Dots and Dashes 6/28/2019

“Dots and Dashes” is a short newsletter featuring a variety of topics and ACB stories. This issue features breaking news about the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act being introduced, as well as articles about today’s Facebook Live broadcast, the convention agenda on NFB-Newsline, advocacy updates, the Special Education Task Force’s podcast on cortical visual impairment, Cisco receiving the FCC Chairman’s Award, and the introduction to the Mueller Report being available in BRF.

 

Breaking News! Low Vision Devices Coverage Act to Be Introduced Next Week

Representatives Maloney from New York and Bilirakis from Florida plan to introduce the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2019 next week! The “dear colleague” letter they shared with all members of Congress is pasted in below. This legislation is an imperative for ACB, and we need your help to recruit co-sponsors!

Please contact the ACB national office to get information on the members of Congress for your state and ask them to co-sponsor this important legislation. You may find contact information for your members of Congress by visiting https://www.house.gov/representatives, or by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard, (202) 224-3121.

Finally, please inform the ACB advocacy staff as to who you have contacted about co-sponsoring this legislation by emailing advocacy@acb.org.

 

The ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter

Support Seniors with Visual Impairments
Cosponsor Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2019
Endorsed by: American Council of the Blind

Dear Colleague:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 80 million Americans are at risk of serious vision loss – a number expected to increase as the baby boomer generation ages. For someone with low vision, reading a book or crossing the street can be difficult even with the help of glasses or contacts due to blurriness or distortion.

A physician can prescribe magnifiers or special optical devices, but the current exclusion from Medicare coverage for these devices greatly reduces access to them. The exclusion for reimbursement for devices that include a lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision hurts American seniors on fixed incomes. They can aid Medicare beneficiaries with vision loss to lead healthy, safe, independent lives. Coverage of these devices will greatly enhance the ability of older Americans to age independently and enjoy everyday activities.

To understand the impact of covering these devices for America’s seniors, we are reintroducing the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act (H.R. 2050 in the 115th Congress). Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services would administer a five-year national demonstration project to evaluate the economic impact of allowing reimbursement for certain low vision devices under the Social Security Act. The text is identical to the bill introduced in the 115th Congress.

For more information, or to co-sponsor this legislation, please have your staff contact Kelly Hennessy with Rep. Maloney (kelly.hennessy@mail.house.gov or x5-7944) or Shayne Woods with Rep. Bilirakis (shayne.woods@mail.house.gov or x5-5755).

Sincerely,
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress

GUS M. BILIRAKIS
Member of Congress

 

Facebook Live: Meet Claire’s New Guide Dog

Today at 3 p.m. Eastern, join Claire and Clark on Facebook as we meet Claire’s new guide dog. Claire will tell everyone about her new dog, as well as talk more about the experience of attending guide dog training. Who knows, her dog may even lick the camera!

 

Convention Agenda on NFB-Newsline

This year’s ACB national convention agenda and other related information are now available on the NFB-NEWSLINE service.

To listen to the agenda using the telephone access method, call the NFB-Newsline service as you usually do, or use the toll-free number 1-888-882-1629. You may need your six-digit identification number and four-digit security code the first time you call in.

Then go to option 5 for newspapers in a different state, then select option 5 for national meetings of interest to the print-disabled, and choose number 1 for ACB convention agenda information. Then follow the prompts to choose what you want to hear, such as the 2019 ACB Convention Agenda, the 2019 ACB Convention Exhibitors, or the 2019 ACB Convention Orientation Guide.

If you're using NFB-NEWSLINE Mobile, choose Publications, Publication Options, and All Publications to find the 2019 ACB convention agenda.

 

Advocacy Updates

On the June 20th edition of ACB Advocacy Update, Matt Ater of Vispero joins Clark Rachfal to answer the question everyone is asking: “Who is Vispero?” ACB members know Vispero through their products and services offered by: Enhanced Vision, Freedom Scientific, Optelec, and the Paciello Group. Clark and Matt conclude the conversation by teasing some, but not all, of the special announcements and promotions that Vispero will have at the ACB national convention in Rochester, N.Y. To learn more about Vispero, visit: www.vispero.com. To register for the ACB annual convention, visit: www.acbconvention.org. Listen via your favorite podcast player or online at: http://acbradio.org/content/acb-advocacy-update-june-20-2019

Got an idea for a future podcast? Send it to advocacy@acb.org.

 

Podcast on Cortical Visual Impairment

The American Council of the Blind Special Education Task Force is proud to present their second in a series of podcasts designed to equip all who advocate for the free and appropriate public education of children who are blind and visually impaired to insure that they benefit from their right to that quality education. This offering concerns a form of vision impairment, cortical vision impairment (CVI), that is misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and often inappropriately accommodated. Ellen Cadigan Mazel, M.Ed., CTVI, CVI Project Manager, Educational Programs, Perkins School for the Blind, presents a comprehensive view of CVI, its identifying signs, effects, and outlines some basic tools that allow children to learn to see the world in which they find themselves. It is the Special Education Task Force's fervent hope that someone who hears this podcast will be in a better position to recognize the signs of CVI and begin the process of advocating for its proper accommodation in the child’s individualized education plan. To listen online, visit http://acbradio.org/education.

 

Cisco Receives FCC Chairman’s Award

ACB commends Cisco for receiving the FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancements in Accessibility (AAA). Through collaboration with ACB, Cisco engineered text-to-speech functionality to their 8800 series enterprise phones. Adding speech output to the 8800 series phones has turned an ordinary desk phone into a productivity driver for all people who are blind and visually impaired, whether they are working in an office, remotely from home, or running their own small business. Thank you, Cisco, for your willingness to innovate and partner with ACB!

To read the full press release in Word, go to https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-358060A1.docx.

For a text version, visit https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-358060A1.txt. For more information about the Chairman's AAA, visit https://tinyurl.com/y4nor66v.

 

Intro to Mueller Report in BRF

The introduction and executive summaries of the Mueller Report are available as a downloadable BRF from National Braille Press. Visit http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/MUELLER.html for more details.