Braille Monitor                  December 2021

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News from the Federation Family

Elected:
The National Federation of the Blind of Indiana elected officers at its most recent convention October 10, 2021. Diane Graves, president; Ron Brown, vice president; Lee Martin, second vice president; Abby Fleenor, secretary; Kane Brolin, treasurer; and members of the board Ray Montgomery, Michael Lauf, Tammy Hollingsworth, and Tyler Sherck. Congratulations to our new officers and board members, and a heart-felt thank you to those who have served with distinction for so long.

What’s Buzzing with the National Federation of the Blind?
It’s that time of year when the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) gives a little help to Santa Claus. Through the Santa Letter/Winter Celebration Program, children ages birth to ten can receive a Braille letter from Santa or a Winter Celebration letter in Braille. Both of these letters will be produced in English and Spanish. The request form for this program will also be in English and Spanish. We are so excited to expand this program to not only folks who celebrate Christmas but also to those who celebrate other winter holidays or just the winter season itself.
Children will not only receive a Braille letter but other fun activities for you and your family to enjoy over the winter season. The letter and all of the activities will be sent in print too for those in your family who may not read Braille.

Beginning on November 8, parents, grandparents, and others can request the Braille packet online, via fax, or by email. The packets will start being mailed the first week in December. Make sure you get your request in early since the deadline is December 17. This will ensure that the packet is received before the winter season ends. You can find more information and request your letter at https://nfb.org/programs-services/early-childhood-initiatives/santa-letters.

Get our monthly e-newsletter, Imagineering Our Future:
Imagineering Our Future is the monthly e-newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind. It features a message from President Mark A. Riccobono and highlights our most recent news, stories from members, action items, and upcoming Federation events. Sign up to receive Imagineering Our Future in your inbox here: https://nfb.org/resources/publications-and-media/imagineering-our-future or visit our home page which has a link to subscribe.

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.

Justice Department Secures Agreement with Rite Aid Corporation to Make Its Online COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities
The Justice Department and the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today announced a settlement agreement with Rite Aid Corporation that will help people with disabilities get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccination appointments online.

Rite Aid’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal, currently located at https://www.riteaid.com/covid-19, was not accessible to some people with disabilities, including those who use screen reader software and those who have a hard time using a mouse. For instance, the calendar on Rite Aid’s website used for scheduling vaccine appointments did not show screen reader users any available appointment times, and people who use the tab key instead of a mouse could not make a choice on a consent form that they needed to fill out before scheduling their appointment.

“Equal access to healthcare is one of the most important rights guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “As the nation continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic — through booster shots, vaccinations for children under twelve, and ongoing outreach to those still in need of initial doses — people with disabilities must be able to schedule potentially lifesaving vaccine appointments as easily as people without disabilities can.”

Under today’s settlement, Rite Aid has agreed to make content about the COVID-19 vaccine, including the forms for scheduling an appointment to get the vaccine, conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Version 2.1, Level AA. WCAG is a set of voluntary industry guidelines for making information on a website accessible to users with disabilities. Rite Aid also must regularly test the pages of its website about vaccine scheduling and information and quickly fix any problems that keep people with disabilities from being able to use these pages.

“As technology increases, the internet is where people gain access to information about COVID-19 vaccines and schedule a vaccination appointment,” said Acting US Attorney Bruce D. Brandler for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. “Individuals with disabilities, including those with visual impairments and those who cannot use a mouse, must be given the same access to that information and the ease of scheduling appointments online. Since the beginning of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, private companies have partnered with the United States. Today, with the help of Rite Aid, we make great strides in that continuing partnership by ensuring individuals with disabilities have the ability to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination independently and privately.”

This matter was handled jointly by the Disability Rights Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division and Civil Rights Coordinator Michael Butler of the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public accommodations like drugstores and grocery stores to provide individuals with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of goods and services, such as vaccines. The ADA also requires public accommodations to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities, including by using auxiliary aids and services like accessible technology.

For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at www.ada.gov/complaint.

South Baltimore Gateway Partnership Announces $550,500 In New Community Grants
The South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP) is excited to announce $550,500 in new Community Grants to support thirteen projects across South and Southwest Baltimore. This round of funding was highly competitive, attracting proposals totaling more than $1.1 million. Since its establishment in 2016, SBGP has invested over $14.7 million through Community Grants and other initiatives. Community Grants are awarded based on previously determined criteria, including alignment with strategic goals. SBGP Community Grants funding is provided by the Local Impact Grants generated by video lottery terminals, including at the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

GraceCity Church’s “Good Neighbor Nutrition Education” program was awarded funding this cycle to provide sustainable nutrition education to families to cultivate enhanced cooking literacy and encourage healthy relationships with food. Executive Pastor Christin Hanigan states that the funding will “help fulfill SBGP’s commitment to the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors in Sharp-Leadenhall. As a result of SBGP’s generous support, we can build on our long-standing and productive collaboration with the families of this historic community to promote the success of all its extraordinary residents. We are profoundly grateful for this additional opportunity to serve.”

The LET’S GO Boys and Girls “Grow through STEM” program will serve the Lakeland and Westport communities. “This award will allow partnership between LET’S GO, schools, and community organizations in South Baltimore that will uplift youth social and emotional well-being. “Together, we will implement after-school STEM programs, youth employment and career readiness mentorship, and family engagement events. Holistically, our initiatives will create and sustain self-identity in South Baltimore youth that support successful careers, economic mobility, and the ability to make positive and meaningful change in their own lives and communities,” says Debbie Dininno, Regional Director for Baltimore.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) was also awarded funding to develop the first museum dedicated to the civil rights movement of blind Americans. “As America’s transformative advocacy organization of blind people, proudly headquartered in South Baltimore’s Riverside community for over forty years, we are honored and pleased to receive this grant,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the NFB. “It will help us plan our museum dedicated to the civil rights movement of blind Americans, allowing us to share our story with and foster understanding among our neighbors in South Baltimore, as well as visitors from across our nation and the world.”

In addition to the projects described above, other funding awarded this cycle will support:

“Urban Runoff Reduction Project,” a school-based program designed to address environmental issues by involving students in stewardship to improve the watershed. (Living Classrooms Foundation)

“Reach High Baltimore,” a project aiming to improve diversity, year-round inclusion in rowing and access to the Middle Branch. It will include a pilot to feature robotics competitions and swimming instruction. (Baltimore Rowing Club)

“Preserving Families,” a program supporting pet families experiencing housing crises. (BARCS)
First floor renovation for the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest standing churches in Baltimore and a venue for community engagement and support. (Ebenezer Kingdom Builders, Inc.)

“There were so many amazing projects requesting funding this grant cycle. It’s very clear that the communities know what they need and want for their neighborhoods, and we’re honored to support them as they reach their goals,” says Brad Rogers, Executive Director of SBGP.

SBGP also funds Transformational Projects around the District, such as Reimagine Middle Branch and the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center in Cherry Hill. Enhanced Services beyond the baseline services provided by the City are also supported by SBGP. In July 2021, SBGP announced $6 million of Enhanced Services funding for parks and programs in South Baltimore, including the future renovation for the Carroll Park recreation center, which will be overhauled after being closed to the community for 20 years.”

“We’re pleased to support the important work these organizations and their teams are doing to enhance Baltimore,” says Horseshoe Casino Baltimore Senior Vice President and General Manager Randy Conroy. “The more than $550,000 in Community Grants issued this cycle represents an ongoing commitment to improving the lives of Baltimoreans through a diverse range of initiatives that touch a wide range of needs in our city.”

A new round of SBGP Community Grants funding will be available this coming winter in 2022. Organizations can visit https://sbgpartnership.org/community-grants/ to learn more and apply.

Blind People Have a Chance to Make Corporate Contacts:
Disability:IN is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Disability:IN NextGen Leaders are college students and recent graduates with disabilities. Students are matched one-on-one with mentors from Disability:IN Corporate Partners across all industries like Google, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Boeing, and Pfizer. We are committed to increasing opportunities for individuals who represent all segments of diversity. POC [people of color], women, veterans, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply is January 7, 2022 at www.DisabilityIN.org/2022NextGenLeaderApplication.

You can read more about our program here https://disabilityin.org/what-we-do/nextgen-leaders-initiatives/apply-faq/.

US Department of Labor Relaunches EARN Website:
The US Department of Labor today announced the newly redesigned Employer Assistance and Resource Network on the Disability Inclusion website. Supported cooperatively by the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and Cornell University, the EARN site offers resources to help employers of all sizes and industries recruit, hire, retain, and advance people with disabilities and develop disability-inclusive workplace cultures.

The redesigned website highlights four essential components of the employment lifecycle – recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement and explores how including people with disabilities in each of these areas helps employers meet their workplace diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals.

The resources include online training courses, useful checklists, policy guides, videos, and recorded webinars on issues related to disability inclusion. The site also offers information on topics such as workplace mental health, employment issues related to coronavirus, inclusive telework, federal contractor requirements, and the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, ODEP promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. The agency supports policy development and technical assistance centers, including EARN.

EARN is a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity by educating public-and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures. Visit the site at https://askearn.org.

Mastercard Launches the Touch Card:

October 25, 2021
Jill Davison, Global Communications, Mastercard
2.2 billion people around the world have visual impairments

Unique notches on the Touch Card's short side allow the person to distinguish it between a credit, debit, or prepaid card.

Mastercard extends its commitment to inclusivity by introducing a new accessible card standard for blind and partially sighted people, called the Touch Card. There are few effective ways for the visually impaired to quickly determine whether they're holding a credit, debit, or prepaid card, particularly as more cards move to flat designs without embossed name and numbers. Mastercard is addressing this challenge with a simple yet effective innovation.

"The Touch Card will provide a greater sense of security, inclusivity, and independence to the 2.2 billion people around the world with visual impairments," says Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer. "For the visually impaired, identifying their payment cards is a real struggle. This tactile solution allows consumers to correctly orient the card and know which payment card they are using."

With the new Touch Card, Mastercard has improved upon a current design standard by introducing a system of notches on the side of the card to help consumers use the right card, the right way, by touch alone. The new Touch Card credit cards have a round notch; debit cards have a broad squarish notch; and prepaid cards have a triangular notch. The standard has been designed to work with point-of-sale terminals and ATMs, ensuring it can be deployed at scale.

Mastercard's concept has been vetted and endorsed by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the U.K. and VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the U.S. The card was co-designed by IDEMIA, the global leader in Augmented Identity, providing trusted solutions in the physical as well as digital space.

"As the banking industry responds to new trends and developments, it's critical that any innovation brings progress for everyone, including those with a visual impairment," says David Clarke, RNIB's director of services. "We're very pleased that Mastercard understands how important it is that blind and partially sighted people have equal and independent access to their own finances."

"Innovation should always be driven by the impulse to include," adds Rajamannar, who is also the company's Healthcare president. "With one in seven people experiencing some form of disability, designing these products with accessibility in mind gives them equal opportunity to benefit from the ease and security of a digital world. No one should be left behind."

Mastercard has been embedding its signature melody at checkout counters worldwide, a signal to everyone—the sight impaired in particular—that their card transaction has gone through successfully.

Mastercard's launch of the Touch Card underscores its commitment to inclusivity. It follows the introduction of True Name™, designed in support of the transgender and non-binary communities. The company's commitment as a brand is to not only stand against inequity but to be an agent for change.

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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