Latest Iowa Department for the Blind Volunteer Newsletter

Iowa Department for the Blind Logo features the state outline of the state of Iowa with idb in braille in the center of the state.Welcome to our newsletter! In this issue, we are celebrating the unveiling training center symbol, new Youth Space opens, and an Update from the Director including the State Fiscal Year 2023 State Appropriation. We hope you find this newsletter useful and informative.

Iowa Department for the Blind Volunteer Newsletter

Today is Blind Americans Equality Day or White Cane Safety Day!

Blind Americans Equality Day or White Cane Safety DIowa Department for the Blind Logo features the state outline of the state of Iowa with idb in braille in the center of the state.ay is an annual, national observance that recognizes the achievements of blind Americans and the importance of the white cane as the basic tool of mobility and symbol of independence for the blind. It is also a day to remind all citizens of the laws granting the right of way to blind cane travelers. 

 

In 1964, the United States Congress authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 15th of each year as Blind American Equality Day, formerly, White Cane Safety Day.  It is a national observance in the United States, that was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in an effort to raise awareness of people who carry a white cane.  In fact, the day is now celebrated around the world in many countries on the same date. 

A Proclamation on the Blind Americans Equality Day, 2021 

 

Check out our Cane Tips with Zach video series on YouTube for more information about the white cane and cane travel. 

 

Cane Tips 

Cane Types 

Sizing a Cane 

Benefits of a Longer Cane 

Maintaining a Straight Line of Travel 

New Braille Bits Podcast

Join us for a great conversation as Denise talks to a very special guest, Leland Smith, Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher for the Iowa Department for the Blind.  They will also review Braille Bits Lesson 15.

What is Braille Bits did you ask? Braille Bits is an introductory class that is flexible and convenient, supportive and structured in providing a fun, tiny size sampling of braille. You may want to call this dot learning experience, an appetizer of braille.

This online program is designed to teach braille to sighted people who have connections with braille readers. For example, teachers and parents are taught through a combination of visual representation of braille dot positions, through lessons, homework and a podcast. Did we mention a Podcast? Prepare to be both entertained and delighted by listening to others share their love for braille.

For more Braille Bits information:
Braille Bits Introduction
Braille Bits Lessons
Braille Bits Podcast

IDB Parent Listening Sessions: May 11th and 14th

Iowa Department for the Blind Logo is an outline of the sate of iowa with IDB in brailleThe Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) will be holding parent listening sessions via Zoom on Monday, May 11th at 10:00 am and Thursday, May 14th at 7:00 pm. Parents are invited to attend one or both of the sessions. Connection information is below.  

IDB is working to launch several new cross-program initiatives to help youth gain independent living skills, develop self-efficacy, and be prepared for the world of work and adult life. We have been hearing from parents for several years about the need for additional support, resources, and training so that they can help their children take on age appropriate responsibilities, keep up with their peers, and make the transition from school to work in a way that results in their children becoming independent, well-adjusted, and successful adults. . One of these initiatives is the development of a parent advisory committee and a youth advisory committee to help guide our programs. We believe it is very important to ensure that our activities remain responsive to the needs of those we serve. In order to gain information that will guide our program design teams, we are inviting parents of blind and low vision youth to share their thoughts, ideas, and needs at our virtual listening sessions. 

Possible Discussion Questions:

  • If we were to host regular webinars about technology, what topics would you like us to cover?
  • After the current crisis has past, what do you feel you would most benefit from in an in-person conference or training?
  • What are the best times of day, times of the year, for online or in person events?
  • If we were to create a parent and family webpage or blog, what would you hope to find there?
  • If we were to bring in speakers, either in person or virtually, such as subject matter experts or blind people working in different occupations, would you attend and do you have any suggestions for what folks you would like to hear from and talk with?
  • What questions do you have about IDB services and how do you think we can better communicate what we have to offer?
  • What forms of communication do you find most helpful? Email, Facebook, phone, etc.?
  • What training, services or support do you feel is most lacking for you and your child/ren?
  • What has you most concerned for your child/ren’s future?
  • What, if any, items or services from IDB have you found to be the most helpful

Zoom Connection Information:

These listening sessions will be held on Monday, May 11th at 10:00 am and Thursday, May 14th at 7:00 pm.

Join Zoom Meeting Link   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81413732909
Meeting ID: 814 1373 2909

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Dial In+1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 814 1373 2909

National Volunteer Month – Every Moment Makes a Difference

April is National Volunteer Month.  Every moment our volunteers give to the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and the Library makes a huge difference in so many ways.  Their willingness to share both their time and talents by volunteering with the Library says a lot.  Their willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks to both their strength and the quality of their character.

For example, in 2019, volunteers gave over 7,220 hours to IDB and the Library.  Volunteers assisted with audio production, braille production, youth programs, library circulation and more. 

Our volunteers helped us do more in 2019 than we ever could have done to ensure we positively impacted Iowans lives.  We thank our volunteers!  This statistics illustrates how much their gift of time makes such an impact in achieving our mission and goals.

Moving into 2020, our volunteers are helping us through these uncertain times through their work at home. 

Two of our volunteer narrators helped us launch a new program for the library called, IDB Read.  Patrons can call in and listen to one of our wonderful volunteer narrators read live on the phone, followed by a short chat about the book.  Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00pm-5:00pm, you call in and listen to our narrator, Christine, read a cozy mystery. The first one is titled A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am – 11:00 am, you can call in and listen to our narrator, Bob, read a western, titled To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L’Amour.  Please call the library at 515.281.1323 to get the conference call number for IDB Read.

Our volunteer Braillists and narrators continue to work on projects from home for both the students and patrons ensuring our patrons have the information and materials that they need.  Our Friends of the Library continue to work tirelessly on supporting the library through fundraising and support.  And the Library Consumer Advisory Committee continues their work as advocates for our library.

Thank you again to all of our volunteers who continue to help us in so many ways!

For information about how you can help check out these pages:

LEAP Transition Resource Fair

The Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and the Iowa City Community School District present a resource fair for students K-12, parents, teachers, and service providers featuring exhibitors, informative sessions, and family activities. The fair offers information about services and resources available to assist low vision and blind students navigate their school careers and prepare for post-secondary education and/or employment.

Featuring:

  • Information sessions:
    • Session 1 — 10:00-11:00 am
      “Introduction to IDB Services – Vocational Rehabilitation, the Orientation Center, the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Library’s Instructional Materials Center, and the Aids & Devices Store” –  Learn what services are offered by the Iowa Department for the Blind and how they can help low vision and blind transition-age students during their school years.
      +
      “Converting Text to Audio —  How to Scan Books”  with Enrique Mejia, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist
      Blind and low vision students starting college may suddenly realize they no longer have a TVI to take care of ordering their accessible study materials for them. The responsibility of being prepared for classes falls primarily on students themselves. They need to have the skills to find and get access to information. One important skill is the ability to scan materials. This session will cover just a few of the tools, inexpensive and sometimes free, that are available to students.
    • 11:00 am – Exhibits open until 3:00 pm
    • Session 2 — 11:10 am – 12:00 pm
      “Early Intervention in Low Vision and Blind Students Lives” with Julie Aufdenkamp, Transition Specialist
      This session will address the crucial question of:  “What should the expectations be for children who are blind or low vision?”
    • 12:00-1:15 pm  Lunch (you may bring your own or find options nearby in the area),  exhibits remain open
    • Session 3 — 1:15 pm – 2:00 pm
      Vocational Rehabilitation – “Today’s Learners Become Tomorrow’s Earners” with Julie Aufdenkamp,  Transition Specialist
      “Vocational Rehabilitation from the Iowa Department for the Blind doesn’t start until my child/student graduates from high school… right?” Wrong! Session participants will learn what VR is and why early connections are important.
    • Session 4 — 2:15- 3:00 pm
      The Orientation Center – “Nonvisual Skills and Independence” with Nami Wallace, Orientation Center Instructor
      An in-depth look at the Orientation Center, it’s philosophy of learning, what classes are offered, the use of learning shades, and how attending the Center fits into a student’s overall development.
  • Exhibitors and resource tables focusing on transition services, tech vendors, advocacy groups

Where:  The Commons and Room 118, The Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa, 2301 Oakdale Blvd, Coralville, IA  Link to Google maps and directions

Free and open to the public, students of all ages welcome