Accessibility Contest

From the mailbag:
We welcome you to submit your best work on improving accessibility of the Web, Mobiles, and Wearables for people with and without disabilities to the International Web for All Conference (W4A’15), conveniently co-located with WWW’15 and MobiSys’15.

W4A15 ( will take place in Florence, Italy (May 18-20):
– Intuit will award  $2,000 and $1,000 to the best technical and communication papers
– The Paciello Group will award the winners of the Accessibility Challenge
– ABILITY Magazine will highlight the winners of awards in a special editorial
– IBM will provide travel grants to both grad and undergrad students with disabilities
– Google will sponsor 6 PhD students to participate in the Doctoral Student ConsortiumÂ
– Submission deadlines: Jan 23rd, Notifications: March 4th

As you know, devices are getting smaller, and more of them are now wearable: smart glasses, smart watches, and smart clothing are all working their way into our lives and onto our bodies. These devices are online, web-accessible, and increasingly interconnected. As with many technologies that have come before, wearable devices present incredible opportunities for improving accessibility for people with and without disabilities, but also present accessibility challenges in ensuring that people are able to equally benefit from them regardless of disability, context or situation. Acknowledging the importance of this topic, the theme of the 12th International Web for All Conference is “The Wearable Web”.

Don’t be deterred by the theme; we invite your best work on improving and understanding access for people across the accessibility continuum. Papers are expected to detail technical solutions and scientific insights into Web, Mobile, and Wearable technologies addressing diverse user needs. Areas of interest include but are not limited to the following: age, cognition, culture, education, emotions, dexterity, disability, diversity, health, hearing, income, infrastructure, language, learning, literacy, mobility, situation, society, and vision.

The keynote speech on the “Sense and sensibility: smartphones and wearable technologies to support seniors” will be delivered by Lorenzo Chiari who is a Professor and the Vice-Director of the Health Sciences and Technologies – Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research at the University of Bologna. On the close of the 1st day, join us for the evening of wine, food, and live music – wiith a Classical performance by Lia Martirosyan.
The William Laughborough” after-dinner talk “Riches Beyond Measure: A New Frontier in Web Accessibility” will be given by Kevin Carey, the Chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, UK.

Don’t come just for W4A’15 – stay for the entire week! W4A is conveeniently co-located with WWW’15 and MobiSys’15 conferences. MobiSys’15 is the top research conference dealing with all aspects of mobile systems:
And WWW’15 ( is the best and the biggest Web research conference attended by famous Web researchers and practitioners, such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the Web). Among other events, we will hold a joint WWW/W4A panel session devoted to the “Wearable Web” theme.

Carlton Anne Cook Walker
Attorney at Law
President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Teacher of Students with Blindness/Visual Impairment
105 Creamery Road
Boiling Springs, PA   17007
Voice: 717-658-9894
Twitter: braillemom

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Hadley Holiday Card & Gift Tag Sale

From the mailbag:

The 2014 Hadley School for the Blind Woman's Board Braille Holiday Card and Gift Tag Onsite Sale Begins Today In Honor of White Cane Safety Day Purchase your Braille Holiday Cards and Tags in the school's lobby at 700 Elm Street, Winnetka Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through December 17

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(A Small Part of) Antioch Park

Location:  6501 Antioch Road; Merriam, KS

Cost:  Free!!

Web site:

If you enter Antioch Park at the entrance closest to Shawnee Mission Parkway and follow the road straight back, you’ll arrive at a big shelter with an A-shaped roof that’s in front of an enormous play area.  When you walk through the shelter, you’ll find the first playground–this is the playground I’m going to write about here.  If you follow the ramp up to the left, you’ll arrive at a child-sized Dodge City, complete with jail, general store, and train station.  Keep going, and there’s another playground.  Further on, there are more swings.  There are tons and tons of things to play with in this part of Antioch Park.

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We had a good-sized group of kids with us when we visited this playground, including one who uses an adaptive walker to get across large areas and several with varying degrees of visual impairment.  Everybody was able to play on the equipment and have fun with friends.  There were areas where either adults or peers would help kids navigate the equipment; sometimes, kids just needed encouragement or ideas on how to navigate surfaces (this was Peanut on the cargo net), other times, they needed more hands-on help (Peanut on monkey bars), or rescue (we’ve been stuck on cargo nets before).

It was definitely a hands-on experience for parents:  the play equipment is fairly easy to see and navigate, but it’s a popular, crowded playground, and it’s open, so kids can run off fairly easily.  You’ll need to be vigilant, but I’m confident you, and your kids, will have a great time.

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Technology, Culture and Community Fair in New York City

From the mailbag:

Technology, Culture and Community Fair in New York City
Oct 18, 2014 — 10 AM – 4 PM
40 West 20th St | New York, NY 10011

The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of the New York Public Library, invites you to discover a city of accessible culture, technology and community resources. Chat with exhibitors; attend showcase sessions; try accessible technology; and meet our team of peer tech coaches. Exhibitors include: Lincoln Center; Museum of Modern Art; Guggenheim Museum; Rubin Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Visionary Media; Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets; NFB; ACB; Adaptive Climbing Group; ICanConnect; Abisee; Vis-Ability; Eye-Assist; CTech; Google; Orcam; Creative Adaptations for Learning; Independence Science; Gatewave; Healing Arts Initiative; Science, Industry and Business Library; the NYPL Oral History Project; Lighthouse Guild International; the New York State Commission for the Blind; the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People; 3D Photo Works; and more. The fair is free and accessible. For more information, call (212) 621-0627. Details, directions and an agenda of showcase speakers are at the following link:

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Happy White Cane Safety Day!

In honor of White Cane Safety Day, a selection of sites and videos for your enjoyment:

First: Kansas White Cane Law

Next, an amusing video from the NFB:

Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic, explains cane use to a sighted person (and lets her try it!) here:

Finally, I wasn’t able to find a video of it on YouTube, but Peanut and his class did a flash mob at the JC Nichols Fountain for White Cane Day last year. Who knows? Maybe this year’s class will do a repeat!

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McDuffy Braille Reader

From the mailbag:

National Federation of the Blind Announces Release of Unified English Braille Version of The McDuffy Braille Reader

Baltimore, Maryland (October 14, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind announced today the release of a new version of The McDuffy Reader: A Braille Primer for Adults by Sharon L. Monthei, which is designed to guide students through the Unified English Braille (UEB) code. The primer, first published by the National Federation of the Blind in 1989, has been used as an effective Braille teaching tool in many rehabilitation settings around the country. Ms. Monthei has revised this popular Braille instructional manual in light of the coming changes to the Braille code. By January 2016, Unified English Braille will be the official Braille code used in the United States.

Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is proud to make this new instructional tool available to adult Braille students. With the rollout of Unified English Braille only a little more than a year away, we believe that programs that teach Braille to blind adults will find this new version of our classic Braille instructional manual to be an invaluable aid for their students.”

Jennifer Dunnam, Manager of Braille Programs for the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The McDuffy Reader has been a widely utilized and acclaimed guide for adults learning Braille for twenty-five years and counting. This update ensures that this excellent primer will continue to be a helpful resource for Braille students across the nation.”

The Unified English Braille Edition of The McDuffy Reader: A Braille Primer for Adults is the first UEB instructional guide for beginning adult Braille readers to be published in the United States. The book presents first uncontracted Braille, then the Braille contractions in logical groups. The author has crafted the text in the contracted section of the manual so that words are used only when students have learned all of the contractions that apply to them. The book contains eighty-nine Braille pages in one volume, which is comb-bound with plastic covers.

The UEB edition of the McDuffy Reader is available from the National Federation of the Blind Independence Market for $20.00 plus shipping and handling. You may contact the NFB Independence Market via email at and via phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216.

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Pumpkin Patch at Suburban Lawn & Garden

Location:  4 W 135th Street, Kansas City, MO 64145

Cost:  FREE!

Web Site:  

For our latest CCVI Alumni meet-up, a friend suggested the pumpkin patch at Suburban Lawn & Garden.  I had no idea that Suburban had a pumpkin patch, and I was absolutely blown away.  We had a fair-sized group of kids with us that were all along the vision spectrum, and every single one of them had a GREAT time.


To get to the pumpkin patch, you can:

  1. Walk
  2. Check out a golf cart.  Several of the kids were in awe of these and loved riding around on them.  This might be the most wheelchair-friendly route to the patch.
  3. Peanut, Sprout and Efrit wait to get on the hay wagon for our trip out to the pumpkin patch.

    Peanut, Sprout and Efrit wait to get on the hay wagon for our trip out to the pumpkin patch.

    Ride on a hay wagon.







Our friends head out to the pumpkin patch in the army transport.

Our friends head out to the pumpkin patch in the army transport.

4.  Ride on an awesome vintage military transport.  This has seats on the side and is probably the second-easiest to move on.  (Hay is an uneven, bouncy surface.)

Even though it had rained seemingly constantly the week before our visit, the pumpkin patch was not muddy.  It was very easy to navigate, and it seemed pretty much perfectly dry:  we were amazed.  The pumpkin patch is also not a “traditional” pumpkin patch:  you’re not wading out into the middle of a pumpkin growing operation, stumbling over vines and cutting free your own squash.  Here, the pumpkins have been brought from their growing location and have been scattered across a field.  You have all the joy of running and finding your favorite orange friend with none of the muddy mess or the tricky footing of a field of pumpkin vines.

Peanut, Sprout, and Efrit pick out our pumpkins.

Peanut, Sprout, and Efrit pick out our pumpkins.

When you arrive at the patch, you arrive at a central mulched area that is surrounded by small play-houses.  Kids can pretend they’re running their own pumpkin patch–and our group of kids played in the little buildings for hours while our group of parents chatted outside.

This area also has a large two-sided chalkboard with sidewalk chalk for children to draw on.  The chalk was in a box on the hay bales in front of the chalk board, in case you have a hard time finding it on your visit.  Sprout was a fan of this part of the patch; our older kids were much more interested in chatting and running around the buildings.

At the back of the patch, behind the buildings, are two small hills.  Hills are evidently magnetic to children:  the kids were on these little hills for ages.  They rolled down the sides, played king of the hill and other made-up games, and generally had a great time.

They were less interested in the giant painted hay bales—a pumpkin, Frankenstein, a pig, and an Angry Bird.  These do make for a great photo opportunity, though, if you can convince the kids to head over!


I definitely recommend the Suburban Lawn & Garden Pumpkin Patch.  It was dry, it was easy to navigate, and it was free:  it just doesn’t get better than that.  We spent about $4.50 for the two small pumpkins the kids picked out at the patch; for that low cost, we spent about 2 hours having fun with friends, had a small bag of popcorn each for a snack, wore out the kids a bit with the running around (!), and went home with our two small pumpkins and two mini pumpkins that the center gave the kids for free.  It was a great day.

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ASAN Advocacy Toolkit

From the mailbag:

ASAN has published a toolkit for advocates, families and administrators on how to ensure that people with disabilities receive Medicaid-funded Home and Community-Based Services in integrated settings that offer full access to the community.

Home and community-based services are an important source of support for many people with disabilities who need help to live in the community. But so far, many of these services have been provided in restrictive or group settings, instead of people’s own homes, communities, or integrated workplaces.

In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rule that may help people get the services they need in truly integrated settings. The new rule sets forth standards for the settings where people receive home and community-based services, including standards for privacy, choice, integration, and access to jobs in the community. Each state must write a five-year plan for how it will change its home and community-based services programs to meet these new standards.

The new rule is the result of several years of conversations between CMS and the disability rights community. In 2011, ASAN worked with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) and the National Youth Leadership Network to publish a report on which types of settings people with disabilities believe give them actual, meaningful opportunities to participate in the community.

ASAN’s new toolkit includes:

  • Resource for Advocates and their Families explaining what the new rule means and how to make their voices heard as their states make plans to comply with the new rule. The resource includes scripts for writing to state Medicaid agencies about how they’d like their state’s HCBS program to change.
  • Resource for State Administrators and Professionals on how to come into compliance with the new rule. This resource includes detailed guidance on the implications of the new rule, suggestions for elements to be included in the transition plan, and examples of useful tools and questionnaires for assessing provider compliance.
  • Research Brief explaining how scattered-site supported housing can help states meet the integration and choice standards in the New Rule.
  • Fact Sheet on integrated housing for people with disabilities.

ASAN’s toolkit on home and community-based services is the third of four toolkits for advocates on health care issues facing the disability community. These toolkits were made possible by funding from the Special Hope Foundation.

We hope that you find our toolkit useful and distribute it widely. Over the course of the next five weeks, ASAN will be holding a webinar series with other disability rights organizations on the new rule and its implications on services. Please send any concerns, feedback, or comments on how you plan to use the toolkit to ASAN’s Director of Public Policy, Samantha Crane, at

Thanks to generous support from:

Logo for the Special Hope Foundation

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Trolley Run Registration is Open!

From the mailbag:

Announcing the new and open registration for the 2015 race!

The 27th Annual Trolley Run will take place on Sunday, April 26, 2015, and we want you join us for all the fun.

The Trolley Run is known for its fast, flat-to-downhill course through Brookside, and for our great After Bash on the Country Club Plaza. It’s a great race with a unique distance to set a new personal record, all while supporting the kids and families of CCVI.

We hope you check out our new website and stay tuned for more exciting Trolley news over the coming months. Visit our Facebook page to learn about our “27 Hours of Registration” contest, where you can win a personal ride to the start line!

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NFB Community Service Division Seeking October Blog Posts

From the mailbag:

Fellow Federationists,

The National Federation of the Blind has believed for almost seventy-five
years that blind people can live the lives they want. We believe that with
the love of our members, the hope that comes from the exposure to our
philosophy by way of our chapters, and the determination to educate and
advocate for our future, we can make our dreams reality.

The National Federation of the Blind Community Service Division believes
that by becoming active contributors in our local communities, we show that
the blind have capacity and worth and can live the lives they want. Is your
chapter involved in some sort of service project? What are you doing? How is
it benefitting the community? How are your sighted friends and neighbors
coming to know the abilities the members of your chapter possess? We’d love
to post your stories to our blog at

The specifics: Send your story as an attachment or in the body of a message
to me at Stories should be no more than 500
words. Be sure to include your name, state, and a title for your story. I
look forward to reading about what awesome service projects your chapters
have been a part of!

Chris Parsons
Vice President, National Federation of the Blind Community Service Division

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