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Let’s Kick off “Meet the Blind Month” 2013

Well, as some of you may already know, October is “Meet the Blind month.   The purpose of this month is to help educate the public and create greater awareness of the capabilities of people who are blind.  Additionally, October 15th is “White Cane Safety Day” which recognizes the use of white canes by blind individuals.   

Across the country, groups of blind and low vision individuals and their friends and family observe this month through various outreach activities such as participating in public events, speaking in public venues like schools, civic clubs, church groups, and so forth, passing out literature, hosting meet and greets, and volunteering service in their communities .   So, I’d like to invite you to join with me and others in helping to provide public awareness this October.  There are lots of simple, easy things you can do in your own area too.  Here are a few easy ideas we as blind individuals or friends or family of blind people can do to help spread awareness to the public about the capabilities of the blind.  So, get a group together and get going!  I’d love to hear what you do to observe this month. 

*Create a bulletin board with a blindness theme to display in your school.  You should also consider making this an accessible and “blind-friendly “ bulletin board,a.k.a. tactually appealing and dual media with print and Braille.  (for ideas, visit the education page at the NFB Jernigan Institute at www.nfb.org)

  • Pass      out “Braille Party Mix” and a Braille alphabet card to your neighbors,      friends, colleagues, classmates, co-workers, etc.  Braille party mix consists of the      following:
    • 6       pieces of round candy like “Dots”, M and M’s, or Reeses’Pieces=the six       dots in a Braille cell.
    • Pretzel       sticks= the stylus
    • Cheese       nibs crackers or other similar looking crackers with holes and ridges =       the Braille cell or a slate
    • Alphabet       Cereal= print letters being translated into Braille
    •  Fruit roll-ups= piece of paper
  • Spotlight      a blind student or adult in your school/community at a public event such      as a church or civic club meeting, school assembly, class, etc.  This can also be a Q and A session with      a blind person about how he or she does various tasks with non-visual      techniques. 
  • Pass      out Braille alphabet cards along with your Halloween candy.  These can be obtained from blindness      organizations like the American Printing House, the National Federation of      the Blind, or the National Braille Press for free or for a small nominal      fee. 
  • set up      a volunteer experience at a public service venue such as a food pantry,      nursing home, hospital, etc.  This      will be a great way for us as blind individuals to “give back” and can also      provide a unique opportunity for the public to see the capabilities of those      with vision impairments. 
  • Set up      a table and time to Braille names on index cards in a public place such as      school lunchroom, outside a store, public library, flea market, fair,      farmer’s market, etc.  People are      fascinated by Braille and will love getting a copy of their name in      Braille.  You can also hand out      Braille alphabet cards at the same time.      
  • Pass      out literature about blindness in your neighborhood, school, business,      etc.  This could include things like      Braille alphabet cards, or general blindness facts or FAQ’s about      Blindness (you can generally get this kind of literature from a blindness      related organization). 
  • Participate      in a tailgating event at a school football game.  You can pass out Braille literature,      Braille people’s names, and have blind people serving the food. 
  • Participate      in a local Halloween  “’Trunk or      Treat” event wherein you set up lawn chairs in a parking stall instead of      a car and pass out candy and Braille alphabet cards.  Decorate your canes or guide dog and      yourself instead of your vehicle in Halloween décor.
  • Volunteer      to be on a speaker’s list at your local library or to read stories in Braille      at a children’s story hour. 
  • Give a      presentation to your school class about an influential blind individual such      as Helen Keller, Louis Braille, or Dr. Abraham Nemoth.  You could even come dressed like this person      and pretend to be him/her telling his/her story.
  • Make a      sign to display in a window of your home or vehicle that recognizes “Meet the      Blind Month or the capabilities of the blind.  For example, it could say, “I’m the proud      parent of a blind child”.  Or “Sight      is not a requirement for Success.”
  • Make a      t-shirt with a positive message about blindness written on it which will promote      discussion by those who see it when you wear it.  For example, it could say something like,      “I’m blind and I am a _____ (fill in with something which is stereotypically      unlikely to be done by a blind person like “a dancer, skier, black belt,” etc.)       

 

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get out and help spread the word about “Meet the Blind “month.  I’d love to hear other ideas from you and/or the things you are doing to observe this month.  Happy “Meet the Blind Month!”

 

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Pages from the Hartle Playbook: Meet the Blind Flashmob

From time to time, I like to share “Pages from the Hartle Playbook”. These posts may share how my husband and I do things as blind people, or just be about unique or entertaining experiences we have, usually somehow related to our blindness. IN short, it’s how we make it on our own playground.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, October was “Meet the Blind” month. Well, I’m a little late in getting this post up, but I thought I’d share with you our experience participating in a “Meet the Blind Month Flashmob”. I helped organize this event for our local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. For those of you who may not know what a flashmob is—I didn’t for the longest time—it is an impromptu gathering of people in a public setting wherein the group usually performs some kind of rehearsed dance or song(e.g.,, random people break out into a dance in a food court at the mall, etc.) . These are usually driven by social media as well. In any case, we attempted to organize one wherein all the participants would come wearing a white t-shirt which read: “I am blind and I’m a _____”. The idea was to help show the public the capabilities of blind people by showing how unique and yet alike the sighted public we are.

Our event turned out to be going up against a lot of other events in the area, so the turn out was a little smaller than we’d hoped, but we still drew a bit of a crowd. After we all gathered, we participated in some cheers about blindness and then each took turns going down the line and yelling out what our shirts said. I should mention that this took place at Baltimore’s InnerHarbor along one of the promenades right on the waterfront where there are a lot of shops, restaurants, and tourists.

Here are a handful of the slogans people had on their shirts: “I am blind and I’m a MAC and a PC”, “I am blind and I’m a college student”, “I am blind and I’m an opera singer”, and—one of my faves—“I am blind and I am just like you!”

If you are wondering, this is what each of the Hartle shirts said:

Jesse–“I am blind and a Sig Ep!”

Mary Jo–“I am blind and a Mom and a Teacher” (I know, not very original) and our daughters–“I am the product of awesome blind parents!”

Afterward, we all stayed around the Harbor and ate lunch at various restaurants so that we could be seen more “in public” with our slogans and help promote “Meet the Blind Month.” I don’t know what kind of an impression we made on anyone there that day, but it was fun to see everyone’s shirts and hopefully the public learned a little bit more about blind people that day.

Enjoy the pics below. There are a couple shots of the group during the cheers, one with all of us posing for our photo op on the stairs, and one of the Hartle family all proudly wearing our shirts.

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Happy “Meet the Blind Month” 2012

Well, as some of you may already know, October is “Meet the Blind month. The purpose of this month is to help educate the public and create greater awareness of the capabilities of people who are blind. Across the country, groups of blind and low vision individuals and their friends and family observe this month through various outreach activities such as participating in public events, speaking in public venues like schools, civic clubs, and so forth, passing out literature, hosting meet and greets, and volunteering service in their communities . Even though the month is half gone, it’s not too late for you to do something to help observe “Meet the Blind month” in your own area. So, here are a few easy ideas I came up with to help spread the word about this exciting observance and great public awareness opportunity.

  • Create a bulletin board with a blindness theme to display in your school. You should also consider making this an accessible and “blind-friendly “ bulletin board,a.k.a. tactually appealing and dual media with print and Braille.
  • Pass out “Braille Party Mix” to your neighbors, friends, colleagues, classmates, co-workers, etc. Braille party mix consists of the following:
    • 6 pieces of round candy like “Dots”, M and M’s, or Reeses’Pieces=the six dots in a Braille cell.
    • Pretzel sticks= the stylus
    • Cheese nibs crackers or other similar looking crackers with holes and ridges = the Braille cell
    • Alphabet Cereal= print letters being translated into Braille
    • Fruit roll-ups= piece of paper
  • Spotlight a blind student or adult in your school/community at a public event such as a church or civic club meeting, school assembly, class, etc. This can also be a Q and A session with a blind person about how he or she does various tasks with non-visual techniques.
  • Pass out Braille alphabet cards along with your Halloween candy. These can be obtained from blindness organizations like the American Printing House, the National Federation of the Blind, or the National Braille Press for free or a small nominal fee.
  • If you are a teacher or parent of a blind child, help your child set up a volunteer experience at a public service venue such as a food pantry, nursing home, hospital, etc. This will be a great way to teach your child the importance of “giving back” and also provide a unique opportunity for the public to see the capabilities of your child.
  • Set up a table and time to Braille names on index cards in a public place such as school lunchroom, outside a store, public library, flea market, etc. People are fascinated by Braille and will love getting a copy of their name in Braille. You can also hand out Braille alphabet cards at the same time.
  • Pass out literature about blindness in your neighborhood, school, business, etc. This could include things like Braille alphabet cards, or general blindness facts.
  • Host a tail gate party at a school football game. You can pass out Braille literature, Braille people’s names, and have blind people serving the food.

 

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get out and help spread the word about “Meet the Blind “month. I’d love to hear other ideas from you and/or the things you are doing to observe this month. Happy “Meet the Blind Month!”