: 43:42

    Sure, I'll do my best. Uh, sometimes we don't, uh, fully understand them, you know, without seeing them in, uh, the full context. But I could tell you that, uh, I'm sorry. Uh, yeah, the 101, as I just mentioned, that's the total number of new applications that we've received for that particular year, compared to 58 last year. So this is pretty easy. Now it says the total number of braille pages, that's more than a million, uh, the same as between the total number of large pages, that's also more than a million. Um, that doesn't just include the, um, new pages that we've, um, transcribed or converted to large print. That includes, as far as I know, reprints and multiple copies of, let's say, new titles we have. So it's more of an all-encompassing number, the total number of pages you see.

    Sara Brown: 44:42

    Okay, that's still really, I mean, 101 new braille textbooks compared to 58 last year. That's a big increase. So it's great to hear. Well, to do all that, I hope you have a pretty big team. How many people are on the textbook accessibility team?

    Michael Haynes: 45:01

    Alright, well, aside from me and Jane, our principal, and Terri, uh, Brutscher, our administrative assistant, we each have a coordinator for our braille and large print processes who, uh, oversees the day to... .day, uh, process basics. And then we have two internal braille editors and one external braille editor doing quality control work. Uh, three type editors working from home. And we have an additional editor that checks the billing job and takes care of the volume and page counts and makes sure they add up correctly. Uh, big print we just have an in-house editor, uh, that does most of the QA work. Uh, a bunch of us, including the coordinator, uh, for large print, will also help out if needed. Uh, of course we can't go on without mentioning our great outside help. We have a great team of, we have a team of four, four large print proofreaders who proofread textbooks at KCIW, Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women. Uh, we also use various correctional facilities, uh, I think seven in the last year. We hope to step this up again this year for Braille transcription and graphics creation. In addition to a lot of other individual transcriptionists that we hire, you know, ideally we'd primarily provide the QA work for the whole process. We allow for most large print conversion and Braille conversion, we do this with our field services as much as possible. But in total internally we have about 13 of our internal teams.

    Sara Braun: 46:50

    And one last question I always like to ask: is there anything else you'd like to share about accessible textbooks?

    Michael Haynes: 46:59

    Yeah, I just want to say that we produce some of the highest quality accessible textbooks available anywhere, you know, all of the formats that I mentioned at the beginning, uh, I really get it, even at a lower cost and above from many other providers. make similar items for students. You know, all of our publishers are Braille and/or Accessibility certified, which definitely gives us an advantage. Um, you know, with Louis's new website, it's really easier than ever to order our books, you know, quick and easy, you know, especially the books that we've already produced, uh, done, you can have them delivered to you. send as fast as you want. Uh, you know, file downloads are, uh, uh, more easily available, easier to download as far as I know. Hey, of course, downloading files means instant access. You don't have to wait for your hard copy to be printed and/or embossed and bound, and you'll have it in no time. And, uh, Jane Thompson, who started this department over 22 years ago, uh, you know, the goal was, uh, it used to be called accessible textbook, uh, or textbook initiative and collaboration. And again it was about developing something that was superior to textbooks and how they were until then. And it was a great success. We see nothing but improvements over time, you know, the apps we use, the software, the materials used to create, to make the books in the background, you know, the production tools, production time has improved, ya You know, kind of nice for some, you know, experts in the production department. But of course we also have one of our graphics editors here in our department that goes with the information graphics library database. Uh, so yes, this is a hugely popular resource. So, uh, we're just moving on, you know, we've had to adapt with the times, you know, and, you know, with the, uh, space of, you know, the digital age and, you know, we try to do the best we can, you know, trying to juggle between, you know, things that are hard media and embossed and print and digital. It's not the easiest thing to have everything connected and accessible, you know, it's even more challenging. But we think we're, uh, we still think, we still think we're in a good place, you know, there are ups and downs, but we're, uh, moving on.

    Sara Braun: 49:35

    Alright Michael, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Michael Haynes: 49:38


    Sara Braun: 49:43

    We are now talking to the product developers for PlayAbility Toys/Nurture Smart Products. Joyce Lopez. Hi Joyce and welcome to Change Makers.

    Joyce Lopez: 49:52

    Many thanks. It is a pleasure to be here.

    Sara Brown: 49:55

    Can you tell us something about PlayAbility Toys and the company?

    Joyce Lopez: 50:01

    IT'S OKAY. PlayAbility Toys is a company specializing in toys for children with special needs. It didn't start out that way, but when I joined the company in 2003, these two men approached the toy company I worked for and came up with an idea, two ideas that weren't quite conventional enough. for the company I was working for, but soon after I went to her because one of the items was this interesting ball of fabric with six ribs. And it was extremely easy. I think we put a balloon in there. And, but sentence, one of the men, one of the two men actually created the ball for a child who was born without eyes. And this woman contacted him and asked for a ball that wouldn't roll away from her son, that it would make noise so he could track it, that she be extremely light, and that she didn't have batteries or electrical accessories. And that really was an amazingly bright ball that he created and dreamed up. And soon after I joined these two men and we went from a couple of ideas that they had to a business and Bud and I had connections to the world of special needs. I was, my mom was d and he used to drive for the blind. And in a few months I would say that the toys we talked about were all for children with special needs. And that's how it happened. When we first went to toys there, I had to ask in their catalog to add a new category which was children's toys. They were special needs. There was no category. We were the first company to appear in this category. So I can tell you more about Toy Fair's first cheater, but that's how the company started.

    Sara Braun: 52:27

    And talk about this first toy fair.

    Joyce Lopez: 52:30

    By the way, we had contacted the ball, Bud Fraze had taken that ball. He was invited to the Helen Keller Institute in New York and he walked into a room with, you know, a bunch of kids and he threw the ball and the kids could follow it just because he had pleated ribs. And that was enough for them to chase him, shoot him and keep rolling away from them. And then we knew that this dance was something very special. We contacted APH and my contact was Tristan. And when we first went to toys, we didn't have a lot of items, but we did have some great toys for kids with special needs. And there was a speaker and he spoke specifically, I'm not sure if it was Tristan or it could have been someone else about our company. And here's this tiny little company in between these big companies with this, you know, fancy toy display. And we had these wacky toys that people wouldn't really understand unless they knew about them. After one of the, after that conference or um, after the conference where someone showed off our ball and some other items, our booth was flooded. I tell you it was crowded and we did great with just a few items. It was so funny. But we knew that this company in Toy is something special. Mm-hmm.

    Sara Braun: 54:11

    PlayAbility Toys has always focused on special needs toys. Can you tell us a little more about it?

    Joyce Lopez: 54:20

    Yeah. We knew that with just one, Bud and I were primarily developing these toys, and we knew we couldn't compete with the mass market with, um, standard, mainstream toys. And that's when we started to focus only on special needs. I came up with a game called See It and Sign it that teaches children sign language. And we, Bud and I, were invited to the Marvin School for Severely Handicapped Children in Nevada, I think. And that was so easy, after we were there we knew that this was all we wanted to do. Only toys or items that would help children with special needs are developed. And after that visit we came out with such a simple toy called Buddy Dog. And people would look at this dog and go, Hmm, you know, it's not like your standard stuffed animal of his, but it was a stuffed dog with these huge black and white eyes. He had crinkly material, he had, um, a tail that you could pull, you know, stick your finger in and pull and it would vibrate. I had different textures and sensations on this dog. It was great for a typical child, but for a special needs child it was amazing to see her play with that dog. And, um, some other stuff came out soon after that, but then I started working with Tristan a little bit more. And um, actually, Bud Fraze had moved to Arizona, which is where I am in California. So he moved to Arizona and he met a woman who taught art for the blind and she wanted a tray to keep all his paints and brushes in one place. And she wanted braille tiles so the kids would know what colors they were using. And we launched Paint Pot Palette, which is an article for the American Printing House. And, uh, we have a few more items for APH, but most of it is focused on toys for APH or just, uh, kids, kids with special needs. And now we've moved into another category, which you can talk about.

    Sara Braun: 57:04

    And APH and PlayAbility Toys are partners. So talk about your association with APH. It seems that it started very early.

    Joyce Lopez: 57:14

    It started early with the , the dance and Tristan wanted it to be an American Printing House exclusive in their signature colors. So we came out with three sizes, 14-inch, which I think is the red and yellow, red body of the ball with yellow, um, yellow ribs. And the next one is an 18-inch, I think one is the blue one with the yellow ribs, and then the 30-inch one that's black with the yellow ribs. So we created them exclusively for American Printing House. And after that, we came up with another item that I mentioned, the Paint Pot Palette. And this is also sold exclusively through the American Printing House. And it's a great item because, like I said, it has braille tiles that you can trade. It has little paint pots to hold all the paint. Um, it has a place for all your brushes, and it also has, um, grail instructions and printed instructions. So this article is fantastic. And then there was an article I came up with about a blind friend, he used to take care of his, um, his dogs when they went on vacation, but he had real world, real, real world colors and like the blind people mentioned. With children, you don't learn so quickly. So I actually thought about it for a few years. And then I contacted Tristan and told him about it. And I jumped on the paint-by-numbers safari. That's what we ended up calling it. And our first book that has raised line art, raised line art, and fun facts for each animal and includes 10 animals, fun facts, and also in braille and print. And we ended up doing a series of five dollars. So there's, uh, let me see. So we have the rainforest that went under the sea first, backyard animals, desert animals, and endangered tongue species last. And you can use the colors from the Paint Pot palette. You can use crayons, you can use markers. And they are just amazing books that describe each animal. And we just included fun facts that make it not just a drawing activity, um, but also a learning activity.

    Sara Brown: 59:59

    And PlayAbility Toys has partnered with APH on many products. Can you talk about some of the best sellers?

    Joyce Lopez: 1:00:06

    Well, I guess the top sellers don't have much to do with APH, but it is, um, Paint Pot Palette, the Pant By Number series, and, um, balls, Rib-It-Balls. We call them Jacob's Balls.

    Sara Braun: 1:00:23

    And would you like to add something else?

    Joyce Lopez: 1:00:27

    In addition to toys for children with special needs, Martin Fox, the president of the company, we have another company called Nurture Smart, and we work closely with child life specialists on every item we make, we get their feedback. What they wanted were toys that were up to hospital standards for NICU rooms and for kids that, you know, have long hospital stays. And they needed items that were strong, easy to remove in an emergency, and easy to disinfect. Because many of these main items are, for example, our first item, a grid mobile. Many cell phones on the market simply do not meet hospital standards. You can't clean them. They have a little bit of fabric in there, they are difficult to attach to the crib and remove in an emergency. So the crib mobile we first came out with can turn it out of the way. This allows nurses or doctors to get close to the baby if needed and is 100% cleanable. There is no substance. It can be easily attached to the crib. It has, um, a mirror so the baby can see. It has all the bells and whistles that hospital child life specialists could want. And the second one was a junior version of that. And we got so many inputs, again from parents and hospitals, um, child life specialists, who wanted to be able to record a voice or music. So we call it the recording game and you can report that parents or grandparents can record their voices. You can read a book and then the baby will hear the voices of her parents. Um, and it's a little bit smaller, but it's also packed with wonderful features, cleaning ability, sanitizing. Um, and then the next product that we've introduced is, for example, a lightweight, foldable crib gym, which again is 100%, uh, this lightweight sanitizer and you can actually put it in the crib. I don't think there is another mobile that you can just put in the crib with the baby. And our newest place to hang out is a crib mirror. And of course there is a baby mirror, there are tons of mirrors out there, but again ours is up to hospital standards. Um, yeah, that's a really exciting part of the company and that's our focus these days.

    Sara Brown: 1:03:21

    Wow, that's very interesting to think about because it makes sense when I hear that they want to be mobile, but there are standards, these, these, these infection standards and very strict standards. Yeah, and that's the thing, and when you were talking, I was like, okay, well, most cell phones I've seen are positive, and they have a teddy bear or something attached to them. And I'm like, "ok, I don't think that can be", now that makes me think. I know that would not be allowed there. So yes, correct. It's just these little things, you know

    Joyce Lopez: 1:03:52

    And we take the time, if we get a prototype or we have an idea, I go directly to Stanford Children's Hospital and I have contacts there and Marty Fox and um, Matt Barber, who are in Arizona, have contacts with their Over and we get information and we pass spent a lot of time perfecting our ideas, our prototypes, our patterns to meet your exact needs. Therefore, it is very different from any other conventional toy company. Yes . By the way, I told you about the New York Toy Fair and we were the first company to request a list of toys for children with special needs. Well, it's been a long time since I've been there because our articles are more specialized, so we go to a Child Life Specialist concert, uh, conventions and stuff. But after people saw how popular we were, anyone who had a toy that made sounds or did something or had textures was included under it. So it's almost like this category has disappeared. So yeah, I found it interesting.

    Sara Brown: 1:05:12

    That's interesting. And I think anyone who says, 'Well, mine has, you know, but mine is noisy, right? It could be, these could be special needs. It rattles or rattles.” Or Correct, exactly. Fold . So I guess you could put that in a tag. It covers them all. Yes .

    Joyce Lopez: 1:05:26

    I didn't even know if that category still existed, but I thought it was pretty

    Sara Brown: 1:05:31

    Interesting. wow . IT'S OKAY. Well Joyce, thanks for joining. No problem. Join Change Makers Today

    Joyce Lopez: 1:05:37

    . Gracias.

    Sara Brown: 1:05:39

    Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I have included links to all the products and services mentioned in the show notes. As always, be sure to look for ways to make changes this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we break stereotypes. We will learn where blindness and low vision stereotypes come from and how harmful they are. We'll hear from a group of people who are blind or partially sighted talk about stereotypes, public interaction, and anything else they'd like to say about how harmful stereotypes can be. After that, we'll hear about some possible gift ideas for the upcoming holidays. First, we have APH Museum Director Micheal Hudson here to talk about the history of blindness and low vision stereotypes. Hi Michael and welcome to Change Makers.

    Michael Hudson: 0:54

    Thank you Sara

    Sarah Braun: 0:56

    So can you talk about some of the stereotypes you've heard and how they came about?

    Michael Hudson: 1:01

    Insurance. I think, I think one of the most shocking, um, is this idea that people with disabilities have them because they've been cursed by God or, you know, something their family did has lessened the wrath of the Almighty on them, and so They somehow deserve to, uh, be punished. Um, and that, that, that's something that really goes back to the 15th, 16th, 17th, um, where, you know, if you had a disability, it was almost like you when, you know, you deserve to have the disability, ya either because you did something or something your family did, which is, you know, well, you know, it's kind of the opposite of how we think about things today.

    Sara Braun: 1:47

    Are you talking about the cliché that blind people have poor eyesight, have special gifts, um, like a sixth sense?

    Michael Hudson: 1:56

    On the right? So in fact there is one, in medieval Japan there was literally an order of Japanese nuns and they were considered to be oracles that somehow rather the loss of a sensory vision had given them special insight into the supernatural, right? And, of course, there's no basis for, um, actually losing one sense, um, having another sense that would be reinforced. But so is listening, because you, uh, you use, you don't use, you use your visual cortex, a lot of your, your, your attention span is dedicated to seeing, it's dedicated to listening. So it's not that you can hear better, it's that you are, you're more adept at focusing on the sounds that you are, you can listen to them and then interpret them. And from what you can actually do, you can actually understand what you're hearing better because you're practicing it more. As with everything we do in life, we can make better use of our hearing when we're practicing something or paying close attention to it without being distracted by our eyes. But that doesn't mean your actual hearing is better. It is your ability to make better use of what you hear. And often when someone quoted sees that kind of ability being used, they chalk it up to some kind of supernatural hearing, right? But it's not, it's just, it's just about using what you have more effectively.

    Sara Braun: 3:48

    What about blind people with low vision and only see darkness and nothing else? Talk about this stereotype.

    Michael Hudson: 3:55

    I think that's something that surprises most of our visitors to the American Printing House. Um, you know, uh, la, la, la, the truth is that the fastest growing population of blind or partially sighted people in the United States is over the age of 40, you know, and they suffer from, uh, conditions that they usually occur as a result of aging, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. And those aren't usually cataracts, you know, they don't take your sight away overnight, right? Slowly but gradually your eyesight deteriorates. So you have a long line of vision loss throughout your life, and it could actually lead to total, total, total vision loss. But really, the percentage of blind people in the United States who don't have usable vision, you know, they can't distinguish daylight. They, they, they, even if the print is very big, they can't read it. That is a very small, very small percentage. it's very rare. Much more often, someone is somewhere on the spectrum that you describe between, you know, with, you know, in total darkness and, in fact, with, you know, glasses and with large print, they're actually silent and can read.

    Sara Braun: 5:12

    Most people today assume that blind or sighted people know Braille and have a guide dog. That's right?

    Michael Hudson: 5:21

    It's not true either. Um, remember that the blind population in the United States is, um, the largest and fastest growing percentage of those who lose their sight after the age of 40. And so, the older you are, the more difficult it is to acquire good braille skills. It's not that you can't learn Braille and use it easily to mark your microwave oven or your pantsuit in your pantry, but you probably won't be reading Gone with the Wind. Well, there are many people who later in life lose their sight and become proficient in braille. But that's like everything if you're over 40 and I wanted you to learn German it would be difficult for most of us. And on the controller front, only 3% of the blind in the United States use a controller. So why do so few people use a guide dog? It's because a guide dog puts up something nice, first of all, a guide dog is amazing at what he can do. Um, it will allow you to get into a lot of environments, unknown environments that a stick user will find a bit more, um, challenging. But a handler moves pretty fast. Um, and while they will try to fit the dog gate to your door, unless you're a fast runner, a guide dog is probably too much for you. That is why many young children and many older people cannot use a guide dog. They are also going too fast. A guide dog is not like a long can, you can't blame him and put him in your pocket and he'll be fine, right? He/she/it needs to be brushed and fed and nurtured and, uh, you know, there are some restrictions on how you can use some manipulators. You know, they are collapsible. Yes, you can put them in small places, but you can't always fold them up and store them like a stick. A dog trainer, you know, while it's a great way to get around, it places a lot of restrictions on the user. So it's a pretty small fraction of the blind who actually find that this works for them, that this is the ideal way to get around.

    Sara Brown: 7:32

    Unfortunately, there is a myth that blind and sick people cannot work or have a job. Can you talk about this cliché?

    Michael Hudson: 7:40

    Yeah. I find that, you know, funny, uh, like you, because we work with dozens of people every day who are, uh, blind, many of whom are better at their job than I am. Uh, you know, I think, I think one of the things that we have to deal with in this space is that too many blind or partially sighted people are unemployed or underemployed. Um, and, uh, you know, old like the old saga, you know, overeducated and underemployed. And that's something we all have to work on as a society. But still, we're surrounded by all kinds of people who come to work every day and do their job and, you know, get paid and, uh, and, you know, have, you know, prepared, they went to school. and they get the degree they need for their job, and they're out there doing their job. Yeah. So, um, if anyone is to blame for the blind and partially sighted employment issue, it's society that's, you know, too inclined to believe that people can't do things instead of giving them a chance. show that they can.

    Sara Braun: 8:56

    What about blind or partially sighted people who don't have access to printed and handwritten materials?

    Michael Hudson: 9:02

    So, there was a guy named Raymond Kewell who started working on it in the 1980s, maybe, maybe actually maybe in the 70s, but he came up with this machine. Uh, well, you know, by now everyone is probably familiar with optical character recognition. Hey, but if you're not, Raymond Kewell basically invented OCR for reading-blind readers to give them the independence of needing someone to translate a book into Braille or engrave it. So basically you shoot a camera at the print, it goes into your computer, and then the computer reads it out loud to you. Um, but, you know, now it's more sophisticated and, you know, you scan, you can scan a document and it turns it into, uh, it could turn it into print, which then becomes braille, it could be, or it can be read as audio. , you can store it on your computer and , and , and you don't need anyone else. And your phone is smart enough to do it. Um, uh, the, you know, you, you, you don't need nothing but your cell phone and, take a picture and read it out loud, read it and do, you can become completely independent of, uh, uh, um, to convert the printed material in a format readable by yourself. Yes. And that is available in every pocket, right? It's nothing special. It's not something that costs extra.

    Sara Braun: 10:23

    We talk about a lot of clichés. Just talking about how harmful they are to someone who is blind or partially sighted?

    Michael Hudson: 10:32

    Yes. Imagine, no matter who you are, imagine that someone looks at you and immediately makes a negative judgment about you before knowing anything about you. And you know, historically this has happened to all kinds of people, right? Depending on maybe your gender, maybe your ethnicity, maybe your disability. And, and they don't give you a chance. They don't try to find out more about you. They decide, you know, what you can do, not on merit, but because of some story that they heard somewhere, uh, you know, back then, you know, 10 years ago or 20 years ago or something that told them his father or whatever. I mean no way, I mean there's no way our society can move forward if you're judged like that without you knowing you have a chance to prove yourself. Umm, and that's a, that's a real blow to someone looking for a job. Um, you know, you send in your resume and your resume looks great and they take you to the interview and they look at you and decide you can't do the job before they ask their first question. Um, so, you know, stereotypes can be incredibly damaging, uh, to all of us, to all of us. Um, because I guarantee you, no matter who you are, um, there are clichés about you and what you can and can't do. And I, they are very, could be very harmful.

    Sara Braun: 12:12

    And what options are there for the blind and partially sighted to dispel these myths?

    Michael Hudson: 12:18

    My gosh, that's a tough question because if someone is willing to pass a judgment, a negative judgment on you based solely on a physical trait, how can you, how can we, we as a community, get over that? You know, obviously our goal at the museum is to demystify blindness and have people treat our neighbors with disabilities as just another trait, you know, like, uh, you know, their hair color or that wood, uh, uh, the tone of his voice. Um, but it's really going to take society over. You know, we're talking about disability models, and the medical model is one where, you know, people with disabilities are broken and need to be "fixed" in quotes. And then there is a social model of disability where society puts these barriers in front of people, not the disability but the society. And that's really what we adults have to do. We have to start. And , and , and I've always had to deal with people as individuals and judge them on their merits. And yet, to ask the question, what can the blind community do? We just need to continue to find partners in work settings who are willing to work with us so that we can show situation by situation how a person can be successful.

    Sara Brown: 13:50

    IT'S OKAY. Michael, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Michael Hudson: 13:53

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Braun: 13:57

    Now here we have a group of people who are blind or partially sighted to talk about the stereotypes they have faced. We have Paul Ferrara, Accessible Communications Editor; Marissa Slaughter, Principal Investigator; and Richard Rueda, digital content manager of the Connect Center; and Katie Frederick, Digital Content Manager at Vision Aware. Hi Paul, Marissa, Richard and Katie, and welcome to Change Makers. Thanks. Thanks to

    Group of people: 14:23

    you thank you thank you

    Sara Brown: 14:26

    Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work for APH?

    Pablo Ferrara: 2:30 p.m.

    So, of course, I'll go first. My name is Pablo Ferrara. I'm the accessibility editor for submissions, which basically means I review the stuff that's submitted for accessibility. I do web team stuff and website testing. And you may have heard that on this podcast I'm partnering with Paul Segments and just a bunch of other random hosts of webinars and such, especially for high-tech products.

    Marissa Massacre: 14:58

    Hey, my name is Marissa Slaughter. I am a Senior Grants Writer at APH. Um, that basically means that I'm trying to get funding for all of our different programs and I'm writing a lot of fancy letters and, uh, I'm hoping to get money for our programs and then I have to report on that and how I've spent the money and just, uh, telling people about all the great things we have here at APH.

    Richard Rueda: 15:26

    Hello . Er, I'm Richard Rueda, Digital Content Manager here at the APH Connect Center, and I run a Career Connect, er, and for the last two years, I've been, er, managing all the tools and resources for job seekers. , er, youth in transition and young adults entering the workforce for the first time. Uh, and really excited to be here and, uh, to share on this podcast.

    Katie Federico: 15:52

    Hi, I'm Katie Frederick and Digital Content Manager for Vision Aware, which is part of the APH Connect Center. And we focus on providing resources for adults and professionals who work with people who are blind or have low vision. And I've been with APH for about a year now and I'm delighted to be here on the podcast.

    Sara Brown: 16:14

    Can you talk about some of the stereotypes you have encountered throughout your life?

    Richard Rueda: 16:21

    This is Richard, me, I'll be right in. Um, when I think about the stereotypes and, and just my own interactions and, and the reason why I do what I do is, um, I always bring it back to the high unemployment rate of blind people, young and old. , that so many people are unemployed or underemployed who are blind because there are stereotypes that blind people generally can't do things that are perceived as visual, or that we can't do things because it's outside of visual perspective. And I think that's why Career Connect and , and all these resources and APAs exist to help break down those barriers and demonstrate and illustrate to the world that we not only have products and services, but we have blind people working. levels, from leadership, uh, and up and down, doing things that people often think we can't do. And I think that's why these programs and services exist. And, as a job seeker myself, growing up in, um, getting my first job in high school, going to fast food places and getting my feet wet and asking for an application and having these people give me blank looks and think And hesitated in giving me an application because I had bad eyesight, um, I ran into that a lot as a kid. So I think again, that's why I do what I do and we do what we do to make the best of what we have to offer.

    Pablo Ferrara: 17:47

    Yes, this is Paul. And this, this topic made me think of something that maybe I wanted to forget, I don't know. But, um, I'll go, I'll go to an even deeper level. Uh, in college I had really, really good friends. And those guys, you know, them, I'm not saying they didn't think about the blindness part, but it was just a trait, it was a trait. And then one day one of those friends was talking to someone else who was an acquaintance of ours and the guy said, 'That's great what you're doing for Paul. And I remember my friend walking up to the guy and saying you don't really get it, do you? He is my best friend that I have here at this university. And the guy just looked at him like he was from another planet. He, he didn't know what to say, he didn't know how to respond. And I don't know if there is only one word to describe this stereotype. It's almost as if being a person with normal vision isn't on the same level as a person without a disability. Doing something for someone with a disability is a good thing. Your good deed for the day, if you do it for someone long-term, you know it makes you special, and that's a cliché for them and for you. And it was, she just couldn't believe how shocked she was. Because he was someone I had a lot of respect for, even though I wasn't very close to him, I was just struck by the level of contempt for me as a person and for him and that we have a friendship. It was very flashy in a very bad way.

    Marissa Massacre: 19:26

    Yeah. To play off of what Paul said, um, for me personally, I think it's always awesome when people find out that I'm going on a hike or I'm going to a new restaurant with my friends or I'm going on a date or I'm going to a museum. . Like everything normal people do on a daily basis. It's always amazing to people I know that a blind person would do these things and not just sit in their rocking chair in the dark at home. It's just that they just think we don't do anything and we just don't do anything, we can't or we don't, uh, you know, the average stuff that everyone else does.

    Sara Brown: 20:19

    Have you experienced someone walking up to you and just saying the craziest stereotypes you've ever heard? Or literally put your foot in your mouth? What are some of the things you've heard people do, come up to you, and say to you?

    Richard Rueda: 20:36

    Well, it depends on the context of the scam. This is Richard. I'm just saying fast. I'm sorry Katie. That, uh, that's what I get a lot of when I get in-store customer service and no-name businesses, they'll say, well, where's your mom? How did you come here? And I'm like, well, uh, I got here, right? Or, or when I had to go to the DMV to fill out the paperwork, well, where is your person who is going to help you fill out the paperwork? And so I have to do it, I just have to be polite, discreet and elegant, but firmly say: Well, I got here. Um, I'm looking for help. no one came with me. Um, I could be angry, I could be upset, but in public you try to be polite, you try to be tactful, you try to be classy, ​​and you try to bring them all into one. And for me, that's my experience. It's not easy, but that's what you do.

    Katie Federico: 21:20

    I think it's Katie, to deflect from what Richard said, I think trying to say things with a smile, um, but also adding, you know, adding this part of this educational piece about, um, you know, just talking about that, helping people understand, you know, I think a lot of people don't understand things like, yeah, you know, people who are blind can use services like Lyft and Uber and Things to get around because of the technology on our iPhones. and smartphones and things that allow us to use many of our possibilities. I know, you know, even for myself, I've explained to various family members how I navigate new environments, things like, you know, airports, using services like IRAs and things like that, that's really open to the world for me. personally And I think a lot of people, you know, don't get it, but once we explain and demonstrate and show how it works, people just don't know what they don't know. You know, yes, education is challenging at times, but it's also really an opportunity for us to interact and share our experiences and help others understand our lives. Because yeah, we, you know, those of us on this podcast are blind or partially sighted and we, we may do some things a little differently, but we still live, you know, we live our lives and we do things that most people does every day. You know, get up, go to work, and live our lives outside of work.

    Pablo Ferrara: 22:53

    And this is Paul. And there's really a difference between curiosity, someone who's going to tell you, I don't know, can you explain that to me? And someone who's making a negative assumption, and I'm much happier raising someone who's like, look, can you tell me how this works? Uh, like, how can you do that? You know, they don't know what voiceover is, they don't know what a screen reader is, they don't know what all of those things are. So you do something, it could be anything on your phone, for example, because that's usually there and people see it and they have them that look exactly like yours and you can do things with them and they look like you're kind of , you somehow achieve these things on this phone. How do you do it? You know, things like that really make a big difference. Yeah, if someone walks in with an attitude, I don't know, but I'd like to know. It is much, much better and much easier than the other one.

    Sara Braun: 23:52

    And unfortunately, there is a myth that blind or partially sighted people cannot work or have a job. Can you share something about this stereotype and what resources are available to help people find employment?

    Richard Rueda: 24:07

    I think every day in the Career Connect space, we're always looking at how we're not just influencing and motivating job seekers and those who just went blind and want to get a job. And, uh, we also want to educate, uh, employers and, uh, not just until October, when it's National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but all year long, that, uh, blind people can work . And we're demonstrating this in every way that we can through our media, through our webinars, through our in-person conferences, in every way possible. Uh, we just want to maximize and motivate the public that wine people can work here, they're myths and that's how we bust them and how we do our job. And, uh, these adjustments are accomplished through a variety of means. Rehabilitation services by applying to people who simply pick up and go looking for work. It is easy? No, it's not, but I think those are just some of the things we're seeing in racing and trying to break, ableism if you will, stereotypes,

    Katie Federico: 25:16

    And this is Katie at Vision Aware. We've talked a bit about employment, but our main focus at Vision Aware is really helping adults who may have lost their sight later in life or at work. You know, our goal with Vision Aware is really to explain that you may have lost your vision, your vision may be changing, but there's still a lot you can do. So, you know, so many role models, you get to connect with, uh, support groups and other things that help you, you know, on the road to success. Um, just because you lose your sight or your vision changes doesn't mean your life is over and really, um, you know, again, just try, the stereotypes of, you know, releasing the fear of losing your sight. or change your view and say yes it can be scary and you need to cry and go through this process but you know we are here for you. We have our information referral hotline where people can call and get support that way as well. And then we have our amazing resources, um, on all of our Connect Center sites for families with Family Connect and job seekers with Career Connect and the adult population with Vision Aware.

    Sara Braun: 26:31

    How can the blind and partially sighted community break these myths?

    Katie Federico: 26:35

    this is katie I would just say, you know, for those of us who are blind or partially sighted to stay, let's move on, you know, let's go out and educate and keep, let's keep, you know, those who got lost, in Classification and, and you know, squash, squash, educate, you know, bring out these stereotypes, you know, one of the things that we're trying to do with our Connect Center information, our blogs and our webinars and our various resources really have as objective to show that living every day with blindness or low vision is not always good. But, you know, a lot of days, you know, we, we do, we do everything else that people do who don't, you know, see. And so, you know, keep sharing that and, um, you know, promote, get featured, be active in the community, um, I think that's a really important thing to do as well, you know, work with, with Quoted, either at a church activity or some other community involvement, just one more time, because the more people see us and, you know, participate in activities, the more they'll understand us as people. And then in the Paul example above, blindness or low vision is like, 'this is it, this is Katie, this is Paul, you're my friend, and oh yeah, you know, you could be blind or low vision." .

    Marissa Massacre: 27:59

    So this is Marisa. Um, one thing that I really try to stress with my friends and family and people that I know, um, is exactly what Katie says about, you know, just being Marissa in the community and doing my thing. But I want people to understand that there are still barriers in society without feeling sorry for me. So there is a way to understand that, yes I have to take Uber to do whatever I want and it costs a lot of money. And if I want to go to the next town, I probably can't because it's going to be too expensive. And there were issues getting testing and accessible testing and test drive sites and all of that. It's a lot, but I need people who understand. No, I don't want your emotional sympathy for this. I just want you to understand that there is still work to be done and it is not just up to aph, me, katie, richard, paul and other blind people. Yes, it is up to us to be good lawyers, self-advocates and defend what we need and what our rights are. But it's also up to the sighted members of our community to help us out and be good, um, allies, I think that's the best word. So you can understand that there are difficulties, but you can also understand that if we all work together, we can do something about it.

    Pablo Ferrara: 29:41

    Yes . It's Paul. And then I would say that it's really important to make that as clear as possible. As the lady said, correct, we are not looking for you, sorry. We want you to understand the problem so we can fix it. I've found that because I'm doing accessibility work, I've been able to build relationships with people involved in accessibility in other groups, other organizations, just by pointing things out and asking questions. And, uh, that was very helpful. And then I would also say that one thing you have some control over is preparing yourself as best you can for a new job or promotion or learning new skills. And you, you can, you can make these, uh, you can make the preparation worth it, so that you yourself are in control of some of these things, and as much as possible, it's better if it's up to you rather than a dependence on another person. And this is Ricardo. I can't really say anything different from what colleagues just said. I think it goes back to what was said above by Paul and others. You, uh, are seen every day as a blind person, interacting in the world no matter what you do, whether it's through the lens of curiosity and people who really want to know how you do things, or through the emotional compassion or other judgments. . And again it's up to us to educate that person, meet them where they are, and do everything we can to diplomatically convey that blind people are productive members of society. We are all interdependent, sighted or blind. We are all trying to help each other, on a larger scale. Worldwide. Uh, people can get involved, they can be activists, they can be advocates or allies. Like Marissa said, you can get involved with the blindness movement if you want, uh, acb, NFB, or other politically oriented groups, afb are out there, aph y, and they know these are allies moving forward. ahem, progress for blindness in all aspects of life, from daily living to rehabilitation and employment. Knowing that these programs exist will help break down those barriers and demonstrate that blind people are once again productive members of society.

    Sara Brown: 32:13

    And wanted to go over the proper etiquette a person can display when interacting with someone who is blind or partially sighted?

    Katie Federico: 32:21

    I think for me that's Katie. The most important thing to me is just, um, if you're not sure how to help someone or don't know what to say, please ask. And don't assume, um, I have, you know, a lot of people are going to try to grab my cane or, you know, interact with my, my guide dog if I've had a guide dog in the past. And that can be both disorienting and damaging. Um, when we're trying to get somewhere, um, when I'm trying to use these, you know, the dog or the stick, you know, they, these, um, tools, although it's a, you know, very nice and furry, um, it's, you know, I need, I need that dog or kane to focus and help me get where I want to go. So, um, I think, you know, for me, the most important thing is to ask first. Um, and sometimes, you know, people who are blind or partially sighted, if, you know, they refuse help, um, you know, if we refuse help, sometimes we just have to explore and figure things out on our own. . And sometimes we have questions or want help. So, um, you know, ask, ask first is always a good rule of thumb, um, for me I really appreciate when people offer that. First,

    Marissa Massacre: 33:42

    This is Marisa. Um, a good thing to keep in mind is that if you meet a blind person who dates a sighted person, she still talks to the blind person. As if they were actually an independent being. Yes .

    Pablo Ferrara: 34:00

    Oh, I have stories about that. .

    Katie Federico: 34:01


    Pablo Ferrara: 34:02

    We could go beyond the podcast,

    Katie Federico: 34:04

    On the right ? Oh my God.

    Marissa Massacre: 34:05

    At dinner a few nights ago, I was with my girlfriend and the guy next to us looked at my girlfriend and said, 'What did she get? She looks great." And since my girlfriend knows me, she didn't say anything. And I turned and looked at him and said, 'Oh, I've got a burger. That's great. Thank you. Well, thanks for asking." And her look on her face was like, you know, like, "Oh, I just screwed up." But it is, it is one thing. Don't treat us like we're invisible just because we can't see it doesn't work that way.

    Richard Rueda: 34:48

    This is Richard. I just want to add something to that and I think we all get it. words matter Be careful about the words he says and how he interacts with us. Be yourself, relax and treat us like you would any other person. Um, of course I'm not going to take your car keys and walk away yet, but I'll still be your friend, I'll still be your buddy, and I'll do things, um, words matter, be yourself. You don't have to go back, did you see that on TV last night? Mm-hmm. You don't have to avoid these words. We understand. It is not a big thing. So once again, just be yourself and be aware of the words you use in terms of not having to avoid seeing and looking and things like that.

    Sara Brown: 35:29

    Is there anything else you would like to say on this topic?

    Pablo Ferrara: 35:33

    This is Paul. I mean, this is a universal human problem. It's not just a problem we're dealing with. I mean, right? Everyone has stereotypes about where you're from, what you wear, who you support or not, what you like, what you don't. It's a universal human problem, and we're far from alone in dealing with it. And sometimes it's our fault. Uh, so it just implies the need to listen, and the fact is, um, you never want to have to say that, but in the past I've had people say to me, 'You know, I didn't know if I should help you or not. The last person I tried to help was an idiot and did this or that. You know, and I've been in situations where I know the people they were trying to help, and yeah, yeah, they were probably idiots. So, um, it doesn't help the rest of us. No, he does not do it. Yeah, it's not like that, but it also proves that we're human and some of us are idiots who can't see and some of us are idiots who can see and you have to deal with people as individuals and, um, the blindness, the disability, whatever, and it's not going to change the character. You know, you have, you just have to deal with the human and, um, that takes a lot of work. What I want to add to that, and that's Richard, is that, and I was going to say before, not all blind people see the same, you know, some have poor vision, some can see to the side, some can. We don't see everything, but we all feel, hear, and experience life differently through whatever vision we have. And I think that's what's important because it's not a black or white thing. Uh, many times growing up when he could see, see more when he wore bifocals and heard a cane, he confused people and had to explain, well I can't see the bus signs. I see the bus coming. So please understand that we all see things differently and be courteous to the people you interact with.

    Katie Federico: 37:40

    this is katie I think about my points, my colleagues, you know, we're all, we're all human. Um, we're all, you know, we can all listen and learn from each other and from each other. And I think, you know, that's what I am, you know, I want to see more, just, you know, the questions. It's, you know, it's an opportunity to learn and listen, and, you know, there are things that, you know, we can, we can all learn from each other as human beings. And, um, you know, I think just being open, um, no, you know, not being afraid to approach someone who might, um, look different or be traveling with a guide dog or Kane and just say, Hi, you know I am, I am so-and-so, is there anything I can do to help you? Or, you know, are you okay? Is there support you need? Um, just don't, um, be, be open, get close to people and, um, have conversations.

    Sara Brown: 38:40

    Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Group of people: 38:44

    Thanks. Thanks,

    Pablo Ferrara: 38:46


    Sara Braun: 38:51

    Now we're anticipating the holidays with some great gift ideas from APH. It's that time of year again where you might start thinking about what to get people for the upcoming holidays. And we have some suggestions for both children and adults. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown.

    Pablo Ferrara: 39:10

    I'm Paul Ferrara, APH Communications Accessibility Editor.

    Sara Braun: 39:13

    And these are some of our suggestions. I go with children and the first one I chose is the paint by numbers coloring book. This series has spawned online coloring books for you to choose from and they include tropical jungle under the sea, backyard critters, and desert critters. These coloring books have raised lines that you can use to easily trace the designs with your fingers and then you can trace them with a colored pencil or colored pencil or brush. This action makes it easy for beginners and intermediates to learn and improve their skills and paint by numbers. Coloring books are currently $45. Another children's toy that I like is the Hop-a-Dot mat. This mat helps students learn braille while being physically involved and active. The Hop-a-Dot Mat encourages young Braille readers to acquire and demonstrate their knowledge of Braille cell patterns. Braille alphabet letters, single cell contractions and numbers along the motion. The Hop-a-Dot mat is currently priced at $240. Another gift to keep kids and adults active is the Rib-It Ball. This ball is 18 inches tall and these rib-it balls are so much fun. They are easy to grab. They have contrasting ribs and the ruffled fabric on the ribs also adds an aural component. The Rib-It-Ball is currently $41. And my latest gift idea for kids is the BrailleBuzz. This is a really cool product from APH. It's educational and that's okay. And if you can learn a little in the kids' playtime, everyone wins. The BrailleBuzz promotes early literacy skills and encourages young learners to practice Braille characters and phonics. This is a great tool for young Braille learners ages two to five, and helps the user practice pronouncing Braille characters much like a variety of audio-based toys teach writing in printed. Resembling a cartoon bumblebee, the BrailleBuzz really encourages little ones with audio feedback. There's a friendly recorded human voice and fun sounds combined with a Perkins-style keyboard designed specifically for little ones. And the BrailleBuzz is currently $99.

    Pablo Ferrara: 41:33

    Okay, Paul, I have this for children. that you have adult I have several things. The first is probably my favorite APH product, including the high-tech stuff. It's definitely in the top 3. It's the InSights Art calendar. It's a beautiful, full-color calendar. It shows the works of art by visually impaired artists. Uh, it is suitable for students or adults who are visually impaired or blind. And really to everyone who likes unique works of art. It has months, days, holidays and phases of the moon. They're all in braille and large print on the calendar, you can use it, me on a desk, you can hang it on a wall, it's ring bound so you can turn the pages more easily. The current cost is $8 and I can tell you that I have been giving this calendar to members of my family for several years. Everyone loves it even if they are not a Brail reader. You have a typical view. They love artwork, they love braille, and they print together. It's a fantastic product and you literally can't find anything like it anywhere else. So I definitely love it, which is why I'm starting with it. Some other ideas, let's talk about the talking kitchen thermometer. It is a talking thermometer with a large screen. You can use it for cooking, gardening, other hobbies, and many other purposes. It has a built-in island at the top where you can hang the thermometer within easy reach. It currently costs $32. Very good practical product. Then there's the Walk Run Fitness Talking Speedometer. It's great for those who are active or thinking of becoming more active. Pairs well with the Walk Run for Fitness Kit, and this kit features a personal guidance system that can be placed just about anywhere in your yard, a school, or a park. When running or walking with human guidance, you can use the kit's adjustable strap. It is long enough to accommodate wheelchair users as well. The Walk Run for Fitness kit is currently $193. My last gift idea today is the Pocket Braille Board. And you know, when someone blind loves a whiteboard and a stylist, they love them, they're dedicated to them, and that's fantastic. It comes with a large stylist handle that allows for four braille lines, and that's quite a lot. And it's currently only $12.

    Sara Brown: 43:59

    And these are just a few great gift ideas from the American Printing House for the Blind that you can find on our website. And this is af. org. And we've got links to Connect Center, Vision Aware, and all those great Christmas gifts you just heard about in the show notes. Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers, and as always, look for ways to be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we conclude our 154th annual meeting, held October 5-7 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville. Ex officio trustees, EOTs, census clerks, online ordering clerks, and other attendees came together to share ideas, news, and inspiration. Listen as I walk you through the InSights Art, Hall of Fame, and talk to just about anyone. Hear some sounds from this year's Annual Meeting here.

    Jay Wilson: 0:54

    Ich bin Jay Wilson von der Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

    Sarah Braun: 0:56

    Marvelous. Well, is this your first annual meeting?

    Jay Wilson: 0:59

    Oh no. I have been to several. Well, the best thing about APH is always networking and reaching out to people from different schools for the blind or different providers and seeing all the products. So it's great to be back in person.

    Amy Parker: 1:12

    I am, I am Amy Parker. I work at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

    Sara Braun: 1:16

    And can you tell us how it feels to be there in person again?

    Amy Parker: 1:19

    It's a joy. It's a joy to see people how they've changed, how they've grown, to have conversations that you might not have online or maybe just don't have time for. Seeing someone and just sitting there for a few minutes and listening to what they're doing is just a joy.

    Sara Braun: 1:36

    And is there anything you've learned in the course of a coup in the last few days that you know you'll take with you and try to implement? This

    Amy Parker: 1:43

    It's so good to be reminded of this inclusive mindset, to empower us. I loved Leona's lecture. It was just perfect in terms of how we see the world differently and how we can collaborate and connect with people, wherever we are, wherever we live and work. We can do that work there and be a part of it.

    Sarah Braun: 2:05

    And one last question. Is there something you're hoping is in the works for next year? Or if it's new products, new services, ideas, or a lot of people who said they want to network and nurture that relationship in the new year. Is there something you are waiting for in 2023?

    Amy Parker: 2:21

    Well I keep hearing good things about the hive and it's just a way to build relationships. So I teach at the university, we use these lectures, we use the products, our students use them, but it's just real empowerment for our programs. The quality of the content is so, um, it's such a relief and a joy to be able to work with The Hive. And Leanne and Amy Campbell, just wonderful.

    Sara Braun: 2:49

    Those are some of the great people you just mentioned. Okay Amy, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Amy Parker: 2:54

    Many thanks.

    Dr. A. S. Anthony McGee: 2:56

    I'm, uh, Dr. Antonio McGee. I am an EOT from Mississippi and work at the Mississippi School for the Deaf and the Blind.

    Sara Braun: 3:03

    Marvelous. And now this is your first annual meeting?

    Dr. A.S. A. S. AS. Antonio McGee: 3:05

    That means I've only been an EOT for, well, September, officially one year.

    Sara Braun: 3:11

    Congratulations on this first anniversary. That's great. How does it feel to be a part of your first annual meeting?

    Dr. A.S. A. S. AS. Antonio McGee: 3:18

    That's great. It's a networking opportunity, um, more. Uh, we attended a small cohort of new EOTs in April, but it's an opportunity to network with more people across the United States and I think they get this message that we've been looking for and more are effective in serving our children with visual impairments

    Sara Braun: 3:38

    Marvelous. Antonio, thanks for coming to Change Makers and welcome to the team. Welcome to APH. Thank you . Welcome as EOT.

    Dr. A.S. A. S. AS. Antonio McGee: 3:46

    true thanks

    Abby Hodge: 3:47

    I'm Abby Hodge and I work with the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

    Sarah Braun: 3:52

    How does your first annual meeting feel?

    : 3:54

    It is nice. It's very, um, very, um, very welcoming, very helpful. It feels good to somehow connect with, um, people who make the products you use every day, I teach adults, so it's really nice to meet the people who make.

    Greg Gerhart: 4:10

    Hello, my name is Greg Gerhart and I am from Pennsylvania.

    Sara Braun: 4:13

    How does it feel to be back in person at the APH annual meeting?

    Greg Gerhart: 4:16

    Oh, it's wonderful to connect with new people, people you've met in virtual meetings or through social media, and to meet and really enjoy all those sessions together. It was real time, a lot of fun.

    Sara Braun: 4:29

    What will you take away from this annual meeting? Is there something you say, "I can't wait to implement this at work?"

    Greg Gerhart: 4:37

    Uh, I think with all the developments that are coming, uh, there are so many exciting new developments in our field and it's a great opportunity to see where the future is, what's what, what's in the future lies ahead and what Exciting is the news and the changes in ours, I work with students who are blind and partially sighted, um, with the Department of Education and it's great to see what the future holds for school-age students.

    Sara Braun: 4:59

    Gregory, thank you for joining Change Makers today.

    Abby Hodge: 5:03


    James Cato: 5:04

    Ah, James Caton, Superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Blind.

    Sara Braun: 5:08

    How does it feel to be virtual in person again after two years?

    James Cato: 5:11

    It's very exciting to see everyone and, you know, there's such a presence at APH and it's nice to be a part of it again.

    Sara Braun: 5:19

    What excited you most? What are you waiting for when you return to Arkansas?

    James Cato: 5:25

    Oh, all my notes I did, so I would have to take them out.

    Sara Brown: 5:30

    Well . And one last question. Is there anything else you would like to say about your time here at the AGM?

    James Cato: 5:34

    Well, I wish we had another day or so, but, uh, we haven't, so it's going to end, but, uh, I really enjoyed it a lot.

    Sara Braun: 5:42

    Far. Well . James, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    James Cato: 5:45


    (Video) Meet the Changemakers Fall 2022

    Jill Dunway: 5:46

    My name is Jill Dunway. I'm at the Assistive Technology Training Center. We are a federally funded partnership between the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and the Blind and the American Printing Office for the Blind, and we are proud partners with APH.

    Sara Braun: 5:58

    And how does it feel to be back at our annual meeting?

    Jill Dunway: 6:01

    It's great to be personal again. Virtual events are wonderful, but it's so nice to meet face to face.

    Sara Braun: 6:07

    And is there anything you took away from the sessions you attended that made you very emotional?

    Jill Dunway: 6:13

    What I probably look forward to the most is that I am a braille user myself and as TVI is Polly. I think everyone is super excited.

    Sara Braun: 6:21

    I agree. That's big. That's big. And is there anything you took away from the sessions that you will be happy to implement when you return home?

    Jill Dunway: 6:29

    Just a renewed commitment to our mission and what we do and how important it is that we serve our own, our children and teachers and parents and families.

    Sara Braun: 6:38

    Marvelous. Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Jill Dunway: 6:41


    Jay Wilson: 6:42

    I'm Jay Wilson from the Indiana School for the Blind, Individually Disabled.

    Sara Brown: 6:45

    How does it feel to be personal again? Well,

    Jay Wilson: 6:47

    It's always been that the great thing about APH is networking and communicating with people from different schools for the blind or different providers and seeing all the products. So it's great to be back in person.

    Sara Braun: 6:58

    Is there something you will take from everything you learned here and apply it to your daily life in Indiana?

    Jay Wilson: 7:04

    Well, I think, yeah, I think all of them, all of the APH products, you get to see up close what they do and some of the different things that they do, so you can bring that to your employees.

    Sara Braun: 7:13

    Jay, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Jay Wilson: 7:15

    true thanks

    Nancy Moulton: 7:17

    My name is Nancy Moton. I work in educational services for blind and partially sighted children through Catholic charities in Maine.

    Sarah Brown: 7:23

    For example, how does it feel to be back here in person and what excited you the most about the shoot?

    Nancy Moulton: 7:30

    Um, I love being face to face again, connecting with all my colleagues across the country and seeing all the things APH is working on.

    Sara Braun: 7:37

    Many thanks. Many thanks.

    Roberto Cabello: 7:40

    I'm Robert Hair, I'm the Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind.

    Sara Braun: 7:43

    Is this your first annual meeting?

    Roberto Cabello: 7:45

    No, I've been many, many times over probably 25 years.

    Sara Braun: 7:49

    wow how does it feel to be back in person?

    Roberto Cabello: 7:53

    Oh, you can't connect on the same level as when we're in person, so we're so glad to be back. We miss all of our colleagues and, uh, we spend that one-on-one and group time together.

    Sara Braun: 8:06

    Now. Is there anything you took away from the sessions that makes you feel so excited, so excited and eager to implement or looking forward to the coming year?

    Roberto Cabello: 8:14

    Well, I think today's keynote speaker was fantastic. Mm-hmm. . Um, and really understanding the kind of intersectionality is like asking about blindness or, or also about all the other things that we've been working on as a society, like towards more, um, inclusion and diversity and just changing the way we think . I thought it was a fantastic, fantastic presentation.

    Sara Braun: 8:41

    Thanks Roberto. Have a good rest of your time.

    Roberto Cabello: 8:43


    Speaker 11:8:44

    I'm Cara Kennett from Indiana.

    Sara Braun: 8:45

    And is this your first annual meeting?

    Cara Kennett: 8:47

    This is my first annual meeting.

    Sara Braun: 8:49

    IT'S OKAY. Now, how does it feel to be at your first annual APH meeting?

    Cara Kennett: 8:52

    Well, I think the theme is empowering. So it's very encouraging to learn new tools for my toolbox and to get my staff back and help them by giving them tools for their toolboxes so my students can be more successful.

    Sara Braun: 9:04

    And one last question. Is there something you're looking forward to that you can implement when you get back to work? Or is there something you're looking forward to, be it products or services, that you've seen in some of these sessions for next year?

    Cara Kennett: 9:16

    Absolutely. I think the expanded core curriculum is a big boost, so I'm going to grab some tools for my toolbox to use and retrieve. And we'll go from there.

    Sara Braun: 9:24

    Let me introduce you.

    Utuampu Action Point: 9:26

    Hi, I'm Mata'afa Actino Utuampu, I'm American Samoa.

    Scott McCallum: 9:30

    Hi, I'm Scott McCullum. I'm, uh, from the Washington State School for the Blind.

    FAU: 9:35

    Hello. So FAU TVI of American Samoa

    Sara Braun: 9:38

    Well, who's been to the APH Annual Meeting? Have you been all three before or is it your first time?

    FAU: 9:43

    That is my first time.

    Sara Braun: 9:45

    IT'S OKAY. How does it feel for first-time visitors to be here in Louisville, Kentucky, to see all the sights and sounds, and to be a part of the annual Peach Gathering?

    Utuampu Action Point: 9:54

    Big. My gosh, it's a great experience to meet a lot of people here. Um, to have an assistant that we never knew before, we have a lot of assistants that can support us at home with materials and products that we can use for our blind students.

    Sara Braun: 10:11

    Marvelous. And what's the best thing you've seen so far here at the APS Annual Convention or just here in Louisville, Kentucky?

    FAU: 10:19

    Umm, I can actually connect with the sponsors or advisors that we'll be supporting on American Sam.

    Sara Braun: 10:29

    Big. Now we have Scott McCallum and you're a veteran here. Yes . Now that we're back in person, talk about some of the things he's seen and some of the amazing things. It's my first 3rd year personal meeting, but it feels so good and I don't even know what it was like before.

    Scott McCallum: 10:46

    Yes . It's wonderful to be here and meet people from American Samoa and make new friends. And we're starting a new program with APH that also includes American Samoa, so I'm really excited to meet people from there. To be honest, there's just this energy here and yes, there's a lot of really great products and services that we're learning about, but the energy here and the connections that we're able to make with professionals who are all blind and visually impaired children. the world serves the whole world, the world, really. That's great.

    Sara Braun: 11:11

    That's great. It's so wonderful to just be personal. That's something I hear a lot that I'm seeing this again personally on Zoom. There is nothing like the zoom, that feeling and electricity that we all have. Is there anything else anyone would like to say about the APH Annual Meeting before we close?

    Scott McCallum: 11:26

    I mean this is for new friends. We are very happy to meet everyone here.

    Utuampu action point: 11:31

    I want to say I'm glad to meet Scott. Uh, I know he will be a great help to us in American Samoa.

    Sara Brown: 11:39

    Anything else?

    FAU: 11:39

    It's great to hear from the people who actually make the products.

    Sara Braun: 11:46

    Marvelous. IT'S OKAY. Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today. Rest, wonderful rest of your time. Thanks.

    Scott McCallum: 11:54

    Many thanks.

    Paige Challenger: 11:54

    I'm Paige Challenger from Arkansas Educational Services for the Visually Impaired.

    Sara Braun: 11:59

    And this is your first APH Annual Meeting?

    Paige Challenger: 12:01

    Yes it is.

    Sara Brown: 12:02

    Wonderful. How do you like it so far?

    Paige Challenger: 12:05

    I like it. It's very interesting. It's great to see products and hear the latest news.

    Sara Brown: 12:10

    And is there something you've learned that you're so excited about, whether it's a product or a service you've seen?

    Paige Challenger: 12:16

    Um, what I really enjoyed was the Michigan Department of Education. That was, uh, the independent classes, you know, and everything that I found really interesting and I can't wait.

    Sara Brown: 12:27

    use it Is there anything else you'd like to say about the APH Annual Meeting or products you've seen that you're excited about and can't wait to see?

    Paige Challenger: 12:34

    The Polly? I can't wait for this to come out and everything. Um, a lot of us have talked about this in my group. You know what we can see as a useful tool for a braille beginner to progress to braille, just a very useful and comprehensive tool.

    Sarah Brown: 12:50

    Paige, thank you for joining Change Makers today.

    Paige Challenger: 12:52


    Michelle Arakawa: 12:54

    I'm Michelle Arakawa, I'm from the Hawaii Department of Education, and I also have my visually impaired teacher here from Hawaii.

    Erika Hopper: 1:01 p.m

    Hi, I'm Erika Hopper.

    Sara Brown: 13:02

    IT'S OKAY. Welcome ladies. Can you talk about what it's like and what you're learning here at the APH Annual Meeting?

    Michelle Arakawa: 13:08

    I'm learning a lot about how other states are doing amazing things and it's giving me ideas that we can come back to our state, how we can connect with them or, um, really just reach out and also use their resources to help. Our program.

    Little Santori: 13:23

    My name is Santori Little and I work at the AIDB Center for Assistive Technology Treatment.

    Sara Braun: 13:28

    And is this your first annual meeting?

    Little Santori: 1:30 p.m.

    It's my first annual meeting.

    Sara Brown: 13:31

    Now, how long have you been in the position in the field?

    Little Santori: 13:34

    I've been in the field for about four years.

    Sara Brown: 13:35

    Marvelous. And this is your first annual meeting, so how does it feel to attend an APH annual meeting?

    Little Santori: 13:41

    It feels wonderful. Look at all the things we give to students and their parents and even teachers. It's a great thing to see because I'm very, very in awe of it.

    Sara Braun: 13:51

    All. And is there something you learned that you will take with you and implement when you get home?

    Little Santori: 13:56

    self representation. So this is a big problem for me. The same happened to me. I want people to be able to do what they can do without needing too much support because it gives them a sense of confidence.

    Sara Braun: 14:06

    Is there anything you have learned from the sessions you have attended that you are looking forward to and that will come in the future? Whether it is a product, a service or anything?

    Little Santori: 14:16

    I really want mantises. I really like Mantis because what I learned today is not just a reading book for a young child, but it can grow with the child as they grow.

    Sara Brown: 14:26

    So thanks for joining me today at Change Makers.

    Little Santori: 14:28

    Thanks. You are having a great day.

    Audrey Graves: 14:29

    Hi, I'm Audrey Graves. I'm with the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Low Vision. I am a program director.

    Sara Braun: 14:37

    Wonderful and welcome. Is this your first annual meeting?

    Audrey Graves: 14:40

    Oh no. I haven't been to many of them. I love every year.

    Sara Braun: 14:43

    Now. How does it feel to be personal again? I know he's the first and it feels great. And what about you? You are a veteran here.

    Audrey Graves: 14:49

    It feels amazing. I mean, with COVID and everything being virtual, we've learned a lot about how to serve everyone. But to be personal, there is nothing like it. This is the most welcoming group of professionals I have ever been with. so i love it

    Sara Braun: 15:04

    Is there anything you heard or learned in the sessions you participated in that you would like to implement when you get home?

    Audrey Graves: 15:12

    Oh yeah, I mean, I'm happy to see things like Polly here. I think our students will love Polly because it is a game and an educational game. Um, I also went to a meeting with Michigan. So a lot of independent living skills modules, also with the APH products that you can use with them. Um, I'm trying to think of everything else. I love hearing from APH grantees because they always have a fresh perspective on everything we do.

    Sara Braun: 15:36

    Audrey, thank you for joining Change Makers today.

    Audrey Graves: 15:38

    Many thanks.

    Jonathan Carley: 15:39

    My name is Jonathan Carley from Des Moines, Iowa.

    Sara Brown: 15:42

    Is this your first annual meeting?

    Jonathan Carley: 15:43

    That is to say.

    Sara Brown: 15:44

    So tell us about it. How does it feel to attend an APH annual meeting?

    Jonathan Carley: 15:47

    Yes. It feels great to be here. I have heard many stories over the years from people who have had positive experiences here. So this is my first time. Umm, I got to take the APH museum tour yesterday and it was great to see where all this is happening and where all our materials come from. Um, yeah, so far so good. I just enjoy meeting people from all over the country and hearing all the same stories we have.

    Sara Brown: 16:09

    What are some of the things you look forward to when you get back to work, implement or just see if it's in the pipeline, if it's new products or services, that kind of thing? What are you waiting for?

    Jonathan Carley: 16:21

    Um, well, so far I've heard about it from Polly, um, and I've had conversations about how we're going to bring that to Iowa and how we're going to implement it with students. Um, but then the biggest one was about independent living skills and, um, from the Michigan Independent Living Skills Checklist um, and the modules that they created and sort of systematic, as we usually do with a lot of people who students can implement. So many ideas are running through my head right now. All

    Sara Brown: 16:44

    On the right . Well Jonathan, thanks for joining Change Makers today.

    Jonathan Carley: 16:47

    your bet Thank you very much.

    Yvonne Ali: 4:49 p.m

    I'm Yvonne Ali, I'm an EOT from the state of Missouri.

    Sarah Brown: 16:53

    IT'S OKAY. And you said you're retired now, but you're here at our annual meeting?

    Yvonne Ali: 16:58

    Yes. I'm here to give my career a grace period to close the chapter. Uh, in the book and start a new one.

    Sara Brown: 17:10

    How long have you been in the game?

    Yvonne Ali: 17:11

    20 years here. Wow. years as EOT. Um, before that I did countless other things, um, other industries, but this was the one I enjoyed the most.

    Sara Braun: 17:24

    I see you stayed 20 years so why not? Okay, so you make a point, say goodbye to your colleagues. How does it feel when you do this? That is.

    Yvonne Ali: 5:37 p.m

    It's really wonderful because there are a lot of people who have helped me or I have helped them. We really work together. Um, there are other EOTs that I wanted to say goodbye to, as well as the rest of the staff. There are some people at APH that I love very much, and I wanted to come down and tell them personally that I appreciate them and, um, good luck.

    Sara Brown: 18:09

    Well . Is there anything you'd like to tell the audience after his last appearance at the APH Annual Meeting?

    Yvonne Ali: 6:16 p.m

    Yes, I think it's important to realize that you don't have to touch someone to touch them and that's what we do as a trustee. Um, like those who work for the students we serve and can touch lives. Uh, maybe we don't get a chance to know that the people we serve appreciate it. Um, but we do.

    Sara Braun: 18:52

    So congratulations on your retirement. That's huge. Enjoy, enjoy doing what you want, when you want and how you want. It's okay, take care.

    Yvonne Ali: 19:01

    Absolutely. it's liberating

    Sara Brown: 19:03

    Many thanks . Now we leave the traveling interviews and visit the Insights Art exhibition. Various works of art were exhibited and put up for sale. I was able to speak with the InSights art coordinator and an artist who had his work on display. We're here at Insights Art and we have InSights Art Coordinator Meg Outland. hello meg

    And Outland: 7:33 p.m.


    Sara Brown: 19:34

    We're back in person and you have all these beautiful pieces of art. Talk to us about what it means and how it feels to get personal again, because it's just a different feeling that you just can't get past your computer screen.

    And Outland: 7:45 p.m.

    So our last in-person ceremony was in 2019 and it's been a long time, so I'm really excited to see everyone exploring the exhibit. And I'm also very excited because it's my first personal time, so it means a lot to me and to the people who are here as well.

    Sara Brown: 20:05

    And there were a lot of comments, um, about seeing the work in person. What are some of the comments you've heard?

    And Outland: 20:12

    Um, I think a lot of people enjoy looking at such a variety of different media. We have many canvases like acrylics, we have photography, we have sculptures, we have fiber arts and tapestries. So it's really fun to get a mix of different artists from different backgrounds.

    Sara Brown: 20:31

    Is there a piece of art that says, "Oh my gosh, that's it, that's it, that's cool" What do you have, what's special, I know there's something a mayor bought a piece about?

    And Outland: 8:40 p.m.

    Yeah. So the mayor of Miami bought a piece of art at the gallery called Savior Earth, the Sea Turtles. This was created by third grade students at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind in Florida. And it's a big globe built out of a hula hoop. And then a bunch of different little sea turtles swim around it. And all sea turtles have tactile shells, er, shells, on top. So these were created with shells and it's really cute. It's four by four, I think. Mm-hmm. . So it's a pretty big canvas.

    Sara Braun: 21:09

    Yes, most of them are. Well . And is there anything else you'd like to say about the art of InSight for those who may not have made it today or tomorrow but are interested in attending next year?

    And Outland: 9:21 p.m.

    Once the Annual Meeting begins, the registration form for the 2023 season will be online, so stay tuned. Umm, you can submit a physical or digital post, whichever you prefer, and I look forward to seeing everyone's artwork.

    Sara Braun: 21:36

    Marvelous. And we'll be sure to include a link in the show notes on how to submit artwork for our Insights 2023 Art Contest next year. Very good, Meg, thank you very much.

    And Outland: 9:45 p.m.


    Sara Braun: 21:46

    I'm here with Kylie Sykes and for the Change Makers listeners, we had Kylie earlier this year when she talked about Insights Art about a month or two ago. Hi Kylie, how are you?

    Kylie Sykes: 21:56

    I'm fine tranks. How are you?

    Sara Braun: 21:58

    Well thanks. How does it feel to see his work and all the other work here at InSights Art?

    Kylie Sykes: 22:04

    It feels wonderful to be in the same place as my artwork.

    Sara Braun: 22:11

    . Oh God. What do you see now Is there something you enjoy or that inspires you here at InSights Art?

    Kylie Sykes: 22:18

    Um, yeah, I've seen quite a few different pieces of art that I liked.

    Sara Brown: 22:25

    And is there anything else you want to say? While you're here at InSights Art looking at all the artwork you'd like to share with someone who is intimidated to pursue art because they're blind or have low vision?

    Kylie Sykes: 22:37

    What I'm going to say is if you're blind or visually impaired, try to, uh, see what you love. And then if you think you won't like it, give it a try because you never know.

    Sara Brown: 22:55

    Thank you Kylie for talking to me today.

    Kylie Sykes: 22:57

    My pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 23:03

    Now we move on from InSights Art to the special awards ceremony. We'll hear from the winners of the Navigator Award, Horizon Award, and Louis Award. The Navigator Award recognizes creative and caring individuals who continually seek new ideas that result in the development of innovative products aimed at improving the quality of life for blind and visually impaired people. This year's winner was the Vista Education Partners National Homework Hotline. Monique Coleman, president of Vista's Education Partners and founder of the National Homework Hotline, accepted the award, saying:

    Monique Coleman: 23:44

    This recognition means a lot to me because as a teacher, visually impaired in this field for many years, 22+, I am, um, deeply rooted in APH and the products and services, um, and programs that it offers. So it's really special to receive this recognition from this organization. And I am very honored and grateful because it also means that the grassroots organization that I have created along with my colleagues is volunteering in the mission of helping blind and partially sighted youth meet their educational needs at home with the support they they need. . Uh, just for this work to be recognized on this stage and this platform is really special. I'm thankful for that.

    Sara Brown: 24:30

    The next award presented was the Horizon Award and this award recognizes caring and creative individuals who continually seek new ideas that lead to the development of innovative products aimed at improving the quality of life for blind and visually impaired individuals. This year's winner was the DAISY Consortium. I spoke with George Kersner, Director of Innovation.

    Jorge Kersner: 24:55

    Well, we are deeply honored to receive this award from APH. APH has always been an important player in this field. And, this recognition and understanding that American Printing House has joined the DAISY consortium as a full member will have a huge impact on many people around the world. Therefore, we are very pleased that APH is entering the world stage to be at the forefront of standards and access to information.

    Sara Braun: 25:36

    The final award presented during the award ceremony was the Louis Award. Named after Lou Louis Braille, this award recognizes the impact and creativity of a product idea, method or promotion that has increased the availability or popularity of braille or tactile graphics. Christine Muse, inventor of the McCall Braille Code, accepted the award.

    Cristina Musa: 26:01

    Uh, honestly, I'm still so surprised to be here. Um, I'm very honored. It's such a prestigious award, the Louie Award. You know, it doesn't air regularly. To have my work recognized in this way by the APH was just incredible. And I am very grateful that so many people see the importance of what I have done.

    Sara Brown: 26:29

    The next day was another special recognition day. The Field of Blindness Leaders and Legends Hall of Fame is an honor established in 2001 and organized by leaders in the field. The award is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by certain Hall of Fame inductees and through a history of outstanding service to the blind and visually impaired. Newcomers this year were Dr. Kay Farrell and Trisha Zorn-Hudson. I met with both ladies and this is what they had to say about being among the 68 respected professionals who have shaped the history, philosophy, and knowledge and skills in the field of blindness over the last 200 years. Well,

    Dra. Kay Farrell: 27:20

    It's something I would never dream of. I never dreamed of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. And to think that it's happening while I'm still alive is just amazing.

    Sara Brown: 27:30

    And what does it feel like when you see your name next to all the other legends? How does that feel, how do you feel, especially having started your career and now being on this list? Well,

    Dra. Kay Farrell: 27:41

    I am lucky that I actually know a third of the old initiates. I either knew them or worked with them or something. So it's nice to see their names up there and the thought of me joining them just blows my mind.

    Trisha Zorn-Hudson: 27:55

    Oh, it's quite an honor. Um, very humiliating. And it's a great honor to be recognized for my work and my accomplishments, not just professionally, but in my previous career as an athlete. And it's, uh, something that you don't anticipate or expect. So when it ends, it's pretty, uh, amazing. And, um, you know, it's what I've been doing, um, my whole life is, you know, trying to make an impact in people's lives and every single day that I meet. And, um, I think, um, being inducted into the Hall of Fame here at the American Printing Press for the Blind, is, um, something that will be forever and will be forever. And when people can see that and see what you know, I've done and I've broken down barriers and barriers, then you know that gives them hope.

    Sara Brown: 28:54

    And those were the wise words of Dr. K. Farrell and Trisha Zorn-Hudson. In concluding this Annual Meeting Summary, I would like to thank everyone who attended our Annual Meeting. We couldn't do it without you and we hope to see you all again next year. If you're interested in submitting artwork for Insights Art or nominating someone for the Hall of Fame, I've included links in the show notes so be sure to check them out. Thanks for listening to the Change Makers special, and as always, look for ways to be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're going to learn about canes versus guide dogs. We'll discuss the pros and cons of using a cane instead of a guide dog, learn about how guide dogs are trained, and talk to the guide dog owner about their experience. We will also provide a preview of our next Annual Meeting, which is just a few weeks away. We have Kevin McCormack, Orientation and Mobility Specialist and Assistive Technology Consultant for the State of Kentucky. Hi Kevin, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Kevin McCormack: 0:52

    Thanks. Nice to be here.

    Sarah Braun: 0:54

    So you are an O&M specialist. Can you talk about what that is and what you do?

    Kevin McCormack: 1:00

    Insurance. Um, as an O&M specialist, um, I see myself as a trainer for, um, people who are blind or partially sighted. The majority of our students are blind or partially sighted students. Um, uh, so far, as a coach in terms of, uh, movement and navigation and understanding, uh, where you are in space. Uh, so basically O&M stands for, uh, you know, that's our acronym for Orientation Mobility. So O&M means, uh, understanding where you are in your environment and space to the best of your ability. And then the mobility part is the ability to move through that space as safely and efficiently as possible.

    Sara Brown: 1:50

    Are specific skills needed to get a guide dog instead of using a cane?

    Kevin McCormack: 1:57

    Well, me, to get a dog, uh, every, uh, guide dog school I know of, uh, will make sure that they give you, your students, uh, as much orientation, mobility, uh, training as possible . So, um, against each other, really the way I see it, it takes a lot of guidance, mobility training to even get one, a guide dog. Um, as far as having a guide dog, um, there are some specific things about that, you know, you have to be willing to live with the dog. Um, day in and day out you have to be willing to train the dog, um, take care of the dog. You know, to the extent that you have, you need to clean up after your dog and have a regular routine with your dog. You have to be willing to be more social, usually with people, because people will be interested in your dog and want to talk to mine, it's more likely that, uh, people will talk to you more like users, uh, they want to talk to your dog. So, you know, you have, you want to be prepared for that as well.

    Sara Braun: 3:06

    What are some of the basic basic skills needed if you want to use a stick and at what age should a child start learning stick skills?

    Kevin McCormack: 3:16

    Basic skills and how to start training with the stick, you know, I've been thinking about that. I'm not, I really don't think so, I really can't think of anything I need to have to start spanking. Except perhaps for the fact that the person is capable of some mobility on their own. And that includes being in a wheelchair. Well, um, one thought I had while pondering this question was, um, maybe the ability to hold a stick in your hand, but even then, um, most, um, O&M specialists should be able to, um, do settings. If you can't use your hands for a , a , like a staff, they will do something else that previews the space in front of you. Um, that just means there are lots of ways to use a stick. And then I also define spanking as something that isn't like that single rod you hold in front of you that most users use. Um, but it can be like a big rectangular shape. It can be something that is tied around the waist and comes out in front of you. It's also kind of rectangular in shape, you know. Uh, but just that, that, the way it's held is a little different. Age wise, um, I'm similar to my, um, other answer, where there really are no, um, requirements that I can think of to start using a cane. So it is with a, erm, with age, erm, whenever the child becomes mobile, erm, I think he can start, erm, getting familiar with the cane. So if we're talking about a child who's just starting to, um, crawl or walk, um, you know, like holding hands with a parent and moving their legs, you know, and being able to get around. You could even put a stick in one hand or hold your hand and stick it like a parent would, for example, just to get used to having something in your hand, having it in front and it's a preview of that space. So I think there is no limit to that either. There are some differing opinions, but I think the sooner the better.

    Sara Braun: 5:39

    And when should you consider a guide dog?

    Kevin McCormack: 5:44

    Um, a lot of schools are, uh, guide dog training schools. They have reached the minimum age of 16 years. Um, traditionally they were at least 18 years old to train students. Um, but I think the student has to be able to show a lot of responsibility, uh, because they have to, the expectation is that, uh, kid, let's say they're 16, that they can look at taking care of the dog on their own, they don't they could use a little help um if they want but they need to be able to care for that dog on their own, um, to be able to follow the routines that the dog needs, to be able to play with their dog, to be ready, to be more sociable with others people who want to talk to the dog with them. But me before 16, you, you know, when, uh, when the teachers who work with that student and the family, uh, believe that this, uh, child, uh, has, shows a good maturity of their lives, they can start talking about getting a dog, um, you know, as soon as they're 16 or 18 or whatever with the guide dog school they go to

    Sara Brown: 7:00

    What assessments will be made if a person will use a cane versus what assessments will be made if the person will use a guide dog, what assessments will be made?

    Kevin McCormack: 7:13

    Well, there are some classifications that many O&M specialists use. Uh, and, and that was for all the blind or visually impaired students that they work with. It's not just about determining whether or not they need a stick. Some examples that I often use are the School for the Blind in New Mexico, uh, uh, their O&M inventory and, uh, faucets coming from the Texas School for the Blind. Um, those are the ones I use, but something we would look for in terms of whether or not this student is going to use a stick is, um, depth perception. For example, can they reliably tell when there is a step ahead of them? Um, can you tell it visually 100 percent or 99.9.9% of the time? Um, even if it's not contrasted, let's just say it's all that gray cement color. There's no color on the edge of the strip, you know, will they reliably see it, whether it's light outside or a little darker or very dark? Um, um, well, if that's the case, we'd like to monitor if, if they, uh, the students can reliably identify that visually or not. And if not, then I think you would be a good candidate to learn how to use a club. Well, as for a guide dog, um, they, the student has to have, um, good orientation knowledge, mobility skills to even own a dog. One of the reasons for this and even using a stick, and one of the reasons is to say that the dog is sick and should not go outside. Um, so you as the user, the , the guide dog user, um, in order for you to continue with your daily routines, to go out and be as independent as possible, you have to use your cane. And so, um, the, the guide dog, um, the schools will make sure that if something happens to the dog, if they get sick, um, they won't let you down like that, you as the user can still, uh, to be able to take care of yourself. That's just one of the reasons why good lawn mowing skills are important. Um, and as far as evaluation, I'm not aware that there might be any official evaluations on this, but a lot of that also depends on the opinions of the medical specialist and the family, and, uh, maybe another school or job. uh, the people who work with them. And to guide the driver school as well, they will have a conversation about the O&M skills of that particular student. You will determine if you are a good candidate for a dog or not.

    Sara Braun: 10:16

    Have you used any APH products when working with a person to improve their orientation and mobility skills?

    Kevin McCormack: 10:26

    Oh yeah. Yeah, I've used a few, uh, I'd say the ones I've used the most are, uh, one, uh, called Tactile Town. This is one, really nice, um, where you can do really nice, uh, you know, tactile maps, uh, uh, and, you know, do some intersections in small towns and have little cars, uh, roll the streets and so on. simulate certain intersections. And, uh, similarly, uh, Wheatley's tactile diagramming kit, uh, it's much easier, smaller, to transport. Um, it's also quick and easy to do. So I probably used most of the APH products with my students.

    Sara Braun: 11:08

    Guide dog or dog trainer? I know we, we, we use person first here, so is there an official way we should call it? Dog trainer, guide dog? What term should we use?

    Kevin McCormack: 11:24

    Well . I have approached a few guide dog schools. I haven't heard anything yet. I wrote an article a few years ago and my adviser said guide dog. So I go with a guide dog. That's the best I've ever heard. I can't actually I did some research online um why um at least that's what my guide dog handler said. Um, and I think another friend of mine, uh, in Puerto Rico also said guide dog. Um, that's why I'm going.

    Sara Braun: 12:01

    Is there anything you'd like to say to our listeners or think about if, if, or if you're considering a handler or guide dog, is this a good fit or not?

    Kevin McCormack: 12:13

    Oh, of course. Yes, definitely. See your level of O&M training. Um, if you're comfortable traveling outside of your, uh, home environment, uh, and going to a workplace, uh, the more Indian places you can visit independently and safely, the more likely it is that you'll be approved by a guide dog school, um, to get a dog. Um, and you, when you have a dog, you get a very, very well trained animal. Um, remember that you're still in charge, in charge of his continuing education. So this will take work. Um, uh, you know, obviously these dogs go through a year and a half of training, but it continues even with you. Um, so you just have to move on. And an example is if you need to teach the dog a route to your local, uh, store near where you live, for example, uh, you need to teach that dog, and you need to teach that dog how to give positive feedback, how to give even negative feedback. Um, that's another, um, thing I mean is that some people tend to be, um, very strict with their dog. Some people tend to be, uh, a personality that almost wants to let the dog take the lead. Um, so be careful not to overdo it one way or the other. Um, I remember seeing a woman with her dog, and she was too strict, to the point that people around her felt uncomfortable. The dog seemed scared. That went too far. However, if you're more reserved, um, you are, you probably need to change the way you talk and talk. Um, you have to because you have to take care of this dog and train him. Um, also, you know, most handlers, I'm sorry, guide dog schools are going to be, uh, a good resource for you. So if you ever have any other questions, um, it's not like you're here alone, you can always, uh, uh, call them back, and, um, they'll even come to your, uh, home, sometimes they'll come around and help in all you need.

    Sara Brown: 14:35

    Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Kevin McCormack: 14:38

    Insurance. Thanks. Many thanks. I'm thankful.

    Sara Braun: 14:42

    Next. We have a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist and an Outreach and Community Engagement Services Manager at Leader Dogs for the Blind, Leslie Hoskins. Hi Leslie, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Leslie Hoskins: 14:54

    Hello, thanks for having me. That's great.

    Sara Braun: 14:57

    You are in Leader Dogs for the Blind. Can you talk about the organization and the impact you and the organization are having?

    Leslie Hoskins: 15:05

    Yes. Leader Dogs for the Blind, our mission is to empower blind or partially sighted individuals with lifelong skills for safe and independent daily travel. Uh, we do this by offering three different services. So we have our guide dog training, which of course we are best known for. We also have our orientation and mobility training, which is the palo blanco training. And then we have a teen summer camp that we run for teens who are blind or visually impaired. All of these services are completely free, including accommodation, meals, and airfare. So we actually take people from all over the US and Canada to get this training. Now, when we pick them up at the airport, we take them to our residents. It's a bit like staying in a hotel room, uh, and we offer this training and the impact is really much more than just traveling independently. That is, of course, our top priority: mobility. However, we have heard from customers that they feel safer and better than when they travel. They also travel further. Um, we also heard that health and wellness improved. Now that they can travel independently, they go out and do these training routes, or they travel a bit more and walk, maybe to the gym or whatever to increase their well-being. Also, we have more employment because now maybe they can come to the bus stop to take her to that interview or to campus to continue her education. And then of course we also hear about the support of a network. So your family and friends feel confident that your loved one can now go out and do things independently. And our customers reconnect with the community. You know, they may be involved again. You can go out and go anywhere, uh, alone, which we should all be able to do.

    Sara Braun: 16:49

    Gentle. Very nice. And talk about the history of guide dogs?

    Leslie Hoskins: 16:55

    Yeah. You know, it started, um, with some of the wars and wounded veterans coming back and not having a vision and needing resources, and dogs and animals have always been used throughout history as kind of a system support. Dogs are incredibly intuitive. You are incredibly smart. Um, so they started training and a few different organizations were formed. We were founded in 1939. Um, and the reason we joined or started this organization is because we were founded by three members of the local Lions Club team. And they had a friend who applied to another organization for a guide dog and was turned down. And just like Lions members, they don't take things lightly and are highly motivated. And so they started their own organization. And that's how we've been doing it for a long time. Um, and we've tried different breeds of dogs over the years. You know, I think every organization uses slightly different races, but it's been a long process of trying and navigating. We used to, um, go to various animal shelters and qualify the dogs as guide dogs. And that's progressed to the point where we now have our own breeding department and it's been incredibly successful and I know we'll continue to do research and science on that path. So, um, I think he's still pretty new to his field in general. And I'm excited to see where it goes.

    Sara Brown: 18:18

    Talk about the training a dog goes through, how does it start? I mean, is it from day one? Is it perhaps the dog's parents and the dog's lineage that determine when it starts? How do they graduate or complete their education?

    Leslie Hoskins: 18:33

    He starts so young. It's really very interesting. You know, we have our own breeding department, so we breed our dogs. Our dogs are actually born in voluntary homes. So we have host families that, um, keep the host dogs that are the breeding dogs, and they're born there and come to seven or eight weeks of age, um, for their first round of testing. But very early as puppies, they learn to sit before they can be picked up or fed and things like that. So it's interesting to see the cubs. They are off campus for a long time, usually just a week, to go through these evaluations before going to see their puppy breeder. But already at that moment they begin to learn, well, if I sit down, then they give me my food or I have to sit down first and then they pick me up or do something with me. So, uh, pretty soon training starts and then they spend that first year of life on a puppy clipper. And the puppy breeder is really responsible for teaching them basic house manners and obedience and then stripping them down. Thus exposing them to all kinds of different environments, including fairs and festivals and restaurants and train stations and supermarkets, all those places that our customers visit every day. Um, so they spend the first year raising pups. The puppy breeder attends training courses and monthly events and the like to improve his skills. And then around their first birthday, they get like a greeting card. And then it's like a series of dates where they have to bring the puppy back. Um, so this is always a very emotional moment. One of the best things you'll hear from a puppy breeder is that he doesn't give up, he gives. You know, they can see this whole process. And that's when they start working with our guide dog mobility trainers and have four months of formal training. And so it starts very small, just with the memory of name recognition. And then little by little, they start to put the harness on his body to make sure there are no body sensitivity issues. They begin to put her in different environments to teach her. them, how to stop on sidewalks, how to, you know, walk straight down the sidewalk, um, get around obstacles, all these different things. So you start very small and gradually build up over those four months. And then their last workout is actually the last month they spend, you know, getting to know their mentor, their new person. Um, and they spend three weeks together, usually in class on campus, to navigate this together,

    Sara Brown: 20:55

    Like life, not all dogs survive, what happens to the poor pups that just don't survive, what happens to them?

    Leslie Hoskins: 21:07

    That's why we call them career change dogs. So they just chose a different path in life, we like to say. Um, but what usually happens with a dog that is a career change can be a career change for many different things, medical issues, chronic ear infections, hip dysplasia. These are things that come with a cost, usually a drug. And we don't want to pass these costs on to our customers. Um, and so it could be career changes. They can be career changes for solidity. You know, if a siren goes off, they might break up a bit. Um, that doesn't make a good guide dog. They can be a career changer for body sensitivity. If you really hate the feel of the dishes, this won't work. Um, usually when a dog makes a career change and can change careers at any time during the process, the first thing we try to do is evaluate him for another race. So we breed these dogs to be service animals. And our ideal would be a service animal, hopefully a guide dog. But if not, maybe it will become a bomb-sniffing dog, or maybe it can be some kind of emotional support dog for children who testify in court, or maybe it can be a dog that helps with similar physical activities, like opening doors and stuff. how that. So we work with other organizations to try to find a job, so to speak, but sometimes they just don't want to be and they're supposed to be a mascot and that's their lifestyle and that's okay too. Um, and we usually call her the razor pup and say hello, Juno, she didn't make it. Are you interested in adopting the dog? Uh, sometimes they will. Sometimes for whatever reason they can't, otherwise we have a very, very long waiting list of people interested in adopting these dogs. So that no dog is left homeless. Every dog ​​lives a full and happy life, but it's a really interesting process.

    Sara Brown: 22:50

    in order . Good to Know. Thanks for that... And the dogs that make the cut and graduate, how do they pair up with their human? How does this relationship begin or end?

    Leslie Hoskins: 23:04

    I think it is a unique process. Um, I'm not a guide dog mobility instructor myself, but I've been with Leader Dog for almost nine years now and I've learned quite a bit, and we just hosted a great webinar on it. And one of our guide dog mobility instructors really explained it to us, but there's a lot that goes into that matching process to find the perfect dog for someone. You really need to learn everything you can about the client. So you take into account how fast the person is going, if there are any balance or gate issues. They look at the environment they're traveling in, are they going to be around, um, like farm animals? Are you a teacher who will be with young students? Do they live in a real urban environment where there are trains and buses and all kinds of sirens and things like that? Um, and then they check out the dog, too. So as they train the dog for those four months, they see what environments the dog is most successful in or most comfortable with. it's interesting. They say there is a lot of science behind it because there really is. They soak up all of this information, but then there's a bit of magic and expertise that our guide dog mobility instructors really bring to the table. And they'll say, you know, they have an idea of ​​what dog is right for the client, and then they meet the client and say, no, it's not going to be that. And they will change at the last minute. And it's the right decision almost 90% of the time. So, um, it's always really fun to hear his perspective and experiences with it. But above all they do it well. There are times when it doesn't work out and we certainly do our best to rectify those situations as well.

    Sara Brown: 24:36

    IT'S OKAY. So you brought a dog along with your partner. How can you, how do you say, is it just that a dog can immediately pick up the partner's signals from him, or how can you know that a partnership will be successful?

    Leslie Hoskins: 24:51

    I think, you know, it's about looking and looking. We say it takes six months to a year to really become a good guide dog team to work together because you can't even say everyone contributes 50%, the dog and handler have to contribute 100%. Um, they are a team and they help each other in all aspects and in all tasks. Uh, I think it takes a while, but one of the cool things to look at during the class is this bonding phase. So it is very important that the client and the dog stick together, which is why they spend so much time together in the beginning. Um, because usually the Guide Mobility Instructors are the ones who train the dog and then instruct the clients as well. So you know all these dogs. So it's very confusing for the dog when all of a sudden, he waits a minute, his person, his trainer, doesn't pay attention to him. And now you're with this new person. Um, it usually takes a few days, a few weeks, for this dog to realize, "Wait a minute, this new person is amazing. They give me lots of treats, love and affection." towards the end of his second week of training. And um, mostly the bonding happened at that point. And the dog is constantly touching the hand, somehow learning if it's a paw on his foot or inside of it. Um, like that that you can really see that bond start to form so early, but I'd say it takes six months to a year to see who's really going to put in the time and effort.

    Sara Braun: 26:15

    There are plenty of animal lovers out there now and for anyone interested, I have a feeling people who work with or train dogs would be interested. How are future guide dogs trained? How does it work?

    Leslie Hoskins: 26:33

    Yes. To become a guide dog mobility instructor, it is three years of training through a type of certified organization or guide dog organization. And because there's so much to learn, they need to learn dogs and their behavior and, er, their health and training techniques. But then they also have to learn, you know, how to teach and work with adults, adult education, and they have to learn about blindness and how to, you know, give human guidance, how to deal with people who are blind or visually impaired. . And there's a lot there. It is a hands-on learning opportunity. And so they actively work as leaders, members of the canine team, during these three years, while gaining this knowledge and experience. Um, and they go through their own kind of blind experience to build up some insight, background, and empathy for our customers. So they do the first week of the guide dog course where they blindfold themselves and get their own guide dog and have to wear a blindfold the whole time to get a real feel for what it's like for our clients. This is very important to have an understanding and while it's not exactly the same, they may end up taking the blindfold off, but it helps them build those relationships and gives them a little insight into what our customers are experiencing. So it's a pretty intense three-year training and our guide dog mobility teachers come to us from all sorts of backgrounds. Um, well, it's always a lot of fun. We had one come to us as an HR intern and fell in love with watching the G DMIs, he has now completed his three year apprenticeship and is now helping other trainees as a mentor. So it's fun to see where they all come from.

    Sara Brown: 28:14

    And my last question, is there anything else you would like to add about guide dogs or guide dogs in general?

    Leslie Hoskins: 28:21

    Yes, I think the most important thing that we always want to promote is that we are more than guide dogs. You know guide dogs are a big part of what we do, but we also offer this free orientation and mobility training and it's available to anyone, whether you're interested in a guide dog or not, as well as our summer camp for teens. Those are some things we are very proud of. We also have a lot of new virtual stuff going on. We have virtual learning resources, something like learning modules. We host monthly webinars where we share resources and really just try to support our customers and educate them as much as we can. Um, and the last thing I'm going to mention here that we're very proud of is that we have a new podcast called Taking the Lead from Leader Dogs for the Blind. And this is a great opportunity to not only learn a little more about blindness in general, but specifically about guide dogs and guide dogs for the blind. So, you can find all of this at www.leaderdog.org.

    Sara Brown: 29:13

    Big. Thank you Leslie for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Leslie Hoskins: 29:18

    Thanks for having me. Thank you .

    Sara Braun: 29:26

    We now speak with Jessica Minneci, APH Communications Associate. Jessica has a service dog named Joyce, a yellow Lab who is always by her side. Hi Jessica, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Jessica Minneci: 29:39

    Hi Sara. Thanks for having me.

    Sara Brown: 29:42

    And before we start, would you like to explain to people what you do here at APH?

    Jessica Minneci: 29:50

    As part of my job here at APH, I help edit our monthly newsletter, APH News, which is sent to our educational and consumer audiences. I also do two staff newsletters. I help with weekly monitoring and outreach, and am also responsible for campaigning for our textbook series through the press.

    Sara Brown: 30:11

    And can you tell us a bit about Joyce?

    Jessica Minneci: 30:15

    Insurance. So Joyce is six years old. She will be seven years old on October 18. I can't believe we've been a team for five years. Uh, she's my first service dog and I couldn't be happier with her. She is a yellow lab and full of energy.

    Sara Brown: 30:32

    Can you talk about the process of partnering with Joyce? Was there something she needed to do beforehand, or training she needed to receive, or even home preparation?

    Jessica Minneci: 30:42

    I got Joyce through a school called Guide Dogs for the Blind. They are located in San Rafael, California and also in Boring, Oregon. They have two locations. Um, I got Joyce during my junior year, right before my junior year of college. I had to do a lot to prepare for Joyce and to make sure that I myself was qualified to have a guide dog. So GDB has many different steps for the application. Um, first of all you have to apply, of course. Then they give you a telephone consultation where they ask you about your travel habits and what type of dog you are looking for. Uh, GB has three races. They have Goldens, Labs and Lab Golden Crosses. This is how they tell you about your personality and lifestyle. Um, and then you have to submit some additional forms. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a medical report and an ophthalmological report. And if you have recently completed orientation and mobility training, you must provide a report from your professional. You may also be required to submit a mental health report, if applicable. Once all of these forms have been submitted, they schedule a home visit where they will again discuss your travel habits with you. And that's what they do, the so-called Juno-Walk, where the GDB um representative holds a guide dog harness and puts it in the correct position. So the right height for you and you hold the handle and walk at the speed you normally would so they can gauge the pace and make sure they have the right dog for you when you meet up. Um, and you'll also need to demonstrate your orientation and mobility skills. So when I applied for guide dogs, I was actually a freshman in college and, um, they came to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and I came a long way. Um, I think there are also guidelines for how long it has to be. And what types of intersections you need to cross. I think one of them is with a traffic light. So you really need to prepare to make sure your travel skills are up to par and also make sure your lifestyle, you need to have enough work for your dog, right? Your job, your dog is not going to sit at home all day, right. You have to work. So people with a more active lifestyle get a guide dog. Um, so after the home visit, everything is reviewed and then you get an approval notice from the school and a class appointment, I think, due to COVID 19. Um, and the fact that the kennels had to close for a weather. I think the class date will be postponed. So it's time to wait for more. My weight was actually 10 months. Um, and after that you go to class, um, I didn't do much at home to prepare for the election because I wasn't sure what kind of career I was going to have. I asked them to do a surprise and I asked them to do a gender surprise because if you do, if you ask them, you're more likely to find a better match for yourself. Um, so I didn't know, you know, I didn't know how big my dog ​​was, if he needed a bed, or what kind of toys he would like. So I got to the class and, um, I went through the class and had a lot of fun and then when I got home I was able to get my house ready and make sure I actually brought it to PetSmart and was looking for it. own bed. Um, and, um, we just play, we play with different kinds of toys and figure out which ones are best for them. Um, GDB provides you with a lot of things that you're going to need. They provide you with some medications and Heartgard for the first year. And then, of course, they provide you with his, um, his bag of treats and his harness and his leash and his gentle guide. Much of the equipment is given to you. They tell you when they tell you when you are going to practice how to pack a giant suitcase to have everything you need when you get home.

    Sara Brown: 34:54

    Wow. So there's a lot going on, but I didn't even know how big the dog is relative to the harness relative to the size of his body, all of that is taken into account. That is very interesting.

    Jessica Minneci: 35:09

    Yes. So actually, I have a smaller dog because it's easier for me. Um, you can get a different strap handle, um, to suit your risk level. GDP offers two different types of trapeze grips. Um, if one is not comfortable with you, you can get comfortable, you can use another. Um, so they really take into account your pace, your lifestyle, your personality, the personality of the dog. Therefore, it is a very strict process for you to be matched with the right dog. And that's why it's also important that you wait, because the right dog is just around the corner. Um, it's also a great school because they have two-week training programs and the classes are usually six to eight students. And the student-teacher ratio is two to one, which is fantastic. It's so individual. And this helps a lot when you're training to make sure you get all the support you need, especially if it's your first dog.

    Sara Braun: 36:09

    So talk about when you first had Joyce. Was there that moment of meeting that you both lived?

    Jessica Minneci: 36:17

    Yes. In fact, it is said that the phase of getting to know each other in a partnership lasts about six months. So, the association will be cemented in six months. So when I first got Joyce, it was important that if you give them a bigger house, they start to be free. So, for example, if she has a bedroom, a kitchen, and, say, a living room, she would give them free rain in her bedroom to show that she trusts them. And when you trust them walking and they're obviously not chewing, obviously they're not chewing because they're trained, but there's a period of trust. So if you're relying on them to make a room, slowly add the rest of the house. Um, so they know your expectations when you're off leash. Um, they also suggest that when you first meet them, if you need to get out of the house to do something small and you need to leave them alone, leave them alone for a short period of time and then a longer period of time. When you, you know, when you're out all day and there's somewhere you can't take your dog, you know when they come back, you're confident they didn't, you know you ransacked the house or pulled a prank. or he ate a lot of food or something. Not that they would, but it is about building trust and affection between you and your dog. In fact, they told me, my trainer told me that he was being too professional with my dog's training because he didn't want to ruin his training. So he was like, you know, forward, left and right learning all the commands, learning all the footwork. My instructor says you can love your dog. She walks, you can hug and verbally praise your dog and play with her. And I thought, really? Because he knew she was a mobility tool and he didn't want to mess up her training. She's leaving, you won't mess up her training. She says, they want that bond. You know, they also tell you that the acclimatization period is super important because when you have a guide dog, it's between a year and a half and two years old depending on the school. So you are at the age of a dog, you are a teenager. Therefore, you need to set consistent expectations of them so that they know what you expect and also that they know that you are in charge.

    Sara Braun: 38:36

    This is a partnership. Are you talking about how you and Joyce work together?

    Jessica Minneci: 38:42

    Joyce and I have what I would almost call a codependent relationship. I trust her to guide me. She needs you to give her love, food and play with her. So when we work together, she puts on the harness and guides me. But it's me who tells you where to go. So I'll memorize a route of hers and tell her to go left or right. She's the one that pulls me and then she also pulls me around obstacles and stops at curbs and steps and finds the elevator, finds the outer door, finds the escalator. Um, so she trusts me for the direction. And me, I trust her to guide me safely around an obstacle. It's very different than using a stick because when you use a stick that's all you do, right? They tell you to move the stick and tell it where to go. On the right? The dog is the one that moves you. And even if you move your staff, you can't see any obstacles, right? Then the cane bumps into things. While they just walk the dog. So with a cane, you're the one directing traffic and you're the one moving the cane, the cane encounters obstacles. You go, you have to figure out how to get around it. The dog guides you. Tell it where to go and then it will stop or go around an obstacle. And then you can say ok, turn around or go under, uh, don't go under, turn around or uh, stop or we'll go another way. So there's a lot of codependency in this relationship, it's a beautiful bond. Um, just if you ever get the chance and see a team of service dogs working together, I wholeheartedly advise you to stand back and watch. It is a very pleasant experience for the handler and for the dog.

    Sara Brown: 40:49

    You are well. I saw you in action in Joyce and Joyce pulls you but you tell her go left, go right. So I heard about the interaction that he has with Joyce and how Joyce is taking the lead. But still you tell him you know which way to go.

    Jessica Minneci: 41:04

    Yes. And I would also say that another part of the collaboration is that some schools use dog food treats when they do something positive. That's why it's called positive reinforcement. So you might see me leaning over to give him a present. Um, and then she accepts it. Schools like her seeing eye don't use food rewards, but rather guide dogs. And it just depends on how they train and the style of training. Um, so when you choose a school, sometimes it also depends on what school you go to. If you want to be the trainer who delivers the food then go to a food school, if not and you just prefer a dog that will do almost anything and you don't have to carry food and have sticky fingers then go to another school too . Um, so you know that picking a school comes down to preference in a lot of different ways, but you'll see how teams work together when they're rewarded with food. And, um, I'm telling you this, Joyce doesn't work without food.

    Sara Braun: 42:02

    And just like you said, Joyce is a working dog, which means people shouldn't try to stop and pet Joyce or talk to Joyce or interact with Joyce in any way. If they see her working, what are people supposed to know about guide dogs when they see one working?

    Jessica Minneci: 42:17

    So when a person is talking to him, I sometimes stop and turn to the person and say, Excuse me, can't you talk or make eye contact, eye contact with my dog, is she working? And if they say she's fine and walk away, go ahead, great. If they don't and keep making eye contact and talking to her, I just tell Joyce, good girl, get on. And we go further. Uh, sometimes when a person is with a child, like in a grocery store, it's fun. A grocery store and a child throw a tantrum. Um, parents often say oh look at the dog to distract them. And they say, oh, you can go upstairs and pet the puppy. And I'm like, no. not . Not well. So, um, when they come up, come up to me and I hear them come up, I say, um, hi, um, just so you know this dog is working, please don't pet or make eye contact with this dog. . Sometimes they go back. And sometimes they won't. Um, and if they really come over and pet the dog, especially if he's an adult, I'll actually correct Joyce, because if she makes contact and wants it, I'll actually give her a correction. And then the person takes a step back and says oh no, like she did something wrong. The dog corrects itself. Then they realize they shouldn't have done anything. Sometimes that's the best thing to do because if you correct the dog, people will realize they shouldn't. And the dog will be punished. Now just to clarify, one fix is ​​when you have the leash in your hand and you pull the collar back. She often wears a martingale collar, so it's, um, part nylon and part chain. And the chain just doesn't choke her, but she, she, moves her back a little bit and makes her pay attention to me. And that is what a correction is. And they will realize that or they will leave and I tell you Sara, there was once a very stubborn adult. I tried to explain to them not to pet them. I corrected Joyce. They still haven't. She was not having a good day. So I slapped her hand. And I said yes, that's not right. And they were surprised. So, um, sometimes when you catch a handler on a bad day, um, that's the best we do, but we try very hard to calmly explain it to people. The best thing you can do for a working team is not to make eye contact, not to talk to the dog, not to pet the dog. Do not give the dog treats. Don't make barking noises and ignore them all together and also talk to the guide. So, for example, when someone shows you the way and says, come here baby, follow me. No, you have to talk to the controller. The best advice you can give is to talk to the handler and ignore the dog completely.

    Sara Braun: 45:13

    You made me bark. What? So are people really trying to bark at Joyce to get her attention?

    Jessica Minneci: 45:23

    Oh yeah. Oh my God.

    Sara Brown: 45:25

    The most important thing seems to be to talk to the owner of the guide dog. Don't talk to the guide dog. Talk to the owner, respect the owner's decision whether or not he can interact with the guide dog.

    Jessica Minneci: 45:40

    Yes. So it also depends. I would say it depends on the handler's day, if he's in a grocery store and wants to go home to make dinner, he's tired from a long day at work and people say, oh can I pet your dog? ? The dealers will say no. Um, it also depends on what day the dog was having. So if I'm out in public and someone says, can I pet your dog? And Joyce was distracted by one thing or another that day. I won't give him anything else to distract himself, to distract himself. So I'll say no. Um, you're often right. When I'm at the office, Joyce lies under my desk because I'm working. She really doesn't work when she's under my desk for people to come and pet her. It just depends on the time of day and how we feel, how we are. Um, so don't worry if we say no. Um, because that's easy, it's our right to say no. Um, as is our right, I'm going to make a fun analogy. uh here. So when I was in college, I had Joyce in a new class and, um, the teacher comes up to the front and says, just so you know, we all, um, have a service animal in this class and she says, like that you would not touch a lady's pregnant belly. You should not pet a service dog while she is working. The class was silent. Everyone laughed after a few bars because it was so funny. And she said it's so dry, but it was so true. So again, it's our right. It is the right of a woman with a pregnant belly to keep her hands off her. I, as a service dog handler, have every right to refuse because at the end of the day it is a mobility aid. Um, so she can go anywhere with me. Um, so she protects me. I protect her. So I have the right to say no. Um, sometimes if there's a little kid and they're learning about a service dog and they ask politely because they know it's a service animal, then I say yes because they've learned and are very polite. You will often find, Sara, that many adults pet my dog ​​without being asked. But many children are very polite and ask the question.

    Sara Brown: 47:56

    So what are people supposed to know about guide dogs or what are people supposed to know when they see a guide dog at work?

    Jessica Minneci: 48:04

    I want people to know that if they see a guide dog working, like I said before, leave them alone and talk to the handler. Also, 95% of the time, there will be a sign attached to the dog's harness saying no petting. And a lot of people don't read this sign. So please read the sign. Um, also another thing to keep in mind is that if you see a dog in a harness, um, it's likely that he's a working dog. And if you see a dog in a, in a vest, um, that often means he's a guide dog in training. It's even more important if he's a guide dog in training not to interact because he's learning how to move in the world and be socialized so he doesn't overreact when his handler goes somewhere. Um, like guide dogs, I think their puppy coats are green. Um, that's another thing to keep in mind. Nine times out of ten it's fun, they ask me. So you train this dog? I think no, no, she works. Um, she's a guide dog that she's working on. That is why it is important to be aware of all this. And um, again, always asking if you can pet the dog and also pointing out that we're not people to be avoided at all costs. You know, some people look at people with differences and say, oh my gosh, I have to make it clear that we like your questions. So if you come up to me and say hello, miss, can I ask you a question about your service dog and how it works? I am trying to raise my son. Of course I will stop and answer your question. I love questions as long as they're not rude. And uh, people are educated and have good questions. I don't mind educating others. I think it is very important that children are exposed to different things today so that as adults and teenagers they know how to approach other people in different situations. So don't be afraid to ask questions.

    Sara Braun: 50:09

    Okay Jessica, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Jessica Minneci: 50:13

    Thanks for having me, Sarah. That was a great moment.

    Sara Braun: 50:20

    Now we come to talk about the 154th annual meeting of the APH. It's back, it's personal, and it's better than ever. And some things to look forward to include the Insights art exhibit, a keynote address by M. Leonna Gooden strengthening braille literature with Polly, a soon-to-be-available APH braille device. APH updates, press for more information on the next generation desktop magnifier. Learn more about the state of the company from APH President Craig Meador. We have the Hall of Fame ceremony and much more. we're very excited. It's personal, which is huge. After two years as a virtual annual meeting, it will take place on Wednesday, October 5 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville and will run through Friday, October 7. If you are interested in participating, please visit aph.org for more information. Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I've included links to the Leader Dogs for the Blind website and podcast in the show notes, as well as Ractile Town and other APH products to help with orientation and mobility. And you can also find a link that contains all the information about our next annual meeting. We look forward to seeing you there as always. Be sure to look for ways to make a change this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:16

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we present a preview of the upcoming 2022 InSights Art Contest that will take place during the APH Annual Meeting. We'll learn more about the show and talk to an artist. Then we hear about the upcoming Helen Caller Symposium. First up, we have InSights Art Coordinator and Visitor Services, Meg Outland. Hi Meg, and welcome to Change Makers.

    And Outland: 0:46

    hello thanks for receiving me

    Sara Brown: 0:48

    Now can you tell us about InSight's Art and what it is for those who don't know?

    And Outland: 0:54

    Yes. So, in the early 1990s, APH started the InSights Art program and competition, an international art competition for students and adults who are blind or partially sighted. So in the early 90's there weren't many options for artists who were blind or partially sighted. Um, it really wasn't. There weren't many good shows. Therefore, APH wanted to create a program that would inspire people who are blind or have low vision to be artistic and creative people. So we've been at it since

    Sara Braun: 1:38

    Talking about some of the work you've seen submitted to InSights Art in the past?

    And Outland: 1:42

    We receive countless submissions each year. Um, we have artwork of all kinds. Um, maybe you're thinking of crocheted pieces. We actually got a, um, crocheted blanket this year, I think 2D, artwork, like canvas, um, sketch drawings. And we also get a lot of sculptures from, uh, all over the American Braille press. We have artwork hanging throughout the building. We have sculptures in people's offices. Many of the ones that are hanging are older works of art.

    Sara Braun: 2:20

    And I know you're new, fairly new to your position, but can you tell us about some of the products that are available for children who are blind or partially sighted that they could use to create art?

    And Outland: 2:31

    So, as I mentioned, InSights Art was created because there weren't enough opportunities for artists who were blind or partially sighted. Um, so I'm very grateful that we exist, but also that APH also makes products for artists. Umm, one of my favorites that we feature on our InSights Art Facebook group is the paint by number series of coloring books. So, um, they have an aquatic animal with an octopus and a clown fish and a dolphin. And then they also have a Safari book that has other Safari creatures, but those are paint by number coloring books. And they are also tactile.

    Sarah Braun: 3:22

    Is there anything else you would like to add about InSights Art?

    And Outland: 3:26

    So this year will be our first year since 2019 that we're doing an awards ceremony in person, the last two years 2020 and 21 have all been digital. And I really want to meet artists that I have not been able to meet before. I've been in contact with quite a few people, but I'm very grateful that we can do an in-person exhibition, ceremony, and dinner. I think it's really cool that artists from all over the country and even from all over the world can come together and meet and share their inspiration and their artwork because they are extremely talented. So I'm really looking forward to it and I encourage everyone who is in Louisville right now. It's October 7th, um, come see the exhibition. Um, all the APH staff who want to come and see the ceremony and see the performers. I really encourage that too. I think it's going to be a very exciting time.

    Sara Brown: 4:30

    Thank you Meg for joining Change Makers today.

    And Outland: 4:33


    Sara Brown: 4:35

    And I've put a link to the InSight art in the show notes. This will give you more information and how to apply for next year's art competition. Now talking to Insights, Artist, Kylie Sykes, hello Kylie and welcome to Change Makers.

    Kylie Sykes: 4:54

    Hello. Thanks.

    Sara Braun: 4:56

    Now, can you tell us something about yourself?

    Kylie Sykes: 4:59

    I have attended the Braille Institute for several years and am involved as a volunteer and as a student specifically in the arts department. And to be honest, I wouldn't be where I am today without her. So I'm very, very grateful for everything they've given me.

    Sara Brown: 5:30

    Do you talk about how you came to art?

    Kylie Sykes: 5:33

    Insurance. Um, I got into art because of my love of creating beautiful things. And, um, it was something that I thought I could do because of my visual problems. Um, I was like, hey, you know, why don't I start, um, making a lot of rugs? And that's how my whole art industry started, basically my mom taught me that when I was very young, and I just kind of stuck with it. And since then, like I said, thanks to the Braille Institute, I've dabbled in a few other things, like mosaics and, um, poetry. And now I am also a published poet.

    Sara Brown: 6:45

    Are you talking about the process you use when creating a rug?

    Kylie Sykes: 6:49

    Um, well, Latch Book is pretty straightforward, um, because I'm not going to talk about the actual people involved. I'll take the mats with guides or maps if you want. Um, though some of the ones I did didn't, and they were just, um, the colors just kind of printed onto the canvas and I got pretty nervous about it, but I did them and um, I did. I got my way and it just went with he.

    Sara Braun: 7:31

    How is art created from start to finish? Can you talk about this process?

    Kylie Sykes: 7:36

    Uh... sure. I always start with a canvas. Um, they're different sizes, but I usually do 12" by 12" and, um, I use a special tool called a locking hook and, um, I, um, like I said, follow a map. um, the card that comes with everything else in the game and um, the thread is already pre-cut, which is nice. And um, basically it's almost like, um, tying knots with a tool.

    Sara Braun: 8:21

    And is there anything else you'd like to say to an aspiring artist who might be a little intimidated?

    Kylie Sykes: 8:27

    My advice is if you think you can't do it, give it a try because you never know, it might just be something you'll learn to love.

    Sara Braun: 8:42

    Thank you Kylie for joining Change Makers today.

    Kylie Sykes: 8:45

    No problem.

    Sara Braun: 8:52

    Now let's take a quick look at a local Louisville event coming up in September. This is Hidden Legacies of Helen Keller, a symposium that will take place from Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 September. We've got APH Museum Director Micheal Hudson here to briefly talk about what to expect from the two-day event. Hi Michael, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Michael Hudson: 9:14

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Braun: 9:16

    So you're talking about your role in this event and Helen Keller and what the event is about?

    Michael Hudson: 9:21

    Well, my job was, I'm kind of the logistician. Um, we decided to do that a few years ago when our big announcement, uh, uh, that the Helen Keller Archive of the American Foundation for the Blind came to Louisville. We wanted to do a history symposium and, uh, we originally planned it for, uh, her birthday this summer, uh, June. But if you remember, back in January, when we put everything together and got our show, it turned out that COVID was just deadly. And, well, Kentucky was in the middle of a big wave. So we decided we weren't ready to do it in June. And so we pushed it back to September 17 and 18, uh, very late, later this summer. And that really helped us a lot in getting all of our logistics together to get all of our speakers. You know, it turns out that Sara is planning one of those meetings. I have never done it to plan a big history symposium. And so come 16 moderators from all over the world. Uh, uh, we're bringing, and I think the furthest I think is, uh, Dr. Iain Hutchison comes from the University of Glasgow. Um, we have someone from Canada. We have, uh, Oklahoma and Massachusetts, uh, across the country. Uh, and, um, and la, la, la, the idea was that the AFB Helen Keller Archive was just this incredibly rich resource and we want to, uh, encourage researchers. And so we had to let him know, more or less, the field of history, um, um, blindness advocate, um, disability advocate, disability, historian to know that he had moved here to Kentucky from his home in New York. . Um, and that we were created to help researchers work with the collection. So we started recruiting a lot of people on all sorts of things related to the life of this amazing American, Helen Keller. Um, and we, we also look at, you know, there's something in the disability community, you know, "nothing about us without us." And so we wanted to make sure we had as many voices as possible. We had young voices, we had veteran voices, you know, young writers who had just written their first book. Um, we have a few of these. We have people who will present in ASL. Uh, we have a, uh, presenter, uh, Cristina Hartmann, who is looking forward to her presentation, which will be on pro tactile. That's how protactile it is, uh, something that mostly comes directly from the deafblind community, where an interpreter stands behind, uh, Cristina, uh, and signs on her back what, what's going on in the room, what's watching. And then, um, Cristina communicates in the room using ASL, American Sign Language, and then another interpreter speaks in the room for her. Just the accessibility, uh, part of this meeting is going to be really exciting and educational. Um, you know, how people communicate, uh, historically, of course, Helen interpreted it historically by doing what's called manual sign language. Um, even though she tried very hard to teach herself to speak, it was hard to understand what she was saying unless you, unless you were around her for a long time. So she usually had an interpreter too. Um, but she, she, uh, would manually speak to, uh, Anne Sullivan or, later, Polly Thompson's hand, and then they would speak for her. And then when someone spoke to Helen, they spelled it out with their fingers on Helen's hands. Um, and just so you know, this kind of evolution of how we communicate, um, is, is as much a part of meeting as, um, as the hidden legacy of Helen Keller. That is the title of the Hidden Legacies symposium.

    Sara Braun: 14:06

    So it's a two-day event talking about what people can expect. Did you just talk to Helen Keller, did she talk about the fee and where the symposium is taking place?

    Michael Hudson: 14:16

    Insurance. We're co-sponsoring this with the Filson Historical Society here in Louisville, they have a new conference center. So right now they are very well positioned to host a meeting like this. And while we can now host meetings like this after our building renovation, we needed a partner. So here we are, the meeting at the Filson Club or the Filson Historical Society is over. And um, it's been over two days. So, on Saturday, September 17, there's a whole series of, er, of, er, symposia meetings, er, lecture sessions throughout the day. Uh, we're going to have packed lunches. And then the keynote address for the evening, speeches by Dr. Sanjay Gulati, a child psychologist who works with deaf children. Um, who's who's working on this thing called language deprivation. He's studying the way the brain develops, uh, in young children when you have a disability, uh, uh, like Helen, uh, uh, uh, either deaf or deafblind. And on Sunday, we start the day with a tour here at the American Printing House, and you get a behind-the-scenes tour of the new AFB Helen Keller archive room, as well as our braille floor and the, and the museum, and for many people this it may be the last time they see the museum before it closes. Um, and then we go back to the Filson Club in the afternoon for the last session. So it's a day and a half, uh, a full day of sessions on all aspects of Helen's life. Um, and you know, a lot of people think they know who Helen is and was because they saw the miracle worker once, but you know, that, that, the play ends with her being seven years old and she's alive, you know, she travels the world until 1968 and does amazing things. So let's explore all of this. And yes, there is an entry fee. So, as such, registration is free for APH employees and members of the board and members of the Filson Historical Society. And then for the general public it's $75, uh, for the whole day, two days, and then $25 for enrolled students, enrolled students $25.

    Sara Brown: 16:45

    Is there anything else you would like to say about this event?

    Michael Hudson: 16:47

    Well, I'm really excited about the diversity of our speakers, um, and the fact that, you know, we have representatives from a lot of different communities, um, and, you know, Helen is her, she can be sometimes, it's her mixed character. for certain, uh, communities like the deaf community, uh, because they're so influenced by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who is this prominent speaker, he thought that, oh, deaf kids should be taught to lip read and they should learn to speak. And in the 20th century, the deaf community really fought back. And, uh, they, they, they fought to regain the right to use ASL, uh, and to, uh, control how they communicated. So, you know, Helen is quite an ambivalent character for her. So it's going to be very interesting. We will have many scholars. Those who worked on this and from the deaf community and from the deafblind community will be really great to find out how different communities view Helen.

    Sara Brown: 17:53

    Alright Michael, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Michael Hudson: 17:57

    thanks sara We are looking forward to it.

    Sara Brown: 18:00

    It looks like it's going to be a great event. And for those of you who are listening, I've included a link in the program notes so you can register and attend the symposium. Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I've included links in the show notes so you can learn more about InSights Art, the upcoming APH Annual Meeting, and the Helen Keller Symposium. Have a great day and remember to look for ways to be a change agent this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Braun: 0:13

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're going to talk about how to ensure the success of her son. Back to school season is underway and now people are wondering what they can do to make sure their kids get off to a great start. We will also be hearing about an upcoming Helen Keller symposium and contacting Partners with Paul. First, we have Olaya Landa-Vialard, APH ConnectCenter Director, here to give us some tips on what she can do to ensure your child has a great school year. Hello Olaya and welcome to Change Makers.

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 0:48

    Thank you very much Sara. I am always happy to be a part of Change Makers. That's great.

    Sarah Braun: 0:54

    Can you share something about how people can prepare their children for elementary, middle, and high school?

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 0:59

    So, you know, when schools are getting ready to launch, it's always a really good idea. Um, if you can, um, find out where your child will be, er, where their classroom will be, er, who their teacher will be, so you can communicate with them and maybe even get your child to the classroom early in the morning. school. so they can become familiar with their new territory. You can even talk to your orientation and mobility specialist to guide your child through the layout of her school and classroom before her first day of school. If, if they're special, if this is like their first... Let's say they're in kindergarten or they're going to kindergarten. Um, you know, after they, having been away for the summer, might have forgotten some of the organization of the school if they had been there before. And if not, this would be a really good introduction to the school and the floor plan so they understand where the restrooms are, where the cafeteria is, where the gym is, where their classroom is, where the main office is. So that in an emergency they know where to go, um, to make a phone call or to notify someone, um, at the school of anything that might happen, um, that the school leadership needs to know about. So knowing where those places are, the library, um, and of course, you know, the playground, which is very important in elementary school, the playground. So it's really important to know where all of these places are, the entrances and exits, to make sure that they understand their, or what their classroom itself is like, not just the perimeter of the classroom, but they're in let go to the classroom. What's in the middle of the classroom? Uh, because different classrooms are set up differently. Um, some, some classrooms are set up as hubs, some are set up in rows, some are set up in clusters. So it just depends on how the classroom is set up, and your child could have, you know, your child could have been in a classroom, um, that was set up like this and they go into a new environment that goes and then they don't you will be familiar with. And if they remember the previous classroom, they may not be able to find their way on their own from the beginning. So, um, we also want to make sure, um, that the teacher allows the child to use his cane. And I know it sounds like, "Why, why wouldn't someone let their child use the cane in the classroom?" But believe it or not, there are situations where a teacher will, uh, ask the kid, isn't he using a cane? cane because the other children might trip over it or, or what, or that, the student is still learning how to use it, but that is no excuse for the cane to be an extension of him. And they must be able to use this cane to move around the classroom. It could be from one learning center to another. Um, it could be, you know, from their desk to their door, um, sometimes and, um, teachers expect their students to "park their sticks in their lockers." Um, if that's the case, then you need to make sure the child is familiar with the classroom before you give it up, that crucial tool in helping them adjust to the classroom and the desk, the desk and the chairs and the backpacks and to guide everyone. the things that are in the classrooms today. On the right. Um, and, but I hope that you're, you know, advocating for this and making sure you express to the teacher how important it is that your student or child use the can so that they can safely navigate that classroom as well, so that they don't Not only the other children but also themselves can be safe. This is where orientation and mobility specialists can come in and help. And by the way, these suggestions are, um, things I know only because I'm a teacher of visually impaired students, but they're also from a book called, um, Communicate and Teach: Helping Your Learning Child. ." and hair removal for the visually impaired" by Kay Alicyn Ferrell. Many of these suggestions also come from her book. Um, so it's kind of backed up by the literature. Um, um, even if a teacher has, um, you know, centers or places in the classroom where she has the kids, like, um, a book center or a library center or an arts or writing center, um, If you have any questions, talk to the teacher and make sure the teacher includes some type of Braille or large print organizer or label that is always in the same part of the Learning Center. Like, um, there might be a Braille label on the right hand corner of each table. That way it's a tactile signal. The student knows, or her son knows, which center he goes to, what he works for. Um, it could, um, that, that, it doesn't always have to be in Braille. It could be something like, "Let's say there's a crayon taped to the table in the far right corner of the raffle drawing center." the table or with Velcro on the table and in the upper right corner. In this way, the student always knows where to look in these tables to know where they are, in what center they are. And that helps a lot with independence. Self defense self determination so they can do it themselves. They don't need someone to take them to the various hubs that may be going on in the classroom. Um, but this is like elementary school and, and, and some of these things apply to middle school and high school, but there are still some things, um, that parents need to know to make sure their child is preparing for Middle school. I high school. Um, elementary school, we're usually in a classroom. Um, the students are there, they're getting all of their literacy and math and ECC in the classroom, ECC, which means expanded core curriculum, um, like orientation and mobility. Um, that's a great , um, a , and Braille instruction. That's another big one. It's all part of the extended core curriculum, ahem, plus reading, writing, and math. Um, but when we're talking about middle and high school students starting to drop out of a classroom, you know, situations where they have to go to different classrooms for different subjects they're taking. So get familiar with the class schedule and then take time to visit the school before school starts and help your child learn the routes or new routes to get from one class to another. Um, these could be new routes if they were the first to get into that high school, um, or they could be, um, just, um, um, none, it's like a revision route, I guess. Um, when they go to different classrooms, say 6th to 7th grade, um, classrooms they haven't been in before. So they have the basic layout of the school, but they're trying to find their new, um, their new classrooms. So when you give them that time to make sure your child is ready for middle and high school, you need to become familiar with those roots to move from one grade to the next. So requesting a preschool visit at this time is really helpful and will make the first few days of school for your child a smoother one and will certainly help foster that independence and empowerment. So there's a lot of little things going on, but um, but a lot of it, you know, it's, it's, it's front-loading. It's that early preparation before the influx of students arrives at school, and then your child is trying to get their bearings and getting used to where they're going to be or where they're supposed to be, uh, that's right, that's that loading time early, perhaps a week before school starts, when teachers are on campus but students aren't there yet. So you have time to get acquainted with the student's teacher with, uh, you know, where the classroom is, where, uh, the routes that the student has to take in this larger building in the middle and high school comparatively more bigger than what they were used to from elementary school. That's it, a few things parents can do to prepare their children for back to school.

    Sara Braun: 9:09

    Big. These are some really simple things that really help a student back in the classroom. What can the family do now to support children's return to school?

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 9:20

    Um, so for families, um, you know, you want to make sure that, um, you find out who your child's TVI is, who their teacher is, or visually impaired students find out who their orientation and mobility specialist is. is. And see if you can, uh, have some time with them, either on the phone or, uh, or actually ask about, uh, an IEP meeting, uh, before school starts and, and the Parents, you can. You can request an IEP meeting even if school is not in session. Um, I, I, I used to be a TVI and education diagnostician on a school campus, and we would have meetings, um, a week or two before school started. Um, and that's your right to do that. And at these meetings, you can make sure your child's tools are set up and ready to go. So make sure your accommodations are ready, I mean, have your books and braille, do you have your books in large print? Do they have access, uh, not just access, but can they get and use your assistive technology like CCTV, uh, a brailer, uh, a printer, uh, the things that, uh, other kids don't have You absolutely need to have access to your education, but your student, your child needs to have access to their education. At the same time they watch, their peers are accessing their education. So it's really important to meet early and make sure these things are working from day one, but also to know who is responsible for making sure these changes in accommodations, ahem and IEPs, are put in place and used with you, like dad. , you can double check, communicate. Communication is key. If you have a student who is visually impaired or who is blind, um, and please contact the people who are responsible for implementing these adjustments and changes and ensuring that the people your child has access to have the same quality education as other children in the school who don't they don't have, they're not blind or they don't, um, have access to. That's one of the things you can do. One of the other really important things. I mean everything is important, but I think this is, is, is, is extremely important. Um, when it comes to homework, it's really important for parents to know about the homework hotline for students who are visually impaired or blind, um, you know, me, we all need help with homework. Um, if that's you, if you have a disability or not, and um, our blind or partially sighted children have the same needs as other children. Um, and I don't know about you, but I know myself, I'm not a math genius. So if my daughter has homework when it comes to math, I need to contact a homework hotline, places, or contact friends or family who are really good at math and can help her. Um, but for our kids with low vision and blindness, there's a real national homework helpline from, um, VISTAS Education Partners and the website for that service, which is a free service for, um, Kindergarten students. 12. Class. Um, the site is http://www.vistaseducation.com/homeworkhotline/. And, um, it's a free service again. You could, uh, go to the website and there's a form you have to fill out and then they match your student's needs with one of the volunteers they have, who are volunteers who come from STEM subjects, who come from the following areas of English. like English, um, literature, um, English, grammar and writing, um, whatever, they have volunteers who, um, help her son with her homework. So please use that. I think that's something that, um, you know, we don't think about right before school starts, but once school starts and homework comes in, it's really really helpful to know that there's help. um, from people who come from the areas where your child has homework. And sometimes the volunteers are blind too. They have a blind chemist who, um, volunteers to help kids with chemistry, homework, um, math, um. So please use that. It's free. Um, and, and I mean, I can't, I can't say that enough. Um, homework is one of the biggest struggles for our kids. And um, and having this available to me, um, the thing that really got me out of the pandemic, um, that was, that need became even more apparent. And that's how the homework hotline came to be. So please use that.

    Sara Braun: 14:32

    There is the Family Peer Group through the ConnectCenter. Can you talk about what this service offers?

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 14:38

    Insurance. So every first Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, we have a Family Connect group that meets with, um, in connection or in association with the Chicago Lighthouse. And, um, there's a, um, clinical psychologist who's also a part of our group discussions. And it really is a parent meeting. It is not a webinar. It is not an education. It is a time for parents to get out and talk about any problems they may have. You can share some of the successes that you've had, um, experiences, um, um, share information about what has worked for you and what hasn't worked for you. Um, and that's it, it's, it's not, a webinar being recorded. It really is a safe place for parents to come together and find community. We had parents come to us from all over the world and sometimes just sit and listen to other parents. Sometimes they bring to the group a problem they may have with their child or their child's school, and then families help each other with that problem. Um, we like, at ConnectCenter, we have, uh, team members that attend the meeting, but we don't attend the meeting itself because it's a parent meeting. Um, we're here for support. And what I mean by supportive is when a parent brings information, say, what happened in the past where, um, his son was, um, deaf for most of his life. And suddenly they lose sight. So now his son is not only deaf, but they are both deaf and blind. And they, that happened where they mentioned it, and they wonder, where am I going? What I can do? With whom I speak? Does anyone else have a deafblind child? So we at the Connect Center who are there during the call are really there to provide information about the resources in the chat. So we immediately started posting information about government projects for deafblind people, about the Helen Keller National Center, Perkins School, for the blind and the fair, and so on. And so, um, the meaning itself is being led and guided by the parents who are on call, but the team, the connection center team, is just there to support. So let's not interrupt. We do not take responsibility. We, you know, it's not our meeting. Um, and we've had so many parents thank us for having this monthly opportunity for parents to connect with each other because a lot of them have told us that they've felt so lonely. Um, they didn't know anyone else who had a child who was deafblind or a child with CHARGE syndrome or Usher syndrome or a child who was blind or had low vision. Um, and she's really gone from, um, 2 people taking care of her to sometimes 15 people taking care of her. So it fluctuates every month. Um, we have, uh, over the summer, we only had one meeting, um, just because in the summer it's harder for people to attend meetings because they have their kids home and traveling, but we're getting ready to restart them again . Um, so we have, um, next the first Wednesday in September, which would be September 7th. Um, 7 p.m. again. Eastern Standard Time and everyone is welcome. Spread the word. Um, anyone from the United States and from around the world is welcome. It was a very useful group meeting. Again, parents feel very safe to talk to the clinical psychologist about their issues, he's also there to support families that might be going through, um, you know, there are different stages of the grieving process. And, um, with that particular father that I mentioned earlier, um, his child, um, she's basically going deaf-blind, you know, she's emotional. It is, it can be, it can be hard to talk about, but having a clinical psychologist really helps guide those discussions and really, uh, you know, helps the family, uh, uh, survive the argument. Um, and we're very, very excited and proud to be a part of this, um, this Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind group.

    Sara Brown: 19:33

    And how can families support their children's learning needs and the resources they may need?

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 19:40

    So, um, as parents want, first of all, they need to know their rights, they need to know their rights as a parent of a child with a disability, um, and what they need to advocate for in an IEP. The most important thing in an IEP that you want to advocate for is access. If you know your rights for you and your child to advocate for access to ensure your child has their materials at the same time their cited peers had them, it makes no sense. And, and a student who comes to school and doesn't receive materials from her in large print or Braille for two months. This means that sighted peers are two months ahead of this student. This is something that is unacceptable. And that goes against the delivery of what is called FAPE, which is F A P E, which is adequate and free public education. If your child is denied FAPE, that's a problem. And there, if you go to an IEP meeting, you would always defend FAPE. And if you tell them your child is being denied FAPE, they really have to, you can end an IEP meeting and you can go to mediation and you can ask, talk to them about it, hey why, why my child has delayed access? ? And how can we fix this? On the right. Um, and that's one of those things and, uh, to advocate for your child's needs. Um, the other one is, um, committed to accessing and using their supported technology, customizations and modifications or they can't succeed. So they need to be able to use their, um, CCTV, their magnifying glass, their brailleer, their, um, their braille recorder, which, now, you know, we have the, um, we have a, a chameleon Um, and then, by Of course, we have different, um, types of magnifying glasses, like a Juno or a handheld magnifying glass, excuse me, magnifying glass, um, ours, students need to have access to this technology in their classroom. They should not be sent to another classroom, a smaller classroom with fewer students, to use this assistive technology or to receive their adjustments or changes, as this is against what is called the least restrictive environment. IT'S OKAY. Therefore, a restrictive environment is one that is outside of the classroom of your educated or non-disabled peers. So we want to make sure that doesn't happen, or if it has to happen, that it happens minimally. On the right? For example, if your child is still learning braille, he may go to a smaller classroom for that braille lesson because he's more of a one-on-one, because they're not going to be in the classroom that everyone is in. . in the classroom learning Braille. IT'S OKAY. That's acceptable, but if they need to use a specific CCTV or printer that should be in their general education classroom, it shouldn't be in the library. It shouldn't be in a resource room that they need to go to and have access to. Um, because that in turn takes them out of their general environment and puts them in a more restrictive environment. So I'm going to make sure you stand up for your child, ahem, knowing your rights and knowing that I need to stand up for their access to their classroom so they get a free and inappropriate public education, right? Get this FAPE, get it in the least restrictive environment, get it along with your cited peers to the greatest extent possible. IT'S OKAY. And also knowing that depending on how old they are, at 14 we should start looking at what they want to do after high school so that we can start writing into the IEP the skills they'll need to get the job they want after high school. high school. school, earn a professional degree after high school, or earn a four-year degree after high school. So there are so many different things that we have to think about from the time that that child, your son, turns 14 until he graduates. They need to know what kind of diploma they have, um, they're going to get. Um, and all because that's going to determine if they go to college, if they do a vocational program, or if they graduate and get a job, um, there are just different paths for every student. So if you know that ahead of time, start making these plans at 14, because that's when they're going to start, um, creating the class schedule for the classes your child will have to attend in order to get any kind of diploma from them, um, they actually aspire to graduate. That's something you need to know as well so that you can commit to what your child needs to prepare them for that success throughout their school years and when they graduate and go out and get involved in what they're going to do after high school.

    Sara Braun: 25:16

    And one last question for you. Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 25:21

    Um, so again, you know, I think, you know, preparing your child, I am, is important and knowing how to advocate for your child is extremely important because when you engage with them, they learn to represent themselves. That has to be, um, something they're going to do their whole lives. Advocating for them to have the same access as their sighted peers is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, but also one of the most important things you can do as a role model for your child to make sure they can. Also speak up when they need something in the classroom because you are setting an example for them, right? Um, well, and get her ready and let her know, you know what, I'm here. Um, you want, you want to be available to listen when they go to school and come back because they're going to have problems. Every child has problems. Um, you know, sometimes our kids have some more than others, and we want to make sure that you're there to listen and help, sometimes trying to fix the problem. But sometimes they just want you to listen because they have something to say about what's going on at school, how they're feeling. And that also helps to drive them and learn to defend themselves. When you know someone will listen to you. So if you're prepared to listen to them, be prepared and also listen, so can you, you know, it's like putting a puzzle together, you can start to figure out, okay, that's where I have to step in. Here where I can, you know, let them handle the situation. Um, because that will in turn lead to more empowerment and self-advocacy skills, um, for her, for yourself. Um, but I'm really taking my time before the school starts meeting with the school, um, knowing what's inside. your son, IEP um, I know these documents can be overwhelming, but I'm really trying to break it down and analyze what that is, what does it say, that my son should have. And how many minutes should they have it? And who are they supposed to have these services with, who of all these roles, those are the three things I'd like to focus on for parents. Um, so those are the things that will help drive her defense for her, for her son. Um, again there are many, many pages in these IEP documents. I know I've seen them and they can be overwhelming, but looking at these recent IEP pages that talk about what services they're going to get, for how long, and from whom, those are the three things I really want. be like a parent, which is the focus of all these sites because it gives you the information you need and parents have all the power. I don't think they realize how much power they have. Parents have all the power. If you are in an IEP meeting and you disagree with what was said or with the plans, you can disagree. And if you don't agree with the last signature page and verify it, everything has to stop. The services don't stop your child from having, but the new, anything new that's on this IEP has to stop and they have to address your concerns. And so, in these IEP meetings, you have the most power. So always keep that in mind and it's your right. This is to reassure your child that you are okay with what is happening. And if you don't, you also have the right to make sure you don't give consent and that you're not forced to do so. And you don't feel like you have to. You can give your opinion and say, wait a minute, I don't agree with that. We must continue to discuss this. It's more than okay if you do. Um, I think that's really, that's one of the last things I want to leave with families is that families have a lot more power than they think they do.

    Sara Brown: 29:30

    Thank you Olaya for joining Change Makers today.

    Olaya Landa-Vialard: 29:35

    Thanks for having me. I always like to talk about these things.

    Sara Brown: 29:39

    And I've put a link to Olaya's IEP that I just mentioned in the show notes. Now let's take a quick look at a local Louisville event coming up in September. That's Helen Keller's Hidden Legacies: A Symposium running Saturday, September 17-Sunday, September 18. We've got APH Museum Director Micheal Hudson here to briefly talk about what to expect from the two-day event. Hi Michael, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Michael Hudson: 30:06

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Braun: 30:08

    So you're talking about your role in this event and Helen Keller and what the event is about?

    Michael Hudson: 30:13

    Well, my job was, I'm kind of the logistician. Um, we decided to do that a few years ago when our big announcement, uh, uh, that the Helen Keller Archive of the American Foundation for the Blind came to Louisville. We wanted to do a history symposium and, uh, we originally planned it for, uh, her birthday this summer, uh, June. But if you remember, back in January, when we put everything together and got our show, it turned out that COVID was just deadly. And, well, Kentucky was in the middle of a big wave. So we decided we weren't ready to do it in June. And so we pushed it back to September 17 and 18, uh, very late, later this summer. And that really helped us a lot in getting all of our logistics together to get all of our speakers. You know, it turns out that Sara is planning one of those meetings. I have never done it to plan a big history symposium. And so come 16 moderators from all over the world. Uh, uh, we're bringing, and I think the furthest I think is, uh, Dr. Iain Hutchison comes from the University of Glasgow. Um, we have someone from Canada. We have, uh, Oklahoma and Massachusetts, uh, across the country. Uh, and, um, and la, la, la, the idea was that the AFB Helen Keller Archive was just this incredibly rich resource and we want to, uh, encourage researchers. And so we had to let him know, more or less, the field of history, um, um, blindness advocate, um, disability advocate, disability, historian to know that he had moved here to Kentucky from his home in New York. . Um, and that we were created to help researchers work with the collection. So we started recruiting a lot of people on all sorts of things related to the life of this amazing American, Helen Keller. Um, and we, we also look at, you know, there's something in the disability community, you know, "nothing about us without us." And so we wanted to make sure we had as many voices as possible. We had young voices, we had veteran voices, you know, young writers who had just written their first book. Um, we have a few of these. We have people who will present in ASL. Uh, we have a, uh, presenter, uh, Cristina Hartmann, who is looking forward to her presentation, which will be on pro tactile. That's how protactile it is, uh, something that mostly comes directly from the deafblind community, where an interpreter stands behind, uh, Cristina, uh, and signs on her back what, what's going on in the room, what's watching. And then, um, Cristina communicates in the room using ASL, American Sign Language, and then another interpreter speaks in the room for her. Just the accessibility, uh, part of this meeting is going to be really exciting and educational. Um, you know, how people communicate, uh, historically, of course, Helen interpreted it historically by doing what's called manual sign language. Um, even though she tried very hard to teach herself to speak, it was hard to understand what she was saying unless you, unless you were around her for a long time. So she usually had an interpreter too. Um, but she, she, uh, would manually speak to, uh, Anne Sullivan or, later, Polly Thompson's hand, and then they would speak for her. And then when someone spoke to Helen, they spelled it out with their fingers on Helen's hands. Um, and just so you know, this kind of evolution of how we communicate, um, is, is as much a part of meeting as, um, as the hidden legacy of Helen Keller. That is the title of the Hidden Legacies symposium.

    Sara Braun: 34:58

    So it's a two day event. Are you talking about what people can expect? Did you just talk to Helen Keller, did she talk about the fee and where the symposium is taking place?

    Michael Hudson: 35:08

    Insurance. We're co-sponsoring this with the Filson Historical Society here in Louisville, they have a new conference center. So right now they are very well positioned to host a meeting like this. And while we can now host meetings like this after our building renovation, we needed a partner. So here we are, the meeting at the Filson Club or the Filson Historical Society is over. And um, it's been over two days. So, on Saturday, September 17, there's a whole series of, er, of, er, symposia meetings, er, lecture sessions throughout the day. Uh, we're going to have packed lunches. And then the keynote address for the evening, speeches by Dr. Sanjay Gulati, a child psychologist who works with deaf children. Um, who's who's working on this thing called language deprivation. He's studying the way the brain develops, uh, in young children when you have a disability, uh, uh, like Helen, uh, uh, uh, either deaf or deafblind. And on Sunday, we start the day with a tour here at the American Printing House, and you get a behind-the-scenes tour of the new AFB Helen Keller archive room, as well as our braille floor and the, and the museum, and for many people this it may be the last time they see the museum before it closes. Um, and then we go back to the Filson Club in the afternoon for the last session. So it's a day and a half, uh, a full day of sessions on all aspects of Helen's life. Um, and you know, a lot of people think they know who Helen is and was because they saw the miracle worker once, but you know, that, that, the play ends with her being seven years old and she's alive, you know, she travels the world until 1968 and does amazing things. So let's explore all of this. And yes, there is an entry fee. So, as such, registration is free for APH employees and members of the board and members of the Filson Historical Society. And then for the general public it's $75, uh, for the whole day, two days, and then $25 for enrolled students, enrolled students $25.

    Sara Brown: 37:37

    Is there anything else you would like to say about this event?

    Michael Hudson: 37:40

    Well, I'm really excited about the diversity of our speakers, um, and the fact that, you know, we have representatives from a lot of different communities, um, and, you know, Helen is her, she can be sometimes, it's her mixed character. to certain, uh, communities like the deaf community, uh, because that's what Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who is that prominent speaker, thought that, oh, deaf kids should be taught to lip-read and learn to speak. And in the 20th century, the deaf community really fought back. And, uh, they, they, they fought to regain the right to use ASL, uh, and to, uh, control how they communicated. So, you know, Helen is quite an ambivalent character for her. So it's going to be very interesting. We will have many scholars. Those who worked on this and from the deaf community and from the deafblind community will be really great to find out how different communities view Helen.

    Sara Braun: 38:45

    Alright Michael, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Michael Hudson: 38:49

    thanks sara We are looking forward to it.

    Sara Braun: 38:52

    It looks like it's going to be a great event. And for those of you who are listening, I've included a link in the program notes so you can register and attend the symposium. We are now contacting Partners with Paul. What's new Paul?

    Pablo Ferrara: 39:05

    thanks sara And welcome back to this episode of Partners with Paul. This is a special episode today for two reasons. Firstly we are back live at APH today recording this and secondly Mike Wood is back with us how are you Mike?

    Mike Wood: 39:18

    Are you okay Pablo, how are you?

    Pablo Ferrara: 39:20

    For those who may not know? Mike Wood is Vispero's Strategic Account Education Manager and he's got some big news for us today, right? Miguel?

    (Video) The Moment is Now: In Dialogue with Changemakers featuring Danté Stewart

    Mike madera: 39:28

    Yes. I have some very exciting news, as well as being here at APH, which is exciting in itself, uh, to take a tour of the museum and see everyone live. Um, I have some exciting news about the fact that JAWS and ZoomText are now available for purchase directly through the APH website. So this is exciting news. Uh, so you have JAWS Student Edition and ZoomText Student Edition available, and of course, Jaws is your screen reader. And ZoomText is your screen magnifier.

    Pablo Ferrara: 39:56

    And who will benefit most from this change?

    Mike madera: 39:59

    So I think ex-officio trustees and teachers requesting student supplements from JAWS or ZoomText will find this really helpful, as they previously had to contact customer service directly. Uh, now you can go to toph.org and go to the JAWS or ZoomText site and apply for a portal license right there. So if you do this, late night, early morning before APH opens, you have the flexibility to go and order it right there on APH.org.

    Pablo Ferrara: 40:31

    It was a change. People asked for a lot of time, a lot of work from everyone, from their team, from our team. And we're so glad it happened, what about the merger? We are constantly asked if the next thing will be a merger license.

    Mike Wood: 40:46

    So Fusion is definitely coming. Uh, it's a work in progress. And at the moment you offer an option for fusion on your website, but not through the portal. And the beauty of the portal is that you can manage everything directly from this portal, allowing teachers and administrators to manage multiple student licenses, either at the classroom level or at the district level. And now you can only do JAWS or ZoomText, uh, through the portal and soon, you know, I'm not sure when I don't have the exact timeline, but all I know is that it's in the works that we will be adding the infusion to this option at some point.

    Pablo Ferrara: 41:19

    Therefore, it is important to know that you can still get it, but you have to go the way above. You'll have to talk to customer support, but you can get Fusion.

    Mike Wood: 41:26

    Correct? That is absolutely correct, Paul. Yes.

    Pablo Ferrara: 41:29

    Can you tell us a bit about the ordering process and what happens when someone places an order?

    Mike Wood: 41:33

    Yes. Then you can go to aph.org to order JAWS Student Edition or ZoomText Student Edition. After ordering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to activate this license. Um, as soon as you get this email, the email contains two links. So one of those links is when you activate the license yourself. So if you're sitting at that laptop for that student, you're logged in, you want to activate it on that computer, you click that link, then there's a second link that you can use to forward that license to someone else who can activate it on their account. So if you are the ex officio trustee and you apply for 10 licenses, you can actually send those 10 licenses to 10 different people and then they would be the ones to activate them. So you just need to make sure you read the email carefully and make sure you activate the license on the correct account. So either for you, the student, or maybe you send it to an IT manager and the IT department installs it on a student's laptop,

    Pablo Ferrara: 42:37

    But it's still an order. If you want to order 10, you can order 10 at a time. It's okay?

    Mike Wood: 42:41

    Yes . So you can order multiple, excuse me, multiple licenses. Uh, and it's good because everything is available through the website now.

    Pablo Ferrara: 42:48

    Perfect. And now sometimes people need to know how to use the software they ordered. Can you talk a bit about some of the training options available?

    Mike Wood: 42:56

    Quality. Yes . So there has been a lot of training in recent years. APH did a fantastic job providing training directly to us and to us. One of the links I want to share is FreedomScientific.com/teachers. And if you go to this link, that's great because there are actually teacher training modules available there that you can go through. So if you're new to JAWS, you want to, you know, learn how to use it. It can be a bit scary at first, right? But this way you can work through these training modules piece by piece, step by step, which is awesome. Um, there's so much information available there, um, for both new users and old users. So if you want to use or learn JAWS with things like ZoomText or JAWS with Teams, or Google calls it, you can head over there and find resources on that.

    Pablo Ferrara: 43:46

    Yes . I myself am a JAWS user. I can tell you that all the material is fantastic. It was great to hear from Mike, thanks for joining us and Louisville. I'm thankful.

    Mike Wood: 43:55

    Hello, I really liked Pablo. Thanks. And one last thing I want to say is if he has students that he works with, go to FreedomScientific.com and go to Student of the Month. So FreedomScientific.com/studentofthemonth. And if they use our technology, you can enroll them in this program. And I love this show because it excites kids. They will receive a $500 Amazon gift card if they are selected. And I definitely want to make sure that I share this information, but again, it's been my pleasure. It's so nice to see you live and in person. Paul and I cannot thank you enough.

    Pablo Ferrara: 44:27

    And they also get a computer. Don't they get computers for the blind?

    Mike Wood: 44:29

    You can. Yes . So that's another great separate program, computers for the blind. Fantastic. Um, you can sign up for this program and you can already get a computer absolutely free with the software. It comes pre-installed for a one-year license. And from there, you know, they can work through the APH to get a license that works.

    Pablo Ferrara: 44:48

    Well that was great. And um, I also want to be quick to mention in the show notes that we included the link to the blog post that we published. And in that blog post you have the link to the ZoomText page, the JAWS page, and the training. Everything we talked about is covered in this blog post and will be found in the show notes. And, uh, so everything must be answered. If you have more questions. cs@aph.org is also a great place to email and get answers to these questions. Thanks again Mike and back to you Sara.

    Sara Braun: 45:24

    thanks pablo And thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I've added links to ConnectCenter, the IEP mentioned by Olaya, to register for Helen Keller's Hidden Legacies: A Symposium and for the blog post. Paul just mentioned how he always makes sure to look for ways to make a change this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to this episode of Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we learn about the incredible work of APH Huntington. We have APH Huntington's Senior Accessible Technology and Community Outreach Strategist. Lee Huffman here to talk about the origins of APH Huntington's and how it meets the needs of local residents. Hi Lee and welcome to Change Makers.

    Lee Huffmann: 0:42

    Hello good Morning. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Brown: 0:45

    So tell us about your professional experience and if the audience doesn't know you or APH Huntington, introduce yourself.

    Lee Huffmann: 0:54

    Thanks actually. Yes. Hey, my name is Lee Huffman, like you said, and I'm pretty new to APH. I was actually at APH for almost exactly two years last week. It's two years. I agree. And, um, I started working with APH to really, um, get some ideas about how to better understand rural people and learn how to better serve. When I started, my career in blindness was around 2005. I started working for the American Foundation for the Blind and I started, uh, when I was completely new to the blind business. And I got hired on a grant in Huntington, West Virginia, where one of the AFB offices was, and the grant was to find the best specs for small visual displays. So I myself have poor eyesight. I have a condition called Stargardt, which is a juvenile form of macular degeneration. And at the time when mobile phones became very popular. They all had one on all different phone screens, some were more readable and some were less readable. And the grant really went to AFB to find the most legible details for small visual displays. And now we have retina displays on a phone. So things have changed. A lot. The screens have improved a lot. They are much larger and more readable. That's how I got into the business. And after that transition to writing for AFP's Access World Technology magazine, and after spending time reviewing technology products of all kinds for the visually impaired, I started as editor-in-chief of Access World. And those were my last few years at the American Foundation for the Blind before I moved to APH to start APH Huntington.

    Sara Brown: 2:35

    it's okay . Now tell us what APH Huntington is and how we got started.

    Lee Huffmann: 2:42

    APH HD, really in general, what I think people really need to understand, is the goal of APH HD. It's a new APH program to really learn how to better serve more rural communities, because there are challenges in a rural community that don't necessarily exist in a larger metropolitan area like Chicago, New York, Boston or Houston, something like that. uh, that would have more resources. So the overall goal is to bring the information, uh, it's like APH educational knowledge and also product knowledge and technological products in the rural area and permeate that area to educate and inform people in the community Increase opportunities for people who live in this area who are blind or partially sighted. And that can probably be replicated in other places to really get better results, whether it's for education, employment, and life in general, even for people who might be retired, to help them achieve better results in their successful lives based on of information infusion and all the resources that APH has to offer. So that was the overall goal. It has remained so to this day and APH Huntington's work began with good maps for inland navigation. The first idea we had for bringing information to the area was Good Maps, a branch of APH that provides interior navigation to blind and partially sighted people and really everyone through a smartphone app. So if your listeners don't know what it is, they go in and map a building, uh, height, weight, the spatial areas of a building. They can create digital maps and, through a smartphone app, an originally disabled blind person can access the app on her phone and get directions to points of interest within a building. Whether it's a classroom, an office, a bathroom, a water source. If you're in a mall, it might be a store. If you're at an airport, it could be a gate that you go to to catch a plane or I know Good Maps is currently doing a lot of work in museums around the country to help people better understand how to navigate a museum and better understand what is on display and how best to interact with it. So that was the first thing that we did to bring more infusion from, to, to the area and map Good Maps for buildings in Huntington to get this initiative off the ground. And if you have something like that, you have to train a little. So we worked with the Good Maps team and myself to get a group of people to come and get trained on how to use the Good Maps app. So if they go there, it's the library in downtown Huntington, the YMCA, the Cabell-Wayne local association for the blind, which is a local non-profit organization. We map your building. And also one of the buildings at Marshall University, the Visual Arts Building downtown, we mapped these four to start with. And of course, when we did the first training, we interviewed people beforehand and asked them about their use of their smartphones and whether they were using magnification to access information or voice output or both. And I was really surprised that we got a lot of good responses and saw that people were ready, but when we got people in the room to download the Good Maps app, we pretty much had everyone in the room, circa 2020. Some people couldn't. They weren't familiar enough with their phone to download an app. Many of them had someone else set up their phone for them. They didn't know any password. And we're very excited to learn about technology that fully understood what it can do for them, but we didn't have the skills, uh, with voiceover or scaling to download an app or use the app proficiently. Most, um, they somehow disguised during the interview that they were using their phones for very, um, rudimentary tasks, sometimes making a call, sometimes making a call and, um, or texting. And it really was. They said they had things like Facebook on their phones. I think that's great. And they did, but they never really used the different aspects of it. So we realized very quickly that we could have gotten on our skis with what we had to do in the community. We realized that we had to take a step back and meet people where they were.

    Sara Braun: 7:04

    How has APH adapted its work to meet the needs of local BVI residents?

    Lee Huffmann: 7:10

    The biggest thing APH Huntington has done is really rethink where we meet people in our area. And so we realized that we had to step back and meet them where they are and also the community. So we decided to invest in four main areas. And the first was to create access technology training courses for some of the blind and partially sighted people in the area to help them become familiar with the technology. I will review them a bit to explain them better. But secondly, we created what we call the spark where we showcase and demonstrate some of the technology that APH has to offer to some of the local TVIs and rehab people who never really get to see this kind of technology, uh, Technology. We have also created a series of community speakers to educate and expand community knowledge about the expectations and abilities of blind and partially sighted people. And then we created and last presented in April, at the end of April of this year was actually the APH, Plena Cumbre de Vida. And those were the four areas where we realized we needed to step back, meet people where they are, and help them become better users of technology. And to add, the community has a better understanding of skills. So with the access tech training we had, and I was working with Aaron Priest, who is, um, the current editor-in-chief of AFB's tech magazine. which is also based in Huntington and we created six training sessions for people who applied. And we did the first. We, we had training, we did six of them, one a month for six months. And the first was better use of cell phones. So we got their phones and helped them adjust them optimally for their vision, to determine if they needed magnification or, uh, voice output, or both, and we taught them, uh, the most appropriate hand gestures and how to use them skillfully. . . So they could make better use of their phones and they talked about the different things you can do with the phone, how to download an app, how to use an app, how to check and edit emails and read emails, to get to know each other better with their cell phones. We had one on smart speakers if Google home and Amazon Alexa teaching them what skills are there. So they could learn how to use this kind of technology. We had one on Uber and Lyft, which means we had to learn about the Uber app. In fact, they used the app, they called a car. We have done some walks and we are learning how to do it. And we talked about all the different things that they had questions about. We teach about the use of Microsoft Aeeing AI, an application developed by Microsoft that will serve as a currency identifier. It's a light detector. Read short documents, read full page documents allowed. It reads QR codes or barcodes on products to tell you what they are and how this could really help them in their daily lives. And we talked about the audio description for television, to help you get used to understanding what's available and how best to incorporate some of that into your life. Uh, that was one of the biggest things we've done for so long, uh, as well as the community speaker series that we, uh, the first one we did, we brought in people from APH, uh, some of them employed at the time in attendance were Melanie Peskoe Melissa Slaughter, again Allen Lovell, AFB's Aaron Priest. And we did a self-advocacy because I think we thought that's really where we need to start showing people that there are blind and partially sighted people who are successful in, uh, career fields. And we got them talking about their approach to technology, the challenges they faced in life, work, and education, and how they overcame them. So that the people in the audience could really understand, “Hey, we're not alone. Maybe I can do what they did. Maybe I, uh, ex, can take on a challenge like they did," and I ended up having some Q&A to give people in our area a better idea of ​​how they're dealing with some, some challenges and some can handle situations. that they can deal with and learn how to better advocate for themselves uh the second community speaker series we put together was in partnership with the InSights Art program the director at the time came to Huntington and we had an installation of InSights Art that had been collected over the years installed at the Huntington Museum of Art, which was fantastic. We had about 25 different types of pieces. There was art photography, crafts, all kinds of things. And we had a reception and the director went through each one of the works for everyone in attendance, and after that, we have a roundtable discussion with the museum's curator, the InSights art director, and the artist and museum resident, who e he also works with blind people, in a pottery class every one or two years. Just to talk about the importance and contributions of blind and partially sighted people to art, a lot of people were really unaware and didn't really believe that there was a lot of input from people with disabilities in art, which obviously wasn't. absolutely. it is right. And the last thing we've really been doing lately was the APH Huntington Impactful Life Summit. We had about 60 people attend, and they were blind and partially sighted practitioners in the field. Uh, people who have worked with rehab, people who have worked as TVI, some people from the community where we've had a whole day series of sessions. It was like a little conference. We had exhibitors from our community that, of course, APH had a booth, Vispero, an assistive technology manufacturer had a booth, our local goodwill, the Center for Independent Living, uh, the American Foundation for the Blind had a booth, to really Gather all the resources from our region and present them. Good Maps gave a presentation on inland navigation. We had another panel discussion with people who are blind or partially sighted. We had a technology demo as a presentation or session that really allowed people to see what technology for the blind is like. Updateable braille, uh, enlargers, things they've never seen before. And the reason we did that, as I said, was to help educate and improve the community, because if the professionals in the field don't know the resources, they can't share them with the people who need them. These are the initiatives that we just completed to take a step back and really reconfigure what APH was doing in our space.

    Sara Brown: 13:32

    And what knowledge have you acquired through your previous job working in this rural community?

    Lee Huffmann: 13:41

    We really learned a lot about the rural community at APH and we really learned that culture plays a big role in outcomes for blind and partially sighted people. We have found that there is definitely a lack of access to information. There is a lack of access to resources and role models for young people who are blind or partially sighted. Most of the people we worked with in the area did not know about APH. They were not aware of our online webinars and our online content. They were unaware of the Transition Center, the ConnectCenter, the Information Referral Line, which is the 800 number. They were unaware of email and that they could get information from APH for free and have their questions answered through information referrals. They didn't know they could get how-to videos from the outreach team, they didn't even know they existed, and they're starting to use them. Ah, role models are particularly rare in rural areas. For example, some of the students I've had the chance to talk to never really thought about working after high school, or maybe after college, because they never saw a visually impaired professional work in the workplace. And I didn't have that as a model to see in place until we actually started working with APH. I had one of the students, uh, he was 17 years old and he was in high school. And he just told me, we had a personal conversation. And he said, "Does it ever get better?" And I thought he meant the vision of him. And I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Just the fight for it." And I said, "Absolutely, it gets better. And for that reason you're that much better at developing your O&M orientation and mobility skills. And the better you master the technology and access techniques you need for your particular vision condition, the better it will be. And any struggle you currently have will fade away. Because once you've mastered those two things, getting around, getting where you need to go independently, and access technology and technology, you need to use a computer to interact with a phone smart. If you can do these things, you can do anything." And he's never been told that before. So I think the lack of role models is very important. Another thing I learned, uh, from talking to the students, one of the students I spoke to at a high school I spoke to were not using a cane that they needed, they were not using technology and they needed it badly and the family was not necessarily supportive of this kind of things. They thought that using the cane, and the student thought the same, was a sign of weakness or a sign of vulnerability, instead of seeing the cane as a sign of independence and opportunity. And they didn't really want their kid to wear one, because they said, "Well, if they have to go somewhere, I'll take them or I'll go with them." or a school staff from room to room, to the library, to the cafeteria, to the restroom, and back to parents when picked up after school. And so they did not learn to be independent. They weren't using any technology at all and were struggling to do their schoolwork, and it didn't have to be that way. And I think in a small rural area, culturally, there's often a mentality of 'We'll do it for you. Don't worry. We'll take care of that." Instead of preparing young people to be independent and expecting them to “go to school”, “become independent travelers”. "You go to college or trade school or something," "or start a business," "become an entrepreneur." You have to raise expectations. And what I'm also learning is that some of the professionals in the field, because they don't have the resources they need, they haven't seen role models. He has never seen a visually impaired professional struggle to convey this to young students as an expectation and mindset of independence and future opportunities. I really feel, especially in a rural area, it needs to be relocated. And that's one of the things that I'm working on particularly in my role at APH Huntington, is to help shift that mindset toward independence, master orientation and mobility skills, and encourage them to be proficient in technology, which is what they have. to do. what they need to do and what you can get them. So those are some of the things that I think a particular rural community has as a culture. And I think the biggest impact that we can really have at APH in this area is getting the younger students into that mindset. And while they're young, though it's much more difficult to work with an older person, someone who may have lost their sight later in life or developed a situation where they allow a sighted spouse or adult child to see things. What I've found a lot is that they're so intimidated by technology that they don't even try it anymore, where students generally, you know, younger people are more excited about technology. Uh, we think the biggest opportunity and impact that we can have in this space really is with the students.

    Sara Braun: 18:54

    What local organizations were your main allies for this work?

    Lee Huffmann: 18:58

    We had a lot of allies in Huntington and we didn't really face any opposition from any kind of group. Everyone was very hospitable and I am looking forward to ordering. I'll start by saying that it was really three of the biggest donors that made what we had during that period possible. And our biggest donor was the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, who has been our number one cheerleader in the community to help us get started with APH HD and has encouraged others to do the same. We have another sponsor that funded the speaker series and parts of the summit and that was the Huntington Pallottine Foundation. And also the Huntington Foundation, all three of them have very generously supported our work and have allowed us to do everything we've done so far because in the last two years not everything we've done has been funded APH has been funded locally, which makes it makes it even more special. I think because the area that we work in, number one believes in the work that we do and believes in APH that they have the ability, or have the ability, to really bring good information to the area, this can improve awareness of the people. in our field and results. Uh, the other organizations that have supported us the most, number one, the Cabell-Wayne Association of the Blind, have been fantastic. They are an organization that has about 500 people on their lists that they serve each year. And you think 500 people, that sounds like a lot, but it's just the ones they have in their role. So even in small rural areas, there are far more people with vision loss than anyone realizes or realizes. We are currently working with them to conduct a needs assessment for the area in which we operate, interviewing blind and partially sighted people to ask them about their experiences as blind and partially sighted people, the resources they know of, and the resources available Resources to ask tell them what they have used, what they think is missing, to find what they think needs to be done that will help improve not only the work of APH Huntington but other local organizations in the future moving forward We plan to share this with everyone in the community to who may have this information. Uh, Marshall University was very supportive of us, too. They were allowed to use the Drinko library to do one of our community speaker series. We called in Micheal Hudson from the APH Museum to do a presentation with, um, in collaboration with Women's History Months. So there was a great presentation on Helen Keller and the impact she had on the field. They were able to recover some of the tangible elements of the APH museum, such as the different iterations of the white cane and how it has changed over time. And our blind participants could touch and feel these and see how things have changed, tactile maps, uh, different types of notes and how they've changed over time. We showed some APHs current APH technology and some older devices so they could see how that has changed over time as well, which is really cool. So Marshall University has been very supportive of us, as has the Huntington Museum of Art, where we installed artwork from Insights and they let us use their facilities to help, uh, share information about blind and partially sighted artists. They also hosted that, uh, through their Facebook page and, uh, their website, where I think over 1,200 people came by and physically saw the artwork on display and visited the exhibition through the website. So it was great to have that extended virtual reach as well. And the Huntington Chamber of Commerce was great. We joined the Huntington Chamber of Commerce and they've been giving us strategic support and helping us get information on what we're doing and what events we're hosting, um, and they've been really fantastic at that.

    Sara Braun: 22:39

    How will APH Huntington evolve based on your work and learning?

    Lee Huffmann: 22:46

    We hear that we're taking place, really an APH Huntington, that's the HD boundary, that's Cabell and Wayne counties in West Virginia, we're right on the border where West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky meet. So we extrapolate that these similar cultural situations also occur in the other states on the other side of the borders. So we're trying to take what we've learned and some of the training we've done across the border to Kentucky and Ohio and help some of those rural areas incorporate a lot of the APH information. and technology that we share here. They can too. I'll also be, uh, writing information and content for the Connect Center, uh, on the APH website to talk and share what we're doing here. So other areas, uh, the country that might have the same cultural situations that we do, can learn from what we're doing. Then some of the blogs and articles will appear on the ConnectCenters pages. I'll also support the outreach team with webinars and various types of promotional information, er, through their work and demos of assistive technologies and help with PR planning and prepare and execute some of them. And we're really good at creating more speaker series that we can get people to participate in to better educate the community, because when you have a more educated community, they become more inclusive and understanding of the needs of blind people, visually. Hey, we're working with a lot of restaurants to encourage them to do braille and large print menus and just to create a better environment, also with Marshall University and with the Chamber of Commerce to help people in the area, who are business leaders and have the opportunity to hire people, they will most likely consider people who are initially blind for the first time. Because what I think is going to happen is once we have some people in the community who are originally blind and have gainful employment, that really opens up an opportunity for others to do the same, just getting a strategic one or two. Imagine, uh , just from what they've learned and how they can understand that there are tweaks that can be done very easily, that screen readers and screen apps even exist because most of them were clueless about any kind of hyperbole technology and really trying. to really transform the way people in our field think about blindness and low vision.

    Sara Braun: 25:13

    Is there anything else you would like to add about APH Huntington?

    Lee Huffmann: 25:18

    I think what I really want people to know is that we're actively, you know, really investing in the rural community to not just learn here about HPP HD, but what we learn here and extrapolate to other areas and APH can help them. better too, because it's really a hard area to get into and learn. And through the work that we're doing here, we're really trying to better serve other areas. And I think we can absolutely do that by helping people understand that APH resources are available and letting them know that those resources are available, they're free. And having that in their hands I think will change things for rural communities across the country, not just for HD.

    Sara Brown: 25:59

    Thank you Lee for joining us today at Change Makers.

    Lee Huffmann: 26:03

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 26:04

    And thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. As always, be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we take a look at some of the upcoming products that will be available for purchase in the coming months. We're excited to let the cat out of the bag and talk about two new products on the way. We are pleased to have with us Joe Hodge, APH Technical Product Manager, Tyler Maddox, Technical Innovations Product Manager, and Greg Stilson, Director of Global Technology Innovation. They're all here to talk about what's on the way. Hi Greg Tyler and Joe, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Joe Hodge: 0:51

    Nice to be here.

    Tyler Maddox y Greg Stilson: 0:53

    I am so happy to be here. Thank you.

    Sara Brown: 0:55

    Alright, so this question is for Tyler. There are rumors that APH may soon introduce a new desktop magnifier to its line of low vision solutions. What can you share about this new Magnifier and its anticipated release schedule, and why we should all be excited?

    Tyler Maddox: 1:10

    Well, I can announce that we are now officially hard at work developing a new magnifying glass for desktop tablets. Umm, we're currently in the final parts of a deal, but with a company based in Toronto, Canada, called TrySight, who will be our development partner on this journey. Um, and they bring a lot of new and innovative approaches to low vision technology and have some really unique solutions to modern day problems facing students with low vision. And as you know, desktop tablet magnifiers in general are really an exciting product line. So I'm very excited to be working on it. Uh, we've had so many successes and changed so many lives with the Matt Connect, the current device and our line of desktop tablet magnifiers. Uh, we also learned a lot from this device, which has been on the market since, uh, around 2016 now. That makes him almost six years old at this point. But you know there are still really cool updates and features to this day. But of course, this new desktop tablet magnifier is sort of the culmination of a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, about features that teachers and students love, but also about weaknesses in tablet technology. low vision we now have newer and better. technologies to address these issues. Finally, to answer your question, Sara, I can share with you some important goals that we're working on with this device. Umm, one of them is that we're developing a broadening platform that builds transition skills for visually impaired students and gives them the same technical toolbox as their peers to make sure no one is left out of schools or pursuing careers because of the tools. You will need them to access the curriculum in the classroom. On the right? Er, two resolves some sticking points in terms of ergonomics and ensures that students of all sizes are comfortable using this device. Uh, and Three makes this device extremely easy to use and intuitive for teachers and students alike, providing amazing support features, user interfaces, and teacher settings to meet the needs of a wide range of technical abilities. So obviously there's going to be a lot more to talk about with this device, but I hope people stay tuned. Um, we're aiming for late 2023. Hopefully late 2023 can see the launch of this device.

    Sara Braun: 3:14

    Marvelous. IT'S OKAY. And Tyler, one more question for you: Where does this new loupe fit into the line of current APH loupes?

    Tyler Maddox: 3:24

    Hey, I'm going to quickly go over our line of low vision products, from most wearable to least wearable. Uh, we currently have four loupes, but obviously we're always looking into unmet needs and directional technology is moving. So I'll stand up and say it won't always be four, so stay tuned. But, uh, first we have the handheld magnifying glass currently represented by Video Mag HD. And this is a great solution for a really durable product with a great point gain. Next up we have our newest magnifying product, the Juno, and this is another handheld amp with incredibly robust features in a small package that suits the needs of middle and high school students and professionals alike. And it comes with OTR and optical character recognition and text-to-speech and this amazing little camera system up and running, uh, and next up is the aforementioned desktop tablet magnifier product currently represented by Matt Connect. And I always think of this series of loupes as kind of like a Swiss army knife with low vision and classroom-related functionality, right? It is, it is, but it is also portable. Uh, it usually just serves as a fantastic bridge between stationary and portable needs, and can do a little bit of everything and all very well. Finally, we have our stationary desktop magnifier, currently represented by Jupiter portable magnifiers. Uh, this is some kind of power user device with dedicated powerful magnification capabilities. While the desktop tablet magnifier is kind of a jack of all trades. The Jupiter is more of a jack of all trades, but it really does this trade exceptionally well.

    Sara Braun: 4:56

    Another new product making an industry splash is a bracelet developed in partnership with HabitAware to curb eye squinting. Joe, can you talk about eye pressures and tell us about the need for a bracelet like this?

    Joe Hodge: 5:11

    Yes. Hi Sarah. So I'm pushing, so last year, around this time in May, we launched a poll, uh, about, uh, about eye squeezing. So what we found was that there's no product on the market that reliably tells a user that they're squinting, which isn't demeaning or just something mixed up. So we took that feedback and we, uh, searched and found a partner in HabitAware. Currently, this works with holding behaviors like trichotillomania, um, nail biting, etc. Uh, and they already have a bracelet that can detect those things. So we talked about taking this bracelet and looking at the different movements that someone would use to press their eyes. So the reasons people are, um, things that can cause medical problems that can cause eye strain is eye infections from a, um, retinal detachment. And it could also lead to the need for implants. So we wanted to find a way that would just let the person know that they were actually pressing their eyes. And I love, uh, when we had HabitAware, at our annual meeting last year, we talked about, uh, the, uh, the word they used that I loved is that it gives the person a hug on the wrist when they're so sick of trichotillomania. When they pull their hair, it's kind of a doll hug to let them know they're doing it. So what we want to do is when someone presses their eye, they get that notification and the user can choose to, uh, stop or not. Uh, and then, you know, on top of that, we're looking to create an app that allows someone, uh, say a parent or a teacher, to know how often this, uh, happens throughout the day as a student. Uh, and the reason why that's important is because we've gotten a lot of feedback that someone could be reading braille or doing O&M and then they start pressing their eyes and it takes them away from, uh, this moment. And they kind of lose focus. The reasons this can happen is because the people I'm pushing feel good. Sometimes, you know, they're supposed to have a bit of light perception. So you get little flashes of light, uh, and, uh, you know, kids like that, like you see something. Um, and that's right, it's behavior that's not necessarily bad. It's just that if you do it often enough, it can cause problems. Um, so the bracelet itself, what we're at right now is we're starting a study with HabitAware, um, where we're looking at people pressing their eyes. So there are different ways that you can press your eyes, you can use your thumbs or your fingers, or you can clench your fist and it rests against your eye, if you will. There's, uh, just different methods in, uh, you know, one of a way that people could really push me. And I think the key is to look at the data and see how many people it actually is, figure out what method they're using, and design an algorithm in the bracelet that detects it.

    Sara Braun: 8:36

    And what are the next steps to bring this bracelet to market and the expected timeline for that?

    Joe Hodge: 8:42

    So that's a great question that builds on what I just talked about about the algorithm. Yes friends, what we want to do is get a little involved off the pitch. So if you're a teacher, parent, or even a blind or low vision user who knows you're squeezing your eyes, just email me if you can reach me at JHodge@aph.org. Uh, I'd like to invite you into the studio and, you know, get some data points from you and just have some sort of discussion, whether it's in person or virtual, and where we can learn, um, different ways that someone, uh, with eyes, because we want to understand the algorithm correctly. Uh, so we're probably looking at, um, best case, um, 2023 release sometime in October. Um, it could take a little longer depending on the studio and what we, what we're seeing out there. But, uh, the good news is we think we can do this within a year.

    Sara Braun: 9:46

    And I move on to Greg. Any new products to look forward to, maybe a DTD and EBRF update?

    Greg Stilson: 9:54

    Absolutely. Yeah. So I think last time we talked we did a 10,000 foot overview of what dynamic touch is. So just a quick reminder. So this is a device that comes out of sort of a three-way partnership, with HumanWear and with Dot Incorporated. In fact, we also consulted with the National Federation of the Blind. Um, really, this is a tool that I would say not just in the US, but the whole world, you know, has been looking for a tool that can create tactile graphics and standard braille in the same interface. And it's often thought of as that "sacred Braille," right? And we've heard a lot of promises from different companies over the years that we think we've figured out the technology. And one of the things we did this year is what I call kind of like our test tour. Here we've been going back and forth, uh, our, you know, here in the US, but also in other countries, and to demonstrate prototype technology and what it is, basically, that's, uh, some point technology that we use, um, we can create examples of, um, pretty common things that you would find in a textbook, and our goal with Dynamic Touch Devices is basically to create a tool that replicates or simulates the experience of a blind student reading a textbook. text. So when you think about reading a textbook, you may be reading Braille in format, but you are also accessing tactile graphics, charts and graphs, tables, etc. On the right. And that's what led us to the need to create this new EBRF or Electronic Braille Ready File format, er, because the existing EBRF, er, standard that was created a few decades ago was created for static etching. So you are creating a file that can be embossed on paper. And when you emboss on paper, you create a file that embosses content onto a sheet of paper of a specified size. But the difference is that with tools like we have today, with touch electronics and things like that, the resulting surface that your file or document is rendered on or whatever you're using, um, can vary from just one line display, which can also range in size from around 12 to 40 characters, to multi-line devices, err,. And, and we, we hope to see more multi-line devices later. We hope to somehow unlock the future as we progress here. But, uh, you know, this is, uh, this is a really exciting initiative. It is probably one of the most difficult initiatives. Uh, I know I'll probably start my career, um, because we didn't know that one of the things I always joke about is that I designed the technology before I created a whole new standard Braille, it's a whole new thing for me. but we are, uh, pretty far along in developing the EBRF standard, uh, we work with, uh, many organizations around the world, uh, including, uh, the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind. Um, CNIB in Canada, NELS in Canada, um, RNIB Vision Australia, Österreichischer Blindenverband, Dutch Visio. So I could… the list goes on and on BANA and LS. Um, so the reality here is that we really contact all of these organizations early on and say, look, we're going to row this boat. Um, and we need all the help we can get to row one way. Um, the biggest thing we didn't want to see is every organization or country make their own version of a standard for electronic braille, because that doesn't help, that doesn't help, you know, sharing resources and stuff like that. . So our dream here, and as we get closer, we're producing things like non-functional prototypes and this summer we're really hoping to do some pretty serious UX testing with both working and non-functional prototypes. Um, but our, our, our goal here is to release a device that, um, has its own apps, including a book reading app that a braille translator could use to read a book to make or get a book. from an editor and, you know, do edits, transcriptions, edits that are necessary. And once a part of that book is complete, we don't have to engrave, bind, package, mail, and here in the US we send materials to the blind for free. Unfortunately, we are often pushed to the back of the bus there. So when a book is mailed, it can take a month to two months to even make it to the student's doorstep. who will need it It is, our, our dream that once an EBRF is created or, er, er, a braille file is created, er, and transcribed and verified at that point, you, the transcriber, or the provider of that book if you could just upload it to a library or online resource. And the student could just get a notification on their dynamic tactical device and download it directly to the device, or the student could have a one line display that has been updated to support different libraries and things like that that support it and could do the same thing. . So, you know, we really want to take advantage of the connectivity and the new technology that's available and try to really reduce what I call the time at hand, that's the, you know, the, the, the, moment, in which this book is being written is finished and ready to go. Uh, we want to have that time at our fingertips, so that the child understands it, or the user understands it, um, almost instantly. So that's really where we are today. Um, we're going to be setting up regional testing, um, locations across the country and at various other locations, um, internationally. Um, and if you want to get involved, um, there's an email address that we've set up here at APH that's just DTD or dynamic touch dtd@aph.org.

    Sara Brown: 16:13

    That's so cool. I can't wait to hear more about this. And if you only know how long it takes to print the books, whether it's chapters or an entire book, the time it takes from print to student is that time. So this is really going to change the game. It is very exciting to listen. It's great to hear an update on this. Yes .

    Gregor Stilson: 16:30

    And it is, and just to mention Sara, it's not, it's not just the weather. One thing I haven't even talked about is the cost, right? Like, you know, I asked the question, I asked the question, to our tests and textbooks, uh, department. I told him to give me an example of a STEM book, a science book, an engineering book, a math book, and that kind of thing. Um, and I said, what, "what did that do, how much did it cost to do it?" Um, and they gave me an example of a book on Algebra II that was, um, produced in 2021. It took, uh, 13 months, uh, to produce and cost over $30,000 to create now, assuming it's a one-time construction cost . Um, but every time you have to record, package, and ship that book, it adds several thousand dollars, uh, shipping cost for that reproduced book. On the right. But that initial cost, from the publisher's copy to the final Braille copy, was over $30,000 and took 13 months. Now think about it. So here at APH we're pushing as hard as we can to say, look, get your textbook orders in ASAP, right? Because if it's something that requires tactile graphics, if it requires a lot of science, technology, engineering, and math content, that number, you know, goes up and up and up. So we want to make sure that people have enough time to order early enough for their student to be able to use the book because I remember many times, I'm sure Joe does too. He was in college and he was in a precalculus class or a calculus class. I don't remember which ones. Um, and I remember my book didn't really show up until after the semester was over. And that's the kind of thing we're trying to avoid or use here when the EBRF and Dynamic Tactical Device finally come into play.

    Sara Brown: 18:25

    Well, I'm sure there are a lot of people waiting with bated breath to come out and change the game. It's exciting. It is truly an exciting time at APH.

    Greg Stilson: 18:36

    Is really. Yes.

    Sara Braun: 18:38

    Tyler, Greg and Joe, do you have anything else you'd like to say?

    Greg Stilson: 18:42

    I guess the last thing I'm going to say is, you know, our team, the Global Technology Innovation Team, you know, us, we're 100% focused on the technology needs of the users and, uh, the users of our field. Uh, you know, us, we want to make sure that the needs that you have are met. So feel free to contact our customer support team at cs@aph.org. They are very good at making sure any features or product requests are passed on to our team. Um, because really what we see is what we need, right. Is there, is there a need for, uh, that's not being met right now? And that is something we are very passionate about. We're, um, you know, we're, we're designers of user products, and that's the biggest thing I've said to this team from the very beginning, the principle is, um, you know, we've got to fall in love with the problem and, uh, and find some, some really innovative solutions. So like I said, email CS@aph .org and , and rest assured, those emails will hit our inboxes.

    Sara Brown: 19:49

    Well . Thank you Greg Tyler and Joe for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Greg Stilson, Joe Hodge y Tyler Maddox: 19:53

    Thanks for having us. thank you sarah thank you sarah

    Sara Brown: 19:56

    I will definitely provide these email addresses. They were mentioned in the show notes. Now let's talk to our friends at Thinkerbell Labs. APH has partnered with Thinkerbell Labs to develop Polly, which will be available in the coming months. I have Dilip Ramesh, Co-Founder and CEO of Thinkerbell Labs, Sanskriti Dawle, Co-Founder and CEO of Thinkerbell Labs, and Donna McClure-Rogers, Early Childhood Development Product Manager at APH. Everyone is here to talk about the new electronic library device. This is coming soon. Hello Donna, Dilip and Sanskriti and welcome to Change Makers.

    Dilip Ramesh: 20:34

    pleasure to be here. Thanks for having us.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 20:36

    Thanks for having me today.

    Sara Braun: 20:38

    So Donna, I give you this interview, tell us about the need for an early electronic literary device?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 20:46

    Insurance. Um, yeah, we know there are a lot of apps and games out there for print readers and none of them, not many, seem very accessible to our braille readers. So here at APH we were looking for something that would help our teachers and the department provide such a device to our students. And we knew we needed something that would have a braille display, um, on the device in one unit. So matching the refreshable braille display won't be an obstacle for our general education teachers who may not have as much experience with it. Because we know that sometimes our little ones have a hard time assembling these things to start classes. Uh, we also knew there was a shortage of teachers for the visually impaired in the US So the number of cases can be very high. And it can be very difficult to stretch and provide enough exercise time for children. We know that teachers cannot spend all day with their Braille readers in every classroom because they have other students to work with. So this device, um, that we were looking for, we were hoping that it could give our kids independent, interactive practice and just keep them excited about learning Braille, even when their teacher wasn't around. Um, we also had some real world questions and requests, um, to go a step beyond Braille Buzz and provide something that includes contracted and non-contracted braille lessons and games, and also some spelling and vocabulary, um, that is adjust to the necessary standards in the classroom.

    Sara Brown: 22:53

    APH has the new device on the way and it's called Polly. Polly was developed after Thinkerbell Labs' Annie product, currently on the market in India. Tell us about Polly and how she differs from Annie.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 23:07

    Well, Polly and Annie are very alike. Um, like you said, Annie's is located in India and also has a UK setup. So we took what was already created and localized it in the United States. So, of course, Polly will be, um, eligible for the quota and will only be sold in the United States. And it will be, um, a big difference, it will include the recently released interactive music by Jack Hartman and will allow our braille readers to see letters and words as the song progresses, just like print readers will see, ahem, in the video while your class teachers show you these videos, both devices will include Helios, an online platform that allows teachers to track progress and monitor how their students are doing, ahem, in your absence and maybe preparing for the next lesson when they meet with their students. Umm, Helios is also wonderful because it would allow teachers to customize the order of the lessons and tailor the children's work with Polly to fit whatever Braille curriculum they might use for students. And teachers will also be able to create their own spelling lessons that complement what's going on in general teaching devices, including, uh, phonics and just a free play section in the Explorer section of the game menu. And that includes, um, actual braille reinforcement lessons with and without contracts. And another of the main attractions of this device is the electronic board. So we know a lot of students aren't really using the Slate and Stylist these days, but it's a very portable device that students can slip into their pocket and take with them. So it's not anything big and cumbersome like Perkins Brailler. So we hope that you can use the electronic whiteboard on this device and that it gives you interactive lessons and time to learn how to use it with less frustration and get that feedback right away while you're working with it. Um, the games on these two devices are a lot of fun. Um, even adults have fun with it. So I know this is going to be a great addition to our student, um, activities and exposure.

    Sara Brown: 26:05

    Can you say something about the meaning behind the name Polly and its association with the name Annie?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 26:10

    Well, we wanted to follow Thinkerbell's lead in that regard. Um, they named "Annie" after Anne Sullivan, who was Helen Keller's first teacher. And we thought this would be a wonderful way to bring that to market. And since Polly was going to look so much like Annie and sort of a second version of Annie, we found out that Helen Keller had a second teacher named Polly Thompson. And so we decided on the name Polly, er, to continue with that idea.

    Sara Braun: 26:50

    And get in touch with Thinkerbell Labs. Can you tell the audience a little more about Thinkerbell Labs and its history?

    Dilip Ramesh: 26:58

    hi sure. So honesty goes back about eight years. Yes .

    Sanskrit Dawle: 27:04


    Dilip Ramesh: 27:07

    So me, it was something that started when our engineering project, um, was when we were all engineers and when we were learning things as students, we were students. Yes . Now that we've graduated learning things like, uh, digital design and logic, uh, there was, there was an article on, uh, seven-segment display, which is basically every one of these LEDs that you might see digitally on watches or calculators, er, where each digit is made up of seven different segments of, er, lights. And each of these directives is either enabled or disabled. And depending on the combination, you hit all 10 digits. Uh, and also very similar in concept, you have six points and you raise or lower them. And depending on which one goes up and which one goes down, you get different combinations and letters and use them to find words. So we had a very crude prototype that we took to a conference in Montreal. And, uh, we were lucky that some visual impact teachers also attended that conference. It was a technology conference, but some teachers also attended. And, you know, they felt there was a lot of scope for a product like this to make a positive difference and impact education. So we were, uh, a little bit lean. It was with all of our, all of our rights, other rights, right? So we lean into technology forever, working on something, using our skills to make a big impact, solving a whole problem and not just one part of it. Uh, so these are the things that bind us and keep us together. And that's how it started. We formed a one, one, a formal company in 2016, two years after the product was conceived. And since then we have wanted to talk about how our trip was.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 29:03

    Yeah. Uh, well, first of all, I really wanted to thank you, Donna, for pointing out the, uh, you know, the differences and similarities between Annie and Polly so beautifully. Uh, I, yeah, it's, I think it says a lot about, uh, how deep and, uh, how natural the association is, uh, with Thinkerbell Labs and APH's. So thanks for that. I also add what Dilip said. Uh, I think, uh, well, as engineers, we're kind of, you know, a star in college, uh, we want to make a difference in the world. And, uh, there's, there's a bit, there's a bit of a big shock that you get. If you go out into the world as, uh, an idealist, trying to solve problems, if you realize that most problems don't have easy solutions, you know, and most problems can't be solved, uh, even, uh, with, with technology. And for me personally, I think the, uh, uh, the, the, the real aha moment was realizing that, uh, low levels of Braille, uh, one thing, I mean, in India it's a problem. widespread and this is also common. Worldwide. On the right? And for me, that aha moment that really changed things was realizing that low literacy is a problem that can be solved with technology that, uh, kids seem to like, even the primitive prototypes that we build. We, uh, and I remember one of our first, uh, the, uh, prototype attempts, we had a teenager playing with "C D E F G" just a braille letter that, you know, said, uh, the one showing different characters while, uh, the alphabet song was playing, just "B, C, D E F G." Well, I mean, you know, you know how teenagers are, they're so into everything. Uh, so for a teenager playing with it and practicing the alphabet, that, that, that was a big, um, yeah. As a computer scientist, I think it was a big moment for me when I decided this had to be in the world. And, uh, and, you know, if, if no one else has, then I will, yeah.

    Sara Braun: 31:19

    APH partnered with Thinkerbell Labs to develop Polly. Tell us about the importance of alliances?

    Dilip Ramesh: 31:26

    Yeah. So, I mean, this is a conversation we've had for quite some time, and we couldn't be happier with the progress he's making and where he's at today. We look for good partnerships from the beginning because we all want this industry to grow, right? There is no aspect in which individual institutions can grow in silos. We can all grow only if the entire industry grows with us. The only way to do that is to have good partnerships, uh, so much. So it's ingrained in the way that we think about, uh, you know, running a business, uh, developing new products, because our first employee that we hired was actually for corporations. So the whole role of him, Donna, you met Avinash, right? So the whole role is to look for partnerships in different areas, whether it's product business, distribution technology or even thought leadership, which is what we've been venturing into at least in India of late. For every aspect of what we do here at Thinkable Labs, we hold the partnership one of the highest, in the highest esteem, and the same is true of APH and as a partner with an organization like the top APHs. and , and the legacy it has. Uh, we are very excited about this. And we also have a lot of lofty long-term visions, visions as well. Uh, it's not just Polly we want to work with. I think there's a lot of scope with, uh, us, with innovation, collaboration, developing new technologies, new products, to solve the new problems that keep coming up. Every day there are new problems. And there are also some old ones that need to be sold. And I think we're in a good place where there's a good mix of skills on both sides. Uh, we're also working to work well together. Uh, very obvious in that we both look forward to the weekly calls that we get. Yeah. I mean, obviously, calls don't always go smoothly. We have, we also have setbacks, like any association, but that's it, but there is always a lineup to solve those problems and get things done, which has been a very enriching experience for all of us. And yes, it was the highlight of my work in the last year and a half. At least it's something I talk to, um, everyone, you know, everyone asks me what I do. I should mention that APH is one of the great things that I do at Thinkerbell Labs. So it was also a matter of pride, which is the best thing for me.

    Sara Brown: 34:13

    And can you all talk about your role in creating Polly?

    Sanskrit Dawle: 34:19

    Well, uh, I think, uh, for me personally, my, uh, input was mostly with Annie, and since Polly is the more, uh, contextualized version of, uh, Annie, for, uh, a very, uh, well , a completely different audience, if you will. Mainly, you know, I split the team from the sidelines while they were figuring out what drives them in, you know, taking a product and applying that innovation in a new market. And, uh, yeah, I would say my, my contribution to creating Polly was more or less trying to be a cheerleader for everybody. Just, just that, you know, uh, you know, die of happiness like something. So, so, uh, uh, the dream has come true.

    Dilip Ramesh: 35:14

    Oh yeah. I think you underestimate your contribution. One aspect that struck me when we were discussing how to bring Annie to the United States was, uh, I think it probably has something to do with how much weight the association really carries, right? So in every conversation we've had with APH over the years, how do you think we should approach it? What do you think is the best way to sell Annie there in order to have Annie in the United States? And when they said, "Hey, look, I think changing the name to America and adding certain features that differentiate it from Annie will really help this partnership continue and we're going to reach people." she got on this moving train very quickly and said, "Okay, that's a new feature." Yes. If they are news that we could add. For example, I can think of the indication piece that we added. Uh, a lot of it came up in a conversation with Donna and her team, right. We talk to her, get her ideas and input from her, then bring her back to our team to see what we can do about it. There are many, there are many iterative processes throughout this piece. So I would say, uh, a lot of it came from being open to different possibilities as we start to get closer to full distribution in the United States. Yes . Yeah. Happy where we're at with this. Uh, I think if we had a very rigid approach, we would be in a very different place and we may not have had the results that we did.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 36:44

    Far from it which really brings me back to the partnership part. Uh, I think if you're really trying to change the world, uh, that's the only approach that really works. Um, it's not a winner-take-all situation. This is how you make everyone win. And, uh, I'm, I was very, very happy, uh, to see, you know, one to see that same feeling reflected in me from all of APH as well.

    Dilip Ramesh: 37:13

    Yeah, I think we had this conversation, uh, and we were also on this call and we said we're looking for a win-win-win partnership. Uh, that means Thinkerbell Labs, APH, and also all of our customers and users that will be using volumes. On the right. The only way this whole game, in general, we can all win, is if all three parties involved achieve a victory for each of them. This is how we see this association. We'd love to hear from Donna, uh, about her.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 37:45

    I, I, totally.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 37:48

    Yes. Well, uh, I really enjoyed working with Thinkerbell. Um, all the people working on this project are very creative. Um, I'm so amazed at the stories they come up with to get this content and make it interesting for our kids. I'm very excited about this, but mostly with my role, um, as a product manager at APH, it's just about making sure that we're incorporating everything that the industry is asking for an additional product, um, beyond brail buzz and like an ex TVI. Um, you know, I, I, I look at what my students needed when I walked into the classroom and the various things that I saw that they didn't have, um, like, um, special, you know, something during center time when the class was basically divided into smaller groups. And, you know, I've seen print readers playing on tablets and having a great time playing those games. And then I knew there was a need for it. And, um, when I look at the content that Denkerglocke provides, um, you know, I have to go through and test each lesson and make sure that, um, everything is coming through and the updates are working fine. Um, just to make sure this is something that builds transferable skills for Polly to use a refreshable braille display as the kids get older and move through their technological journey, um, with braille and, you know, I also helped with that, um, finding Polly's voice. Um, we had to make sure that she was someone who would draw the students in and keep them interested, uh, like the most energetic teacher they could have had in the classroom. So we wanted it to be a reflection of her surroundings and kind of let it flow. But we also wanted to make sure that this could be something, um, that a print reader could understand. That's why we've worked together to ensure that the lessons are understandable to young learners and adults unfamiliar with Braille. Um, that's right, it takes a lot of time and, um, and effort, but this has been one of my favorite products to work with, um, because well, one, it also increases my own braille skills, which is Excellent. Um, that's always a good thing. And, um, it also helps to understand the, um, needs of our children and just make sure that everything is understandable and fits with what they might be experiencing in life. And so, uh, it was just a wonderful trip. I really had a great time.

    Sara Braun: 41:16

    Thinker about labs was recently at Shark Tank India. Can you talk about how that turned out in the end?

    Sanskrit Dawle: 41:26

    Well . So um I hope you all watch the Hindi episode but um I don't think the language is bad it just has subtitles too. It has subtitles. And also for anyone who works with speed, I suspect, the audience, um, anyone who works in this field, um, it's really magical to see how I say, um, when we did it, when, um, the show was when we knew we were going to get to the shark tank, uh, we, we, you know, brainstormed. What's the best way to get people connected to something like Braille, um, self-study or something like an S, and why is that important, because the truth is, uh, you know, you know, it's, It's a, it's a niche segment.

    Dilip Ramesh: 42:10

    Yes. And if you're on mainstream national television, you have to do a great job there. On the right.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 42:17

    So, um, um, I mean, even, even during, during, um, fundraising, right? Uh, that's, that's always been, uh, our, uh, thing. So, I remember earlier when we were, um, um, lined up, we'd start the speech in a different language that the audience might not know and then we'd try to relate that to how it's different when you understand everything that's going on versus how to let go of what you feel when you can't and try to use that to relatable to people because that's all we wanted to get out of the show, right? When it appears on national television, we just want more people to think about literacy in Brail. And, uh, uh, you know, I, I can't remember who it was, but someone had, uh, the idea to look at all of our students who have used Annie in the past and, uh, try to get one to get that , uh, really show it on TV. So we have, uh, our star student patron who, uh, who, uh, uh, you know, who stuck around before the pandemic. And, uh, he had been using it during the pandemic, too. So, uh, he's uh, well, uh, I think he could rule the world. He is so smart. Uh, at 10 he's, uh, cute, cute, uh, smart and, and yeah, I think he'll go far, but anyway, we're talking about what Annie does and what Annie does for him means he's actually change. Uh, I think, I think, you know, I think he changed our whole business model because, uh, suddenly a lot of people know, people know what braille is, people know what literacy is. People understand the importance of Braille and why technology is needed to close this gap because they connect with the proclamation, they feel it. And I mean, I can't begin to describe the far-reaching effects it's had in terms of people's psyches. For example, if you try to search for the episode on YouTube, you'll see thousands and millions of comments from people saying, I understand what the Proclamation has to go through. And for someone who takes that time out of the day, puts himself in their shoes, and then sees the impact of technology. I mean, I'm, I'm not, well, we've increased investment in the show, which has been great. And I think it's going to make the company, uh, grow even more, right? Uh, but for me the most valuable part was that everyone on the main beam was able to connect. And I'll give you a little example, right? Our A-Box contains, um, an Annie, the charger, and the stylus. Uh, so every time I fly somewhere, uh, airport security stops me and I have to show them my braille business cards and, uh, some information on the website to tell them, okay, they can trust me. that I took this stylist with me on my trip because I needed to demonstrate my product at my destination. This added a full 10-15 minutes to my airport security check on each flight. And now, when people see a box, they're like, yeah, Shark Tank, keep that product in there. This is the Shark Tank product. How do you have it? That happened because airport security, everyone knows that. Yes . Yes . Anything you want to add?

    Dilip Ramesh: 45:41

    Yes. So I'm from South India, I'm not a native Hindi speaker, but the show was in Hindi and I had to struggle. for lack of better words, but it was very, I mean being on the show itself, right? It was a little, uh, different because we hadn't done anything like this before going to the movies. I mean, a lot of, uh, of, on that scale, and look at their processes, you know, doing a show like this, which was a very different, very interesting experience, uh, for all of us. And I don't think we were expecting the kind of storm we encountered after this show, right? Because it took about a couple of months to shoot, or I think a month and a half before it aired on TV. And, uh, so we did the shoot, only came back when close friends and family found out. And a month later it went live and everyone lost it. We are so overwhelmed with the reactions on all of our social media that our phones are ringing all the time. I mean, it just didn't stop for a long time. Yes . Uh, but my biggest lesson would be to broaden our perspective on how we can think with it, how far we can go with this product, and what kind of impact we can have on our country. I think so, it got us looking at the big picture, and in a way, I feel like it also made the big picture a little bit bigger than it used to be. Uh, we get a lot of calls with inquiries. I mean, um, people who ask to buy a nanny, which we don't do in India, we set up a lab like that in the special schools because we have a lot of special schools here. So we're doing this product called Annie Smart Class, but you typically have five to 20 annies in an email in a classroom. And then we get a lot of requests like, hey, I want one for home gatherings. I want one for my niece, nephew and things like that. So now let's see, you know, how can we bring Annie to the masses? Uh, so they're really big. Problems to solve given the size of our country, the number of people in it, but, uh, being on national television and a lot of people know about us definitely made it a little bit easier. So we can't wait to see how we can continue to build on this and see what we come up with over the next year or so.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 48:16

    I, I, I want to add that too. I'm referring to the point you made about people wanting to buy Annie's individually. Uh, so we never really got into the consumer market, the consumer electronics market in India and we thought well, if someone wants to buy a special product like this, how are we supposed to find it? And what happened because of the shark tankers, they started coming to us. They, they, they, you know, realized that there was such a product, and they began to come to us. And, uh, I think, I think that's, uh, I mean, to be honest, I've yet to figure out the second or third order effects, but, uh, change that, uh, go-to-market strategy for everyone in education special needs space, like when the market comes to you, um, it's, I think there's going to be a change in how we approach, um, special education needs. Uh, and I think, I think that's, I mean, we've seen a great example in, uh, you know, the quota system at APH, where there's, uh, you know, decades of institutionalized structure, uh, what, what it actually provides that kind of visibility for the right technology, which I think is just the beginning of these changes in India. Total.

    Dilip Ramesh: 49:32

    Yes. It's a great start. And we are, we have taken the right steps.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 49:36


    Sara Brown: 49:38

    Is there anything else you want to say?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 49:41

    I just want to add that working with thinkerbell has been one of the best experiences I've had at APH. I think they are one of the best teams and one of the best vendors we've ever had. And we are very grateful to have formed this association and we look forward to what is to come in the future. Um, knowing that, you know, we hope to get some other stuff with them in the future. And we are looking forward to what it will bring. And we're so thankful to have you

    Dilip Ramesh: 50:23

    You beat us.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 50:25

    You might want to talk about how well it works with APH, yes. Uh, I think, I think we're a great model for long-distance love.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 50:35

    definitely. Yeah. I think, I think this really, this really shows, um, how remote access helps the world. And, and I think we can, we can thank the pandemic for that. And, uh, that, that was just wonderful. We've been able to get this far with it and you know we're many miles away. It's absolutely wonderful.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 51:03

    Yeah. I, I, I just want to add, I mean, when we started and started in this space, you know who the major players are and things like that, every, um, every major player in the industry is at least a hundred years old. ancient. Oh, well, I mean, well, this kind of, uh, you know, we, we, we've always thought, okay, maybe we need to be really big as a company without even thinking about, uh, uh, about, uh, great players, but, uh, APH themselves, you know, because they're so good, they're focused and motivated to bring the latest innovations. Yes . Yes . Um, so they are, they've actually been looking at, um, things like that, and it's been nothing short of an eye opener in terms of what's possible, um, even in a very old organization. I mean, I think, um, we still have a lot to learn as a startup. Also, we've actually implemented a lot of internal structural changes in the way we work, because what we learn from an organization is how to manage and how to have that organizational intelligence that goes beyond just one person, but becomes the core. ethos of the company itself. Absolutely . This is something, uh, we're really, really, uh, we're inspired by, uh, APH.

    Sara Braun: 52:26

    IT'S OKAY. Many thanks. Donna, Sanskriti and Dilip who joined Change Makers today.

    Sanskrit Dawle: 52:33


    Speaker 7:52:33

    Thanks for having us.

    Sara Brown: 52:38

    Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. I hope you enjoyed. Don't forget the check. The show notes for the email addresses mentioned earlier in this podcast. And while you're there, you'll see a link to get you on Polly's waitlist and there are additional links in there to some how-to videos that can be found on YouTube and be sure to check out the APH Updates social media channels via DTD Loupe and Polly, as always, be sure to look for ways to make a difference this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're going to learn about the National Braille Network for Prisons. We will know its history and the materials it produces. We're also going to talk about partnerships and how far a person can go in the National Braille Prison Network. First we have APH's National Prison Braille Network, Senior Director Jayma Hawkins and APH's Vice President of Impact and Outreach. Paul Schroeder. Hi Jayma and Paul, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Jayma Hawkins: 0:47


    Paul Schröder: 0:48


    Sara Brown: 0:49

    So tell us about the National Prison Braille Network and its history.

    Jayma Hawkins: 0:53

    Um, prison braille has been around in the United States for many years since the 1960s. There was none, there was no communication between states. And as the technology grew, um, in 2000, American Printing House, um, hosted a meet and greet, a focus group of people from various prison braille programs across the country. This focus group started with around six to eight people and has grown over the years. The last one we personally had was in 2019 and we had 75 people and 23 states in the room.

    Sara Braun: 1:34

    Discuss the materials that will be created as part of the program and how those materials will affect students who are blind or have low vision.

    Jayma Hawkins: 1:42

    Materials created in Prison Braille programs across the country vary based on the needs of each state and the makeup of the program. That is, under what roof do you live, under the structure of corrections. However, large printables are braille textbooks, worksheets, tactile graphics, and digital files. And that has a huge impact on the education of blind and partially sighted children. Um, historically high school was the end of the road and in the last 20 years we have seen more and more students graduate from college and lead independent and productive lives. And so it has a tremendous impact just at APH. The latest statistics we had were also 2019 statistics, and prison braille programs across the country transcribed 56.2% of all textbooks produced by APH.

    Paul Schröder: 2:51

    And Sara, if I may chime in, this is Paul. I think two things. One of them is, I think it's obvious from Jaya's answer, but it's important for us to clarify, just for anyone who isn't familiar with the show, that of course we're talking about people who are incarcerated, who produce these materials. We're not making these materials for, uh, blind people in prison who read Braille or large print. These are people who are incarcerated, getting their certifications as braille transcribers with different codes, and also learning how, uh, high quality, large print, uh, production, uh, make, uh, these materials are available to APH or to agencies state education, er, and, and maybe others as well. I think most people are probably aware that our country's prison system has been manufacturing materials of all kinds for many years. And, er, as Jayma pointed out back in the 1960s, there were some, er, prisons that produced, er, braille or large print materials for students.

    Sara Braun: 4:04

    Now there is a new website. Can you talk about how you support those in the network?

    Jayma Hawkins: 4:09

    We are very excited about the new website, which you can visit at www.npbn.org. It gives an overview of all the programs we offer. And also allows for back and forth communication and questions from the field, this site benefits ex-offenders. It benefits ex-convicts, it benefits the families of inmates. Benefits corrections officers and vision officers. Some of the questions I got this week are from a warden in Oklahoma who used to be a warden at another prison that had a Prison Braille program. He found out a lot. His inmates are participating in this program in this prison and he wants to start a new program. So he went through our website.

    Paul Schröder: 5:01

    This is, uh, Paul again. And, and I think that's important, right? This, this one of the values ​​that, along with knowing the show and learning, er, what it can do, helps to find potential prison systems, er, mm-hmm <confirming> that might be able to produce material. . So if you're an education agency or want someone else to do a transcription, this is a source. There's, uh, I know, that's not the topic of today's conversation, but there's another, uh, site that APH offers. And of course, that's Louie's website, uh, it's also a great resource for finding books. And a lot of the systems, uh, prison systems, of course, make uh, ma uh, books that are available, uh, discoverable on Louie. And it is one of the good ways to find these materials,

    Jayma Hawkins: 5:50

    On the right? And Louie's database exists on our website. There is a link for that. Therefore, it offers many channels to get what you need.

    Sara Braun: 6:01

    Tell us about the Jail Braille Forum at the APH Annual Meeting, coming up soon.

    Jayma Hawkins: 6:06

    We are very pleased that the Prison Braille Forum is returning for an in-person meeting, just like the APH annual meeting. Um, earlier you asked me about the National Braille Prison Network, and I told you it's a group of correctional people. From visionary ex-convicts, some APH employees. Therefore, the Prison Braille Forum is a meeting place for all parties within the network to come together, discuss common problems that affect one state or another, look for solutions, exchange information and have a good day of, you know. , exchange of information to pass and grants. So it's always a very good gathering and we can't wait to be there in person again this year.

    Paul Schröder: 6:57

    And if I may, uh, Jayma, I know that one of the highlights of the forum, uh, sure, are those that I've attended, uh, ex-con presentations, uh, who have gone and then produced materials that learned the codes. And, uh, uh, in many, in most cases, they're doing transcription work now, um, in their, um, post-launch, and it's moving around all the time. Um, these presentations, because I think, you know, if you haven't spent time with the stories of inmates, they are often very difficult and challenging stories, but the opportunity to hear from someone who does have you, um, moved on. learning these programs and finding the value of producing braille and large print and knowing how important it was to students, uh, it really made a world of difference in people's lives. And when you listen to the people at the National Prison Braille Forum, you rarely come up short. It is an extremely moving event.

    Jayma Hawkins: 8:07

    Paul, I can only agree. Um, we have two speakers planned for this year, but I'm not going to let the cat out of the bag just yet. IT'S OKAY. I'll keep everyone on hold until we open the registry.

    Sara Braun: 8:21

    Can you tell us about the Braille Transcriber Trainee Program and re-entry into society after incarceration?

    Jayma Hawkins: 8:29

    The Braille Transcriber Trainee Program, known as B-TAP, was born out of the web. IT'S OKAY. So, in a way, the web is a part of us, our family here, and the shows we discussed grew out of the discussion about the web. And getting back in has been one of the big things for the last 10 to 15 years, um, that I've been involved with the network and what we can do to help people who are laid off, to keep them in our space and the experience thereafter to maintain the personal investment they made in becoming experts in our field. So we developed a re-entry program in which a select few are brought to APH for a two to six month apprenticeship. The mission of this program is to send her back to her home state with braille computer software, a licensed lodge, a braille shop, and her first book contract. Um, we also advise them in many other areas during their transition while they're in Louisville, you know, bank accounts are learning to live in the world that they're entering. Most of them have long sentences. So there are some who have never seen debit cards. They have never seen cell phones, they have never been on the Internet. They do not understand the importance of email communication. Um, we're really leading you on this journey through your transition and hopefully sending you home fully equipped as good businessmen and excellent transcriptionists.

    Paul Schröder: 10:12

    And I think, and I think I'm just repeating this point, that of course Jayma has it. Many of these individuals, I suspect, uh, uh, are often incarcerated at a fairly young age. Yes . And he, uh, like I said, maybe he hasn't even really established himself as a young adult or an adult. Um, I'll tell you personally, first of all I have the pleasure of working with Jayma, she is part of my group. Um, and she's there, I don't think anybody could run this program as effectively as she can. And a lot of that is really the personal time that Jayma spends working with those people and providing that, uh, that framework, that support, uh, that network, if you will, uh, that allows those people to start, uh, learning. to function in society, learn all that. Um, some might say soft skills and some might even say hard skills in the areas of finance, um, management, purchasing, and, um, dealing with, um, everyday life. And, you know, it's an underappreciated part of this show. I think we have someone like Jayma investing a lot of her personal, emotional and mental time to make this happen. So, you know, uh, I'm going to, I'll put you out here in the podcast hat, Jayma, for this job, because I don't think, uh, these people, I think, you know, they could succeed, but I don't know if they would succeed. um, just as fast and as efficiently and effectively as they do. Because these are, these are also difficult. These are tough individuals, um, dedicated to getting their lives back on track. Uh, they did jail time. You have learned some important skills. Um, and you know, and I think the apprenticeship program has been very successful. And a lot of that is down to Jayma and a lot to the guy's forward as well.

    Jayma Hawkins: 12:09

    Thank you, Pablo. That's very kind of you, and yes, I, I, I learn as much as you do every time, and you've spent decades in jail. We see things change so fast here from year to year, you know when you're 20 years away it's a huge culture shock. So they all did very well. And when it comes to technology, when we're done, they'll be so much better than me. I'll show you a few things. I show them how to turn it on and they show me the rest <laughs>

    Paul Schroeder: 12:45 p. m.

    I had the opportunity to attend a program and I would recommend to our listeners that if they check the website and find a prison braille program nearby, they should visit it if there is an opportunity. What, what impressed me? And I didn't know what to expect when I walked in. I'm honest with you. I have never been in a prison. And I, I, you know, I didn't know what to expect. Um, I was a little, um, uneasy just because I didn't know what to expect. And within five minutes of sitting here, it turned out to be a women's prison. Um, within five minutes of sitting down with the people who were working on braille or large print, we were talking, we were talking about the problems that they had, you know, translation problems in one case, I think they were doing a Textbook of French and , and they joked that neither of them knew French. Um, so some of them said they barely knew English. And, and like that, but that's how we were, like we laughed. We talked about the problems related to braille codes and some of the challenges of producing large print. Um, you, you, it was very easy to forget that you were also sitting with people who are incarcerated because we had a very detailed conversation about the production of material and the expectations of the students and how to make sure that they produce the highest quality that she could have. And it was really a, a wonderful experience, um, finding these dedicated transcribers and producers. Um, probably as dedicated as anyone who isn't incarcerated.

    Sara Brown: 14:20

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Jayma Hawkins: 14:23

    If I had to make a general comment I would say whoever you are if this sounds interesting please visit our website it gives you an overview of all the programs we offer but you will also get a contact link which you send us an email email directly. And we respond within 24 hours, you know, and that allows the conversation to begin.

    Paul Schröder: 14:56

    And, and I would like to add, first of all, this is a great program that is for a person, in my case, who is totally blind, who is braille dependent and was braille dependent as a student. Um, it's important to me to know that there are these people who are, um, producing material that I and others need in a timely and accessible format. The other thing I would say is we know we need transcribers and this is an excellent group of well trained people who are dedicated to their craft and have been proven over the years in terms of producing high quality, large print and Braille. And if the trainees come along and, um, we, we, uh, uh, like, since this program is successful, we hope to see those people become small businesses, uh, producers, if they want to or of course, along with other organizations , many have joined APH as transcriptionists. So there are great opportunities, uh, for production and materials and great opportunities to find people to do the transcription and production, uh, in this, uh, braille prison program.

    Sara Brown: 16:09

    Well . Jayma and Paul, thanks for coming today.

    Jayma Hawkins: 16:13


    Paul Schröder: 16:13


    Sara Brown: 16:15

    And I've included links to the National Braille Prison Network in the show notes. So you can get a little more information. We now have EOT Nancy Mothersele. She is the Braille Coordinator for Aging and Disability Services, Connecticut Office of Educational Services for the Blind. Hi Nancy, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Nancy Mothersele: 16:38

    Hello Sara, thanks for having me.

    Sara Brown: 16:40

    Can you talk about why your state decided to start a program?

    Nancy Mothersele: 16:44

    Well, I took over as Braille Coordinator in 2006 and the previous Braille Coordinator had started three programs in the late '80s and early '90s. Um, three of Connecticut's men's facilities had one in Cheshire, one in Suffield and another in Enfield. And, um, we have a 501(c) volunteer Braille production program in Connecticut, in Westport, um, the Connecticut Braille Association, which has been working with the Office of Educational Services for the Blind to try, um, to do something . to Connecticut with the prisoners and teach them to speak Braille because they were running out of typists. Because most of the transcribers that worked for Connecticut Braille were in their 70s, and the 80s had been doing it for a long, long time. And either they got old or they died and there was a kind of shortage. So what would be better than training inmates and giving them skills? So when I took over in 2006, all three programs were still in place, but there were some personnel changes. They closed a lot, they closed some of the jails, some of the blocks. Then it turned out that Cheshire was the only one still producing braille. And then, at the end of 2006, they closed two blocks in Cheshire and moved away. I think at one point I had 32 typists and they transferred 20 of them, 22 of them to other facilities where they couldn't write braille. So I just wanted to rebuild 2016, I went to APH, I went to the prison, I went to the braille committee, I went to the forum and asked for help because I wanted to rebuild Cheshire. What happened at the end was the commissioner of corrections said we can't really do that because they're in protective custody. There's no way we can get the computers in there. So York offered us, um, it's a women's facility, so no one would be transferred. Nobody would go anywhere else. And whoever was on the show would stay on the show because it's the only women's facility. But I know the main reason this was started in the first place was to train new transcribers so they could put braille in the hands of students. And why not on the site in Connecticut? I mean yes, I have a lot of vendors that I subcontract to and send work to, but if we can train those program participants with those skills, you give them a specific skill that is in high demand when they get released and they could go and use it. And then they also give something back to the community. I mean, everyone I talk to who has been involved in the programs has a great sense of humility and accomplishment and it feels great to have learned something and to be able to give back. So that's really, I mean, you know, giving them the skills, it's kind of a win-win. We have Braille done at our Connecticut facility and we put it in the hands of the students and they learn specific skills and they can go on and progress and get more certifications and use those skills when they come back. And I know they may work for another provider. They can start their own business and that at home, which is really cool, you know? So, I think it's very, very important that that happened. And I think it's a great program and it's really grown over the years. I mean, there are more states that are doing it. It's easy for me, it's fantastic.

    Sara Braun: 21:12

    And what would you say to someone considering building such an association?

    Nancy Mothersele: 21:18

    You have to, um, it takes a while, it's not going to happen overnight. Um, we select participants who have five years or more sentences, who have had no violations, no conduct violations, no "tickets" as they are called. Um, and have a GED or a high school diploma. IT'S OKAY. And the reason is that it takes a while to get certified. As you know, your literary certificate will take more than a year to complete all the lessons and produce the manuscript. And that's just a certification. So to really advance your, um, career, you need at least one other certification, whether it's in review or format or whatever, and that just makes you a better resume and more employable. But the important thing is that you should be aware that everything is housed in the Correctional Authority. The law enforcement agency is responsible. You know, you have to play by their rules, you have to, you know, work with them. And you need to understand that there will be times when you will not be able to get into the program. It will be closed for whatever reason, they will be prohibited. I was supposed to go last Friday and I was getting ready to go on the show to give instructions. And I got a call that they were closing. They were banned and that's it. But it's very, very important that you build a very good partnership with the law enforcement agency and understand their role. You have your role. And me, we wouldn't be as successful with York as we are and have been able to sustain it through the pandemic. If I haven't had great partners, I have a great manager running the program. There is another woman from DOC Industries who is a salesperson, but she happily took this program under her wing. So we all communicated during the pandemic and um, the other one, the woman in the industry and she drove here. It's like a 40 minute drive from York to my house. I gave him things. She brought me things and brought them back to jail. And even she couldn't go in, but Warden Rhoda would meet her outside and they would trade anything. So we all emailed and talked on the phone and Anne was going back and forth between my house and York. And it is easy, it is very important to have a good relationship, but you must understand that it is under the authority of the law and everyone must get along.

    Sara Braun: 24:07

    Is there anything else you'd like to say about this show or what you've seen in general?

    Nancy Mothersele: 24:12

    I've seen it since I started working with inmates and in these programs, I mean, I've had 12 guys in Cheshire get released and there was only one guy who re-offended the other 12 who do braille part time. They have been very successful. They got, uh, full-time jobs doing Braille. You know, part-time, I've seen a change in the women that I've been working with since 2017, 2018, just the confidence and pride that they have when they produce the braille that they produce. And I think it's a big win-win for everyone. And, and I think it is, it's very valuable.

    Sara Braun: 25:02

    Alright Nancy, thanks for joining Change Makers today.

    Nancy Mothersele: 25:05

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Braun: 25:10

    Now we have Anne Saint. She is the sales and marketing manager for Connecticut's Correctional Enterprises. Hi Anne and welcome to ChangeMmakers.

    Santa Ana: 25:20

    Thanks. Thank you for having us with you today.

    Sara Brown: 25:22

    Can you tell us which prison you work in and how many people currently participate in the Prison Braille Program?

    Santa Ana: 25:31

    Oh yeah! Our braille program is located at the York State Prison in Niantic, Connecticut. It's a women's center. There are eight women certified in Braille by the National Library of Congress.

    Sara Braun: 25:44

    Discuss the process for an inmate to become certified to participate in the National Prison Braille Network.

    Santa Ana: 25:50

    Yes, the women who come to work in the braille unit must first have a GED or a high school diploma, and there have been no prison violations. There are 20 lessons that you must first learn and pass before taking a reading test. Once they have taken the reading test and it is complete, they begin their manuscript, which consists of 35 braille pages.

    Sara Brown: 26:14

    And how far can a man go? What certifications can be obtained and how long does this process take?

    Santa Ana: 26:21

    IT'S OKAY. A person can go as far as he wants. Once they earn their literary certification, they can take a proofreading exam. You can take a format test. This is how far we have come so far, as we started our Braille program in June 2018. So no one has taken Nemic or graphics courses yet. Um, but to get these classes script usually takes about a year with the lessons and script some take a year and a half. Um, the review that they give you, um, reports, they give you three months to do your exams and then they grade you after that. And sometimes the results take a few months to come back.

    Sara Braun: 27:05

    You are now in Connecticut. Can you talk about the braille program at your center? You said before that it started in 2018.

    Santa Ana: 27:14

    Yes. It started in 2018. Our Braille program has given women a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Um, we're bringing books for Connecticut students now. So we have an interagency agreement with, uh, agents and people with disabilities to care for the blind, uh, part of the state of Connecticut. So we're very proud of the work we do with them.

    Sara Braun: 27:39

    Is there anything else you want to say?

    Santa Ana: 27:41

    Oh yeah. We are proud to be part of this program. Uh, we are proud and appreciative knowing that we are helping blind people and it has been wonderful to see the women grow as they learn from these experiences while learning braille. So it was challenging but wonderful. And you just see that they are interested in their work and they feel good because they know that when they get out, they will have a job.

    Sara Braun: 28:09

    IT'S OKAY. Anne, thank you for joining Change Makers today.

    Santa Ana: 28:13

    IT'S OKAY. Thanks for having me.

    Sara Braun: 28:21

    Now we're going to change it up a bit and have Paul back to talk to us about what's going on in DC. It's been a wild ride.

    Paul Schröder: 28:31

    Hi Sara, you're busy. Uh, the House of Representatives, and as everyone knows, there are two bodies in Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate. House Budget Committee. These are the people who make decisions about money. Most of the budget bills, in fact I think all of them, have already gone through committee. And I'm happy to say that included in the bill that funds the American Printing Press for the Blind is a $3 million increase in APH's funding level, which is $40,400, $310 I think. Um, and it would go up to $43,431,000. That, of course, is just the first step. This is the House committee that, uh, recommended, uh, so to speak, this level of funding that the House has to pass. And then the Senate has to approve their version and then the two of them have to agree. This is all supposed to happen before October 1st, Sara, it won't happen until October 1st, just a little bit, if someone is on the edge of their seat, it won't happen. uh hope We hope it will be before the end of the year, because if it is not agreed before the end of the year, this congress will end and we will have to start all over again. <laughs> er, with a new convention starting in '23, er, a lot of people will remember that the bill, the final funding wasn't finalized until mid-March, er, '22 this year. So it took almost six months, it was actually six months after it was supposed to be done. So let's hope it's not too bad this year. I don't know exactly, the good news is that we are on the right track with a nice raise from home and we really appreciate the centers committee. We really appreciate that. And if I could babble on that for just one second, there's something called Report Language that gets passed by a committee, and it's, it's, it's a statement from the committee of, "Hey, we gave you this money and this is what we want you to do with." that." Um, and it has, has, has, has value. It's an indication of what Congress expects you to spend your money on. Um, and in that reporting language they're talking about something that I know we've talked about here a little bit , the dynamic touch display. The multi-line braille display that we're working on. And, uh, the House Committee said in their report, "We'd really like to see APH, uh, use some of those funds to test and develop this display "That was exciting for us because it means we have the prototypes out to the students and teachers for the next year and get feedback on this important, truly innovative piece of equipment. Uh, and we're so excited that the House Committee, at least until now, also see the val or of this and, uh, he wants us to use some of that additional funding for this purpose.

    Sara Braun: 31:21

    Well . There's a lot going on...

    Paul Schröder: 31:24

    Yes, and this is the site of the Congress. There's one thing there in education that I'm going to mention as well, in case people want to follow up. Um, the Department of Education is looking at something called Section 504. Well, um, people who know the law and civil liberties may know, maybe you remember Section 504, which was passed in 1973, um, it provides a ban on not discrimination in... by anyone who receives federal funds. So federal money, federal money goes almost everywhere in this country, right? In schools, colleges, communities, transportation. So Section 5 04 says that if you get these federal funds, you can't, um, discriminate against people with disabilities, and there are certain things you have to do, but what wasn't clear is that 504, um, works for special people. . education. Umm, many of your listeners are of course aware of the Persons with Disabilities Education Act, which sets out the individual education plan. The IEP, which governs special education services, but some students, including some of our students who are, uh, blind or visually impaired, are funded under this requirement from the Section 504 nondiscrimination fund, uh, uh. And the services that they require are unclear because 504 doesn't really say that very, very effectively. So the department looks at how Section 504 is being used in schools. And they're starting to, um, gather information on that now. Uh, I'm actually thinking as we speak and, uh, over the summer, and then they'll gather more information. It is not clear, they have not said for sure what they will do about it, if they will come out with new regulations or other changes. But that seems exciting to me. Um, because I think some of us worried for a while that students who served under a 504 designation might not get as robust benefits as students under an IEP. And it is not clear what the services are. I will give you a small but important example. And it's something important to the American Printing Office for the Blind and that's, uh, National Instructional Material, Accessibility Standard, Nimbus. It's kind of a digital archive, uh, that publishers need. Uh, schools need to get something from publishers when they buy textbooks. They're supposed to get this, uh, uh, digital file on that nimbus, the National Standard, for Instruction, Materials, Accessibility... it's not easy to say. Um, technically, anything produced from these files should only be used for a student who complies with the idea, because the law that requires it, this textbook, the structure is an idea, it's a change from the Law of Education for the Disabled passed in 2004. So under Section 504, a student is not necessarily supposed to have access to, uh, a Nimbus, uh, uh, a book made from a Nimbus file. This is really important for students with reading disabilities, especially our students who are low vision blind, because braille or large print or even digital files, er, nimbus, are an important way to produce these books in a format that students use . of these Nimbus digital files. And if they get the 504 notification, they really shouldn't have access to it. So, um, that's something we'd really like to see cleaned up. We believe that it is an unnecessary barrier. We know that no one intended this to be so. It's just the way the laws were written. And sometimes it's hard to clean these things. So, um, I don't know if the department can do that, but I do know that when people look at Section 504, people ask to look at this to see if, um, um, they can fix this problem, phew! , so busy, so busy, very nerdy things but, but really important. Uh, and, and, and again, really exciting about the seizing of, um, the Senate we don't know when they're going to decide. Uh, so if you have good, good friends in the United States Senate, encourage them to get involved in <laughter>, uh, providing the funds, particularly, uh, education, uh, where APH is, of course, uh, our appropriation is found.

    Sara Braun: 35:42

    Very good, Paul, thank you very much. And as always, he comes back and keep us informed.

    Paul Schröder: 35:47

    Thanks for the opportunity Sarah. It's always good to talk to you.

    Sara Braun: 35:51

    Well . That's it for this episode of Change Makers. I included a link to the National Prison Braille Network in the show notes. And again, thanks for listening, as always, be sure to look for ways you can be a changemaker this week.

  • Jeff Fox: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sarah Brown: 0:14

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're going to talk about recognizing bias. We'll learn what resources APH provides, and then we'll learn what you can do to address bias. First, we spoke with Alan Lovell, coordinator of APH ConnectCenter information and referral services. Hi Alan, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Alan Lovell: 0:39

    thanks sara I appreciate you having me.

    Sarah Braun: 0:42

    Can you talk about what the ConnectCenter is for those who don't know?

    Alan Lovell: 0:45

    Mm-hmm <yes> I sure can. Uh, actually the ConnectCenter, uh, in 2018, the ConnectCenter officially started with APH. It's a grant-funded pool of resources, ahem, provided in the form of websites and an information hotline that people can, ahem, call to find answers to any question related to low vision or blindness. When a person goes to our, ahem, main landing page, our website, ahem, www. aphconnectcenter .org , which references all the properties that make up the ConnectCenter. Um, they're VisionAware, which is a site, um, curated specifically for adults and seniors. Er, Family Connect is, er, information for families with children who are blind or visually impaired. And APH CareerConnect is, uh, for job seekers, people who are, uh, blind or partially sighted. And, um, we, um, and my team at ConnectCenter, we curate information, blogs, posts, articles, webinars, um, and we host various groups, um, for job seekers and parents of children with visual impairments, um, to check these sites out and keep them updated with, uh, information about, you know what life is like, uh, especially if you're a person new to vision problems.

    Sara Braun: 2:18

    Can you share some of the resources ConnectCenter provides regarding diversity support groups and why they are important?

    Alan Lovell: 2:26

    Oh good. Um, you know, the ConnectCenter, what kind of force the ConnectCenter, uh, and, and the resources that I just talked about on the site is a national directory of services. So if you do a search on one of the sites, or just sit in the directory, you can look up any number of services in your area, like rehabilitation services or, you know, information about your eye disease. Uh, but with that, um, you know, there are support groups that come in many different guises. Er, virtually, especially since COVID, er, rehab, er, government services for the blind usually host support groups. And that unites people of all ages, uh, you know, races, uh, you know, all kinds of specifics to, uh, a person's personality in life, who have that one thing in common wherever they can Share their experiences with low vision or blindness and learning, uh, among others that they have that in common. Umm and stuff when we're talking to a person who is new or maybe just dealing with their visual impairment for the first time. Uh, we do our best to find a group, either nearby or if there is, uh, you know, there are groups with uh, specific details that, uh, the kind of needs that person has to meet, uh, when to ask about what they want to talk about. And, well, in many cases we don't host them ourselves, but find them through our pool of resources. You know, we communicate with our, uh, local colleagues, uh, you know, search the Internet, search the interwebs if you want. A , a , to find the correct group. And that gives us an opportunity to talk about what's weighing heavily on our minds as we deal with life, with blindness issues. Um, and, so we get confirmation almost every day. When we talk to people living their lives, they have no idea that the resources are available to learn skills that will restore their independence, that will give them opportunities to express themselves in the world. Whether it's through, um, work or education or your artistic potential. It's, it's, it can be very liberating for people to learn what's out there. So it's very important, especially these days, that diversity is at the forefront of what we as an agency are putting out, um, and how we serve those who need, um, who need us, who need us, who need the information, who are here to tell you a way about it.

    Sara Braun: 5:45

    So someone comes up to all of you who might be transgender and visually impaired, you know what resources… So that's kind of a call to find resources for that person?

    Alan Lovell: 5:56

    Yes. And I can think of one particular call that I received not long ago from a transgender woman who was also now blind. And, um, she called to find, um, resources that would approximate what a lot of our callers need about hers, her blindness. But the questions then were: “Well, I am a trans woman. Um, I'm having trouble with the way I present myself. Um, I'm not just a blind person who needs to sell herself, um, in a way that overcomes the negativity that comes with preconceived notions about blindness, um, being a trans woman is another challenge. And in cases like this, it's more about the conversation we had because I couldn't find a support group for blind trans women at the time, right? Nothing like this has happened yet. So we've had conversations about how we present ourselves when looking for a job, like, um, and should the fact that you're a trans woman come first or should it come second and not as important? You should know which abilities we cast first? Um, we had a long conversation about it and, and, and we keep seeing situations like this, where we're, we're so diverse, uh, and people really want to express themselves. But, um, those conversations are more about what is, "what's the most important thing you're trying to accomplish?" Um, you know, it does. "You come with a challenge?" As a gay white male, am I coming up with a challenge for you or am I selling myself based on my skills, personality and stuff? Um, so it's a, we have, we have conversations like this, it can go another way, but luckily, APH, the company that we both work for and is now 164 years old, is, uh, so forward-looking. organization. You know, our catchphrase now is "Welcome, everyone." It's on our t-shirts, it's on our banners. Um, it's the way we think, how we make products, how we serve people who need us, um, everyone, no matter what or where they are in life. Uh, and how lucky we can be to have an organization that is just wonderful. It's a wonderful feeling to know that we have our backs like that.

    Sara Braun: 9:09

    No, you are 100% right. And, you know, the "Welcome everyone," when we say everyone, we mean everyone, and that's very important. And I have felt that in the corridors of the APH during the last two years that I have been there. A while ago you wrote an article called “Blind, Dating while Gay” and gave some tips for dating in this modern world. can you talk a bit about

    Alan Lovell: 9:34

    This article that is in VisionAware. Um, I don't know if it's also included on all platforms or not, but you can find it on VisionAware just by searching for citations.

    Sara Braun: 9:47

    We will definitely put a link in this podcast.

    Alan Lovell: 9:49

    Big. Um, I mentioned earlier that I've been with APH for 26 years and it wasn't, you know, I started when I was 21 and I, you know, I'm gray now with a white beard. That was not the case then. <laughs>, but, um, it wasn't until I was 29 that I really broke out of the box. I've lived on both sides of the fence and, and, and, uh, I made this discovery in the middle of my life before I accepted who I really am. Um, but as I mentioned earlier, my lifestyle wasn't a challenge for anyone. It was more or less a given and I came out consistently and now at the age of 48 I have been married to my husband for 19 years. Um, but I wrote this article because while there are some older articles on dating specifically for those of us, those of us who are visually impaired or blind, we are faced with a unique challenge. Um, if you're a non-traditional person, um, if you want to find a partner in life, you have to come up with techniques that work for you. Um, and luckily technology is on our side. Some people, you know, you know, can find one, you can find yourself in a situation where you find a partner the traditional way, which is always great, you know, enough about a person to do that knowing, well, that person He's also gay. Or, you know, the important details match what you're looking for. But when I was looking to, um, find a partner, that was before I was out for someone, and I sort of came to terms with that. Um, I used technology, um, online dating. There were platforms that I could access with my assistive technology, even back then all I needed was a computer with JAWS software to create a profile and, uh, an online presence on a certain dating site where I could do that the profiles read other people or could read mine. Um, and as technology advances, our smartphones give us the ability to post photos of ourselves and, you know, show ourselves off. This is roughly equivalent to what a sighted person might do. Um, but since we're all different, we all have different experiences with low vision or blindness and technology. Uh, I wanted to post some information that might help someone else. Um, because if you can't see what you're doing with your phone, um, you don't want to put up a picture that's unflattering or put yourself in a room where you might have a clutter behind it that would give it away. story, uh, that maybe, you know, can't put you in the best light. Um, so in this article I gave tips on how to take a good photo. And then I went back to talking about how you want to present yourself to an ignorant person who appears on your profile. Are you a blind person from the very beginning, or did you, when I wrote the article, somehow use a pseudonym? I wasn't sure at the time if I was going to put my name on it, but there it is. I wrote it. So I used the name "Jake." Um, are you a blind person named Jake or are you "Jake"? A person who has all these interests in life, like, oh, walks on the beach, like, um, you know, have dinner, eat, um, walk, ride a bike, and then it turns out you're blind or disabled. visual, you I know you, how you gonna get that out there? And that is a personal decision. It could, you know, if you put something like that, it could possibly, um, put some people off because they've never had a blind person in their life and they're like, oh, I, well yeah, I don't want that. <laughter> in my life in, in my situation. And I'm not saying this is the correct way or not, but I've chosen to leave that out. I decided to introduce myself as Alan, "Jake <laughs> whoever. Yeah. The person who has all these interests in life. And that's how we connected. And it wasn't long before we actually ended up talking on the phone. We, uh , we got down to the level of personal conversations. And, uh, it wasn't until we were talking that he could hear my voice. He had seen pictures of me, um, where I said it, you know, I better tell you this because it seems like we could meet and anyone Anyone who has been dating online knows that you could end up with a lot of different conversations with different people that go nowhere. And you know, I keep telling myself, I'm free time, I'm vision impaired. I'm blind. Maybe that doesn't even matter because the conversation may never go anywhere Um, so I included that kind of information in the article just to give someone, um, who might be interested, something to think about while they expound.

    Sara Braun: 15:41

    Is there anything else you'd like to say about recognizing bias or the resources ConnectCenter provides or dating?

    Alan Lovell: 15:50

    Well, the ConnectCenter is here because we, uh, can understand those of us that the ConnectCenter staff have been working in this space for many years. We are 12 employees. Well, two of us on the phone, uh, both of us on the phone, we're also blind and we've worked in this field for many years and we have, uh, kind of, uh, a level of knowledge where. .. you're able to, you know, like I said, empathize with a person that maybe has something new to do with it and who you are as a person. Um, you know, when you have questions about your life as it relates to visual impairment, you know, I, I, I think we're on the same level as you because we've been there. Bias and biases aside, you know we're here to talk about blindness and give you the tools you can use to succeed in life, no matter what situation you find yourself in. And you know, if you have additional circumstances about you, we are here to help you. We are here to find resources for you. We're here to find you groups of people to talk to so that you can, uh, you know, thrive despite your challenges, uh, in life. And that goes hand-in-hand with why APH exists, the products APH makes, the services we offer to help you meet your challenges, whoever they are, and thrive.

    Sara Brown: 17:34

    Alright Alan, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Alan Lovell: 17:38

    Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.

    Sara Brown: 17:43

    We'll be sure to add links to the ConnectCenter and Alan's article in the show notes, he's now Tai Tomasi. She's here to talk about the different types of bias and why it's so important to recognize them. Hi Tai, and welcome to Change Makers.

    This is Thomas: 17:58

    Hello, thanks for having me today.

    Sara Brown: 18:00

    Can you talk about ABIDE for those who don't know?

    This is Thomas: 18:04

    Insurance. Abide stands for Accessibility, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. And we are a resource for internal stakeholders within the American Printing House for the Blind. We are also a resource in the field of education for the blind and partially sighted community. That's why we offer training here in Louisville, Kentucky for all comers and the entire community as well. Um, so we're definitely interested in helping develop the training in all the areas covered by the wizard.

    Sara Brown: 18:34

    There are two types of bias, the conscious bias and the implicit unconscious bias. Can you explain the difference?

    This is Thomas: 18:43

    Uh... sure. With conscious bias, your brain is aware of the bias you have. It is processed by your brain. Uh, while unconscious biases are based on background work that your brain does very quickly. Um, and you look at patterns and past data, but you're not aware of the bias you have. You may not be aware of the things that come into play with this unconscious bias. Basically, it's your affinity processing and other patterns that you may have known about from the past, whether from the media or other sources, that drives certain unconscious stereotypes that you hold.

    Sara Braun: 19:27

    The bias is not limited to a single demographic group. It can be found in medical preferences, race, gender, sexual preference, politics. Almost any topic. Can you talk about how ABIDE educates people about prejudice?

    This is Thomas: 19:43

    Yes . So ABIDE is constantly educating others on how to overcome bias and work with, uh, overcome implicit bias. And what we want to do is, uh, work with this automatic human function and actively take steps to understand and resist these unconscious biases. That requires developing new inclusive patterns and habits that transcend that part of your brand. It works in a very, um, unknown way behind the scenes. So be sure to ask yourself if you're listening, uh, you're listening actively and humbly. So Abide is here to train people on how to listen humbly, how to listen without judgment, how to be more aware of their biases, and how to challenge those biases. Um, and a key way that we work with people to challenge these biases is to encourage them to ignore the need to be right about what you think. Um, often our opinions are based on unconscious bias. And so we must put aside our desire to be right about these things and listen to others with humility.

    Sara Braun: 20:49

    How can a person judge if they are prejudiced?

    This is Thomas: 20:54

    There are many tests online that you can take. Unfortunately, some of these tests are not very accessible. Many of them are based on visual cues. Um, I'm still working on finding a highly accessible implicit bias test, since many of them rely on visual indicators. They could, um, show you an image and then ask you to pick whatever comes to mind and click the next thing that comes to mind in a list of things and rate this and that proves your implicit bias. Um, as people who are blind or partially sighted, we need to be more conscious of doing this work ourselves because we don't necessarily have accessible means to do this type of testing.

    Sara Brown: 21:31

    How does recognizing unconscious bias promote diversity and inclusion?

    This is Thomas: 21:36

    We all need to be more tolerant and understanding with everyone. And we have to work on developing empathy and challenges. Our biases are good ways to do this. And that's why we need to listen humbly and really think about how we react to different situations in our lives. things we found Um, these responses are problematic, and we need to think about how we're responding so that we can create a more inclusive and diverse environment.

    Sara Braun: 22:07

    To do? Do you have any tools that could be used to somehow see if they have unconscious bias?

    This is Thomas: 22:16

    Yes. I have some links to share in the show notes that talk a bit about implicit bias and how to challenge it. I think they are very useful tools. There's also a lot of great stuff on the internet that you can find by searching, but I'll provide you with some links.

    Sara Brown: 22:34

    Are there other organizations that offer special interest groups because of bias or bias?

    This is Tomas: 22:40

    Yeah, I think there are a lot of consumer groups, whether it's for people with disabilities. Um, there are also subsets of these consumer groups. Um, for example, in the blind and partially sighted community, the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind have, um, different interest groups, um, dealing with a lot of the issues of implicit bias. Um, for example, in the LGBTQ+ community and other communities, um, there are quite a few groups that can address some of these issues.

    Sara Braun: 23:14

    And would you like to add something else?

    This is Thomas: 23:16

    ABIDE is happy to work with you on ways you can challenge your implicit biases, just as your organizations can challenge them. And we'd love to work with you on some training and content on this topic.

    Sara Brown: 23:33

    Alright Tai, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    This is Thomas: 23:37

    Thanks again for having me.

    Sara Brown: 23:40

    Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. We hope you enjoyed this episode. I've linked to the resources Tai mentioned and Alan's links are in the show notes as well, as always be sure to look for ways you can make a difference this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown, and today we're celebrating the Transition Center. In July it will be one. We'll hear from a Transition Hub official and learn about the many services and resources it offers, as well as hear from a Student Council member who uses Transition Hub regularly. First, we spoke with Richard Rueda, Manager of Digital Content for the APH ConnectCenter at CareerConnect. Hi Richard, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Richard Rueda: 0:48

    thanks sara I'm happy to be here and talk about Transition Hub.

    Sarah Braun: 0:53

    Can you explain what the Transition Hub is and what services and resources it provides?

    Richard Rueda: 0:59

    The APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub is the one-stop-shop for those in high school and college seeking job opportunities, experiences, and programs to help advance their careers. Transition Hub currently lists more than 50 programs in the United States through a searchable database by region, state, and location. The program is sponsored by the way. It's the one site where you can find all of these programs, whether you're in Hawaii, Florida, Alaska, eh, New Hampshire, and everywhere in between. Users no longer have to search for different statuses and different tabs on their laptop. Now, when you can go to the transition center, you have all of this information at your fingertips, all in one place.

    Sara Braun: 1:58

    Now tell us why these services are important.

    Richard Rad: 2:02

    These services, offered by the Transition Hub, are designed to help students, their families, and teachers identify all the pre-employment skills they need to be successful in the workforce, be an adult, be successful, be confident in the force employment and to be independent. And these services are crucial because you can choose which program you want to join by reading the reviews, reading the statistics of who is offering them. … What services do these programs provide for the blind, deafblind? … What are the costs involved? Are they covered by rehabilitation?... And they are important, because the more you prepare for the world of work, the more you prepare to succeed in school and in life, the more independent you will be in life. And it all starts with access through Transition Hub. I really think we've seen a lot of growth in the year that this program, this service has been around. We started at 30. Uh, we built this from the ground up and now we're hitting 50 programs listed. That's almost one per state. And, uh, we're very, very proud of what Transition Hub has become and what it will be in the future.

    Sarah Braun: 3:23

    So Transition Hub started a year ago, which is pretty much a couple of weeks from now. Can you talk about how things are going today?

    Ricardo Rad: 3:31

    Good question. And yes, I like to talk about it. And I remember when I was a contractor at APH at the ConnectCenter, we got this grant and we built it from the ground up. And I like to remember. It was February 2021. And they said, "Richard, let's build this." And I said, "Let's do it." And so we came together, we identified what we needed to do to build a Transition Center. We came up with questions that the, uh, providers would like to be listed at the Transition Center, those agencies, from your name, your address, to the type of program, the style of the program, are you a resident? ...Not a resident?... We had over 40 questions that we put into this survey so that the first few entrants, er, participating agencies could list their information and we could sort it by state and region, we, we've got it going. We did some cold calling in April 2021. And in June we built the infrastructure that eventually became the Transition Hub. And on August 1, it went live with about 35 programs. And, um, now, a year later, we're back at 50... Probably mid-50s, since I'm talking June 2022 now. And, uh, we have people working behind the scenes who are constantly keeping the data up to date because if you include your show in April 2021, we want to make sure it's relevant in June 2022. That's why we're constantly in touch with our vendors, our agencies listed there and we contact them asking them to update us. "Who's the new contact?" "If not you, what new additions to the show do you have?" "Are you, aren't you virtual anymore?" "Are you hybrid?" "Are you personal?" So we consider all of these factors when people search for the Transition Hub. So what once may have been virtual or hybrid can be personal or vice versa? That is why we want the information to be relevant, timely and tangible. For high school students to be their teachers, visually impaired rehabilitation practitioners. Parents can go to the transition center knowing this information is up to date and count on us to be their one stop shop. We just don't want this to be a stagnant site. So many programs before that tried this didn't update it. And I think that's the challenge we have in a good way. Transition Hub will be a very interactive and engaging site for people to go to.

    Sara Braun: 6:03

    Do you have an estimated number of how many people you have served?

    Richard Rueda: 6:08

    If I had to guess, and I remember reading this not too long ago, we've had a few thousand views to the site since it launched on July 31 and August 1, 2021. Uh, we encourage that through all the outreach we do, we show and demonstrate to other practitioners on zoom or in person how easy it is how you can use it on, uh, your phone and your iPhone, not just your laptop. And so we are through all this engagement. We know that we are, we are, our impressions are, they are, they reach the public by the thousands.

    Sara Brown: 6:45

    And from last year to now, can you talk about how the Transition Center has grown and evolved?

    Richard Rueda: 6:52

    The development of the Transition Hub hasn't just evolved from the numbers where we're in our 35's to our mid 50's and we know there are more programs available. Um, a lot of programs that are small, um, have big revenues and either exist one year and not, um, the next year, by hiring, um, supporting our stipend, we're evolving into more interactivity. with the Site. Soon you will visit the Transition Center and you will not only see the videos that we have there, we will have testimonials, we will have blogs. We will be importing much more of our current transition content into Career Connect to make it the transition hub. Therefore, Transition Hub will not only be the place to learn about the programs, but also transition content for the student, the teacher, and the rehabilitation professional. Our job seeker toolkit will be available on the Transition Hub. The Job Seekers Toolkit is a very proud product of ConnectCenter and CareerConnect will also be interactive in a learning management system, which it hasn't been for several years since the days of AFB. So this will be a new addition to the Job Transition Hub,

    Sara Braun: 8:07

    See in the future. What future goals do you have for the Transition Center and what do you want for the Transition Center?

    Richard Rueda: 8:14

    You know, that's a very good question. I think if you look at the history of APH, ConnectCenter and Career Connect, you've got some big players and some big names and educational and transition space. I think if we take all of these resources and start using, identifying and marketing the Transition Center as this primary resource for teachers of the visually impaired, our EOTs, our families, professionals, students, families throughout the community say, " Hey, this is a critical service that students need to really get information that they can use to make decisions about their lives and prepare for life after high school after they graduate from high school." they have participated in programs that help them grow and develop. And you know, Transition Hub is the place you go. Uh, I think that's deep. And, and I think that's where the future is, if we use all of these, all of these resources, people will use the Transition Hub as a one-stop shop for transition information. And we have so many partners with our national transition talk that we host quarterly webinars where we always talk about the transition center and our partners are getting more excited every day. So I think you're going to see a lot more content, interactive content and a lot of really good feedback and a lot of good uses of that that we're developing right now.

    Sara Braun: 9:40

    Is there anything else you'd like to say about the transition center that we haven't covered?

    Richard Rueda: 9:45

    If you haven't heard of the Transition Center, visit the Transition Center. I really think you will be amazed. You will be surprised. You will find it to be a very useful program. And if you visit us regularly, you'll see real-time updates and the love and passion we put into making sure the information in the Transition Center is relevant, up-to-date, and beneficial to the most people.

    Sara Braun: 10:14

    Thank you Ricardo for coming today.

    Richard Rueda: 10:18

    It's been a pleasure, Sarah. Thanks.

    Sara Braun: 10:23

    Now we have Paige Hammock, a member of the CareerConnect Student Advisor, to talk about her experience with Transition Hub and how she's using the service while pursuing her master's degrees. Hi Paige and welcome to Change Makers.

    Paige Hamaca: 10:37

    Thanks for having me.

    Sara Brown: 10:40

    Can you tell us what a Career Connect Student Advisory member does?

    Paige Hamaca: 10:46

    Yeah, well, we have a core group where we discuss various ideas that we want to bring to the ConnectCenter. Um, we're working on blog posts right now. Um, a lot of us deal with all kinds of different topics, and then there's a subgroup that, I guess you'd call, um, I'm part of, for a panel that we're going to do, uh, called college talks. We're going to talk about the transition from high school to college and our personal experiences and just a few tips and tricks to help younger students in the process. So, I'm doing a little bit of everything right now.

    Sara Brown: 11:32

    And you represent the Transition Center. Can you tell us how you use the transition center?

    Paige Hamaca: 11:37

    Yeah, well, um, I found Transition Hub helpful in those college talks, planning, that I just talked about. Umm, we're still working on getting our first panel working and we wanted to discuss it sometime because I think it's a really useful tool. So we have everything that I don't know, well I don't know about the others, but I went through, um, the resources and, um, just to make sure that I understand everything that's around it Being able to explain to people by listening to our college talks. Um, and I also just started my own podcast and I think the Transition Hub is a great resource, especially for those who are transitioning from high school to college. Um, with all the different vocational training programs that they offer, I find it really useful. And many people don't even know they exist. So I use it for both.

    Sara Braun: 12:32

    Can you tell us how the Transition Hub helped you with your studies?

    Paige Hamaca: 12:37

    Um, I would say with gratitude that I knew about the vocational training programs here in my city, um, thanks to the Department of Blind Services here in Florida. They were very good at giving me resources. Um, so I'd say they're my number one, but they referred me to the Transition Hub, you know, to see other things if there's something that, you know, piques my interest that I haven't had. I don't know in advance. Um, but I think like I said, it's a great resource for those who may be new to, you know, low vision or vision loss and don't have a lot of resources or don't even know where to start. I think it's a great place to look for resources in your area that you may not have known about before.

    Sara Brown: 13:23

    And how does the Transition Center market to those who may not be aware of its benefits?

    Paige Hamaca: 13:29

    So we're still trying to figure out how to talk about it and how to bring it up during our college talk meetings. Um, we're going to talk about all kinds of things, from finding colleges, but also, um, you know, finding resources on campus. But I think we're probably going to start talking about that, talking about how, um, you know, outside of the university itself with the disability resource center, there's also, you know, these outside programs that are helpful and helpful. And I'm finally going to talk about this on my podcast because I've gotten a lot of feedback from other people in the BVI community who don't even know where to start or who never got services when they were younger and I don't know, um, you know who to contact. or where to start. So I definitely try to encourage it and bring it up in conversations, I'm like, hey, you know, this is a resource that might be helpful for you to just look and see what's there. It's his area and see if there's anything, you know. , that might help you and see if they have any services that you may not have had before that you might find useful.

    Sara Braun: 14:38

    Is there anything you would like to say or add about the Transition Center from a student advising perspective?

    Paige Hamaca: 14:46

    Um, I mean, I don't want to repeat myself, but it really, you know, stresses out others that I've talked to about it. You know, I've come across a lot of people in my personal life who didn't use the services until they were much older and didn't know about the services they could have gotten in the first place. So I just try to stress it early and make sure that people can get what they need. And I think the Transition Hub is the best place to start.

    Sara Braun: 15:13

    Thank you Paige for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Paige Hamaca: 15:17

    My pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 15:21

    We include a link to the Transition Hub and ConnectCenter in the show notes. We hope you enjoyed this podcast, and as always, be sure to look for ways to make a difference this week.

  • Jeff Fox: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And on this episode of Change Makers, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, which focuses on Special Education and Orientation and Mobility Specialists. We will learn about the process of becoming an orientation and mobility specialist, the need for more, and what opportunities exist in this field. We will also have a special segment highlighting the new APH Press Book "Guidelines and Games." Joining us now is Lauralyn Randals, APH Educational Products Innovation Product Manager. Hi Lauralyn and welcome to Change Makers.

    Lauralyn Randles: 0:52

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sarah Braun: 0:53

    He is now a product manager for APH, but was once an O&M specialist. Can you talk about what characterizes orientation and mobility about the work of an O&M specialist and what they do?

    Lauralyn Randles: 1:06

    Umm, Orientation and Mobility... It's a special set of skills that we teach students and travelers who are visually impaired and blind. Um, there's actually like 145 different skills that we teach, depending on what they need for their age, their goals, where they are right now, where they want to be, what kind of vision loss they have. We use all these things to guide us where we want to go with them. Um, as an orientation and mobility specialist... my job is to lead this, um, this teaching journey that you're on to make sure you get to where you need to be.

    Sara Braun: 1:41

    How is the job of an O&M specialist different from other educational professions, especially in the field of special education for the blind or partially sighted?

    Lauralyn Randles: 1:51

    In fact, orientation mobility has a large overlap with the two areas of visual impairment. So TV, but also physical therapists. We are a related service. We are not an education service within the school system itself, so we work with students individually on functional and life goals, not necessarily academic goals. We try to make sure that they have access to the educational environment and access to their community where ours, our students, and our alumni actually learn. most of these skills

    Sarah Braun: 2:23

    Orientation and mobility is a very specialized field. So to become an O&M specialist, you need a bachelor's degree, but do you need a teaching certificate or other certifications? Tell us about the process to become an O&M specialist. If we have someone out there interested in continuing with this area

    Lauralyn Randles: 2:40

    Orientation Mobility, actually... there's only one program left that has a bachelor's degree and that's, ahem, SF Austin in Texas (Stephen Fuller Austin State University). That being said, they are all graduate certificate programs or are, um, graduate degrees. So when you're done, you can choose your own adventure and decide if you want to do it as a teacher if you live in the state of Texas or excuse me if you want to do it as a bachelor if you live in the state. from texas or, um, if you want to do a shorter program where you end up with a certificate of completion, or if you want to do a longer one where you actually get a master's degree. Um, a lot of teachers who are going back into the field or who want to work in education will choose graduate, uh, college because it puts you in a higher pay range, because I don't know, yes I know, but during training, how we pay is decide in an Excel spreadsheet, so to speak. It goes up by the number of years of training and goes down by the number of years of experience. And so it helped you move down that column more. So if you're going to become an O&M specialist and decide to do the graduate certificate or graduate track, most universities require you to get your GRE first, it's a test you have to take. Um, it's a, it's mostly offered virtually right now. So find a local test center and take this test that proves you're ready to enter a graduate program. Um, they also offer it in a tailored format. So if you yourself, um, have poor eyesight or are blind, you can get accommodation for this exam. Um, after that point it's all about finding the show that suits you, because again it's the kind of show that suits you, choose your own adventure show. You'll find out if you want to work with children or adults... if you want to do a summer-only program, a virtual program or an in-person program. Um, if there's a specific college that you want to go to, if you want to have a double major where you get your orientation and mobility license, but you also get your TVI license or Vocational Rehabilitation or Assistive Technology, you can choose Based on this, you can decide which program suits your needs. And then you just go through the application process and get into some of the programs, even at that point you have federal funds that will help you get through the program. Some include tuition, reimbursement, some include books. It really depends on the show, but I think the most up-to-date list of shows we have in the US right now is OMSA. org. If you search for the O&M program, it will be displayed. You can also search for that on Google. And that's how I usually find it. Um, a teaching qualification is not required. Um, some states have shaky requirements, um, because every state is so different, especially in the education system. Um, you can have two neighboring states with completely different requirements. So some may require it and some may not. Um, there's also the consideration of the certifications that come with it. So, there are three different ways to practice as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist in the US: you can practice with your undergraduate degree in college and be like you are an OMS, or you can get your COMS License or COMS License. You do an internship after your university program, then you take an exam and have an active license for five years, and then you have the opportunity to continue your education in five years to renew it. There is another one that is very similar. It is NOMC, National Certification of Orientation and Mobility. It's very similar. Um, that's where you do an internship after you get out of the university program, then you take the test, and then you have five years of active license, um, until, you go through your renewal process.

    Sara Brown: 6:39

    Wow. So there are many options. Are there specific colleges or universities where you can earn your certificate?

    Lauralyn Randles: 6:47

    So there are actually universities in most states or regions in the United States. Um, I like Northern Illinois University just because I went there. Um, but there are programs in or near your area. Um, we actually have one here in Kentucky. Um, this is the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Donna Brostek Lee runs that program there. Um, it's really a great program. I've been in business for a while and I don't know of any bad programs. So reach out, find one near you, find, find some near you, listen to the O&M specialist who, you know, see where you've gone and where you've had great experience.

    Sara Braun: 7:27

    As a former O&M specialist. How was this career enriching for you? And what effects does this role have on the supervised students?

    Lauralyn Randles: 7:37

    I loved working as an orientation and mobility specialist. Actually, I was a dual TVI and O&M, but O&M always had my heart. Um, every day is new. You never know what you're going to find. You can start your morning with a three year old. Who are just beginning to explore their environment. You can end your day with a , a senior. They are preparing to cross a road that would make any parent's heart palpitate, and they will do it with ease because they are amazing. Um, you have the ability to open up a world of opportunity for these students and their families that they never knew would be available to them. It's really, it's great. It changes you forever and changes you forever as you go through this process. In fact, right now I have several students who still check in with me from time to time and tell me where they are and what great things they've done. In fact, I've had four college graduates in the last two years, um, and I'm really excited to see them and where they're going next.

    Sara Braun: 8:37

    How does your past impact your current role as APH Product Manager?

    Lauralyn Randles: 8:43

    So I'm actually more interested in testing and evaluation at the moment and it's not directly related to that point, but really through my orientation and mobility time, I've found that we have that because we're so few and far apart in around our strong decisions to justify. And to do that, we need really strong assessment items to guide not only our O&M assessment, but also our functional vision assessment. And even our education grades. We need to have a really strong profile that tells us exactly who this student is and exactly where they are and where they want to be so that we can design the best program possible because it seems like we have a lot of time with them because, you know, if we get them to kindergarten , theoretically we have them for 13 years, but there is never enough. There are never enough days to do everything. And the better we can have an idea early on, the better we can serve you in the future. And the better we can justify to the administration that we need additional help. We need additional staff. We need data to guide these decisions, and that data starts with reviews.

    Sara Brown: 9:50

    it's okay . Lauralyn, is there anything else you would like to say about O&M?

    Lauralyn Randles: 9:55

    Join all aspects of the Visual Impairment and Blindness section. It will change you for the better. Switch to. You'll change the world for those around you and there aren't many jobs that can give you that instant, huge impact you can see and feel. And just to know that you're making this impact on a daily basis and seeing how the changes change wildly over time.

    Sara Brown: 10:25

    Thank you Lauralyn for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Lauralyn Randles: 10:29

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Brown: 10:31

    We'll be sure to include the links she mentions in the show notes. Let's talk more about opportunities in the field of special education. We speak with Portland State University College of Education Assistant Professor Orientation and Mobility Program Coordinator, Dr. Amy Parker. Hi Amy, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Dra. Amy Parker: 10:52

    hello thanks for receiving me

    Sarah Brown: 10:54

    Can you talk about your job and how you prepare and work with future O&M specialists?

    dr. Amy Parker: 11:00 a. m.

    An orientation and mobility specialist is someone who provides direct instruction and assessment to people of all ages who are blind, deafblind, or partially sighted so they can get around safely and efficiently. So that environment can extend from the home, neighborhoods, communities, schools, and workplaces to wherever a person wants to go or be and move about safely. So it can start at a very, very early age when a person is, um, a baby and they're learning how to move and learning how their body works, um, throughout life until the end of life. If someone might be traveling with less, um, less agility and less mobility, but still needs to move safely to know where they are, um, to get where they want to go,

    Sara Brown: 12:00

    Employment opportunities and job security are important in any field. Can you talk about the opportunities in the field of special education for future educators who might consider following this path?

    Dra. Amy Parker: 12:11

    Absolutely. Well, just as I've mentioned O&M throughout life, there are ways to O&M with babies, infants, toddlers, and very young children. So, at home, in community settings and home and preschool, um, but of course there are opportunities, in K12 settings or in typical school settings, where, uh, you would be considered an associated service provider under the I D E A Act and I would work in schools. under this job title as an orientation and mobility specialist. But there are job opportunities beyond that. So when people move from high school to community life to career or adult guidance or college, there's a lot of guidance, mobility specialists there. Some of them still work in school settings, but some also work for adult service agencies that focus on youth in transition. And then, of course, there are the orientation and mobility specialists who also work with older and working-age adults. Um, some orientation and mobility specialists work in hospitals. Traditionally, Veterans Administration, hospital facilities employ, ahem, orientation and mobility specialists. In fact, that's part of the history of orientation and mobility with veterans, but there are other orientation and mobility specialists who work in hospitals. For example, I have a student who works in Seattle at a children's hospital and is part of a team that provides orientation and mobility for patients. So it's more, it's still with kids, but it's in that framework as far as special education is concerned, there are so many, uh, openings for orientation and mobility right now. At Portland State University, I have connections with people in many states, not just Oregon, who are looking for staff with these unique skills, because I think more and more people are realizing what it means to a child. uh, being able to move safely and independently in schools. Um, some people realize what was missed during the pandemic when students weren't traveling as much. And they weren't mobile enough to have to go back into environments and relearn some of those skills. And I think if we're being honest, that happened to a lot of kids, not just kids who are blind, partially sighted, and deafblind, but it was more pronounced when people weren't going outside and in the navigated environment to get where they want to go. And they need to relearn some of those skills.

    Sara Braun: 15:21

    The past few years have been difficult for everyone, educators, administrators, and students as a nation alike. We need more educators and we need more special education teachers. We need more O&M specialists. Do you see a need for more awareness in the area of ​​special education, especially in the area of ​​orientation and mobility?

    Dra. Amy Parker: 15:42

    Absolutely. <laughter>. I don't think you can overdo it. Um, we know that orientation and mobility is associated with really positive outcomes, positive life outcomes for students. Um, some researchers have found, um, Dr. Jennifer Smart. Um, some of her work in correlational studies has actually correlated orientation and mobility, um, the services students received, and, um, better career outcomes. Others have looked at quality of life, so it makes sense. Is not true? If someone can move more safely and efficiently, be more confident, can get where they want to go, knows how to use tools like canes or guide dogs or signaling apps, they have a better quality of life because they have more options. They have more opportunities to get involved, to travel, to have career opportunities that they may not have, or even knowledge of the local area, knowledge of where they live, knowledge of opportunities, where they want to go and how to get there. So absolutely, I think as orientation and mobility specialists we need to do a better job of not being shy about what we do to work exactly where we are, to raise awareness of these skills and around Becoming a Partner Working Way most effective with, um, people on the education team. But maybe even beyond that, so people know that orientation and mobility is a civil right. It is part of inclusion and community participation and access to the world. And by doing that, that opens up like a field for us, not to be isolated, but to be included in all kinds of conversations that help, uh, our students have more options, more opportunities, uh, and hopefully a better life. . .

    Sara Brown: 17:53

    As an orientation and mobility specialist, what APH products have you used in the past?

    Dra. Amy Parker: 17:58

    I have found Tactile Town to be a useful tool. Um, I've even used this tool with adults and deafblind adults to speak in specific environmental settings. You know the product is really creative. It's easy to use. In fact, I left this product with a co-worker and a deafblind friend who is having conversations with other visitors about the location of certain attractions or businesses, or places people want to visit. in his town. And he used it to have conversations with other people. So it's a great product. The other products I've used as a, um, college program is, um, one of Dona Sauerburger's wonderful Crossroads Without Traffic Control syllabi. This product is truly innovative because it helps people think about the risk of a particular cross based on systematic thinking. Um, and it's a great tool for working with clients to make informed decisions about specific crosses. You know, Donna talks about someone's intuitive timing or sense of timing when crossing a street. This is a really useful tool for O&Ms to use. And I love this product and encourage my students to use it. We've been on APH webinars with Donna where she talks about the tool, um, and I encourage all of my students to learn and use this curriculum. Um, it was even useful for people working remotely who might not be on a particular client every day but can remotely review elements of that curriculum. And then when they meet with that particular client, they can work through those decision-making processes using that curriculum. It's fabulous. The other tool that I really like is one made by Dr. Sandra Rosen from San Francisco State University developed the "step by step" curriculum. That was a really innovative approach that APH did with Dr. Rosen to help college students brush up on their O&M knowledge and skills just by watching these wonderful video clips that break down the various orientation and mobility skills they are learning. Uh, so again, I use this curriculum all the time.

    Sara Brown: 20:55

    in APH. We talk a lot about converting awareness in verb into action. What would you like to see to raise awareness?

    Dra. Amy Parker: 21:03

    Well, I think if orientation and mobility specialists can start to see themselves as, um, partners and not shy away from sharing what they do with others, then I think orientation and mobility specialists are sometimes right too. They are so focused on their students or their clients. Umm, they work so hard to help someone become more independent and mobile to get out and about in the community. Um, but maybe we don't share as much of what we do with other professionals, both to raise awareness about the profession and to talk about the civil rights that people need to be mobile in order to be fully included in the world around them. . them. And so I would like to see one thing, that orientation and mobility specialists, wherever they are, wherever they are, can share awareness and knowledge of what they're doing with the teams around them. I think that will help the field grow and be sustainable. I also believe that we can follow in the footsteps of people like Janet Barlow, a leader in this field, who spoke to transportation, engineers and designers, helping orientation and mobility specialists and blind and partially sighted people to share their knowledge with those uh, people. So the designs could be more inclusive. So I would say it's a challenge for us and it can be exhausting to think about always being an educator, but I think it's worth it because when more people realize the importance of orientation and mobility and what's possible, they become allies and people who care. about inclusion in a whole new way.

    Sara Braun: 23:04

    Thank you Amy for joining Change Makers today.

    Dra. Amy Parker: 23:08

    Holy, thanks for having me. It was nice chatting with you Sara.

    Sara Brown: 23:13

    I now turn this podcast over to APH Editor-in-Chief Press, Jess Bryant.

    Jess Bryant: 23:20

    thanks sara Today we have Renae Bjorg, an adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota and lead author of the second edition of Guidelines and Games. Hi Renee.

    Renae Bjorg: 23:32

    hello jess I am very happy to be here. Thanks for the invitation.

    Jess Bryant: 23:36

    <laughs> Thank you for being here. I just have a few questions about Policies and Games. What do you think the book will do for teachers?

    Renae Bjorg: 23:46

    So let me start by saying that this is a quote from Sally Mangold. Um, and Sally is something of a braille pioneer, right? Um, and she co-wrote the first book with Myrna Olson 40 years ago. So it's exciting. On the right? This is what Sally Mangold said. She said: “Quality of life does not have to be compromised due to visual impairment. Love, tenderness, pride in one's achievements are never measured in terms of physical attributes." That's how it is. So I have a student, um, an alumni, and, um, I used to be called upon to teach visually impaired students at universities to be a speaker, to be a guest speaker. And I always brought a student with me because they didn't really want to see me. They wanted to see or respond to someone who was visually impaired. On the right? <laughs> So there I was, I brought in this guest speaker and one of the, um, future teachers that was supposed to be in the audience popped the question. "So if you could think of an operation to fix your eyes, would you do it?" And she said, "Are you kidding? No way. Why would I want to do that? I'd have to relearn everything." Right. And so, and this student had, um, she's blind, totally blind. She had prosthetic eyes. So, the audience said, "Why wouldn't you want to see that?" Would you want to do that?" Right. So, as people quote, we have this perception: "Oh, poor thing, right? You, you, you can't see and you have to do all these extra things, and wouldn't it be great to be like us? And she says, "No." um, so in Sally's To Quote Again, it's like our job as teachers is to help people, um, make things accessible, make the world accessible. And Braille is the real medium for experiencing the world. Um, so me, how does that help people? I hope people are inspired to know that using braille is not a problem. Braille is easy. Braille is the gateway to adventure, excitement, independence, and, er, self-expression, er, connection. On the right? I think that's really the biggest message, I think, in understanding that the power of braille cannot be underlined. And in the field, sometimes we run into situations where the administrator can say, "Oh my gosh, why don't we just use technology?" Why do you need Braille? Um, why can't they just listen to a recorded book?" And I say: “Yes, the books are important. It is important. And listening to a book is not literacy. It's not about literacy and reading, um, literacy and listening are different skills." We have to teach students to listen and we have to teach them to read. But I really think that Braille messages are very important, it's just as important, you know, there's a certain number of minutes in a day, in every student day, dedicated to English language arts that we spend so much time is dedicated to helping students learn braille and read braille and process um like “what's the code? How do you read it how to use it And what is important?

    Jess Bryant: 27:26


    Renae Bjorg: 27:27

    So that's really the strength of this book, when you start to understand what braille means and what it can do for you, you're more motivated to say, oh how can I like that? God, Braille, oh, that's something extra. And how do I fit into the student's day? And how do I do that?" And of course. But it is this adventure of learning, this reading process.

    Jess Bryant: 27:54

    So how does this book support Braille reading?

    Renae Bjorg: 27:58

    Um, it's very function-based. So there are concrete examples. Um, and, as you read this book, you'll become familiar with the essential elements of evidence-based reading, and you'll learn about the science of reading, um, and what the elements of those pieces are and what they look like. necessary. How, um, how children read, what reading skills are needed, and how the brain develops. And I think the beauty of this book is that we're talking about the science of reading, but it's in a brief way. That's manageable so you really get the point, okay, here are the concepts from the book. This is what we really need to focus on in this reading process and how can we, and then, are like the strategies to help educators and parents and, um, family members, um, really understand, okay, okay. Well, that's easy to understand. Me, now I understand the background. So what are some strategies we can use to help our students learn?

    Jess Bryant: 29:03

    And what activities or games in the book do you find most helpful or useful?

    Speaker 6:29:09

    Oh, okay. Well, one of the most fun activities in this book is getting really excited about Carol's work, uh, lass. And it's, um, there's an example of the, the, the book of the, the book, the three goats, brusque, have you ever read the book? You know what I'm talking about? It's an old book, isn't it? very clean,

    Jess Bryant: 29:30

    I have not, no, but I have read politics and games. And of course I saw the reference <laughs>.

    (Video) Her brother wasn’t going to stop her. 👏 #shorts

    Renae Bjorg: 29:37

    So in the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff is like this Here the three billy goats are on the side of the bridge. They have to cross the bridge to get to this really big, lush grass so they can eat it. On the right. And under that bridge is this troll, and they are afraid of that troll, because that troll is going to come out and eat them. On the right. So here's a fun little story, right? But how do you make it real and exciting for a student? So you can use Braille, and like Gayle Lambs, that's a whole approach to language, right? For example, “How can we use Braille to symbolize the goat? Oh here is the braille and here the braille symbolizes the goats and here is the bridge and here is another symbol to use braille and oh look here it is on the bridge. What happens? And here is the troll under the bridge. And all in Braille. And then on the right hand side, if you think about going across the bridge from left to right, that's this beautiful, lush grass and how can you represent that with Braille? So instead of just reading braille from left to right, or reading a page as if reading print from left to right, it suddenly becomes an image, like a story, that you can participate in. On the right. So I think that's where I think with this approach, as it opens up, braille becomes this vehicle to inspire kids to practice their tracing skills. And oh, let's tiptoe across the bridge. We're going to touch the paper lightly instead of hard. On the right. Um, what was the concept below the concept above? So all of these things can be part of this little, this little lesson that uses full braille and braille position in certain places on the page to tell the story. So, and I think it's like, when I can start to think of Braille as a vehicle and say, oh, how can I use Braille to represent, um, the grass on, like in preschool, when they, uh, what is this story ? ? Bear hunting, right. Go bear hunting and that, you know, okay, let's find the bee in the grass, the bear in the grass. On the right. It makes it more exciting, fun and entertaining. So that children naturally want to be there. They're part of it, they're learning skills, but they don't even know their learning skills. It is the art of reading. And that reading makes sense and that we ourselves can create something in braille to create or express something else. It is exciting to see children realize that Braille has meaning. And I think that's one of the things in this book that's really helpful. And it's not just braille that matters, but it shows you how to teach certain mechanical skills and how to teach them and what tracking skills are and how to teach them. And what are some, you know, if you don't have the power at hand, what can you do to work on it? So, um, other than that, it's very convenient and functional, but still doable. As anyone can do it. And uh, it's important. I hope people read this book and feel inspired to learn and teach how to teach braille and what braille means and its value.

    Jess Bryant: 33:06

    Is there anything else you want listeners to know about this book that we haven't mentioned?

    Renae Bjorg: 33:12

    Well there are, well there are many things but

    Jess Bryant: 33:13

    So many things <laughs>

    Renae Bjorg: 33:17

    Yeah. You have to buy it too, really, uh, I see. But I think this book was really a collaborative process. So, I invited some of my students. Um, well, I'm a, um, professor at this, the University of North Dakota, and we have phenomenal students that come through our program who, when they graduate as teachers, you know, are ready to go to college to tackle the field, they are ready. People are, people are, um, these school districts are lucky to have our graduates, but I've had some phenomenal students. And so I wanted to invite you to get involved in the research, writing, and publishing aspect of this book so that you can advance our field, because yes, we need, we need more researchers, we need more people. um, promoting our field. So anyway, I invited these students to be a part of this project, and I'm a very collaborative effort to have their voice in this project. And the research they've done to contribute is part of what makes the book so important and so well done. So I'm very proud of the people who contributed and even one of my own, one of my students, said, well, I have to ask my boss if I can do that. And he asked his boss, and that's a student from Canada. And she asked her boss, and her boss called me, and she said, "I graduated from the University of North Dakota. I graduated from your program, Myrna Olson, Dr. Myrna Olson was my teacher. I want to give something back. And there are other people in, in our, in our, um, in our group in Canada, um, who want to give back. So can we be a part of this project?” And I think that appeals to the high caliber students that we have, but the importance of braille and the importance of being a braille teacher like Myrna and Mangold so that they too can continue to give back to the subject and continue to, um, develop their own abilities and advance in our subject and continue to be excellent teachers.

    Jess Bryant: 35:41

    Thanks for being with us Renae. I appreciate your time. Um, and, and her insight, uh, and her, her time in the book, too. Um, and I think it's going to be a great resource for teachers. So thanks for writing it. Thank you for the time today, the time for the book, the energy, all of that, thank you very much.

    Renae Bjorg: 36:05

    Well, thanks for having me, and thanks for listening to me this morning.

    Jess Bryant: 36:10

    Back to you Sarah.

    Sara Braun: 36:12

    thanks jess And thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. For more information on O&M specialists, check out the links mentioned in this podcast and the new APH press book "Guidelines and Games." Check out the show notes for links, as always be sure to look for ways you can be a change agent this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm the public relations manager for APHS, Sara Brown. And today we celebrate the 11th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This is Thursday, May 19. We learn the importance of accessibility awareness and how you can make your social networks more accessible. After that, we'll learn how you can get involved in the workplace to talk more about GAAD.

    Pollo Abby: 0:42

    I have APH director ABIDE, Tai Tomasi. Hello Tai Tomasi and welcome to Change Makers.

    This is Thomas: 0:48

    thanks for having me

    Sara Brown: 0:50

    For those who do not know. Can you explain what ABIDE means and what is its mission?

    This is Tomas: 0:56

    Insurance. ABIDE stands for Accessibility, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equality. And ABIDE's mission is to integrate all these areas in APH and in the field. So please help with accessibility efforts internally at APH, whether it's ensuring all of our web content is accessible or helping with document accessibility. We help make sure we get the right software that's more accessible, and we help make that software even more accessible so that all of our employees have an accessible experience. Um, and then also helping education, um, education for the blind and partially sighted to improve accessibility as well. And the same with membership. , er, especially in this remote environment... In this hybrid work environment, it's important for employees to feel a sense of belonging, and er, that plays into accessibility... Because when things aren't accessible, er, people certainly don't feel like you belong. So we really want to start with that and continue to push that effort forward. Um, the same goes for inclusion, inclusion, um, and diversity and equality. So we want to make sure we have a diverse workforce that we advocate for diversity and equality, both in the area of ​​blindness and low vision education as well as within the American Printing House for the Blind itself.

    Sara Braun: 2:18

    Talk about the importance of World Accessibility Awareness Day and why people should be more aware.

    This is Thomas: 2:24

    Therefore, World Accessibility Awareness Day is a great opportunity for us to refocus on Access, Access, Culture and Accessibility. Um, there's been a lot of controversy in our community about how digital accessibility is achieved. Um, there are certainly issues with web content usability and accessibility policies. Um, we've had a lot of controversies about different types of digital overlays not being adequate solutions to help with digital accessibility. That's why we want to use World Accessibility Awareness Day to really refocus our efforts on finding solutions and helping people advocate for, ahem, other companies and vendors to make sure we're, ahem, accessible and have products digitally.

    Sara Braun: 3:13

    How does GAAD help break down barriers, whether in daily life or in the workplace?

    This is Thomas: 3:18

    So by, er, educating people about the accessibility of web resources and, er, digital content… er, we can improve the employee experience of, er, anyone with a disability. And, uh, what it takes to do that is really focus on the disability experience… To talk more about usability. Um, you know, sometimes web content accessibility guidelines just aren't enough. Um, that something might fit those guidelines, but it might not be usable by a given user with a given . So, um, we need to take the time to listen to the community and focus this feedback and, um, continue to make sure that people with disabilities are at the forefront of this effort.

    Sara Brown: 4:02

    And how can you turn awareness into action?

    This is Thomas: 4:06

    One of the best things we can do to move from awareness to action is to educate ourselves about what the accessibility needs are. And again we turn to the disabled community. It's important to talk about what accessibility and ease of use really mean. And that requires businesses and people who work in accessibility to educate themselves about those needs by going out into the community and learning from the resources that we can provide. And ABIDE from APH will be doing some social media posts in May with some simple tips to improve digital accessibility.

    Sara Braun: 4:47

    Is there anything else you want to say?

    This is Thomas: 4:50

    Once again, I look forward to refocusing on the culture of access and ensuring that we engage people with disabilities at all levels of organizations and at all levels of accessibility discussions and prioritize those needs. And I appreciate that World Accessibility Awareness Day provides us with a platform to refocus our efforts in the community and to speak to people with disabilities about those efforts.

    Sara Braun: 5:16

    Thank you Tai for joining Change Makers today.

    This is Thomas: 5:19


    Sara Braun: 5:21

    Now we move on to something I'm sure everyone knows... social media. But did you know that there is a right way to make it more accessible to everyone? We've got APH Digital Engagement Manager Abby Pullis here to talk about accessible social media. Hi Abby, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Pollo Abby: 5:40

    Yes. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 5:42

    Can you talk about the importance of accessible social media?

    Pollo Abby: 5:46

    Social networks are part of our daily life. Here we have news. Here we connect with our families, our friends, people who live far away in our hometowns. Um, we connect with other professionals or we connect with people in our common communities because of our hobbies. Um, if it's not accessible, then we're leaving out a whole group of people. Uh, we don't grant access to this community resource that we all depend on.

    Sara Brown: 6:17

    And what are some of the devices that people might be using to access social media?

    Pollo Abby: 6:22

    For visually impaired users, there is magnification software that can be downloaded to your desktop computer or is often included natively with the device itself. Um, a lot of smartphones have that accessibility built in, and can change the background color or the contrast and colors of the text to provide the most comfortable reading experience based on your visual impairment. It's the same for people who are blind, but with voice-over technology, they can download this technology on their desktop or laptop, or it comes native with their device, like a smartphone.

    Sara Braun: 7:01

    For blind or visually impaired people. How do inaccessible social networks affect your experience?

    Pollo Abby: 7:08

    Inaccessible social media, especially missing alt text on images, uh, really makes people wonder what the point of a post is. We rely on photography or graphics. So often when we post on social media and it's quite encouraged by platforms to include a photo, um, that if we don't use descriptors to let people know what's in that photo context, it gets lost. So it would be like flipping through a scrapbook, but all the pictures have been taken out. So you can say, oh, "first steps." But without that emotional appeal to the photo, you lose a lot of context. Um, another example would be, uh, "It finally happened!" if the text was there, but if the picture doesn't have a caption then you don't know if it's an application, graduation, first home, uh, you , you really lose the, the emotional impact and the important update.

    Sara Braun: 8:02

    So, as APH Digital Engagement Manager, please talk about the process you go through when posting on social media to ensure a post is accessible.

    Pollo Abby: 8:12

    I'm trying to keep in mind early on how this will affect all of our readers, um, and not just edit a social media post to make it accessible after the fact. So when I come up with a campaign or even a single post, I keep in mind what will be the best experience for our sighted and blind readers.

    Sara Braun: 8:42

    And how can we as posters take action to improve the social media experience?

    Pollo Abby: 8:49

    I think people get a little overwhelmed when they think about opening up their social networks because they don't know what that means... And they're afraid that it means going behind the scenes and doing something like that, like coding or going. through a bunch of extra steps beyond your technical expertise, but it's actually pretty simple. Um, there are some simple tips, um, and ways that you can make your daily social media experiences, um, accessible to all your friends and family, as well as readers and people who interact with you. Um, the first and most obvious one would be to put alt text behind your photos. So instead of putting a description of the image in the text post, you can go in and that goes for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, you can go in and add that alt text below the image. And that way, your posts don't consume an additional number of characters, since we know that many of these platforms have a character limit. Um, and some tips for writing that alt text would be to include those big, important details without getting too bogged down in the small stuff. You know, you don't have to reference the color of each person's shirt unless it means something to the photo. Uh, I like to think, you know, what's that, "what's the call to action with this photo?" "What do I want you to feel or think?" "How do you add this photo to the story of the post I'm making?" So if it matters that your student graduates from college and wears a cap and gown, you want to They could say what color the cap and gown is because it represents the college they're graduating from, but if you're blowing out candles at a birthday party and the person in the background is wearing your red T-shirt, it's probably not necessary. . So I think it's okay to balance those important details with that emotional language. Another way to incorporate social media accessibility into your daily life is to look at the way you use hashtags. Um, the first tip is to place your hashtags at the bottom of your social media post, rather than inserting them into the text whenever possible. Uh, when screen readers find this content. Sometimes they misinterpret this content because all the letters are flattened together and it doesn't read the way you want it to. Um, and another tip is to capitalize within your hashtag, or as many people call it CamelCase, where you make sure to capitalize the first letter of each word within the hashtag. Um, it helps the screen reader figure out what that word is. And it's also a better reading experience for sighted people. Uh, it makes it a lot easier when you scroll through, you know, Twitter, as you scroll, you can read those social media hashtags a little bit easier because you can see the individual words within the hashtag. And finally, I would say when it comes to graphics or photography, especially a business, we often create event hashtags or take photos, uh, with the intention of posting them, to make sure we remember, uh, contrast, er, that there's enough contrast or that we are really being intentional with our contrast. So that visually impaired users can see what's going on in the image and that this also has something to do with the graphics, make sure to use good contrast for our text and also keep an eye on our text fonts. Sometimes this really beautiful scripty scroll font is really hard to read for anyone who, um, has low vision or even people who aren't technically on the low vision spectrum but even just wear glasses.

    Sara Braun: 12:08

    So they said to put our hashtags at the end, but sometimes there is a character limit. And then you need to paste your hashtags into the actual text. What is the best course of action when the character limit is reached?

    Abby Pullis: 12:22

    I would say that putting hashtags at the end is a good practice. Uh, when you have a character count, it's often quite difficult. And you know, when you go to a conference, oftentimes those conferences have an acronym that they use, and that's their hashtag. So, you know, if you're limited to characters and you need to put that hashtag at the top, that's fine. I think a bigger problem is when people ironically use long hashtags within text to be whimsical or playful and they don't read as well. I think, you know, if you're trying to say I'm at “#APH 2022” for our annual meeting, that's fine.

    Sara Brown: 13:01

    During my time here at APH. One thing I've noticed when using my personal social networks is that more people are including image descriptions in social posts. As Digital Engagement Manager. How do you feel when you see people being more aware of your posts and making sure they are accessible?

    Abby Pullis: 13:22

    I think it's wonderful. And I think that's one of those situations where we often learn that things that are accessible to a group of people end up serving a much larger audience, and it's actually a universal design and not just a function for a single person. group of people. And um, if we can design our posts from the ground up to reach the largest audience and then appeal to the widest group of people, then we really are the best stewards of everything we're trying to communicate that we can be.

    Sara Brown: 14:00

    So let's quickly move on to office software. And one thing I noticed is that when I do alt text in different programs, a description is automatically generated. Can you say something about the image descriptions generated on different platforms?

    Abby Sweaters: 2:15 p.m. m.

    AI generated descriptions, um, while giving context instead of no context is wonderful, it's definitely better than nothing. Um, it doesn't really take responsibility for the poster because they often get it wrong and don't give that compelling description that I think most photos want to conjure up when they're posted. I think, you know, think about the intent of the photo that you're posting and that will lead you to the kind of alternative that you want to put. Um, I saw a lot of alt text, you know, when I go to add alt text to APH posts, I see that, um, it generated alt text that, you know, Facebook or whoever provides it and often it's like "possibly" or like " possibly a photo of a person outside." And it's like, well, it's actually a “grand canyon proposal photo”. That's like, you know, that's a huge gap in knowledge that's being overlooked. So I would say that while it's a big step for tech companies to take responsibility for making their platforms more accessible, and that's great, it's still up to the individual user to take that step and add that flavor to their posts on the networks. social.

    Sara Brown: 15:33

    And social networks. It's not the only place you use alt text. You can also repeat it in the office software. So you're talking about alt text, Word documents, PowerPoints, and emails?

    Abby Pullis: 15:46

    Alternative text really lives outside of social media. I think this is a very popular place where we talk a lot about alt text, but you can add alt text to your Word documents, your PDFs, your PowerPoints, anything you communicate, you can add it to your emails Add. And I think it's really important to consider, um, not just what you're saying with your public voice, but also what you're communicating on a one-on-one level. Um, if you were to create a PowerPoint, for example, and send it to a subpoenaed colleague for review, it might end up being viewed or shared with someone who needs those accessibility features. And now, because I didn't bake them at first, the person I passed it to may need to add the alt text to forward it to the next person. And they may misunderstand my intent to include some of these photos, or they may not know your best practices on this. So I think it's just, you know, uni, good universal design takes all people and, you know, their people into account when creating the content. And I try to keep that in mind when we do any kind of campaign for APH, um, and I think we should all be doing our, our social media or our writing, our Word docs.

    Sara Brown: 17:02

    What does a person have to learn about how to make their social and work materials more accessible?

    Abby Pullis: 17:08

    There are many excellent accessibility resources out there. Um, we have some blogs on our site that specifically talk about, um, accessibility with social media, um, with links to each, um, social media platform where they describe the process of how you can present yourself socially know, alt texts on your networks. social, um, for Word documents and things like that. You know, there are a variety of resources out there. We have done a few blogs about it. We also have, uh, an Accessibility Center, which is, uh, run by our ABIDE team and has a lot of information on simple business stuff, you know, like Word documents and things like that, accessible PowerPoints and so on. So you can find all this information there. I definitely would, you can start with us, but there are a lot of, um, great allies in the industry who are also creating this kind of content and trying to educate not just people in the industry, but you know, um, the whole world. .

    Sara Braun: 18:10

    And is there anything else you want to say?

    Abby Pullis: 18:13

    I would say it's easy to be approachable, um, and, and once you start doing it, it really becomes such a natural practice. And, and, you know, a lot of us think, okay, well, I'm definitely going to make my business or my organization or my school accessible because they have a really wide reach, but I encourage you to make your own social media are also accessible on a personal level. Uh, you may find that you reach new audiences or that you are accessible. Um, you don't realize that you're preventing people from enjoying your content, um, by not including those kinds of details that make the experience more viable for people.

    Sara Brown: 18:55

    Thank you Abby for joining Change Makers today.

    Abby Pullis: 18:58

    Thanks for the invitation. That was, uh, a lot of fun.

    Sara Brown: 19:03

    Now we have the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Sassy Outwater-Wright. Hi Sassy, ​​and welcome to Change Makers.

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 19:13

    Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Brown: 19:15

    And would you like to share the many, many things you do at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 19:24

    Insurance. I can share the many things I do. That's a nice way to say it. Um, I do everything from helping out to teaching assistive technologies. Um, for people through MABVI, we use placement of qualified trainers and blind volunteers who are also assistive technology users and want to help older adults who are just beginning this, um, process of losing their sight. We do, um, as many association classes as they want to get comfortable with technology as older adults. Um, we do orientation and mobility classes for people with mental disabilities, intellectual disabilities and blindness. We offer adjustment counseling and peer support services for people who want to talk to someone who has previously lost their sight and, ahem, want mental health support during that adjustment. Um, we volunteer to help older adults who have a chore, or younger adults who have something they want to do, like go to the gym or go out and exercise, uh, routines and do a few sightings while they're at it. They want support. And, um, we do a number of other things as well, community advocacy efforts that partner with age-friendly movements in local communities and support groups across the state. And then we have occupational therapists who are cross-trained so they can help older adults who are struggling with declining eyesight but might also have other things, like a company age. Um, and we want them to also feel medically supported with our occupational therapy team. So we do a lot at MABVI, but we bring everything to the community rather than letting someone go to an institutional setting. And we do it at home or at local senior centers for everyone.

    Sara Brown: 21:33

    So we talk about GAAD in this podcast and it's about access and awareness. How do you involve a company and advocate for what you need?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 21:43

    Right now, we are in a really sensitive time for the rights of people with disabilities in relation to digital accessibility, since in most cases digital accessibility is not yet covered by the ADA. Um, except for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And only in some cases for employment is it really set in the ADA. Um, and now it is, it is, you can go to court and then wait for a non-disabled person or a group of people to decide what happens to your rights. Um, and we've seen it several times in the last 12 months, with the CVS case going to the brink of the Supreme Court, and then the LA Community College case going to the brink of the Supreme Court. So our civil rights and our ability to say, "You're discriminating against me," even if that discrimination is, uh, unintentional, that's at stake. And so many times, um, disability advocates have said, they've said in the past, "asking doesn't work." Right now, our civil rights are really on the line. And that's why I'm a big fan of self defense... Ask a company... Tell the company this is not possible for me. Um, and I'd love to work with you to make it more accessible. Um, and that doesn't mean the disabled person has to do the lifting. That means the company has to be willing to listen that something isn't affordable and look at what it can do, and it doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. It doesn't have to be a civil lawsuit. It doesn't have to be a court case. It doesn't have to be anything other than collaborating and learning what works. Um, it's an educational process and then it's an implementation process. And so do we, it starts with a question, although the community really balks at the question. I think we also need to be aware that continuing to allow unhindered court systems to deal with our rights is also a problem.

    Sara Brown: 23:59

    Can you talk about Access Culture?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 24:02

    Access to culture is many things for many people, it is still emerging, but it is what is coming. It's the idea that we can participate in our own access needs and drive our own access needs and control our own access needs. And these accessibility guidelines, uh, web content accessibility, are an incredible set of standards and technical guidelines that we can use to verify whether or not something is accessible by most people's definition. Um, but there are disabled people whose needs are still not being met by WCAG. Um, there are people who want a culture of accessibility and they don't want it to be a go or no go thing. They want it to be a discussion. They want there to be, "That's what the WCAG says, but because of my disability, that might work better for me." They want accessibility, digital accessibility in a company or in a place where they can become a conversation that can be a little bit more individual, a little bit more embedded in the culture of the company and a little less stigmatized and a little bit more mainstream. Um, we want broad inclusion and belonging and accessibility. It is not the end of this conversation. It's the Beginning Accessibility is the first step through the door, but people want what I call the "full bloody pie experience." We don't want to be given a small piece of cake. We want it all. Um, and we want to be a part of this conversation. And that is Access Culture. It is a culture of belonging and inclusion that begins with accessibility and goes beyond to fully include our own experiences in work, play, recreation and health care and allow us to belong.

    Sara Braun: 26:00

    What is the role of promotion in the digital accessibility life cycle?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 26:05

    Each time is harder. It seems like we're being sidelined by lawsuits, corporate lawsuits, by the two lawyers who handle our cases in some cases, and that accessibility is just throwing us into the role of examiner. Very few of us are in the role of developers, designers, corporations, CEOs, C-suite groups, uh, lawyers, we handle these cases ourselves. There are some disabled lawyers who handle these cases, not many, and there are not many disabled executives who come in and lobby. There are a lot of disability advocates who sign up and participate in laws and things, but we need leaders. We need space to develop our own leaders, to support them, to allow them to learn, to allow them to lead. And um, we need space to be able to talk to companies instead of companies that fear us for lawsuits. Um, we need these lawsuits to enforce compliance. Absolutely, but it doesn't have to be a negative process. People with disabilities don't have to be used to getting into those troll demands that they need to stop and things where companies can refrain from, um, making their websites accessible because it's just a repeated audit process. We need to change the way we provide digital accessibility, overlays, etc. That is not the answer. Manual correction, test and repeat... Not the answer of what's next... We need to sit down at this table and have those discussions about what's next. And there are very few in this industry who will start that conversation, come to the table and share the lead. I see a lot of accessibility companies changing hands. I see a lot of litigation and people with disabilities don't know about it as a community until the very last hour before something goes to the Supreme Court and jeopardizes our rights. We can't do this in isolated spaces. We need to do it openly with the community, deeply involved in the space, so that the new leaders learn to lead, step up and have space to lead and gain the trust of the community, and with the community to grow in the community to lead the community. .

    Sara Brown: 28:29

    How is end-user digital accessibility changing, and how can end-users retake the lead in this cycle?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 28:37

    That is a very good question. Um, disabled end users, those who use websites, more and more tools are coming out that allow us to participate in our process of accessing something. Um, and it is reported that you have a difficult experience. Companies can't do anything if they don't know. And, um, you know, having a situation where a lawsuit is the only answer. It's not the only response we have today to have conversations with businesses, have conversations with consumer organizations, call digital accessibility companies and say, “I have this problem. How can I tell if it is a user error or a bug? Is that the classic first step? Is it a user error because he is not fully familiar with digital accessibility or is it a bug? And something is wrong in the code. And today, with code coming from different sources on a website, it's not just one person who develops the code. It could be a widget that someone installed on your website. It could be from another company and they just click and point to build their website. It becomes even more difficult to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. So if you have social media groups, if you can ask the group someone else is having this problem with this browser and screen reader when they visit this site or as a community troubleshooting together, um I see a lot of technology – groups have people They get together and bring sites in the group and say, 'Let's all experience this together. And maybe someone has a solution. It is not an error. Let's report it to the store together." Many of us have tried it. Let them know that this is a problem. Bigger companies need to step up. Um, if something is called on a larger platform, they have to recognize it. You have to fix it. You do not have to evade this responsibility. They should treat us like any other group of customers and fix any issues that come their way and do it in a very public and accountable way to us. Um, and that can, that can change. It doesn't have to be resolved behind the scenes in a courtroom with, uh, you know, covers and, and the community yelling negative things all the time. This can turn into a conversation. When companies are willing to make it one and disabled, people are ready to scream without, uh, fear and without (unintelligible) participation and without shame and without anger and looking for solutions. And, um, I'm seeing a lot of people's work leading toward negotiations, agreements that work, court cases, are all valid ways to approach it, but so are self-advocacy and community building and community solutions with the deals, especially the local ones where we have to show up in person and maybe order something online too. Um, being known as a human being and defending access like any other client carries a lot of gravity and we need to use it.

    Sara Brown: 31:49

    Is there anything else you would like to share about GAAD or digital accessibility?

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 31:55

    I just want to see how we change and have some positive discussions about digital accessibility in 2022. I think we have a lot of negative conversations, a lot of it based on fear, shame, and money about accessibility, and while fear, shame, and money are motivators. They are not things that lead to ownership, inclusion, disability community leadership for the disability community. Um, where are these discussions? I want to see these are the things that are making waves on Twitter in 2022. I want to see accessibility companies not only put us in the role of testers, but also put us in C-Suites seats. Say that five times faster at 7:00 C-suite seats. I, um, I want to see disabled leaders fill these positions and find pathways to these positions in terms of support, um, development, mentorship, understanding, skills, ability, and educational opportunity. I want people to have more technical, um, educational opportunities, not just in testing... In UX, in design. There's no reason a disabled person can't write their own code and handle these things and we can't teach ourselves how to code. Nothing about us without us. It's about time this took its rightful place in the digital accessibility discussion in 2022. And for this to stop being a negative thing driven by anger, shame and money and start being a community, building a cause of social justice, it's time for us to take the reins and bring this home. Now is your turn.

    Sara Braun: 33:39

    Fresh. Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Sassy Outwater-Wright: 33:43

    Thanks for the invitation. Um, I love to take things in a positive direction. Hopefully some of what I said will help someone find her voice and step up and say, "I want to sit at this table. I want to lead."

    Sara Brown: 33:57

    And thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. For those interested, I've included links to the World Accessibility Awareness Day website, as well as the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and additional links on how to make your social media and office work better in the post notes. Program. So be sure to check out the show notes, and as always, look for ways you can be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we learn about educational opportunities for professionals and students. We will go through The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy. We have APH Learning Management System Administrator Amy Campbell here. She will tell us more. Hi Amy, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Amy Campbell: 0:39

    Thanks for the invitation. I am very happy to be here today.

    Sara Brown: 0:43

    For those who don't know, can you explain what The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy are?

    Amy Campbell: 0:49

    Absolutely. Um, I'm thinking of those three, um, those three entities, because those are our services that do services at APH, um. And even though these have been around for maybe a year, a year and a half, some have been, you know, almost two years, we keep realizing that there are still a lot of people who don't know that this, that, these things exist. And, um, sometimes it's nice to be a, top secret, but I don't think we want people to know, um, Access Academy, ExCEL Academy, APH Hive, and you know, the best way I can explain and summarize what what this is, especially if you don't know, um how to differentiate, is that I like to think about it. This allows APH to offer both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities to the professional community and, you know, families and caregivers. Um, I'll start with Access Academy. Uh, you know, I think it's our one-stop resource, and we also have that in our online line, that we want to be the place for you to get that meaningful instruction and training. So we do this in webinars and essentially our goal is to get the most out of our APH products and services. Well, ExCEL Academy, um, this is our additional virtual class for students. So while Access Academy is geared toward our adult professionals and families, parents, ExCEL Academy is geared toward students. Again, like Access Academy, it is used as a webinar platform. The unique thing about ExCEL is that the educators come and we teach on a specific topic. Therefore, these topics can range from something in the extended core curriculum to teaching a subject. Then the students come in and are the live audience. You are a participant in this live instruction. These students are often divided into grade levels. And sometimes we also group them into skill categories. Uh, what's so unique about ExCEL Academy is that professors and universities often want to see programs. They want to see how good teaching comes into play. And it's great because we can invite these teachers to come and, uh, I would say, be "flies on the wall" just to see -- record what's going on and see what the quality teaching models are going to be like and how to engage the students. students. . Both Access Academy and ExCEL Academy are similar in that they have set hours. So it gives people the opportunity to come as a live audience and be there. Well, we can't always meet everyone's needs. They know that only once a day something is offered. But what I also love is that if you can't watch the event live, that's totally fine. Uh, we post most of our archived webinars to our YouTube playlists. So that just means if you don't do it on airtime… Okay, come in, watch the archived webinar and you can still, um, take advantage of these learning opportunities. And then when I think about it, you know, now I'm transitioning to APH Hive. Uh, there are times when those archived webinars I just talked about are included in The Hive. So if you don't know what The Hive is, we are a fully accessible learning management system. And the purpose is really to equip educators to meet the unique needs of our students with visual impairments. But it seems it doesn't stop there. Or it goes even further by offering learning opportunities based on outcomes and areas where you can apply what you've learned. And teachers and families can take advantage of truly unique resources only available through The Hive. So let's take the webinars that have been broadcast and sometimes turning the content into a course is perfect. And if that happens again, I think we'll take that learning to the next level. So you can't just get ACVREP credit for what you learn by enrolling in The Hive and taking these courses. But you have an opportunity to really generalize what you learned from the video content, you know, by thinking about your student caseloads, generalizing that content, and imagining how those things you learned are going to be delivered to your students. So, um, it's important that users of The Hive have an opportunity to apply what they've learned, and so it takes it to the next level than just watching a webinar.

    Sara Brown: 6:39

    And how did these programs come about?

    Amy Campbell: 6:42

    So, interestingly enough, the concept of The Hive goes back a few years, even before that, to its inception. And we heard the voices of our APH community, particularly our ex-officio trustees, who were looking for ways to better understand how to use APH products and apply them to settings... How to use things with your students and things lead to the next level. So it started with wanting a platform to be able to show things like that. However, the pandemic arrived. And when the pandemic hit, we really had to turn around somehow because as APH we couldn't get into the community in a physical sense. We couldn't go to conferences, there weren't even conferences. So what does it look like to reinvent this kind of service for the community to showcase the products, the webinar platforms, if you will, Access Academy, the use of products, use cases, how to use them, have come about? how to do things differently, how to learn from other people, how things can be implemented in different classrooms and settings. So things turned around. If you want. Instead of going the quick way with the learning management system, we switched. And we knew that the best way to serve the community, our professional community, was through these webinars. And that's how it really happened. And then The Hive started a little bit later. So while Access Academy and ExCEL Academy probably launched in April and May of 2220, APH Hive launched and launched in October of 2020. And we used content that came from these different academies to connect to The Hive to do courses.

    Sara Braun: 9:34

    And what is the latest information you need to share with each program?

    Amy Campbell: 9:39

    As such, for Access Academy, we always strive to help all professionals, educators, and families on the go in the community. May I inform you that we are preparing to release information about a Braille transcription course for textbooks. Um, I shouldn't call it a course. It is a series, but sequential, and its design is intended to involve people from the beginning and continue. But it's about Braille transcription. So that will be the center of attention during the months of May and June. We're really going to get to the bottom of this. Um, you know, get ready to go back to the new school year. There are things that we're going to investigate, um, products that we're going to launch that people want to keep up with so they know what's getting attention for our products. But something that we really want to tackle in the fall is exploring what we call relevant classics. So there are some products that we have released that are just classics in our catalogue. Uh, it's something you mention that all teachers know, uh, and have often thought about. And then sometimes it's a classic that was in the catalog, but maybe people don't know much about it. So we really want to focus on these, uh, relevant classics and examine how things are used in the classroom and how teachers apply themselves to working with different, different students. For now it's just an idea. And, uh, but we hope to fully develop it this fall, uh, to house our professional community, come back, you know, come back when the school system starts. So, you know, ExCEL Academy, what we postponed to last school year is the use of after school hours and Saturdays to better serve the needs of our students and educators. So it's something new that we're rehearsing and seeing what kind of feedback we're getting, it's exciting. We offer events in Spanish. So this community can also come in and learn. We're really very focused on what I would say the expanded core curriculum. Um, self-determination, some social skills, and even vocational training. Um, unique content with that is just, you know, "How do you do emotional regulation?" You know what, if you are a college student and you just need to regulate your emotions. So, we even have information on that for students to answer and learn. The career, college preparation that is so important to us, especially our high school students who are preparing to transition. So we spent time working through all of this content in a series of webinars. So, there could be several maybe. There will be two in, in a two part series. Maybe it will be 3 or 4 shows but really developing that content and bringing the audience back to continue the show. And with APH Hive, it's exciting to share that we're currently uploading 27 courses to The Hive, which represents over 50 hours of professional development. There's always something going on behind the scenes. We are always working on new courses to integrate with The Hive. Whether it's a foundational, early childhood, assessment-related concept or an expanded core curriculum, it's the right place to use it to enable professional learning. Some really unique stuff that we just went into. If you haven't visited The Hive lately, we've been covering how to use Lego Braille bricks, not just understanding how to use them and the methodology, but how you do it. Apply this to our students who are just starting out with Braille. But something that I find really unique is that we applied it to math activities and how to integrate lego braille bricks into math activities. Which, in my opinion, is just fun on a whole different spectrum. We have just started a health course in the last few weeks called Health is a meaningful life. And it focuses on sex education, which our students don't have access to in the core curriculum. And we've developed a course on The Hive that not only helps parents and caregivers, but also educators learn how we provide access to this important content within the core curriculum. Those are just some, some of the things we have in The Hive right now. However, I think it's very important to find a way to differentiate ourselves from other learning management systems out there as well. We all have our unique niche and unique things we can do to add value to the community. And one thing that makes The Hive unique is that we are peer reviewed. This is how we develop the courses. All 27 courses included in The Hive are peer reviewed. So we have a group of reviewers that come in and look at all the courses, everything that's been developed, there's a rubric that they use, and they make recommendations about what might need to be reviewed. How can you get any better, um, and give the recommendation if you're ready to step into The Hive? And I think that helps ensure that what we're providing to the professional community is quality content.

    Sara Brown: 16:16

    Are there new projects on the horizon with any of the programs, The Hive, Access Academy or ExCEL Academy?

    Amy Campbell: 16:23

    So this summer we are running a STEM camp with ExCEL Academy from June to August. And this week at this STEM camp, there will be really preliminary experiences. We will see two days of problem solving skills for younger students and an open house with Stamm for older students. Then we'll dig a little deeper and embark on a STEM adventure. After the first few experiences and with these STEM camps, it will involve things like taking care of a garden while learning all about the parameters of the area. Um, another survives on a deserted island; camping in the desert; become a crime scene investigation team; and everywhere we are developing our math skills with the amazing edible abacus... Sounds tempting. So we will also be working on funding to be able to send these APH products to the campers. We think this will help you not only with this effort, but with things that come after it, but we're still working on creating things. Registrations will open in May. And we're happy to say that everyone is welcome. For example, if you are a teacher running a large camp, think about it, consider registering your campers and attending together. And there is also a place for parents. Parents. You may want to come with your child at the right time and participate. Everything is a virtual opportunity. So everyone has a place to come in and participate, even TVIs. If you are interested in learning more about STEM classes and just want to observe, this is a great opportunity to do so. And again, as I mentioned with Access Academy and ExCEL Academy, this ExCEL Academy Camp will be recorded. And again we will post everything on our YouTube playlist. So if the timing isn't perfect, you can always go in at a different time, watch the recording, and that's fine. Well, for APH HIVE, we've been working very steadily to launch a really great course on The Hive. Most of our courses at the moment could last anywhere from an hour to maybe three or four in most time frames. But we are currently working on a literacy course that now equates to over 10 hours of content. It is carefully crafted and sequenced. And, um, the really cool thing about it is that when our teachers go through the recertification process to update their teaching life, it often takes 10 hours of literacy. And sometimes they have to add those hours bit by bit to get 10 hours. So I think it's great that we're taking a conscious approach and offering a new literacy course that's launching soon. And the literacy course for that is about teaching braille. And they can go in and embrace this, learn through the video tutorial, participate in the app activity, and go home much better equipped and knowledgeable about something they can do. This is unique to Braille. And I say this in the hope that I don't give away too much so that people want to come back and stay tuned to find out exactly what this course is about. This is for The Hive. And with Access Academy, we're still in the planning stages of figuring out what all the content will look like. We know that we will continue to introduce new products. Uh, I know we're working on a webinar with the CVI Supplement Guide and we're going to explore how a particular school introduced this book, this, um, information into the school system and how it was used. Again, we will talk about the relevant classics that I mentioned, and we will see how different masters use the things that we offer in our catalog. And because technology is always changing, we always turn to these technologies, um, webinars like "How do you use these devices?", "What do we need to know about updating things", how to modify them, all that stuff. Well, all the cheat sheets you need to have in your toolbox. These are things we plan for the future.

    Sara Braun: 21:29

    And what are the future goals of The Hive, Access Academy and ExCEL Academy?

    Amy Campbell: 21:34

    With the ExCEL Academy we continue to develop. And, uh, where we want to meet our students, right where they are. Whereas we used to have webinars throughout the school day because we knew our students were home and accessing classes online. Then the schools reopened. So we switched and went into the afternoon time lapse. We went during the week, even on weekends, we will always continue to evaluate what the needs are. With Access Academy, we'll always showcase products that are coming out so we can be your first resource to really learn how to use the stuff and apply it to a wide variety of students and customers. with which you are working. We are also constantly growing for The Hive. And I can tell you that in the next few months, maybe six months from now, we're growing, we're expanding. We're constantly adding new courses, but the one thing we're really committed to is what we call discussion forums. It's a way for people to come to The Hive and discuss with each other what they've learned or ask questions. I see it as a way for educators to build a bigger community. Very often we feel like islands. Many are, uh, travelers, uh, teachers, going from place to place, feeling like they don't necessarily belong, always feeling like there's never enough time in the day to talk, to share ideas. We want The Hive to be a place where that can happen. We want to establish this meaningful cooperation. And we really see that as a springboard for future mentoring, that we'll be able to offer mentoring pathways within The Hive based on the courses that we have and the content that we make available to the public.

    Sara Braun: 23:52

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Amy Campbell: 23:55

    Because we use federal money to support these programs. We're free. These services are free and always will be. And these programs are run by educators, former educators. So I feel like we have the necessary mindset and we have the resources to even leverage the way to meet the needs of parents and caregivers. Then we are free and we will always be how we earn the money for it. And what I love is that we also offer a way to get professional recognition for it. There are many ways you can get into the community and access professional development, but often you pay for it or you don't pay for it, but you don't get recognition. I think it's great that we offer both. There is no cost, and we give you this recognition that demonstrates that you have participated in professional development that can help our educators become recertified.

    Sara Braun: 25:25

    Amy, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Amy Campbell: 25:28

    Sarah, I had a great time. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 25:32

    I will definitely include links to The Hive, Access Academy, and ExCEL Academy in the show notes. Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers, and as always, look for ways to be a changemaker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Change Makers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're gearing up for this year's 2022 National Coding Symposium presented by APH and partners. We'll hear what to expect from this year's event and learn what's new and exciting. We'll also talk to a keynote speaker who invented a popular computer screen reader. Can you guess what that is? After that, we'll hear what's out there for adults interested in learning to code. Here to talk a bit more about the upcoming Coding Symposium. We have APH's National Director of Outreach Services, Leanne Grillot. Hi Leanne and welcome to Change Makers.

    Leanne Grillot: 0:54

    Hi Sara. With pleasure again.

    Sarah Braun: 0:56

    It's that time again, the time for the Coding Symposium and for those who don't know, can you tell us what the Coding Symposium is and why it's important? And what is your goal?

    Leanne Grillot: 1:07

    The Coding Symposium is new. This is the second year. So last year was the first year that we did something like this. This is the second year and we are still on the path of increasing coding awareness. That coding is a great viable career path for people of all ages with vision loss, to get the word out that this is something to look out for and educate people about. So the goal awareness right now would love to one day be more than that, but I think we're still in that awareness phase and it's designed for these future K12 college level students, but not just for them. Try to educate the educators around them about this viable career and the opportunities for them.

    Sara Braun: 1:58

    And we'll cover the basics. So when is the event?

    Leanne Grillot: 2:03

    It's that time again, this year in May, May 9-13 and Monday through Friday afternoon on the East Coast or morning on the West Coast, depending on where you are. Uh, it's a little shorter than last year, but it's still packed with information.

    Sara Braun: 2:21

    Can you give us an age range of the Coding Symposium attendees?

    Leanne Grillot: 2:26

    So we try to be very careful with our students under the age of K12. So if you want to visit someone over the age of 18, of course you need to register them so they can attend, or perhaps a teacher has a group of students in their classroom who attend together. So these are great options and yes, they are 100% capable of being a participant. At this event, you will learn a lot and have the opportunity to participate, but you do not have to be a K12 student or be able to attend. We are looking for teachers for students with visual impairments, but also specialists in assistive technologies. And I go one step further. We're looking for general education professionals to teach coding or programming or web technologies, whether it's at the K-12 level or even at a university, maybe a technical school, because the goal is to make sure we have people around us. who are the Realize in the field of coding that this is a viable career. We just have to make sure it succeeds.

    Sara Brown: 3:30

    Can you tell us a bit more about this year's event? What can we expect?

    Leanne Grillot: 3:35

    That's why this year we decided to focus on a different type of programming each day. So Monday is all about getting started on programming, and things like Code Quest, Code & Go Mouse, and Code Jumper immediately come to mind as TVI, because I know them. So that's the focus for Monday. We're talking about just getting your feet wet on the second day. Tuesday focuses on HTML, a programming language. Many people immediately think of building a website, but that's not the only code you can use to build a website. So on Wednesday we're going to talk about quorum. Quorum is a programming language originally designed for visually impaired programmers but used by others. And that's the Wednesday quorum. Thursday is the snake, it is Python. So we are talking about another coding program called Python. On Friday we will talk about how all this is getting us ahead. It takes our students forward and includes, I hate to say this, but also myself, understanding what this is and where it is taking our students. So how do we move forward on Friday to make sure we integrate coding into the lives of our students of all ages? Now you can expect a similar schedule every day. Just because I named a, some kind of code, doesn't mean it's going to be a completely different day. Every time, every day, we will have a keynote speaker who is a professional from a variety of places who are also visually impaired. So JAWS, Touchological and VDA and Yahoo. I mean, these are things that a lot of people in our own field will know. There will be panel discussions and themed question and answer times. So this is an opportunity for students or education professionals to ask questions, e.g. B. to bring out programming concepts. And how do you do web design with HTML, or understand what quorum is, or how do we introduce Python? Then there will be a part of the day where we will divide the learning area. We have students and learners entering one room and educators entering another room at the same time. Now the educators will be really busy discussing the lesson and giving students access to the topic of the day. While students like TVI are engaged in an activity where they are learning about that day's topic, depending on what is going on that day, I might choose to go to the student area because I am supporting the students in my class. Nothing wrong with that. I make sure my students can participate in the student area. If I don't have any students that day, I might choose to attend this teacher session and learn a bit more about what I can do to provide access for students. And then there will be an additional part where the students and teachers who have chosen to do and participate in our sample lessons. In fact, you'll be able to talk about these sample lessons, and really, if a listener hasn't found them yet, they should take a look and get involved.

    Sara Braun: 6:53

    Now I understand that there is something new this year. There will be venues across the country holding programming activities beforehand. can you talk about it

    Leanne Grillot: 7:04

    So they're going to get involved, not just in some of the sample lessons that we've made available to everyone, but they've got ongoing continuing education courses, which means they've done it without us saying, hey, we've got a symposium. de coding And so we want to be able to highlight what's actively happening in educational institutions. So that's what they'll do. Now. Some of the locations we have are the California School for the Blind, the Washington State School for the Blind and Deaf, and the Alabama Institute for the Blind and Deaf. And that's just to name a few, I really, really could be a participant, which means anyone who listens to this podcast could be a participant by participating in these activities and then during the session, while programming, talking about this symposium. .

    Sara Braun: 7:54

    And can you talk more about the options that you want the audience to know about?

    Leanne Grillot: 8:00

    Well, great lesson plans aside, I can't say this enough, these were active educators putting them together with students in mind. It's definitely something to take advantage of, either now, or maybe you're not ready yet, but you want to prepare for, um, the, um, Code Week which is ready for all students in December, keep it on mine, but there's also scholarships that are open to high school and college students pursuing careers in the stem cell field. So this is another way to ensure that our students are included and they may not be that age, but they realize that there is this, um, funding to help them with their education.

    Sara Braun: 8:40

    IT'S OKAY. And can you tell us where listeners can go if they want to sign up and participate?

    Leanne Grillot: 8:46

    So if you can remember you can do www.aphconnectcenter.org/coding/ or if you're a Google or Internet browser when you type "APH Coding Symposium" it's usually the first link that comes up. Those are two easy ways to sign up. Registration Registration is free, costs you no money, and you have the option to register every five days, or you can choose based on time or code. That means more to you. If you're thinking of learning four different ways to engage students in this, ahem, activity, then maybe just go for HTML. If you want to learn a little more, select this day to participate. So the beauty of registering this year is that you can choose any or all days to register if you wish.

    Sara Braun: 9:40

    And Leanne, is there anything else you want to say before we finish?

    Leanne Grillot: 9:45

    I hope to see people from the United States, but I will also say that from all over the world, we had international visitors last year and I really hope that everyone will come and join us.

    Sara Braun: 9:57

    Thank you Leanne for joining us at Change Makers.

    Leanne Grillot: 9:59

    Thanks. we'll talk later sarah

    Sara Braun: 10:02

    And we put a link to the Coding Symposium in the show notes. Now we'll talk to someone leading the Coding Symposium activities ahead of time and a Coding Symposium moderator. We have Maryland School for the Blind LEGO Engineering and Technology Instructor Gina Fugate and Ken Perry, Senior Software Technology Engineer, Product Research, APH. Hi Gina and Ken, welcome to Change Makers.

    Ken Perry: 10:37

    Hey thanks. Thanks for having us with you.

    Gina Fugate: 10:39

    Yes, thanks for having us. Hello.

    Sara Brown: 10:41

    Thanks for coming. Can you talk about why programming is important to students?

    Ken Perry: 10:48

    So, uh, I'm going to enter first because I, I do this for a living, uh, I mean, first of all, it can get you a good job, but more importantly, it can do any job. you make it easier. So it doesn't matter if you're a math teacher, or if you're, uh, writing books at, uh, college, or if you're an administrator of a company that's capable of programming in some way, that's it. a programming language or scripting, you can speed up and speed up much of your work. We just had a problem here at work where we had more, I think it was 800 emails that we had to go through and figure out which were good and which were bad. And just knowing how to code made my admin's job so much easier because she was able to create a script and actually take the 600 good emails out of the bad ones. And that's the kind of thing that people don't plan for. It's like I had no intention of becoming a programmer, but it turns out that programming really helps.

    Gina Fugate: 11:54

    So computer science is actually seen as a form of literacy because computer science is everywhere. And I think that's been discussed by CSTA, the Computer Science Teachers Association and other areas. Um, we know that computer science, um, is emphasized from kindergarten through grade 12. So if this is going to happen in our schools, we need to make sure that all of our students understand it and have access to it so that everyone can play. Um, not to mention that computing really rules our world and the phones we have in our pockets, all our "Madame A" devices, um, that's what we call them here so we don't do the wake word, um, for some help. Um, but we really need everyone to be a part of this.

    Sara Braun: 12:52

    And can you talk about the process of teaching code to students or how it would be done?

    Gina Fugate: 12:57

    I'll jump in first to teach students to code. I think the first thing to do is make sense of it. For it to make sense, they must understand how it is present. Um, so I really brought that up with the phone and, um, things like Siri, all the digital assistants, robotics, once they understand that that's part of what makes this possible, then let's show them some real code and let's break down and help . so they can do this and carry out their own projects. One of the most exciting moments for my students was when they used Quorum to do a project that was Popeye's Chicken versus Chick-fil-A. And they were able to make the buttons work. You could make him say the name of the chicken. And they could also choose the person who didn't like their favorite type of chicken, but that matters to these students. It doesn't matter if they become software developers or just walk away and understand that this is how it works. Um, that's how I approach computing and make it meaningful and, um, something they can access and do independently.

    Ken Perry: 14:14

    Yes, I think I totally agree. Uh, but as far as approach, I think I want to add, you know, at first it's not just about computing, uh, when I talked to some people, they, uh, the main thing, the thing is they need to understand their computer, and the encoding depends on that in the end. But if you don't know how to use your screen reader, if you don't know how to copy files, if you don't know how to get to the console and do things like that, it becomes difficult to learn to program. So it's important to really engage them with their computers. Um, and that's why it's sometimes hard when kids are learning to code on an iPad, um, with gaming equipment that's so fast and stuff. If you really want to start programming, you need to have more of a PC system, like Mac or, uh, Windows or Linux. So knowing how to get in touch with your screen reader is really important to, um, investigate, um, what Gina said was, um, I think it's important to point out, um, what programming can do, uh, blindly and visually . impaired children. Umm, one of the best things about finding a lot of software just isn't accessible, well if you learn Python you can customize your screen reader to work better with apps. Um, or you can create an app or script to make things like creating PowerPoint easier. Uh, you can create an application script to make things like creating spreadsheets and documents easier. It allows you to control your world instead of worrying about companies that build software right, because that doesn't always happen.

    Sara Brown: 15:59

    Ken, as a software developer, what do you consider when developing programming products for children? Is there something you always carry with you?

    Ken Perry: 16:09

    Well, I love this question because I'm not sure or I take much more into account when I develop software for children than when I develop software for adults or seniors, because children, like us, know that we are very old, we know each other, we always leave let 14 and 12 year olds program our VCRs or our time machines and so on, because they get hooked much faster as we get older. So one of the things when we do software of any kind, the main goal is to do it. So when you open this software, it should be like an iPhone or Android experience where you run the app, whether it's Windows or iPhone or whatever. And the screen you see helps you get the job done. And many software is not like that. Each time is more. Now that we've seen how useful these phones can be, more and more Windows and Mac apps, internet apps are becoming places where you open them, and it's like, um, here's what you need to do to get the job done. what you have to do. do it again. So the problem is that blind and partially sighted students using the apps we develop can't see the whole screen at once. So you need to somehow focus on them and give them some extra hints so they can get the information. And that is not always easy. Uh, but this is where we, uh, try to spend a lot of time making things, uh, A more visually friendly so that you can find the task you're doing when you open the app.

    Sara Brown: 17:47

    And can you tell us how you got started in programming?

    Gina Fugate: 17:50

    I can jump there. Um, I had no intention of going into computing. I came to Baltimore, Maryland to become a technology teacher. And in that context, what Ken was talking to, uh, was helping students learn screen readers, different screen readers, different types of technology, so that they have the basic skills that they need. And then towards the end of my first year here at MSB, the teacher who had been trying to recruit me got another chance elsewhere. And he left. And that means his position was open. And he happened to be the coach of the Dot Five U Dogs, which is a team from the first LEGO league. The students did not want to stop there. And no one applied to fill that position when the job was advertised. Not only are they looking for a visually impaired teacher, they also mention robotics and engineering. So when no one applied and, um, I kind of hung back and was like, "Oh my gosh, what's going to happen?" "Are we going to find another technology teacher?" It was kind of an epiphany of, maybe I have to get up and see what I can do with it. The students were so excited to always go to the competition. The First LEGO League is therefore a national level and actually an international competition. So when point five Udo goes and competes, they compete against teams with typical vision. And thanks to the students, I found computer science. Um, there were also times when I was a freshman at Dot Five U Dogs where we had students who had to use screen readers. It didn't matter if I tried to make things bigger on a smart board, vision was not an option and that wouldn't help us. I also have retinitis pigmentosa, I couldn't deal with it and all the alternative solutions, it just wasn't accessible. So we started this journey to try to make it accessible and learn about the issues with programming environments that don't support screen readers that don't work with brow screens and moving forward a few years we continue with your problem solved. And finally, we adopted Quorum LEGO robotics and that changed everything for us. And we were involved when he used beans. And now we're involved in using Quorum Studio, which is fully accessible. We can use command keys, we can jump anywhere. We can access the codes. So I don't write anything for students. I don't transfer anything for students. You are capable of doing it. So it's all about the kids. And, uh, that's what made me do it. And then I really love this field. So it's a privilege to be able to work with these students and keep learning. And it's also a really supportive and collaborative thing in general.

    Ken Perry: 21:01

    Uh, I started when I was in high school with a, um, Atari base class, and I did things like the old 10, 20, 30 programming languages ​​with Basic. So that was quite a while ago. Uh, and that's where they quoted me. Um, so I went into the Air Force and studied electronics. And when I lost my sight and retired from the Air Force, um, they, they said, well, you're done with electronics. And I wish I knew I could do electronics, but I went back to college and got a degree in computer science, software engineering, and... um, I finished that, I got it. And, uh, that's how I got back into programming, but I started programming when I was very young, in a Vic 20, you know, that's a black one, it had a black and white TV screen, uh, and just a little keyboard. And so I started programming. I programmed a little palm game. Um, but you know, I had to go back to that because electronics weren't that, uh, accessible. Um, I found out later and, uh, now I even do electronics and stuff, but um, that's basically how I did it again. I started programming for a company, started teaching Windows in Canada for a company, and eventually started a computer club. And when I saw the position at APH come up, I just jumped because Larry Souchon, um, was the current director there. And he'd been using ASAP, which was his screen reader all through college and everything. And when I got the chance to work for him, I jumped at it right away. But in the meantime I've also been programming my own trading game since 1995. And it's still online. Uh, people still play it, but we don't have the same number of players because in 1998 when games like wow and others came out, the tech space games had a lot less players because the people side of, uh, you know, changed to visual games. We are still up and running and I have other servers that I have coded. And there are a lot of, uh, uh, blind users who are still playing the games. But hey, I code this on my hobby site and then I also code open source programming. And that's how it was, I mean, that's how I got into it from the time I was born. Well, not from birth, but let's see, around seventh grade, I think that's when I really started. And, uh, it's kind of a love story, because it doesn't matter if I'm working from home, I'm always scheduling something for something. And, uh, it's a, it's a lot of fun.

    Sara Brown: 23:44

    Nice Gina. From what I understand, you have a website that does pre-symposium programming activities. Can you tell us a bit about what you do?

    Gina Fugate: 23:52

    So Amanda Rodda and I worked together, in fact, she wrote the quorum activities for the symposium. Um, there's a beginner track and then an advanced track. Um, we will be working with the students in the area, um, in advance to carry out these activities. And it's designed so anyone can walk in and participate. So it's really exciting. You don't even have to have Quorum Studio, even though I love Quorum Studio, you can use, um, the online environment, um, which has been updated recently, and on the Quorum website, and we code and walk through all the lessons. So I'm very excited for this opportunity and grateful to continue working with Amanda. Who is one of my most important mentors? Um, we also serve on the quorum curriculum committee and help with the content of the quo language.com website. It is always busy, but we invite everyone to participate in these activities. If you've never done Quorum, if you've never programmed, um, there's, there's a lot of reasons to jump in and give it a try. You now have the support and we can certainly help anyone with any questions or anything they may have. And once again I would like to emphasize that everything is accessible with screen readers. It is a solid, accessible and usable programming environment.

    Sara Brown: 25:27

    Ken, during the Coding Symposium you are a panelist and moderator. Can you give us some perspective on what you want to say to all the participants?

    Ken Perry: 25:36

    Yeah. So, uh, I can, I can give you a heart just by giving you the title. Um, destroy ophidiophobia. In short, it destroys the fear of snakes. Um, and that gives you an idea of ​​what I'm going to talk about, but it's going to be like this, I want to do this a little bit differently, um, I don't want to make it boring and just talk about a programming language. I'll start and see what people need to order. And, uh, just, you know, since, uh, I didn't say it clearly enough, I'm going to talk about Python for about 50 minutes and, uh, I'm going to start by saying, you know, the possibility of questions because most most of the time the problems are, um, blind students, blind and partially sighted students don't really have a problem with Python. These are problems that children mistake for problems. So I want to go through python, get it working, and get started with python. And, uh, you know, if there are some advanced people that have questions, we go through everything that people ask, or I have a complete outline, you know, uh, that I can follow. So my point is to make it as interactive as possible. So come ask questions, join us. And you know, if you have to testify, it's probably legal. So this is my presentation. Uh, and then I'll be on a panel with other programmers. Uh, we'll be there to ask and answer questions for students who really want to be programmers in the future.

    Gina Fugate: 27:16

    And Sara, if you could add a few details, the beginner track focuses on an escape room, crazy release style. Um, and, and the advanced lesson, um, focuses on, um, learning how to code a game.

    Sara Braun: 27:35

    Everything that. Yes continue.

    Ken Perry: 27:37

    Yes. I would like to pack a little more in there. Uh, it's funny that you mentioned getting started is programming a game, and, uh, the students I've been teaching, uh, when you say, uh, making programming useful to students. The easiest way to do this is to have them write games. uh , my first student , uh , with python , uh , he had his first game after 4th period and , and it was a , and most of the first few hours was just , um , figuring out screen reader output and stuff They left . So the programming class was shorter than the computer class. And, uh, the first game, uh, I still have it, it's a lot of fun to play. Um, and, uh, well, I mean, they told me how much the student was doing with input statements, if statements, and loop statements. And, uh, he was able to write a whole game, and with the sound, uh, it was pretty impressive.

    Sara Braun: 28:38

    Is there anything else you would like to say to everyone?

    Ken Perry: 28:41

    Well, I think in general, since I was, uh, uh, involved in the last symposium and, uh, let's try to make it more interactive and even more informative than last time. So I would ask everyone who is coming to ask questions, to be willing to ask us questions because the more interactive you can be, the more informative we can be and the more fun the symposium could be. I can't wait to see everyone at the symposium. And, um, see you there.

    Gina Fugate: 29:13

    I think I would add, um, that, you know, when I teach quorum, it's kind of a jumping off point for a lot of students. It's definitely not the end and another thing that I've been trying to emphasize lately if we have people who are not blind or partially sighted is that they can use quo. You can program with blind people. It doesn't matter what language it is, it's about making the experience accessible and inclusive, and we're making leAPH and borders more and more accessible with tools. So if you're a typical person with vision and you want to help drive that, um, you know, learn about tools that are accessible and inclusive. And as I like to say, celebrate it. So the APH National Coding Symposium is definitely something to celebrate, um, all the information that Ken and other people are sharing. We really just need to increase that so that we can get recognition from different companies and help them think inclusively as well.

    Sara Braun: 30:26

    Thanks for joining me on Change Makers today.

    Gina Fugate: 30:29

    Thanks for having us.

    Ken Perry: 30:31

    Big . Yes. Thanks for having us.

    Sara Brown: 30:36

    Now. I've got the Center for Assistive Technology Training, aka CATT, Trainer, Jason Martin here to talk more about some of the projects on the ground. Hi Jason, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Jason Martin: 30:49

    Thank you. Thanks for the invitation

    Sara Braun: 30:52

    Now. Can you briefly explain how CATT and APH are related?

    Jason Martin: 30:58

    Insurance. Contrary to what the name suggests, we do not accept cats in our building, although that might be great. Uh, the CATT program is the Assistive Technology Training Center, and we cover the entire southeast region of nine states plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And we're a partnership between the American Printing House for the Blind and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. And of course these people are based in Louisville, but AIDB is based in Talladega, Alabama. Therefore, we are a partnership between these two agencies to provide APH training products and assistive technology general knowledge to TVI, students, and consumers throughout the Southeast.

    Sara Braun: 31:42

    And can you tell us a little about your work as an assistive technology trainer?

    Jason Martin: 31:47

    So what not to do as an assistive technology trainer? As it stands, it's really open. And of course, in the partnership between APH and CATT, there's an emphasis on APH products and thorough iterations with people, like this big expansive term. And it covers everything. From the accessibility of digital documents to "recording like a boss", um, or just, I'm a big proponent of entertainment for the visually impaired. So that's a topic I'm getting into. I don't think we do enough, you know, like it's always nice to have more of what I like to read. I love books, but it's great to have something else to get into. So, uh, and one of my loved ones and I, I can't help but say that my, probably my biggest love here, works with youth in transition. So like high school kids and working with STEM and high school kids, uh, to create creative programs to get those kids interested in getting into college or science fields. So it's, it's, it's a bunch of things, um, like in one.

    Sara Brown: 32:59

    I understand, I understand that CATT will be a site. Can you say something about what lessons you would like to teach as part of the Coding Symposium?

    Jason Martin: 33:09

    Yeah. Yeah. So you caught me in the middle, which is great. Um, I was, I had a week-long programming class with students from the Alabama School for the Blind. So I have 25 blind and partially sighted students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. Me, I may be a little crazy for having so many kids, but, uh, I love it. I've really absorbed them, just the ones, the experience of bringing this to this large group of kids, because most TVs work one on one. In general, unless you are in a larger school setting, we may have more than that. So rarely will 25 kids dive into code jumpers? So we're in the first half of the code hopping lessons and we're going to get through it. We are not that far yet. We're still halfway through our week, but the kids have learned about sequencing, computer processes and system loops, threads, and coding. And not only does it use APH's Code Jumper, but we've also used some kind of product that starts at four o'clock, but it really worked for the idea of ​​sequencing, and that's APH's Code & Go Mouse. Like it was a big hit with these students who loved it. Um, and with computing, it all comes down to how you approach it. So Code Jumper is a tool in this computer science class, right? As it is, it is, the concepts are computer science but really the meat and potatoes. And what we've been working with is this code jumper. So there are a lot of disconnected activities that we do, um, to describe the sequence, like the order of things, we could do something boring, like brush our teeth and what, what do we do in the morning when we get up? Those are full points, but um, I like to take it a little higher. So we have this, um, activity that we're hoping to get some footage of, called the dance machine, where we create a program that's just about dancing, and the students have different moves in that program or different parameters. And it really helps them get away from a computer but see what those activities are. So there's a lot of things unplugged with code jumpers. So it's a mix. And I, I, I don't think kids have ever seen that kind of. I don't think they know how to understand a teacher. This is a bit new. , that is , that is very different, I think in that sense.

    Sara Braun: 35:42

    And you are doing some of those activities now. What feedback have you received from students?

    Jason Martin: 35:49

    So what I got is, you know, first of all, well, I know all there is, you get a lot of kids, especially at 25. You get, I don't, I might not even want to be here today. , a , I love computers. And this is all about hacking and, you know, you kind of get a combination of both. And I think for all students, even if someone hates the word computer, after going through this, they have at least understood some of the basics of computers. And some, I feel like it's like a double thing. Some kids like that, well I'm not sure I want to be here. It really turned, turned a leaf. From the way he was, he saw that, okay, that might be something I can get a job with. I might be interested in that later. And then the boy who wanted to hack the world for nefarious purposes probably came along. I would say the concept for him. And I'm thinking of two in the particular class, but the concept has become a little more concrete for him, for that and some students, I would say, instead of having this super idea of ​​Lasers and robots, it's, it's more, wow , that's actually it. And it also gets them into that thought process. So it's a bit weird. It's bottom up and top up and overall I think they're happy to take on something like this because it's new. I think the colors of Code Jumper and Code & Go Mouse are pretty weird, like that's something I've heard about a lot, you know, I really like the colors. It was bright and colorful and, you know, that was kind of, I didn't expect the students to find the words "hub" and "pod" really funny. I'm not sure why, but hey, the play and pause pods that are in Code Jumper and Code Jumper Hub are hilarious. So, I think that's great, but generally, I mean, I've had students ask routine teachers who aren't guest teachers. Like me, "Hey, can we make this work after Mr. Martin leaves?" And for me, that's what I want to hear. That, that, that's it, if it sparks that interest and makes a kid think about that career, then I feel like I've done my job. So it was great.

    Sara Brown: 38:17

    Is there anything else you want to say?

    Jason Martin: 38:20

    So I'll be honest with you What's so amazing about it and it comes full circle. The Alabama School for the Blind is my alma mater. That's where I graduated. So I went back and looked at the sixth graders and shared a picture of me in sixth grade, so if you can imagine, um, I, I, I'm visually impaired, but I don't wear glasses right now. but I had these giant glasses of coke bottles. I can say that they were mine. Um, back then and the sixth grade photo I'm wearing for some horrible reason, wearing the most horrible suit and tie in that photo. So in this photo I probably look like I'm in a 60 year old ex-banker.

    Sara Braun: 39:05

    We'll blame it on mom or dad who dressed you.

    Jason Martin: 39:07

    It's true. And as if he was looking at the same children who were in that class and showing them this image, which is still funny to me. Some of me said look, I came out good. And, and I think they really connect and, and, and really come full circle to know that I'm in their shoes. I sat here and, and, and told them that. I said that I wish I would have given anything for a, me, a teacher like me to come and show me these concepts from the beginning to really follow them. And, and then we didn't do that. And it is very good to transmit it to bring this to these students. So for me this has been very rewarding and just seeing his interactions with Code Jumper will definitely help me as a trainer to train teachers in the future so that they know that these are the ins and outs of the device and this is what the kids will do. really love or not love. That's right, it was exhausting, but it was a great time.

    Sara Braun: 40:05

    Jason, thanks for taking the time to join me on Change Makers.

    Jason Martin: 40:10


    Sara Braun: 40:13

    I would now like to introduce the keynote speaker, Ted Henter. Henter is a computer programmer and businessman, currently retired. He may be familiar with one of his inventions, Jaws Job Access with Speech. It is one of the most famous language software packages on the market. Hi Ted, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Find Ted: 40:37

    Hi Sara. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

    Sara Braun: 40:41

    Can you tell us something about your background? It's very interesting.

    Bring Ted: 40:44

    Thanks. I was born and raised in the Panama Canal Zone in Central America. It was like a little piece of Florida thrown in a foreign country. I didn't even know I was in a foreign country until I was about 10 years old. In the fifties and sixties it was very nice. I was born and raised there in 1950. Lots of water skiing there, lots of lakes and rivers around and few oceans 50 miles apart and water skiing. And then surfing in the early sixties. And then I got a motorcycle when I was 15 years old. And that changed my life. From there, I just wanted to bike and run and that worked out pretty well, but because I was growing up, my dad was very mechanical by nature. He was an engineer. His father was a mechanic. He was very interested in mechanical things. Boats, motorcycles, bicycles, cars. One summer we built a dune buggy. My father and I. So, I went, I went to the University of Florida to be a mechanical engineer and it worked out pretty well. And I raced motorcycles when I was in college and I was pretty good at it too. But that, uh, was the days of the Arab oil embargo, 1973. And all the money went from motorcycle racing. Many motorcycle shops went bankrupt. Recreational vehicle companies closed. Both companies took care of our business, which was RV's, they weren't raising a lot of money. So me, I had been doing odd jobs here and there at a hi-fi shop. I worked as an engineer, actually in a phosphate fertilizer factory. So things were going great and I married my high school sweetheart in '76. And in racing things have been pretty good. I won the Canadian Grand Prix in '73, I got the pole at Daytona in '74. Second was the Talladega 74. Fourth in the Daytona 78. So eighth in the Venezuelan GP, ​​third in the Guatemala GP, things were going well. And I enjoyed life as a motorcycle racer. I didn't make a lot of money, but I was on my way to Spain for the second round of the World Cup. And I stopped in England to visit a friend and meet new friends one night on the way back to my friend's flat, I didn't wear my seatbelt. And, I forgot to drive on the left side of the road. So I collided head-on with a Brit. I have veered to the right. He swerved to the left and we, we didn't crash that fast, maybe 30mph to be my guess, because we both saw something happen and slammed on the brakes. Well my face hit the windshield and broke it. And back then in England you didn't need safety glass. So the windshield shattered and cut my face and my eyes had 80 stitches on my face and 13 stitches in each. And that is more or less the cause of my blindness. It was my, my fault with the autograss. So I can't blame anyone alone. So I needed, well, I had two surgeries on one of my eyes. The first one was quite successful, but the retina detached after six weeks. Like what the doctor said could happen because of scar tissue and things were pretty primitive back then, you know I'm talking about 1978, that feels like 40 years ago. This whole retinal reattachment thing was pretty new. Anyway, uh, my second surgery was not a success and I knew when I woke up in, uh, the hospital room, I knew I was and would be blind. So I was desperate for about 10 minutes and I had a warm feeling that came over me like a ghost in the room, like an angel. And that, and I got the impression that everything would be fine. I definitely got this message. It didn't enter my ears or eyes, but ended up in my brain. And so it's been good since I never, ever looked back, never tried to blame anyone else and just decided, well, I just have to figure out how to make this work, which I did. I came back and joined the division blind service here in Florida. An adviser advised me to go back to university and become a computer programmer. That was the new one. Then in the late seventies, for the blind, which is what I was doing, and I met a friend of a friend, got a job. I met Dean Blazie when he gave me one of the first talking computers. Oh, and we became friends. And after a year and a half he offered me a job with Dean Blazie, the guy who invented Braille 'n Speak and Romeo Brallier and all sorts of other things. So in the early '80s, I was working for him and learning where I really got my graduate computer knowledge from. I don't have a computer science degree, but I had a few courses and knew the basics and learned a lot from Dean and Mike Romeo.

    Sara Braun: 46:28

    You have lost your sight and you are going back to school. Can you talk about JAWS because some of your schoolwork set you on the path to creating something that is still highly appreciated and used to this day, which is pine? Can you talk about how this was done?

    Bring Ted: 46:47

    Insurance. Well, I worked for Dean for about five years and his company went bankrupt, Maryland Computer Services. So I had to get a job at Enable Technology as a consultant, as a trainer. And that's when I met this guy named Bill Joyce. he was blind he was about my age, maybe a little older. I was, uh, thirty-something then. And we became friends and I kept giving him ideas that I would like to do. And he said, "Let's start a company." So he's the guy who said, "Let's start a company and start JAWS." And, uh, he paid for it, and I ran the company, and that's pretty much it, but back then, a lot of people wanted to know what, how the JAWS name came from. Of course, there was the shark movie and I'm guessing the mid-'70s. And then there was a product called "Flipper" on the market that reminds me of the PPU on TV. And once I was playing with a friend. I said hey, well let's call our product JAWS and have pinball. And that's how it started. But nobody liked it at first, not my wife. He didn't like our old programmer. I did not like. But after a while I got used to it and found out that it could mean Voice Work Access. That's how the name started. And so the company started, the company was Henter/Joyce, you know, my name and Bill Joyce's name. So it was also his idea. We tried to think of a cool cool computer name but all but the ones we came up with were accepted. We just say, well, it's up to us. Uh, that's how JAWS started. And of course that was JAWS for Doss in the late 80's. Then it was time to do Windows and some of our customers told us that we had to have Windows. So we started working on Windows, but it was very, very difficult, much more difficult than usual for various reasons. And then in January of 1995, we released our first version of JAWS for Windows and it was true that it was a little unstable and, but we, but people needed them. So we started selling like hot cakes and, um, over time, probably a year or two, we improved it a lot and made it, um, more stable and effective, like I remember NFB Microsoft Static because Windows was so difficult. to make it accessible and all these small businesses were fighting to make it work. So Microsoft decided, well, we're going to fix that. We will go out with ours. A so-called off-screen model. That's the hardest part, but Window Screen Reader. And they said, well, let's do it. And then they will be free. And those other guys, the small companies that make displays, will have a much easier time. So they looked around and asked me if I wanted to sell or borrow a house. I said, well, sure. So we sold it there. They, they, I heard they interviewed everyone, everyone who had an off-screen model, and they chose ours. And of course, word got out that Microsoft chose JAWS. And then our sales went crazy from there. And there was, uh, another technical hurdle that was there at the time, there was Windows 95 and there was Windows NT, new technology I think it was called. And that was the safest. And that's what the big companies wanted. The , the airlines, Social Security, the IRS and SA . So nobody had a filter that could work with it. Well, there was a guy in Boston who had a magnifying product, you know, a low vision magnifying product that worked with Mt. So we bought the secrets from him and with the help of Glen. Well, through Glen's efforts, he saw what was going on there and merged that software with the underlying software. So at this point it must have been around 97 or 98. We had the only Windows NT screen reader. Well, that's how I remember it. I think maybe IBM had one, but I'm not sure. That opened the door to many government issues. As I mentioned Social Security, IRS, NSA, many of the big companies like FedEx and UPS. Pizza Hut, American Airlines, Hilton Hotels. So we sold like crazy. And then of course there were the universities, I think at some point we sold I don't know how many to the California university system. And finally, I think every, every university in the college and the state system had copies of JAWS in their computer labs. And many other states have done the same. Just like here in Florida, we were the product of choice, which we weren't initially, but when Pine went out looking for windows, uh, the people who make the buying decisions in Florida. They liked ours better. And so we sold a lot to government agencies, universities, anyone who needed a screenwriter. They used to get jobs here in Florida and many other states, it worked very well.

    Sara Braun: 52:51

    So when JAWS comes out and spreads like wildfire. What was it like when you started hearing feedback?

    Bring Ted: 53:02

    , that's a funny question. Because not all comments are positive, but many comments, even if they are negative, are good. You already know this, because it helps you identify the problems, identify the features that are needed for the next release. So negative feedback is just as good as positive feedback, but it's positive feedback that makes you feel good. So we feel great. We started selling a lot of JAWS. We started hiring a lot of people. Uh, we started making a lot of money and it just started working, you know, because at that point it's been 15 years since I went into business with Dean Blazie. So it's not an overnight success. And then 10 years after we started Henter/Joyce, we really started to have success in the market.

    Sara Braun: 54:01

    Well, looking back. it's okay . So we are, we, we, we, we, we hear where you are, how you got to where you are today. So when you look back on all that you've done and accomplished and jaw-dropping, um, what unique stories or unexpected obstacles have you faced in developing this software?

    Ted Search: 54:24

    Oh, that's a good question. Um, I guess I didn't mention that when I got back to college that there were no talking computers. In 1998 or 1999 there were no Braille displays. Yeah. 98 or 99. So when I went to the computer lab, the professor had to ask for volunteers to help me with the computer terminal, because I couldn't type and I couldn't see the screen, so I was pretty much stuck, but lucky you know , I, uh, a nice young lady offered to help me and she read me the screen and after a while I told her what to write. I learned to write, no, not very well, but it helped me in two or three different classes. And I forget what the others are, by the way, I bought this computer terminal from Dean Blazie, it was one of those first. In fact, the Florida Department of State Utilities bought it for me. It was $6,000. That was a lot of money back then, but now it's around $26,000. So the funny thing is, yes, it would speak, but it wouldn't, it would just spell it out. I wouldn't speak like, and I speak now, if I were to write, read, or execute what is a function call in Cowell, I would say "P E R F O R M", just one letter at a time. It was very frustrating. Very slowly . Well that was one. When I started there were no talking computers.

    Sara Brown: 56:13

    I know you don't have a pine tree, but how do you feel when you hear this? It's still pretty much the gold standard.

    Find Ted: 56:23

    it feels great Naturally. And you know, I meet people at the lighthouse for the blind. I was there just two weeks ago, the local . And I met a lot of people there who were excited about JAWS and getting to know me. It's a good ego boost. And at this point, most of what I hear is good. I don't do tech support, so they don't come to me and complain about certain issues. They, when they meet me or see me or are close, you know, they are very beautiful, positive things.

    Sara Braun: 57:03

    See in the future. What future innovations or features would you like to see in screen readers, devices, or screen reader software?

    Find Ted: 57:15

    Good question. And I don't really know the answer to that, because I'm really not in tune with the issues and problems that I run into on my Windows computer every day. So I can't really talk about Windows problems today. But I'll tell you what, what I see is, uh, it's all happening on smartphones, and as you know, smartphones can do almost anything and Windows PCs can do it. I don't like it because it doesn't have a keyboard. And I know a lot of my friends who use, let's say, the iPhone, they like to use an external keyboard. Well I did that too. I filed a patent on an idea to overlay a keyboard, not a physical keyboard but a software keyboard on the iPhone or Android and with, uh, a plastic screen on top of it that has dots on it, you can basically set the positions of a number path, and I hope to develop software that will allow us, like we do at JAWS, to have a full-size keyboard in Windows. You have a numeric keypad. You can use that on the numpad not only to type numbers but also to read screen commands like up arrow down arrow let's say line next line. So my hope is that the software overlays these features on the smartphone and then adds a touch screen, it's just a thin plastic screen that Speed ​​Dots already has. The Speed ​​Dots make those thin plastic displays out of the dots, the Dots in Depth. Impressive at that. So hopefully it's about what the future will bring. it's time I think if we are, if we are also blind people, in addition to other human beings, we can use this smartphone for almost everything that you do on a computer. And me, I think that's what's coming, because smartphones are so much cheaper and, uh, well, they're just as powerful as the Windows computer. I think that will happen. Make smartphones more accessible for blind people. And that's all there is to good ideas. Oh, and what I've always wanted to do is, ever since I thought of this math tool, we're just getting started, we've got Button, a math tool, the product is called Virtual Pen. I could see that this would be a great product for a smartphone. And then students from elementary school, middle school, high school, and just walk around with it in their pockets. When you get to class you can do the math, I would say he was a braille writer. Well, that hasn't happened yet. I'd like to do it again, but haven't yet. A lot of those things I was very, very lucky to meet the right people and learn the right things. One thing I want to get across to our audience, which I guess is one of the programmers. It's a great race. You have a great career, you have many opportunities to work on many different and interesting products. And, but I have always tried to convey the success or the opportunity that is yet to come. But when it hits, you have to be prepared. You must be prepared. And by that I mean go to school, go to college, learn to be a programmer, do whatever education you need to do. And just don't sit around waiting for something good to happen to you. Get ready because it's going to happen. Like in my case, I went to college even though I already had a college degree, I went back to college because I had a new field and stuff. Good things started to happen. Don't skimp on your education. Go search a bit.

    Sara Brown: 1:01:48

    Thank you Ted for joining Change Makers today.

    Ted search: 1:01:52

    I'd love to, Sarah. Thank you for the opportunity. Have fun talking about the good old days. Thanks.

    Sara Brown: 1:02:02

    So yes, the Coding Symposium is suitable for all ages. However, adults may want something that is just for them. We've got APH ABID Director Tai Tomasi here to tell us what's in here for adults who want to learn to code. Hi Tai, and welcome to Change Makers.

    This is Tomas: 1:02:18

    Hi Sara. Thanks for having me today.

    Sara Brown: 1:02:20

    So what's on offer for adults interested in learning to code?

    This is Tomas: 1:02:25

    So around this time last year, someone contacted me looking for resources on programming for adults and how they could learn to code to prepare for other mainstream camps and classes and various programs. And some of these programs have some barriers, simply because they're not designed to teach blind and partially sighted adults how to use the software they have to use to access them. So if that's you, if you're programming as a person who is blind or partially sighted, you often use additional software, and sometimes there are some unique challenges that need to be overcome to get that job done with that software. So based on that request, we've developed several courses to address that need and we've had great turnout, the first one in March had 256 participants, which is great. And we're already looking forward to our second course starting in April, which will be a continuation of that one with a little deeper programming knowledge.

    Sara Brown: 1:03:27

    Are there prerequisites for the participants?

    This is Tomas: 1:03:30

    Yes, so there are some requirements or expectations that we have of our participants. Uh, one thing that is very important is that students must be able to use the screen access software of their choice. So, for example, if you're a blind user and you don't use screen mode, but you're using, uh, screen reading software, uh, you need to be completely, uh, able to use that software and know all the commands that would need. go ahead with that software, um, bring any kind of homework. Um, the same is true when you use the extension, um, we want to make sure that you, the participant, understand how to use this extension software. Um, and, and we'll go from there. So, um, that's the basic premise. Um, certainly people need to be able to spend some time in class, maybe a few hours a week outside of class, to really learn the content. And as we get further into these, they get a little more complex. So making sure you have the availability to invest some time are the main key requirements. Also, it would be helpful to have internet access. Obviously, we use the Internet for many of these things. So it's important to have a computer that can run all the different programs that we use, to have a fairly modern computer. It doesn't have to be new, but it does have to basically have the minimum specifications you need to use the Internet and use a screen reading software package or a screen magnifier.

    Sara Braun: 1:04:55

    And what is the goal for course participants? Are you thinking that they could look into this career field or maybe take on more responsibilities at their current job?

    This is Tomas: 1:05:07

    I think the goal is what the person wants. It could be, um, learn something, start a new career. Of course, we imagine this is very career-oriented. But it can also be, uh, something that people learn as, as a hobbyist, as a computer enthusiast, uh, someone who wants to do it on the side or maybe in another, uh, different job. But yes, we envision it as something that could lead to more career opportunities for the participants.

    Sara Brown: 1:05:34

    And if an adult is interested in learning Co, where can they go if they want additional information?

    This is Tomas: 1:05:40

    Um, we have, these courses will be posted on our social media channels. Um, there will be an upcoming announcement on our APH, um, all of our APH social media channels. And those who have previously registered for the course will receive another email. For this, we are building an email list for people to be notified of new offers in this area. So, um, just check APH's social media channels, wherever you can find them, um, twitter, facebook, um, everyone, everywhere we post and that information is shared, um, in the very near future. for the month of April. class, uh, sometime this week.

    Sara Brown: 1:06:18

    IT'S OKAY. Thai. And is there anything else you would like to add to this wonderful program?

    This is Tomas: 1:06:24

    Feel free to contact me here at APH. If you have questions about something that we, uh, talked about today, you can contact mataccessibility@aph.org.

    Sara Brown: 1:06:35

    Big. Ty, thanks for coming.

    This is Tomas: 1:06:38

    thanks for having me

    Sarah Brown: 1:06:41

    I've included links to the Coding Symposium and more information about these courses. Ty just talked about it in the show notes. Additional JAWS links are also included there. Thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers. As always, be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Changemakers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we will talk about crafts. Besides that March is Women's History Month. It is also National Arts and Crafts Month. So today we learn which new and legacy APH products help users learn about music and which help users learn how to create art. We will also check with InSights Art and the next submission deadline. First we'll talk about Feel the Beat, a classic APH product that teaches students braille coding for music by focusing on reading, playing, and memorizing beats through the use of a soprano recorder. We have Laura Zierer, Product Manager of Independent Living, Mobility, at APH, to talk to us about the product. Hi Laura, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Laura Zierer: 1:11

    Hello, thanks for inviting me.

    Sara Braun: 1:13

    Tell us more about Feel the Beat?

    Laura Zierer: 1:15

    Yes. I'd Like to, Um, Feel the Beat is a curriculum designed to teach and learn music in Braille using the soprano recorder. Many people have asked why we have focused on the recorder here, and recorders are very easy instruments to learn. You have a very small selection of sheet music, and chances are your classmates are also learning to play this instrument in their music class. The curriculum contains familiar melodies that the student can read, write, memorize, and play.

    Sara Braun: 1:48

    How does Feel the Beat help students attend a general music class?

    Laura Zierer: 1:55

    Well, music literacy is an important part of literacy. The curriculum will not only teach students the braille code for music, but will complement what the student is learning in their music classes. The best thing about Feel the Beat is that it makes teaching the basics of the musical braille code much more accessible for teachers.

    Sarah Braun: 2:17

    Where can teachers or parents get Feel the Beat?

    Laura Zierer: 2:20

    Feel the Beat is available on the APH website. It can be purchased with federal quota funds.

    Sara Brown: 2:30

    Now I just mentioned the Braille Music Code. Can you tell us a little more about it?

    Laura Zierer: 2:34

    Absolutely. Um, the Braille music code is a linear representation of musical notes, pitch values, etc. Um, printed music is the stave, as we all know, to indicate all these different things. Um, but access to Music Braille Code allows students to read all the nuances of a piece of music that they might not be able to pick up just by playing it by ear.

    Sara Braun: 3:02

    And I heard we have braille music flash cards. This is another point of the Musical Braille Code. can you talk about it

    Laura Zierer: 3:10

    Yes. I developed the Music Braille Flashcards in response to the lack of resources available to teach the Music Braille code. Uh, I originally designed these to complement Feel the Beat. However, the cards contain many additional terms that students may be exposed to as they progress through music education, including things like composition and band lessons, er, learning, you know, various things about their instruments.

    Sara Braun: 3:41

    And what other APH products do you think help students of all abilities to engage with music?

    Laura Zierer: 3:48

    Did you know? I was recently looking through our product catalog looking for some innovative ideas to make music education more inclusive, ahem, Picture Maker Wheatley Tactile Diagraming Kit and TactileDoodle or two of our products that are used to create tactile representations of printed musical components . . This allows students to understand how music is represented in print and introduces them to some of the terms they would encounter in a general music class. You can easily create these, um, you can easily create braille activities and music using manipulatives, braille labels, and a braille writer. For example, I wrote a few songs on Braille labels in Braille and then attached the notes to manipulatives I pulled from the board of hundreds. Um, these manipulations can be applied to the loop material surface of a Picture Maker Wheatley tactile graphics kit or any other surface we sell that comes with a kit. Um, and you can use them for a variety of activities. Also, Joy Player is another great tool to engage students who can't stay or play the instrument and honestly find a way to engage students of all abilities. It can be really difficult, but it can absolutely work.

    Sara Braun: 5:08

    Another question. I researched Feel the Beat and oh my gosh. I saw her win some awards when she came out. Can you talk about the recognition you received?

    Laura Zierer: 5:19

    Yeah, actually the author Christine Short, um, got an award for this curriculum that became Feel the Beat. She is the author, um, credited for this product and yes, it worked great. And I think part of that is the lack of resources that exist to teach the musical braille code. It really filled a need.

    Sara Braun: 5:43

    well well . Thanks for coming to Change Makers today, Laura.

    Laura Zierer: 5:46

    Well . Thank you.

    Sara Braun: 5:51

    In addition to Feel the Beat, we've got Tristan Pierce, APH Multi-Disability Product Leader, to talk about another classic APH product that encourages kids to enjoy music and listen to audiobooks. This is the Joy player. Hi Tristan, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Tristan Pierce: 6:07

    Hello, thanks for having me back.

    Sara Braun: 6:11

    So ask us about the Joy Player.

    Tristan Pierce: 6:14

    Uh... sure. Er, the Joy Player is a personal music player that plays digital music, er, in MP3 or WAV format. If you accidentally download MP4 files, you should convert them to MP3. Well, Joy Player has a great story. So during development we called it "Personal Music Player" because we couldn't settle on a name that we felt would do it justice. So, before field testing, I took the prototype to the Tennessee School for the Blind in Nashville to try it out with some students who are visually and multiplely impaired. So, um, while they're teaching and learning how to use the prototype, I took tons of photos. And then when I got back to Louisville and looked at the photos, I saw wide-eyed faces and grins from ear to ear. When they realized they were in control, they could turn the music on and off. You could switch from one song to another. Their faces showed pure joy. It was a no-brainer to name the personal music player Joy Player.

    Sara Brown: 7:32

    And what demographic group is it aimed at?

    Tristan Pierce: 7:35

    Well anyone can enjoy the Joy Player, but it is specifically designed for people of all ages who are experiencing challenging motor skills in their upper extremities. This includes people with cerebral palsy who may or may not have cognitive disabilities. Let's see, Joy Player is not only great for visually impaired and multiple young learners, but it is also valuable for an adult who has survived a stroke or what most of us would call a major stroke.

    Sara Braun: 8:13

    How does JoyPlayer work?

    Tristan Pierce: 8:15

    For most of our young students with multiple visual and gaming disabilities, it is attached to a table or wheelchair tray with double-sided velcro straps and the teacher or parents need to download media in WAV or MP3 format that I mentioned. previously. , transferred to a digital audio book cassette using a USB cable, which come with a Joy Player. And, uh, the Joy Player has five button switches on top. This works like an old cassette player. So the switch in the middle is the Play Pause button. Immediately to the left of this is the Previous Song button, and to the right of center, across from the Play Pause button, is the Next Song button. And on the far left is the volume down lever. And on the far right is the "Volume Up" switch. The front of the Joy Player has this bud that, um, sticks to the front as it sticks to the front. And it helps guide the user when trying to insert the cassette for the digital audio book, and then the button switches are about two inches in diameter. So when a person's motor skills don't allow for the precision needed to activate a single button, we've included, uh, external switch connectors on the back of the player. That means it can accommodate five different external switches, one for each button. So if you can only swipe sideways, you could use a toggle switch. This would be a great option to accommodate people who need less visual or cognitive complexity. We've included solid black button covers, ahem, to match the black top of the Joy Player. So it can be used with just one button or, um, which would normally be your play pause button, or just three buttons to choose between, um, volume buttons or music selection buttons. So, on a final note, Joy Player can be used with an ambient controller like APH's Power Select to allow direct triggering of the trigger latch or triggers on time, seconds, and time to minutes.

    Sarah Brown: 10:54

    As far as I know, there is a new offer to help some Joy Player users. Can you tell us about the recently released Joy Player cartridge holder?

    Tristan Pierce: 11:03

    Yes. Yes. I like to talk about it. Uh, the Joy Player cartridge holder is a compatible device that can be 3D printed by humans. Once printed, the media cassette slides in. So we hope that the person can benefit from wearing one of the two styles that we designed, two styles of which this one is like a screw on style. You have to screw in your digital cartridge. And the other one you can just, uh, slide it, uh, uh, over and it holds it in place. So we have two different styles depending on what you want to wear. So we hope it helps those, um, users who may have grips, um, to help be more involved in pushing, pushing the cartridge into the player, or in the pulling motion and then removing the cartridge. Therefore, the files are freely available from the APHS Tactile Graphics Library. Yes, if people know about APH's tactile graphics, the image lies. And of course, if you download those files, you have to have access to a 3D printer to make them, but this is such a small incidence population, you know, um, trying to make them wasn't entirely, you know, feasible. So if you find that you have a student who might need them, they are available for 3D printing.

    Sara Brown: 12:39

    Can you tell us all who are interested where to buy the Joy Player?

    Tristan Pierce: 12:45 p.m.

    Um, well, it's available online through APH's shopping site, which, um, I think most people might know is APH.org, um, or by calling, um, our toll-free number 1-800- 233 -Call 1839, and speak to an APH er, customer experience representative, er, they can get you one and the Joy Player is eligible for federal quota.

    Sara Brown: 13:14

    And is there anything else you want to say about Joy Player?

    Tristan Pierce: 1:18 PM

    Yes I would like to say that in addition to the support for Joy Player cartridges available in the Touch Graphics Image Library, APH also has files there for 3D printing the face of Joy Player buttons, er, button switches. So you can play pause in front or volume up in front, volume down, 3D print things like that. In fact, you can create 3D prints of these buttons and how they are used. Um, and so the communicators can stick them on a comm card with tactile connections. This allows a non-verbal learner to request the Joy Player using the card in their calendar system. So we still have a complete set of um, everything you can 3D print along with using the Joy Player with APH's touch connect communication system.

    Sara Brown: 14:26

    Wow. That's so cool. 3D printing and the fact that Joy Player can help make this happen.

    Tristan Pierce: 2:31 PM

    That is to say. Yes. And in case anyone is interested, we have three videos online that show the Joy Player, but one shows a little boy with dad. Another shows an elementary school student with her teacher doing her personal music player routine, which follows the guidelines in the APH Sensory Learning Kit. And then our third video features several adults with their Zoom group, direct support professionals. And if you're just looking for, uh, do a Google search, Joy Player videos, it shows all three videos for them to see.

    Sara Brown: 15:11

    What other products are there outside of music? I know there are a few, we have the Paint Pot palette, the Paint by Number Safari series. can you talk about it

    Tristan Pierce: 15:21

    IT'S OKAY. So the Paint Pot palette is an older product. It's recently been relaunched again, but it's really just to do the braille instructions and the booklet, um, to do this UEB. it's okay . So, um, if you're a print reader, um, there's really no change. It is exactly the same product that you have always had. It is that you already have the Braille booklet in UEB. So the Paint Pot Palette is like a plastic tray that holds those little cups in place, and it comes with a variety of paints, paint colors, all of which have Braille labels. And on your tray there are these little areas that you can fit tiles into and they also have the color number in Braille. So if you have placed three little cups and you have green, yellow and blue, the little tiles are placed there to say that this little cup is my, my green color. And this mug is my color blue. And then it also has a stand to display the brushes. And so it's just a way to create a stable, stationary place to put your paints and liquids so things don't roll and fall and get all over the place. And then it also comes with a selection of print and line drawings that you can paint now. Umm, but that doesn't mean you just have to paint these, I mean once you have a paint kit, you know the world is your canvas. You can paint whatever you want on there, you know, I don't know where it is, but a few years ago, this little boy, I don't even remember what state he's in at school, but I'm sure a search could probably find this, but APH, um, always has this, a contest that kids can enter to show what their favorite product to use is. And why is it your favorite product? And within a year this little boy won the contest making Paint Pot Palette and showing all the pictures of him. It was so sweet, so sweet. So this is just a nice product that people can go to and use pretty well. And again, it's one of those designed for someone who is visually impaired due to its stability. But then again, it's something every kid would love to wear. It's so comprehensive, so universal, you know, it's a great thing to have.

    Sara Brown: 18:02

    What about the numbers? Paint by numbers?

    Tristan Pierce: 18:06

    Yes that's fine. Paint by Number Safari. We started this a few years ago and always said it would be a five book series and it's the fifth book in the series heading into APH. At this time, they have promised me that you will be here very soon. So I hope you mean I have my production sample right here in my office, but it's the only one. So let me see if I can say all the books from memory. So the first book we did was Tropical Rainforest. And after that I think we did Under the Sea. Then we did Backyard Creatures, then we moved on to Desert Creatures, and our last and final book that I'm really looking forward to reading is called Creatures in Danger. And one of the best things about it is that it not only teaches the idea of ​​endangered species, but we also offer one or two that we can use to show some of our care and protection of the environment and everything that we can do to save these endangered species. So we have some there that have been saved. So that was very important to us. So the paint-by-numbers safari series, um, all five books have exactly the same number of print and braille pages. Each one has 10 drawings printed with lines in relief. And then the fun facts, the fun facts, for me, one of the biggest things is that it really tied us to a lot of educational standards. So when you're learning about a particular animal, you're learning about the geography and its environment, you're learning, uh, science and math. Um, because of course we give measurements, how big are they? What are you doing? It's in, it's in centimeters and it's in and inches and feet or whatever, you know? So you learn a lot about social studies, social studies, art, you know, everything. So it really is an inclusive product that not only can everyone enjoy, but it's pretty inclusive and ties into all the subjects you might have at school.

    Sara Brown: 20:33

    And I just looked at the "desert creatures," the paint-by-numbers desert creatures, and I see the fox, and he has the numbers. And I mean, that's something anyone can do.

    Tristan Pierce: 20:44

    Oh yeah. Which.

    Sara Braun: 20:45

    Great because I mean, I remember being short and having color. I'm sure. I know he had paint by numbers where, you know, it says the number one is red and you paint them all red. And so, that's really nice.

    Tristan Pierce: 20:57

    Well, and paint by numbers has been around for a long time and never goes out of style. And because with each generation of kids it's a really, really fun way to learn to organize by following the instructions below, you know, and one of the main reasons this series was created was because, you know, art that's how wonderful it is. It's, you know, art knows no borders. In art you can do whatever you want. You know, you look at Chagall (Marc), you know, he drew people with green faces and, you know, one eye or whatever, and that's perfectly fine in art, but if you're visually impaired or blind, keep going. being important. know what the colors of the real world are. And that was the main driver for, um, developing this product. And I want to point out that both the pop paint palette that I talked about earlier and the APH paint by numbers safari series are in association with PlayAbility Toys LLC, um, they're a very small American toy company that, you know, specializes in in trying to make good educational toys for kids that have everything in them that their products are just all-inclusive. Um, APH Rib-It-Ball is also made by PlayAbility Toys LLC. Yes.

    Sara Brown: 22:30

    And is there anything else you would like to say about any of the products mentioned?

    Tristan Pierce: 10:35 p.m.

    Um, well, as I was sitting here in my office, my gaze fell on braille beads, which are a craft product. Um, I'm not sure everyone knows about braille beads. They are small beads that have print on one side and raised braille letters on the other side, and come in eight colors. Let's see if I can say all eight colors and not miss any. They are white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, orange and pink. So with the braille beads, I have braille bead earrings in all colors. It doesn't really matter what I wear. I can find a pair of braille earrings to wear. They make bracelets and necklaces. Uh, he, um, I coached the KSB swim team for many years, and I used to make poles for the kids because when you're at a swimming meet and everyone puts their poles in the stands and all that. And in the end everyone tries to find their sticks. And it was easier to have little pipe charms with their names or initials on them. So, there's, um, all kinds of things that you can introduce to, to people, you know, so it's a great way to adopt braille, introduce other people to braille, you know, who knows, somebody's a The Braille jury finds this very fascinating and they are aiming for a career at TVI, which we think would be great. So, um, yeah, braille beads are one of my favorite things to have,

    Sara Braun: 24:12

    And we'll definitely include links to all the products mentioned in this segment in the show notes. Thank you Tristan for joining Change Makers today.

    Tristan Pierce: 24:21

    Thanks for having me. It is always a pleasure to come.

    Sara Brown: 24:24

    And we have a whole blog full of information on Feel the Beat, Joy Player and even how to build your own musical instruments. We linked all of this together in the show notes. For those artists who wish to participate in competitions, APH has InSights Art. Insights Art is an art competition for artists who are blind or partially sighted, both amateur and professional artists from around the world who submit their artwork to a juried art competition. . We have APH Special Programs Coordinator Rob Guillén here to provide information about this program and your participation. Hi Rob, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Rob Guillén: 25:08

    thanks sara Nice to be here.

    Sara Braun: 25:10

    Can you tell us a bit about the art of InSight for those of you who are unfamiliar?

    Rob Guillén: 25:15

    The InSights Art program is an art exhibition and competition for blind artists. Um, it's an international competition. It has been held every year for about 30 years. In fact, 2022 is our 30th anniversary. Um, we are, um, the hosts of the InSights art competition here in the United States. Um, and it's, uh, a really amazing show that highlights, uh, art that is, uh, created by artists of all ages, uh, from around, uh, who have vision loss and some of the artwork they are absolutely amazing. and it's just a way of introducing everyone to the kind of work that young artists and older artists are doing, so that we can get acquainted with the kind of work that they do. in their careers. Um, it's by far one of the most rewarding programs I've ever had the privilege of working on. And I'm very, very, very excited to be hosting again this coming year.

    Sara Braun: 26:32

    And is there an age limit?

    Rob Guillén: 26:35

    Um, artists of all ages can enter the InSights art competition. Um, in the 2021 competition last year, our youngest competitor was three years old and our oldest was in her nineties. So there's really no age limit for artistic expression. And, um, that's a trait that many people have throughout their lives. Uh, we're not restricting who can attend. We have nine categories, so we'll be able to fit into one of those categories to make it a little easier to judge. Uh, one thing I'd like to mention is, of course, artists must be legally blind at the very least. That means they must have a corrected visual acuity of 20 out of 200 or less in the better eye. This is usually determined using a Snellen chart. Uh, they're 20 degrees or less field separation. Uh, and that would also include people who are, uh, what you call FDB, which is a function for defining blindness. And that could be due to a brain injury or some other problem. Uh, for example, an artist who has CVI is very, very welcome to enter the competition.

    Sara Braun: 27:46

    And what kind of artwork can someone submit?

    Rob Guillén: 27:49

    That's a great question. Um, artists can submit any two-dimensional or three-dimensional creative work, um, it can be something that is traditionally considered artistic, like, uh, you know, sculpting, painting, or drawing, or it can be as a craft, something that's been woven or worked with beads or carpentry. Um, all of those things are acceptable. Uh, the only things that don't really qualify are the art kits. You know, these are kits where all the parts are pre-assembled and there are instructions on how exactly to put them together. Ummm, though, if an artist did something like unique with the kit then he would qualify, but something direct wouldn't. Um, and that's because this is an art competition. So you have to show some drive towards creativity. Uh, mostly but, uh, the stuff we get is, uh, most of the stuff we get is qualified. We are very happy to receive them. One of my favorite things to add is that I love when an artist recycles and it's when he takes something that would be considered trash or recyclable material and creates something amazing out of it. So they're going to drink, they're going to make a sculpture out of um cans, or they're going to make flower arrangements out of old newsprint, or they're going to make a mosaic out of a button-down bag. Um, I've learned from talking to a lot of artists that art supplies are all around us. This is how they are in our garages, in our kitchens, in our gardens. Um, and a great artist is someone who can do cool things with whatever they find.

    Sara Braun: 29:35

    And how is a piece shipped?

    Rob Guillén: 29:38

    Insurance. Um, first of all you have to have a finished piece of art and that means it's not half finished. Um, sometimes we get, uh, a sketch and a note next to it that says, well, it's not done yet. Uh, it'll be ready in time for the show. And sadly, we really need this piece to be judged at the same time as all the others. Therefore, we only accept finished artwork and only accept one artwork per artist per year. A lot of people think that, you know, they're going to go ahead and give out five pieces, but unfortunately we have to pick one of those for the competition. Second, I would go to our website, namely insights-art.org. So these are ideas. Insights-Art.org. And when you click the "Enter the Contest" link, you'll be taken to a page with instructions and entry forms that you can download from there. If you are an adult artist, please download the adult registration form. And if you are a student, teacher or parent and your child or student is interested in participating in the competition, please download the student registration form. Uh, you'll want to download the instructions too, just make sure you're familiar with them. Um, and they're separate from this year's registration forms, and we did that to make it a little bit easier when you mail the registration forms to us. One thing I'd like to add is that if anyone is having trouble downloading or doesn't want to go through the hassle, we'd be happy to email them directly. Ask us, that's not a problem. Uh, after you've completed the registration form, you need to make sure it's completely filled out so we can get all the accurate artist and artwork information. And that makes things like certificates easier to produce. There aren't too many fixes we need to do afterwards. So we would appreciate it if people could correctly fill out the registration forms. So once the submission form is filled out, you have two options for submitting the artwork. The first way is to send us the original artwork with two copies of the submission form. If you're packaging original artwork, you want to make sure you're packaging it really well, you want to make sure the paint is dry and the glue is dry and that it's strong enough to mail. The second method of submitting artwork is actually much simpler. And most people do it this way, by emailing us a digital photo of the artwork along with a copy of the entry form. And I could submit it to Insights, aph.org. Um, you can also email it to me at my rguillen@aph.org, but it's easier if you email it to insights@aph.org. Um, so if you're submitting these digital photos, if your artwork is, say, a working sculpture, you can, um, submit photos taken from different angles of the sculpture. If your artwork is more or less two dimensional, you want it to look from the side, and you can take a frontal shot and maybe one or two really close detail shots of the piece so the judges can really get a good look at it, uh, your technique, the type of materials you made, what do you have, uh, the most important thing is really to make sure that when you photograph the artwork, it is well lit and that you send it to us in a higher resolution photograph how can it be handle. This really just helps clarity. Um, the point is to, uh, get different points of view so that the judges can, uh, really, uh, get as much of an idea of ​​your artwork as possible. So let me be clear again. So there are two ways to send us, please send us the artwork. You can send it to us by mail or send us photos by email. Uh, and both ways are acceptable.

    Sara Brown: 33:50

    Is there a deadline for your work?

    Rob Guillén: 33:53

    One is coming. So the deadline for registrations for the 2022 season is Friday, April 22. Uh, um, so this is, um, late spring. Hopefully people will finish their pieces and think about filling out the entry forms, we're already getting a ton of entries. So I want to not only encourage everyone to enter the contest, but also remember to submit it as soon as possible. So you'll be, uh, April 22.

    Sara Braun: 34:26

    Now, is it only postmarked until April 22? Or will InSights Art receive it before April 22?

    Rob Guillén: 34:34

    Uh, we must have received the artwork before April 22. So it has to be there. That's a good question, because, I want to make sure, as people send artwork via email, that each of those emails has until the 22nd.

    Sara Brown: 34:55

    Ok great. So listeners who want to submit will probably need to look at a calendar and figure out when to post. So it's good to know. Can you talk about some of the work you saw?

    Rob Guillén: 35:06

    You know, unfortunately I can't speak to any of the artwork we received for this season because it might be biased by a judge who's been listening to this podcast. So we've always tried. Uh, we've always tried, over the many years of the competition, not to show too much of the artwork so that potential judges don't go, oh, I remember the piece. Um, you know, I really wish we had a video camera when we open boxes and emails, because um, it's so much fun. And I know the unboxing videos are a bit cheesy, but I find them fascinating. And, uh, someday we'll be able to. And the reason why I like these unboxing videos is that, mainly for glimpses, it's like opening a Christmas present. Um, um, there's all these beautiful pieces of art coming out of the box envelopes. Um, and, you know, even though that sounds really cheesy. In fact, you can feel the artistic energy emanating from the boxes and envelopes. You can feel all the work, um, that has gone into it, the care and the love. Um, it's really very tangible when we unwrap some of the artwork and, uh, we get. Um, it's hard to say if there's one type of artwork that I personally like, but sometimes the best things come in little boxes. So little sculptures of little hands packed in a little box and that's like a little gem sometimes. And you take that out of the wrapping paper. Uh, and it's really quite exciting. In fact, it really is like receiving a little gem. Uh, I distinctly remember one time we got this little ring that was made of gold-colored twisted wire. There was a small stone attached to the wire that was the color of a marine and it sparkled and it was so small and delicate. It was definitely a pinky ring. Um, and you can tell right away that a lot of work and love went into it. And those are the things I love. Umm, the same goes for artwork that arrives in your inbox. I can't tell you how this lit up my inbox. I know this sounds a little weird, but instead of getting endless meeting requests and spam and whatnot, I actually get these photos of really beautiful pieces of art. And I'm very excited, uh, that, uh, we're going to be able to get them.

    Sara Braun: 37:34

    Is there anything else you want to say?

    Rob Guillén: 37:38

    You know, I really want to encourage all of our artists to sell their artwork. Um, it's so important to be able to share your artwork with people who will appreciate it, um, beauty in all its forms really shouldn't be limited to a pile in the corner of your home. Uh, it really has to be out in the world, hanging on someone's home wall or, you know, displayed on a pedestal in a gallery, or even held up by a magnet on the fridge door. It is very important to share that joy with others and to feel like an artist, to feel the appreciation that comes from your creative work. Um, I also wanted to add that it's been a real honor to work for InSights Art here at APH. Uh, you know, I definitely stand on the shoulders and the giants, uh, and this show really wouldn't be what it is today without all the hard-working people that came before me. So for this year I also have my assistants, myself and Nicole, and they really contribute to the excellence of the program. Uh, one of the things that I really love is being able to talk to artists and teachers and build those relationships. Um, but mostly like everyone else. I really appreciate hearing what the artists are working on. It's a great reminder because just because someone has a different way of experiencing the world, they are not and should not be prevented from feeling creative, their creative impulses and, you know, their artistic aspirations are implemented. Um, one of the great things about InSights Art is that, um, we encourage all people with vision loss to see art as something they can do in their lives. And again so many young, uh, artists and old artists are told, uh, you can't, you shouldn't. Isn't there any reason you're interested? And of course, we don't believe that here at APH. Uh, we strongly believe that life is full and rich and that people with vision loss should be able to experience it all in all its forms. So, uh, I always like to end on that kind of note, so people know, uh, the ideas aren't programmatic, but they're still very important and important. Uh, so that's really too much, of all I wanted to say

    Sara Braun: 39:58

    Thank you Rob for joining us today at Changemakers.

    Rob Guillén: 40:01

    My pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 40:03

    And I've included a link to the InSight art in the show notes. This is a quick way to access all of this information to find out how to submit a play or just learn more about the program. And thanks for listening to this episode of Changemakers. Once again, we've included links to some of the APH products mentioned on the show, and as always, check out the ways you can be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Changemakers. I'm APHS Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown, and we're celebrating Women's History Month and we're talking to a true changemaker in every sense of the word. And that changer is Ever Lee Hariston. Coming of age at a pivotal moment in American history, Ms. Hairston is here to share her story of how she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., lived on a plantation, through the trials and tribulations that resulted from his undiagnosed eye problems until finally receiving a diagnosis and how attending an NFB conference changed his life. Hi Ever Lee and welcome to Change Makers.

    Ever Lee Hairston: 0:55


    Sara Braun: 0:57

    So I did some research on you and oh my gosh. You are a true change maker in every sense of the word, you have a very good story. To talk about that we will go, we will talk about some of the most important moments of your life, but we will go back to your childhood. Can you tell where you were born and raised? I know it was in the Carolinas. Can you tell us a little more about it?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 1:25

    Yeah. Uh, I was born in Cooleemee Plantation, and it's in Davie County, North Carolina. The county seat is Mocksville North Carolina, which is located in western North Carolina. Hey, my parents co-owned this plantation and, hey, I grew up there with my parents and my paternal grandparents.

    Sara Braun: 1:56

    So you grew up segregated in your upbringing. How was it?

    Ever Lee Hairston: 2:04

    Well, there was segregation throughout the South, but I later learned that it wasn't just the South, it was anyway (that's true). I grew up, um, I had to go to all black schools. And the special thing about them was that they were good teachers. I think. And, um, I felt like I got a decent education in grade school and high school. But limited because we never had the opportunity to have updated books. And I took a bus from the plantation to Mocksville to the town of Mocksville to the school. It was about 19 miles from home, but we went through several all-white schools, and I could never figure that out. And when we got to school we used traditional books. We call them that because we have never received new supplements to any of the books we have used. We had to get the ones that were no longer, um, the ones that were supposed to be used in all-white schools. And so they were delivered to us. So that's what happened, I got my education. The other thing that got in the way of my secondary education, I would say, is being on the plantation. My parents had so many chores because my father also worked in the city, but my grandfather and grandmother worked on the plantation. My mother worked in the plantation house for a few days, but she had seven children. So she was busy raising her children and she went into the big house, as we called it, to work too. But because of the children, my two older brothers and I, we had to stay out of school, usually two consecutive weeks in the spring and fall. And that was something that I really hated, but there wasn't much, I had a lot, I had very little control. I'll put it like this. So, well, we had to stay outside to cut cotton in the spring or pick cotton in the fall, fall was harvest time. And the irony of this after being absent from school and having to work so hard picking cotton and dealing with snakes. And I'm going to tell you how my parents and grandparents in the fields after they grew all that cotton only got 70 cents, uh, that was given, well let me rephrase that. 70 cents went to plantation owners and 30 cents to sharecroppers. So out of one dollar we got 30 cents. So there wasn't much to live for. And, um, that's something that I remember very, very, very vividly. It was one of the last days that I worked in the fields, my two older brothers and I were picking cotton. And when I bent down to take this beautiful cotton out of the cotton bowl, there was a long black snake lying on the ground. And I yelled at my brother and he was like, “Oh come on. Let's get ready to go back to school." And so, but I was afraid. And um, he said, "Oh, that long line is just going to drag on." And sure enough, the snake did. But I was because I had a vision at the time. And then I was still scared and I walked and walked down the cotton row much slower. And I guess I went down another 50 feet down the cotton row. And when I bent down to take this beautiful cotton out of the cotton bowl, there was a brown snake and it had a copper head. So I yelled at my brother and he came over and checked. He said, "Oh my gosh, it's a copperhead." But there were several things, several copperheads around us. And the three of us were so scared. So we dropped tow bags carrying the cotton around their waists. And we ran as fast as we could until we came to a trailer that was parked in front of the row of cotton and it was loaded with several sacks of cotton. So I climbed into a pocket on the Vogelspitze. And as I sat with my head in my hands and thought, "Oh, God, there must be a better way for me to live," and as soon as I graduated high school, I was ready. She had already responded to a newspaper ad for domestic workers in New York, Long Island. And I did it. So at the age of 17, right out of high school, I went to New York to work as a housekeeper because I really wanted to be a nurse because I ignored the fact that at that point I was starting to have some of the symptoms. from retinitis pigmentosa, the eye condition I have. And I guess I realized that also during my senior year, I was invited with my sister to a football game in Lexington, North Carolina, which is the next city, and I went out with the quarterback. She was so excited. I was so excited to go to this game. And of course I didn't talk about the fact that I couldn't see at night and the same thing happened to my sister, my older sister. She also has RP. And two other brothers too, but both have passed away. One died at 22 and the other at 16. But we were still so excited. A cousin of ours picked us up and took us to the game. And after the game we wanted to meet with the quarterback and my cousin. And um, we wanted to go to some kind of little hangout place where everyone would gather after the game to celebrate because we were optimistic that they were going to win. And that was our plan. Anyway, going into the stadium it was still, uh, daylight and we could see into the stadium, no problem. But then we, and it's game over. It was very dark. And when my sister and I left the stadium and we were walking down that very long walkway, there were these lanterns that warned of danger, but neither of us could see them. And unfortunately we fell into a four foot hole. And so people would walk and walk around us and no one would stop to help. That's what I, I, I can't understand to this day, no one helped us or tried to help us. But we fight. I was much taller than my sister. We fought and I went out and then I took her out, but of course we were dirty and it was very embarrassing to have to get in the quarterbacks car. That was one of the most embarrassing and difficult moments for me when I realized that I needed to share and talk about my night blindness, but still did very little. So while working as a maid in New York, she had gone to the city, to New York City, because she was in Oceanside, Long Island. And that's why I wanted to go to the city. It was actually in Brooklyn because I had a distant cousin there and he wanted to sneak out and come visit me. When I caught the train back to Oceanside that Sunday night, it had gotten a lot darker than I expected. So when I got out of the taxi in front of the house and tried to find my way on the sidewalk, I didn't realize that the family I worked for was sitting on the front steps and they were looking at me and while I was trying to get to the Walking up the sidewalk when I caught up with them, they asked, yes, they asked, "Are you okay?" "Have you been drinking? No. I said I wasn't drinking." And what would happen? If anyone noticed, I just started crying. I started crying and said, "No, I had nothing to do, I have trouble seeing at night." And they were very nice to me. In fact, they gave me my first flight, sponsored her. And I returned to Durham, North Carolina, at the end of the summer to enroll in the Duke University School of Nursing. And that was another turning point in my life, because when I applied to nursing school, I failed. my eye exam through and woo I'm not a nursing candidate.

    Sara Brown: 13:42

    And what after that, he failed his eye test? What, where did you go? What would you do, what would you do next?

    Ever Lee Hairston: 13:50

    So I had the opportunity to work at Duke University and that was one of the reasons why I was really drawn to nursing. So he immediately took me to the ophthalmologist and of course many of the ophthalmologists at the time were not familiar with Rec Pigment eye disease. So of course he offered me glasses which didn't help. Anyway, me, I remember my aunt used to say, "Put those glasses on." The glasses really, really did me more harm than good because they were like a hindrance because I really couldn't, couldn't see at night and they didn't understand that, but whatever, I didn't want to be the underdog. . I had left the plantation and wanted to do something with my life. He did not want to return to the plantation. So I enrolled at North Carolina Central University, which was a short drive from my aunt and uncle. She had earned enough money to pay her nursing school tuition, but not enough to live on the North Carolina Central University campus. So my aunt and uncle invited me to stay with them and I was able to go to Central North Carolina University. In my junior year at North Carolina Central University, Dr. King came to campus and spoke to all the students on campus about our civil rights. And because I grew up with that kind of separation, I can't go to the movies, I can't sit in a restaurant. My grandfather used to love this place in town and it was called Pits Barbecue. And everyone loved it, but we could go in and sit and have a snack. We would have to go to a window and order our sandwich. And then we would have to go back to the car and eat our sandwich to take home. It was like that, things like that. Or I remember when we were traveling one day and my 16-year-old daughter who died at 16, um, she was very sick and she would get very sick when we went somewhere. And I remember my dad stopped at the gas station and he wanted my mom to take my sister to the bathroom because she was very sick, but they told us we couldn't use the bathroom and we did. And if you went into a department store, um, you couldn't even drink out of it, they had two separate water fountains. One said "white", another said "color". And when you went to a department store, you often couldn't go to the bathroom. So if you grew up when Dr. King started talking about our civil rights, my ears perked up, he was so interested in what he was talking about. And he talked about defending our rights. And so we learn later that year, August 1963, that the March on Washington in Washington, D.C. held at the Lincoln Memorial. And I was there when he gave his iconic "I have a dream" speech. What a compassionate man. And he had learned a lot from participating in the civil rights movement under the leadership of Dr. Rey. On campus, Dr. King organized a protest march before going to Washington DC, and we protested against Sears, Roebuck and Co. for refusing to hire black people. So we marched five miles from the North Carolina Central Campus to Sears, Roebuck and Co. And as we marched, rocks and all kinds of debris were thrown at us. But dr. King taught us nonviolence and how to focus on the problem and not the people. And we did. So, not only were students from Central North Carolina in attendance, but also students from A&T College Greensboro NC, and in that crowd was Jesse Jackson. So we march. And when we got to the parking lot, we all sat down and we all started chanting, "Over my head there must be freedom in the air," we chanted and yelled. And we were just trying to make sure that despite the problems that we're facing, we could still have fun and have some humor and be able to talk. And that's exactly what we did. But suddenly the police entered the parking lot and ordered us to move. We reject the request. And then the buses drove into the parking lot at a very high speed. It was very, very scary. We started screaming, crying, yelling and soon the buses stopped at breakneck speed. And when the policemen got off the buses, they started pushing, pushing, lifting some of us and they threw us onto the buses and dragged us to jail. DR. king included. And that night in jail, we were packed like sardines in a can. We were so tight and so tight that it wouldn't work today with COVID, but we were so tight that we could have done it if we had to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But during the night an intercom rang saying that the jailer had suffered a heart attack and died. This was scary and scary for us because we thought we were being blamed for the death of the prison guard. But it doesn't matter, the next morning they let us leave around 11 in the morning. And when we got out, I was even more scared or scared to go back to my aunt and uncle's house because my aunt or uncle didn't approve of me getting involved in the civil rights movement either. I was afraid they would pack me up and send me back to the plantation. But my parents didn't approve of my participation either. And the reason why none of them accepted me like me is because they were afraid for their jobs. If their employers found out that their daughter or niece was active in the civil rights movement, they risked losing their jobs. But after thinking about it and praying about it, I knew and believed that this was the risk I had to take. And I did it.

    Sara Brown: 22:16

    How did these experiences affect you psychologically and emotionally, you know, you protest, you're, you're, people throw things at you and you say all kinds of names. That is traumatizing.

    Immer Lee Hairston: 22:34

    Well, it's because Dr. King tells us it had been so well learned and taught, really, we haven't, I've never been hit by anything, which of course led to abuse, but, uh, I've never, uh, hit a rock or anything. . And so, but, but Dr. King taught us to focus on what we're doing and keep going. And we did. We keep moving. We have not stopped. We don't look at people from the sides, we just look ahead and keep going.

    Sara Brown: 23:18

    Wow. So you just focused on the task at hand?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 23:22

    Yes. Yes. And I think you're being conditioned. And the scariest thing we did all the time was when we were sitting in the parking lot and it looked like the buses were going to run us over. That was really, really scary. And one of the things we talked about was praying, and we did.

    Sara Braun: 23:53

    it's okay . So, you know, you're an excellent storyteller. It's you, you answer the questions. I'm not even, I listed them. I'm like, "Okay, I've got Dr. King." I know you've told this story many times, but it's a fucking story. So a few years later, you graduated from college and you're in New Jersey, but your eyesight keeps deteriorating. Can you tell how that? it was and what happened?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 24:24

    One time I graduated from college and it wasn't, um, it was December instead of June. And I didn't finish class in June because when my 16-year-old daughter, um, when the sister died below me at eight 16, it was very difficult for me. I couldn't take the final exams. So I had to repeat two of the courses and I did it at the beginning of September. So I just graduated in December. So in December I went to New Jersey hoping to get a teaching job, but I had to wait. So I applied to the Bank of New Jersey in New Jersey, uh, New Jersey. And when I applied, I went to the interview and the manager leaned forward while interviewing me and said, "Mrs. Hairston, I'd like to hire you. But the policy of this bank is that we can't hire black people." I couldn't believe I was in New Jersey and experiencing this. You see, I thought, and my lack of understanding and knowledge, I thought that in the northern states, if you will, there is racial segregation. But here I faced the same type of discrimination .

    Sara Brown: 26:29

    What year? What, what did you say, what year was that?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 26:33

    19? It was, it was December 60, 1960. But when I went to the interview, it was January 1965.

    Sara Brown: 26:53

    And that was for the Bank of New Jersey?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 26:55

    The Bank of New Jersey. Later I applied for an apprenticeship. And I got this job, which only lasted four years, as a professor of business education. And one of the classes was, uh, shorthand. So when it was shorthand on the board and I turned to face the class, my RP eyes took much longer to adjust from one place to another. And when I did, there were times when I couldn't even see what was on the board, but then I'd go back to the class and start talking to them, or eventually, I, I thought well, hopefully, and I'd go back to the board. . And one day the stress, the stress of trying to do this without talking about my eye condition. I, I, I fainted. I passed out and they took me to the hospital and right away the doctors put these lights in my eyes and said, 'Are you on drugs? Did you take drugs?" I said, “No, I didn't take drugs. No, I don't even drink." And so, um, shortly after that, I finally went to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. And that's when I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. That was the first time I had a definitive diagnosis.

    Sara Braun: 28:36

    So all these years. So, all those years you've had vision problems?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 28:41


    Sara Brown: 28:42

    Nobody knew what that was officially?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 28:45

    no. And then, in addition to the final diagnosis, the doctor told me: “Most likely, you will go blind.”

    Sara Brown: 29:00

    How did you take this kind of news? How did you take that?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 29:03

    I, I, I couldn't stop crying. I just couldn't stop crying. I thought that if I could retain the perception of light that I have, if I could retain the vision that I have, I could do it, but it was scary to think that I would actually go blind. And so, um, after that I was forced to stop teaching. And then I got a lot of other jobs for the city of Camden, New Jersey. And he had taken a few jobs with the federal government. I accepted these jobs. And finally after years I took a civil service exam to become a consultant. And then I went to Rutgers University and took courses to get certified as a consultant and work toward a master's degree. And the way that I had to learn was by recording the lectures of the professors, and believe me, I had hundreds and hundreds of tapes, and I would go home after class, I would listen to those tapes, I would listen to those tapes, and I would listen to those consents. And so I was able to study and pass the courses. So, after passing the civil service exam, I had to get a job at the bottom, which was an intern for the Department of Health and Human Services in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Uh, but it was called the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center, where we educated drivers who had been charged with drunk driving. We teach and educate them about the dangers of drinking and driving. And that was easy for me because I had written a lot of lectures and taught in school. That was good. And luckily I was able to climb the ladder pretty quickly. Instead of staying as a counselor trainee, I went from counselor to senior counselor, but then it was difficult to move up because at that point. My eyesight had drastically deteriorated. And she knew she needed help, but she had gone to the New Jersey State Commission for the Blind for help, but she wasn't getting the help she needed. I wanted to learn braille. They gave me sandpaper and asked me to fill it out. And that would determine if I was eligible for Braille. They told me I was not eligible. So I got some mobility lessons. And I learned to use a cane, but I wanted an education and I was blessed with a call from the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. And the person said that he would like to hear from me through the Commission for the Blind. And they thought I should attend the National Federation of the Blind Convention. And it was 1987 and she was making all kinds of excuses because she had a son that she was raising on her own. And so, but I thought about it and I felt that this was my golden opportunity. So I said let's commit instead of doing a full week. Could you come for at least four or five days? And that's what happened. I went to my first NFB conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I learned a lot, but it was when I got to the registration desk. After standing in very long lines. And the young lady at the front desk asked, "Would you like a Braille or printed agenda?" Oh my God. A light bulb has blown. I'm thinking "Braille or, or a printed agenda?" I don't know Braille. And I can't read print anymore. I am a college graduate but illiterate. So I talked to as many people as I could at this convention. I learned all the trades and skills and training that blind people had. And I knew that this was for me, this was what I needed. So I went back to the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and asked for help getting to the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana. You have denied me this opportunity. So I met someone who lived in Louisiana. I went to stay with them so I could become a resident of the state of Louisiana. And that's how I was funded to complete training at the Louisiana Blood Center. I went there in 1990 and graduated in 1991. And when I came back to New Jersey after studying braille for six months, they gave me technology, training and computer science. Gaining orientation and mobility, independent living skills, I returned to New Jersey with all of these skills. And I quickly began to integrate these skills into both my personal and professional life. You see, while in Louisiana I built my confidence and knew that to keep my job I had to take some risks while in Louisiana. And one was, I always tell this story because it's one of those things you have to do to graduate, and I'm graduating in pathways. So they took me to Monroe, Louisiana, and I heard, "Oh my gosh, Monroe, uh, uh, that's not the best place for black people." Anyway, they took me to Monroe, Louisiana, and then gave me instructions on how to do it. I had to find the bus stop and take the bus to Monroe Mall. I got off the bus and I was like, “Oh my gosh,” I was scared. I thought I was just here in Monroe, Louisiana, the Ku Klux Klan is probably everywhere. (Laughter).

    Sara Brown: 37:41

    I agree .

    Ever Lee Hairston: 37:44

    Oh god, I'm alone here. And then I thought of Dr. King. He always taught: "Don't focus on the people, focus on the task." And then I said a little prayer. I started running, using my skills and there was a building that I got to. I went in and asked how do I find the bus stop. And she gave me directions. The traffic below me, to my left. I didn't know where I was, but I kept walking. And then there was a lady behind the wheel and she yelled, "Miss, where is she going? Let me help you." I said, "Miss, thank you, but you can't help me. I'm taking a test." She said, "Well, where are you going?" I said, "I'm trying to get to the bus stop. She said, "Go ahead. And when you get to the end of the street, turn right and you'll hear the buses." sound that pierced my soul. I'm telling you, I took the bus to Monroe Mall. It was hit with students and staff... mission accomplished. And then another thing they did. And I thought, "These people must be crazy. What is this training?" They took us. And you always had to stay inside. There were groups of three. (laugh.) I know they're crazy. So they gave us, uh, a Braille card. And she, she had an address. You got You, you need to find this address, but it was on Bourbon Street. Can you imagine Bourbon Street? So we go and it's loud because as you go, there's blues on your left. There's, uh, gospel songs on the right, there's jazz Right. You can hear all kinds of noises, but people came up to the three of us and said, 'Let me read your future. Let me read your destiny. Come on ladies, let me make a fortune.' Then there were others who said, 'Let me pray Let me pray for you Let me pray for you.” But the one who really took the cake for me was this man who came up to us and obviously had too much to drink and started singing Three Blind Mice. See how they walk?

    Sara Brown: 40:46

    Oh my God! Three blind mice?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 40:50

    And so think again. What did Dr. Rey teach? And the other two were ready to give up and fight back. And I said, 'No, we can't. We are on a mission. Don't focus on these people. Let's focus on our homework." We have completed this task. And then the carnival night was another test that we didn't even know about. You know, when the parade was over, everyone would run back and forth however they wanted to travel, whether it was buses or walking or whatever. And the clerk had told us where they would park the car. And once the carnival was over, we had to get to the bus and where it was parked. But as we moved, people were crawling and moving around us. And so it was so difficult with all the noise. When you have RP you become very oriented, disoriented because you can't. It's like, "I can't hear because it's so loud." So if you can't hear, it's weird, you, you really, have very, very poor mobility skills. So I ran to a pole, it was a flagpole, and I grabbed that pole and said to the other two, 'Look, let's stay here until it calms down. You won't leave us. Let's stay here." And we did. And they cried. And I knew that was for the best. As the crowd dispersed, I said, "We can go now. So we pulled out sticks and we only had a little less than one, a full block walk to get to the bus. And, uh, as we got closer, one of the staff said, " Congratulations, you did it." And that's how I graduated from this center. So proud of what I had accomplished, but even prouder of the fact that upon my return, as I said, and with these skills, I was able to move up the ladder and eventually go from supervisor to director of this program I've worked there for 26 years but I've not only changed professionally I've made changes to the National Association of the Blind my commitment my dedication I founded the Garden State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind in Cherry Hill, NJ I became the first vice president of the New Jersey office I served on the National Scholarship Committee for 23 years I became vice president after moving to California, I was elected first vice president president and later president of the California subsidiary. I have been a member of the National Council for 12 years. Oh, it was my 13th and I really believe that my mission in life is to reach out and help others to do it and make this world a better place that we live in. And especially for the blind. And I can't dismiss the fact that it's important to blind black women.

    Sara Braun: 45:17

    Your history. You answered a good chunk of my questions with your narration alone, which leaves me gasping and squeezing my chair for more. But where have you felt opposition or prejudice from people throughout your career and trajectory? I mean you are a black woman and you are visually impaired. Do you have the feeling or did you know that they discriminate against you or impose some prejudice on you?

    (Video) FRIDAY FORUM: Gloria Yen, September 16, 2022

    Ever Lee Hairston: 45:48

    Absolutely. Absolutely. Hey, at work. There were these white women and men who said, "I won't," when I became a supervisor, they made the statement. "I'm not going to work with a blind black woman," but I was, I had faith in myself. So I said, "Well, then that means you have to get another job because I'm not going."

    Sara Braun: 46:31

    Wow. The sheer audacity that it is is just amazing.

    Jack Fox: 46:38

    So you're on the NFB board. You are on the board.

    Ever Lee Hairston: 46:44


    Sara Brown: 46:45

    Can you say something about the work you do there?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 46:51

    As a member of the Executive Board, I represent the President at national congresses. So, I am going to share with you an incident that serves on the board, which means that I have traveled to many states. I have been in many hotels. So I have arrived and I prefer not to give the name, but I have arrived in this state. And immediately I took a taxi to the hotel, went up to my room and said that I was going to freshen up to meet the president of this subsidiary. So I left my room and went to the elevator. And when I got closer to the elevator bank, I heard three people talking to each other. And obviously they came from the sound. I thought there were three, uh, white women. So they talked about the convention and just chatted. So I said, "Hello, good night" Yeah, I'm just pale. "Good night." I am happy to be there. Hello . So they didn't say anything. I said wait a minute, did you get in the elevator? And then they started talking again. So I said, "Good evening. How are you ladies? Not a word from any of them. So I heard the doorbell ring, which meant the elevator stopped at my floor. So I said, "Are you guys back? aboard, ladies?" Silence. So I got on the elevator. I said, "Are you coming, ladies?" And a lady said, "I don't get along with you." And she called, she said the h-word. And I think , I think, I think growing up and learning how ignorant some people are and how biased they are because that's all they know, that's what they learned. That's how they grew up. I know who I am. And I found out who I am through Dr. Rey. So you might say, "Wow, like, what was that to you? Someone's calling you the 'N' word." Well, I didn't mean to put me down. So I had a job to do. I came down. Well, that that's how ironic I came down And right after I got up and talked to the president I heard a lady and it was the same voice that I heard I think they did and they went to the president and I gave him jeron: "Good evening. How are you?" You know, I said, and the president said, "Oh, meet our national representative."

    Sara Braun: 50:11

    How was that?

    Ever Lee Hairston: 50:15

    And it was obvious back then that they were, because you, you know, they, oh, you know, you know, you might say, you know how a person isn't sure what to say, how to say what they should say. So it was, uh, oh, okay. So, as a national representative, I had to do some seminars. I gave the opening speech at his banquet. And I did it. And I do

    Sara Brown: 50:55

    Wow. One more and you have so many interesting facts. You're an author. So I talked about her book, Blind Ambition: One Woman's Journey to Greatness, Until Her Blindness. And what advice would you like to give readers?

    Ever Lee Hairston: 51:12

    The reason I wrote this book was because of the way I was raised. And the part of the story I didn't tell is that I got married in 1969. I had a son in 1970. And unfortunately this marriage didn't last because I lost my sight. I had a one-year-old son that I was taking care of and my husband was not faithful. And I felt like I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle that. That's the part of my life I don't like to talk about. We were divorced. It was sad for me, very sad for me because I lost my sight. And I felt like I had a one year old to raise and care for on my own. But I have, I wanted to share the story so others can see, no matter what happens in our life, no matter what journey we're on, we don't have to give anything, we don't have the power to make life. fair, but I believe we have the power to make life happy. And I felt that sharing my story with others, black, white, blind, would inspire others. And that was the purpose. Years later I married a second time. And that was also very short-lived because my husband had, uh, bone cancer. So our life together only lasted from '92 to '96. That is ?

    Sara Brown: 53:48

    Is there anything else you'd like to add to this conversation about your life, about listening, have you learned anything you'd like to say to our listeners?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 54:01

    I think I often think of Dr. King's words and I think that people who are thinking about quitting smoking don't want to deal with some of the challenges that we have in life. I believe that Dr. King's words have always helped me and I am happy to pass that on to others. And he would say, "If you can't fly, then he runs." If you can't walk, then walk. If you can not walk, crawl. Whatever you do, you have to keep moving." And I believe that.

    Sara Braun: 54:59

    That's true. dr. King, how was she? DR. King? I know you marched with him and you were part of his, um, march on Washington, but what else was it, I mean, I have a feeling you actually talked to him?

    Immer Lee Hairston: 55:20

    Oh me.

    Sara Braun: 55:22

    How was it?

    Ever Lee Hairston: 55:24

    He, he extended his hand. No one was too small or too insignificant for him. Even though he was famous. So clever. And, but he always made you think that he listened to your every word and wanted to help you as an individual to be the best you could be. I always get that from him. But him, there was a lot of humor with him. He had a great sense of humor. He always talked about it. Whatever you do, enjoy a little humor every day. He talked about it. And the other thing that he shared a lot, that I've had to look at over the years, and that, he said to him, is "no regrets." "Remember the story of yesterday. We have yesterday. That is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift." And then he said he would tell us, "Remember, you're never too old to do the things you really want to do."

    Sara Braun: 56:45

    Do you tell a captivating story? I sat here with my fists clenched and holding my breath and just said, "Okay, let's go." You are quite a pioneer. And I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming out and sharing your story with us. And you have a very good one. Thanks again for joining me on Change Makers today.

    En general, Lee Hairston: 57:10

    Thanks. Thanks. You were nice.

    Sara Braun: 57:14

    And if you're interested in recognizing changemakers, we'll be accepting Hall of Fame nominations through Saturday, April 30. I have included a link in the show notes for you to submit your nomination. As always, thanks for listening to this episode of Change Makers to find ways to be a change maker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:16

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we'll hear an update from GoodMaps. We'll get the latest on their new app, what projects they're working on in the UK. And what's next for this accessibility app? Handing it over to Greg Stilson, A'PH Director of Global Innovation, he will host this podcast.

    Greg Stilson: 0:40

    thanks sara I'm Greg Stilson, Head of Global Technology Innovation at APH. And I have two good friends today, uh, in the field service. Uh, José Gaztambide, CEO of GoodMaps and Chief Evangelist for GoodMaps Mike May. Hello hello. Both, I'm looking forward to talking about a lot of really exciting things that everyone is working on.

    José Gaztambide: 1:04

    Thank you Gregorio Gran.

    Mike Mai: 1:05

    Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

    Greg Stilson: 1:07

    Well . Well, I'm very happy to talk to you today. Um, you know, GoodMaps has been around for a while. José, when were you born, when were you founded?

    José Gaztambide: 1:18

    Ah, 2019.

    Gregor Stilson: 1:19

    IT'S OKAY. Well . So it's been about three years. And because, you know, there's outdoor navigation that blind people are very used to, we've had it for almost 20 years, but how is GoodMaps different? I know it works with inland navigation, but what is the technology behind it?

    José Gaztambide: 1:36

    Like: Yes, thanks, Greg. I, I, would say that good cards differ in many ways and I think you've hit the nail on the head. We are, we are very, very focused on indoor navigation, uh, simply put, uh, outdoor navigation. And I think pretty good outdoor navigation has been around for a couple of decades, but indoors it's still this great opportunity and this massive need, uh, that the industry has been playing a lot and really, really failed to do, so come on right uh , and there are a number of reasons for that. And, um, that's what we've been focused on from the beginning, because that's what we've heard the most, from people and in the industry and from our partners, um, that we haven't unlocked interior mapping and interior navigation. yet. And what makes us truly unique is that we have combined and developed a number of technologies that have effectively helped us get around the traditional problems that have existed in inland navigation. Um, the first one is really about cards, card availability. Uh, interior maps generally don't exist. So we came up with a new platform and mapping process that uses LIDAR, a technology that's been around for a couple of decades but has gained importance because of its role in autonomous vehicles, and taking advantage of that to shorten that. The time it takes to create an interior map, uh, which was, uh, a huge pain point for the industry. The other thing we've done is figure out how to locate people when they're inside, uh, and how to do it, uh, in a way that A... doesn't require any physical infrastructure. So, there are no beacons, nothing that people put up and put on the walls and have to wait. Uh, and B... This is much more accurate, uh, than, uh, than a Bluetooth beacon and many other traditional approaches. That means that for the end user, the indoor browsing experience is an experience they can rely on fundamentally because that accuracy is as good as it gets. Uh, and second, it means it's a much better user experience for the venue, which is basically the person paying the cost of the setup. Uh, and that's because they don't have to pay for that hardware. You do not have to maintain this hardware. Uh, and we think we've come up with a, a, a business plan and a product that sort of meets a lot of the needs that we've been hearing from the industry for many years.

    Greg Stilson: 3:47

    Big . And, and correct me if I'm wrong, it uses the users. It uses a set of sensors located in the smartphone. Um, but one of the biggest changes or differences is that, uh, a user is using it now, isn't he?

    José Gaztambide: 4:01

    Yes, that's exactly right, Greg. Uh, the way we can get around the infrastructure requirements is to basically use the user's camera to identify, uh, where they are within that space. Uh, I think the important thing is that there's no personally identifiable information that's not going anywhere. Nobody sees it. It's just a way for your phone to tell you where you are.

    Greg Stilson: 4:21

    caught. And I know, you know, Mike, you and I have spent a lot of time working on the app itself and things like that. And you guys are working on an update, right?

    Mike Mai: 4:31

    Well, it's always, um, it's, once you release something, you always push the features over to the next update. Well, let's leave that for later. So yes, we are working on the updates. The , the first product, was released about a year and a half ago. And, uh, we've continued to release new versions ever since, focusing primarily on interior improvements. And as you know, we have acquired good outdoor maps from the IRA to have a more mature outdoor product that will help our users deal with the outdoor environment while we focus our resources on indoor challenges, both positioning and mapping. And it's, it's probably, um, we, shouldn't say, um, or no, that's a huge nut to crack. I've been involved in inland navigation projects since the mid 90's, people have tried to do this and it hasn't caught on. And it started as a no-infrastructure approach, where you use a device. And then it was infrastructure, things like beacons, and now it's finally coming full circle and realizing that the viable way to do this commercially is to, uh, have no infrastructure in place. So it will be cheaper for places. And, um, that's been, you know, 25 years in the making, and we're very excited to be on the cusp of commercial success.

    Greg Stilson: 6:04

    And, you know, you talked about the outdoor boating experience you got from the IRA. And can you talk a little bit about what that is and how it fits into the ecosystem of good cards?

    Mike Mai: 6:17

    Insurance. There are a variety of outdoor navigation products, from the core products of Google and Apple to accessibility products, and these core products are obviously focused on the sighted user, rather than offering two verbal experiences. They offer shift to shift. They provide visual cues about where you are and what is around you. And so accessible apps fill in the gaps or complete the information. That's in the middle. And I need confirmation that I am turning and where is my next turn and how far is it? This level of detail really sets accessibility apps apart from the rest, and what we call "GoodMaps Outdoors" that used to appear on IGPS is a mature app with a lot of user input over the course of eight or nine years. Many of the features that outdoor users want have been implemented and in GoodMaps we couldn't do it directly from the blocks. And so we got the best of both worlds by launching this app to meet the needs of blind people for truth. And then let's see how that works along with seamless navigation from an outdoor location to an indoor location. And that's why we have both maps, both apps, both GoodMaps Outdoors and GoodMaps Explore apps that focus on the indoor experience.

    Greg Stilson: 7:51

    Got it And you have feedback on both, both experiences, both apps, you know, you have, can you give feedback on either of those experiences, outdoors or indoors, ask you to make some changes, uh, to both Experiences?

    Mayo: 8:08

    Yes. Well, the users are incredibly appreciative and demanding. Uh, it's been like that since I started in the late 90s. So, it's an ongoing process and so the updates will continue because we're filtering what the priorities are, what can we accomplish? that we can add. And in terms of outdoor sailing, I think it's always about leaking information. Not all situations are the same. Sometimes a user is goal oriented and other times they just want to take a walk or know what's around them. And so, there is a sweet spot to figure out what is the right thing for the Bo City level for the right situation. And the more you can do that automatically, the better or offer options, same thing indoors. We need to help simplify the process indoors. In an ideal world, the computer would read your mind and get you to your destination without much interaction with your phone. Uh, part of that, of course, would evolve into voice control, sort of a voice input system, so we can be inside, but we have outside, which means guiding me with directions to this place and that. That would be great. We're not quite there yet, but it's high on our priority list for simplifying the indoor browsing experience.

    Greg Stilson: 9:34

    caught. You know, you mean this hybrid approach, where you are, you go outside in and out. There are a lot of places that make me think of college campuses and outdoor malls and things like that that have that hybrid experience that exists. And right now, you know, GoodMaps is designed for single building environments. Do you intend to address this, or how do you intend to address these challenges?

    Mayo: 10:02

    Well, the operative word is "campus", and that's what we think of as this feature, which we'll add at any time. Uh, and I'm sure it will continue to evolve and expand. But the idea, of course, is that if you want to navigate from, um, inside some facility, you're finishing up a meeting or you're finishing up a class and thinking about the student experience, then you have to hurry. You have 10 minutes to get to your next class. You have to go outside and then inside to another place. And that's why we want to make this journey as easy as possible. And that means being mean and connecting these buildings with an indoor-outdoor experience.

    Greg Stilson: 10:42

    And imagine the user switches from GoodMaps Outdoor Experience to GoodMaps Indoor Experience? Or are you, you know, is it your dream, what, what is your dream app like? Is it an app that can do both?

    Mayo: 10:55

    Well, for now, you need to navigate to a building using the exterior functions. And then they ask you: "You are, you are in an interior building. Do you want to go in?" And do you click? Yes. Because maybe you're just passing by. So that's the first interaction you should have. If I'm going to my classroom, I want the system to figure out intelligently, uh, don't ask me to come in to the building, because now I'm in it. So let's, let's, let's simplify things by compressing them. Which couldn't be now, let's say a five-step process. We want to reduce this to a one-step process.

    Greg Stilson: 11:33

    caught. it's okay . And you know, you, you, you mentioned good maps, outdoors and scouting good maps. Do you have any other apps in development or is that your main focus right now?

    Mayo: 11:47

    We do that. Naturally. We have to tackle. "How does the venue owner manage and control the tickets?" Um, maybe Jose can shed more light on that, uh, part of the equation.

    José Gaztambide: 11:59

    Yeah, Greg, we've got some things in the works that we're releasing sometime here in 2022 that we're pretty excited about. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll just say that it's all in the spirit of universal navigation and the idea that everyone should be able to navigate their space independently. Uh, and to improve the experience for anyone, uh, who walks into a space that we've mapped and, uh, and that we support. So we're very excited for what's to come.

    Mayo: 12:28

    And I think in general when we're browsing, we know that there's no one app that can do it all. So you could have a bus timetable app, uh, yeah, if you go to a store, you'd search for products. In an ideal world, my dream is to see some integration and at least some simplification between these apps. And that's part of it, we know it's not just about getting to the building. It's all about the journey between the buildings. And then once inside, you can experience what's in that building, and that's going to require collaboration, which we've talked about a lot in the rest of this podcast.

    Greg Stilson: 13:13

    Absolutely. Oh, and you, you, you talked about your dream, Mike. José, what is your end, what is your end, not the end but what is your, what is your long-term vision or dream for what, what will become of GoodMaps? Hm, whether it's under one partner or multiple associations or, you know, what's your position on that?

    José Gaztambide: 13:31

    Yeah, that's a great question, Greg. You know, to answer that question, I think we have to go back to the post that we did almost three years ago, uh, on the series of issues that we identified that got us there. We're on it, uh, and basically these issues are centered around the idea that there are no digital maps, that there is no good and reliable infrastructure, and no free positioning approach. And that IndoorMaps' value proposition was too narrow for most customers to agree to go through this process. So when I think about the GoodMaps of the future, I envision a platform that has mapped an absolutely tremendous percentage of the areas that any individual could, uh, walk into on any given day, because that person, uh, is comfortable navigating, uh , that, uh, that, the designated building. But I think more importantly, that person should have choices about how to interact with that mapping data and how to navigate that space. One of the things that we hope from good maps is that they become a tool in a repository that any business can use to make navigation accessible to their users because, fundamentally, we believe that users have choices and they shouldn't have to. relearn your navigation system. um, um, based on who has access to the map data and who doesn't. I think the third part I would add is that we're envisioning good cards that actually have a lot of other use cases. Besides just, uh, browsing. Uh, we're hearing from a bunch of people, all about things like asset tracking, uh, it's important in a hospital environment, uh, or crowd tracking is important in an airport environment, or being able to send the mapping information to a Delivering first to emergency services on the way to the scene of a fire is of great importance to first responders and rescue workers. Uh, so, you know, our, our, our vision is, it's broad. Uh, our vision is, uh, I would boldly say, uh, but the need is great. Uh, and the response from the market has been, uh, lovely. Um, and it will, it will take us years to build this company, but that's what we're building.

    Greg Stilson: 15:45

    A big dream, but you have a lot of work ahead of you. And I think, you know, it's a great dream, because I'm blind myself. And I think as someone who maybe isn't blind and just wants to be really good at internal navigation, um, or, or like you said if you're a, a place, if you're a, B. a hospital or similar, you want to do a Track your belongings efficiently. That's a very, very good vision for the company. Anything else? I left out, um, any other initiatives that you, um, our listeners want to know about?

    José Gaztambide: 16:18

    Greg, I just want to add that you just, um, obviously created our heart and soul and our origin story blindly. Um, and, and it's never going to stop, but it takes every, I mean... I'm a full vision person and I get lost all the time. I get lost in my kitchen, Greg. Um, and, uh, there's no, there's no, there's no limit, uh, to the number of places that I'd like to have mapped that I'd like to work in and I wish there was information for that that's not currently available are my, my fingers. And I think solving that problem for everyone is really a big part of scaling, uh, and making sure that the value proposition that we're bringing is strong enough, uh, for everyone, uh, to say yes to that, because every person entering this building is affected by technology. And that is very important.

    Greg Stilson: 17:09

    So, between hospitals, airports and important places, José's kitchens are visited to make sure it is mapped. So

    José Gaztambide: 17:17

    That, that would be great. (laughs) That would be great. That's probably at the bottom of the roadmap.

    Greg Stilson: 17:23

    Well thank you both for joining. This is, uh, a great insight into what you're looking at and what I think our potential listeners and users can expect from GoodMaps in the future. I think Jose, or, uh, I'm sorry, Mike, you, hit him right on the head, that this is one of those things that you have to really try to get what the value of independence is, uh, for those of us that we are blind or partially sighted. Um, so if you have an opportunity, um, somewhere near you, um, you know, try to get there and take it, it's an amazing experience. It gives you that new sense of independence that you might have had in an outdoor boating situation but never experienced indoors. So thanks to both of you for being there, we hope to hear some exciting news in the coming months. And, uh, we'll, uh, talk to you soon.

    Mayo: 18:18

    Yes Greg, thank you very much. And I encourage people to go online and download GoodMaps Explore and I thank APH for the vision to spin off this division that became GoodMaps to do all this work. And it makes me think there's a lot more to print in, uh, the, you're in your third century now. And I think it's more like "American Printing Alternatives for the Blind". It's great to have this breadth and innovation that you're responsible for as part of the collaboration between our organizations.

    Greg Stilson: 18:57

    Absolutely. Yes. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you. Um, and you, you kind of clicked on where to download existing apps. If, if people are interested in reaching out to you, um, in local places or possibly, um, starting a partnership conversation, um, how can they reach you?

    José Gaztambide: 19:17

    Yes, you can email us at info, GoodMaps.com. Hey, there's a lot of information on GoodMaps.com, including a list of places we currently support. Uh, so if a listener is curious as to where the good maps are closest on the site, we'll bring you the latest news.

    Greg Stilson: 19:36

    Sounds good. Thanks again for participating.

    José Gaztambide: 19:39

    thanks gregory

    Mayo: 19:39

    Thank you. Thanks.

    Greg Stilson: 19:43

    Well . So obviously there's a lot of really exciting stuff to talk about here and so far we're really focusing on the good stuff, the GoodMaps experience as a whole, um, and kind of where it's coming from, where it's going. Neil Barnfarther, Vice President of GoodMaps, Europe, joins us now to talk a lot about what's happening with good maps around the world. Hi Neil. And thanks for joining us here at Change Makers.

    Neil Barnfarther: 20:08

    Thank you. So much Greg for welcoming you to this podcast.

    Greg Stilson: 20:12

    Well, Neil, I'm very pleased to talk to you, Neil. It's, you know, we, we've talked about it, it seems like it's been two and a half years since we talked. That's pretty much what it was, uh, unfortunately thanks to COVID, but, uh, it's great, uh, to hear your voice again. And I know with good cards, there's a lot of really exciting stuff happening in Europe and other places. Um, can you tell me a little bit about the market segments that you see growing in, in, in and around Europe?

    Neil Barnfarther: 8.40pm

    Yes, of course. Um, er, you're absolutely right. Um, really super exciting, um, to see how the product and the technology will be adopted. Uh, the way it was. Um, I, I'm looking back at the kind of early, um, that the role, um, in and within the region, GoodMaps is that kind of, um, accessibility product and seen as very useful, um, explicitly and explicitly, our community navigating environments that traditionally would have been considered difficult, challenging and, frankly, almost hostile to us, without, you know, good, extensive, uh, O&M training in those environments. And technology has such a capacity to come in and absolutely evolve the way that we access environments. Um, and what's been really exciting about the journey of the last 18 months or so is seeing how organizations that, um, maybe weren't where they originally intended, with technology, have overwhelmingly functioned like they've got this growth seen in the context of accessibility. Um, but they're mostly looking at it from a universal perspective from an inclusion tool. They have their sighted people walking into their buildings with it. They have, uh, wheelchair users who use no-step access. Helps people facing neurodiverse challenges and environmental barriers. And that, that was hugely, um, comforting and fulfilling, just to see how organizations are creative and responsible employers and hosts to their clients. The areas where we've seen the most growth, where you'd really say, “Wow, that's super exciting,” are things like transportation. So we saw, um, not just one season and two seasons and kind of a trickle, trickle, we had quite a few. So literally from the terminals to the final terminals and all the stations in between, mapping and the engagement of these kinds of transportation partners coming in and saying, you know, that's important to us, that's important. And we want this to be part of our customer journey. We've also seen, er, really strong connections, er, with, er, grocery retailers, er, with organizations that want to literally map supermarkets. And the way the user can access these environments is really a game changer, not just for our community, but for a lot of people. Then yes. Um, those are certainly some of the really amazing areas. Corporate, we're obviously getting quite a bit of traction in individual corporate settings, with people wanting to help, getting employees into meeting rooms, helping guests in those rooms, helping people find the next bathroom, um, and, and so on. So it's, um, really cool to see how people see us as just one level navigation, but also, um, a lot more and almost, you know, the limit is your creativity and your imagination.

    Greg Stilson: 23:56

    And can you talk about specific places that have been mapped, or places that, you know, if someone wanted to see GoodMaps, um, where, where if they had a place near them?

    Neil Barnfarther: 24:07


    Greg Stilson: 24:07

    Where, where could they find that?

    Neil Barnfarther: 24:09

    Yes absolutely. So the, um, obvious places that I would talk about are the line, um, the first group of transparent express rail lines, um, which, um, starts, um, in Manchester at Manchester Airport station and runs directly to through the middle of the country, uh, through huddersfield and then ends in hu uh, in the north east of the country. So this is a great experience. Um, we also have a Row station, um, near where I live, um, North West London that is available. And if you want to try the grocery experience, for example, that's available right now at, um, an Asda supermarket, one of the big national chains around here. And that's available at this store, which is in a town called Stevenage, uh, which is just north-west of London. Uh, but they want to be introduced to more stores because of the great interest, uh, both from our community and from a broader social interest. They've had very good, very positive, um, feedback from, you know, literally their entire customer base within the store. Those are the two obvious places to test our product.

    Greg Stilson: 25:20

    Big. And, you know, I'm blind myself, and I know I've used GoodMaps. Can you guide someone through some sort of experience that they would expect in, say, a train station or something? Umm, you know the 30,000 foot view, how would you use good maps? What, what, what autonomy does it give you to use it in these places?

    Neil Barnfarther: 25:44

    Sure, absolutely. And that's exactly the word I would use, because we've lived with this idea that we've supported travel, you know, blind people and the disabled community can be independent. And the reality is that when you depend on that support, what happens is basically, you know, they pick you up, they drop you off, they pick you up, they drop you off, they take you from one point to another, hey, wait, here. Then someone comes back and that's not independence, but what's fascinating about GoodMaps is so much more than independence. That, that, literally brings autonomy. It's your choice, on your terms. And the experience is very similar to the following. You arrive at a mapped place. Um, when you launch the app, the app will tell you that you're in a supported place and invite you to, um, enter with a tap of the button. So you're going to say, "Yes, I want to come into this place." And from there, you have a variety of options. You can explore the place, um, through a kind of, um, look around mode, I mean anyone who's used navigation tools for, um, our community and the great outdoors with GPS. We are very familiar with this type of process. Being able to turn around and understand what is around you. The next type of, er, usability is the functionality to navigate a place, er, by level. So: what is on the ground floor?, what comes first?, and so on. Um, and, and look at certain types of, um, information. If so, for example if it is a large room, we can add additional environmental information. So if we can describe the shape of the place, err, of this area, we could say "the ticket areas to the right." “There is a waiting area or seats to the left”, etc. And then I guess the core functionality right now is the browsing experience. So from the search field or from the, uh, POI directory within the place, you'd select a point and you'd be given directions and a route to that destination and some kind of, uh, uh, options in Step Free's Access , etc. But essentially, once you trigger that experience, you're saying, I want directions, you lift your phone to the upright position so the camera can face straight ahead in front of you. You'll be, er, guided with a rotate command if you're not facing the right direction to start walking. And once you're looking in the right direction, you'll hear an audible cue and receive verbal prompts, both via voice overlay and the built-in text-to-speech engine. And essentially it's very similar to what you experience in the outside world, you know, "walk forward 50 feet, turn left, turn right" and so on, you know, take the elevator up, go down the escalator , etc. And, um, they take you point-to-point from your location to, um, pretty, pretty close to your intended destination. So, um, you know, we're, we're, we're seeing users come within that kind of three, four, five feet of that target requirement, which is absolutely incredible. In a train station setting, if you think about it, we couldn't have come close to achieving that. If I take you to a station you weren't familiar with before and I said hey, go to platform two. And on platform two in the middle down there is a bench, I want you to find that bench and sit on that bench. Most people in our community would have been dumbstruck at this and very concerned about it. Let alone would have necessarily made it successful. Were they completely blind? And now we can offer that.

    Greg Stilson: 29:22

    Yes, it's a, it's a remarkable experience as someone who has used it in, in our, in our own APH building. I remember when I was new to APH, the building that APH is in is a very, very large, sprawling building and someone not exploring that building much, just to be able to and, and I think that's very similar. to the success GoodMaps has seen in our communities. They are not trying to reinvent the wheel. You're using familiar terminology since we've been using outdoor navigation for a long time, so things like "points of interest", right? You are looking for interior points of interest, which you can now navigate to. Um, there's a lot inside, um, because there's a lot of places to go, but um, you're essentially right. It's, it's all this, you know, set it as a target and go, I think the biggest difference is what you mentioned in terms of orienting your phone, um, it's your phone upright because, um, there's, you know, and Jose is alluded to earlier, you know, using the camera to track where you are. One thing I want to clarify is that this does not perform obstacle detection. You are still expected to use your favorite travel tool, cane, or guide dog to navigate obstacles. But this quest will only get you from point A to point B, er, in the right direction. Is that a good way to sum up Neil?

    Neil Barnfarther: 30:42

    Yes absolutely. I think, um, there are two things, so first touch your last point there. Absolutely. So the expectation is that you have your O&M skills, you know what you're doing with your cane, you with your guide dog and, and you are, you are, you are. And if you've been told to "go 50 feet," "one hundred feet," or whatever, there's an expectation that you're literally not going to go, even though that route might have a little twist. And, and, you know, obviously you have to use that ability in that area, but mostly yes, that's absolutely correct. You know, it's, you know, if there's, if there's, let's say, there's a trash can or something along this corridor, you know, and we're telling you to go ahead, and you hit the wall, your stick hits it. will or your dog find that trash can, and we're not going to say, "Hey, half a step to the left, walk forward, free, you know, free foot, then a half step to the right to go around that trash can." . Something that I also wanted to touch, curiously, is the APH building. So I've never been there, but one of the amazing things is the ability to visit places virtually. So, you know, download the app, pick one of our spots, and explore, you know, a building from the comfort of your home that's incredibly empowering. Um, you know, for us, especially our community, to explore and understand these environments, okay, these, so many levels, the office is here, it's near these restrooms, it's oh, okay, great. It's close to this conference. You can call that. Or, you know, and when you start creating that mental map in your head of a place before you're even there, it takes a tremendous load off of you when you actually get there. So this virtual functionality is incredibly beneficial.

    Greg Stilson: 32:25

    I don't love it. Especially as a space challenge, knowing that I can be sometimes, at least with this mental map of the elevators. When I get out of the elevators, I know that the meeting rooms are beyond that approximate direction. You're right. That slight feeling of relief when you step out of the elevators, that at least you know you're headed in the right direction.

    Neil Barnfarther: 32:45

    I agree. And I think Michael probably talks a little more about that, especially obviously with his extensive experience on the field. But I think that traveling with that confidence, that actual certainty is the big difference between, you know, you're walking into a mall and you meet someone, 'hey he, you're right. And I'm oh yeah yeah I am I will Starbucks. IT'S OKAY. It's down there on the right. Ok great. This is fantastic. How far is it down there?" You know, and, uh, and with this knowledge that it's about 300 feet down to the right, we can buffer that. We have a rough idea of ​​what that is. Having this virtual concept before you get there is incredibly empowering, and then, you know, getting there and walking around, you know that it doesn't matter if that place is full or empty, so when there's a lot of audio dropouts there, but because it's busy, or , or, you know, there's maintenance going on that can be distracting, and so on. You know, it's so, so beneficial.

    Greg Stilson: 33:48

    Very cool. Um, regarding GoodMaps Europe, is there anything in the works that you'd like to talk about or any, um, any other initiatives that we haven't covered?

    Neil Barnfarther: 33:59

    Insurance. Um, well, I think the most important thing is, um, we're starting to expand, um, into the European space, especially continental Europe. And, uh, it's really exciting to see that we're starting to have, uh, physical locations, these, uh, brands that are very well recognized in transportation, in, uh, business and academia, and we're actually going to be exposed in commerce retailer to the products that we, I mean, I literally get calls from people and they say, hey, we'd like to discuss this. How does that look? Let's talk about it. And if I offer them something, you know, can I tell you where your closest location is? So you can go and try it. Uh, always, now I'm starting to listen, so let's talk to you. We have already tried it here. And so they tried it and now they want it. That, that's great. And in the UK specifically, obviously the most important thing is that retail organizations are really starting to step up and say, 'OK, we've done the pilots.' Now let's talk about our entire lands. So we started talking about, you know, "what does that look like?" You know, and "what does this mean for our community" and the broader demographic implications of people being able to walk in these places and access them autonomously, you know? And, and this is me, if you're thinking it's 2022, and finally this equality, this message of inclusion is becoming a reality. Uh, I, I, I can't tell you how, how powerful this is. Um, but, but transportation and retail in particular are the most prominent areas from a public perspective. Um, and it's very gratifying to see companies respond in this way as well. You know, when a company says, it really matters. You know, all of that is part of our, you know, we have, we have our agenda, we had our disability, our agenda for these years, but how do we welcome people? How do we do that? help them in the introduction phase? How do we do all this? How do we make people feel good? And, you know, people really realize that that's important, and it should be a really good thing.

    Greg Stilson: 36:12

    I'm lovin 'it. I'm lovin 'it. Um, I'll pass this on to Mike or Jose. You know, GoodMaps is becoming a global company now. Um, and you're seeing achievements, um, all over the world, right? Can you talk a little bit about some of the global organizations, companies, places that you've mapped that people would know, uh, you know, they might try that or things like that, neil talked about a couple of, uh, train stations and places of transport in the UK, is there anything in the global perspective that you can mention?

    Mayo: 36:48

    yes thanks greg Well Neil summed things up pretty well in terms of how the app works, the value and benefits of it. And of course the big challenge for GoodMaps is scaling. Uh, if you think about the world that was mapped out in the open, and 20 years ago it wasn't all mapped out there and landmarks and roads had to be added. So we're at that part of the curve, right at the beginning, in terms of inland navigation, it's big, but it's also a big challenge. One of our first international partners, or definitely the first, was CNIB. And right here we have a partner to help make this a reality in Canada, starting with one of CNIB's facilities. We have many conversations with other English-speaking countries in Australia, particularly those who have long been true advocates of all forms of accessible navigation. And I'm sure something will happen there sooner or later, New Zealand. And then, beyond the English-speaking countries, to many others. There are some, some agencies for the blind that have always been involved in accessible navigation, er, in Israel, in Spain, in the Netherlands, er, I mean, whatever. Uh, the world is reaching out to us, and of course them, to work collaboratively so that we can bring demo sites to these various facilities. And as Neil says, when someone gets a chance to see it, they have that aha moment. That's great because we know that people obviously use GPS and navigation, and that's important. It becomes very important in your life, but there you have an alternative to look around you and see printed signs. So where you're at, um, this situation where you don't have any characters in print and can only rely on well-meaning quote people to ask questions if there's anywhere near that kind of information accessible is huge. As we learned outdoors, we are now helping people realize the importance of using everything indoors, from malls to airports, hospitals, universities, etc.

    Gregor Stilson: 39:00

    Yes absolutely. Anything that we haven't covered, um, in some kind of global initiatives that you all have. It seems like you have a lot, it seems like you have a lot of work ahead of you, but, everything that you would like to see happen here in the next, uh, 12 months or so has happened. your global initiative?

    José Gaztambide: 39:18

    Yes. I'm coming in, Greg. Um, I think you'll see a really rapid expansion of, um, places backed by good maps on a global scale. Uh, and, and especially, uh, in , in Europe and in Canada, uh, there's a lot of demand, both because of the enabling legislation, but also because of the culture and the , these two regions and the , and the Emphasis on it They're going for accessibility, uh, and that will directly translate to more spaces where people can walk and navigate independently. Uh, so we're, we're very excited about the feedback that we're getting, uh, the kind of momentum that we're seeing in these international markets.

    Greg Stilson: 39:58

    Big. Well, I hope to see good maps in more places around the world. Um, you know, I think we all have this dream, as blind people, to be able to get on a plane at our origin location, travel internationally, get off a plane at our destination, and be able to navigate both airports completely independently. I mean, if I could come up with a dream that almost every blind person would share, um, you know, good cards have the potential to do that. So let's cross our fingers that this dream comes true. So I'd like to thank you all for joining us, Neil, thanks for joining us from the UK. Hopefully COVID will allow me to visit you sometime this year. Um, but, um, thanks for joining us and keep up the great work.

    Neil Barnfarther: 40:43

    thanks greg I really appreciate having me.

    José Gaztambide: 40:45

    thanks gregory

    Greg Stilson: 40:47

    So the foundation of GoodMaps was obviously built around accessibility. We've heard a lot about it so far, join us now to really talk to me about accessibility in general, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, Steve Ewell, and also in this conversation is Mike May, who's also a member, member of the CTA board. Um, so thank you both for participating in this very exciting part of the conversation.

    Steve Ewell: 41:16

    Thanks for having us here. And it's exciting to have this conversation and talk about some of the accessibility features that we saw at CES this year.

    Mayo: 41:24

    Yes, thanks.

    Greg Stilson: 41:26

    Very good Steve. So CES was a little different this year, but I'm sure accessibility was still something that was talked about. Can you tell us a little bit about what aspects of accessibility came out of CES, any initiatives or things that came up this year?

    Steve Ewell: 41:41

    Yes absolutely. And yes, as you, uh, he said, it's certainly been a bit of a different year for us at CES, but, uh, we're excited that, uh, accessibility will continue to be a big topic. for us, uh, at the fair. And there are a variety of different activities that we do throughout the year to, uh, be able to emphasize accessibility and really bring that into the show. You know, one of the biggest projects we do every year is our Eureka Park Accessibility Contest, uh, and Maps was actually one of our previous winners. Uh, they, uh, they won at CES 2020. Um, but this year we had five startups there, uh, representing a wide variety of different technologies, uh, right in the first opening area of, uh, Eureka Park. So, uh, it's a great way for us to highlight just a few, the startups that are working in the accessibility space, it's both accessibility and aging for this competition. Uh, we also do, uh, a program called our Accessibility Roundtable. And that's actually one of the highlights of the show. For me, it's an opportunity to bring together leaders from the disability community as leaders from across the industry and talk about some of the big issues around accessibility, but also, you know, talk about some of the technologies that we're going to see at CES. So this year, the topics range from some of the hearing technologies that we're looking at now, uh, over-the-counter hearing, uh, uh, rules, uh, starting to come out, uh, let's look at virtual work technologies and what are the technologies that can help as we have all been working in the world of the COVID pandemic and now we are moving more into a hybrid world and what are the accessibility challenges and opportunities that come from it. And then it's just an opportunity for a bunch of different, uh, both companies. And, uh, like I said, disabled people are committed to really sharing some of the opportunities and challenges and building those relationships. And that's one of the biggest aspects for me, getting people together and introducing ourselves and thinking about how we can all work together a little bit better to make sure that accessibility is with some of the broader general consumers. uh, build in technology and, uh, build those relationships that ultimately create better products for all of us. Um, well, on top of that, there's a variety of different panels and programs and uses and things like that that happen throughout the show. Um, and you know, it's always great to have people like, you know, Mike, who is, uh, one of our, uh, trustees, uh, on the show, uh, who also walks the show and everything he finds great technologies, uh, that maybe not, uh, I can always see everything. So, um, I don't know if Mike would want to, um, add some of the stuff that he saw as well.

    Greg Stilson: 44:39

    Yeah. Mike, why don't you talk about some of the stuff that you texted me about or Facebooked me about because you found some cool stuff.

    Mayo: 44:45

    Yeah. Well, it's definitely a situation where you want to divide and conquer, and that's why it was great. This CES came out and got a lot of people from the accessibility community to come and watch, because with hundreds of thousands of people to meet and companies to interact with, you just can't see it all the time. I really enjoy the fact that since the good cards have a product that is both for accessibility and for the general market, we're part of a main event and we see our, uh, our booth there, right, and with everyone mixed from the dream. number of mattresses, health products, product tracking, we were there to meet people and build relationships, as far as the products I saw, there weren't that many in terms of accessibility, but I hope it's because more accessibility is built into the products. Many companies have apps and they don't necessarily know if those apps are accessible or not. So one of the fun things that me and other blind people do is say, well, let's turn on the voiceover and see how your app works. And that makes her very nervous. But you find that some of them work quite well, from, uh, robotic products like, uh, the Labrador, which is a robotic cart that moves your stuff, uh, there are asset tracking companies, uh, that we really want to work with. together because it's part of once you have good maps in your building, you can keep track of where your stuff is. Uh, those are just a few of the categories of things we mentioned. Uh, in terms of accessibility, there was a company that had an obstacle detection device with cameras and headphones and it would give you that information. You would then have a spatial understanding of your surroundings and what is to come. Hey, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    Greg Stilson: 46:40

    Very good. Yeah. I, uh, the accessibility roundtable is always sort of the highlight that I was at as well. And it was a shame not to do it this year. I know, uh, I think our President Mader was there. Um, I was glad that he could be there. Steve, what other great initiatives does the CTA, uh, CTA Foundation have in the works related to accessibility?

    Steve Ewell: 47:05

    Yes absolutely. And, well, our foundation is focused on how technology can help older adults and people with disabilities. So almost everything we do has accessibility at its core, whether we're working with the aging population or people with disabilities, across all age groups. Um, so there's a lot, um, a lot going on. Um, and actually this year we're getting ready to, uh, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CTA Foundation, which, uh, seems like time, uh, flew by as we launched and built this foundation. Um, so we're really looking at ways to highlight a number of programs, both companies that we've worked with and non-profits that we've supported, uh, including APH, uh, that was, uh, an amazing partner, er, with us, er, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary and look at how we're going to be able to build on that with a new strategic plan, er, having an even bigger impact on ours, our next next 10 years have. Um, but beyond that, we're continuing to look at our scholarship programs. You know, the CTA Foundation really approaches our mission through three main pillars. Uh, one of them is how we can do the calls, things like this accessibility, uh, roundtable. And yeah, we were thrilled to have Craig [Meador] there, uh, representing APH. Things like, uh, the, uh, launch contests and other activities where we really encourage innovation as our, our, our second, uh, pillar. And the third is to fund and partner with nonprofit organizations across the country that are using technology to serve their communities. So, a lot of great opportunities are coming your way. Um, and I can't wait to, um, announce some things here soon.

    Greg Stilson: 48:53

    Very cool Happy Birthday CTA Foundation. Here you have. Um, you know, Mike, you kind of alluded to, I, I don't know if you guys have a general consensus about, um, the way that the accessibility space is evolving, or a trend that's happening in the developed accessibility space. Mike, you alluded to that when you said that there are a lot of companies that are starting to embed accessibility directly into their app experiences and things like that. I wonder if one or both of you could give me your thoughts on this, do you see a trend in the way accessibility is viewed in the tech space today?

    Mayo: 49:30

    I think we are the trend in terms of attention and visibility in companies. So they have their diversity and inclusion officers and some have accessibility departments and that's great. Are we getting better in terms of end-user experiences, I would say? Yes, but we have a lot more to do than we came here for. Uh, because most of the accessibility that I find with these different companies when they're there is random because they follow the correct guidelines when developing their app, and their app works. And that's why it's accessible. There are also more and more technologies dealing with problems that help us all. And I think, and, uh, it's definitely useful. The fact that it has more automation, voice input is huge. Hey, this isn't really for the blind, although we probably championed it and started it long before anyone else. Now it comes in many products. And when you can control products with your voice, it also means they're easier for everyone to use. And if it's easier for everyone than for blind people, luckily take advantage of it. I also want to mention that what's unique about CT, CES, is that CTA provides guides for show days and this is an amazing opportunity for people to see for themselves what's out there, go at their own pace and have a complete experience. accommodation. And I don't know of any other big show or hardly any show that offers this type of accommodation. It is wonderful.

    Greg Stilson: 51:06

    At an event as big as Las Vegas, it's probably very valuable.

    Mayo: 51:10

    Ah, indispensable.

    Steve Ewell: 51:12

    And that's something that, uh, you know, is really a priority for us. As we look at CES, we want to make it an accessible show for our attendees, regardless of their disability. Um, and you know it's a real priority for us, as Mike said, it's not an accessibility focused program. Um, sort of, you know, some of the other, you know, the CSUNs and other conferences in that sense would be, excuse me, would be, uh, but essentially, uh, a general consumer tech show, with a look at the general population, it's important to us to make sure that accessibility is a key issue there and that more and more companies pay attention to it. We had things like, you know, Samsung had a great accessibility section at their booth where they highlighted everything from ways their TVs can accommodate different types of color blindness to screen readers to their refrigerator. uh, touch screens and, uh, sign language on some of their menus. So, um, you know, the fact that we have big global brands like, um, they also highlighted accessibility as part of their, um, mainline, um, pitch. Uh, but it's not just us, you know, the big global brands like this. It's all the, the small start-ups, the mid-size companies and more, um, and this is really an opportunity for us to confront these, um, companies that aren't, that don't have anybody who's a full-fledged accessibility expert. time for your employees and help them understand why addressing these issues is so important. And, uh, and that's why it's so important to us to have leaders from the disability community at the show, whether they represent, uh, some of the advocacy groups or are, you know, industry members. And I think that's, uh, where it's really important for us to emphasize, you know, it's not just about advocacy, but there are a lot of, uh, people in the industry who, uh, have disabilities. And they can really, uh, help create the, uh, best products for, uh, people who are evolving.

    Greg Stilson: 53:20

    I'm lovin 'it. That's, that's a great way to sum it up. And I mean, if you look at it 10 years ago, would we have ever seen TVs that when you turn them on have text-to-speech intended for someone who is visually impaired? I think that 10 years ago, the question of blind people, we have been watching television is really something that people ask. So, um, I think we're definitely seeing progress, and um, it's really great to have an organization like the CTA Foundation that's helping further the mission there. So thank you for what all of you are doing. Um, anything else we haven't talked about, or any other initiatives you'd like to mention before we let you go,

    Steve Ewell: 53:59

    I jump in first and Mike has, maybe he has some, uh, others, but, uh, you know, we're always looking at, you know, partners are, uh, key players to work with, uh, both in the both in the both the for-profit world and the non-profit world as we bring people together and really continue to educate people about the kinds of technology that can help people of all ages and abilities. Uh, so, you know, I really appreciate, uh, APH, uh, covering this topic and the work that all of you are, uh, doing to create, uh, technologies that are, uh, really doing something uh, great job on this. . So we really value APH as a partner. Um, you know, beyond that, if people, you know, are interested in seeing some of the other activities that we're going to have throughout the year, um, basically go to, um, our website at ctafoundation. tech. It's TECHNOLOGY, or find us on the various social media, er, media channels, er, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, er, we're now on Instagram. Uh, and we'll keep you updated on, uh, other activities we have throughout the year.

    Mayo: 55:05

    Yes. And I agree with what Steve said about partners and collaboration, it's really important. We can't do this without them, and they can't do it without us. So I think it's important for any business, big or small, to know that there are resources out there, APH, GoodMaps, CTA Foundation and many more that address more than just web accessibility. That's usually the focus in terms of my life. And I think for most blind people these days it's more about the accessibility of apps, which requires a lot more attention and can be accomplished very easily by having beta testers and consultants to help advise whether a product is good or not. not. And that's much cheaper if you make it from scratch instead of trying to adapt it after the fact.

    Greg Stilson: 55:55

    Absolutely. Thank you both for joining us today. And us, we look forward to hearing about what's going to happen with the CTA Foundation next year, hopefully after a really successful CES 2023.

    Steve Ewell: 56:09

    Big. Thanks for having us and it's great to have this conversation.

    Mayo: 56:14

    Many thanks. I appreciate being a part of the conversation and collaborating with Steve U and all the good work he is doing at the CTA Foundation.

    Greg Stilson: 56:23

    I return it to Sara.

    Sara Braun: 56:26

    thanks greg And we made sure to include any links or websites mentioned in the show notes. And thanks again for listening to this episode of Changemakers, and as always, be sure to look for ways you can be a changemaker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. In this podcast we celebrate Black History Month. We're going to talk to a woman with an incredible story, and that woman is Deena Lambert. She works for NASA Headquarters as the Space Technology Mission Directorate as the Director of DEIA. DEIA is synonymous with diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Hi Deena and welcome to Change Makers.

    It's Lambert: 0:47

    Thanks. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Brown: 0:49

    First, NASA. Wow! I'm sure you will get both. Can you tell us what are you doing there?

    It's Lambert: 0:58

    STMD, uh, the space technology mission. They decided that they needed, um, they needed some experience and, um, someone to go really deep into their, um, different programs and projects, um, to help them move the needle or move forward and make sure that our research opportunities, research opportunities Funding, grants, prizes, and competitions were open and accessible to as many researchers and innovators as possible. So, um, they hired me, um, to lead this effort, and it's very exciting because, um, STMD is very much an outside function of NASA, um, in that way, people will often ask you what NASA envisions . same as astronauts and space shuttles and things like that. But, um, we have a lot of commitment and investment in research, and that's where the people who are here, students, graduate students, can get involved in the work, professors, universities, um, small businesses can really, um, you say : "Hey, we have a new technology that we would like to bring to NASA" or "we would like to apply NASA technology to this commercial or academic field." So, um, that's what's really exciting, is that he's bringing the work of NASA home. That's what I really like about the job in front of me, so to speak.

    Sarah Braun: 2:42

    IT'S OKAY. Well, we are changing gears and going back to the beginning. Can you talk about your childhood, place of birth and family?

    It's Lambert: 2:52

    So I, um, currently live in the Washington DC area, but like most, um, D.C. or DMV residence, I got here via Arkansas. So I was originally born in Little Rock, Arkansas. Uh, I am the only child of my parents who are now in their seventies. My mother can see, but my father is blind. And so I was born there, with congenital cataracts, um, and I started getting, um, benefits related to blindness, um, even as a baby, um, because my mom and dad were advocates for me, um, I got, a , an advantage in my education.

    Sara Braun: 3:39

    You're saying that your parents stood up for you when you were a baby. Do you remember the way they told you how they defended you?

    It's Lambert: 3:50

    So, um, so I remember, um, my dad mentioned that, um, his principal, um, what, you know, that goes back a long time, his principal was, um, Mr. Ewell, who was, um, the Superintendent was, uh, uh, for a time at the Special School for the Blind in Arkansas, where he went to school because back in the, uh, forties and fifties. Um, the schools, even the schools for the blind, have been separated. But, um, eventually, um, his principal became, um, Mr. Ewell, um, my piano teacher. Uh, but during that time he mentored my dad in arranging for me to receive early intervention services. So a, uh, teacher for the visually impaired or TVI, uh, would come to my parents' house. And I remember them bringing, you know, toys and, uh, sensory objects and things, uh, to my house. I thought it would be a lot of game time, but there was some real learning and skill development from the start. And then when my parents had to consider which, uh, uh, school environment would be best for me, whether it would be a school for the blind or a public school system, uh, they recruited, uh, the TVI and other intervention specialists, to help make a decision to comply with that I, um, I, you know, would work with the school for the blind, in summer programs and, and, um, you know, some, some other, um, outreach activities, but which are a school environment chosen by me, from kindergarten to high school.

    Sara Braun: 5:49

    Well, what was it like going to school with a visual impairment and being a person of color? Was there a challenge?

    It's Lambert: 5:57

    Well, I think for a while I struggled with, you know, what, what parts of me were, um, kind of dominant, you know, so in this mine, one of the things that, um, my, uh, TVI, um, Paula Brown, she was amazing. She, she followed me from, um, when I was three until I graduated from high school. And she knew which schools had the best, uh, you know, technology and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and things like that. Um, one of the decisions that we made or my parents made early on was that I was going to go to an elementary school that was, um, mostly in a very, uh, uh, affluent, uh, neighborhood around , at that time it basically meant it was a very white neighborhood. So when I went back to kindergarten, in the late '80s, I was the only black student, you know, in , in , in my class, and for several years, um, until there was more integration. place and more students from certain neighborhoods were brought to these other schools. So that's where, I know, I had to face, you know, well, what are those, you know, feelings or differences that I see as a black person, but what are those things? Do I experiment like a blind person? Because even in my only neighborhood that was dominated by blacks, sometimes I felt like I didn't belong either because then I was faced with the fact that I was blind. Very often there, um, going to school for the blind and having the opportunity to socialize with other, um, students of color, um, blind, I felt like I was more socially accepted. And then, you know, as I got older, I started to explore different parts of myself, how I identified as a black woman and was proud of, you know, my natural hair. Um, so how do I take care of this natural hair? Or, um, I'll use, um, a white cane or a guide dog, you know, as you become an adult, a young adult into an adult. You know, you, you, you kind of start to discover different layers of yourself as opposed to, you know, what it was like for me, you know, being a black woman with natural hair and not being accepted in a professional setting anymore, um , to "do I use a white cane or guide dog?" And I'm assuming, you know, more of the identity of being, um, somewhat visibly blind and, and using these non-visual techniques, um, instead of trying to pass off as seen. Um, and then walking into the tech room that had traditionally been, um, white male. To learn to speak and also have confidence in the skills and experience that I bring to the table. Because sometimes it's very easy when you're like the first or the only one in many areas, like you doubt your ability to add value. And so, you know, I know, um, now for me, I always have to be my own exaggerated person. Um, I'm assuming to be in this new role of presenting a space technology portfolio. The message “Hey, this is a new field. And, you know, yes, my 20 years of experience at NASA will help me do the best job that I can do" and that I have as much right to be there as he does as anyone else. So, um, yes, I think the expression What people, um, listen to the most is intersectionality and, and as a, uh, blind, uh, black woman, that's very true for me, especially in the, space, um, space, field or space industry.

    Sara Braun: 10:42

    And what was it like when you graduated? What was your job search? How was it? What obstacles did you find?

    It's Lambert: 10:49 am

    So, uh, uh, oh my gosh. Um, so I got, um, with a, um, I actually got a degree in business administration and a minor in mathematics. I originally started in college with a major in electrical engineering. Um, and , and , and that's a whole story on its own. That, you know, I'm going to say that, um, I faced more obstacles as a blind college student. Um, but if you, um, put one of the few minorities in the Election Engineering program, um, I think so, I often say that I let other people's doubts about my abilities become my own doubts. And that's a part of my life where I wish I had gone through the course and gotten my engineering degree, but luckily I ended up at NASA anyway and got involved in innovation and cool stuff. But, um, well, when I graduated with this business degree and, um, um, you know, when I was job hunting, I wore the, um, those, the big, padded shoulders that, um, that would be the big trends. back then they were, you know, a blazer, a blazer, and very, you know, corporate. I went to the interviews and I had my white cane, or I had mine, my guide dog and, you know, uh, you know, they, that, that, it was disheartening to go into these interviews with a lot of hope, uh, about "Hey, that, that, I might get my next job," but then he comes home to see a change in the job description to require a driver's license. And, and, and that would be an outlet for a lot of recruiters to disqualify me for, uh, you know, the, the, the, job because I, I couldn't, you know, did it. He doesn't have a driver's license. Um, and me, I didn't have the willpower or the ability at the time to fight those, um, rejections, you know, I just kept going. So that's where I got, um, pretty positive insights when I got connected with, um, a network called the Center for Opportunity and Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities. And they had partnerships with private companies, uh, NASA was involved, that were actively and intentionally looking for, uh, people with disabilities. Not in, say, customer service oriented positions with HR, that's a career feeling in itself, but sometimes people feel very constrained in those types of positions. But they were looking for engineers, they were looking for IT specialists. They were looking for procurement specialists. So while I was at his conference, I met a NASA representative who asked me if he would be willing to move me out of Arkansas. And, you know, I thought, "Yeah. I thought I will." Because at the time I was in a pessimistic state, maybe I was ready to get the job and go back to school for a degree. It didn't really matter what. degree I got. I just wanted to do something other than go out on the streets every week and get rejection notices. So, um, I, I, at that point, yeah, Arkansas was ready to go anywhere. If they had said Antarctica, I probably would have said no, but you know, D.C. That was cool. So, um, I interviewed, um, luckily, um, getting NASA to advocate for diversity and, and, and accessibility, um, they had the systems of support in place. Uh, traditionally the federal government has been a very welcoming space for people with disabilities. Sure, there's still work to be done, but, um, it was certainly a step up from what I experienced with other companies at that time. And I think the same companies, uh, uh, like Wal mart, like Enterprise, like some other entities that were hiring in Arkansas, are making progress with their, uh, different diversity and inclusion efforts. But, um, well, I interviewed and applied, I was interviewed and I was, um, selected as a contract specialist in 2004. And that's when I started my career in the federal government.

    Sara Brown: 16:13

    So now you're with NASA. Can you tell us a bit more about your roles there?

    It's Lambert: 4:17 p.m.

    Insurance. Um, so I'm the, um, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Lead for Space Technology, um, which, you know, is pretty awesome. It's, um, ideas and innovations and technologies that lead to, um, building satellites, building instruments, sending astronauts, um, all culminating in these, these bigger missions that we're hearing about, like this James Webb Telescope or um, the International Space Station. Um, there are hundreds and even thousands of technologies that feed into this pipeline. So my role now is to make sure that we open this channel up to all researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs who want to be a part of it. Um, but NASA is a great agency. We deal with aviation, we deal with human exploration. We deal with scientific missions. Um, so it took a lot of kill sets to achieve our, um, our goals. Um, so I started out as a contract specialist, um, which is basically someone who, um, makes arrangements or contracts with, um, private industry, um, based on the needs that we have and which can be, um, junk and removal services, janitorial services to the actual construction of flight hardware. Um, so, um, that, um, that was my starting point and being able to grow and become a project manager, um, to ta, you know, a few years ago and I got, you know, yeah, reconditioning and retraining, Um, to fill that role, where I was leading a team to renovate one of our research buildings. And I had to work with architects and interior designers and scientists and people like that. Um, and then, uh, now I'm, I'm running this team, uh, in, in Space Tech, so that's pretty awesome.

    Sara Braun: 18:52

    At this time. I have a feeling that companies are starting to recognize their discrimination against minorities, you know, the Jack Daniels brand of whiskey. They had Nathan "Nearest" Green. He was a former slave who taught young Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. NASA was in a similar situation years ago with a certain movie that came out of a book called Hidden Figures. what do you think about it?

    It's Lambert: 19:18

    You know, a few years ago, I think it was five years ago, they showed the hidden figures book and finally the movie, NASA had to come up with their own brand of skeletons. and their own barriers of, you know, discrimination, um, that, you know, had to, had to help us, you know, ultimately evolve into a, a, a better work environment where, you know, that, that, that shouldn't matter, uh, what your skin color is and, and it shouldn't matter what your disability is, you know, if you have a skill or a talent or an idea, then yeah, come and be there, you know the work we have to do. Um, yeah, NAS, NASA is great, but we also had to do a lot of work along the way.

    Sara Braun: 20:09

    In general, what challenges have you encountered as a visually impaired black woman?

    It's Lambert: 20:17

    I think, uh, I, I, I can't remember if it was Helen Keller, but the feeling is that "the biggest disability there is is having a disability, not so much the condition or the loss of sight itself, but it's more the attitude that the public can have about disability Um, well, you know, for example, um, you know, I, I, when I go out, you know, shopping, um, actually I, I'll give you a specific example. Um, I had to have one, you know, replace my dishwasher, you know, at my house, the house that I own and have a mortgage on. And, you know, my neighbor who has quoted, uh, she, you know, she's a, a white, older, white woman. Um, she helps me drive and things like that. So we have a, a, a great relationship. I help her with IT services and she helps me with the So, uh, we bought a dishwasher and the employees would go to her, uh, assuming she was the customer and we had to keep telling them no, I'm the customer. So, that's for my house, which I actually own. And sometimes it can really get like that, it can get really exhausting when you have to push the limits of what people think you're capable of. Um, you know, it could be, you know, if they doubt if I own a house or have a job, can I be a father? Can I live this dream of being a father? And then, you know, um, it happened that the path that I chose to be a mother was through adoption, and the way that most private adoptions work is that an expected family is the one that selects an adoptive family that would like let your child grow up. up on And I know I had to have some very deep inner conversations with myself to really say, "Yes, I, I can do this." hesitant, how can a blind woman, you know, raise a child when we know full well that there are, um, blind women and blind men who make excellent parents, um, and authority likes to doubt that. So I really had to, um, you know, deal with myself and build my own confidence, um, to be able to say, "Yeah, I can be a wonderful father, a responsible father to a, to, a future child." And, You know, it turns out it wasn't such a big factor, um, that it went into my son's biological mother, um, you know, since she, she chose me. Um, it was more like the interest that I had, like Girl Scouts and robotics and stem cells, which she wanted for her, um, then unborn child. Um, it wasn't so much “Oh my God, she's blind.” Um, although we've had conversations about it. Um, but it wasn't the bottom line for her. Um, so I guess she definitely doesn't let the skepticism, the doubt, the worry take over. I think after having this experience of changing my major, which was a career choice, walking away Through engineering, through education, I swore to myself that I would never do that again. someone else's doubts became my own. Um, so, but to do that I had to surround myself with, um, very wise and confident black women who can speak to their, um, experiences of black women. Me, I had to find great, um, blind mentors, people who could help me along the way and answer the questions that are specific to blindness, how, you know, how do I teach my little boy, how do I potty train him? . when I can't see what she's doing? You know, stuff like that. Yes . But, uh, you know, it's, it's, it's like I have to build a village for myself, um, so I can talk to the whole person that I am as a blind woman of color if, if that's the case, it makes sense.

    Sara Braun: 25:36

    Wow. No, it all makes sense. And you have... It's one of those situations where you need to surround yourself with the right people. And find your tribe. That's all there is to say, but that's very true. But if you can find the right people that you understand and maybe have passed and you can talk to some, you know, in their best interest, then you can, you can go anywhere and do anything.

    It's Lambert: 26:03

    Then yes. Yeah. Because I, I, I definitely want to, um, it's one of those things, I, I, I know, it's like, you know, a, I want my cake and eat it one, I don't know if that's the analogy. correct. I want someone who can empathize and understand and, you know, you know, the struggle that it is to be a blind person navigating a mostly sighted work environment or how a black woman navigates a mostly white work environment. But at the same time, I want someone who can also call me on the mat and say, “Hey, Denna, you've got to get over yourself. You really have to, you know, take responsibility for something or, well, no, stop making excuses and go after it." Um, and, you know, that's all, you know, a good one to have a tribe, town, you know , a good community, or if we call it a network, that's what it is. And I think these things are really important. Um, if you're talking about, um, you know, becoming a person who can hopefully bring changes or influence other people, you, you need to have that support, you know, sort of, you know, in being able to stand on someone else's shoulders.

    Sara Brown: 27:25

    When you look back on everything you've done, where you've been, the places you've traveled, just life, what things do you look back on in awe?

    It's Lambert: 27:37

    Um, well, um, well, okay. Um, me, long before I became, you know, I made the decision at 36 that I wanted to be a mother. And, but I wanted to live my best life. Doing so many fun things that I could do when I'm single, you know, no kids. So I decided that I wanted to travel the world and I, you know, found this company, you know, it was mainly through an internet search, um, called Traveleyes. And I, you know, I picked one of her, her vacations or her trips, which, you know, we were going on a cruise from, uh, Athens to, oh my gosh, where did we end up? Um, um, I can't remember where we ended up, but um, it was, I was going to Greece and Croatia and a few other countries. But on the way, my plane was delayed, so I couldn't meet the group in Manchester, UK. So I had to figure out as a blind person and as a country, was it Lithuania, um, how to get from Iceland to Lithuania and then finally to Athens, um, in a room where, oh, surprisingly, English was available. But of course it was a pretty wild experience sailing as one of the few blacks that, you know, oh my gosh, others had seen, and Lithuania landed there at two or three in the morning, a pretty wild experience, uh, too . , to say the least wow, I kept it together. I called my neighbor and I was pretty desperate. She was like, "Do you want to go to Athens? I was like, yeah, do you want to go on your cruise? Yeah. She was like, well, you've got to keep your stuff together. If you don't, you're going to get kicked out of all that stuff. ” Um, looking back, it was a crazy time, ending up thousands of miles from home in a country that wasn't my own and in a place I'd never been before to ask "how do I find my way? and mobility skills? “How do I ask for what I need and ask for useful information about where to go” and even something as simple as I didn't realize in other countries, they had a different style of keyboard, you know like, than what we use here in the States Joined. Um, so someone had to help me use just one keyboard. So that was pretty wild. Uh, and, and in a way, I, I, I kind of hid that as crazy, wild stories to share with my son, but I look back and say, 'I couldn't have kept it together if it wasn't there wouldn't have been those lessons or those mistakes that I made that I had to learn from him, uh, before this point, "that, that finally helped me to have that, that Hupa the confidence to really go through it."

    Sara Brown: 31:29

    What do you want the audience to know about the obstacles you have encountered and overcome?

    It's Lambert: 31:37

    I think that will probably be true for many, you know, blind people who, you know, had to go through this global pandemic, you know, this global pandemic that many of us have experienced, you know, yeah. , pretty normal lives, you know, going to work or going to school, uh, you know, doing our thing. We had our systems or our support in place, and then the pandemic hits and, uh, entrenches everything. And then the blindness becomes a much more noticeable obstacle because now we have to figure it all out again, something simple like "How do I buy groceries?" "How am I going to, um, get help to see when I need it?" And I guess I don't know if it's so much about overcoming, but knowing that being blind doesn't have to be insurmountable, but it's an aspect of my Life I have to face, you know, I have to face. Um, and you know, not just with, let's say, the pandemic, how can I, um, allow myself to address different developmental stages with my son, you know, how much independence do I allow him, you know, and, and still maintain it huh, for sure it is. Um, but also in the workplace, when I'm, um, you know, dealing with, um, an IT system that's not accessible, you know how I deal with my need for accessibility, um, with my responsibility? lead a team? You know? Um, well, I would say knowing that blindness isn't the barrier, but it's something you have to deal with, um, as part of just living life and knowing that, uh, it's, uh, sometimes I struggled with being a mother. blind, that the belief that my son is, uh, gradually, uh, will miss having a blind mother, I had to rephrase that to say wow, what life experience will he have? Because he has a blind mother. As a blind person, I always have to think about adjustments and new ways of doing things that will strengthen this adaptability and resilience. And you know, they may not have picked up those skills the way you would living with someone who is blind. Um, instead of being a disadvantage, I really needed to see how it could be more of an advantage. And I think that can carry over to the workplace, to our personal lives, and to our relationships. It is very important how we see it in ourselves that helps to project it onto others. Well . What advice would you give to that girl who looks like you and might be listening? Oh my God. Um, definitely, if I were to go back to my younger self, in the '80s or '90s, I, I, um, I'd probably say, you know, for her, to cheer up and, and knowing that, knowing that they, um , things have a way of behaving, um, by themselves. It's not, it's, a, a, a permanent state, um, that, you know, the circumstances or things that I'm experiencing, um, hopefully, um, help and shape, um, who I am as an adult in some way. that hopefully makes me stronger, that made me stronger, um, or more confident, or even more, um, humanistically capable of experiencing empathy, I would say the, the, the young man who, you know, is a person of of color and, uh, with a disability, now I'd say, wow, we've done so much more that your experience as a person of color or with a disability, or even both, will be so different than we've done this evolution of experience having that, already You know, um, that my, my dad was in the generation that was struggling to survive, you know, um, as a blind person, you know, I'm experiencing what it's like, um, progressing. What I hope for the much younger generation is that they can push that framework even further by simply thriving. You know, and, and, really, um, you get to celebrate, you know, being blind or black or being a person of color or whatever, whatever traits you have is that you can celebrate that and others. can celebrate with you. Um, and, and it looks like a value, um, and not, you know, you know something like, I think in my generation it was, it was kind of a diversity number or a quota. I think we're, we're past that point. We now embrace individual identity and know that this is a form of human expression.

    Sara Braun: 38:21

    And is there anything else you want to say?

    This Lambert: 38:24

    Oh my God. I mean Black History Month, I mean it's definitely a month. We, we, we, you know, I, I definitely think it's, it's a time of reflection, um, that we can, you know, there's so much, um, reflection, and richness that learning comes from. You know, our elders, our, our ancestors or people who came before us, uh, in the blind community, uh, in their own, uh, cultural communities. And I would say, you know, if we can use this month to step back and hear those stories, um, but also the rest of the year to celebrate those stories and our stories, our own stories. So it's, it's, I, I don't think Black History Month is a container in any way, it's a place where we really, you know, you know, we put our energies together to connect through you. You know, the rest of the year, uh, and you know, keep going. Um, so, yeah, I would definitely say, um, take the time to dig into the information that we have. let's say dr. Martin Luther King was one of them. We have many, many, many examples and our blind community of changemakers that we can honor and celebrate and learn more and discover the lessons they learn that we can integrate into our own lives now. And I, I think that's where we have an opportunity this month to dig into, um, into.

    Sara Braun: 40:15

    Denna, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    It's Lambert: 40:19

    Many thanks. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Brown: 40:23

    And as always, look for ways to be a change agent this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Changemakers. I'm the public relations manager for APHS, Sara Brown. And today we're going to talk about why it's important that her son be counted in this census. We will hear from APH officials and talk to an EOT about the census. After that, we'll be reaching out to partners first with Paul, we have APH President Craig Meador and Leanne Grillot, national director of outreach services. Hi Craig and Leanne, and welcome to Change Makers.

    Craig Meador y Leanne Grillot: 0:42

    Hello to you too, Sarah. Thanks for being here. Great to be here.

    Sara Brown: 0:46

    Can you tell us what the census is and what is its purpose? I think most people know that some sort of count is needed to see if the numbers and demographics are going up or down. Is that correct?

    Craig Meador: 0:59

    Yes. Yes. That's all part of it. That everything, everything comes back and I start and they can complement me and correct where I'm wrong. It goes back to the original law. Uh, and when Congress set aside funds for APH, uh, they wanted to give dollars. And back then it was a set amount of dollars, but they also wanted to make sure that those dollars actually went to the people who needed them. So every state, primarily the institutions that served the blind and received dollars, was required at that time to essentially do a census that would give us a count of blind or visually impaired students in each state or in each institution that So, uh, uh, and that, uh, has changed over the years, but basically it's been, uh, like an annual census, like a census of students who qualify for services. And that again refers to a dollar amount. So the more students, the more dollars a state has available, the more access a school has for the blind.

    Leanne Grillot: 2:12

    And that's what it's really about. It used to be just a census. Now it's a census every year and we realize our numbers are the ebb and flow and where they are, where the students are each time. And those are the schools for the blind, but now they are the state departments of education. There are rehabilitation facilities and VO rehabilitation centers and some agencies that work with students who actually do a census.

    Sarah Braun: 2:42

    Does the census affect the APH?

    Craig Meador: 2:46

    Yes indeed. Yeah. I mean, the obvious answer is number one, we have a whole department that has to do, uh, Cindy Amback, the census guru, extraordinarily, uh, uh, organize the census. She affects APH because it lets us know what the needs are, if our populations are going one way or the other, we're getting additional information, um, on the census rather than knowing how many students we have in old age. We also know, um, we know how these visual impairments work. People are those people who use Braille as their main reading tool. We know if they are individuals or students who are functioning as blind, which could refer to the CVI population, which is one of our largest group, or our students with additional disabilities. And that helps drive our training on what products we need to develop. It also lets us know where the growth is in the region and also helps us to better assess where the trends are going in the future. And, um, so we can draw some real conclusions from that.

    Sara Braun: 4:05

    What census information does the APH send to the Department of Education?

    Craig Meador: 4:10

    Um, the only thing that is reported to the Department of Education is through the annual budget. When I prepare a budget each year, a lot depends on the census numbers. So we always do our budget two years in advance, as required by the government. So this is, uh, uh, sent every July, two years in advance. So we use numbers that are two years old, but usually all they ask is the numbers that we have so many students and adults that have been identified. And we usually only refer to the main categories. Are they, um, you know how we were talking a second ago, are they braille readers? Are they, um, would they have, um, you know, large print or would a function be considered blind? So, and that's all that goes there. You know, the census and the Department of Education. It's, uh, uh, you know, in the census we don't, uh, we, we don't keep student names. We maintain, er, we don't, we're required by law to do a very deep clean for there to be, er, er, violations of family education rights and privacy laws. So the information that we have has to be minimal, um, by law, we, nobody, should be able to take our census and say, oh, I know what student this is. That's so-and-so, he lives in Des Moines, Iowa. And I know what school this kid goes to. And I know what his vision is like. You could never know because of the amount of information we store at APH. So it's very, uh, useful. It's, uh, we, uh, we make sure to hold that line. We only collect information that we need to, um, that's a guarantee for our students and anyone who uses censuses. But sometimes, uh, uh, it's frustrating for people doing research, of course, because they want to be able to find out where these groups of students and adults are, and they need more knowledge to help them, also to produce good research. And we can't participate in that. So, um, you know, it serves our purpose very well, which doesn't serve the research community very well, but that's the way it has to be.

    Leanne Grillot: 6:52

    And may I add that not all visually impaired students are counted and that counting requires parental permission to do so. They need to be located. Sometimes students do not receive credits and therefore are not counted. Sometimes adults receive services and are not counted. So our data is only as good as the ex officio trustees at locating the finds and then collecting that information for counting. So our numbers, ebb and flow, are our hope, and we know that there are other students who need to be counted. We hope to continue finding them.

    Craig Meador: 7:30

    Yes. And that's a very good point. We, we actually always say, even on our website, we say, you know, you can't take that number as gospel. It is, it isn't, we don't claim accuracy because as Lean pointed out, it depends on the people. Uh, it depends on parental permissions and it depends on people. And, and like, um, we know that children go missing every year. We know that there are many adult agencies that do not have access fees. Because of this, we know that our adult numbers are not exact. We know that there is a large percentage of students educated in local public schools who qualify for the services of a teacher of students with visual impairments but do not qualify for a census. Our definition of who qualifies is very different from how blind and public schools define who is eligible for benefits. And that's a big break. Something that we will address in the future at , at , at APH with the , with the help of many minds outside of APH. But that idea of ​​what the special law says about who benefits and what the APH said about who benefits back in the 1940s is different. They are so different. And I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm just saying they're different. And, uh, these differences have been allowed by both the education department and the federal government. And so, um, there's nothing wrong with that. We just have to think, is there a way to better align these things? Uh, that when I was a teacher in the field there was the biggest case of visually impaired students. It wasn't the students who were in braille. And so, um, but when it came to census time, I, I was probably ministering in central Oregon, driving through central Oregon and ministering to probably 24 students. And of those 24 students, I think 14 qualified for the census. The other 10 did not yet have the others and 10 needed my services to be successful in their classrooms. That's what they are, that's a big difference. We're trying to, uh, start conversations and hopefully align those setups.

    Sara Braun: 9:56

    How does the census affect schools with children with visual impairments?

    Leanne Grillot: 10:01

    The schools themselves take part, but in reality it is the students who benefit. So every school wants their students to benefit from it. Therefore, it allows your students to have adequate access to educational content and materials. It could be that this student needs a large print book and passes the federal quota and can essentially buy it with those federal dollars. So the census says that students have these federal dollars that they can use at APH to get this book, or they may need a device to access regular print books. So maybe they'll get some kind of electromagnetic camera. One currently very widespread is our MATT Connect. This is a camera that allows students to zoom in on the books and see that this is a tool that they could use their federal quota dollars for. So if the student is successful in achieving their teaching materials, which impacts the school because they know their student will do well, or have the ability to do well with their materials, and therefore improve the student, improve the school and move on from there. How does the school benefit from this? She knows that this student has immediate access to her materials. And that goes for any type of material that APH produces. These are materials that are available to them through this federal fee system for student use. And so it may be that the state has set it up so that something goes directly to the student and the student keeps it forever. The student may not really need the alphabet and braille, perhaps after second grade. And that could be something they borrow. And then it's sent back to some kind of library system, which is then sent to another student in that, uh, state who's allowed to use it. So the beauty is that the materials they get don't have to sit dormant when they're not being used. In fact, you can switch to different students. And so, in the end, schools are affected because their students are successful. I hope schools pay attention to this. It is to be hoped that schools often know that you are their teacher for students with visual impairments. Who makes this happen.

    Sara Braun: 12:24

    Why is it important for children to be included in the census?

    Leanne Grillot: 12:28


    Craig Meador: 12:29


    Leanne Grillot: 12:30

    Uh, they, they need access to the tools to use these special tools. This is not to say that a school district cannot use its general funds, or perhaps even its IDEA funds, to purchase an APH item. They can and they do. But the cost of educating visually impaired students is quite high. It's a lot of different areas, as I've pointed out, just the full cost of educating students who don't have access to sight, which is where we get a lot of our education from. And so the federal fee offsets the cost these corporations incur to educate students. So we want students to count it so they can access that funding.

    Sara Brown: 13:20

    The census is currently underway. It started on the first Monday of January. When does the census end and what can parents do to make sure their child is included in the census?

    Leanne Grillot: 13:33

    It's a review that you're processing, but our firm date is March 15. That is the date that we, the ex officio trustees of these students, need to have their information. After that point, there is some sort of cleanup of the data. We can't count a student twice, right? Therefore, we must ensure that all students are counted. And they are only counted once because we know that there are students who are trained by both an agency and a school system. And we need to make sure that the right person is counting, that the student isn't counted twice or forgotten. So we help with that. But on 15.3. As a parent or person concerned about your student and/or child not being counted, I strongly encourage you to visit our website and search for our ex officio trustees under the federal program. And see if your student has a discount. It's probably easier to find your teacher for visually impaired students or your orientation and mobility teacher. You will know what the census is. And whether the student was counted, as well as whether the student meets the definition of counting for the census in advance.

    Sara Braun: 14:56

    We talk a lot about children, but adults are also important to the census. How do they work?

    Leanne Grillot: 15:04

    They, they are, it's hard to find adults. One of the first things to think about is: are they being bred in some way or shape? This is not a university level. Now you can be at the college level and get an education. This is not a university level. We can imagine people receiving as much as adults. Thinking back to the last year you received 20 hours of documented instruction and over a 12-week period, any time during this calendar year, that's what we're looking for. The 12 weeks do not have to be consecutive. You could do it every two weeks. And then you skip a week, according to adults, their schedules are very different. Many of them are employed or aspiring to a career. Uh, a great way to think about adults is, you know, some of our adults are the ones who have recently lost their sight. If you have recently lost your vision and need to learn Braille or even how to use recorded material, or if you have lost some of your vision and need to use a vision correction device, please take this time to educate yourself, material does not count at the college level, that is Just learn to live your life. Those are the things we have to think about. And that includes our students with more severe cognitive disabilities who are growing up and still making non-college level educational achievement. you count

    Sara Brown: 16:32

    Is there anything else you would like to add to this conversation?

    Craig Meador: 16:36

    You know, I, I, I think the good thing is that we put a lot of energy into identifying each qualified person. Because, um, not just from an APH perspective, and I, I know, dance around it, but, but it spells that kind of thing. We receive a portion of the government's money each year, and that money is then divided among states and programs based on the number of students. So if that, uh, for the arguments, let's say it was $200 per student, that's more than that, but we said $200 for simplicity. And a program in Connecticut had 10 students, then they'd get $2,000 in credit, or, you know, we basically, it's a credit, it's an APH credit that they get at APH through the APH Catalog, um, store and products. So the money is arranged. I mean, we get small increases from the government every year, which we're very grateful for. Um, we want that number to be higher because it's not enough. Um, and that's the, that's the, uh, riddle. We want to identify everyone receiving services as this is beyond APH. It is important that these students are counted so that they are given the level of access and resources they need to be successful. So the big overall goal, money, is the secondary goal that supports them in this endeavor. The big problem is, let's say, us, and if we change the definition of the quota of who qualifies, we'll add potentially 10,000 people, 20,000 people to our account every year. Our money does not increase by this amount. The money stays the same. And so while students could get $200 per identified student. Well, that will equate to maybe only $140 per identified student. So you know, our, our hope is timely and through conversations with the federal government, we can continue to increase those funds. And, and, uh, uh, we have a team that does that. They are led by Paul Schrader, our Vice President for Government, Community Affairs and Washington DC. He regularly has several conversations with the people who make these decisions in D.C. they get together and always plead why we need more funding for this educational program. So, um, it's, it's really, um, it's a, a, a bag with mixed results. We need to know these numbers because it gives this bigger voice and helps us meet the needs of students. The more numbers, the less you get per student. And that's the flip side of that, but, you know, you have to, uh, uh, and that, but it all goes back to federal law, special education law. The responsibility of these people has never been the sole responsibility of APH HPH is a service ministry established in 1974 to serve the nation. And in some states in the early 1960s they created their own laws to meet the needs of these students and adults in their areas and states. In their regions, primary responsibility lies with the local board of education, the school district, the educational service district, the state, and the state. You are the main responsibility, a main driver in the search for funds to support the needs of the students. APH H's mission is to highlight students with visual impairments who live in this region and say, oh, don't forget Tommy here. And Tommy has unique needs. That will require additional services and additional funding, and we have identified those. We will give you a little money to help with that, but we really put the spotlight on these students so they are not forgotten, overlooked, or underappreciated. And I really see that the biggest responsibility of APHS is really to help identify the needs of our students, who have unique learning needs in each state.

    Leanne Grillot: 21:20

    I think the best I can say is if you are a teacher of the visually impaired doing this count, thank you. Yes. I know it's work. I know it's work to collect all this. If you are a parent, I would like to thank you by filling out the permission form and saying yes, it is okay for my student to be counted. We appreciate it. And if you are someone who is just interested in learning more, please contact us, this is an area of ​​need. We need more so join us

    Sara Braun: 21:51

    Craig and Leanne. Thanks for joining me on Changemakers today.

    Craig Meador: 21:55

    Oh, you can bet.

    Leanne Grillot: 21:56

    Thanks for the invitation. Thank you Sara

    Sara Brown: 21:59

    Next, we'll hear about an EOT. Here to talk about the census from an EOT perspective is the Brail Department of Aging and Disability Office of Education and Services for the Blind, Nancy Mother Seal. Hello Nancy. And welcome to Changemakers.

    Nancy Mothersele: 22:18

    Hi Sara. Thanks for the invitation.

    Sara Braun: 22:21

    Now as EOT. How do you participate in the census?

    Nancy Mothersele: 22:26

    Well, for years, I think I was an EOT, maybe eight years, nine years. But before that, I was, um, responsible for all the quota requests for the previous EOT. When she, uh, left, they asked me to be the EOT. So I took over the annual census. Um, there was an assistant who helped out at the previous EOT, but I decided she was a little overwhelmed with work, so she'd hire her. So every year I go in and update the census, add the new students we have who are eligible, remove the ones who are no longer eligible or have moved out of state, and make sure everyone is counted. So, um, this allows me to see how many students we have, um, keep an eye on the assignment. And I also do all the order. So I know where the funds are going and I can track those funds and the items that were ordered and make sure they get what they need and the students get what they need.

    Sara Brown: 23:39

    Now I just spoke with APH President Craig Meador and National Director of Outreach Leanne Grillot about the census. In general, can you talk about the importance of the census to your state?

    Nancy Mothersele: 23:49

    Well, for our state, we have a budget. Our agency gets a budget every year from the governor, um, and from the children's fund. We have several departments that share the budget. We have a Children's Services department that I'm a part of, which represents all of the TVIs, education consultants, mobility specialists, and technologists involved in that department. So we get a budget and using fee funds from eligible students is a big, big relief because then we can take the money from the budget that the governor allots to us each year and use it for other items for the kids. So the fee, the funds from the fee are very important to us and so I can provide the students with what they need, you know, uh, books, uh, equipment, teaching materials, uh, everything that APH has to offer. And if the student is eligible, I can provide them to the students instead of taking them out of our budget and the money can be used elsewhere. That is very, very important to us.

    Sara Brown: 25:15

    And what is your state doing to ensure that students are counted in the census?

    Nancy Mothersele: 25:21

    We have a client management system in our agency. Therefore, anyone in Connecticut who is legally blind or partially sighted is referred to us. We get a, um, vision report from the doctor, and if they're eligible, they're added to our client base. So we minister from birth to adulthood, until their eyesight changes or they die or are no longer eligible for our ministry. So we have a wide range of clients in our agency. So every student is in my client management system. And we send an intake form with a letter that explains exactly what the fee funds are and how they are used and how your children can benefit. And if you have any questions please contact me and I will answer any questions, you know some parents, they have no idea what American Printing for the Blind is. I'll enlighten you, but this is how we persecute all of our students. And once we receive the signed consent form, we scan it into the student's file. So when I check the census, we have a hard copy every year and I can search and find all the eligible students and make sure every one of them has a consent form. And if not, I contact the TVIs or the parents and send them one and ask them to sign it and explain why and how it would benefit the child. And everything is strictly comp. Um, no one sees the intake forms except the person in charge of them. And then the parental consent forms come directly to me, they're automatically scanned into the student's file as soon as I get them, and then they're destroyed. So let's keep an eye on everyone. And it's a great system because I can search everything.

    Sara Brown: 27:30

    What myths have you heard from parents who are hesitant to make their child count?

    Nancy Mothersele: 27:36

    With all the identity theft that's going on. Um, some parents are a little wary and a little skeptical about sending any information, but I assure you in the letter that is sent that it is strictly confidential, no one else will see it. The information is not sent to the APH. The information is in a secure database and as soon as it is received it will be destroyed. And there is only one electronic form in your child's record. And this is mainly the hesitation of some parents, who are simply afraid that information about their child will be made public. And um, you know, and I know, they've experienced identity theft, but once they've calmed down, they're more than willing to submit the form and make their child count.

    Sara Braun: 28:36

    And what do parents hearing about the census need to know and why their child should be included?

    Nancy Mothersele: 28:41

    Well, it's very important that your child is there so that they can benefit from all of the great products that APH has to offer. I mean, I asked for braille books, we had large print books, I could ask for some braille buzzes, you know, any electronic braille device, even, you know, we have the braille devices that MATT Connects for visually impaired children. It's just that there are so many products out there and if your child isn't part of our census and if he's not registered, then he's missing out on a lot of these opportunities to enjoy these products. And it's very, very important because it helps with their education and there are also fun things that we can order for them. I mean, I love books for beginning readers and things like that. And the parents seem to like it a lot, and you know, every year, uh, I write letters to our representatives. We are very fortunate that, uh, Representative Rosa DeLauro served as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee and she is very supportive of APH. I have had contact with her several times over the years. And I'll write her or someone else on the Appropriations Committee a thank you letter. And just to let parents know that it's so important that you contact these representatives and inform these representatives, and they, you know, talk to their school systems about APH and the materials they received from them because it doesn't do anything. something else benefits their children. And every year when I write the letters, um, to congressmen, to a couple of congressmen, I always include one, a story or a thank you letter that I've received from a student, from a parent, just to, just to them. where does the money go and what is it used for and how important is it and what changes has it made in the lives of these children.

    Sara Braun: 30:51

    And is there anything else you would like to say about the census?

    Nancy Mothersele: 30:53

    I think it's very important that people are educated about it. Many people don't even know what APH is. They do not know that their children or their students are eligible. And, uh, that would be the most important thing that I want to emphasize is that it's there and it's something that not everyone can have and it's very important and it's very beneficial to these kids. And that's really the reason why, you know, they count me, if they count, they're entitled. And the more students we have, the more money your state or school system gets. And the more and, and materials, the students will enjoy.

    Sara Brown: 31:54

    Thank you Nancy for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Nancy Mothersele: 31:57

    Thanks for inviting me Sarah.

    Sara Braun: 32:00

    I now have a Partners with Paul record.

    Pablo Ferrara: 32:03

    thanks sara Welcome back to another edition of Partners with Paul that we are happy to have with us today. Jenine Stanley, is Aira's director of communications. Jenine, welcome to the podcast.

    Jenine Stanley: 32:14

    Thanks Paul, glad to be here.

    Pablo Ferrara: 32:17

    For those who don't know, can you tell us what Aira is?

    Jenine Stanley: 32:20

    Definitely. Aira is a visual interpreting service that comes to you through a smartphone app. And that means it's a combination of technology and people.

    Pablo Ferrara: 32:33

    And how does that work together? technology and people

    Jenine Stanley: 32:37

    Insurance. So we actually have a team of professional agents called visual interpreters who do exactly that through the rear camera of your smartphone, iOS or Android. So you can call the IRA and have, um, people often say "eyes in your pocket."

    Pablo Ferrara: 32:57

    And the number of tasks you can complete is just, uh, almost infinite, one would say. So if someone wants to try it for the first time, what should they do?

    Jenine Stanley: 33:06

    So they can download our application. The app is free and you can try it. You get a week of extended service when you try it, and you can download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It is very easy to download and configure. All you need is to enter your phone number and you will be given a four-digit code. You can write that. And then the app is open and ready to use.

    Pablo Ferrara: 33:33

    And in addition to your own tasks, there is of course also a list of access partners. Can you talk about what those are?

    Jenine Stanley: 33:41

    Insurance. Well, our most basic form of service is a plan that a customer would buy. I would buy the same number of minutes per month, but through our access partners, which are big companies like Starbucks and Target and, uh, there are several around the world, uh, they actually sponsor their minutes on the air. So when you use their services, they cover the cost and APH is one of those access partners.

    Pablo Ferrara: 34:14

    And you recorded a podcast talking about APH being an access partner and it was about the museum. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

    Jenine Stanley: 34:23

    Insurance. We pick up on probably one of our most popular episodes on the APH Museum, I would say May 20, 21. And we had a great time, although the museum has a wonderfully accessible website, we got a little more extra detail that you might get from an IRA agent. And then you can ask this agent. IT'S OKAY. So exactly about this braille writer. “What does it mean when he says art deco style? Because I love this particular braille writer from this podcast," but it was wonderful because we got the information from Mike, but we also got it from our agent and we have that podcast in the show notes. So you can listen and see what it's like to do something with an Aira agent, especially online.

    Pablo Ferrara: 35:15

    And the other great thing is that the face-to-face tours start again. If you are on a personal tour and want Aira, you can use it there too. So you can live the live experience in the museum. If you want, take a tour of this trail. So there are several ways to experience this.

    Jenine Stanley: 35:32

    Absolutely. And the great thing about being on a live tour is that you can keep up with your touring band or leave your touring band behind if you want.

    Pablo Ferrara: 35:41

    Yes absolutely. If you want to take one of those self-guided tours, this is a great way to do it. Finally, can you tell us anything else new that's happening that you'd like people to know about?

    Jenine Stanley: 35:52

    OMG 2022 is going to be a great year for us. We are at the CSUN conference, we have two presentations. Over there. One is with Aira for business because we work with people in their jobs. And we've got some great companies that we're going to show you use cases about. And then Aira in higher education at the university level, many colleges in universities are using Aira for their students, but wait, there's more to come because we hope that by 2022 we'll have Aira for a desktop computer. So you don't need your phone anymore. It's going to be on PC and Mac and that's going to be huge. We believe.

    Pablo Ferrara: 36:33

    This will be interesting for someone who is used to using it on the phone to have it on a computer, it could be really useful. That was very good information. Janine definitely appreciates that. Thanks for joining today's podcast,

    Jenine Stanley: 36:45

    You're welcome and we are happy and proud to work with APH.

    Pablo Ferrara: 36:49

    And as Janine said, we've included the link to the YouTube video of this podcast about the museum in the show notes. We have also added the IRA website where you can get all the information about the service, ask questions, find out how to contact them and get all the information you need. Thanks for joining us and back to you, Sarah.

    Sara Brown: 37:11

    Thank you Paul and thank you for joining me at Change Makers today. We've added all the links and websites mentioned in the show notes and, as always, we're looking for ways to be a changemaker this week.

  • Fox cat: 0:00

    Welcome to Changemakers, an APH podcast. We speak to people around the world who are making a positive difference in the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted. Here is your host.

    Sara Brown: 0:15

    Hello and welcome to Change Makers, I'm APH's Public Relations Manager, Sara Brown. And today we're celebrating the history of Braille with a look at some of our high-tech Braille machines, featuring the very latest in Braille technology. We will be looking at a new product that is in development. Learn about a new feature coming to Chameleon 20, go back and learn more about the history of braille displays. We also have a registration with Partners with Paul. Above, first we have Donna McClure-Rogers, early childhood development product manager at APH. Hi Donna and welcome to Change Makers.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 0:50

    Hi Sara, it's a pleasure to be here.

    Sarah Braun: 0:53

    Big. Can you tell us something about this new product that is coming soon?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 0:58

    Insurance. This product is called Polly. Uh, it was developed in partnership with India's Thinkerbell Labs, and Polly is a standalone braille learning device, complete with a syllabus for contracted and non-contracted braille. It also includes an online portal for parents and teachers to personalize the device based on the needs of the child.

    Sarah Braun: 1:28

    And talk about Helios. I understand that this is the learning management system that comes with Polly. Can you tell us a little more about it?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 1:36

    Helios is the online portal. Um, it's basically a website that provides information about usage data. Uh, you know how long the kid has been online, what lessons he's mastered, where he's struggling, stuff like that. It has a lot of graphs and data that can really help create IEP reports and provide this information to the classroom teacher or parents who just want to know where the child is, 'where is the child right now? How are you? Um, you know what real characters they know? Are they master spellers?

    Sara Braun: 2:26

    So the product is poly. Now tell me, how is Poly different from other APH products?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 2:31

    Well, Polly has a lot of really exciting qualities, um, as a former TVI and Braille reader. The first thing that caught my eye when I picked up this device was the electronic board. I really enjoyed being able to erase when working on those whiteboard and stylus skills, there's also a jumbo screen, which has two cels for the jumbo screen and then six standard cels on this device, and those work together. the screen is not only used for input into the device, but also for output. Thus, it replaces the way a teacher might present a Braille character to a young child with tennis balls and a muffin tin. The remote Braille instruction provided by this device is extremely useful, especially now that we are all dealing with that ping-pong effect: "Are we virtual today?" "Are we personal today?" That kind of things. Um, when this all started, the field did a great job of building itself up and making it possible to continue teaching our students who sorely needed this hands-on teaching. But with this device, teachers can remotely assign and enforce assignments to their students, as long as their students are connected to the Internet. And they can do it over Bluetooth with Wi-Fi for that device, or they can also, um, use a wired ethernet port to connect whatever the students have available. It will allow them to get these tasks. And then the teacher can get feedback on how the child is doing, and this device will be created in a game-like format. So it's very similar to commercial beginning reading programs where quoted children have a plethora of options. Um, but these just aren't really accessible to our braille readers. And this device has everything for the student. They can navigate on their own, they can get all the feedback they need, and they can even repeat your instructions. Everything is perfectly accessible for both the teacher and the student. I really enjoy the Helios website because even the graphics are accessible. Um, this company has done a wonderful job of making sure that even our teachers who need this accessibility feature can access all the information that is available to secondary users.

    Sara Braun: 5:32

    Okay, what is Polly's target demographic?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 5:35

    Um, let's take a look at this device that is best suited for children between five and nine or 10 years old. Um, that would be, you know, your first braille readers and, uh, that's, that's because the feedback on the device is aimed at a younger child. Uh, we took the time to record the voice of this device in the APH studio. So you don't hear the voice of the computerized screen reader, talking to the child. We want them to be able to make that personal connection to the device and feel like they're actually getting feedback from a person. So when they give a correct answer, they often hear the kids clapping and saying, or, uh, the narrator might say you did good. You know, and there may be some, that an older child doesn't necessarily need as much feedback. Um, you know, that's not to say that an older child, or even an adult, can't use this device. Um, but again, you know, right now we're gearing it more towards younger kids.

    Sara Brown: 6:54

    So what was the motivation behind the development of Polly and what led to this need?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 7:01

    This one actually came about, uh, one, when the Thinkerbell Labs team was, uh, working together on a university product. They, um, had noticed that a lot of sighted kids have apps available, um, like maybe on their iPad that sing the alphabet song. And then the letters of the alphabet appear on the screen. So the sighted child can see the letters, but there was nothing that would work in conjunction with a braille display for his blind students. So they took an iPad and a braille cell and created an app that would be able to display the letter of the alphabet while the song sang the alphabet. It all started with a simple iPad and a braille display. And it's become this great device that teaches condensed braille, provides games for the kids, and provides online feedback for teachers. And then again, my favorite thing, they can, they can work with this electronic whiteboard. So they can develop those skills to have the most portable braille experience possible.

    Sara Braun: 8:28

    And when will the cop be for sale?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 8:32

    Uh, we're looking at spring 2022.

    Sara Braun: 8:36

    And is there anything else you want to say about Polly?

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 8:40

    Yeah. Um, this device is really designed to allow our students to practice when, um, when their TVI isn't there. Um, we all know that having those five days a week with this TVI is great for students starting out in Braille. I do, but sometimes that's not possible and we don't want our kids to have braille lessons just one day a week. Um, and we know that happens. So if you're thinking of getting this device for one of your students, make sure your district knows that this device has to go home with the student, it has to be used in the classroom without the TVI present. So, you know, maybe that needs to be added to the IEP just to make sure everyone is on the same page. Um, you know, parents can use this device to pass and learn braille with their child. And it would just create this holistic approach that we're looking for, so that we can help everyone in the industry to bring braille into general education for this child as quickly as possible.

    Sara Braun: 10:01

    Alright Donna, thanks for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Donna McClure-Rogers: 10:05

    You're very welcome

    Sara Braun: 10:07

    And Polly is only available in the United States. For those outside of the US, we recommend contacting Thinkerbell Labs directly for Polly's sister product, Annie. We added a link to Thinkerbell Labs in the show notes. Next, we'll learn about an update that's in the works for Chameleon 20. Here to talk about the new Chameleon 20 update is William Freeman, Product Manager, Educational Product Innovation at APH. Hi William and welcome to Change Makers.

    Guillermo Freeman: 10:40

    Hello. Thanks for the invitation. I'm happy to be here.

    Sara Braun: 10:42

    Tell us, what's new in Chameleon 20?

    Guillermo Freeman: 10:45

    Uh, there are a lot of new things with the chameleon. Uh, we recently added support for the Spanish language, which is great, it shows the menus in Spanish, and also adds support for Spanish Braille codes. We've all also added a one-handed mode, making it easier for people to operate the device with just one hand, and the most exciting thing coming to Chameleon now is text-to-speech, coming in our 1.3 update.

    Sara Braun: 11:11

    What was the motivation behind adding text-to-speech to Chameleon and how will it improve?

    Guillermo Freeman: 11:17

    Well, text-to-speech is a great way to reinforce braille skills while giving people an easier way to learn how to use their chameleon. So when a person reads braille on their chameleon, they can use the language to learn new braille words and contractions, and even rely on the language when taking a short break from homework something difficult to read braille needs, uh, uh, Something I also noticed, uh, I hadn't thought of, was TTS (text-to-speech) which allows someone who can't read braille to interact with the device, which will be great for a parent and teachers who have never used a braille display before. And maybe you're not that good at reading braille

    Sara Brown: 12:00

    And language machines. Which, which language engine will TTS use?

    Guillermo Freeman: 12:04

    will use acapella

    Sara Braun: 12:06

    And how will the student access the language?

    Guillermo Freeman: 12:10

    Multiple ways? So there's the speaker on the device, but also a headphone jack. If you want more privacy, you can also connect it to a speaker or even your computer. If you want to share your speech with another person, for example by connecting it to your computer, you can share it via video call.

    Sara Braun: 12:29

    IT'S OKAY. What are the different options for Text to Speak? Can you do more than just say what is currently displayed?

    Guillermo Freeman: 12:36

    Yes. So there is, uh, of course, a tell all function that starts reading at the current cursor position. There are also functions of reading current line, reading text under the cursor, and input echo and clear echo. It's great because you can turn each feature on and off as needed. So you don't necessarily have to use all of these features. You can choose the ones you want to use. So if someone doesn't want to be bothered with speech very often, they can turn off all the other options and just read the text under the activated cursor and then do it that way when they come across an unfamiliar eyebrow. with them they can simply move the cursor with the external keys and then hear the unknown word aloud. Umm, users can also increase and decrease the speaking rate, of course, which we know is a must. No one wants to sit back and listen to a voice that is too slow or too fast for their personal taste.

    Sara Brown: 13:33

    What is what, what is the benefit for a student if Chameleon has language?

    Guillermo Freeman: 13:38

    There are many benefits. Uh, as we've already discussed, using the text read under the cursor is a great way to learn new Braille words. Uh, but it can also help build your confidence in general. Like Typing Echo, it can be used for letters, words, or both. And that means that as students type, they can be confident that they are typing the characters and words they originally thought would boost their confidence as they continue to become fluent Braille readers and writers. In general, it's just another way to get students to read braille. Learning Braille is hard. It takes a lot of time. Anything we can do to make this process easier and more fun, we want to do.

    Sara Braun: 14:16

    Now. I understand that chameleon has different voices. Why put that option there? Why the choice?

    Guillermo Freeman: 14:22

    Choice is what the chameleon is all about. Uh, we really wanted a braille display that students could personalize and know it's theirs. When we first introduced this product, part of it was the different colored cases. We have now extended it to voice selection. This allows students to choose a voice they like to hear at the beginning. Users are limited to two voices per language, with English receiving "Sharon" and Wille and Spanish receiving "Rosa" and Wille. However, with our next release, we will introduce the ability for users to download a wide range of voices, including non-US English voices, funny voices, children's voices, and also bilingual voices that can speak English and Spanish fluently. One really cool aspect of this is that users can choose both a lead and back-up voice. The primary voice reads menus and system messages, and the secondary voice reads content. So you could choose a British voice to read your menus and system messages, you know, do it very decently, and then a more American voice for your content. Um, and with all these extra features, it means that each chameleon is really unique to the person, as everyone will have their own preferences.

    Sara Braun: 15:43

    When will this version be available?

    Guillermo Freeman: 15:46

    Uh, it's coming out early this year.

    Sara Brown: 15:47

    William, is there anything else you want to add?

    Guillermo Freeman: 15:51

    Um, the main thing, um, the number one message that I want to give to people with Chameleon and Mantis is to upgrade their units. Uh, I've been trying to make a big deal lately, and that's because we've found that some people don't update their drives. So be sure to upgrade your drives. We listen to your comments. Everything we build into these devices is based on the things you've asked for. And we just want people to be able to benefit from all the cool stuff that we bring.

    Sara Brown: 16:16

    Very good William, thanks for joining Change Makers today.

    Guillermo Freeman: 16:19

    Yes. Thanks for having me. It was great.

    Sara Brown: 16:22

    Next. We will look for partners with Paul.

    Pablo Ferrara: 16:26

    Thank you Sara and welcome back to Partners with Paul. Glad to have you on the show with us today, we have Kim and Chris Nova from Mystic Access. Chris is the founder of Mystic Access and Kim is the director of product development. Welcome to the show. How are you today?

    Kim y Chris Nova: 16:44

    Great Pablo, thanks for having us.

    Pablo Ferrara: 16:46

    Lots of things we want to talk about today. So for people who may not know Chris, what is Mystic Access?

    Chris Nova: 16:52

    Mystic Access is a company that I founded in 2013. And, uh, our mainstay is audio documentation for mainstream and/or blind products.

    Pablo Ferrara: 17:07

    Big. Can you tell us more about some of the products on your website?

    Chris Nova: 17:11

    Insurance. For example, we have a tutorial for Amazon Echo, everyone's favorite, Google Home, iOS, Android, and we even have an APH tutorial there.

    Pablo Ferrara: 17:28

    Yes. That's definitely something we want to cover here. Kim, are there any new products or sales we should know about?

    Kim Nova: 17:35

    Paul, we have some exciting new things in terms of the actual audio that we offer that can be downloaded digitally or purchased on physical media like an SD card or NLS cartridge. We've got a cool new course on how to listen to podcasts that people might find fascinating because we're sitting here and recording a podcast that's all about the different ways you can do it, whether it's in an app via iOS or Android via your stream. from Victor or any other player that might require you to manually download a podcast. We talk about all these things. I like what feeds the podcast, what are episodes? What do you need to know to download your feed to a player? For example, if it doesn't give you the ability to magically do it through the beauty of electronics, you know, through the player itself. So, it is a very complete course, which starts with basic concepts and develops to more advanced emotional concepts. . And it's three powerful information sessions for three hours on links. So this is a great class for people who are looking for alternative ways, or maybe just new ways, to test their podcasts. We also have some new hardware products. One is a desk cart. That's really cool. So if you have some goodies you want to keep close at hand, this is a nice metal swivel desk organizer with lots of compartments and we've got some really cool magnetic ties as well. These are fun things we got for the holidays and they make great gifts for the season. TRUE.

    Chris Nova: 19:05

    The other thing that we have, the other thing that we have is a society with guidelines and borders where we have talking about medical products, blood pressure, oximeter monitors and an infrared thermometer.

    Pablo Ferrara: 19:19

    So definitely a range of products. Let's go back to audio for a moment. Uh, these are things that you've completed in collaboration with APH. Can you tell us more about that Kim?

    Kim Nova: 7:30 pm

    Absolutely. We were very excited to work with APH to create and put together a tutorial on the Mantis Q40. And because Mantis is such an innovative little product, we really wanted to work with you on it and make it really complete again, audio that takes you away from then and the more fundamental concepts of what Mantis is. "Why do you want one?" "How do you orient yourself on this device?" "What does it do in all the different uses?" So you can learn to write documents and do calculations and of course use Terminal Modes. So there is a lot of great information out there that will hopefully make using your praying mantis a less stressful and more fun experience.

    Pablo Ferrara: 20:14

    There is a lot, it is complete. No doubt. So if you're an audio learner, we'll definitely talk to you about how to achieve that here shortly. Let me finish this. Is there anything else you'd like to talk to us about?

    Chris Nova: 20:29

    Well, we have a number of paid products on our website, but we also have a number of free downloads. We have a bi-weekly Mystic Access podcast that comes out every two weeks. It's Kim and me, so you can hear us. We also have a free download page where you can download literally hundreds of hours of audio and listen to it for free.

    Pablo Ferrara: 20:55

    This is fantastic. And we appreciate the opportunity to have you with us today. Thanks for being with us.

    Kim y Chris Nova: 21:01

    Thank you Pablo. We appreciate the opportunity.

    Pablo Ferrara: 21:05

    So, in the show notes, you'll find a link to the Mystic Access site. We'll also add a link to the Mantis tutorial, take a look, I'm sure you can find something useful there. Thanks for your attention. And now back to you Sara

    Sara Braun: 21:22

    thanks pablo And now we are back at the beginning. We have APH museum director Michael Hudson here to talk about early braille devices. Hi Michael and welcome to Change Makers.

    Michael Hudson: 21:34

    Good morning Sarah. Now I just talked about the new APH product called Polly and the updates to the Chameleon 20, both high-tech braille devices. Can you tell us about some of the early braille tablets and devices?

    Michael Hudson: 21:50

    Insurance. So Louis (Braille) first published his code in 1829. And, uh, one of the things that made braille so superior to raised letters was the system they used before that made braille pretty easy. to write. Um, and today, you know, if you go to the APH catalog, you'll find, um, a light stylus. Um, what Louis came up with was called a Braille tablet, which is actually kind of a desktop computer, but if you think about a board the size of a clipboard, um, and then, um, it had, um, holes in it. drilled into the side of the frame and then a small metal flame frame with the little windows that guided your stylist to create the six point cells, were they correct? So, he would write one line at a time, and then he would pick up that writing guide, slide it down, poke a series of holes, click it, and then write the next line. And what was different was, uh, today, uh, light and stylus. He's got these recessed indentations at the bottom of the frame and stuff, so if you slide the stye in, it goes in, that recessed hole makes a nice round dot, uh, Louis' Braille tablet had ridged lines. And so, the braille on it isn't as, uh, as neat and orderly as a modern slate and pen, but still, it was, uh, a quick and easy way to write with it. He allowed you to sit and take notes in class, and it was a huge improvement over the raised letters.

    Sara Brown: 23:39

    What was the technology like in those early devices?

    Michael Hudson: 23:43

    Well, I mean, they're made of, you know, they're made of wood and brass, uh, and, uh, and then they start to be made of cheaper metals. Um, and, and also nickel, uh, you're starting to see that even though they're still brass, they're starting to get nickel plated so they don't tarnish. Um, and, you know, getting your fingers dirty after you've used them. The stylus comes in all sorts of shapes, you know, everyone who came up with another way to carve the button on the stylist to make it more comfortable for your hands. So you see things that look like wood paneling, uh, uh, things that look like chess pieces, uh, you see things that are made of all sorts of materials. You know, wood is obviously pretty common, but then, um, when the first plastic ones come around, you start to see one made out of plastic, you know, APH has had a name of chair stylist for a long time, that should fit comfortably on the hand, but it was also flat on the edges to prevent it from rolling. Um, and that helps, you know, so you don't keep hitting your stylist and then, you know, he falls on the floor. You can't find it. So, um, yeah, everyone, who, who's ever seen a whiteboard in a pen and spent their entire lives contemplating another one to do. So, you know, they come, they come in pocket size, they come in desk covers, they come in ascending and descending letters. You know, one of the things that's always been considered a challenge with pens is that when you push the pen down on the paper, you know the dot will appear at the bottom of the page. So you need to know two Braille codes. You need to know the Braille code to write, which is basically like looking in a mirror. Um, and then you have to know how to read it, you know, um, um, from left to right. Um, how you could read normally. Um, and stuff, so there's all these inventors who come up with writing slates, so they'd take up the pen. And instead of a sharp point, it would be a hollow point. And then in the bottom frame of the board, instead of being a recessed hole, there would be a raised peg, right? So the hollow point of your stylist would fit over the tip of this raised needle, forming an upturned point. Um, so we, we, you know, and APH has sold several of those models. You never have the problem with all those upper writing slabs that tend to have a ghost point, which means there's a raised needle on that lower slab. If, if you don't get the stylist really great, you're perfectly aligned, sometimes you get ghosting issues. So your braille isn't very clean. Um, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to solve this design problem, but still, you know, there's nothing like having something that you can put right in your pocket, like a pen and paper. And, um, and you know, if you just want to jot down a note or a phone number or something, it's still a very useful thing.

    Sara Brown: 27:01

    Wow! The fact that you had to learn two types of braille codes...

    Michael Hudson: 27:05


    Sara Braun: 27:05

    ...Just doing that is crazy. So when you write, think about how that almost translates to the other side. ..

    Michael Hudson: 27:13

    Yes, that is correct. But, but think about it, when you're six, that's a no-brainer, right? It's not a big deal because your brain is plastic and agile and yes, and you are, it's easy to learn new things. And the idea that you have to write like this and read like that. It's not a big deal now for your six, for people who lose their sight later in life, you know, a little bit and stylist could become, you know, it's not necessarily something they'd be interested in wearing, but, you know Actually, this whole upside down and inverted way of writing with the tablet and stylus is one of the main reasons why the braille writer was invented, right? The mechanical braille writer. We consider the Perkins Braille Writer to be today's gold standard, er, for reading braille. And, and, the original Braille, a mechanical braille writer, was invented by a guy named Frank Hall, who was the director of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Blind in Jacksonville, Illinois, and the Illinois school didn't even use Braille. They used a competitor's code called New York Point, which we talked about earlier, right? A code of dots that was like braille, but not braille. And so, Frank Hall wanted to invent a mechanical scribe to overcome all of this, all writing with a blackboard problem. But when he started to machine New York Point, he encountered some problems because New York Point did not always take up the same amount of space. It was of variable width. So he ended up developing a mechanical braille writer, we called it the Hall Braille Writer, and the first commercial models of the Hall Braille Rider came out around 1892 or so. And it basically had seven buttons, right? It had six keys for the six dots in the Braille cell and then a space bar. That was it, but this braille that it was, it was a shiny little machine. And everyone who wrote braille used a slate pen and put their hands on a braille writer like oh my gosh that's amazing. Too much faster. They didn't have to know two different ways, one way, write different, write different, read. And, uh, once you're, you know, skilled at typing, you're sitting there hammering out braille much, much faster than doing it by hand with an SL and a pen. And all the braille writers we use today, including the Perkins, owe their technological roots to Frank Hall and a gunsmith named GU Seber, who was a friend of his, um, who helped him figure out the mechanics. And then, there was this, uh, typewriter company in Chicago called the Munson Typewriter Company. And they are the ones who helped him mass-produce it.

    Sara Brown: 30:12

    it's okay . Now tell me about braille printing and mass production, because I'm sure that with this new braille, mechanical braille has opened all doors for printing as production.

    Michael Hudson: 30:24

    You know, Hall has his Hall Braille Writer and you can, you know, take notes in class or write an assignment in Braille or write a letter in Braille. On the right. But how, how, you know, do you make many copies of, say, the same book, a fourth grade spelling book in braille, right? So, and that, and it is, and it's our boy Frank again. Right now he has a machine that writes on paper, but he's starting to think that what I'd like to do is invent one, a bigger, heavier machine. Write on Brass Hinged Brass Plates Plates that can be loaded into a clamshell-style printing press. It opens its jaws. You lay out this printing plate, an operator places a piece of paper on it, snaps the jaws shut and, and, and the dots are pushed to the side. So he invents this machine called the Hall Stenograph Machine. So it's a big table, uh, a big machine, maybe about four feet wide. And it has a big foot, a pedal at the bottom and the same six buttons. On the right? So you type your, uh, the, left, you press the keys that correspond to the pens. He wants the braille to say, let's say he's trying to make an E, so press "one out of five" and then press the foot pedal. And that's what powers give you the mechanical advantage to smash those, those, uh, dots on the brass plates. And well, you are sitting there with your book in front of you, the printed book. The operator then mentally translates the printed characters into Braille and writes them on the page. And now you have a page, you have page one from your fourth grade, you know, geography book or spelling book. So you have to make a record for each page of the book. On the right. And first, the whole paragraph machine only puts braille on one side of the page, right? But in the 1910s and 1920s people began to experiment with this idea, called internal direction. IT'S OKAY. And if you point to it, you have dots on the brass plates on one side, on both sides. IT'S OKAY. And they slightly offset those dots between the characters on one side and those on the back. So they don't cancel each other out. They actually fit. On the right. There is enough space between the points to do that. And now you can, uh, set up these Braille dies with, uh, Braille pages on both sides. And now it's a lot less bulky, right? It occupies half the space. Um, you, and, um, so interconnection is becoming very popular. And you know, even today, even though we use a lot of other, more modern digital presses, we're still a part of the majority of Braille output. And, and, by the way, Sara, uh, the publishers didn't want that. They didn't want to punctuate, uh, uh, they, uh, uh, they didn't really want to change, you know, our, our, our people, you know, we pumped up the braille when we did that one time, you know, for one thing, they didn't want to think about how we could invent a stereographic machine that would put the dots on each side of these brass plates, because the halls, the machines wouldn't. But the pressure from the field was so great that our board finally decided to do it. So we invented our own, we worked with the American Foundation for the Blind and we invented a new stereographic machine that would do that. Uh, two faces, uh, uh, preparation of dishes. And so, just to bring it to the future. So you're still talking even though you have a machine that does your braille plates, right? And you have machines that are producing your braille en masse. You, um, it's still slow. And you, your stereo operator must be very well trained, right? So when you get a woman that she is, she's highly rated. And she then decides to leave the world of work and start a family. Now you have to train someone else to do this unique thing that braille presses do. So you know the idea is how we could computerize this whole thing? On the right? And so, in the 1950s and 1960s, the center of computer technology became IBM. Um, international trading machines. So APH is working with IBM to figure out how to calculate it. And back then, computers, you know, data entry is done. They do data entry on this machine that punches holes in these punch cards. And then you load a stack of punch cards into a feeder. And you feed them into the computer and light shines through them and wherever you've drilled a hole, light shines through them and the computer reads that, right? And so we found a way, a, a, for the transcription to be done, uh, by someone writing, uh, and punching these cards. And then we'd send the cards to, uh, New York and they'd load them into a machine and feed them into the computer. And then the computer was programmed to translate the printed characters into Braille and then punch, punch, punch, punch, punch. I would punch a bunch of cards, big ones, another big deck of cards, that's the braille translation now. They would return it to us. We put that into a card reader that hooked up to a special machine, a stereo machine, a computer stereo machine, and then punched out the records. I would print the zinc. At this point we stopped using copper. We use zinc plates and it would enhance the plates. Then you would take them and put them on the press, straight into mass production, you would produce them today. This entire process can be done on your phone, right? Your phone, we, might use a software package called Braille Blaster from the (American) printer. And um, you know, you could load pretty much any publication, any publication printed on , into this program and it would translate it. And that, you know, you have the processing power of a mainframe computer in your pocket. Um, and today there's a transcription, uh, just with a desktop computer, you know, here at APH we have a braille translation department that does that. Um, and there are also braille translation programs in many prisons. You know, we work with a lot of prisons, braille programs, we translate all the textbooks. Um, and then often you don't use these embossing plates anymore. Although we do have a few presses that still use the Bo on boss plates for releases. You want to make a lot of copies, like the McDonald's menu, right? Um, from time to time we'll make an offer and get the contract on the McDonald's menu. And we'll make a million copies of that, which you still need, the relief plates. But often we do a book for a child somewhere in the United States. And for you to, uh, use a digital press, like a Brailo 650 or an Interpoint NV 55. Brailos come from Norway. Uh, the interpoints are from Belgium and we've adjusted a bit, but now it's done a lot, a lot of relief... It's all digital. Um, and so your next question will probably be what about paperless Braille, right?

    Sara Brown: 38:16

    and and

    Michael Hudson: 38:17

    Yeah. So, because you have what you were talking about is the chameleon and other, uh, updateable braille displays, little computer notes, and you can just sit there and rock out in your class... rock out, or your, in , at the grocery store, or while you're on the phone with your mom and taking notes, um, and then you've got the refreshable braille display, where you lift pens electronically. Well, it all starts in the late 1960s. They start, uh, you know, a bunch of inventors start working with pretty complicated little devices, like the way they're worn, some use rubber, uh, straps sometimes. And , uh , the , the , the points would be , they would be like a memory , uh , foam , it was the belt . And so he could lift the pins into the rubber, and then as he went forward, through the roller, he would flatten the point again. But that didn't really work out in the end, it was practical, but it caught Oleg Tretyakov. His wife was, uh, uh, a linguist interested in, uh, Braille translation, and Ole was more of a computer guy. Uh, and so, you know how it happens sometimes with married couples, you know, someone, you know, you bring more issues that you know you struggle with at home. And the other half of the team says that maybe they add something else to the problem. And that's what Oleg did, he sat down and created this machine, circa 1975, called the Digit Cassette in France, inches deep and maybe about four inches thick. And he used audio cassettes to store the data. Um, and then, uh, and then you had these six, they had the keyboard, the , a braille keyboard that you could adjust and you could enter data, and I'd put it on the audio cassette, magnetic tape, but then I had, I think, a screen 20 or 25 cell refreshable braille that could basically reproduce what you wrote on the tape, but reproduced it like it would Braille. On the right. And he used a technology called Pizo Electric Technology to lift the pins. Um, and, uh, Tretyakov is coming to the United States. He is trying to find a way to mass produce this. And he goes to a company called Telecensory, which was a big accessibility company back then. And they were trying to negotiate to produce the, uh, the, uh, Tretyakov machine, the digit cassette, well, Telecensory said, "No." And they basically stole Tretyakov's idea. On the right. And they took his idea and invented this thing called Versa Braille, the first commercially available updateable braille display in the United States that also used, uh, uh, uh, magnetic tape, uh, cassettes, you know, to store the information. , but it was quite difficult to carry. Um, compared to the Tag, you couldn't put it in your pocket, but it was portable and used a rechargeable battery. And all of our devices today, actually, can be traced back to those two devices, the Versa Braille and the , although there are European manufacturers that trace their roots to other inventors in Europe. Um, but you know, the exciting thing about this is that for a long time, the Piso electrocell was kind of a limiting factor because it was pretty expensive. Each cell was, you know, I don't know, $250 or something, just for sale. So if you had a 40 cell display, that's 40 times, two $50. On the right. And because of that, uh, and because of that, uh, like inventions, like the, uh, Orbit 20 that we, uh, uh, invented a few years ago and it's not in our catalog now, but it used a different kind of technology. And so a lot of inventors poke around and poke around and work on it, like the hourglass, you know, deadlock, that little thing in a technology that kind of slows down development. Um, but, um, you know, there's been a lot, a lot of movement, a lot of growth, and a lot of miniaturization, you know, these devices are getting smaller and cheaper. And that was the whole idea, how can we get to a point where we can put one of these in the hands of anyone who wants to use it? Um, and you know, we're really getting there. Um, you know, the chameleon and the, and, uh, what's that other device that just came out?

    Sara Braun: 43:10

    We have chameleon 20 and Polly comes out.

    Michael Hudson: 43:15

    Polly. Um, so that's after Polly Thompson, who, uh, who, uh, was Helen Keller's assistant, but all of this, you know, happens fast. And, uh, the changes are, it's amazing to see the, the, the new products that are coming out, uh, the, to make braille easier to use. Um, and, you know, it's a tribute to how elegant Louis's original code was that this thing was, you know, first published in 1829, which we're publishing now, you know, it's not going to take long to work on the 200th anniversary, but the code is very elegant. Uh, so easy to so easy to use. And so flexible that we're still, you know, technology makes it easier to use, but the reason we're still inventing new technology is because the code itself is very elegant.

    Sara Braun: 44:11

    And you know, when something is done right or done, it will stand the test of time. And this is a classic example of that. It hasn't deviated much from the original, the original code. So that's just, that's it, that's my thought. That's my opinion when something is good, the first time you change, don't reinvent the wheel.

    Michael Hudson: 44:30

    Yeah. So my old boss, Gary, people used to ask him, do you know why? Do you know when braille is going to disappear? And he used to say that when people don't need pencil and paper, when people don't need a pen, you know, visually impaired people stop using braille. But as long as we have to read, uh, even, to memorize things, uh, to store data, to, uh, to send messages to each other, uh, blind people, uh, will use the Louis code,

    Sara Braun: 45:03

    What else can we see related to Braille at the APH Museum?

    Michael Hudson: 45:08

    We have a huge collection as you can imagine. You know, it starts with Louis's original publication of the braille code in 1829. What we call the day per se, the method, is super weird. Only six copies of the book remain worldwide. And we exhibit one of them. We have over a hundred braille graphics, the collection, and probably 50 of them on display in all shapes, sizes, and material designs. Um, we have 40, uh, different drivers from BH, uh, from all over the world, from Europe, from Asia, from North America, you know, starting with this, uh, Hall Rail driver. We have, uh, you know, the St machine, if you want to see that we have, uh, we have, uh, some of the early computers, uh, the IBM-developed computer translation machines that are on display. And, uh, you know, uh, we've done temporary exhibits with the, uh, revolving braille displays, but that's going to be one of the things that I'm really excited about with the new museum project that we're working on, is that we'll be able to get a lot out of of this technology that I have collected over the last 16 years and for which we did not have space in the new museum. And so, uh, you know, a lot of the Bri and Bosse, uh, digital note takers and so forth, are, uh, on display and, uh, and, uh, and also in an accessible way that people really become familiar with it. Forks

    Sara Brown: 46:41

    Is there anything else you would like to add regarding braille displays?

    Michael Hudson: 46:45

    Yeah, I think it's just that the Braille code is alive, Sara, and, um, and like, you know, we have exactly that in an incredibly new, you know, new generation of users that's emerging, and, you know, uh It's, uh, it's, it's, it's just a constant process of people, uh, poking and poking and reaching and, uh, and asking questions. And I think if we keep asking questions, why are we doing this? Why are we doing this? Why is it that we, we got to where we are, uh, uh, that people keep applying their, their, their human ingenuity to this, this simple problem of literacy? And, and, uh, and I, you know, I think that's what our museum is talking about, and I, and I'm excited to see where we go next.

    Sara Braun: 47:39

    Thank you Michael for joining me at Change Makers today.

    Michael Hudson: 47:42

    Thank you Sara

    Sara Braun: 47:45

    Thanks for listening to this episode of changemaker. We've included links to Chameleon 20 and Mystic Access in the show notes, and as always, look for ways to be a changemaker this week.

transcript file

2021 Change Makers Transkripte (Episodios 21–43)

Transcripts for Change Maker 2020 (Episodes 1-20)

(Video) Spider-Man won't share his lollipop with Hulk #shorts


1. Misty Copeland’s influence on Boys & Girls in the Bronx
(Graham Bensinger)
2. A global history of women’s rights, in 3 minutes
(UN Women)
3. Changemaker 7 - Liz Marami - First Female Marine Pilot In East Africa
(Ibua Africa)
4. July 21, 2022 - Board of Commissioners and Salary Board Meetings
(Montgomery County, PA)
5. #WHUTtv -1619 to 2020:A Black Journalist Turns The Light of Truth on the History of American Race
6. Black Country Artists You Should Know
(ET Canada)


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Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.