Drupal blog posts https://lighthousecfl.org/ en Blind Americans Equality Day 2021 https://lighthousecfl.org/node/209 <span>Blind Americans Equality Day 2021</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Wed, 10/13/2021 - 10:38</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Blind Americans Equality Day 2021</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-10/BAED-2019.jpg?itok=cQhWevxc" width="640" height="426" alt="A group of people cross an intersection in single file during 2019 Blind Americans Equality Day celebration. Most are walking with white canes or guide dogs" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Please plan to join Lighthouse and a coalition of local advocacy groups and service providers, this Friday, October 15th, for a virtual observance of National Blind Americans Equality Day.</p> <p>Formerly recognized as White Cane and Guide Dog Safety Day, the annual observance is organized to build awareness and reaffirm Central Florida's commitment to improving access to basic pedestrian safety for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.</p> <p>Though the name of the annual observance has changed, it is important for motorists to understand the safety implications of Florida's White Cane Safety Law.</p> <p>The statute states in part: <em>Whenever a pedestrian is crossing, or attempting to cross, a public street or highway, guided by a dog guide or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where the pedestrian is attempting to cross shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and, before proceeding, shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.</em></p> <center> <h2 style="margin-bottom: 15px;">VIRTUAL NATIONAL BLIND AMERICANS EQUALITY DAY</h2> <h3 style="margin-top: 15px;">The Blind Experience: Moving Without Limits</h3> <p>Promoting Inclusion and Pedestrian Safety for Visually Impaired</p> </center> <p><strong>WHO</strong>: Greater Orlando Council of the Blind, National Federation of the Blind Florida Chapter, MetroPlan Orlando, Division of Blind Services, Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX), Orange County Public Schools, Florida Department of Transportation, City of Orlando, Bike/Walk Central Florida and Lighthouse Central Florida/Lighthouse Works</p> <p><strong>WHAT</strong>: Annual awareness event in observance of National Blind Americans Equality Day (formerly White Cane Day); Local Government Proclamation presentations; Award Presentations Musical performances</p> <p><strong>WHERE</strong>: ZOOM <a href="https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_91j_EZ6XRVaowsZ4yJy2nw">https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_91j_EZ6XRVaowsZ4yJy2nw</a></p> <p><strong>WHEN</strong>: Friday, October 15th | 12 PM -1:30 PM</p> <p><strong>WHY</strong>: Each year this event is organized to build awareness and reaffirm Central Florida’s commitment to improving access to basic pedestrian safety for individuals who are blind or visually impaired; though the name of annual observance has changed, it is important for motorists to understand the safety implications of Florida’s White Cane Safety Law.</p> <p><strong>CONTACT</strong>: Marilyn Baldwin| 407-810-0554 | commmdb@aol.com | Tish Cooper | 561-876-6908 | <a href="mailto:tkoop35@gmail.com">tkoop35@gmail.com</a></p> <center><img alt="Sponsors - Metroplan Orlando, Florida Department of Transportation, Lynx, Florida Council for the Blind, Lighthouse Central Florida, National Deferation of the Blind, City of Orlando, Division of Blind Services, Orange County Public Shools, Bike / Walk Central Florida" src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/bloomerang-public-cdn/lighthousecentralflorida/BlindAmericansEqualityDaySponsors.jpg" /></center> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">Your support of vision rehabilitation services at Lighthouse Central Florida--especially during times of crisis and uncertainty--ensures that uninterrupted services and training continues for Central Florida's community of blind and visually impaired babies, children, teens, adults and seniors.</a></p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Please take good care of yourselves and your families.</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:38:52 +0000 sharju1 209 at https://lighthousecfl.org https://lighthousecfl.org/node/209#comments Mike Fox talks Digital Accessibility – WDBO https://lighthousecfl.org/node/208 <span>Mike Fox talks Digital Accessibility – WDBO</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Mon, 09/20/2021 - 12:41</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Mike Fox talks Digital Accessibility – WDBO</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-09/wdbo-logo.png?itok=xu21qdL9" width="480" height="80" alt="WDBO logo" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Lighthouse Work's Digital Accessibility Software Developer, Mike Fox, was recently interviewed by WDBO about the <span>importance for digital accessibility, the impact on his life and the work he does at Lighthouse Works to help our digital world become more accessible.</span></p> <p><a href="/themes/monoset-master/files/mike-fox-interview.mp3">Listen to the interview now</a></p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Mon, 20 Sep 2021 16:41:35 +0000 sharju1 208 at https://lighthousecfl.org Meet Jackie| Staying up to date with Technology https://lighthousecfl.org/node/206 <span>Meet Jackie| Staying up to date with Technology</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Tue, 07/06/2021 - 11:00</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Meet Jackie| Staying up to date with Technology</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-07/jackie-maurine.jpg?itok=r_M8q7r9" width="650" height="488" alt="Lighthouse&#039;s Assistive Technology (AT) instructor, Maurine posing with Jackie before starting their session" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Deaf-Blindness Awareness Week is celebrated every year in honor of Helen Keller's birthday on June 27th.  It is meant to highlight her accomplishments and encourage other people living with deaf-blindness to thrive and overcome their adversities.</p> <p>Helen Keller was the first woman to earn a college degree in the United States, despite living with deaf-blindness. She was an educator, and author and one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians. Many of our Lighthouse staff and clients have been inspired by her.</p> <p>Now, I want to introduce you to Jackie, currently receiving services at  Lighthouse Central Florida. She lost her vision 35 years ago, but that did not stop her from teaching. Jackie previously lived in the Ocala area and was an Assistive Technology (AT) instructor at another agency that provides services similar to Lighthouse. She decided to retire in 2016, but is still very active and wants to continue learning about accessible technology.</p> <center><p><img alt="Jackie using her cane to exit after her AT session" src="https://bloomerang-bee.s3.amazonaws.com/images/clapton_cysx6cjdvalm_us_west_2_rds_amazonaws_com_lighthousecentralflorida/editor_images/0879d836-ae93-4529-b36d-b3542a424a69.png" /></p></center> <p>Her current Lighthouse instructor, Maurine, says "Jackie brings a wealth of knowledge."</p> <p>Jackie previously lived in the Ocala area and was an  Assistive Technology (AT) instructor at another agency similar to Lighthouse.</p> <p>Since Assistive Technology is always evolving and updating, Jackie came to Lighthouse in January this year to brush up on her skills.</p> <p>Her goals included learning to use her iPhone and various apps to keep up with her independence, as well as learning Windows 10 and Google Chrome.</p> <p>Since starting services at Lighthouse Central Florida, Jackie has mastered texting and setting reminders using SIRI on her iPhone. She is also currently learning how to navigate Facebook and continues to make outstanding progress. "I really like coming to Lighthouse, it helps me feel connected,"-says Jackie.</p> <p>Your support of vision rehabilitation services at Lighthouse Central Florida helps us prepare adults, like Jackie, to stay up to date with technology and connected in their community. </p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Please take good care of yourselves and your families.</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Tue, 06 Jul 2021 15:00:45 +0000 sharju1 206 at https://lighthousecfl.org Kyle Coon- Discovering a Life Without Limits. https://lighthousecfl.org/node/205 <span>Kyle Coon- Discovering a Life Without Limits. </span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/26/2021 - 14:39</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Kyle Coon- Discovering a Life Without Limits.</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-05/Kyle-Coon.jpg?itok=7BkXaeoD" width="520" height="650" alt=" Kyle Coon running to the finish line along with his guide. " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Dear Friends,</p> <p>Imagine that you graduate from college in 3 years, you have already climbed mountains all around the world, and you have spoken in public on several occasions and have been on national television. However, when you attend a job interview you are told, <em>"we just don’t think you can do the job."</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-Mxu0fSMBsY"><img alt="Check out more of the interview between Kyle Johnson, CEO and Kyle Coon." src="https://img.youtube.com/vi/-Mxu0fSMBsY/0.jpg" /></a></p> <p>This is where Kyle Coon was at in 2014 when he sat with me for coffee and we talked about Lighthouse Works!</p> <p>Kyle became part of the <a href="https://www.lighthouseworks.org/">Lighthouse Works</a> team for almost two years and then got recruited by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).</p> <p>Kyle later moved to Colorado and started competing in triathlons, working with the Association of Blind Athletes, and writing. His most recent accomplishments include winning first place at Yokohama, Japan World Triathlon Para Series, which has him on track to make the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team for Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games.</p> <p style="text-align: center"><img alt="" src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/bloomerang-public-cdn/lighthousecentralflorida/Kyle-Coon-book-cover.jpg" /></p> <p>Kyle also published his book, <a href="https://walnutstreetpublishing.com/blog/on-sale-discovering-a-life-without-limits/">“Discovering a Life without Limits”</a>, which is currently available on Amazon and through his publisher. Remember that your purchase on Amazon can benefit Lighthouse Central Florida by using the <a href="https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/homepage?orig=%2F">Amazon Smile</a> tool and selecting Lighthouse Central Florida. Amazon will contribute 0.5% of your purchase to Lighthouse!</p> <p>Before we ended our interview, Kyle told me: <em>“You and Lighthouse were the ones who gave me that shot of confidence that I could go our into the world and be ultimately successful.”</em></p> <p>YOUR support has a direct impact on resources necessary to help meet the needs of the people we serve who are working hard to improve their lives.  </p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Please take good care of yourselves and your families.</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Wed, 26 May 2021 18:39:10 +0000 sharju1 205 at https://lighthousecfl.org Why Accessibility Matters https://lighthousecfl.org/node/204 <span>Why Accessibility Matters</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/18/2021 - 13:58</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Why Accessibility Matters</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-05/Mike_fox_working.JPG?itok=t6_sadTE" width="650" height="433" alt="Mike Fox, Lighthouse Works Software designer and accessibility expert, at his computer working on some code using a screen magnifier " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>In observance of <em>Global Accessibility Awareness Day</em>, <strong>May 20th, 2021</strong>, we asked one of our accessibility experts at Lighthouse, Mike Fox, to share some thoughts and insights on <em>Why Accessibility Matters</em>.</p> <h1>Why Accessibility Matters</h1> <p>by: Mike Fox, <em>Software Designer, Lighthouse Works, Inc.</em></p> <h2>What is the importance of inclusion, and how does digital accessibility allow independence?</h2> <p>To answer the first question (regarding inclusion in general), it’s just the right thing to do. Inclusion is one of our core values at Lighthouse, and it’s something we strive for. It’s important that we consider everyone, and that’s why accessibility matters. All people, regardless of disability or other differences, should have equal access to the same things as everyone else. Whether it be buildings, web services, apps, documents, or something else, disability should not be a gatekeeper.</p> <p>To answer the second question (regarding digital accessibility specifically), the short answer is “it levels the playing field”. As an example, in the early 2000s, my computer skills were good but not great. I could get by, setting all the fonts to be as big as possible, using the smallest screen resolution possible, and other workarounds like that. To make matters worse, in 2007 they moved away from menu bars in MS Office, in favor of pictures and symbols. This change made it hard to even do basic stuff I could do in my sleep now. Then came full-screen magnification software (Windows Magnifier, the iPhone’s zoom, etc.) and BOOM! All of a sudden I can see everything. Because of that added accessibility, my vision was no longer an obstacle. Now I’m an experienced programmer, writing software that breaks down more accessibility barriers at Lighthouse Works!</p> <h2>Why should accessibility be a priority for businesses?</h2> <p>I’m far from a business expert, definitely stronger on the tech side of things, but I do know this: businesses exist to make money. This, to me, means the answer is common sense. First off, by making their products accessible, people with disabilities will want them! If people can’t buy something because the e-commerce platform is inaccessible, that’s money slipping through the cracks. If there are digital products for sale (such as movies or games), and they are not accessible, there goes more money down the drain. As an example, I’ve never bought a Switch or a PlayStation because I have a hard time seeing important details in the fancy 3D graphics; I play retro games, because that’s what I can see best (and also nostalgia, but that’s off-topic). But if they had enough accessible games, I would seriously consider getting one! I grew up on Zelda, I love the pictures I’ve seen of NHL 2K21, and I could go on – if those games were accessible, that would be money in some company’s pocket.</p> <p>And of course I have to address the elephant in the room: no company likes to be sued. There are so many lawsuits over this issue right now, and that costs money too. It’s unfortunate that it’s had to come to that, and I hate to even have to mention it, but it is a real issue a lot of businesses are having to deal with. Even if they win the case, they still have to pay the lawyers. If accessibility were a priority from the beginning, it probably wouldn’t have gone that far.</p> <p>Bottom line, accessibility should be a priority because of, well, the “bottom line”. 😀</p> <h2>How can a business or organization ensure they are compliant with today’s digital accessibility regulations?</h2> <p>The way I see it, there are only two options:</p> <ol><li>Their development teams could spend countless hours learning how accessibility works, at the code level, on the platform(s) they’re targeting. They would need to learn what accessibility standards exist, what they require, and how to translate those requirements into design and code. Accessibility is a code thing, and it takes a lot of experience with code and with accessibility to know how to build accessible websites or apps. There are “solutions” out there that claim they can do this for you, but the truth is they can’t. More often than not they actually create more problems than they solve. So the ideal way to make sure everything is accessible is to know accessibility inside-out-and-backwards. The more developers who can do that, the better.<br />  </li> <li>They could work with us, our <a href="https://lighthouseworks.org/DigitalAccessibility">Digital Accessibility Solutions</a> department at Lighthouse Works. We offer compliance testing and accessibility consulting services, and our reports will actually walk programmers through the code where accessibility problems exist. We explain why the code is inaccessible and how they can fix it. I realize I’m extremely biased here, but the truth is, we designed the report template with developers like me in mind. If I didn’t know accessibility, a report like ours is exactly what I would want – not a bunch of obscure specs and cryptic legalese, but actionable recommendations on how to improve my code. And we don’t stop there. When the code has been fixed, and the site or app passes our tests, we offer a seal to let users know! A site seal from us tells users this business/organization cares about accessibility – cares about them – and that they are compliant with accessibility standards.</li> </ol><h2>What are some things that people can do to help raise awareness on the importance of accessibility?</h2> <p>I like to take on crazy tech challenges. Like the time I used a Raspberry Pi (a do-it-yourself computer-building kit) as my only personal computer for a month. Or the time I learned to code for retro systems like the Commodore 64 and MS-DOS. Or, as a more work-related example, the time I tried to overcome software inaccessibility through scripting. Sometimes, these challenges lead to amazing discoveries (like the scripting thing, which is still benefitting our Call Center team); other times, the challenges turn into hobbies (like retro game programming); but more often, they’re just a good laugh and I forget all about them. But no matter the outcome, I’m always glad I tried.</p> <p>So my answer to this question would be, take on a crazy tech challenge involving accessibility! Maybe you could try to use your computer with the mouse unplugged for a week. Believe it or not, it is possible! Or take it up a notch, turn off your monitor, and fire up a screen reader! Every decent computer has one (and some have more than one). It may be scary at first, but if you resist the urge to turn on the monitor or hook up the mouse, you’ll learn so much about how people with disabilities use computers.</p> <p>I get not everyone is as into computers as I am, so here’s another option: turn a feature called “audio description” on in your Disney Plus, Netflix or other streaming service, and watch a show with your eyes closed. Yes, people who are blind can enjoy movies and TV! I love described movies and shows, and these streaming services are constantly adding more audio description. A couple favorites of mine that have audio description are “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” and “The Mandalorian”. You can always turn audio description off if you want later.</p> <p>Here’s the thing: if you do this, people will notice. I wasn’t sure if this question was asking about ways to raise your own awareness or promote accessibility with others, but these ideas accomplish both. I think it would be a great conversation starter, if that’s what you’re trying to do. I recently introduced my family to described movies, totally by accident, just because I have that feature enabled in my Disney Plus settings. At first they thought it was kind of weird, but over time they realized it helped me “see” things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Now, they actually appreciate it for themselves! And they are fully sighted!</p> <h2>What are some things or changes anyone can make on a regular basis to ensure digital accessibility?</h2> <p>Most people don’t write software, but digital accessibility isn’t just for programmers. If you create any kind of digital content – documents, spreadsheets, presentations, whatever – there are all kinds of things you can do.</p> <h3>Run accessibility checkers on your documents.</h3> <p>In modern versions of Microsoft Office, you can go to the File tab, then press the “check for issues” button, and then the “check accessibility” menu item. This gives you a (hopefully empty) list of problems and links explaining how to fix them. Adobe has an accessibility checker for PDF files too. Most word processors and other tools should have this feature. If yours does, use it; if it doesn’t, you might want to consider switching to one that does.</p> <h3>Avoid “faking it”. Use the Ribbon or menu bar instead.</h3> <p>One common problem I’ve seen in documents is people doing things like:</p> <ul class="blogList"><li>Creating fake headings by making text big and bold</li> <li>Creating fake tables by inserting a bunch of tabs or spaces between “columns”</li> <li>Creating fake line spacing by inserting two or more line breaks</li> <li>Creating fake text spacing by putting a space between each letter (L I K E T H I S)</li> <li>Creating fake lists using pictures or special characters like “•”</li> </ul><p>These are all very common things that everybody has done (myself included). But the problem with “hacks” like this is the end result lacks the correct “tagging” (code that tells screen readers what’s a heading or a list or a table or whatever). And using spaces or tabs in weird ways causes screen readers to misread things. But what’s great about modern office software is it has controls that do. For example, in Microsoft office:</p> <ul class="blogList"><li>Pressing Control-Alt-1 (or Control-Alt-2, 3, etc.0 creates headings. This can also be done from the “Styles” section of the “Home” tab (or “Format Text” tab in Outlook).</li> <li>There’s an “Insert” tab with a “table” option. This creates a real table with actual rows and columns, and you don’t even have to worry about them “lining up”.</li> <li>The “Format” tab has all kinds of spacing options, for lines and space between characters and indents and other things.</li> <li>And the same is true for lists – the “Home” tab of the Ribbon has a place to insert lists too.</li> </ul><p>All this can be done without making the document look wrong. You can style everything however you like, and the tagging will be right-on.</p> <h3>I could go on…</h3> <p>There are all kinds of other things document authors can do, like:</p> <ul class="blogList"><li>Not using images of text</li> <li>Labeling images (adding “alt text”)</li> <li>And I could go on</li> </ul><p>But this post is already much longer than I meant it to be, so I’ll have to end it here. But if you’ve made it this far, you’ve already done the most important part: you’re here. You made a conscious effort to take the time to learn more about accessibility. There’s an old saying that “knowledge is power”; I hope this has empowered you in some small way to make the world around you a better place. Thank you.</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Tue, 18 May 2021 17:58:26 +0000 sharju1 204 at https://lighthousecfl.org Meet Lissette and her children who participate in the Early Intervention Program https://lighthousecfl.org/node/203 <span>Meet Lissette and her children who participate in the Early Intervention Program</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/11/2021 - 16:54</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Meet Lissette and her children who participate in the Early Intervention Program</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-05/Lissette-Jared.png?itok=W2EjCTQ0" width="650" height="650" alt="A collage of images of Jared and Jarelys smiling with their mom swimming in a pool, in a bounce house, and dressed up as batman and a minion for halloween" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>In honor of Mother’s Day, we at Lighthouse want to celebrate our mothers who have children with visual impairments who participate in our programs!</p> <p>Meet Lissette - her son, Jared, is 5 years old and has been participating in Lighthouse’s Early Intervention Services since 2016. Her daughter, Jarelys, is one year and eight months old and has been participating in Early Intervention Services since she was just 4 months old. Both children are visually impaired and have Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, which puts them in the COVID-19 high-risk category. When the pandemic started, she left her job as a nurse to stay with Jared and Jarelys safely at home. Despite the challenges faced throughout 2020, Lissette worked hard to help ensure her children would continue to receive Lighthouse’s critical vision rehabilitation services offered virtually. She did this by participating in remote sessions with their Early Intervention mentor, Martha. Recently, Lissette went back to working 12-hour shifts as a nurse, while Dad had to quit his job to stay at home to care for Jared and Jarelys. Their Early Intervention mentor also, has resumed in person sessions.</p> <p>We want to celebrate mothers like Lissette, who push through adversity, to ensure their children are linked to Lighthouse Central Florida’s vital vision rehabilitation services that will help them live beyond the restrictions of vision loss.</p> <p><a href="https://www.lighthousecfl.org/Donate">Your support of vision rehabilitation services at Lighthouse Central Florida--especially during times of crisis and uncertainty--ensures that services and training continue safely for Central Florida's community of blind and visually impaired babies, children, teens, adults and seniors.</a></p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Please take good care of yourselves and your families.</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Tue, 11 May 2021 20:54:29 +0000 sharju1 203 at https://lighthousecfl.org Happy Mother's Day https://lighthousecfl.org/node/202 <span>Happy Mother&#039;s Day</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/10/2021 - 08:38</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Happy Mother's Day</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-05/Marlie-and-Mom.jpg?itok=l2xMvL2x" width="440" height="650" alt="Marlie sitting on Mom&#039;s lap, holding a paint brush before starting their art activity" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Dear Friends,</p> <p>I want to take a moment to congratulate all the mothers today. To honor this special day, we wanted to introduce you to Marlie and her mom Damianna. Marlie is celebrating her second birthday today, while celebrating Mother's Day too!</p> <p>Marlie has an eye condition that developed as a result of complications related to her premature birth. Along with her family, Marlie is now learning to cope with the impacts of her visual impairments.</p> <p>She's currently enrolled in our <a href="https://youtu.be/Emdm1mlfhNk">Early Intervention program</a> and recently collaborated with her Early Intervention Mentor, Martha, to create the artwork that was presented in our Sight &amp; Sole WalkFest auction.</p> <p>Please join us in celebrating all the mothers, like Damianna, who go above and beyond to ensure their child receives vision rehabilitation services to help them reach their developmental milestones.</p> <p><a href="https://www.lighthousecfl.org/Donate">Your support of vision rehabilitation services at Lighthouse Central Florida--especially during times of crisis and uncertainty--ensures that services and training continue safely for Central Florida's community of blind and visually impaired babies, children, teens, adults and seniors.</a></p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Please take good care of yourselves and your families.</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Mon, 10 May 2021 12:38:06 +0000 sharju1 202 at https://lighthousecfl.org Meet Anthony: Dream BIG! Making a More Sustainable Environment in Urban Settings https://lighthousecfl.org/node/201 <span>Meet Anthony: Dream BIG! Making a More Sustainable Environment in Urban Settings</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Mon, 04/26/2021 - 14:47</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Meet Anthony: Dream BIG! Making a More Sustainable Environment in Urban Settings</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-04/Riley-%281%29.jpg?itok=YYoqFM1s" width="488" height="650" alt="Anthony posing in his garden." typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>Dear Friends,</p> <p><img alt="Some of the herbs and vegetables that Anthony has been growing in his garden. " src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/bloomerang-public-cdn/lighthousecentralflorida/Anthony_s-garden-April-2021.jpg" style="float: right; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;" />Today, April 22nd is Earth Day- an annual event to celebrate and demonstrate support for environmental protection!</p> <p>Meet one of our clients, who is working towards starting his own business designed to create a sustainable environment in urban settings.</p> <p>Anthony R. is 58 years old and lives with Glaucoma, which severely impairs his vision. He shared with us that before coming to Lighthouse Central Florida, he was barely getting by and had lost several jobs due to his visual condition.</p> <p>He learned about Lighthouse through the Department of Labor in Central Florida. In February of 2019, he started receiving Independent Living Skills training at Lighthouse. “I met wonderful staff like Chris and Sharon. I really enjoyed the courses since they were very interactive and very hands on, ”- says Anthony.</p> <p><img alt="Anthony works with his Assistive Technology (AT) instructor, Maurine Park, during an AT training." src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/bloomerang-public-cdn/lighthousecentralflorida/anthony-lab.jpg" style="float: right; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px;" />“My life has truly turned around. Towards the end of 2020, I moved into my own apartment. I can say I am a testament of the Lighthouse mission. I have become completely independent.”</p> <p>When the pandemic started and everything was shut down, Anthony had more time on his hands and wanted to create a garden at home. He had no previous knowledge of gardening and worked with his Lighthouse instructor, Chris. “Chris inspired me and encouraged me to create the most amazing home garden. The tools that Chris provided changed and transformed my life,” says Anthony.</p> <p>Another factor that helped Anthony overcome his situation was believing in his abilities. “I have learned that my current situation does not dictate who I am.”</p> <p><img alt="Garden with fruits and vegetables that Anthony grows as part of his business project." src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/bloomerang-public-cdn/lighthousecentralflorida/rileys-roots.jpg" style="float: right; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px;" />This year, Anthony has taken his new found interest to another level. He is starting a business project where he plans to offer backyard restoration, focusing on providing vegetable and hanging fruit plants to enhance customers' gardens, while creating a more sustainable environment. This venture pushed him to return to Lighthouse for additional Assistive Technology training in order to improve his tech skills.</p> <p>He is thankful to Lighthouse for the opportunity to meet people who are living with vision loss, like him. He has established relationships and created new friends to share the journey with him. He has been given the tools to be independent and the encouragement to be an entrepreneur.</p> <p>Anthony says, “Lighthouse has truly transformed my life in the most positive manner. I am not only a donor, I am a Lighthouse client. Lighthouse Central Florida has changed my life, my perspectives, and my goals. They have given me a sense of purpose and direction for daily living.”</p> <p><a href="https://lighthousecfl.org/WeSeeWhatsPossible" target="_blank">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>Also, you can make a contribution to Lighthouse every time you shop on Amazon. To get started, simply <a href="https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/homepage?orig=%2F&amp;blm_aid=0" target="_blank">click here</a> and select Lighthouse Central Florida from the list of available charitable organizations.</p> <p>Amazon Smile uses your same existing Amazon account and remembers your favorite charity for every future purchase!</p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Mon, 26 Apr 2021 18:47:39 +0000 sharju1 201 at https://lighthousecfl.org Being blind is expensive – there’s a unique tax deduction that can help https://lighthousecfl.org/node/200 <span>Being blind is expensive – there’s a unique tax deduction that can help</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Fri, 02/19/2021 - 09:29</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">Being blind is expensive – there’s a unique tax deduction that can help</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-02/tax-money.png?itok=Khjidd8x" width="648" height="364" alt="&quot;&quot;" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p><strong>By Rachel Christian</strong></p> <p>If you're one of the 32 million Americans who experience vision loss, you can reduce the amount you owe the IRS by simply checking a box when filing your tax return this year.</p> <p>It may even boost your tax refund.</p> <p>The tax deduction for the legally blind is an increase to the standard deduction. It’s meant to offset some of the extra costs associated with blindness, was established nearly 80 years ago through the <a href="https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/78th-congress/session-2/c78s2ch63.pdf" target="_blank">Revenue Act of 1943</a>.</p> <h3><strong>For the 2020 tax year, the legally blind tax deduction is:</strong></h3> <ul><li>$1,650 for single or head of household filers.</li> <li>$1,300 for married couples filing jointly or separately with one blind spouse.</li> <li>$2,600 for married couples filing jointly with two blind spouses.</li> </ul><p>People ages 65 and older also qualify for a similar tax deduction. If you’re blind and over 65, you can stack these deductions and qualify for both.</p> <p>The IRS offers free programs in communities across the country that can help you file your return before the April 15 deadline and claim these tax breaks.</p> <h2><strong>Why the Blind Receive a Tax Break and Who Qualifies</strong></h2> <p>Vision loss is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults, according to the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>.</p> <p>Living with vision impairment isn’t easy — and it isn’t cheap.</p> <p>“There are many hidden costs to having a disability,” said Tom Foley, executive director of the National Disability Institute, the only national organization exclusively focused on the financial wellness of people with disabilities.</p> <p>Readers, guides, visual aids and public transportation are just some of the expenses people with vision loss face.</p> <p>They may also struggle to find and maintain gainful employment or may incur higher rent prices in order to live within walking distance of work.</p> <p>Foley said a higher standard tax deduction is Uncle Sam’s way of acknowledging these costs.</p> <p>“It was the first time the government recognized that blind people had additional expenses,” said Foley, who also serves as a tax lawyer with over 30 years of experience as a blind advocate. “It’s a way to help compensate for those costs.”</p> <p>The government uses a specific definition of blindness to determine eligibility for vocational training, rehabilitation, disability benefits — and yes, tax breaks.</p> <h3><strong>To qualify for the deduction, one of the following must apply:</strong></h3> <ul><li>You can't see better than 20/200 in your better eye, even with glasses or contact lenses.</li> <li>Your field of vision is 20 degrees or less.</li> <li>You have no eyesight at all.</li> </ul><p>You must be considered legally blind on the last day of the prior year to get the deduction.</p> <p>If you’re disabled, you may qualify for other tax breaks — including the Earned Income Tax Credit and write-offs for medical expenses.</p> <p>You can check <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3966.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication 3966</a> to learn more.</p> <h2><strong>How to Claim the Legally Blind Tax Deduction</strong></h2> <p>You will need to follow a few steps to claim the legally blind tax deduction.</p> <h3><strong>How to Claim the Legally Blind Tax Deduction</strong></h3> <ol><li>Take the standard deduction.</li> <li>Get a letter from your ophthalmologist or optometrist certifying that you are legally blind.</li> <li>Keep this letter for your records.</li> <li>File your taxes using Form 1040 or 1040 SR. (You can’t use 1040 EZ).</li> <li>Check Box 39a on Form 1040, or select the blind taxpayer option using online software.</li> </ol><p>First, you need to take the standard deduction in order to claim the legally blind tax break. You can’t itemize your return.</p> <p>Most people already do this. According to H&amp;R Block, about nine out of 10 taxpayers claim the standard deduction each year.</p> <p>In 2021, the standard deduction is $12,550, up from $6,350 just four years prior.</p> <p>Next, you’ll need to get a letter from your eye doctor. This written statement verifies that you meet the legal definition of blindness described earlier.</p> <p>“You would want to keep that kind of statement for your records,” said Erin Kidd, an enrolled tax agent at Thompson Greenspon in Fairfax, Virginia. “If your doctor doesn’t expect your eyesight to improve, it would be helpful for them to include that information in the letter.”</p> <p>The IRS is vague about whether you need to submit your doctor’s statement with your tax return. Tax experts say probably not.</p> <p>“From my research, the statement doesn’t need to be attached to the return, but it should be retained with the taxpayer’s records,” Kidd explained.</p> <p>If you’re working with a preparer, you can bring the statement with you and have the tax professional upload it with your return.</p> <p>“But honestly, I’ve never had it questioned,” said Brad Martin, an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program coordinator with the United Way of Southwest Alabama. “The letter is just good to have on hand in case the IRS audits you.”</p> <p>Martin — who was born blind and has assisted hundreds of low vision filers over the last 10 years — noted that if you’re preparing your own taxes using online software, be aware that you may need to reaffirm your blind status each year.</p> <p>“If you use the same software each year, it often pulls forward your data from the year before,” Martin said. “But with the software we use at the United Way, it doesn’t remember that you’re blind for some reason. So, every year, make sure to check that box even if other information like your address and filing status fills in automatically.”</p> <p>Martin said it’s important to note that a higher deduction isn’t the same as a tax credit, which is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability.</p> <p>In other words, a credit is subtracted from the taxes you owe, while a deduction makes your income seem smaller to the IRS, thus reducing your tax liability.</p> <p>But if your tax liability is low, Martin added, claiming the legally blind deduction may give your tax refund a modest boost.</p> <p>“If you owed $150, for example, this higher deduction might drop it in a way that results in a small refund,” Martin said. “But it’s not going to work the same way as a refundable credit.”</p> <h2><strong>Where to Get Free Help</strong></h2> <p>If you recently qualified as legally blind, filing your own taxes may seem daunting.</p> <p>Thankfully, there are free resources available in most communities across the country.</p> <p>The IRS oversees two different programs — Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, and Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or TCE.</p> <p>VITA and TCE sites are managed by nonprofit groups that partner with the IRS. Community centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and churches often serve as locations.</p> <p>Each site is staffed with IRS-certified volunteers who provide one-on-one tax counseling.</p> <h3><strong>This free tax help is generally available to:</strong></h3> <ul style="list-style-type: default;"><li>People who make $57,000 a year or less.</li> <li>People with disabilities.</li> <li>Limited English-speaking taxpayers.</li> </ul><p>The TCE program is specifically designed to assist people age 60 years or older and specializes in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues.</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the availability of some VITA and TCE sites. Use the <a href="https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/" target="_blank">online site locator tool</a> to find a location near you.</p> <p>Low vision taxpayers who wish to complete their VITA/TCE paperwork at home using a screen reader or other accessible tools can do so by following<a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f13614c.pdf" target="_blank"> this link</a>.</p> <p><em>Rachel Christian is a writer for <a href="https://www.retireguide.com/" target="_blank">RetireGuide.com</a>, a health and wealth website dedicated to providing accurate information and research on retirement topics.</em></p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Fri, 19 Feb 2021 14:29:54 +0000 sharju1 200 at https://lighthousecfl.org January is Glaucoma Awareness Month https://lighthousecfl.org/node/199 <span>January is Glaucoma Awareness Month</span> <div><div class="lantern-top"> <div class="career-cover"><h class="lantern-title">THE LANTERN</h></div> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">sharju1</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/01/2021 - 14:52</span> <div class="lantern-art-title">January is Glaucoma Awareness Month</div> <div class="lantern-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/max_650x650/public/2021-02/Dorothy%20and%20Chris%20.JPEG?itok=xaFsqFOq" width="650" height="488" alt="Dorothy receiving Assistive Technology Training on her iPhone by Lighthouse instructor Chris Sacca" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> <div class="lantern-content"><p>January is Glaucoma Awareness Month—it’s a time to check in with your loved ones to remind them about the importance of staying up to date with their regular eye exams. Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma.</p> <p>Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. According to the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/glaucoma-awareness.html" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)</a>, certain groups such as African Americans over age 40, anyone over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes are at higher risk.</p> <p>Dorothy Jackson is a 78-year old participant in our Adult program, who is diagnosed with glaucoma among other health conditions including diabetes. She came to <a href="https://www.lighthousecfl.org/" target="_blank">Lighthouse Central Florida</a> in 2019 seeking help to keep her independence after struggling with her vision loss for over 35 years. "I was devastated to learn from my doctor that I would no longer be able to drive". Lighthouse linked her to paratransit resources that allowed her to continue to travel safely within her community.</p> <p>"Receiving services at Lighthouse has given me the courage to deal with my blindness. Even though it is tough, I am surrounded by other people with vision problems like mine or even greater who support each other".</p> <p>Despite the challenges that Dorothy has faced, Lighthouse Central Florida has given her a place to express how she feels and connect with others who are dealing with similar struggles. She continues to be an active member of her community, utilizing Lynx to travel to places such as her hair salon, as she enjoys doing her hair every two weeks.</p> <p><a href="/WeSeeWhatsPossible" target="_blank">Your support of vision rehabilitation services at Lighthouse Central Florida--especially during times of crisis and uncertainty--ensures that services and training continues for Central Florida's community of blind and visually impaired babies, children, teens, adults and seniors.</a></p> <p><a href="/WeSeeWhatsPossible" target="_blank">See what YOU can make possible with your donation to Lighthouse Central Florida!</a></p> <p>If you or someone you know is struggling with vision loss related to glaucoma, please know that Lighthouse Central Florida provides services that can help. <a href="https://www.lighthousecfl.org/Referral">Just contact us.</a></p> <p>Thank YOU!</p> <p><img alt="A headshot of Kyle Johnson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5615a860-732f-4559-8046-1b1996b33bc8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/kyle-headshot.jpg" width="100" /> <br /> Kyle Johnson<br /> President &amp; CEO<br /> Lighthouse Central Florida</p> </div> <div class="back-to-lantern"><a href="/Lantern">BACK TO THE LANTERN</a></div> Mon, 01 Feb 2021 19:52:55 +0000 sharju1 199 at https://lighthousecfl.org