Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

We'll Get Through This Together

April 09, 2020 American Printing House Episode 3
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
We'll Get Through This Together
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
We'll Get Through This Together
Apr 09, 2020 Episode 3
American Printing House

As days of being confined to your home turn into weeks, the need for information and resources only grows. In this episode of Change Makers we look at two separate call lines where people who are blind or visually impaired can get up to date news, or resources. We also look at a survey aimed at using this time of isolation to learn about gaps left in accessibility.

Links / Notes:

ConnectCenter Resources
Information and Referral Hotline: 1-800-232-5463

For parents and families: familyconnect.org
For adults with vision loss: visionaware.org
For young adults with visual impairment: aphcareerconnect.org

NFB Newsline Info
nfb.org/programs-services/nfb-newsline

Flatten Inaccessiblity Survey
flatteninaccessibility.com

Show Notes Transcript

As days of being confined to your home turn into weeks, the need for information and resources only grows. In this episode of Change Makers we look at two separate call lines where people who are blind or visually impaired can get up to date news, or resources. We also look at a survey aimed at using this time of isolation to learn about gaps left in accessibility.

Links / Notes:

ConnectCenter Resources
Information and Referral Hotline: 1-800-232-5463

For parents and families: familyconnect.org
For adults with vision loss: visionaware.org
For young adults with visual impairment: aphcareerconnect.org

NFB Newsline Info
nfb.org/programs-services/nfb-newsline

Flatten Inaccessiblity Survey
flatteninaccessibility.com

Jonathan Wahl:

Welcome back to Change Makers, a podcast from American Printing House. My name is Jonathan Wahl, I'm part of the communications team at APH. Today we'll hear from Scott White from the NFB news line who will explain how they've created a place where you can get the most up to date info on COVID-19 and we'll give you info on a survey that was released by leaders in the field of blindness to give feedback on how stay at home measures are impacting people who are blind and visually impaired. But first I've asked Alan level to join us out as the information and referral services coordinator for the APH connect center. He answers, calls and response to emails to connect people to needed resources across the country. Alan, thanks so much for joining me. Thank you for having me. Alan, for people who are not familiar with the connect center information referral line, tell me a little bit more about this service and how people can use it.

Alan Lovell:

Well, the information and referral line is a service that is connected with what we call the APH connect center. So the people can call our 800 number and or go to one of our, resource websites, family connect, vision aware or APH career connect to find answers to questions relating to blindness and visual impairment. And the information that we have in our databases ranges from birth to great grandparents. Uh, you know, the whole scope of life, if you will. Uh, and so people can call the 800 number and find out where to find resources in their area or if they have a question that might be along the lines of a how to, or how do I as a blind person perform this function. We can either impart some of our own, um, expertise or find answers to questions that we may not have readily at hand.

Jonathan Wahl:

For people who are listening who may need help or know someone who does, can you give us that, that number that they can call?

Alan Lovell:

Yes, absolutely. It is 1-800-232-5463, and that number is manned Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern time.

Jonathan Wahl:

Alan, have you been seeing any themes behind the calls that have been coming in since all of the state home orders started?

Alan Lovell:

Well, yeah, we have, um, uh, of course we're getting the types of calls that we generally expect. Uh, but a lot of the themes are that agencies are closed. Um, one of the most frequent types of calls that we get are individuals who have maybe suddenly lost their sight and are dealing with the fallout from that. How do I live or how do I thrive? I continued to operate as an independent person now that I'm visually impaired and you know, there are services in each district that provide a rehab services to those people. Um, but like us, they're working from home or closed entirely. And so, you know, I, I still provide them the information that, um, you know, we'll put them in touch with the right agency, but if they have immediate questions, then we try our best to answer. But those questions over the phone and you know, I've been actually known to provide instruction that they may provide. All right. As best I can over the phone, I've given somebody orientation and mobility tips or advice on a piece of technology they have. Um, so really trying to fill in that void, uh, during this time where everybody is in, um, you know, quarantine.

Jonathan Wahl:

Yeah. It's really unusual time because usually we would connect them to a resource, but if those resources are closed, it, it makes it more difficult. You mentioned the O&M. In addition to that, are there other resources you'd be able to provide or other help or other ways you've been able to interact with people with this, you know, unusual interaction just because of everything going on?

Alan Lovell:

Yeah. And then that's more of an individual basis. It's the questions are so varied, but you know, you find someone who's lost their income, um, because of being laid off. For example, uh, we search in their locale to find out what services those are available to them or we get parents calling, I know, yeah. For resources on how to keep the instruction going for their blind or visually impaired child. Uh, we linked them up with the, um, agencies that produce content for educational and that includes the American printing house for the blind that has daily as it's available in the website. Um, so yes, we piece together information and I can impart that that either through a phone call or through an email where I just directly link them to services that are best geared for their particular scenario.

Jonathan Wahl:

And Alan, for people out there who are overwhelmed and are missing services, they likely depend on just any words of encouragement for them.

Alan Lovell:

Well, yeah, and we are all in this together. Uh, everybody has a different story, uh, in a different set of circumstances. And one of the things that we have found is that not all of us have a support group that's really nearby. And some people are really on when, you know, when they're isolating, they're, they're seriously isolated getting and that may not be by choice, they're by themselves. Uh, so we have put it out there, um, that, that we're available to talk, uh, and listen and provide an empathetic ear to the struggles you may be going with. You know, many people are at home on their own, but there's also those people who while they are at home and on their own, have been dealing with a very recent vision loss. And if you think about being by yourself and suddenly not being able to see and relying on the remaining senses, you know, I, I can, I can encourage folks to tap in to the remaining senses and give them just some, you know, from one blind person to another, some pointers.

Alan Lovell:

Here's what I do. Here's how I do this. Maybe this will help. Uh, you know, here are some services that will keep you entertained. Here are some phone numbers, uh, that you can call to group chat with other people who have similar situations. Um, so there's, there's a lot of those and, um, you know, the various different companies have, uh, group conference calls and chatting available. They might put out a topic of discussion and schedule it for one o'clock, uh, on a Tuesday and then later that same day they might might have another discussion on a different topic. Uh, and so we can tap into the resources we have received, will search the internet, the internet far and wide, and um, find something that will hopefully, um, meet the needs of that individual. And um, but again, here I am and then I have a, my counterpart Melanie Peskoe and she works later in the day. She works from four to 8:00 PM and she also has her life experiences a very empathetic ear. Um, so if somebody needs to talk and just a talk or have questions to ask, that's why we would like to hear from you. And that's why we are here.

Jonathan Wahl:

Thanks so much Alan. It's great knowing both you and Melanie are there behind the phone doing this important work. So we appreciate everything you're doing and thanks for being a part of our podcast.

Alan Lovell:

Well it's been a learning experience for us too. So um, I appreciate your help with getting the word out that we are here and we're at home. I can't promise the dogs won't bark while we're talking, but the good news is I've talked to other professionals with large agencies and their dogs are barking in the background too, so we have a little bit of fun with that.

Jonathan Wahl:

Dogs, kids, radios, airplanes, we've got it all. That's right. That's right. Thanks Alan.

Alan Lovell:

Look forward to seeing you back in the office.

Jonathan Wahl:

And as Alan mentioned, the connect center isn't just the 800 number, it's also three websites that are filled with really great information and resources for parents, teachers, families and adults. All on the topic of visual impairment took up the show notes for the URL. So each of those websites and the I&R number one more time. Next on the show, we have Scott White to talk about the NFB. Newsline Scott is a director of sponsored technology programs for National Federation for the Blind. Thanks so much for being a part of our podcast.

Scott White:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate.

Jonathan Wahl:

You know, NFB news line is an important resource, but in in case someone listening doesn't know about it, can you just briefly explain how it works and what it does?

Scott White:

Uh, sure. I describe NFB Newsline as an audio information source. We currently have over 500 publications plus a variety of other information such as TV listings, job listings, retail ads, to name a few,

Jonathan Wahl:

Right now information is so important. How are you working to provide information specifically about coven 19.

Scott White:

Okay. What we were able to do is we expanded our coverage of the States that have in it the news line. So a president of the National Federation of the Blind President, Riccobono authorized us to have NFB Newsline in all the States in the country. So even the ones that you weren't previously participating in program cause he feels that information on the Corona virus is so important for everyone to have that access to and also for the deaf-blind community to have it access to the information in braille, with the connected braille display. So what we've done is we had a category on NFB Newsline that we have all the time called breaking news and this particular category we have a number of different websites that have current up to date information on anything from like an ABC news to CBS news, CNN, Fox, things like that, with 34 of those. And we scan those for coronavirus and we displayed that in those articles that have that information. The secondary source we have that we added a few days later is statistics from Johns Hopkins hospital. So, a person, if they are interested can go and see what the number of cases are that are in the world or broken down by state or broken down by country. And they can view all the statistics with that so they can track that themselves if they wish.

Jonathan Wahl:

That's great. There's a lot of misinformation being spread online as well right now. Can you talk about why what you're doing is important to make sure people have access to reputable sources?

Scott White:

Well, the sources that we're using are the traditional news sources, but um, what we do is really we're looking at providing the information to people, um, from the sources that we have and then they would have to make their own self judgment. We don't make any judgements as to the validity of the source. Although we are going to go and, you know, pick what we feel or the credible sources. But a person would have to go ahead and evaluate the information that they're getting themselves from the information source. Uh, we just want to make sure that we provide people information that's out there. Uh, similar to like what we do when it comes around to the presidential election. We provide information from the candidates websites during election time and that leaves people to get more informed vote.

Jonathan Wahl:

Great. So for people listening now or people who know someone who may want to call into the news line, what are ways they can can listen to this?

Scott White:

Okay. Well NFB Newsline can be accessed in a variety of different methods. Uh, we have the traditional telephone, which if you still have a landline or cell phone you can call in and listen to it using the telephone we have NFB Newsline Mobile, which is our iPad/iPhone app. We have one of our most recent access methods, which is a skill that is on the Amazon Alexa device. And we have also something called web news on demand, which is like a secure website that persons can log into and just be able to be the text of the articles. And then if you have a Victor reader, second generation and other portable players, we had ways that would download the truth directly to that device as well.

Jonathan Wahl:

And if you're listening in and want instructions to any of that, I will go ahead and put a link in the show notes. I know NFB Newsline has, has a portion of their website dedicated to all those different options. Scott, anything else you want people to know?

Scott White:

Okay, let me go ahead and give some contact information and tell people if it's somebody that's not currently signed up for the service, how you could go ahead and do so. Okay. Our toll free number that we have for customer service, which is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and that's East coast time. That telephone number is (866) 504-7300 again, that's (866) 504-7300. My email address, if you'd like to contact me, it's swhite@nfb.org, and a website. If you want to check out a number of publications we have, like I said at the beginning of our conversation, we have over 500 publications. Um, and I just gave you a little bit sampling of some, so to view the entire list you can go to nfbnewline.org and be able to be all those publications that we have now. Let me talk briefly about who is eligible for the service. So it's going to be persons that are buying have low vision and a persons that have other print disabilities that prevent them from reading conventional newsprint.

Jonathan Wahl:

Thanks so much Scott. I really appreciate everything you guys are doing and for you taking the time to be in our podcast today.

Scott White:

Thank you and thank you for that.

Alan Lovell:

Before I end today's show, I want to loop back around to the survey I mentioned at the beginning of today's podcast. The movement behind the survey is called flatten in accessibility. The survey was an idea started by Aira and APH quickly jumped on board along with almost every single major blindness organization in the field. Here's the idea. As a world scrambles to distance physically, leaders want to know if your accessibility has been taken into consideration. Are services you need for groceries and transportation, for example, still viable for you. There are two reasons all these organizations are coming together to gather this info. One, it will help them know how they can better serve you. And two, it will also help us know what barriers need to be broken down for the future. So if you want to take this survey visit flatten and that's I N flatteninaccessibility.com, That survey will be open until April 13th and I'll again have that URL in the show notes as well. That's it for today, but we'll be back next week. If you have any questions for APH, be sure to drop us a note at communicationsataph.org. We'll answer what we can in our next episode. In the meantime, don't forget to look for ways you can be a Change Maker this week.