Updated on Friday, August 11th, 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 two public hearings on its proposed Comprehensive Annual Independent Living Social Services Plan for Fiscal Year 2018. When final, the plan will be in effect from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. In order to solicit public comment on the proposed plan, MCB will hold public hearings on the following dates:

  • Monday, August 28, 2017, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 600 Washington Street, Room 2091, Boston, MA
  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA

All interested individuals are invited to attend these hearings or submit written comments on the proposed plan. Copies of the proposed plan are available upon request in large print, Braille, or email. 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, 2017 will be considered.

The Carroll Center for the Blind would like to invite you to their OrCam Demo Day. Please join them on September 15th from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM for a complimentary demonstration of OrCam, the revolutionary, smallest, most comfortable wearable smart camera. OrCam can read printed text, recognize money, people and products! The latest version also recognizes colors and bar codes and is more intuitive than ever. Attend the demonstration and see for yourself how OrCam can help you or your visually impaired family member or friend be more independent. The demonstration will take place at the Carroll Center for the Blind, 770 Centre Street in Newton. You can RSVP at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/orcam-myeye-demonstration-newton-tickets-36890906695 or call 617-969-6200 and ask for Maureen Foley. Additional information can also be obtained at www.carroll.org.

National Braille Press (NBP) has announced its’ first ever Poetry Contest. The theme for the contest, which will run from August 1st through October 31st, will be The Five Senses. To enter, please submit a poem focused on the theme "The Five Senses" as a braille file (brf format) to marketing@nbp.org or mail a hard copy to Poetry Contest, National Braille Press, 88 Saint Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115. The poem must be an original work less 125 words, using English Braille American Edition or Unified English Braille. Please indicate the entry level of your submission: grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, or Adult. Please include name, address, and phone number with the submission. A winner from each level will be awarded $100 in prizes from NBP. You can also learn more about this contest at www.nbp.org.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Families is excited to announce a new initiative to create opportunities for its members to give and receive advice and support to and from each other. Beginning later this month, ACB Families will host a monthly ACB Families Peer Support Network Call where you can come to discuss anything about being a blind, visually impaired or sighted parent, grandparent or guardian raising a blind, visually impaired or sighted child. This is a chance to ask questions, to raise concerns, and to tell your own story to others in a safe and supportive environment. Calls will be facilitated by ACB Families President, Leslie Thom, and will begin with a guided discussion on a specific topic. Examples might include: managing transportation, administering medicine, dealing with homework, or how to navigate the challenges of the Exceptional Student Education process. Each call will also include an open forum where any participant can bring up any issue of concern in order to get advice and support from other participants. Ultimately, the goal of these calls is to give and receive information that will benefit all participants in their roles as parents, grandparents or guardians. The first call will take place on Sunday, August 27th at 9:00 PM. You can call 712-432-3900 and enter code 796096 to participate. Please note that long distance rates may apply. ACB Families hope to speak with many of you on these calls, so please join them. Also, feel free to share this information with anyone whom you believe might benefit from these calls. You can also learn more by visiting www.acb.org/affiliate-ACBF.

The Google Accessibility Engineering Team is looking for individuals with disabilities to become volunteer testers of new Google products with the purpose of providing accessibility feedback to the engineering teams at Google. If deemed a fit, the volunteer testers will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on some cool new products Google is working on, interact directly with teams at Google via email, phone and/or video chat, all while helping to make Google’s products more accessible. For the pilot program, which may last up to one year, Google is looking for tech-savvy users who are at least 18 years of age. Anyone interested in volunteering for the program should fill out a survey, by accessing the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/wheFZPRznRvkKjWY2. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact google-accessibility-trusted-tester@google.com.

The Audio Description Project, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), along with the Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind, the Tennessee School for the Blind and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, announces an opportunity for blind people world-wide to experience the upcoming total eclipse of the sun. On Monday, August 21st, at exactly 2:27 PM, the Sun above Nashville, TN will disappear from view. The sky will go completely dark. But through the use of succinct, imaginative and vivid language – audio description –the event will be accessible to the millions of people who are blind or have low vision, or anyone who wishes to experience a verbal version of the visual. Between 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM on August 21st, Dr. Joel Snyder will host “A Total Eclipse — Audio Described!” on ACB Radio. Snyder, the director of ACB’s Audio Description Project, will present an hour of songs (“Ain’t Got No Sunshine,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Blinded by the Light,” “When The Sun Goes Down,” etc.), interviews and special guests — with the main event being described live from the Tennessee School for the Blind between 2:15 PM and 2:45 PM. Trained audio describer, Nashville-based Julia Cawthon, will describe the eclipse as it happens and provide a vivid “translation” of the visual event into words for the benefit of anyone who tunes in. To access the description, go to http://www.acbradio.org/interactive and select “Click Here to Play.” Then be sure to select the link that opens the player that you use to listen to music or stream internet radio stations. You can also listen on any telephone by dialing 605-475-8130 and select option 4. If you are using an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone, install “ACB Link”; open the app, select the radio tab and then tap on the menu button. Select “live streams” and “ACB Radio Interactive,” select the play button and the stream will launch. Additional information about ACB’s Audio Description Project is also available at www.acb.org/adp.

Thursday, August 10th marked an important day in our nation’s history. On that date 171 years ago, Congress enacted legislation that would establish the Smithsonian Institution, the first institute and repository of natural and historical artifacts to be preserved and made accessible for all Americans to enjoy. In recent years, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has been working with the Smithsonian to make parts of its collection more accessible for visitors who are blind and visually impaired, and ACB are pleased to circulate on their behalf a link to an important survey they created that will assist in improving access for patrons with disabilities to the Institute’s collections. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey found via the link below. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5TK2NM7. ACB is strongly encouraging individuals who are blind and visually impaired to take time to complete this survey. The Smithsonian is truly one of our nation’s greatest treasures, something that every person should be able to enjoy when visiting our nation’s capital. So, your input is greatly appreciated.

People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals are all invited to attend the Abilities Expo Boston on September 8th-10th, 2017, 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. You can find out more information and register at www.abilitiesexpo.com.

Thanks for reading this message and it will be updated again on Friday, August 25th.

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