Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Holidays: Gifts, Traditions and Support

December 03, 2020 American Printing House Episode 19
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Holidays: Gifts, Traditions and Support
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Holidays: Gifts, Traditions and Support
Dec 03, 2020 Episode 19
American Printing House

The holidays are here! Today on Change Makers we're discussing gift ideas, traditions and support. Hear some great gift ideas for adults and children and what you can look for when picking the perfect present. Then, learn how to modify traditions to be accessible and how you can provide support for loved ones experiencing vision loss. 

After that, we'll check in with the ConnectCenter.

Show Notes Transcript

The holidays are here! Today on Change Makers we're discussing gift ideas, traditions and support. Hear some great gift ideas for adults and children and what you can look for when picking the perfect present. Then, learn how to modify traditions to be accessible and how you can provide support for loved ones experiencing vision loss. 

After that, we'll check in with the ConnectCenter.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to change makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Sara:

Welcome back to change makers. My name is Sara. And today we're going to talk about the holidays more. So get ideas, traditions, and support. We're going to hear some great gift ideas for adults and children who are visually impaired in what you can look for when picking the perfect present. Then we'll learn how to modify traditions to be accessible for loved ones who are losing their vision or have lost their vision. And last while the holidays are usually a fun time indulging with family and friends, it can be bittersweet for those experiencing vision loss, both for the individual themselves, as well as their family and friends. We'll discuss the services and resources that are available from vision aware and APHS family connect. Then we'll check in with the connect center. Let's talk gifts for children with the former director for foundation fighting blindness and distance learning mother of a 13 year old daughter with visual impairments, Lisa Lloyd. Hi Lisa, and thanks so much for joining us today. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Lisa Lloyd:

I'm from Sunnyvale, California and I myself have X-linked RP. I have a 50% expression, so I became night blind by about 32 years old. My dad is blind due to the same eye disease and my husband and I decided to adopt a child from India that has Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), and she came home at about five years old. She's now 13 years old.

Sara:

Tell us about what a person should look for when buying gifts for a child with visual impairments. I'm sure you've got an Eagle . You said you just have a 13 year old, so I'm sure she's highly opinionated and has ideas as to what gifts are perfect.

Lisa Lloyd:

Well, she does for her, she , she seems to really like music and that's always been the case. So Kidz bop CDs is probably one of her favorite things . And I tend to find when I'm buying a gift for a child that's blind or visually impaired, they often seem to be very music centered. So that's something that can keep that in mind. But when I'm looking to buy a gift, I'm also looking at that child's individual interest , which can be so varied, just like with sighted children. But I also want to think about what is their level of vision loss? Are they having partial vision? Do they have no usable vision? Like my daughter, are they a braille reader? Can they read large print? Because that would influence the kinds of gifts that I might purchase for them. And then of course their age, is it age appropriate? Um, I also like to ask the parents what they already have because , uh , that can also make, you know , my idea change altogether about what I'm to buy for somebody. So , um, and also budget. Um, some gifts can cost a lot more money for a child that's blind because a lot of the items are more specialized. So if it ends up being a little bit out of my budget, sometimes I work together with other family members or friends in order to make the gifts affordable. So , um, so that's a good way to go as well

Sara:

For a person purchasing a gift for a child with other low vision or no vision. What should, what should we steer clear of?

Lisa Lloyd:

So good question. I tend to steer clear of scenes that have lots of small parts, particularly if they're a younger child and if they can break off and you have to worry about them swallowing the pieces. I also try and avoid some items that have sharp edges, and I try and think about what's age appropriate for them. Um, let's see, what else? Uh, this is another thing because a lot of us parents right now are really busy with distance learning. I think about whether or not the gift is one that they can play with on their own, because right now we're so tapped for time. It takes a long time to distance learn with a child that can't see. So I think about, are there other people around that child that can help that child? And if it's a gift for my daughter, I like to have it be something that she can do on her own without me having to be directly involved. But having said that you also want to make sure that the child has some items that are available to them, that they can play with other people like UNO braille cards , um, might be a good idea. Um, we have a tic-tac-toe tactile game set, we have Jenga. So those are some things that a person can , uh , go ahead and play with with someone else. Um, I avoid gifts that are flammable . If I'm sending them through the mail, I just found out that perfume is something you cannot send . And so for like a young teenage girl , that might be a nice idea, but if you're sending it through the mail, the post office doesn't allow that anymore. So that's something else too , to think about.

Sara:

Lisa, those are all great gift ideas, and APH has some wonderful gift ideas as well from the finger walks to the labor ants that invite you to focus your mind's eye. As you concentrate on traversing, the twists and turns to the Hoppa dot mat that helps children learn grail while being physically involved in active and for even younger children consider stacking cups, headboards, and lacing beads that help build the fine motor skills. We'll hear from Lisa again, a bit later in the show to discuss how to modify traditions, to make them more accessible for those who are visually impaired. Now let's move on to gifts for adults. We have APH Communications Accessibility Editor, Paul Ferrara, and APH Digital Content and Engagement Specialist. Melanie Peskoe. Thank you so much for being here on change makers . What are some good gifts for adults who are visually impaired?

Paul:

So I think really what we're thinking about here, u h, there may be some exceptions to this, but a lot of these gifts are gifts that are great for adults and people who are visually impaired h appen to really be interested in them. Like for instance, for me, u h, Amazon is a good friend of mine. We, we, we, we meet quite often, so gift cards for Amazon or a re great. U m, we use different delivery services, so, u h, restaurant gift cards o r things t hat, that, that are really good, u h, portable battery banks, u h, you know, those things t hat, that you can charge your phones with and not have to worry about having the charger with you. U h, those a re, are really good. U h, definitely want to think about iTunes gift cards, anyone that has an iPhone, and you want to buy an app or you want to get some music, iTunes gift cards are great suggestions as well.

Melanie:

And just to kind of piggyback a little bit on what Paul said , um, you know, right now with , um, the state of everything and not a lot of people want to get out in the stores that much. And so I think it would be really nice to have , um, a gift card for , um, grocery delivery services, as well as for those necessary trips. Um , gift cards for Uber or Lyft are always great too. Um, but I'm thinking about some of the practical things also, like I can never have too many , um, charging cables for my iPhone or those , um, ubiquitous bricks that we have to have for them. Um, also for times when I'm out in the cold, but I still really rely on my iPhone to give me information. It would be great to have those texting gloves, a nice pair of texting gloves that will keep my hands warm and toasty, but I'll still be able to use my phone.

Sara:

Yes, Melanie. Now tell us what are , what are texting gloves for those who might not know? Yeah .

Melanie:

Yeah . So texting gloves are your standard gloves, except that they have these little pads on the fingertips generally on the thumbs and the index fingers that allow you to still provide that touch element to any kind of smartphone. They are wonderful. So , um, I really love the texting gloves. Uh , I love having an extra pair of Apple AirPods laying around, or , uh , one of my very favorites is a little Bluetooth earbud because I rely so much on , um, verbal feedback from my phone. I almost always have a, in fact, I think I have one in now a little , um, or maybe not, but in any case I have a little Bluetooth earbud that is just that tiny little thing that is barely noticeable, but it's there for me for when I need that verbal feedback. So those are the , a few of the things that I can think of. And , um, and gosh, I've got more and, and cashmere sweaters not so bad either. Um,

Paul:

And there's an item that, that I just happened to think about because first time I saw it was at one of the blindness conventions and it has plenty of appeal for other people, but it's called the tap strap. They're now up to two. So the tap strap too , and it uses taps with, let's say two fingers or maybe three fingers , uh , and it types letters as you tap. So if you think of braille, you know, you're using different combinations of the six dots. Well, this is a little bit like that. So you may tap three fingers on one side of the thing and get a certain letter or one finger on each side and get a certain letter. So you have to learn sort of how the keyboard is laid out, but it comes with videos and that sort of thing. And it was initially talked about as a blindness product, but it's , it's definitely gone mainstream as an IRA user. An IRA gift card would certainly be fantastic. Um, you mentioned Uber that would also get you Uber eats, which is great door dash would , would be wonderful and food. I, there are a couple of food places. I mean, QVC has all kinds of things, but they have some fantastic food. Uh, nuts.com is another place that I love to frequent for different snacks and foods and things. So , uh, you know, everybody's different, but food is one of the things that , that gets my attention. So,

Melanie:

And no list would be complete without the mention of an audible gift certificate. I love my audible books and , and whether it's , um, you know, audible or Kindle , um, or even Bookshare, you know, these are all accessible book , um, merchants that , uh, many of us take advantage of daily. So we can't forget that.

Paul:

And then music subscriptions, I mean, you , I, you could get to any one of the music services out there. So is there anything else you'd like to mention for gifts for adults? I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our APH insights , art calendars , uh, I have given those to family for a number of years that are fascinated with braille. They love the art that's on them, and the fact that there's braille on them , people just seem to gravitate toward things like that. Even if they can't read the braille, they , they are fascinated by it. They're great for keeping up with holidays and different things that's going on with you, even if you can't see the art. I appreciate the fact that it's coming in from students and adults that are blind. And I think just a fantastic concept .

Melanie:

Yeah . And for those who can see the art, it's just, it's absolutely amazing. They , they pick some really stellar pieces each year.

Sara:

Great ideas, great suggestions. And we will have links to some of the products that are mentioned in the show notes. Is there anything else you all have to say any more gift ideas or suggestions?

Melanie:

Hmm, golly. I, you know, I, I, I just think that, you know, really just put, thought into it and give from your heart, whether it's , um, time service or a , um, a physical gift, whatever it is. Uh , I just can't reiterate enough what Paul's , um , statement about , um, just know the person and give from your heart.

Paul:

And maybe there's something that you especially love to do or make, and they can be homemade gifts too . If , if you are a cook or if you are someone who makes and sows different things , uh , if you have a talent like that, that is a great way to come up with a gift.

Melanie:

Yeah . Yeah. Or teach, you know, teach that person how to do that, that skill or talent that you love, the hobby or pastime.

Sara:

Thank you both so much for your time. Those are great suggestions, holiday traditions. Do you have any, they run the wide range of baking cookies with loved ones to black Friday, shopping to decorating gingerbread houses when a loved one loses their vision, baking cookies from scratch, running through a store in the middle of the night and decorating a gingerbread house, looks a little bit different. Lisa's back in here, how she herself made some simple tweaks to her family, holiday traditions. Lisa, welcome back to change makers. And for those of you who don't know, Lisa has a master's in counseling education and associates in adaptive fitness, specializing in the visually impaired population and ran a support group for retinitis pigmentosa and other AI-related diseases. But before we turn to the traditional holidays, Lisa actually said, one holiday that's typically celebrated at night is when many parents noticed that their child had vision problems. Lisa, tell us more. Halloween is one of those holidays that is really for

Lisa Lloyd:

Young people , uh , who are going blind or visually impaired due to retinal degenerative diseases. So a lot of parents report that the child falls down or trips on Halloween night. And that is often one of the first indicators that the child is losing their vision. Uh, so that's something that I've heard a lot of them talk about. And then that kind of starts the conversation. Um, and , uh, of course, vision loss over time tends to go down with these diseases. So night vision tends to go first and then depending on the eye disease, they might end up going down to like a tunnel vision situation. So I also have RP. And so I have experienced this as well. So I tend to be the mother that stays at home and answers the door for trick-or-treaters , as opposed to the parent that goes out with our blind daughter. Because if I went out, it would be like the blind leading the blind.

Sara:

How do you modify your traditions? We're going into the holiday season? How did you modify the traditions or what can parents do or family members do for their loved one that is losing their vision?

Lisa Lloyd:

Sure. It's an excellent question. And I , I liked this question a lot because it's very inclusive. I find a lot of sighted individuals don't often think about how they can make something more meaningful for their child that's blind or, you know , left one that's that's going blind. So in our family, I'll mention a couple of our traditions and then how we modified them. We have a card writing experience. Every November, December, we first started off, our daughter was adopted and came home to us blind. So initially I wrote all of the Christmas cards and the Hanukkah cards to our friends who are Jewish. And then she learned , um , English and we had to teach her English and I became a scribe for her. So she could write out cards to family members. And I would just write down everything that she said. Then my daughter learned the critique keyboard in addition to working with the iPad and that program called co-writer. And she started to be able to write her own Christmas cards. I helped her a little bit with the spelling and the grammar. She brought her humor and her ideas to the cards and really made them alive and personalize them. Now she knows the braille notes touch device, which has a step up and she's able to do almost everything entirely on her own at 13 and a half years old. So those cards , um , after she prints them out, I help her put them in the envelopes. And of course I address the outside so they can be mailed. Um, but if they're going to people in person , she can write the braille name. And then underneath that, I can write an English, the person's name, assuming they're not a braille reader. So that's for , um , our card writing. We also have a curling experience in our family and , uh, we go out at night and we go back to my hometown in Palo Alto where I was raised and we go Christmas, Carolyn , and we have at least three or four of us in the group who are blind. So we always make sure that we have a sighted guide for each blind individual. We have to practice ahead of time, unlike most other people, because we can't see the lyrics that are before us in the dark, even with flashlights, it's hard. So we practice by listening to the radio for a few weeks ahead of time. We get sheet music and at home and the light, or I can see we practice as well. And then when we go out, we make sure we have lots of bright lights on us, and we have jingle bells , um, a tambourine, whatever we can do to make it a little bit more exciting for our daughter. As we walk from house to house, singing Christmas carols, it's one of our daughter's favorite themes. And then at the very end, we have a dessert potluck. She loves food. We all love food, especially around the holidays. And so that's where she gets some traditional food that she wouldn't get the rest of the year.

Sara:

So do you have any tips or advice for modifying any traditions?

Lisa Lloyd:

I would say always keep in mind that you want to be flexible and you want to be thoughtful to everybody in the group. So I'll give an example. We also do a white elephant exchange on Christmas day. So I always try and get buy-in for my daughter. That's blind. I have heard get some ideas going about what gift she would like to provide for the white elephant. And then I have her involved in the wrapping up of that gift. And then when we're actually doing the gift exchange, I kind of level the playing field. I have it be so that when someone opens up a gift, they share what the gift is, and then they rotate it amongst the group so that my daughter can explore it with her hands. And other people can read outside of the box and they can decide if they want to steal it or not. So just being inclusive and thinking about, you know , um , how that person who's blind will be involved. Another good thing to do is when the food comes up for either Thanksgiving or Christmas to mention what is available, what's there. And if I forget, my daughter will actually ask me or my dad who's blind will ask, well, what's available. What w what did people bring in ? Who brought wet? So we tend to go over that and we have some food allergies. So we also talk about what's in the dish, as well as who need the dish. It's gluten-free , this one has dairy in it so that everybody understand . And that's what I find is when you do something for someone who's blind, it also usually helps everybody else in the group.

Sara:

Thank you so much, Lisa. We really appreciate you taking the time out to join us today. That's great information on how to modify holiday traditions so everyone can enjoy. Now, we're going to focus on services for a lot of people. The holidays bring together for the first time since last year and seeing older family members, you might notice they're having vision issues that have only gotten worse since last year and a new prescription for glasses. Isn't going to help. Where do you turn for assistance when your older loved one is experiencing vision loss? Let's talk to Chris Rogers from vision aware and what you can do. Hello, PRIs , thank you so much for joining us today. Tell us about yourself,

Priss:

I have been in the field of aging and vision loss for most of my career, which is over 40 years. So that kind of tells you how old I might be. And , um , I have been involved with , uh , vision aware since its inception. It actually started out as another site called senior side, and then it morphed into vision aware and vision aware has information in it. Uh , that includes information for seniors. So it's very appropriate that , uh, we do have vision of where that's all inclusive.

Sara:

Okay. And vision aware. Tell us about the services they offer .

Priss:

Okay. Vision aware is actually a website, but when we conceived of it, we conceived of it as being kind of a holistic site that would have information in it that both family members and caregivers and fit and people with vision loss could use to understand about age-related vision loss and what they could do once the person had vision loss. So it includes information about eye conditions, about emotional support, about everyday living and about special things that seniors need to know about as they lose their vision. And even includes a section on working, because we know a lot of older people with vision loss want to continue to work. So in the eye conditions section, for example, vision aware covers information about the, the most common eye conditions that older people with vision loss would experience such as macular degeneration or glaucoma are diabetic retinopathy, and of course, cataracts. Um, then we have in the section on everyday living, when you lose your vision, you need to know what to do. How can you cook for yourself? How can you continue to read? How can you take your medications? All those are basic things that everybody needs to be able to do. And when you have vision loss, it's really difficult to consider how you can continue to do those types of tasks . So we try to cover everything in the everyday living section , um , in the four seniors section, we talked some about retirement and what it means in terms of maybe you might have to move or think about moving and what you would need to think about or how you might need to adapt your home, to make it a more accessible and easy to get around. Uh , and the working life section. We talk about , um, how you can continue to work, what things you need to know about to, for your work to be accessible to you , um, had to, to your employer, if you're losing vision, things like that, or if you had a hobby and you want to turn that into a job for the future , um , because you can't do the work you were doing before, or you don't feel comfortable doing it. So we cover those types of things in working life. And then in the emotional support section, we actually have a guide called getting started that has all kinds of tips about dealing with vision loss from , uh , every aspect that one can think of. And that's a downloadable guide, and we can also send you a copy of it if you will go to that section on the website, which is vision aware slash getting started also in the emotional , um, uh , support section. We have information for family members because family members often have just as hard a time on coping with vision loss as the person who's losing their vision, they don't know what to do and how does to provide the best support. So the emotional support section has a lot of great information in it as a guide to family members and caregivers. Another piece that we have on vision aware is a directory of services, so that if you live, so for example, your loved one lives in Texas, and you need to find services for that person there. Then you can go to the directory and find those services. So , uh, so vision aware , like I said, is a very holistic site. And we tried to think of almost everything that a person would , uh , want to continue to do , um, when they lose vision.

Sara:

Okay. So when you're home for the holidays, what can a concerned family member do right then and there, when they see their loved one in their fishing leaving?

Priss:

Well, I think, like I said, they need to start working on helping that older person identifies some of the tasks that they're having a hard problem with. For example, if , uh , they're having problems, taking their medications accurately, then they can help with that. They can suggest that they can find those rehab services , uh , and say, mom, I've found out that in this , um , in your community, there's a UN agency that can provide someone who can work with you to help you to continue to be able to do these things independently. Uh, I noticed that when you were cooking your pie the other day, that you were having a problem measuring, and there are some special things, products that are out there to help you be able to measure more accurately like , uh, so , uh , I think that the family member needs to do their homework. Uh , so they , they know what's out there instead of taking over. And I think that's just crucial is they know that they should not take over for the person. They need to help that person to build their self competence and know they continue, can continue to be independent in their own homes. If they will just learn a few techniques and some , uh, and get some products , uh , special, helpful products that will help them to, to do those things. And another thing in building self-esteem just because a person is losing their vision doesn't mean they don't have their mind. And so, for example, if they have been an accountant, all their wives , and you're having a problem with your taxes, you would still want to go and talk to your mom or your dad about, you know, what could I do? You know, they still have their minds. And so helping that person feel that they have a role to play in the family, that they still have a knowledge base that can be used to help a family member who's having issues. Uh, I think that helps a lot. And also they can still be a good grandparents . They don't have to give up their grandparenting and , um, not be able to be around their grandchildren or babysit and so forth because they're having a vision loss. They still need to be, feel like they're a part of the family, which they are, and that they , um, can contribute to the family and still be the same person, just because they have a vision loss doesn't mean they're not competent. They're not able to continue to do the things they used to do. They just need to do them in a different way.

Sara:

That's great. That's great. Do you have any other suggestions for, you know, the family that's watching a loved one experience , vision loss, or the person who's experiencing vision loss themselves?

Priss:

Well, I think that one of the things that I didn't cover and I think is really important to think about is to encourage the relative who's losing vision to continue to pursue their lifelong interest, but in a new way not to give up. So for example, if they've been a knitter, they can still knit. If they've gone to church, they need to continue to go to church. Um, so continuing on with life is just such a critical thing. And I think anything that a family member can do to encourage the older person to continue on with their life and not give up , uh, is , is really critical.

Sara:

Thank you so much, Chris, for joining us, we really appreciate your time for those with young children, APH also provide services through the connect center. Family connect.org gives parents of children who are visually impaired or losing their vision, a place to find resources and support for each other. APH's ConnectCenter Director, Olaya Landa-Vialard is here to tell us what you can find FamilyVonnect.org. Olaya thanks so much for joining us.

Olaya:

Thank you, Sarah . I'm so happy to be here to talk to you and your audience about family connect. Um, family connect has been around for a long time. Um, and it used to be one that , uh, one of the websites that was at the American foundation for the blind and a couple of years ago , um, it kinda , it switched hands and now we have it at APH. And so what we're doing with it is curating the older content that rolled over from ASB, the American foundation for the blind to American printing house for the blind, but then we're always , um, but we are also , um , adding more information , uh, updated information and of course, more services for families of children who are blind or visually impaired. Um, and so one of the easiest ways for your audience to be able to get to family connect would be just to go to the APH center. Um, I'm sorry, APH connect center.org. And once you go to the APH connect center dot or website , um, you'll see, you can choose from different , uh, different links to our various websites, but there is a family connect link. So once you click on the family connect link, it'll lead you to our family connect website. And on this website, you'll be able to find out information , um, about , uh, uh , overview of some services for children. Um, once you get a diagnosis of a visual impairment , um, from your doctor, whether it's at birth , um, that you receive that , um , diagnosis , or if it's one , your child enter school , um, there's information here that can help you , um, kind of navigate your way through that process. Um, also you can find , uh , information about services that are near you. Um, so we have , uh, an APA, our APH , um, directory of services. And , um, that directory of services has been around since about 1922. So it's, it's been around almost a hundred years and of course, way back when, you know , we used to print it and it would be huge. Like if anybody's told us not to remember phone books, it would look like a big old phone book. Um, however now with the advent of technology, we're able to , um, how's it on a website and , um, and , and it makes it easier and more productive and more efficient , um, to have this directory in electronic format and people can keep adding to it every year, every time something new, a new service or organization is available near you to provide you with services or help be there to answer your questions. Um, it can also, which I really think is really, really, really crucial for families who are, especially if you're new to visual impairments, but even after you've been dealing with , uh, you know, the , the world of visual impairments , sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. So then it makes it hard for you to know what questions to ask. And so on the website, you can find some , um , information and direction on what questions do you need to ask your child's doctor that is so important for, for you as a parent to help empower you and to be able to advocate and help your child keep moving forward , um, and, and recognize their abilities. We all can, we all know about the disability, but knowing the right questions to ask can help you really help others , um, in the school setting, especially recognize your child's abilities and , and make planning for their education from that point of view. So you can definitely get lots of information on that from the family connect website. The other things you can also get is , um, personal stories from other families who are , um, in, in your shoes , um, their stories from the point of view of families who are dealing with having a child with , um, with blindness or visual impairment , um, and stories of families who are dealing, who are dealing with a child who may have additional disabilities , um, in addition to that blindness or visual impairment , uh , cortical visual impairment, of course, is one of the bigger diagnoses that are, that we're seeing kind of the li it is really becoming the leading diagnosis of visual impairments , um, in our, in our kiddos. And so we have , um, a parent's perspective on that and raising a child with CVI and how to work with your child's educational team. So there are , um, there , there are just so many ways that , um, family connect is able to provide you with , uh , information and lead you to services that are available , um , in your area. Um, we also , uh , when you go to the website, you'll also see , um , an area where you can , uh, at the top and the, one of the , the tool bars , um, you can get to where it says about, and you click on that and you can get to webinars that we have , um, that we've already done for family connect, and a lot of these webinars , um, deal with , um, how to help your child , um, at home, especially again, when we're , we're doing this at home learning , um, and you've got , um, you know, you've got your kid, you're , you're , you know, either your young child or your young adolescent child home now, and having to figure out how to use their such a technology to help them teach. How do you collaborate with the teacher to make sure that , um, your, your child is still receiving the services , um, that, that they are legally entitled to, and it's in their IEP. And so , um, we have , uh , webinars that can help you , um, kind of navigate that whole at home learning situation right now. One of the really , uh, really cool webinars that we've had for family connect is the homework hotline for students with visual impairments and blindness. So I highly recommend if you have a child who is doing at home learning , um, that you watch that webinar, or listen to that webinar to get information about how to access that, that service it's free. And , um, it , it is a wonderful service, very unique service that , um , has not been available in the past. And because of the pandemic, you know , uh , necessity is the mother of all invention, the homework hotline for blind and visually impaired students was created to address this particular , uh , the issues that we're having right now because of the COVID pandemic. Um, and there's other webinars there as well, like how to use it, the materials in your home to make , um , you know, to, to make , uh, or to help your , your child learn. Um, especially for that early intervention age, early childhood age. There's so many things you can use in the home , um, to collaborate with your child's teacher , um , to help your child keep moving forward, keep learning those, those developmental skills that they need to build off of one another. So when you go to the website, that's something that you will also see , um, th that you'll have the option to , to go and look at. So you'll have the option to look at past webinar recordings, but then you'll also see , um , a listing of the upcoming recordings. Um, and so that , uh , I'm sorry, upcoming webinars, so that that's something else that you'll get to see when you , uh, and how you could use the family connect website. Um, one of the , the final things that I will say about , um, about family connect is family connect cannot exist without input from our families. So please, please, please feel free to reach out to us. Um, and you can always email us with any comments or ideas that you have , um, for presentations or for articles to be written, or just information to be put out there. You can email [email protected] .org . And that way we can make sure that we are putting information up there. That's helpful to you. Um, not only to you, but then to other parents, cause I'm there . If you have a question or idea , um, another parent might have that same question or might benefit from that idea. So , um , please make, take advantage of every of everything that the connect center can offer, but if you're a parent or a caregiver of a child who is visually impaired or blind, please take advantage of family connect dot or , um, and all we offer.

Sara:

Thank you so much Elia for taking the time to explain this service that family connect provides. It's so important for parents to have a place to go for help and family connect.org does just that. And speaking of the connect center, Elia is back to tell us what's coming up this month.

Olaya:

Hi, thank you so much, Sarah , for inviting me to , um, kind of let everybody know what's going on at the connect center lately. Um, well lately we have been busy creating an advisory group for , um, for our, our career connect site , um, and it should be getting going , um, during the first week of December. So we're really excited about that. That advisor group is going to help us , um, know what's important to the field in , uh, in regards to , uh , co uh , in regards to transition in regards to individuals looking for jobs and , um , you know , trying to gain some job skills in order to find a job. So we're really excited about getting that group together. Um, we've also had a couple of webinars on , um, virtual orientation services for individuals who are deaf blind. Um, we had about 145 people attend that webinar. So we're really, really proud and excited about , um, the attendance from that webinar, but also the feedback we're getting. So , um , be on the lookout for the link for the recording for that particular webinar. Um, of course I would like to highlight the homework hotline. We've had a homework hotline webinar, and , um, that is something that is really important. I think for everybody to know about that, that even exists for our students who are blind, visually impaired. Um, I wish we had had that when I was a teacher of the visually impaired out in the field years ago. Um, but now we have that available and I think people really need to take advantage of it, especially during this time of at-home learning , um, during our, during the COVID pandemic. So , um, you know, be on the lookout for that link as well. Uh, we've also had a really, really good webinar on social connections during physical distancing, again, important during this time of COVID. Um, now, as far as , um, some of the things we were looking at were running up into the holiday season, so we started focusing quite a bit now on , uh, ideas for the holiday season. And one of the ideas that we're , um , posting about on our , uh, on the connect center is , um, accessible Santa letter campaign that is being put on by the foundation for blind children and , um, the link for , um, see it our way.org and the link for the actual campaign will be found in the show notes. So make sure you , you , uh , take a look at that and make sure you can get that so that you as a parent or if, or an aunt or uncle or brother or sister , um, would like to have Santa's Sunday letter to , um, you know, your loved one, then you can participate in this campaign. They instructions will be there online. And I think it's a really cool campaign that they're doing and we'll make Christmas and letters from Santa's accessible to everyone. Um, there's also, if you like cooking , um, and like baking during this holiday season, there is actually , um, an activity being put on , uh , called jingle jam. Let's get cooking with the 12 days of , of recipes. And again, that, that link will also be in the show notes. So we're going to be putting that on the connect center sites as well. Um, if you like making crafts and , um, you wanna learn how to make a tactile craft that can be , um, used as a decoration or as a career or as a gift for the holidays. Um, you can learn how to make button trees by , uh , Patty stamps.com and again, that as well, we'll also be in the show notes. Um, do you need any gift ideas that if you're not real crafty and you're not good with your hands, you can always buy a blindfolded twister , um, and it , uh, at shop.hasbro.com and , uh , in the search bar, you can just type in blindfolded twister game and it will pop right up for you. So that's always fun. I know we're supposed to be social distancing and twister is not a socially distant kind of game. However, it's a game that you can play at home with the people who live with you, right. So that we can be safe. And , um, you know, Matt , uh, not invite others from outside, but that that's something to , to, to get us all together and have fun , uh, in the house and , uh, involve and make it accessible for everyone right. Blind or visually impaired or sighted. So , uh , I think that's an awesome , uh, an awesome option to have as far as gift giving . Um, there is another , um, place, if you're looking for , um , gifts that are educational, there is a website called creative adaptations for learning, and there you can find accessible , um, flashcards bro , alphabet cards, bro , counting cards. Um, you can even find no cards, greeting cards that are , um , tactile and accessible, shaped, and rhymes books, touch and learn activity books. There are some , um , um, some other Pathfinder cards or just all kinds of really neat , um, accessible educational activity, things that you can purchase for your , um, for anyone who you think might benefit from this. Um, and they're all accessible. Um, we also have a couple of webinars or really one webinar that's going to be put on by the APH connect center. And that one is titled unwrapping the wonder discussing low and high tech gifts for adults who are visually impaired. And so , um, you can go to the APH connect calendar and you can see how you can register for this. It is scheduled to occur on December 2nd from three to four 30 Eastern. And , um, please, please, please visit the calendar, find December 2nd. And that way you can register for this, I think is going to be a really good webinar to kind of give you ideas about , uh , what gifts are out there for you to purchase or how to make some gifts that you do purchase accessible for , um , the adults in your lives, who are visually impaired or blind , um, or if you are blind or visually impaired yourself and would like to purchase gifts for other people in your life. The ideas there will be ideas discussed on that topic as well. Um, one of the other webinars that we're going to be promoting on our website is , uh , being put on by the national organization of parents, of blind children. And , um, their webinar is about , um, and getting advice from other parents about what toys , um, your blind child will enjoy playing with. Um, and then also how to make toys that you may go and purchase off the shelves accessible for your child and that information as well. The link to that webinar will be , um , in the show notes, but we will also have that on the community calendar , um, through our APH connect center calendar. Um, and so let me just make sure that I didn't miss anything. Oh, one more thing. Um, we also have a webinar scheduled , uh , called blind kids just want to have fun. And so that webinar is also , um , scheduled for December the second. And , uh , it will also be listed on our community calendar , um , the connect center calendar, but we will also have the link to that in the show notes, so that if you want to take advantage of learning about , um, summer camps for your child who is blind or visually impaired, you'd be able to get to that link and register for that webinar. Um, I know we're , I'm talking to summer and that's six months away. However , um, we need to start thinking about summer camps, right. And getting our kids registered and finding one that works for them. So please, if you have a chance to join us so that , um , there's lots more, I can talk about Sarah , but I know I'm , I get up . I can go on and on people know me, but I will stop there. And I hope that this information has helped , um, the listeners , um, get, you know , some good ideas of where they can , um , go to find ideas , uh , about how to make this holiday season

Sara:

Fun. Thank you Olaya for joining us today. And while this year is short, a look and feel drastically different due to the pandemic, you can still find ways to make the holiday season special and even start new traditions that show that while we are apart , we are always together. That's it for today's episode of Changemakers . Be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.