February 19, 2021

 

Dear Listeners,

 

We hope you are staying well and safe. Of special note this week is “Everything Metro,” an informal Zoom meeting sponsored by The Metropolitan Washington Ear. Patrick Sheehan of the Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Barbara Milleville, who has worked tirelessly on improving lighting in Metro stations throughout the system will tell us what is and will be happening with Metro rail and bus service, and Metro Access during and after the current pandemic.  Come with your questions and be a part of the conversation.

 

Also note that MWE Updates are now available online at www.washear.org/newsletter and messages from local officials are now available with an online link instead of an attachment. For the latest from:

§  DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, click on  www.washear.org/bowser.

§  Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks click on www.washear.org/alsobrooks.  

§  Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, click on www.washear.org/elrich.

 

As usual, this MWE Update also includes Coronavirus updates. However, given the constantly changing environment, we recommend that you also check the following area resources for the latest information.

 

§  DC - Vaccination Registration | coronavirus (dc.gov)

§  Maryland - Coronavirus - Maryland Department of Health - Vaccine

§  Virginia - COVID-19 Vaccine – Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine

 

Many thanks to Paul D’Addario and all our MWE family and friends for sharing items of interest with us.

 

Cheers,

Sylvia

 

Here are the links to all the items below:

 

§  Regional Leaders Request Federal Support to Vaccinate Essential Federal Employees

§  Maryland COVID-19 Vaccine Update

ú  New Call Center

ú  Vaccine Eligibility Protocols

§  Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Update

§  Free Maryland Tax Preparation

§  NSITE Launches NSITE Connect: Where Talent Meets Opportunity

§  FCC Seeks Outreach Partners for Emergency Broadband Benefit

§  VRCBVI February Virtual Training Series

§  Helpdesk for Blind and Low Vision Transition Students

§  Future Financial Planning for People with Disabilities Study

§  American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Survey Request

§  Invitation to Participate in Research on Accessibility and Usability of a Digital Library in a Mobile Environment

§  Survey Opportunity to Improve Map and Search Apps

§  ACB Announces Peter Sagal as Banquet Speaker for 2021 Virtual Convention

§  Calendar

ú  Black Future Month Happy Hour

ú  Rocketman: iBUG Night at the Virtual Movies

ú  Everything Metro

ú  ACB DC Leadership Conference

ú  Financial Protection of Older Adults During the COVID Pandemic

ú  Free Virtual Jazz Concert

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REGIONAL LEADERS REQUEST FEDERAL SUPPORT TO VACCINATE ESSENTIAL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to the leaders of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting increased federal support in administering the COVID-19 vaccines to essential federal employees.

“The federal Office of Personnel Management reports that more than 281,000 Federal Civilian Employees work in the National Capital Region around the nation’s capital,” Northam, Hogan, and Bowser wrote. “The federal government has identified more than 10 percent of these workers—more than 30,000 individuals—as critical personnel to ensuring the continuity of national societal functions.”

The letter specifically requests:

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MARYLAND COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE

The ongoing series of winter storms is causing significant delays in federal vaccine shipments to providers. If you have an appointment in the coming days, be sure to check with your provider to see whether your vaccination clinic will be operating.

More than 200 providers are now listed on covidvax.maryland.gov, a one-stop shop for finding providers in your area. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and some providers may allow you to pre-register.

New Call Center

The Maryland Departments of Health and Aging are working together to promote equitable access to vaccines through a telephone-based support line and appointment system for mass vaccination sites. This system is specifically designed to assist residents without Internet access. This week, the call center has successfully booked more than 5,000 appointments for the Six Flags mass vaccination site.

The new COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center—available at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829)—will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Advocates are available 

 

Vaccine Eligibility Protocols

Consistent with federal guidelines, Maryland is in Phase 1C of the vaccine distribution plan, including residents 65 and over, as well as critical workers in high-risk settings. Supply remains very limitedwhile federal guidelines make 2 million Marylanders eligible, the state is only receiving 12,000 first doses per day

Click here to see if you’re eligible.

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VIRGINIA COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE

This is an update from the Virginia Department of Health about the status of COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia. The available supply of vaccine is still very limited around the country, and we know the wait has been frustrating

 

The good news is that state and local public health officials and many partners have been working tirelessly to get vaccines to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible:

Today, we launched a new statewide vaccine pre-registration system, to make it easier for people to sign up for a free COVID-19 vaccination. If you have registered with your local health district, you have been transferred automatically to the new statewide system and you do not need to do anything at this time. You will maintain your current status, and can confirm that you are in the new system at any time, at vaccinate.virginia.gov. If you have not registered for this free vaccination, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to sign up.

The country still needs more vaccine supply to be able to get shots in the arms of everyone who wants them. Unfortunately, it may take weeks or months before everyone currently on waitlists is able to make an appointment. Although the complexities of vaccine distribution do not make it possible to give an estimated appointment date, we will send you regular reminders that you are still on the pre-registration list.

When your appointment becomes available, there will be no charge. State and local agencies will never call, email or text you to ask for your social security number or immigration status in connection with vaccination. For additional information, including frequently asked questions and details about vaccine eligibility, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines.

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FREE MARYLAND TAX PREPARATION

Get help with your taxes. Individuals who made $57,000 or less in 2020 may qualify for free tax preparation through the Cash Campaign of Maryland, an IRS program that helps prepare and electronically file your federal and state income taxes for free. Learn more by visiting https://cashmd.org/ or call 800-492-0618.

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NSITE LAUNCHES NSITE Connect: Where Talent Meets Opportunity

From ACB

National Industries for the Blind (NIB) is excited to officially launch NSITE Connect, where blind and visually impaired job seekers, veterans and employers connect. If you are blind, visually impaired, or a veteran looking for employment, NSITE Connect is the place for you to start your job search. Create and complete your profile for free and you will be connected to companies looking to hire. Use NSITE Connect to tailor your job search with a partner that's equipped to understand your unique qualities and provide the best prospects for the right job fit. Create your profile today by visiting https://nsiteconnect.jobboard.io. The first 100 job seekers registered will be included on the preferred applicant listing and qualify to receive a free resume review by NIB employment experts.

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FCC SEEKS OUTREACH PARTNERS FOR EMERGENCY BROADBAND BENEFIT

On February 11, 2021, Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the FCC is seeking outreach partners to help share important consumer information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit – an FCC program being developed to provide relief to households that are struggling to pay for internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

As part of the effort to inform consumers about the upcoming Emergency Broadband Benefit, the FCC has established a new website where stakeholders can sign up to help promote this new program.  The website can be found at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.  As the program is developed, the website will also be a resource for consumers and stakeholders to get the latest information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

 

For more information, please contact the FCC at broadbandbenefit@fcc.gov or visit www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.  For those who use American Sign Language, you may call the FCC Consumer ASL Line at 844-432-2275. 

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VRCBVI FEBRUARY VIRTUAL TRAINING SERIES

Join the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired

February Virtual Training series! Sessions are open to the public Mondays and Wednesdays. Please click the link below for more information, training descriptions, and registration information.

Mon & Weds Training Classes .

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HELPDESK FOR BLIND AND LOW VISION TRANSITION STUDENTS

Did you Know? The free Bridges Helpdesk is here to answer all of your blind and low vision transition questions!

 

The Bridges Helpdesk is staffed by blind individuals and experienced blindness and low vision professionals to answer your questions ranging from independent living skills, to technology, to advocacy.

 

There are lots of ways to contact the Helpdesk, so pick the one which feels most comfortable to you! They guarantee quick, thorough responses and are eager to provide you with timely information and resources.

 

Please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime:

 

§  Accessible web form https://forms.gle/GVnVY36nx8nt9cWU8

§  Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199

§  Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org

§  Website: https://imagemd.org/bridges-help-desk

§  Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and they will return your call

§  Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Bridges4MarylandBlindLowVisionTransition

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FUTURE FINANCIAL PLANNING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES STUDY

From ACB

The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities is conducting a national survey focused on future financial planning for people with disabilities and their families and want to hear from you. This survey is for people with disabilities, family members of people with disabilities, professionals in the disabilities service sector, professionals in the financial planning field, and financial, legal, and disability experts in financial planning and saving for people with disabilities and their families. Please respond to the survey before February 29 by visiting https://tinyurl.com/ytlwjcj5. For more information about the study, or for help with the survey, please contact Cory Gilden, the Principle Investigator on this project at cgilden@udel.edu.

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AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND (AFB) SURVEY REQUEST

Are you blind or do you have low vision? 
Have you worked within the last 5 years or are you seeking work? 
Do you use accommodations, for example assistive technology, reverse contrast, additional lighting, or braille?

If you said “yes” to these questions then AFB wants to invite you to fill out their accessible online survey. Specific survey topics include:

In addition, there are sections for some participants based on their situation including:

The survey should take about 30-45 minutes to complete. You will have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win one of 15 $25 Amazon gift cards.
They’ll use what they learn from this survey to:


Take the Survey 

If you have any questions or need more information please contact Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, AFB Director of Research, 
prosenblum@afb.org   or 202- 202-469-6837.
The survey will close on Sunday evening February 28 at 11:59 Pacific time.

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INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH ON ACCESSIBILITY AND USABILITY OF A DIGITAL LIBRARY IN A MOBILE ENVIRONMENT
Are you blind or visually impaired and age 18 or more?
Do you use iPhone 6S or newer (Also iOS 11 later required) non-visually by using VoiceOver?
Do you have at least three years of experience searching for information on the Internet via iPhone?
Are you comfortable verbalizing your thoughts in English?
Are you willing to install the online meeting software and Library of Congress Digital Collections app (14.7MB)?
If your response is yes to all, you can earn $100 gift card for participating in a research study.

A research team comprising blind and sighted scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is investigating the accessibility and usability of a digital library (DL) for users who are blind.
The goal is to create digital library design guidelines to design DL in mobile environment that aid blind and visually impaired people in the effective search for information online via iPhone interface.

Volunteers chosen as study participants will be invited to join the study via online Teams meeting. Participants will “think aloud” as they search for specified information using two platforms of a digital library-Mobile web and App. Their search process and verbalizations will be video-recorded and later analyzed to understand how well the mobile interfaces support a blind user’s search for information.
Participation may take up to three hours at a time convenient to the participant. In addition, participants will be interviewed during and after the searches. The complete study might take about 3 hours. Upon completion of the study, the participant will receive a $100 gift card as a token of appreciation.

If you are interested in participating, or have a question, please contact
"Shengang Wang" <
shengang@uwm.edu>).
Please reference project title: “
Universal Accessibility and Usability of Digital Libraries in the Mobile Environment: Developing design guidelines for blind and visually impaired users (IRB#21.095) in the subject line of the email.
Please pass on this information to other suitable candidates who you think may be interested.
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SURVEY OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE MAP AND SEARCH APPS

Sent by Julia Gurney from eye square, an independent market research company.

We’re conducting a new project to help improve map and search apps for visually impaired users. We are looking for visually impaired map and search users to talk to us via Zoom and give us their feedback.
We will of course pay you well for your time.

How does it work?
We will connect via Zoom and talk with you while you share the screen of your phone. We will ask you to perform some tasks and we will ask some further questions afterwards.
This will take around one hour in total.

To participate we need you to match certain criteria to make sure you are the right one to talk to.
You need to be older than 18 and you need to use a screen reader on your smartphone.
Further criteria will depend on the app we are going to test.
To check if you fulfill this criteria we would like to have a very brief call with you.

If we have raised your interest to help us improve map and search apps you can contact me by email,
email address 
gurney@eye-square.com.
If you wish to have a quick chat we can connect by phone also. Please just send me your telephone number and a time that suits you to talk.
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ACB ANNOUNCES PETER SAGAL AS BANQUET SPEAKER FOR 2021 VIRTUAL CONVENTION

From ACB Conference and Convention Chair, Janet Dickelman:
ACB is extremely excited to welcome Peter Sagal as our banquet speaker on Thursday July 22nd. Sagal is best known as the host of the Peabody Award-winning NPR news quiz Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! one of the most popular shows on public radio.

During the infamous Boston Marathon bombing incident, Peter was guiding a blind runner through his first Boston. They finished just five minutes before the bombing occurred. The difference between running the last mile or taking a walking break was a literal life or death situation for the duo.

ACB Virtual conference and convention dates are July 16 through July 23, 2021. Please feel free to contact Janet with any questions either via phone (651) 428-5059 or email at
janet.dickelman@gmail.com.

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CALENDAR

 

Black Future Month Happy Hour

Friday, February 19th at 6:00 pm

DC Public Library Center for Accessibility

Join the Community Read of author N.K. Jemisin’s How Long 'Til Black Future Month? Chat and share insight to explore the world withing Jemisin’s short stories.

 

For those using Braille Audio Reading Download (BARD), you can download the book by searching for DB93236.

 

They will also look at trends in Black fantasy, science fiction and horror. Register here to receive a link to join. You will get a confirmation e-mail on how and when to join the chat.

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Rocketman: iBUG Night at the Virtual Movies

Friday, February 19th

Pre-Movie Social Time at 6:30 pm

Movie at 7:00 pm
Discussion will follow immediately after the movie.

iBUG Night at the Virtual Movies are the audio track (no video) with audio description.

Set to his most beloved songs, it's the epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years in the 1970s and his extraordinary transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar.

Join the Zoom meeting:
https://zoom.us/j/7428486329?pwd=M003RmZaa3pTbWRlZ00xbSs4YTlmUT09

Meeting ID: 742 848 6329
Password: 369978

One tap mobile from a smartphone
+13462487799,,7428486329##,,,,,,0#,,369978# US

Dial from a landline
+1 346 248 7799 US

For more info about iBUG, please visit their website at 
ibugtoday.org.
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Everything Metro

Saturday, February 20th at 10:00 am

The Metropolitan Washington Ear is pleased to sponsor this informal Zoom meeting with Patrick Sheehan of the Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Barbara Milleville, who has worked tirelessly on improving lighting in Metro stations throughout the system.  They will tell us what is and will be happening with Metro rail and bus service, and Metro Access during and after the current pandemic.  Come with your questions and be a part of the conversation.

Time: Feb 20, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82382377109?pwd=U29LM0VOc0lXYldhVGtEQm54cTYrUT09

One tap mobile

+13017158592,,82382377109#,,,,*121212# US (Washington DC)

+19294362866,,82382377109#,,,,*121212# US (New York)

 

Dial by your location

301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

Meeting ID: 823 8237 7109

Passcode: 121212

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ACB DC Leadership Conference

Sunday, February 21st through Tuesday, February 23rd 

This year’s DC Leadership Conference will be held virtually, bringing together affiliate leaders and advocates from across the country. Visit https://acb.org/2021-leadership-conference to access the conference agendas, materials, legislative imperative documents, and legislative imperative community event podcasts. Register for the DC Leadership Conference by visiting http://weblink.donorperfect.com/2021DCLeadershipmtgs.

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Financial Protection of Older Adults During the COVID Pandemic

Free webinar at FCC.gov/live

Tuesday, February 23rd at 1:00 pm

Join experts from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Health and Human Services (HHS) on for a free webinar on financial protection of older adults during the COVID pandemic. The FCC will begin the program with an overview of coronavirus-related phone scams targeting older adults. The CFPB will share resources to help older adults address the financial impact of the pandemic. HHS will conclude the webinar with a discussion of the role of the aging services network.

Presenters:

If you have questions or need additional information, contact olderamericans@cfpb.gov.

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Free Virtual Jazz Concert

Wednesday, March 3rd at 8:00 pm

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, will kick off its 90th anniversary celebration with a free virtual concert by jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker. Whitaker, who has been blind since birth, is an NLS patron who has garnered accolades across the jazz world. He won ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards for 2019 and 2020 and has been featured on stages around the world and on TV shows. In a story on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes (https://cbsn.ws/3oDMQIM), neuroscientists discussed how Whitaker’s brain is stimulated by music—so much so that his visual cortex lights up when he plays.

 

Whitaker’s concert will be broadcast on the Library of Congress YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/libraryofcongress). An interview with Whitaker will be posted there at 8:00 a.m. (EST) on March 3.

 

For more information, follow NLS on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ThatAllMayRead/) or check out the Library of Congress Events page (www.loc.gov/events) or the NLS Music Notes blog (https://blogs.loc.gov/nls-music-notes).
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