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National Federation of the Blind Files Discrimination Complaint with MCAD

From NFB.org - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 11:28

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNational Federation of the Blind Files Discrimination Complaint with MCADAlleges Discrimination by Epic Systems Corporation

Boston (July 18, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind Americans, has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Epic Systems Corporation. Epic creates and distributes software solutions used widely throughout the US healthcare industry. The complaint alleges that blind people are barred from employment at hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that use Epic's software because Epic has not made that software compatible with screen readers used by the blind.

Screen readers are technologies that render information on a computer screen as synthesized speech or Braille and allow blind users to use keyboard commands instead of a mouse. When technology is compatible with screen readers and meets certain other criteria, it is said to be accessible.

"Blind people are employed successfully throughout the healthcare industry at all levels, but Epic's discriminatory behavior threatens their ability to maintain or obtain such employment," said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "Epic's failure to make its systems accessible is inexcusable, especially since the company has taken steps to make its patient-facing software accessible. Apparently, Epic thinks blind people are only fit to be patients, not healthcare workers. This is wrong, and the blind of America will not tolerate it."

The National Federation of the Blind is represented by Christine M. Netski and Grace L. McGuire of the Boston firm Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, P.C., and by Joseph B. Espo and Kevin D. Docherty of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.

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About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages, and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at nfb.org.

National Federation of the Blind Files Discrimination Complaint with MCAD

Latest News - Wed, 07/18/2018 - 11:28
Release Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2018Category: National

Boston (July 18, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind Americans, has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Epic Systems Corporation.

Greyhound Website and Mobile App to Become More Accessible to Blind Users

From NFB.org - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:58

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgGreyhound Website and Mobile App to Become More Accessible to Blind UsersNational Federation of the Blind Reaches Comprehensive Agreement with Greyhound

San Francisco (July 17, 2018): Greyhound has committed to make its website (www.greyhound.com) and mobile apps more accessible to blind passengers who use screen-reader software to access these services. An agreement with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) resolves a lawsuit filed by the NFB and five blind California residents who had trouble using the website.

Under the agreement, Greyhound will ensure that greyhound.com and the mobile apps allow blind users to gain the same information and engage in the same transactions with an ease of use substantially equivalent to that of a sighted person using the same browser or operating system without screen-reader software. Changes needed to accomplish this goal will be made in less than a year. Until then, Greyhound will inform blind passengers of alternative methods for purchasing bus tickets on the website and mobile apps. The website and mobile apps will also clearly state Greyhound's longstanding policy that blind passengers who self-identify to customer service representatives and state that they have had difficulty using the website or mobile apps will not be charged any call center booking fee or other additional charge solely because they have used the Call Center under these circumstances. The National Federation of the Blind will conduct a "secret shopper" program to report to Greyhound whether the operators at its call centers are following this policy.

"We commend Greyhound for agreeing to remove access barriers on its website and mobile apps on a robust timeline," said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We further commend the company for its commitment to treat blind passengers fairly when we are unable to complete transactions through its website or apps, and urge other transportation providers to follow Greyhound's example in both respects. The National Federation of the Blind will work closely with Greyhound to help ensure that booking passage on its bus service is a fully accessible experience for current and future blind passengers."

"As we complete our work on our new websites and mobile apps, we are grateful to have the assistance of the capable and committed members of the leadership of the National Federation of the Blind in ensuring that these websites and apps are easy to use and fully and equally accessible to all of our customers," said Todd Koch, Vice President of strategy and business development, Greyhound Lines, Inc.

The plaintiffs are represented by Timothy Elder and Anna Levine of the TRE Legal Practice, www.trelegal.com, and by Lisa Ells and Michael Nunez of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, www.rbgg.com.

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About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages, and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at nfb.org.

About Greyhound
Greyhound, a FirstGroup plc company, is the only national provider of scheduled intercity coach services in the U.S. and Canada. Based in Dallas, Greyhound provides scheduled passenger services to 3,200 destinations carrying approximately 18 million passengers a year. The company’s point-to-point service, Greyhound Express, serves more than 135 markets and also operates brands for local markets including BoltBus, Lucky Streak casino service and Greyhound Connect. Greyhound is the first U.S.-based intercity bus company to operate domestic service within Mexico as well as international connections to Texas. For fare and schedule information and to buy tickets, call 1-800-231-2222 or visit the website at www.greyhound.com. For the latest news and travel deals, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GreyhoundBus. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreyhoundBus, follow us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/greyhoundlines, download a high resolution photo at www.bit.ly/GreyhoundBusPhotos, or follow our award winning blog, The Hound, at www.bloggreyhound.com.

Greyhound Website and Mobile App to Become More Accessible to Blind Users

Latest News - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:58
Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2018Category: National

San Francisco (July 17, 2018): Greyhound has committed to make its website (www.greyhound.com) and mobile apps more accessible to blind passengers who use screen-reader software to access these services.

NFB Interns Experience Advocacy in DC and Maryland

From NFB.org - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:04
Blog Date: Friday, July 13, 2018Author: 2018 Summer InternsCategories: AdvocacyStories

As part of our NFB summer internship program, we had the pleasure of spending two weeks working with John Paré and the rest of the Advocacy and Policy department.

During this time, we really had a golden opportunity to see the grassroots nature of the Federation in action. We were put to work emailing our states' national representatives to request appointments, running through mock congressional meetings, and actually meeting with staff members of our representatives and taking the lead in explaining Aim High, ATAA, and the Marrakesh Treaty ourselves. We even put together the folders to hand off to our representatives, and while not nearly so numerous as the folders needed for our Washington Seminar, it was a fun experience.

This work goes a long way to help build the Federation. When we build support for our legislative agenda, we are showing up and making ourselves visible to members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

It is extremely difficult to improve lives for blind Americans or change what it means to be blind if we are not keeping up with how our nation's laws affect blind people. Continuing to read up on legislative issues and make an appearance on the Hill lets the world know, as in the words of Dr. Jernigan in his banquet address in 1979, "We are the blind and we are able to speak for ourselves. We know who we are and we will never go back." 

In addition to our work in DC, we also participated in the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland's informational protest to protect secret ballots for disabled voters in the state of Maryland. We were tasked with brainstorming slogans and sign ideas, getting a feel for how a work plan is developed, making cold calls to dozens of local members to invite them to participate in the protest, and helping to make the action happen at the event by marching, chanting, marshalling, and passing out leaflets to the public. This was another prime opportunity to see our grassroots approach, and getting to take part in a protest this way was incredibly thrilling and only served to inspire us to do more to build the Federation.

These two weeks gave us the chance to boost our confidence in doing more of these activities in the future so that we may use these new experiences and skills to continue to build the Federation in our local affiliates. We believe everything went extremely well and we loved everything about the experience.

Even though we felt worn out at the end of the two weeks, it was worth every minute of it.

Express Employment Professionals Makes Testing Accessible to Blind Job Seekers

From NFB.org - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 12:21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgExpress Employment Professionals Makes Testing Accessible to Blind Job Seekers

Baltimore, Maryland (July 11, 2018): Express Employment Professionals, a leading national staffing company, has committed to ensuring that its employee testing solutions can be used by blind and low-vision job seekers and employees. The decision was made after consultation with the National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States and a leading advocate for equal employment and digital accessibility. The commitment means that Express' testing solutions will be usable by blind applicants who access computers and digital information with technologies like text-to-speech screen readers and/or Braille displays.

Express has adopted the accessible IBM Kenexa Assess software nationwide for evaluating the skills of job applicants. Going forward, Express is committed to using only accessible assessment software that complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2.0, Level AA (WCAG 2.0AA), an internationally recognized standard for equal access to websites and other digital resources.

"Unemployment among blind people is a chronic problem, primarily driven by low expectations of our capabilities, but unnecessarily aggravated by the inaccessibility of technology," said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "Blind people often can't successfully apply for jobs for which they are qualified because of inaccessible application and testing technologies. The commitment that Express Employment Professionals has made to accessibility will dramatically enhance opportunities for blind workers, allowing them to demonstrate their capacity and ultimately contribute in the workplace. The National Federation of the Blind commends Express for the steps it is taking to promote equal access to its testing solutions, and we hope that other leaders in staffing and recruiting will follow this company's outstanding example."

"Express Employment Professionals is committed to equal employment opportunities for all applicants, including the blind," said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. "We are therefore taking steps to ensure that our employment solutions are always fully accessible to this underutilized pool of job seekers."

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About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages, and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at nfb.org.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.4 billion in sales and employed a record 540,000 people in 2017. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. For more information, visit expresspros.com.

Express Employment Professionals Makes Testing Accessible to Blind Job Seekers

Latest News - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 12:21
Release Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018Category: National

Baltimore, Maryland (July 11, 2018): Express Employment Professionals, a leading national staffing company, has committed to ensuring that its employee testing solutions can be used by blind and low-vision job seekers and employees.

3,000 Blind Americans Gather for Convention

From NFB.org - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 15:20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Friday, June 29, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.org3,000 Blind Americans Gather for Convention National Federation of the Blind Bids Fond Farewell to Orlando

MEDIA ADVISORY

Orlando, Florida (June 29, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind will gather in Orlando beginning on July 3 for the last of six consecutive annual conventions in the city. Local media and residents who have not yet experienced a National Federation of the Blind convention are cordially invited to attend. Those seeking press access should contact Chris Danielsen by emailing cdanielsen@nfb.org or calling 410-262-1281.

Event: National Federation of the Blind National Convention

Dates: July 3–8, 2017

Place: Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819

Attention Music, Culture, and Arts Editors:

apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas to Headline Private Convention Welcome Concert

Allan Pineda Lindo, best known as apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas, will headline a private concert at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on July 6, 2018. His appearance has been arranged by the convention host committee and NFB partner Aira. Legally blind in both eyes from nystagmus, apl.de.ap has embraced his blindness and serves as a role model for many musicians, blind and sighted alike. He is also well known for his philanthropy. As a brand ambassador for Aira, he is excited and honored to perform for everyone attending this year’s National Federation of the Blind Convention. apl.de.ap has made himself available for a few interviews on July 6. For more information about tickets or interviews, please contact Chris Danielsen at cdanielsen@nfb.org.

Blind Actor, Director, Writer and Activist to Address Convention

At approximately 10:55 a.m. on Sunday, July 8, Marilee Talkington, an acclaimed blind stage actor who also recently appeared on the hit series NCIS and will appear in a recurring role in the new CW series “In the Dark” this fall, will address the convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Her presentation will follow that of J.P. Williams, a blind Nashville songwriter and performer.

Attention Technology Editors:

Self-Driving Technology to be Featured at Convention of Blind Americans

Self-driving automobile technology has the potential to bring unprecedented freedom and independence to blind Americans. At 3:40 p.m. on the afternoon of Sunday, July 8, Mitch Bainwol, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, will discuss the role of the blind in leadership to develop this technology and the public policies that will make it a new transportation alternative for the blind.

Attention Politics and Public Policy Editors and Reporters:

Political Leaders, Government Officials to Address Blind Americans

Throughout the convention, several political leaders and three currently-serving government officials will address and/or take questions from the plenary sessions of the convention. They include:

  • Neil Romano, Chairman, National Council on Disability (Saturday, July 7, 2:05 PM)
  • The Honorable Darren Soto, United States House of Representatives, Ninth Congressional District of Florida (Saturday, July 7, 2:20 PM)
  • Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, United States Department of Education (Sunday, July 8, 10:05 a.m.)
  • The Honorable Tom Ridge, Chairman of the National Organization on Disability (Sunday, July 8, 2:05 PM)
  • Blane Workie, Assistant General Counsel, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, United States Department of Transportation (Sunday, July 8, 2:50 PM)

Note: The entire convention agenda, outlining a full week of activities around policies, technologies, and issues that affect the lives of blind Americans, as well as various activities emphasizing the ability of the blind to live the lives they want, is available at https://nfb.org/convention/2018/agenda.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages, and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at nfb.org.

3,000 Blind Americans Gather for Convention

Latest News - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 15:20
Release Date: Friday, June 29, 2018Category: National

MEDIA ADVISORY

Orlando, Florida (June 29, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind will gather in Orlando beginning on July 3 for the last of six consecutive annual conventions in the city. Local media and residents who have not yet experienced a National Federation of the Blind convention are cordially invited to attend. Those seeking press access should contact Chris Danielsen by emailing cdanielsen@nfb.org or calling 410-262-1281.

United States Senate Greenlights Marrakesh Treaty and Implementing Legislation

From NFB.org - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 20:44
Blog Date: Thursday, June 28, 2018Author: Chris DanielsenCategories: AdvocacyEducation

The United States Senate today provided its advice and consent for ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The chamber also approved the treaty's implementing legislation (S. 2559), which will make modest adjustments to US copyright law to fully comply with the treaty.

"For more than six years, the National Federation of the Blind has worked tirelessly toward this historic day for the blind of America and the world," said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We applaud the United States Senate for providing its advice and consent for ratification of the treaty, as well as for passing S. 2559, the 'Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act'. We urge the US House of Representatives to join their Senate colleagues in swiftly passing S. 2559, so that the door to expanded literacy and access to the world's knowledge will be unlocked for millions of blind Americans."

Read the NFB press release about this news.

United States Senate Greenlights Marrakesh Treaty and Implementing Legislation

From NFB.org - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 20:10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, June 28, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgUnited States Senate Greenlights Marrakesh Treaty and Implementing LegislationNational Federation of the Blind Applauds Senate Vote

Washington, DC (June 28, 2018): The United States Senate today provided its advice and consent for ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The chamber also approved the treaty's implementing legislation (S. 2559), which will make modest adjustments to US copyright law to fully comply with the treaty.

"For more than six years, the National Federation of the Blind has worked tirelessly toward this historic day for the blind of America and the world," said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We applaud the United States Senate for providing its advice and consent for ratification of the treaty, as well as for passing S. 2559, the 'Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act'. We urge the US House of Representatives to join their Senate colleagues in swiftly passing S. 2559, so that the door to expanded literacy and access to the world's knowledge will be unlocked for millions of blind Americans."

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

United States Senate Greenlights Marrakesh Treaty and Implementing Legislation

Latest News - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 20:10
Release Date: Thursday, June 28, 2018Category: National

Washington, DC (June 28, 2018): The United States Senate today provided its advice and consent for ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The chamber also approved the treaty's implementing legislation (S.

Advocacy Win for the Blind Diabetic Community

From NFB.org - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 16:29
Blog Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2018Author: Dylan Hedtler-GaudetteCategories: Access TechnologyAdvocacy

In 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services made a peculiar policy decision to not reimburse Medicare beneficiaries for continuous glucose monitors when they were used in conjunction with a mobile app.  

Why did this catch our attention? Well, CGMs are used by people with diabetes, and diabetes is the leading driver of new cases of blindness every year. It's also the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults.  

Up until CMS's 2017 policy, mobile apps that could be paired with CGMs were a welcome solution to what was previously an accessibility crisis for the blind diabetic community. These apps rendered the inaccessible CGMs accessible for blind users who could now access vital blood glucose data through their smart phones or tablets.

More than 119 million Americans rely on either Medicare or Medicaid as their primary form of health insurance, so decisions about coverage and reimbursement made by CMS have a big impact.

That's why in March of 2018, the National Federation of the Blind and the Diabetes Action Network sent a letter to the Administrator of CMS that raised concerns over this issue, and urged a reversal of the policy decision that Medicare would not cover CGMs for beneficiaries if they used them in conjunction with a mobile app.

When an unsatisfactory answer came in response, NFB and DAN sent a follow-up letter insisting on more clarity and urging swifter action.

These letters were complements to consistent direct advocacy efforts with CMS staff, the Food and Drug Administration, and members of Congress.

The tireless advocacy of the NFB-DAN team, along with allies and partners, ultimately paid dividends when CMS announced on June 7, 2018 that it would be reversing the coverage policy and allowing Medicare beneficiaries to use CGM devices in conjunction with mobile apps. The official policy change was published the following week.

The result? Blind Medicare beneficiaries who have a prescription from their healthcare provider for a CGM will now be able to use the device in conjunction with their smart phones or tablets, and have the CGM covered by their Medicare insurance plan.

This case study in effective Federation advocacy represents true progress in access to critical health management tools for blind people with diabetes.

Without the expertise and energy of the Diabetes Action Network, this would have been an unlikely outcome. But we all know that when the Federation mobilizes and activates around issues important to blind people, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

#timeForTIME: Labor Standards Must Be Fair for All

From NFB.org - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 12:27
Blog Date: Monday, June 25, 2018Author: Chris DanielsenCategories: Advocacy

Eighty years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act became the law of the United States. It sought to improve wages and working conditions for American workers. Since its enactment, progress has certainly been made. But one thing hasn't changed since 1938: workers with disabilities can still be paid less than the federal minimum wage.

When exclusion of workers with disabilities was written into the FLSA in 1938, the idea was to incentivize businesses to hire workers with disabilities. Eighty years later, disabled workers who receive less than the minimum wage are not only poor, but most of them are segregated from the rest of the workforce. The policy was always wrong, and the National Federation of the Blind has always said so.

But it is now clear that, despite the good intentions of the lawmakers of eighty years ago, a minimum-wage exemption for entities that hire disabled workers just doesn't work. It simply traps Americans with disabilities in menial and meaningless jobs.

In the eightieth year since the passage of the FLSA, the National Federation of the Blind is continuing to work with Congress and our partners toward passage of the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act, which will responsibly phase out the segregated, subminimum-wage employment allowed by an antiquated provision of the FLSA.

We hope to mark the year of the FLSA's eightieth birthday with the end of this misguided provision, so that fair labor standards are finally fair for workers with disabilities. It's #timeForTIME.

Science, Cooking, and Summer

From NFB.org - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 17:07
Blog Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018Author: Mary Ann WojtonCategories: EducationParenting

Want to explore science with your blind or sighted child this summer? Consider cooking together.

Let's take an example like browning apples. What can we learn?

  • We can learn about, or review, the scientific concepts of physical and chemical change.
  • We can support the development of science process skills like smelling, tasting, measuring, and investigating.
  • We can practice life skills including rinsing apples, peeling off the skin with a ceramic peeler, using an apple corer and paring knife to cut apples into pieces, and stirring the apples, butter, and spices in a pan.
Step One: Gather Supplies

Begin by gathering up your supplies. You will need some apples, butter, spices, a ceramic peeler, an apple slicer/corer, a paring knife, a frying pan, and hot mitts. You will also need a hot plate or stove.

But Wait! Science Break!

Before we go further, let's explore the science. By cutting the apple, we physically change the apple. A physical change in chemistry affects the form of a substance (e.g., shape, state of matter) but not its chemical composition. In this case, cutting the apple changes its shape, but if you put the pieces back together, it's still the same apple. However, when you brown the apple, you are producing a chemical change. A chemical change involves the rearrangement of atoms in one or more substances resulting in a change in its chemical properties or composition.

More precisely, when you brown apples you are actually causing a chemical reaction known as the Maillard, or browning, reaction. The Maillard reaction creates brown pigments in cooked food by rearranging amino acids and certain simple sugars, which then arrange themselves in rings that reflect light in such a way as to give the food a brown color.

Step Two: Prepare the Apples

We begin by changing the apple physically. You can do this by using the ceramic peeler to peel the skin from the apple. Then slice the apple into chunks with the apple slicer/corer and use the paring knife to slice the apple chunks into thinner pieces. Along the way, observe (a science process skill) the apples by feeling, smelling, and tasting. In order to compare the raw apple with a cooked apple, put aside a piece of apple now.

Step Three: Brown the Apples

Measure two tablespoons of butter and place in the frying pan. When we did this during NFB Youth Slam, a program of the National Center for Blind Youth in Science, we placed the frying pan on a hot plate, but you could also use your stove. After a moment, sprinkle the pan with drops of water and listen for the sound of a sizzle. When the water sizzles, it's hot enough to add the prepared apple pieces.

But Wait! Another Science Break!

High-temperature cooking speeds up the Maillard reaction because heat both increases the rate of chemical reactions and accelerates the evaporation of water.

Step Three: Brown the Apples, cont.

Here's where you can add an element of scientific inquiry. What kind and how much seasoning do you like? Experiment with different spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Measure (another science process skill) your spices and sprinkle them on the apples. Hold the handle of the pan with one hand and stir, or flip, the apples with the other. Move the apples around the pan until they feel soft. As the apple cooks, the concentration of sugars and amino acids increases, providing the lovely scent of apples in the air.

Step Four: Eat and Learn

Once the apples are soft, take the pan off the burner, turn off the stove, and spoon them into a bowl. Now bring out the raw apple you saved. How is the browned apple different from the raw apple? Do they feel, smell, or taste the same or different?

Exploring science can be fun and tasty! Never stop learning.

Banquet Listening Parties Create Convention Feel at Home

From NFB.org - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 11:30
Blog Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2018Author: Melissa RiccobonoCategories: GeneralStories

The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is an experience like none other. From the informative seminars on all types of topics to the excitement of being surrounded by more than 2,000 other blind people. From hearing so many canes tapping and guide dogs working, to the energy of the room on the day of opening session.

All of these experiences cannot be captured easily in words, nor can they fully be appreciated unless you are there in person. However, for a variety of reasons, being there is not always possible.

Luckily we now have the option of listening to the convention online, which at least means you can hear various presentations and catch some of the excitement.

But rather than listening to the entire event alone, why not host a banquet listening party? The banquet, of course, is the highlight of our convention. Attendees sit down and share a meal with others. They listen to an inspiring speech and share their thoughts about the speech. The banquet is about connecting.

Take advantage of this opportunity for connection and fellowship by hosting a banquet listening party of your own.

This year, the banquet will be held Sunday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

What You Will Need
  1. Good Company: Invite others to share in your banquet listening party. You might invite someone you know who has attended many conventions and just cannot attend this year, or you might invite someone who has never attended a convention before. You might invite sighted neighbors or family members so they can listen and learn. You might invite five or ten people, or you might be more comfortable with just one or two others. No matter who you invite, having someone to share the banquet with is an essential part of a banquet listening party.
  2. Good Food: The food can be as simple or as fancy as you would like. Cook a gourmet dinner or order pizza. Provide all of the food yourself or have others bring a dish to share. In 2012, when I hosted my own banquet listening party, I held a chocolate tasting after dinner. It was delicious, and made the evening a little more special.
  3. Good Internet Connection and Speakers: Of course you will need the ability to tune in to the online stream of the banquet. The link to the online stream will be available on the convention webpage soon. I would suggest tuning in right as the banquet is starting so you can enjoy the full experience. Of course, on the West Coast, this will mean your banquet listening party will have to begin around 4:00 p.m. There are many presentations at the banquet and, although the speech is definitely the highlight, the other awards given are certainly a valuable part of the experience.
  4. Good Discussion: Truly talk to those you invite to your party. Connect with them. After the speech is over, talk about it. Our national convention is filled with love, and this love is tangible, particularly in the banquet hall.

We hope your banquet listening party is full of love as well, that it will create great memories for you and your guests, and that attending the banquet virtually this year will inspire you and your guests to do all you can in order to be at the banquet in person next year.

Plug and Play Braille Display? Not Today, But Soon They Say

From NFB.org - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 14:07
Blog Date: Monday, June 11, 2018Author: Amy MasonCategories: Access Technology

Last year, Karl Belanger and I reviewed the state of Braille support across a number of different screen reader and operating system combinations.

One of the biggest difficulties we encountered had to do with the installation and stability of Braille display drivers. Another difficulty was having to locate drivers when a device was heavily optimized for a specific screen reader or operating system, but we wanted to use it with a different piece of screen access software.

In other words, one of the hardest things about using Braille displays is just setting the silly things up in the first place.

Fortunately, the USB Implementers Forum has been working on a solution to this tricky problem. The group, which includes Microsoft, Apple, and Google, announced on May 31 that they have created a standard for a Human Interface Device (HID) compliant Braille display driver.

Here’s what that means when we strip away the “Geek-Speak.”

The USB Implementers Forum recognized that connecting and using Braille displays had been a pain point for a long time, so they decided to simplify that process by creating a set of rules to help Braille displays and computers speak to one another.

Think of drivers as very simple, literal-minded translators. They pass messages back and forth between your computer’s operating system and its components. These components can be things like speakers, keyboards, monitors, hard drives, and yes, Braille displays.

At present, components like keyboards and monitors speak a common language, so they can easily tell one common driver what they need to do, and that driver can relay the message to your computer. These devices might still have unique drivers that allow for special features, but by tapping into one common driver, the user can just plug in their device and start using it - no muss, no fuss. It is not that way with Braille displays.

Right now, every Braille display driver is written by the manufacturer of the Braille display. The manufacturer knows the language of their machine very, very well, but may not be as good at figuring out how to convey its messages to an operating system. This is why Braille displays can be so frustrating to install and keep running, and that is also where the new HID standard comes in.

HID-compliant Braille displays will learn to speak the language of a “master translator” who knows how to convey messages very clearly back to the computer. HID-compliant devices are already in wide use in computing, and Braille displays would benefit greatly by working within this standard.

Whether or not we will see the standard take hold with Braille display creators remains to be seen, but I fervently hope that it does. If manufacturers work with the USB Implementers Forum to make the standard part of their business practices, we have a happy future to look forward to where we can just walk up to any computer, plug in our displays, and get started.

The Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online Banking

From NFB.org - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:39

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgThe Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online BankingNational Federation of the Blind and Boeing Employees’ Credit Union Reach Accessibility Agreement

SEATTLE (June 6, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), its Washington affiliate, and three blind individuals have reached an agreement with the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU). As a part of this agreement, BECU will work in collaboration with NFB and its members to make its website and mobile banking app fully accessible to blind customers.

The work to achieve full accessibility of the website is expected to be completed by March 31, 2019. Improvements to the mobile app will begin this summer and will be completed by May 31, 2019. BECU has also committed to long term policies and procedures (such as an employee training program) to ensure that accessibility is maintained, and pay an undisclosed settlement amount without any associated admission of liability.

Blind people access websites and mobile apps with what is known as screen reader software, which speaks text aloud or outputs it to a refreshable Braille display and will be used for BECU’s website and mobile app. However, websites and mobile applications that are not coded according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0, or other accessibility guidelines, do not interact well with screen reader technology, making it difficult or impossible for blind users to access some or all of a website or app’s information or functions.

“Blind people must budget, keep track of our accounts, pay our bills, make deposits, and transfer funds just like everyone else,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Since these functions are now increasingly and sometimes exclusively performed via web or mobile applications, the blind must have full and equal access to these modern financial tools. We commend Boeing Employees’ Credit Union for agreeing in good faith to aggressive steps that will ensure access to its website and mobile applications now and into the future. We particularly appreciate that BECU has agreed to the testing of these services by blind people throughout the process, and we look forward to working with this institution to achieve the goal of equal access. We urge other banks across the country to meet the same standard of access for their customers and invite them to work closely with us in doing so.”

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at www.nfb.org.

The Blind Will Soon Be Able to Bank with BECU Through Mobile and Online Banking

Latest News - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:39
Release Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018Category: National

SEATTLE (June 6, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), its Washington affiliate, and three blind individuals have reached an agreement with the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU). As a part of this agreement, BECU will work in collaboration with NFB and its members to make its website and mobile banking app fully accessible to blind customers.

Rideshare Testing: After One Year, How Are Uber and Lyft Doing?

From NFB.org - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:53
Blog Date: Monday, June 4, 2018Author: Valerie YinglingCategories: Advocacy

In May 2017, NFB initiated a rideshare testing program in response to our new settlement agreements with Uber and Lyft. Both rideshare companies had committed to changes intended to eliminate driver discrimination against travelers with service animals. So now, one year into our three-year testing program, are Uber and Lyft demonstrating improvement?

The answer is complicated.

Ask Maura Gay, and she might tell you how on February 21, before she could enter the car, a driver locked his car doors, announced that he doesn’t take dogs, and then sat and waited until he could claim Maura’s request as a “no show” and cancel the ride.

Or, ask Terry Lopez, and he might tell you about his April 7 experience, when a driver refused to transport him, his guide dog, and three friends, because the driver insisted that Terry’s guide dog counted as a person and that the car could not accommodate any more than four people.

These denials and the many others like them are not only inconvenient, they are unjust. Uber and Lyft clearly still have work to do, and the NFB won’t stop insisting on full and equal access, as outlined in the Uber and Lyft settlement agreements, and as required under federal law.

But the news is not all bad. We’ve received numerous reports of successful rides with drivers who understand their legal obligation to transport individuals with service animals.

Accurate ride provision rates have been difficult to identify, however, because of inconsistent data nationwide—frequency of reporting and rideshare market fluctuations both contribute to this. What has become critically important data during this first year of testing, though, are the comments testers provide when they fill out the rideshare survey.

The NFB’s Lyft Testing—Year One report identified that testers’ comments provide the best insight into individual rideshare experiences. These anecdotes are central to our attorneys’ investigations and ongoing dialogue with Lyft and Uber. We assert that reports from testers about a driver putting a service animal in a car’s hatchback, refusing to transport a service animal on a Lyft Line or Uber Pool ride, or taking other discriminatory actions should be used by Uber and Lyft for planning future driver education initiatives.

The clear takeaway from the first year of our rideshare testing program is that we need testers to continue to submit feedback and comments via our short online survey.

If you have a service animal or travel with someone who does, remember to fill out NFB’s online questionnaire every time you request an Uber or Lyft. Let us know if you notified the driver in advance that you were traveling with a service animal, and if that driver responded appropriately or denied your ride. Let us know if you filed a complaint with Uber or Lyft directly, and if so, how the company responded.

Your involvement in our testing program can and does make a difference—it is our best measure of how comprehensively Uber and Lyft are implementing the changes outlined in the settlement agreements.

For more information contact Valerie Yingling at vyingling@nfb.org and visit the following resources.

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