February 2016: The National Federation of the Blind in Washington DC

Contributed by Robert Jaquiss
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
[email protected]

     Members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) were in Washington DC last week meeting the members and staff of the 114th congress. Two of the four legislative issues for which the NFB seeks legislation on are below. The complete legislative agenda and fact sheets can be found on http://www.nfb.org. The following is excerpted from the NFB legislative agenda.

·       The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE). Act Electronic instructional materials have replaced traditional methods of learning in postsecondary education, but the overwhelming majority of eBooks, courseware, web content, and other technologies are inaccessible to students with print disabilities. The law requires equal access in the classroom but fails to provide direction to schools for the way it applies to technology. AIM HE creates voluntary accessibility guidelines for educational technology to improve blind students’ access to course material, stimulate the market, and reduce litigation for schools.

·       The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. Despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, large print, audio, and digital copies, millions of blind and otherwise print-disabled Americans are excluded from accessing 95 percent of published works. The Marrakesh Treaty calls for contracting parties to provide in their national copyright laws for a limitation or exception that allows for the reproduction, distribution, and cross-border exchange of accessible works.

January 2016

Contributed by Robert Jaquiss
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
[email protected]

Monday January 4 is the 207th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille. It is also the day on which the Unified English Braille (UEB) becomes the standard braille code in the United States. For more information see the site: http://www.brailleauthority.org/ueb.html. This site contains links to guides, resources and sample documents in brf and pdf formats. The example documents are toward the bottom of the page.

December 2015: ISLAND Conference Wrap-up

Contributed by Robert Jaquiss
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
[email protected]

  The ISLAND conference was a great success. We had some great presenters and opportunities for networking with our peers. The Hotel Rose was a wonderful venue. The staff were courteous and the food was great. Summarizing an eight hour long conference in a few sentences is almost impossible. Here is a brief description of what was presented:

·       Cary A. Supalo- Emerging Trends in STEM Education for Students with Disabilities.

·       Holly Stowell (IRIE-AT)- Tactile Graphics for Science and Math. Holly demonstrated the Tactus drawing system including the Tactipad.

·       Ed Summers (SAS)- Accessible Analytics Using SAS. Ed demonstrated various SAS products. SAS is a world leader in Statistical analysis software.

·       Richard Ladner (University of Washington)- Making Computer Science Accessible. Richard talked a lot about a computer language that was originally developed for the BLV community called Quorum. Quorum is gaining interest outside the BLV community.

·       Paul Thorman (Haverford College)- A More Accessible Lab in Electronics and Optics for the Blind or Visually Impaired. Paul described how a blind student could make optical measurements using an audio signal. The newly devised system is more precise than the system used by sighted students.

·       John and Carolyn Gardner (ViewPlus Technologies)- Universally-Accessible Figures. John and Carolyn demonstrated the latest in ViewPlus software and hardware.

·       Robert Jaquiss- Innovations in Tactile Graphics and Three-Dimensional Printing. Robert talked briefly on the history of tactile graphics, showed some models and then talked about potential avenues of research.

·       Ken Perry (APH)- The Power of SALS: A device that brings STEM to all students. Ken also talked about adaptations for Elenco Snap Circuits. A way has been devised so that BLV individuals can build with Snap circuits using braille labels and instructions.

November 2015: The Inaugural Independence Science Newsletter

Contributed by Robert Jaquiss
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
[email protected]

Dr. Supalo has asked me to handle the Independence Science newsletter, so here is my first issue. When information is available, we will carry announcements, articles about blind STEM professionals, and technical tips.

If you are reading this newsletter, you likely have an interest in science, technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and how a person who is blind or visually impaired goes about pursuing a STEM career. I hope this newsletter proves to be a useful and informative resource. 

At Independence Science HQ, we are getting excited about the upcoming ISLAND Conference. This year for the first time, we are holding the ISLAND conference in beautiful Portland, Oregon. We have a great lineup of speakers and plan to see some of you there. For more information, please go to:

http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=zlmm7vfab&oeidk=a07ebi4qm2671ea2e78