Updated on Friday, September 26th, this is the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) Information Network. This information can be accessed on the MCB Voice Information System at 617-626-7660 and 800-392-6450. You can say “tape” or “telephone tape” into the phone. This message is also available on "Newsline," the accessible newspaper service by pressing number 2, the local Channel, and in the "Massachusetts Commission for the Blind" section of “Newsline”. This update is produced by Wayne Levy.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, NDEAM is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is also an ideal opportunity for businesses to explore the benefits of diversifying their hiring practices. Various companies will be doing just that on October 16th at the 4th Annual Job Fair for Individuals with Visual Impairments, “Changing Lives One Career at a Time”. This year’s job fair will run from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and take place at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, located at 10 Garden Street, Knafel Center/Gymnasium in Cambridge. This event is free and co-sponsored by MCB, National Braille Press, Partners Healthcare Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Perkins School for the Blind, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard University, and the Carroll Center for the Blind. The day will start with a continental breakfast, followed by a welcome orientation and information session about employing workers who are visually impaired. You’ll get answers about how to adapt a job site, assistive technology options, services and supports for employers and employees, or other questions regarding working with someone who is blind. There will also be an assistive technology display. If you are interested in attending this event, please contact your vocational rehabilitation counselor at MCB. You may also register with Beth Caruso at 617-972-7434 or email her at beth.caruso@perkins.org.

MCB would like to take the opportunity to invite you to their annual White Cane Safety Day, which will be held at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. International White Cane Day, which is on October 15th, celebrates the independence of white canes and raise public awareness of the White Cane Law. In 1931, the Lions Club began promoting the use of white canes as a national identification program. Today, the white cane is a symbol of independence for individuals with blindness. Massachusetts White Cane Law states that all motorists, when they see a pedestrian who is using a white cane or guide dog at a street crossing, must come to a complete stop. The October 8th event will feature vision professionals, white cane and guide dog users, family members, friends, orientation and mobility specialists, and representatives from the Lions Club and Bay State Council of the Blind. There will also be a White Cane Walk around the Boston Common at 1:00 PM. For more information about this event, please call Meg Robertson at 617-626-7581.

MCB would like to remind you that the deadline to register to vote for the November election is October 15, 2014. The Massachusetts Voter Registration Form can be used to register to vote in Massachusetts, update registration information due to a change of name, make a change of address, or to register with a political party. You can download the Massachusetts Voter Registration form from the Secretary of State’s website and mail in the completed form to your local election official at least 20 days prior to an election or at least 10 days prior to a special town meeting. You should receive a response in 2-3 weeks. If you do not receive a response, follow up with your local election official. You can also request a form be mailed to you by calling 617-727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE. Alternatively, Massachusetts allows voters to vote by absentee ballot if they will be absent from your city or town on Election Day, and/or have a physical disability that prevents their voting at the polling place, and/or cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs. You may have an absentee ballot mailed to you or you may vote at your city or town hall by making arrangements with your local election official. To be counted, a completed ballot must be received by the time the polls close on Election Day to be counted. Additional information about registering to vote can be found at www.sec.state.ma.us.

If you are an individual with a disability who is having difficulties purchasing alcohol using the Massachusetts Identification Card (MASS ID) as proof of age, the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) wants to make you aware and provide clarification of this policy. M.G. L. ch. 138, § 34B was amended in 2012 to include the MASS ID as one of six acceptable forms of identification the licensees of the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) may reasonably rely upon when serving alcohol. MOD recently sent a letter, asking municipalities to remind businesses involved in the sale of alcohol that the MASS ID is an acceptable proof of age, and the denial of such without just cause may result in the discriminatory treatment of individuals with disabilities. The letter was able to clearly clarify any questions as to the validity and reliability of the form of identification, which is often used by individuals with disabilities who are otherwise precluded from obtaining a driver’s license. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact the Deputy Director at MOD, Allan Motenko, at 617-727-7440 or allan.motenko@state.ma.us.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) recently announced that representatives from ACB will be meeting with Weight Watchers to discuss the Weight Watchers’ accessibility initiative. Announced in June of 2013, the initiative covered Weight Watchers print, web, and mobile information. This initiative is also designed to provide people with visual impairments full access to the award winning weight loss program. If you are blind and a Weight Watchers member, ACB would value hearing about your experience. Have you been able to easily navigate the website and mobile apps? Are meeting leaders helpful and aware of your needs as a blind member? Have you requested materials in braille or large print, and if you have, what was your experience? Have you ever called customer service for help? How did that go? You can read the Weight Watchers press release here at http://lflegal.com/2013/06/weight-watchers-press/. You may also direct feedback to Lainey Feingold at 510-548-5062 or LF@lflegal.com.

Would you like to learn more about what opportunities exist for individuals who are blind and visually impaired to participate in sport in your communities? Are you interested in hearing how sports can be adapted to work with your vision level? If so, please join the Hadley School for the Blind on Wednesday, October 8th at 3:00 PM as they explore and discuss how sports, recreation and physical fitness can contribute to your individual development and general well-being. Join Seminars @ Hadley as they present, “Getting in the Game: Athletics for People with Visual Impairments.” Matt Simpson, membership and outreach coordinator for the United States Association of Blind Athletes, will discuss opportunities and resources for becoming more active. Larry Muffett, a member of Hadley’s Seminars team, will moderate this 60-minute seminar. Space in this seminar is limited. Please only register if you know you are available to attend so others are not closed out. A question and answer session will be included as part of the seminar, which is an audio presentation. To register, please go to: http://www.hadley.edu/Seminar_register.asp?sid=248. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

October 1, 2014

Are you or someone in your family experiencing vision loss for the first time? If so, and you would like to learn more about the programs and services offered at the Carroll Center for the Blind, you are being invited to an upcoming information days. In an effort to provide answers to many of the questions people frequently ask about their programs and other visual impairment services, the Carroll Center for the Blind holds monthly information days on the first Wednesday of every month. The next information day will be held on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. To make a reservation, please email Maureen Foley at Maureen.foley@carroll.org or call 800-852-3131, x225 with the name of each guest attending (family and friends are welcome!). Directions and more information about the Carroll Center for the Blind can be obtained at www.carroll.org.

October 5, 2014

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is inviting you to a Museum-trained Feeling for Form Guides for a guided tour for individuals who are blind or have low vision on Sunday, October 5th from 1:00 to 2:30 PM. Visitors may choose a touch tour entitled, “Helen Keller Visits the MFA” or a descriptive tour with tactile (and some original works of art that can be touched) entitled “Wine, Poets and Performers: A visit to the MFA’s renovated Classical Galleries. This program is free for art lovers who are blind or low vision and a sighted guide companion, but pre-registration is required by Monday, September 29th. For more information or to pre-register, please call 617-369-3302 or email Valarie Burrows vburrows@mfa.org.

October 6, 2014

The Carroll Center for the Blind would also like to invite you to their Apple Monday Workshop. In order to help those who have an iPhone (4, 4s, & 5) or are considering making a purchase, the Carroll Center hosts monthly Apple Workshops on the first Monday of the month. The next Apple Monday will be held on Monday, October 6, 2014, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The cost is $20.00 per person. Additional information can be found at www.carroll.org.

October 15, 2014

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston’s Museum of Science, and Boston Children’s Museum invite you to join them for a White Cane Safety Day Open House on October 15, 2014 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Riley Seminar Room. Come by anytime to meet and greet new and old friends and learn about all the opportunities the three museums have for people of all ages who are blind or have low vision. Sample accessible tours of the MFA will be available for those who wish to go on them. Choices available: Art of Ancient Egypt, Asian art, American Art, or Contemporary Art. You are welcome to enter any entrance. MFA staff and volunteers will be available to show you the way to the Riley Seminar Room. If you would like a sighted guide to meet you outside the building, or you need any further information, please email access@mfa.org or call 617-369-3189. You may also contact Valarie Burrows at 617-369-3302 for additional information.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, October 3rd.

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.