edited by Cynthia G. Hawkins
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Touch of Genius Prize
The deadline to apply for National Braille Press’ Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation is January 15, 2021.
The Touch of Genius Prize was developed to inspire entrepreneurs, educators or inventors to continue the promotion of braille and tactile literacy for blind and deaf-blind people worldwide. This prize can be granted for innovative and accessible computer software applications, tactile hardware, or curriculum that promotes braille and/or tactile literacy. NBP encourages all applicants to think outside the box to what can be used to help improve the lives of blind people.
The winner of this prize will receive up to $10,000, which will help them to continue to innovate in the fields of technology and education for blind people. The Gibney Family Foundation helped fund and establish this award in 2007, inspiring people to go beyond what was thought possible.
Developing New Treatment for Stargardt
ReVision Therapeutics, Inc. recently signed an exclusive license agreement with Cornell University for the development and commercialization of Cornell’s proprietary technology for the treatment of Stargardt disease, a genetic disorder that affects central vision. The treatment, REV-0100, is designed to bind and clear a toxic lipid called lipofuscin that leads to cell death and retinal degeneration. There are no other known products in development that remove accumulated lipofuscin in this way, and no other approved treatment for Stargardt disease.
Accessibility Enhancements for HBO Max
In a landmark agreement, WarnerMedia will provide audio description on at least 1,500 hours of new and existing programming on HBO Max by the end of March 2021, increasing to 3,000 hours by the end of March 2022, and doubling again to at least 6,000 hours in total by the end of March 2023. In addition, over the next year, accessibility of the HBO Max website, mobile applications, and TV apps will be improved for individuals using screen-reading software. For more information, go to https://acb.org/HBO-accessibility.
Social Security Benefits Increase for 2021
In 2021, both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
National Leadership Program
RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program trains college seniors and graduate students committed to disability issues and planning to seek related careers. The organization seeks creative, results-driven individuals who want to achieve breakthrough results while receiving practical experience. This fellowship is for seniors in college and graduate students, as well as graduates and those in the early stages of their careers. It also is for people with disabilities who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and currently are seeking new opportunities.
Applications are now being accepted for the winter 2021 session. The program is entirely virtual and can be done from anywhere in the United States. For more information and to apply, please visit https://www.respectability.org/about-us/fellowship/.
FCC Announces 2020 Award Winners
The FCC recently announced the 2020 winners of the Chairman’s Awards for Advancements in Accessibility (Chairman’s AAA). This program, which began in 2011, is focused on improving access to telecommunications and technology for people with disabilities. Those being honored this year are national thought leaders whose sustained excellence throughout their careers has served to advance the cause of accessibility.
The 2020 winners are:
- Karen Peltz Strauss, advocate and a long-serving public servant at the FCC;
- Claude L. Stout, advocate and executive director at TDI; and
- Tom Wlodkowski, advocate and innovator who increased access to video programming, Internet/broadband, and connected technologies.
New from National Braille Press
National Braille Press has a set of 10 braille-and-print holiday cards available. The front has the words “May this new year be the gift that brings us all together,” in print and braille with an illustration. Inside reads, “Wishing you hope, health, and happiness,” in print and braille. Also available are sets of 2019’s cards, “Sleigh the Season,” and 2017’s cards, “Warm Winter Wishes.”
Looking for small gifts to ship, perhaps with a card? Check out NBP’s variety of print-braille magnets and other gifts at https://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/braille-gifts.html. Sayings on the magnets include “You are perfect to me,” “We ought to be opening a bottle of wine!”, “You Rock,” and “Friends are the family you choose for yourself,” among many others.
New in the technology section are the Microsoft PowerPoint 2019 Keystroke Compendium, along with an updated version of the Microsoft Outlook 2019 Keystroke Compendium.
And if you’re new to the Android phone, you’ll want to take a look at “Android Commands and Settings: A Reference Guide for Eyes-Free Users,” by Ana Garza and “Getting Started with Android,” by Ana Garza and JJ Meddaugh.