Braille Monitor                         March 2021

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News from the Federation Family

An Opportunity for STEM Students and Professionals:
Are you interested in a career in a STEM field or already in one? Would you like to connect with other blind scientists and engineers and learn or help others learn the skills necessary to succeed in STEM fields?

We invite you to participate in our STEM mentorship program in the NFB Science and Engineering Division. All who are at least a junior in high school and are aspiring or already in a STEM career are welcome to sign up as a mentee, mentor, or both using the link to this form:

Participants will be asked to meet within their mentor pairings at least once a month, and all will be invited to join socials, workshops, and other fun activities. We also host a monthly program-wide seminar series where you, program participants, and other invited speakers are given the floor to share your science and present on a topic of your choice. It is a great opportunity to learn new science and check out how other blind STEM students and professionals are succeeding. Previous talks have included:

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Newton Nguyen by writing to [email protected]. We look forward to building a community and learning with all of you!

Virtual Law School May be Better:
This contribution comes to us courtesy of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama and is reprinted with the permission of Teen Vogue.

Andrea Dobynes-Wagner, a 30-year-old Black, legally blind woman and aspiring disability rights lawyer explains that before she started law school and nearly everything went virtual this year, she thought she couldn’t do it. Accommodations for disabled people in schools are usually just too sparse and exhausting to fight for. Going virtual allowed her to stay in the comfort of her home, to take screenshots or ask professors to email things—accommodations that might have technically been possible before but that she’s only been reminded she could ask for during the pandemic. After experiencing extreme eye fatigue because of excessive screen time, she got in touch with the National Federation of the Blind. There she joined Blind Law, a division of the group specifically for blind lawyers, legal educators, and aspiring and current law students. “We talk all the time,” Andrea says. “I went to the national convention virtually and have been put on committees now. I get resources and job opportunities and advice, a network of people who completely get what you’re going through or will go through as a law student. And there is no way that if school had been in person that I would have even reached out about this.”

Our Alabama Affiliate is very fortunate to have Andrea as a member of our family. She works currently on our legislative committee and is always open to serve and share her fresh innovative energy, whenever possible to move our initiatives forward. Thank you, Andrea for your commitment to break down misconceptions and barriers faced by our blind community.

In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.

Talk Description to Me Takes Audio Description to a New Level:


Awesome Ottawa January Award to Support Description-Rich Podcast Sharing Visuals of Current Events and the World Around Us

OTTAWA, January 21, 2020—January’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Christine Malec and J.J. Hunt to support Talk Description to Me, a podcast in which the visuals of current events and the world around us are discussed in description-rich conversations.

“The podcast is a forum that works toward accessible journalism,” explains Christine. “I’m a perpetually inquisitive member of the blind and partially sighted community who is always wondering about something, and J.J. is an audio describer and a natural-born storyteller. Our discussions plunge into current events and topical issues to explore the content of important images and help place vivid descriptions in their cultural context.”

Episodes to date—of which there are already thirty-two—have described the visuals of “Black Lives Matter”; “Justin Trudeau’s hair”; “Minecraft”; “Halloween”; the climate crisis, “Four Seasons Total Landscaping”; and more. They’ve also answered pressing questions like “Sports teams with offensive names don’t have images associated with those monikers, do they?” as well as “What does a Zoom call look like?” and “There isn’t actually a TV in every dentist’s office, is there?”

“In December,” Christine continues, “we hosted a live ‘year in review’ event, at which listeners were invited to ask description questions about the year past and the world around us. They shared with us how valuable our work has become to them. So many of the visual aspects of current events go unexplained for blind and low-vision people. Many listeners described the experience of not having fully realized the extent of this gap until our podcast began to fill it in. As we continue to describe the often frightening and surreal images accompanying journalism,” says Christine, “listener feedback on social media constantly reassures us that our work is including people in the public conversation in ways that have never been available before.”

“As creators of a podcast that discusses and describes the visuals of daily life, social media, and breaking news to those who don’t interpret the world visually,” adds J.J., “I confess that we’ve been feeling the weight, doom, and gloom of recent events rather acutely. Receiving this grant from Ottawa’s chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which doles out positivity and good vibes along with much-needed funds, will keep us buoyed for weeks and weeks to come.”

Christine is a cultural consultant within the blind community, and J.J. is a freelance audio describer of film, television, art, and live events. Both live in Toronto.

For more information write to [email protected] or visit the website


NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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