Participants Needed: Study on experiences & preferences for image descriptions

From the mailbag:

A team of researchers at the University of Texas is seeking individuals who are blind or have low vision to participants in a study focused on people’s experiences with image descriptions (captions, alt text, visual question answers, etc.), and how preferences for image description change based on context of use.

Participants will engage in a 1.5 hour interview over the phone, and will be compensated with $30 via Amazon Gift Card. Subsequently, participants will be invited to participate in short diary study for additional $30.00 Amazon Gift Card.  Participation in this study may contribute to the development of next generation image description technologies.

To be eligible for this study, one needs to be 18 years or older, legally blind and use a screen reader whenever accessing computing devices, or have “low vision” and rely on either a screen magnifier or screen reader whenever using a computing device.

If interested or for more information, please email Abigale Stangl <> or 303-335-0879

Thank you in advance, Abigale Stangl

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B/VI Participants needed for study on mental-health related outcomes

From the mailbag:

Blind and low-vision participants needed for research to study mental health related outcomes in individuals with physical disabilities

The University of Utah is currently conducting a study examining mental health-related outcomes in individuals with various physical disabilities. Participants will be asked to answer questions about different aspects of their disabilities, beliefs, and mental and physical health through online questionnaires and interviews with study personnel. Financial compensation in the form of $45 Amazon gift cards will be provided.

Participants have the option of completing the study at the University of Utah or remotely, using their personal devices with internet connection and phone. Certain accessibility software and equipment will be provided to those participating on the University of Utah campus so that individuals with various forms of physical disabilities can use our laptop computers

For more information about this study, or if you are interested in participating, please contact us at 801-213-1040 or

Thank you for your time,

Lauren R. Khazem, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Veterans Studies

Department of Psychology

The University of Utah

Craig J. Bryan, PsyD, ABPP

Executive Director, National Center for Veterans Studies

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

The University of Utah

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Study on VI use of Camera-based Assistive Technology

Hello!  I have been a poor blogger the past few weeks:  things here have been rather hectic and have involved a lot of camps/camping.  My apologies.  I’ll hopefully do better as things calm down with the start of the school year.  In the meanwhile . . .

From the mailbag:


We are researchers from Indiana University Bloomington conducting a study to understand the information-seeking behavior of people with visual impairments while using camera-based assistive technologies.

We invite you to participate in this study by taking part in a 15-20 minutes online survey from a place of your convenience. To participate in the survey you need to have access to a computer or smartphone with screen reader and Internet connection. For your participation in the survey, you will be enrolled in a random drawing with a chance to win one of ten $20 gift certificates and have a 1 in 10 chance of winning.

If you are interested in participating in our survey or have any questions about the study, please fill out the sign-up form below. Once you provide the details, one researcher will contact you via email or phone and send you the web link to participate in the survey.

Please click here to sign up.

Alternatively, you may email or call Taslima Akter at 812-369-8635. Please note that to participate in this study, participants must identify as visually impaired, be 18 years or older, and live in the United States.

Taslima Akter
Indiana University Bloomington

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Kitchen Time With the Kids

Peanut, like a lot of kids his age, wants to help in the kitchen.  I figure blind adults have to be able to cook, and Christine Ha demonstrated that blind people can be excellent chefs, so I’m supporting him in this endeavor.  I’ve found that, at this point, it takes a LOT of patience–he’s not sure of himself, so he’s slow.  I’m hoping with the right tricks, tips, and tools, he’ll get faster and be able to be a real help in the kitchen and maybe on a start to being a master chef himself.

This week, we made Garlic Chicken Stir Fry using Sara Welch’s fabulous recipe from The Recipe Critic; you can find it here:  Both kiddos were eager to help.  I’m not sure how to help Peanut be successful with measuring spoons at this point, so I had Sprout measure the ingredients for the sauce and make it while I put Peanut to work cutting up vegetables.

Peanut cutting PeppersWe have a special kid-safe knife that Peanut’s using in the picture at the left.  Since he’s still using his fingers to figure out which end of the knife is “up,” so to speak, it was good to have a knife that would cut peppers well but not little fingers.  I explained to him that on this knife, the bumpy side goes down.  The knife doesn’t have a sharp point, so I jabbed it into the pepper for him so he could cut it in half; he tended to saw the pepper into pieces rather than cut it like you would with a sharp knife.

Peanut was fascinated by the feel of the pepper and by cutting it into different shapes.  Unfortunately, this meant it took him a really long time to cut up the pepper, so we’re going to work on efficiency in the future.  We made faster work of the mushrooms; I cut off the tips of the stems next to him, and he was great at figuring out how to orient them tactually to cut each mushroom in half.  It definitely worked better when he pushed down on the knife rather than sawing at the mushrooms, but he preferred sawing.

Since Peanut wants to do more in the kitchen, I’m looking for tips, tricks, and tools to help him out:  he wants/needs to be able to use measuring spoons, measuring cups, and real knives.  I have a food holder from Pampered Chef to help with the cutting, but I would love tips on how to help him figure out which end of a knife is the sharp part *without* feeling the cutting edge and hurting himself.  Do you have suggestions, ideas, or favorite products?  Please leave a comment on this blog to help Peanut’s cooking dreams come true!


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Rural Safety & Resilience Study Seeks Participants

From the mailbag:

The Rural, Safety, and Resilience Study

Partnering with Women with Disabilities-Your Story Matters!

Fellow federationists, I am recruiting volunteers for my dissertation research study.

You qualify to participate if:

*   You are at least 21 years old

*   You experienced abuse or violence at least one or more years ago while living outside a major metropolitan area. Abuse includes physical, sexual, or emotional threats to your personal safety

*   You had the disability before the experience of violence

*   Your disability makes a difference in how you see, hear, learn, understand, or move around

This study involves an interview. I can complete your interview over the phone, or in person if you are attending the national convention. You will receive a small payment for your time and participation in this study.

The goal of this research is to learn more about how women with disabilities who have experienced violence learn about, select, and access help when they live outside a major urban area. This research will also highlight strategies women with disabilities use to keep going, or build resilience. Information from interviews will help create awareness of this problem, and will lead to important recommendations for organizations that provide services to other survivors with disabilities.

Please call or text Kimberly Aguillard (Principal Investigator) at (713) 487-7640 or email to learn more. Please write RSRS in the subject line.

This research study has the approval of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Institutional Review Board

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FREE Special Needs Planning Seminar–TOMORROW 6/25 at 10 a.m.

I personally know Debbie, having met her when we were both CCVI moms.  If you are looking for future planning ideas and advice that’s directed towards parents of children with special needs, you can’t find a better, more knowledgeable person.  Debbie’s hosting a free seminar tomorrow morning (June 25) to share some of her knowledge about planning with a child with special needs.

From the mailbag:

The speaker, Debbie Niemann, has a 15 year old daughter, Cecilia who was born 3 months premature.  Due to complications, she has cerebral palsy and complex medical issues.  As a parent to a child with special needs, she understands the mentality of living one day at a time. While this approach may be necessary when it comes to your child’s health, it falls short when it comes to providing a financially secure future and desired quality of life. This brief workshop helps parents, guardians and family members to better understand the planning which their children may need throughout their lives.

Topics discussed include Social Security (SSI & SSDI), Medicaid & Waivers, Medicare, special needs trusts, ABLE accounts, and guardianship to help family members better understand how planning for a child with special needs is different both legally & financially.

Join us on Tuesday, June 25th at 10am (CDT), get your questions answered, and talk with a fellow parent in a non-threatening, non-pressure environment. Register at:

You will receive a confirmation link via email.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Deborah Niemann is an Insurance Agent of NM and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (long-term care insurance), a subsidiary of NM. Registered Representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, and member FINRA and SIPC. Representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company®, Milwaukee, WI (fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services), a subsidiary of NM and federal savings bank. There may be instances when this agent represents companies in addition to NM or its subsidiaries.
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Quality of Life Study Seeks Participants

From the mailbag:

Researchers at Old Dominion University are conducting a study examining the relationship between health-related behaviors and quality of life among individuals with visual impairments. To conduct this study we need the participation of adult aged-individuals (aged 18 years and older) with visual impairments. This study will ask participants to complete an online survey consisting of 45 questions which should take approximately 20 minutes. All responses will be anonymous and confidential.

All participants who complete the online survey will have the option to enter a drawing to win one of two $50.00 gift card or two $20.00 gift cards. If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating in this study, please follow the link below:

If you have any questions regarding this study, please contact me. My information is below. Thank you,

Justin Haegele, PhD
Old Dominion University
(757) 683-5338

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Call to Action: Speak Up Regarding Special Wage Certificates

This is an enormous issue, and we need to make our voices heard.  Please, please, PLEASE, if you or someone you care about has a disability and thinks that the special wage certificates under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act are an enormous crock of sh!t designed to exploit workers with disabilities and keep them from earning a living wage, take a few moments to comment at the online dialog referenced below.

From the mailbag:

On May 28, 2019, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) began a national online dialogue regarding the use of special wage certificates under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards At. The Department of Labor will use the information gathered through this forum to “provide ODEP an overview of Section 14(c) at the state and national levels.”

As a result, those who are benefitting from the exploitation of workers with disabilities are attempting to overwhelm the online dialogue to over-represent national support for sub minimum wages. It is critical that our voices be heard to counteract this false narrative. Please visit and:

1.       Create an account

2.       Post your comment

3.       Share with other members of the Federation

Should you need technical assistance, please contact Melissa Kroeger <> at 410-659-9314, extension 2207. Thank you for all the work that you do.

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A Study on the Lived Experiences of Employees with Visual Impairments

From the mailbag:

Be part of an important research study…

A Study on the Lived Experiences of Employees with Visual Impairments

*         Do you have a visual impairment?
*         Are you actively working?
*         Have you experienced a negative attitude from your employer?

If you answered YES to these questions, you may be eligible to participate in this research.

The purpose of this study is to explore, understand, and describe how employees with visual impairments process and overcome perceived negative employer attitudes. For the purpose of this study, the term “negative employer attitude” will be described in terms of your perception of employers’ negative actions or interactions. You will have the opportunity to discuss your experiences. Your participation in this study, and any identifiable personal information you provide, will be kept confidential.

Interviews will be held over the phone or in person at:

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Beatties Ford Road Regional
2412 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, NC 28216

For more information about this study, please contact me at:

James F. McNeil, M.S., CRC (Ph.D. Candidate)
Department of Counseling, Psychology, and Special Education
Duquesne University
Phone: (828) 237-1281

I am Ph.D. Candidate under the direction of Dr. Lisa Lopez Levers in the Department of Counseling, Psychology, and Special Education at Duquesne University. If you have any questions concerning this research or your participation in the study, please contact me or Dr. Lisa Lopez Levers at (412) 396-1871 or at

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Learn UEB Online!

Note:  I haven’t tested this program myself, so I can’t vouch for it.  I’m also fairly sure Nemeth is the preferred braille format for mathematics in the US rather than UEB math (particularly if your student is going to do higher mathematics), so please keep that in mind and/or check with your TVI if you’re learning to help support your kiddo.

Also, Hadley offers correspondence courses in Braille for families of B/VI kiddos; this is how I learned Grade 1 braille.  I’ve blogged on that before here:

The Hadley School for the Blind’s Family Education Program

New Hadley Course: Braille and Your Baby or Toddler

From the mailbag:

The FREE online training programs in UEB braille literacy and UEB mathematics can be accessed at and offer both free courses and paid certification options.



May 2019

Australian innovation to make mathematics more accessible to blind students across the globe

In response to the growing need for STEM skills in Australia and overseas, RIDBC has today launched UEB Mathematics, an online course that enables teachers and parents to better support braille-using students.

UEB Mathematics, an addition to the UEB Online e-learning platform, enables professionals and parents to understand and connect language, literacy and mathematics development in children with vision impairment, and to plan learning experiences that are inclusive of those children who use the medium of braille.

An Australian innovation, UEB Online, the first e-learning braille course for professionals and parents, was launched in 2014 with a goal to increase braille literacy in Australia and globally. Since its inception, more than 18,000 people in 184 countries have taken part in the course.

Now, the team behind UEB Online hope that increasing access to braille for mathematics will open up more STEM career opportunities for people with vision impairment in Australia and across the globe.

Dr Frances Gentle, Lecturer at RIDBC Renwick who led the project to create UEB Online, says the new UEB mathematics training courses are designed to promote equitable access to STEM subjects for braille users. “Equitable educational opportunity for children who are blind requires teachers who understand the braille code and how to modify print-based activities in the classroom.”

“We want to enable students with blindness to continue studying mathematics into their senior school years and as a result, increase access to careers in STEM-related fields. Achieving this aspirational goal requires teachers and parents who understand Unified English Braille in literary and mathematical contexts.”

In her role as President of the International Council for English Braille, Dr Gentle says she has witnessed the positive educational impact when braille-using students have the support of people who understand their code. “It really helps when classroom teachers can read braille text but equally, when parents can use it,” she said.

“Knowledge of braille enables parents to share the joys of reading and writing with their child, whether it is assistance with homework, notes of encouragement or birthday cards  in braille.”

Dr Gentle also says that the ability to read braille amongst the sighted community is essential. “It’s critical that we increase the number of people who can use and read braille so that we can continue to teach it and ensure that children with blindness have equitable access to education and employment.”

Chris Rehn, Chief Executive at RIDBC, says that keeping Australia at the global forefront of service and technological innovation is an important goal for the organisation. “We are committed to providing the highest quality services and level of care for Australians with vision and hearing impairment, and innovations such as UEB Mathematics play a critical role in this.

With mathematics identified as a vital skill for the future, ensuring students with vision impairment have equal access to education is crucial.”

The online training programs in braille literacy and mathematics can be accessed at and offer both free courses and paid certification options.



RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of therapy, education, cochlear implant and diagnostic services for people with hearing or vision loss, supporting thousands of adults, children and their families, each year. Services are provided from 18 sites across Australia and through an outreach service that supports clients living in regional areas.

RIDBC is a charity and relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with vision or hearing loss.


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