Updated on Friday, June 23rd, 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 would like to acknowledge and recognize June 27th as the birthday of Helen Adams Keller, author, political activist, lecturer, pioneer, and one of the founders of MCB. Happy Birthday Helen!

Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has declared June as Cataract Awareness Month. Cataract, the clouding of the eye’s lens which blocks or changes the passage of light in the eye, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. There are currently more than 23 million Americans age 40 and older who have cataract. MCB would like to applaud the efforts of PBA in educating the public and increasing awareness of cataract. You can learn more about cataract at www.preventblindness.org/cataract.

On April 12, 2017, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 576 establishing the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. The Council will develop a plan to promote healthy aging in Massachusetts, and to achieve the goal of making the Commonwealth the most age-friendly state for people of all ages. The Council has announced that it will be holding a series of public listening sessions during the next several months to solicit broad input on how to make the Commonwealth the most livable state for people of all ages. The remaining public listening sessions dates, times, and locations are:

  • June 26: 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., UMASS Medical Worcester Campus, Aaron Lazare Research Building
  • July 25: 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., Barnstable Senior Center
  • August 2: 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Elder Services of Berkshire County

Specifically, the Council would like to hear about:

  • What factors make your community a great place to grow older?
  • How can we support families that include one or more older adults?
  • How can we promote more human connectedness (reduce loneliness, isolation) in communities?
  • What are the top two issues or concerns that create barriers to people being able to age well in their communities?
  • How can we accelerate innovation to support and connect older adults?
  • How can we change public perceptions about aging?

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Please contact William Travascio at 617-222-7579 or at William.Travascio@MassMail.State.MA.US. For more information on the Council, including a feedback form for those who want to submit ideas via email, go to www.mass.gov/agingcouncil.

The MBTA announced that due to necessary track work, buses will replace Riverside branch service between Reservoir and Riverside Stations on the following weekends from start to end of service: Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th; and then again on Saturday, July 1st and Sunday, July 2nd. Regular Green D branch service will resume at the start of service on the following Monday. All shuttle bus stops are accessible for persons with disabilities. Busses will be shuttling the following stops: Reservoir, Chestnut Hill, Newton Centre, Newton Highlands, Eliot, Waban, Woodland and Riverside. You can learn more about this and additional updates from the MBTA by visiting www.mbta.com.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the Audio Description Project (ADP) are pleased to announce, with Amazon Video, the availability of Audio Described movies and TV shows — more than 125 of them initially! The ADP website now lists 117 movies and 10 Amazon-produced TV shows, all with audio description tracks. Sample movie titles include: Alice Through the Looking Glass; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Fences; Gravity; as well as multiple offerings of Harry Potter, Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible, and Paranormal Activity. In addition to movies, Amazon is offering ten TV shows, some with multiple seasons, including: Bosch; Creative Galaxy; Just Add Magic; and the Man in the High Castle. Visit the ADP website for a complete list of described titles, supported devices, and access links. At the present time, all of the TV series and some of the movies are free to Amazon Prime members. You can visit the ADP at www.acb.org/adp/amazonad.html. You can also read more about this announcement at www.acb.org/amazon-announces-AD.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has announced that they are adding another weekday tour time for, “Matisse in the Studio.” Prior to this exhibit ending in early July, you will have one final opportunity to view it on Tuesday, June 27th at 2:00 PM. This is a wonderful and interesting show. The MFA will be providing a guided tour with descriptions, tactile materials and reproductions. This Henri Matisse, who revolutionized 20th-century art, believed that a treasured group of objects was instrumental to his studio practice. “Matisse in the Studio” is the first major international exhibition to examine the importance of Matisse’s personal collection of objects, offering unprecedented insight into the great artist’s creativity. See these rare pairings of Matisse’s major works with objects of inspiration in “Matisse in the Studio” in its only US venue at the MFA. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by emailing Hannah Goodwin at Hgoodwin@mfa.org or by calling 617-894-8807. If you cannot come at that time and wish to request a one-one tour, please get back to Hannah soon with a time and date. You can also learn more about this exhibit by visiting www.mfa.org.

Does the warm sun upon your face, salt air tickling your nostrils, or waves pattering against a boat sound invigorating? With the warm weather here, this is possible through the Carroll Center for the Blind’s SailBlind program. From late June to mid-August, recreational SailBlind meets for three hours each Saturday from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown. Participants learn proper sailing techniques, and have an opportunity to form friendships that could last a lifetime. Registration is required by contacting sailblindsaturday@gmail.com or by calling 617-242-3821.

The Carroll Center for the Blind would also like to invite you to a free screening of Sense the Wind: Blind Sailors Race Across Open Water on Wednesday June 28th at 6:30 PM at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway in Cambridge.Six years in the making, Sense the Wind, features the Carroll Center’s SailBlind Program and 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.

PERCEPT is a system that was developed by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst 5G Mobile Evolution Lab, with assistance from MCB’s Orientation and Mobility department. PERCEPT generates landmark based navigation instructions automatically for a specific indoor environment. The system works by using Bluetooth Low Energy tags, which are deployed at strategic locations in the indoor environment. Using a Smartphone based PERCEPT app (will be available both to iPhone and Android users), the user will receive audial navigation instructions to the chosen destination within the building. The user seamlessly interacts with the environment and the app vision free user interface. PERCEPT is currently undergoing a usability study with participants who are blind and visually impaired at the MBTA’s North Station subway stop and Commuter Line stations. A video was created to help describe PERCEPT. Although the video only currently features people who are visually impaired, the goal of the project is also to have the system adapted for people with additional disabilities and seniors. After viewing the video, there is information at the end if you would like more information, or would possibly like to be considered for testing as the developers expand the capability and usability of the system. You can access the video by visiting https://youtu.be/DPdW0h6FZTw. You can also learn more about PERCEPT at www.perceptwayfinding.com.

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), located at 200 Portland Street in Boston, would like to invite you to a lunch and learn, “Healing Voices,” on Wednesday, June 28th, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. PJ Moynihan of Digital Eyes Film, Director and Producer of the award-winning social action documentary HEALING VOICES, will share excerpts from the film and lead a discussion about a topic that for so long we have been socialized to be frightened of: mental illness. HEALING VOICES premiered at the Boston International Film Festival in 2016, and has screened more than 500 times around the world, encouraging audiences to ‘change the conversation’ about this complex and multi-layered social issue. Why is IHCD hosting this film? Twenty-seven years after the passage of the ADA it is clear that people with mental health and substance use issues are still far from a central concern in considering who has rights and who has responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is time to revitalize attention to integrating people with mental health and substance use conditions into the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To RSVP, please contact Maggie Austen at mausten@IHCDesign.org or call her at 617- 695-1225 x235. Light lunch will be provided! You can also learn more about this event by visiting www.humancentereddesign.org.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, June 30th.

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