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Making Sense: February 2019

Making Sense is made possible in part from donations by our readers. Second Sense thanks Horizons for the Blind for the braille transcriptions of Making Sense.

These articles are not an endorsement by Second Sense. Editor: Kathy Austin

CONTENTS

New Workshop: Smart Speakers
Stitch-It-Up Sewing Class
Aira at RP Meet Up
Support Group Leader Call
The Hot New App
Need Some Help With Your iPhone?
Become a 1Touch Coach
Three March Computer Classes
Gardening Chat
ABLE Savings Accounts
Microsoft Accessibility Webinars
Tax Time
ShareBraille
Low Vision Awareness Month

Please note: You can join some of our workshops (where noted) by calling in on our conference line. Dial 312-582-2994, conference bridge 301 and pin 1111#.

New Workshop: Smart Speakers!

What can you do with a smart speaker? From playing your favorite music or radio station to reading your email and surfing the Internet, you’ll be amazed at what these devices are capable of. David Flament walks you through the setup of a Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot, explores their respective apps and shows you some useful voice commands. Join us in person or via conference call on Thursday, Feb. 21 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm for this new workshop. To register, call our front desk or email David Flament.

Stitch-It-Up Sewing Class

Minor repairs to clothing like missing buttons or loose hems can become costly when taken to a dry cleaner or tailor. Learn how to make these simple repairs yourself at our eight-week Stitch-It-Up sewing class. You’ll learn how to thread a needle, sew on a button or fix a hem. Once you have practiced the basics, you can tackle a more advanced project that will inspire you to do more! Classes meet on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 pm beginning Feb. 6. To register, call our front desk or email Polly Abbott.

Aira at RP Meet Up

Have you heard about Aira? Aira is a subscription service connecting trained agents and people with vision loss to provide visual assistance for any type of situation. Marty Watts, Aira representative, joins us on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 10:00 am to explain how Aira works. Everyone is welcome to attend this meet up to learn more about a very useful service. Conference call in available! To register, call our front desk or email Polly Abbott.

Support Group Leader Call

Have the members of your low vision support group been asking about technology? How have you been helping them with their questions? Join us at our next Vision Exchange conference call when we’ll be talking about seniors and technology. Our call takes place on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 12:15 to 12:45 pm! Grab a little lunch or cup of coffee and dial in to our conference call in line to meet up with other group leaders for a quick bit of friendly conversation. Call in number is 312-582-2994, conference bridge 301 and pin #1111. For questions, please email Polly Abbott or call 312-236-8569.

The Hot New App

Microsoft’s Seeing AI app does so much for a person with vision loss! Join us at February’s Apple Exchange to learn how Seeing AI can help you identify products and colors, read text and handwriting, or even discover what’s around you! Apple Exchange meets on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Join us remotely via conference call. To register, call our front desk or email David Flament.

Need Some Help With Your iPhone?

Don’t forget you can meet with Barb, our new technology tutor, if you need some help learning the ins and outs of your iPhone. Barb is an experienced VoiceOver user and uses many of the apps designed for people with vision loss. Barb is here on the second and fourth Mondays of the month with several appointment times available. Call our front desk to schedule your appointment today and become the master of your iPhone!

Become a 1Touch™ coach

We are once again excited to host the 1Touch™ Self-Defense Coaches Certification course at Second Sense! The intensive course and certification process enables you to become an instructor of the 1Touch Self-Defense program for people with vision loss. The three-day intensive training takes place April 9 to 11. You’ll receive 24 hours of training, an audio-described DVD, instructor’s manual and a sample curriculum. To become certified, perspective coaches must take a final exam and have the stamina to complete the physically demanding training. 19.5 ACVRP credit is also available. Cost of the training is $600 and financial assistance may be available for those in need. Deadline for applications is Feb. 28, 2019. For questions and an application, contact Christy Ray at 877-218-6824, assistant@1touchproject.com or Polly Abbott at 312-236-8569.

Three March Computer Classes

Expand your knowledge about JAWS and Microsoft’s Narrator screen readers at our Saturday, March 9 computer workshops! Our morning session enlightens you on JAWS features you might not be aware of and how they can enhance your user experience. The afternoon class provides the basics on using Narrator, Microsoft’s built-in screen reader. You’ll learn how helpful Narrator can be when your other screen readers fail. Our third class is our Intensive Computer Training course from March 25 to 29. This fast-paced course covers Microsoft’s Word and Excel, Internet and web-based email with screen reading and screen magnification programs. Space is limited for the Intensive class, so register early. To register for any of our March computer classes, call our front desk or email David Flament.

Gardening Chat

Yes, winter is still upon us with snow and cold but spring will be here before you know it! What a great time to get prepared for the gardening season with Hadley’s new Gardening Chat. Join Ed Haines, Hadley instructor and experienced gardener, on the first Thursday of the month at 2:00 pm Central Time and share your gardening success stories, talk about your favorite plants and discuss all things horticultural! To join the discussion, call 929-205-6099, meeting ID 448 101 015. You can also join online. Gather your gardening buddies and get ready for spring!

ABLE Savings Accounts

Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE accounts, are special savings accounts for people with disabilities. These special accounts help people and their families save for disability related expenses. The new tax reform legislation passed last year also provides for some additional perks that make these accounts more attractive. The amount of allowed annual contributions has been increased, 529 college savings plans can be rolled into the account and a special tax credit for low and moderate income workers is part of this new legislation. To be eligible for an ABLE account, the person must have been diagnosed with a disability prior to age 26 and be receiving SSDI benefits. Many more requirements and benefits can be found by visiting the ABLE Resource Center.

Microsoft Accessibility Webinars

Microsoft is now offering a free, monthly webinar series focused on accessibility. These one-hour virtual webinars are interactive and include video presentations and a question-and-answer session. Upcoming topics cover Windows magnifier and low vision features on Feb. 10, 2019 and navigating the new Office ribbon on March 20, 2019. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To learn more visit the Microsoft Accessibility website and click on “Sign up for Upcoming Webinars.”

Tax Time

Filing your income tax return is a task that most people dread. You may be facing a mountain of receipts, complicated forms and questions you don’t have answers to. Throw in the added challenge of making your assistive technology work for you in this situation and it makes this task one you may be avoiding like the plague. However, there are several resources out there to help, from the IRS to Intuit’s Turbo Tax that can answer many of your questions as they relate to filing with a disability like vision loss. To learn about these resources and links to important websites, check out David Flament’s recent blog post on Second Opinions. David talks about his experiences filing his taxes on his own and accessibility of tax preparation services. Find our blog by visiting our website and click on the “blog” link.

ShareBraille

ShareBraille is an online lending library of braille books with the mission of increasing braille literacy. This service connects people who want braille books to those who would like to give their books away. To participate, users must register online and login. Registering allows users to add books for sharing and browse available books for reading. After finding a desired book, users can request the book which is then sent at no-cost within the U.S. and Canada. For more information or to register, visit the ShareBraille website.

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes February as Low Vision Awareness month. To help individuals who are living with low vision maintain a level of independence and safety, they offer some simple suggestions. Try placing furniture in small groups to lessen the vision distance when talking with others. Choose solid colors without patterns for rugs and furniture to reduce vision clutter and choose fabrics with different textures to make them easier to identify. Use table and floor lamps to increase brightness in a room. Learn how to use the accessibility options on smart phones to increase font sizes, change color schemes and magnify text. Make sure to visit your eye doctor on a regular basis for treatments that can prevent or slow further vision loss. Your eye doctor may recommend low vision rehabilitation to help you with accomplishing daily living tasks. Polly Abbott and Cody Froeter are Second Sense’s certified vision rehabilitation therapists. They can help you develop the skills to make living with low vision easier and less frustrating. Call us today to schedule your consultation!