Updated on Friday, August 26th, this is the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) Information Network. This information can be accessed on the MCB Voice Information System by calling 617-626-7660. You may also call 800-392-6450 and say either “tape” or “telephone tape” into the speech recognition menu. Lastly, this weekly update 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.

MCB will hold three public hearings on its proposed Comprehensive Annual Independent Living Social Services Plan for Fiscal Year 2017. When final, the plan will be in effect from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017. In order to solicit public comment on the proposed plan, MCB will hold public hearings on the following dates:

  • Monday, August 29, 2016, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA
  • Tuesday, August 30, 2016, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 390 Main Street, Suite 620, Worcester, MA
  • Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 600 Washington Street, Room 2094, Boston, MA

All interested individuals are invited to attend these hearings or submit written comments on the proposed plan. Copies of the plan updates are available upon request in large print, braille, or text file. Please direct requests for copies, directions to the hearings, or accommodations to meet special needs to Patricia Hart at 617-626-7502 or Patricia.Hart@state.ma.us. Please send any written comments to: Patricia Hart, Policy Development Unit, MCB, 600 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111 or Patricia.Hart@state.ma.us. All comments received on or before August 31, 2016 will be considered.

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston invites you to their Feeling For Form tour of “Decades of European Sculpture: Exploring Changing Styles in Figurative Sculpture”, scheduled for Sunday, September 11th from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM. From the realism of celebrating the common man, to the flirtation with abstraction and emotion within a different type of realism, to a fully abstracted figure, this tour will explore the different materials and perspectives of sculptors working with human beings at the center of their work. Feeling For Form is a program that provides tours for visitors of all ages who are blind or have low vision. A Feeling for Form is an opportunity to tour the collections through tactile exploration of selected sculpture and furniture, and through verbal description, tactile graphics, and other materials for artworks that cannot be touched. Trained Museum volunteers and Access staff lead these tours. There is no fee for this program. Pre-registration, which closes one week prior to the tour, is required for all tours. For more information or to request a tour, contact Hannah Goodwin at 617-369-3189 or hgoodwin@mfa.org.

Uber recently launched a new accessibility site, https://accessibility.uber.com/, with the goal of demonstrating its dedication to people with disabilities and providing a central place for finding out information about opportunities for people with disabilities as both riders and drivers, as well as their policies and requirements of drivers - importantly, explicitly stated and available to the whole world. Uber also provides a direct pathway to contact support, which goes directly to a dedicated team focused on accessibility and discrimination issues. Uber will continue to update the site as they launch new accessible products and features.

Are you an intermediate or advanced level JAWS user, or just curious about delving deeper into this commonly used screen reader? Would you like to learn more about OCR and Research It, such as their functions, capabilities and considerations for use? If so, we invite you to join the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Seminars@Hadley on Wednesday, August 31st at 12:00 PM for, “JAWS OCR and Research It Toolkit.” Hadley technology instructor Ian Shadrick will share intermediate and advanced tips and techniques for using JAWS effectively. Larry Muffett, a member of Hadley’s Seminars Team, will moderate this 60-minute presentation. A question and answer session will be included as part of the seminar, which is an audio-only presentation. Space in this seminar is limited. To register, go to www.hadley.edu/SeminarDetails.asp?sid=334. You can learn more about this and other seminars at www.Hadley.edu.

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) is inviting you to a Lunch and Learn, titled “Human-Centric Lighting: What Does it Mean and How do we Provide it in Practice”. This event will take place on Wednesday, September 7th from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at the IHCD, 200 Portland Street in Boston. Human-centric lighting is lighting devoted to enhancing vision, wellbeing and performance individually or in some combination. As such, human-centric lighting must consider the effects of light exposure on both visual and non-visual aspects of human physiology in a lighting design - and lighting design is increasingly called upon to support circadian, or non-visual, needs for a spectrum of users. Home or hospital, office or classroom, recognition that disruption of 24 hour rhythms can impact mood, alertness and performance presents new challenges to development and deployment of lighting systems. The awareness and scientific evidence that people need the right light at the right time for their health and wellbeing has grown considerably in recent years. As such human-centric lighting starts to play an essential role in creating attractive value-to-customer propositions beyond energy savings. This presentation will look at the broad umbrella of human-centric lighting, explain circadian light, show examples of application techniques, and look at the tools and technologies available to support both. To RSVP, please contact Willa Crolius at wcrolius@ihcdesign.org or call 617-259-1655.

The next Perkins School for the Blind’s Library Without Walls presentation will be taking place over the telephone on Tuesday, September 13th from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Library Without Walls is a program at the Perkins Library where patrons can join in a presentation or book club by telephone. The September topic will be “Climbing the Stairs”. Local author, Padma Venkatramen, will join the group to discuss her book set in India, 1941. When fifteen-year-old Vidya, her eighteen-year-old brother Kitta, her mother, and her brain-injured father move into the grandfather's traditional household, Vidya's life changes abruptly. Vidya finds refuge in the second-floor library and meets Raman, who wants to marry her. To register for this presentation or get the upcoming schedule, please call the Library Without Walls voice mailbox at 617-972-7852.

The Perkins School for the Blind would like to invite you to a special preview and discussion of Sense the Wind: Blind Sailors Race Across Open Water on Wednesday, September 14th at 7:00 PM at the Grousbeck Center, 175 North Beacon Street on the Perkins Campus in WatertownThis hour-long documentary will be followed by a discussion with New York Filmmaker Christine Knowlton & Perkins Alumnus Blind Sailor Matt Chao. Six years in the making, Sense the Wind, follows the journey of four blind sailors, including MCB’s own Sengali Inkiala, as they train and compete in national and international regattas. This event is free, it’s wheelchair accessible, and all are welcome to attend this audio described showing. To RSVP, please email Patrice Devin at patrice.devin@perkins.org or 617-972-7335. You can also learn more at www.perkins.org.

People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals are expected to attend the Abilities Expo Boston on September 16th-18th, 2016, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Hall C), 415 Summer Street in Boston. Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Abilities Expo Boston is the newest in a series of Abilities Expos that take place around the country and have been doing so since 1979. Abilities Expo Boston features an impressive line-up of local and national exhibitors, celebrities, dynamic workshops, cutting-edge assistive technology, adaptive sports and dance, events, face painting for the kids, and activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities; including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities. American Sign Language interpretation services, complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and a power chair charging station will also be available during show hours. Please register at www.abilitiesexpo.com.

The Disability Law Center and the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities would like to invite you to an Employment and Benefits Training, scheduled for Friday, September 30th, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway in Cambridge. At this training, you will learn about avoiding problems with SSI/SSDI if you go back to work, your rights when applying for a job, and getting the accommodations you need to work. Opening remarks will be offered by Michael Muehe, Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Christine Griffin, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center. This event is free and open to the public, but you must RSVP and request accommodations by September 23rd to www.dlc-ma.org or 617-723-8455, extension 123. CART will also be provided.

Organizers at the Rio Paralympics (scheduled for September 7th through September 18th) have, for the first time, designed special medals which will allow visually-impaired athletes to tell if they are gold, silver, or bronze. Each of the 2,642 medals (877 gold, 876 silver, 889 bronze) contains a device which, using small metal balls, will allow athletes to distinguish between the three colors. Thanks to the new innovation, the three types of medals will make a different sound when shaken. The bronze medal will contain 16 steel balls and make the lowest sound. By comparison, the gold and silver medals will contain 28 and 20 balls respectively.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, September 2nd.

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