[NABS-L] NABS Notes: May 2018

Melissa Carney carne23m at mtholyoke.edu
Wed May 30 05:39:28 UTC 2018

Good evening NABSters,


You made it; summer has finally begun! For many of you, this is a time to
network and build your resumes as you explore various internship and
employment opportunities. For others, this is a time to reflect, regroup,
and focus on the academic year ahead. Whatever you do this summer, be sure
to make the most out of your time. In addition to your summer plans, I hope
you choose to attend the national convention in Orlando, Florida. This
year's presentations, meetings, and social events promise to be
unforgettable. Feel free to read about what NABS has been up to during the
month of May. Please find the link to our online version of the NABS notes
below, followed by the notes themselves. A copy of the NABS notes is also
attached to this email for your convenience. We continuously strive to
update and improve the format and content of our monthly bulletin, so your
suggestions and recommendations are much appreciated.



NABS Notes: May 2018  


In this issue, you will find:  

*         President's Note  

*         Preregister for the 2018 National Convention by May 31  

*         2018 NABS Mentoring Program  

*         Accessibility User Research Collective  

*         Museum - Making Museums Accessible for the Blind  

*         Call for National Convention Volunteers  

*         2018 Nominating Committee  

*         2018 Southeast Regional Student Seminar  

*         NABS Committee Updates  

*         State Division Updates  

*         May Blog Post  

*         NABS Facebook Group  


President's Note  

First and foremost, congratulations to our 2018 scholarship finalist class.
By simply reading their career aspirations, I am in awe at the diversity and
ambition threaded throughout the finalists' profiles. Join me in learning
more about our finalists here! <https://nfb.org/scholarships>  It's never
too late to join us for our family reunion in Orlando, but if you want to
save $$$, then preregister <http://www.nfb.org/convention>  by May 31 to
take advantage of the discounts. If you are looking for roommates to cut
back on costs or to have a buddy throughout the week, call or email me and I
will do everything in my power to find you a compatible roomie. During the
busy Convention week, NABS will have a networking event, trailblazing
workshop, business meeting, NABS Olympics, walk-a-thon, and so much more!
Specific details to come with times and locations, but be on the look-out
for all things students at Convention. Particularly for those students
looking for role models or those professionals or students who characterize
themselves as mentors, please apply as a mentee or mentor for our 2018
National Convention Mentoring Program
3Hl6fkDal6Njutw/viewform> . You won't want to miss out on the fun.  


Rest assured, if you will not be at the Convention, we will have our annual
business meeting streamed and recorded for convenience. NABS is always
looking for creative ways to get our members more involved and to spread the
word of the Federation. Beyond our National Convention planning efforts,
work is underway and your opinions and suggestions are so appreciated and
valued. Please reach out with ways in which we can improve the National
Association of Blind Students. I love my role as president, but I love this
role because of our members and the possibilities that come to fruition from
being a part of such a powerful and fulfilling organization.  


Preregister for the 2018 National Convention by May 31  

When: Tuesday, July 3-Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where: Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Boulevard
Orlando, Florida 32819-9357  

Preregistration is now open. When purchased online by May 31, the
preregistration fee for convention is $25 ($30 on-site) and the cost of a
banquet ticket is $65 ($70 on-site).  

Preregister online <https://convention.nfb.org/>   


2018 NABS Mentoring Program  

Are you interested in attending the national NFB convention in Orlando,
Florida? Are you looking for guidance, tips and tricks on how to navigate
the countless presentations and activities at the resort? Would you like to
be introduced to leaders of the Federation family? If so, please consider
applying to be a part of the 2018 NABS Mentoring Program. Alternatively, if
you feel that your skillset could benefit prospective mentees, please
consider applying to be a mentor. We need dynamic and compassionate leaders
to promote growth in our membership, and to build upon the forward momentum
of our organization as a whole. You can find the link to the form below:



Applications close on June 15. Please contact Katy Olson
(president.iabs at gmail.com) for more information.  



Accessibility User Research Collective  

The Accessibility User Research Collective (AURC) is looking for people who
are blind or have very low vision to take part in ongoing research projects
that we conduct as a research partner for Microsoft. The goal of these
studies is to use real feedback from real people to assist Microsoft in
improving the usefulness and accessibility of their apps and products. The
studies can include emailed surveys, in-person interviews or focus groups.
Joining the AURC doesn't mean you will be inundated with survey requests.
Only when a study requires someone with a specific disability is that person
contacted; and they are free to turn down the request if it comes at an
inconvenient time for them. The privacy and anonymity of participant
personal information, both in the database and during any studies they
participate in, is protected by strict HIPPAA requirements as well as by
special research security protocols that are required for studies involving
human subjects.  


The studies usually provide a modest monetary stipend as thanks for
participating; and from conversations with study participants, they value
the opportunity to help to improve the accessibility and usefulness of apps.

If you decide to join us, you can sign up to our database by filling out a
survey at this link:  <https://is.gd/AURCmemberform>


AURC web site:  <https://accessibilityuserresearchcollective.org/>


Newseum - Making Museums Accessible for the Blind  

The National Federation of the Blind appreciates our partnership and the
work of John Olson, Co-Founder of 3DPhotoworks LLC, for his efforts in
creating tactile art with audio descriptions at the Museum, a world-renown
museum in our nation's capital. Please join us in viewing a video created
about the undertaking of John Olson, featuring many of our Federationists.  



Calling for National Convention Volunteers  

Each Convention, the National Association of Blind Students hosts an array
of meetings and activities throughout the week. The most essential element
of making these events a success are our volunteers. From marshalling
students to selling raffle tickets, to helping register students at our
functions or manning the Exhibit Hall table, we need your help to ensure a
seamless process takes place. To learn more about our volunteer
opportunities and to sign up for a shift, please contact Shannon Cantan at
shannoncantan.nfb at gmail.com <mailto:shannoncantan.nfb at gmail.com>  by June


2018 Nominating Committee  

In 2017, NABS appointed a Nominating Committee to thoughtfully recommend
incoming leaders to our membership prior to the election. This year is no
different, as we feel that a nominating committee brings cohesion, trust,
and transparency to our membership, the most important element of our
organization. The committee, appointed by NABS President, Kathryn Webster,
is comprised of leaders across the country who are passionate about the
progress and betterment of the National Association of Blind Students. This
year, President Webster has appointed Michael Ausbun, the current 1st Vice
President of NABS, to serve as Chair of this essential committee. As a
democratic organization, we want to make sure your voice is heard throughout
this process. This year, the five officer positions are up for election, all
of which are 2-year terms. The five positions are President, 1st Vice
President, 2nd Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. If interested in
running for one of our national leadership positions and hoping to be
supported by our national nominating committee, please contact Michael
Ausbun by June 15. If you feel strongly about a certain candidate, we want
to hear from you, as well. Michael can be reached via email at
Michael.ausbun at gmail.com <mailto:Michael.ausbun at gmail.com> . While pondering
the possibility, do not hesitate to connect with anyone on the NABS Board,
particularly Kathryn, as we are here to support your future endeavors and
leadership potential. Feel free to reach out with any questions!  


2018 Southeast Regional Student Seminar  

An opportunity to sharpen self-advocacy, confidence, and social networking
abilities for blind students!  

When: August 10-12, 2018  

Where: National Federation of the Blind  

The Jernigan Institute  


200 East Wells St.  

Baltimore, MD 21230  


Eligibility: Blind High School and college students in the southeast states.
Other interested students are welcomed to attend.  


Activities Include: Engaging workshops with Federation mentors, interactive
confidence-building opportunities, and chances to apply NFB philosophy to
real world situations.  

Registration opens on May 15, 2018 and closes on July 15, 2018. To register,
please contact Robert Parsons, President, Virginia Association of Blind
Students at 804-801-7674 or rob.parso3389 at gmail.com
<mailto:rob.parso3389 at gmail.com> . For any questions about this event,
please contact Robert Parsons at 804-801-7674.  


NABS Committee Updates  


Get involved!  


*         Legislative Advocacy Committee  


The Legislative Advocacy committee is gearing up for national convention,
where we are partnering with our advocacy and policy team from the national
office to host a self-advocacy/student advocate workshop. We hope to see you
there! We welcome all feedback, and we hope you will consider joining us for
our monthly calls which take place the second Sunday of the month at 8pm
eastern standard time.  


*         Fundraising Committee  


Keep a look out for the NABS Exhibit Hall table at Convention this year. We
will be selling keychains with the NFB logo for $5, designed by the talented
student artist Elizabeth Sheeler. Our cookbooks will be sold for $15 as
well. Come grab a sample smoothie and learn more about NABS, while
supporting our student division. If you are interested in joining the
Fundraising Committee, please join us on our monthly conference calls every
second Thursday of the month at 9 pm eastern on the NABS line.  



*         Outreach Committee  


With convention coming up, the Outreach Committee is informing students on
convention tips, tricks, do's and don'ts. This month our blog post was
written by Cindy Bennett, a NABS member who traveled abroad to another
convention. We had students share their experiences about the Southwest and
Midwest seminars. We had a membership call on National Convention. Finally,
in an effort to get our word out to all blind students, we've developed a
letter to go to every state's rehab centers, rehab agencies, and affiliates,
explaining the resources we have to offer. Our call is every second Tuesday
of the month, 9PM Eastern, and we would love to have you join!  


*         National Convention Planning Committee  


NABS is proud to announce a new ad hoc committee for all things Convention.
We will be planning 4 student events in conjunction with the other
committees in an effort to prepare us for fundraising, member engagement,
and best of all fun! The events we are planning are NABS Olympics, NABS
Mentoring Program, volunteer coordination for exhibit hall table, Student
Networking event, and door prizes at our special events! Join us every other
Monday at 8pm eastern on the NABS line!  


State Division Updates  


Are you curious to see what your fellow students are up to? Please check out
the following updates from several of our proud divisions.  

Please note: All text was taken directly from our state student division
leadership and not amended in any way.  


*         North Carolina  

The North Carolina Association of Blind Students is hosting two summer
student receptions-one in Charlotte (June 9th) and one in Raleigh (June 16).
We hope you will consider coming out to learn more about us and the National
Federation of the Blind of North Carolina. Please contact President Kenia
Flores for more information at  <mailto:kenia.flores at furman.edu>
kenia.flores at furman.edu.  


*         Hawaii  


The Hawaii Association of Blind Students has been actively participating in
the legislative efforts of our local affiliate. During the 2018 state
legislature, we passed House Resolution 138, Requesting the Hawaii State
Judiciary and Department of Human Services to Not Use Blindness as a Basis
for Denying Parental Rights. We had bills in the House and Senate for this
initiative, as well as a Senate Resolution, all of which progressed somewhat
but could not pass their entire chamber. We also had four bills to end the
payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities, two of which
received hearings and progressed all the way to their final standing
committee. At that point, by custom, one bill received the final hearing and
advanced to conference committee. A conference committee is a committee
comprised of representatives of both chambers who negotiate the final
language and iron out the differences between House and Senate versions. We
pushed hard but saw the subminimum wage bill die in conference committee. We
will try again next session. Additionally, some of our officers arranged a
meeting with a member of the State House of Representatives and a
representative from the administration of a large private university in
Honolulu. In this meeting, we requested a letter supporting the creation of
voluntary accessibility guidelines for instructional materials in higher
education. Finally, as our affiliate is starting a newsletter, our student
division has a representative on the committee to develop the newsletter.
Every student division has the potential to be a powerful contributor to its
state affiliate, and we are doing our best to contribute in Hawaii.  


*         California  


Greetings from California! We hope everyone killed it on their finals and
ended their semester on a strong note. The California Association of Blind
Students is hard at working in building membership. This month, we created a
brand-new membership flyer for our student division describing who we are
and how we can be a resource to students. The flyer has been distributed to
all chapter presidents, disability offices in universities, and rehab
counselors. We have also started a new project in outreach where we will
visit a different chapter or two each month to recruit new members to our
division. On June 9, CABS are taking some students out on a beach trip to
Mother's Beach in Marina Del Rey and we will be having a picnic there. As
national convention is just around the corner, we will be having two board
members represent the California student division and they are very eager to
attend our family reunion in Orlando. Our student division will be selling a
gift bag of fidget spinners, skittles, and hand sanitizer for $10, so come
find us to get your gift bag! Thank you and let's go build the National
Federation of the Blind!  


*         New Jersey  


Happy May from NJABS to our favorite Federation family! NJABS is working
hard at recruitment. We will be contacting disability departments at
multiple colleges throughout the state. We are planning a big event in the
fall that we hope will also pull in more students. The event will be further
planned during our July meeting. There will be a good number of NJ students
at National Convention and we can't wait to see you there!  


May Blog Post  

Cindy has been a member of NFB for 11 years and has held several offices for
NABS, the Greater Seattle Chapter and the NFB of Washington. She is a Ph.D.
candidate in the department of Human Centered design at the University of
Washington. This broadly means that she researches how people use
technology. With academia comes a requirement to publish at scholarly
venues, and in her field, scholars attend conferences to share their
published work and network with colleagues. This essay was originally posted
as an email to the AccessComputing list, to which disabled students studying
stem who are involved in the associated grant program are subscribed. She
shared her experience attending a large conference to thank AccessComputing
for funding her travel. If you study a stem subject, learn about
AccessComputing by visiting https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/ and
you can visit Cindy's website at  <https://www.bennettc.com/>


I've just returned from Montreal, in Canada's Quebec province, where I
attended the 2018 CHI conference on Human-Computer Interaction generously
sponsored by AccessComputing. I am emailing to share my experience.  


This conference is the largest in my field with about 3,500 attendees
annually. It was located at a giant convention center, and attendees stay at
different hotels in the area and evening activities occur all around town.
Accessibility is more of a niche research area than a concern at the
conference, and there are several access-related challenges. As a blind
person, I continue to learn the best way to manage this challenging
environment with professionalism in mind.  


In summary, I have become more grateful for people as with a busy schedule,
so many crowds, and an unfamiliar area, I really rely on their kindness
during conferences. However, the navigation challenge means that I plan
ahead and set up networking meetings with loads of colleagues, so I use the
collaborative assistance to my advantage.  


I helped to organize a couple of conference activities and attended others.
In summary, the conference activities include the following. Before the
conference begins, attendees can apply for workshops which are one and
two-day gatherings of researchers interested in a similar area. For the CHI
conference, admission to the workshops is easier than getting a paper
accepted, as long as you submit an abstract that is well written and
relevant. A keynote speaker addresses the entire conference for each of the
four main conference days following the workshop. They are carefully chosen
by the organizing committee and are usually very well known. Paper
presentations are 20-minute talks organized into longer sessions with 4
similar papers each where an author paper presents a summary of the project.
These talks are a means to motivate people to read the paper. Papers are
peer reviewed and about 25% of submissions are accepted at this conference.
During breaks, the conference hosts a variety of conversational sessions
like panels to foster a large conversation on one topic, and posters,
technology demonstrations, and a job fair where attendees circulate and
inquire at the stations they are interested in. Several universities and
technology companies host evening socials at nearby restaurants.  


I began the conference by participating as a co-organizer in a workshop on
designing classroom technologies inclusive of students with and without
visual impairments. As a co-organizer, I worked with a committee ahead of
time to develop the call for participation, review submissions, and plan the
program schedule. A variety of researchers from those researching young
children to those interested in making online programming lessons more
accessible for high school students attended. After introducing our
research, we worked in small groups to identify challenges we have
encountered and brainstorm solutions. My favorite breakouts focused on
sharing the accessible methods we use to make design more inclusive for
visually impaired people. For example, we made a list of tactile materials
we could build prototypes out of. We also shared ideas for giving back to
our researched communities such as offering to print 3d models for teachers
of visually impaired students. Others shared strategies for engaging
participants by incorporating multisensory activities to move away from
traditional design activities that emphasize vision. One attendee
recommended some children's games for making people feel more relaxed and
comfortable, and another researcher asked us to record our ideas in
recordable birthday cards which forced us to listen and share in a way we
had never thought of before as understanding the rudimentary recordings
required active listening.  


A good friend attended the workshop with me, and she offered to meet me at
my hotel beforehand. In doing so, she showed me the shortest route to the
convention center. There were several streets I could have taken and doors I
could enter, but since we have worked together before, she knew what signs
to look for to find the best path. We found an intersection across a busy
street controlled by a traffic light, and a door to the convention center
with a straight path to the registration area. She showed me a couple of
landmarks, so I could meet someone. I purposely stay close to conference
venues because I have found that minimizing navigation helps me to get more
out of conferences, but coordinating this informal O&M really helped me to
feel more confident and in more control of my schedule. I highly recommend
that blind and visually impaired people do this. If you do not know anyone
attending the conference, several conferences have volunteers. You can
inquire the organizing committee ahead of time to learn whether a volunteer
could meet you before the conference to help you scope out the area.  


Throughout the week, I referenced a conference schedule I made for myself.
The conference lists all presentations in a smartphone app, and you can add
interesting sessions to a schedule. Of course, I overbooked myself and did
not attend all sessions, but this app was incredibly helpful, so I can
reference sessions I missed after the conference has finished and read the
papers instead. I highly recommend calendaring events before a conference
whether they are organized into a convenient app or whether you have to
manually enter the appointments. It saves a lot of cognitive energy
wondering what to do at any given time.  


Since I have been doing research for almost six years, I have accumulated a
bunch of colleagues who I like to meet with. At the beginning of the
conference, I messaged several people and set up lunch and coffee break
meetings. I would ask them beforehand if they wouldn't mind meeting me
somewhere. This was almost never an issue. In this way, I got to network
with tons of colleagues, and most were happy to help me get from my previous
location and to my next location. It was very important that I could
navigate some places on my own but getting what I wanted to out of the
conference meant sacrificing some autonomy, and I found that most people
were more than happy to help me.  


A lot of blind and visually impaired people are taught to learn skills to be
independent, and these are incredibly important. But I have found that
asking for help and setting clear boundaries has not sacrificed my
professionalism or independence. For example, when I asked friends to meet,
I would alert them ahead of time, asking if they could meet me somewhere. In
the cases where the person was going to be far away or when they had to be
somewhere very quickly, I had the landmarks in mind and could almost always
find one of those with them, so I could then regroup on my own. The key was
that I tried to set up expectations by asking ahead of time and having more
than one place I could go to reorient myself when things changed last


On the last day of the conference, I gave a presentation accompanying the
paper on which I was the lead author. In summer, 2017, I interned at
Microsoft Research and did a fun project interviewing visually impaired
teens on their use of photo-centric social media like Instagram and
Snapchat. We submitted the paper to CHI in September and it was reviewed and
accepted for publication, which comes with an invitation to present at the
conference. When creating the presentation, my co-authors and I agreed that
showing videos would make the teens' use patterns much clearer to the
audience. I have experience presenting slides with videos which led me to
decide to co-present with a co-author. In past experiences, I have
configured my computer with a sound card to send my screen reader to my
headphones and video media to the speakers. I have had both positive and
negative experiences with this working, and I decided that since at least 45
people were presenting in the same room during the sessions before mine that
week, I wouldn't chance the setup going Arie. I didn't think any planning
ahead could prepare for potential technical difficulty, and I definitely did
not want the audience to hear my screen reader or to control the
presentation without one. My co-presenter and I practiced the talk a few
times, and we easily learned to work together; she had a copy of my talk
transcript in the presenter's notes, so she knew when to advance the slide,
and I revised the transcript several times, so I spoke to it rather than
going off script onto tangents. I found this to be an effective method for
presenting. I can present on my own, but it gave me accountability to
practice and speak clearly, and I did not have to worry about the potential
awkwardness of splitting my sound output in a heavily used, unfamiliar
conference room.  


Other conference highlights included the Diversity and Inclusion lunch where
senior researchers with underrepresented identities shared short talks of
their struggles and hopes which helped me to feel less alone. I also enjoyed
attending a panel on fostering a more slow and sustainable academia. I got
some great tips from colleagues. For example, I was challenged to make a
list of recent accomplishments every time I tell someone 'no' to remind
myself that my 'no' is being said thoughtfully and with everyone's best
interests in mind since I would not be able to give my time well if I do not
have it. I suggested something that has been taught me, that people find a
group for whom they direct their service, to help them to more easily say
'no' when people ask for their time. For example, I prioritize helping
students with disabilities, and if someone contacts me who does not fit that
demographic, I try to point them toward other resources instead of meeting
with them.  


Since I have been around this research community for a while, I am
struggling to remember what it was liked to awkwardly amble around a
networking event, though I remember the feelings well, and I still feel
awkward and alone sometimes at conferences. If you are struggling to meet
people, I recommend finding conversational events at conferences that are
smaller than giant poster sessions or exhibit halls. For example, a part of
the conference I forgot to mention are the special interest groups. People
at conferences are generally interested in getting to know people
researching similar things as them, so I have found that by attending those,
I meet people who are usually open to set up a coffee with me, even if I end
up tagging along with some of their other colleagues. You could also make a
point to walk to the front after a session. The presenters usually stick
around for questions, and from personal experience, I love it when someone
comes to talk to me, so I am not standing at the front by myself.  


I still have challenges navigating conferences. I have never attentively
circulated through the poster sessions, demos, or job fairs at CHI. I often
have other plans while they are going on and I get lost in conversation. But
I know I miss some cool research, and I hate not having a reference point
when interesting projects come up in conversation. I will be looking for a
job in the next couple of years, so I probably need to get better about
this. I try to be thoughtful about what I am asking of colleagues. If I
could find one who was also looking for a job, it might be ok to ask them.
But whereas I am comfortable to ask a colleague to direct me to a meeting
room when they are walking to a nearby room, asking for someone's time for
an hour to describe projects seems to cross a line for me. Yet navigating
some of these spaces in crowds on my own is inefficient. So, I look forward
to brainstorming with my many blind friends, who always have great ideas! I
bring this up to note that despite my experience, I still encounter


I have shared my very individual experience. What assistance may help me to
get the most out of a conference may make someone else feel uncomfortable.
The most important things that I try to keep in mind whenever embarking on
any adventure are however applicable to anyone. Set yourself up with great
skills so you can make choices about when you ask for assistance and what
assistance you ask for. Always prepare for assistance to fall through by
having a backup plan and reaching for those great blindness skills and
recognize that you are continuously learning and be compassionate toward
yourself when you don't do something the way you would prefer.  


I am very grateful to AccessComputing for providing funding to attend the
CHI conference. I am happy to answer any questions about navigating
conferences, being a Ph.D. student who has completed most milestones, or
internships as a blind person, so feel free to be in touch!  


NABS Facebook Group  

Join our Facebook group by visiting:



The National Association of blind Students  

A proud division of the National Federation of the Blind  


(203) 273-8463  

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