Study on Employment Experiences of B/VI Folks

From the mailbag:

Invitation to Participate in Research on Employment Experiences of BVI Individuals

Are you legally blind and age 18 or older?  Are you comfortable verbalizing your thoughts in English?  Have you at some point in the last five years been employed?  If your response is yes to all these questions, you can earn a $25 VISA gift card for participating in a research study.

A research team comprising of blind and sighted scholars at the Envision Research Institute is investigating the experiences of blind and visually impaired individuals at different stages of the employment cycle as these relate to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The goal is to understand hiring and retention policies that are effective for including blind and visually impaired people in the workforce.

Volunteers selected as study participants will be instructed to complete a questionnaire. The complete study might take about 45 minutes. A follow-up interview may be necessary to clarify some responses on the questionnaire. Upon completion of the study, the participant will receive a $25 gift card as a token of appreciation.

If you are interested in participating, or have a question about the study, please contact Marco Tarantino (email:; phone: 316-440-1524). Please reference project title: “Experiences of Blind and Low Vision Individuals at Different Stages of the Employment Cycle as These Relate to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Regulations Implemented in 2014” (IRB#: 4424) in the subject line of the email.

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Coelho Center Disability Law Fellowship

If you are B/VI and wish to be an attorney, this could be a fabulous opportunity.

From the mail bag:

The Coelho Center Law Fellowship Program is launching this Summer 2019. Central to the mission of The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation is bringing together and fostering the development of leaders from our disability community. In particular, we believe in creating a strong pipeline of law students with disabilities who will go on to serve as attorneys, judges, public policy professionals, and politicians. Our ultimate goal is to increase representation in policy spaces where decisions are being made.

As the disability rights slogan goes, “Nothing About Us Without Us!” or more aptly “Nothing Without Us!” because people with disabilities belong in every sector of society, including the legal profession. We need disabled voices in law schools, in law firms, in the courts, on the bench, in the Congress, in legal academia and beyond!

In order to do so, we need to strengthen the pathway into law school for students with disabilities. Too often, students with disabilities are discouraged from attaining higher education. Educational barriers, along with negative assumptions and attitudes, dissuade our community from reaching careers in law and policy.

This has to change. Our program targets early-year college students with disabilities to intervene and provide encouragement, support and mentorship that is crucial to success.
Currently, there is no program like The Coelho Center Law Fellowship Program whose specific mission is to train and mentor college students with disabilities to think about a path toward law school.

Our program offers:
a one-week summer intensive course at Loyola Law School; an academic-year-long virtual course; a mentoring program between the fellows and law students and attorneys with disabilities; academic planning and support through the law school application process; and, a $1,000 stipend to be used for school supplies.

Deadline to apply: Monday, May 27, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST
Download your application here to apply:

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A Resounding Easter Success

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our attempts to make Easter egg hunting accessible for Peanut:  Easter’s a-comin’.  I am delighted to say that our efforts were a resounding success.

P & S at Easter

Peanut and Sprout open their eggs.

The Easter Bunny (EB) set baskets for the kids at their seats at the table.  Each basket had chocolate (of course!), clothing (Peanut is wearing his new leopard t-shirt and Sprout her new unicorn leggings in the photo to the left), and, in Peanut’s case, a remote key finder.

At a friend’s suggestion, the EB had written Sprout’s name on top of each of her eggs and explained that her eggs had her name on them.  This was our first time trying this egg-hunting method, so Peanut’s eggs were in relatively obvious spaces:  my sighted child could see them easily.  Thus, it was important that her eggs be labeled so she didn’t pre-find all of her brother’s.

I explained to Sprout about her eggs, then clued Peanut in to the key finder:  they each had five eggs, and Peanut’s would beep when he pushed buttons on his key finder.  He had a BLAST.  This was, hands down, the most effective egg hunt we’ve had with our kids.  Peanut’s whole face lit up when he heard the first egg beep, and he was excited to be able to find them all by himself.  He even commented that the eggs were too easy for him to find!

Best yet, for the first time ever, the kids kept playing with the eggs.  Like my father and I did when I was a kid, they took turns hiding the eggs and re-finding them.  My daughter even enjoyed hunting for eggs with her ears more than hunting for them with her eyes.  It was awesome, and inclusive, and fantastic, and I wish we’d done it sooner but so glad that we did it now.

Our egg hunt was indoors, but the key finder was loud enough that I think you could do it in an outdoor space as well.  This was easy, re-usable, and affordable–it cost about $20 for the key finder set, and $1 each for the giant eggs.  (The EB could’ve used smaller eggs, but we weren’t sure how big the fobs would be when the eggs were purchased.)  10/10 will absolutely do again.


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Easter’s a-comin’

As Peanut’s visual acuity declines, Easter becomes more of a challenge.  He’s not really able to see things on the ground, even if they’re high-contrast, so the color of the eggs doesn’t matter.  The commercial beeping eggs I’d tried a few years ago didn’t work well–they weren’t loud enough, and the kids frankly destroyed them shortly after their use (for the cost, I wanted to be able to use them year-after-year).  My daughter’s sighted, so my going out with Peanut and snapping my fingers by eggs (essentially being a human beeper) wasn’t the best, either–she’d get all of the eggs before he got one.  I’ve heard of tying helium balloons to the eggs so he can ‘find’ them by essentially running into them, but logistically–that’s difficult if I’m trying to continue the illusion of the bunny bringing the treats (I mean, where do I hide the balloons?  Will they stay up overnight?)

So, here’s what I’m trying this year:  I bought five large eggs from Dollar Tree for each kid.  They’re plastic that’s clear on the top and colored on the bottom, and I’m hoping to be able to re-use them.  I then bought an electronic key finder from Amazon for about $20; it has five receivers and a remote that lets you start each receiver with a different color-coded button.   I tried it out when I arrived, and I’m delighted to say it’s LOUD.  My plan is to stick a key finder in each of Peanut’s eggs, then put the remote in his Easter basket and tell him it’s so he can find his eggs.

I’m still working on how best to keep Sprout from finding Peanut’s eggs–there’s a fair chance that hers will be up high and his lower to the ground, or I’ll stash these eggs in their rooms.  I may just put their initials on the eggs so she knows which ones to leave alone.  Either way, I’ll post an update after Easter to let you know how well it worked.  Fingers crossed it works well and we’ve found a solution to the annual egg hunt.

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Time to grow a reader with Seedlings

Seedlings Book Angel program is open for 2019!  B/VI kiddos in the United States and Canada up to age 21 can receive three free books by registering here:  Aside from the awesomeness of getting books, Seedlings is extra awesome because you can choose the books you get (you list your top choices and they send you three of them).  Seedlings has been a major source of books for Peanut’s library–I truly cannot recommend them enough.

Seedlings also offers the Rose Project, where they’ll transcribe World Book Encyclopedia articles for B/VI kids grades 1-12 for free.  You can order an article or articles here:

They are now also offering a TVIP program where TVIs in the United States can get four FREE one-volume braille books each calendar year.  As explained on their Web site:

Teachers of the Visually Impaired in the U.S. may order 4 free 1-volume braille books from Seedlings each calendar year! Order here and use the code TVIP19 as your Purchase Order Number.

In the Check Out Information, please include your school name & address for our records. You may enter a different address in the ‘Send to’ information if you wish.
Please be patient. We are very excited to send you these free books, but we will need to produce & pack them when we are not busy with paid orders.

And please understand that by ordering these free books, you are agreeing to be on our email list for our quarterly newsletters & other updates. Happy Reading!


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Online Research Study Regarding Autonomous Vehicles

From the mailbag:

Transportation is seeing all kinds of disruptive transformation. Ridesharing, electric cars and automated vehicles are only a few examples.  While all these innovative technological advances will hopefully have a positive impact within our communities, the needs of pedestrians who are blind must not be left to chance.

The CNIB Foundation in partnership with a leading Canadian university and a long serving researcher in the field of blindness, with partial funding from the Government of Canada – Transport Canada – , is undertaking a study to identify possible mitigation strategies so that connected autonomous vehicles do not further marginalize pedestrians who are blind.

We are inviting our colleagues throughout the world to share their views via an online survey. The survey can be accessed here<>, along with an overview of the project.
The survey will close at the end of April 2019.

Please share widely and encourage anyone with sight loss or who is blind to take a few minutes to complete the survey. The final report which will consolidate our findings will be available mid to late July 2019.

Thank you in advance for taking time to share your views via the survey. If you have any questions, please contact Lui Greco at

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BELL is coming to Kansas!

The National Federation of the Blind’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy is coming to Kansas City!  The Kansas session will be held from Monday, June 10, through Friday, June 21 at KSSB; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

As described on their Web site, BELL

is a nationwide summer program offered by the National Federation of the Blind that prepares blind and low-vision children, ages four through twelve, to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want.

Activities are provided in a day program or residential setting, depending on location. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adult mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future.

Information on the Kansas session is available here:

And you can learn about BELL in general and sign up for the Kansas session here:

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Want to go to the No Barriers Summit? Apply for a Reach Scholarship Now!

From the mailbag:

Meet our first two recipients and APPLY NOW.

The Reach Scholarship recognizes folks who have broken through barriers, and are Elevating others while continuing to climb in their own lives. Reach Scholarship recipients receive a two-person scholarship to attend the annual No Barriers Summit – held this year, June 13-15, in Squaw Valley, California.

Each year, our Reach Scholarship applicants totally amaze us with their stories of setbacks, resiliency, and heart. This year, the candidate pool is stronger than ever, and we have selected a few early recipients:

Eduardo Garcia, 38 years old, of Salt Lake City, Utah
In 2011, Chef Eduardo Garcia was shocked with 2400 volts of electricity in a freak incident deep in Montana’s backcountry. Near death, alone and miles from help, Eduardo got up and took his first step towards what would ultimately be years of recovery and rehabilitation. During the course of his recovery, Eduardo spent 48 days in the ICU. He had nine severe exit wounds and underwent 21 surgeries, which included the removal of four ribs and cutting away destroyed muscle mass from his torso, legs, arms and scalp. They had to amputate the chef’s hand and forearm. While in the ICU, fighting for a heartbeat, Eduardo was dealt another shock: he had stage 2 testicular cancer. Pending surgeries were put on hold and he returned to Montana to begin aggressive chemotherapy. After months of chemotherapy treatment, he returned to Salt Lake City to complete his surgeries. Since his hospital release, Eduardo has become an athlete and speaker for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, mastered the use of his prosthetic hook in the kitchen and is back to exploring the great outdoors. As inspiring as his physical recovery is, it is just a small part of the transformation ignited by his traumatic injuries. His feature length film on his experience, Charged, will be shown at the Summit, followed by a speech from Eduardo.

Melissa Simpson, 27 years old, of Leadville, Colorado
Melissa was born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She utilizes a wheelchair daily. She’s also had multiple back surgeries, including a spinal fusion that unfortunately led to her getting pancreatitis and SMA syndrome. Despite her medical hurdles, and being bullied growing up, Melissa maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school, was head of the National Honor Society and received her degree (with honors!) in general studies from Colorado Mountain College, with the goal of being a Patient Service Coordinator. Melissa is also into Adaptive CrossFit and swimming. She’s encountered many difficulties in her pursuit of these athletics, but just keeps pushing on. Melissa helps “fill the boot” for the Muscular Dystrophy Association with her local fire department and volunteers at Vail Health Hospital. She has also volunteered with emergency responder trainings to help teach them how to evacuate people with disabilities.

We want to bring more folks like Eduardo and Melissa to Squaw Valley this June, and need your help.

The Reach Scholarship Application is still open, so share this email with someone you think might be deserving, and APPLY NOW! All applicants will be notified of their status by the end of this month.

Keep Climbing,

Erik Weihenmayer

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Research Survey on Board/Card Games

So far, Peanut has discovered a love of Exploding KittensDon’t Step in It!, Uno, and traditional RPGs (ala Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons).  I would love to find more games that are adaptable and appropriate for his interests.  Maybe surveys like this will help?

From the mailbag:

Attention blind and low vision adults experienced in playing board and card games, experts regarding games for the visually impaired or the development of the cognitive functions of the blind, blind educators, and experts with knowledge of/experience with memory games.

I am Amy Ritter, a high school senior at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland who is conducting a survey titled, “Games for Visually-Impaired Children,” for my approved class project in Engineering Design and Development. My team and I want to eventually create a fun and engaging game for visually impaired children aged 5-10 that will help them develop cognitive functions such as memory skills. Our team will use this information with the engineering design process to design a real product that can be used in classrooms or at home. Since our target audience is visually impaired children, we need to know what features can be accessible for them. We are advocating the improvement of the children’s cognitive skills so that they can use these skills independently later in life.

If you are interested in participating, and at least 18 years of age, please go to this link: and fill out the survey. There is no compensation for your participation; however, your cooperation is much appreciated. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my email: Thank you for your time!

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CCB Summer Jobs

From the mailbag:

Looking for a fun and challenging summer job?
Gain invaluable job experience, make a difference, and be part of a great team!

The Colorado Center for the Blind is now accepting applications from positive blind role models to be residential counselors and classroom instructors in our 2019 summer programs.  Our summer programming consists of four programs:
1) “No Limits to Learning” Transition Program
2) “The World of Work” Pre-Employment Program
3) “Challenge and Adventure” Self-Advocacy Program
4) “Cracking the College Code” College Prep Program

Staff must be available May 28 through August 9, 2019.  Successful applicants will be good role models, competent in the skills of blindness, passionate, detail oriented, adaptable in a fast-paced environment, must possess excellent communication skills, be a team player, and be willing to lead by example.  Applicants will be excited and prepared to work with blind students ages 11 – 21.

Challenge recreation and STEAM focused experiences are an exciting component of the job.  Staff will go rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, attend martial arts classes, try Blind Hockey, tour college campuses, visit with Disability Resource Office counselors, attend a college life seminar, participate in a chemistry lab, and much more.  All staff and students participating in our “No Limits to Learning” program will attend the week long national convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To learn more about our summer programs, please click the following link

If interested, please contact Martin Becerra-Miranda at (303)778-1130 extension 223 or via email at<>

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