SAVE THE DATE! When? September 26, 2019. 6 PM Central.
What? Annie Chiappetta will be discussing her new book, Words of Life: Poems and Essays.
Where? On Disability and Progress, heard at KFAI 90.3
Can’t make it for the live show? No worries. Catch the archived broadcast at: http:www.kfai.org/disabilityandprogress
For the local literary-minded, come listen to a reading followed by a book signing.
October 8 at 7 p.m. I will be performing poetry from my latest book, Words of Life: Poems and Essays at the White Plains Public Library. All three books will be for sale, cash only. To find out more, click the link:
The urge to take everything and leave was hard to fight after receiving the first letter, a two-week notice without it being labeled as such. Packing my belongings into shopping totes and cleaning my office of personal items was the only action I could take while awaiting the final letter and day. I was being removed, a most ironic clinically sterilizing verb, as if being diagnosed a malignancy. Treating me like a diagnosis rather than a person probably insulated the District team from feeling any remorse.
While I struggled to keep myself from crying, I sat while the director read the final decision letter to me. It was only two pages. The rest, he said, would be coming in the mail to my home. I wasn’t given time to take it in, maybe that was a good thing, because I left without telling anyone. I was able to call my husband and with only one extra trip to the truck, I dropped my keys, I.D. and agency mobile on my desk and left.
Ann Chiapetta Update – Wednesday August 7th 10:30PM Eastern/7:30PM Pacific (and replays every two hours throughout the next day)
ACB member and author Ann Chiapetta rejoins us. She’s going to tell us about one of her brand spanking new publications and give our listeners who want to be authors some guidance.
To listen to this week’s “Speaking Out for the Blind,” go to: http://acbradio.org/mainstream, and choose one of the links under the headings “Listen to ACB Radio Mainstream” and “Now Playing;” or call 1-641-793-0756, and when prompted, press “1” for ACB Radio Mainstream. You may also listen to the program live on the ACB Link mobile app. For more information, go to http://link.acb.org.
From: Disability Rights Advocates
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 2:14 PM
Subject: County of Westchester Agrees to Make Website Accessible to People who are Blind and Low Vision
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maria Samuels: (914) 260-5837
Monica Porter: (510) 665-8644
Torie Atkinson: (212) 644-8644
County of Westchester Agrees to Make Website Accessible to People who are Blind and Low Vision
Redesigned site will be compatible with screen reader software used by blind and low vision visitors
April 30, 2019 – White Plains, NY –As a result of advocacy by the Westchester Council of the Blind of New York (“WCBNY”) and Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”), the County of Westchester has agreed to make its website fully accessible to blind and low vision users by the end of 2019. These users will soon have equal access to information and functions such as signing up for emergency alerts, accessing resources in the event of severe weather storms and flooding, reviewing election results, and reserving ParaTransit,
People who are blind and low vision use software called “screen readers” that converts the text displayed graphically on a screen into audible synthesized speech or outputs that same information on a digital Braille display. Counties are required by law to ensure their websites or applications are compatible with screen readers and accessible to people who are blind or low vision, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and guidelines established in the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Access Guidelines, available at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/.
Today, accessibility barriers prevent a blind user from orienting herself on the County’s website, using keyboard navigation, skipping to the content of a particular page, or gleaning any useful information from untagged and unformatted PDF documents. WCBNY members have encountered numerous obstacles when attempting to access information and complete functions online, such as making ParaTransit reservations and learning about upcoming community events.
Maria Samuels, President of the Westchester Council of the Blind of New York, said: “This is a joint victory for Westchester Council of the Blind and the Westchester County Government. Together we achieved a significant step in the right direction for the inclusion of people who are blind. People with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to use all the programs and services available in this great County of ours, including the websites. We are delighted to find that the County Executive’s office agrees with us. Website accessibility is a process that must be vigilantly maintained but it is the law and, equally important, it is the right thing to do.”
WCBNY has long advocated for the ability of blind and low vision residents and visitors to have equal access to the County’s website, and they are pleased that the County has publicly committed to making its website accessible to screen reader software by the end of this year.
“Website accessibility guidelines and disability laws exist to ensure that people with vision disabilities have the same access to information and services as sighted people,” said Stuart Seaborn, Managing Director, Litigation, at Disability Rights Advocates. “DRA is pleased that the County has agreed to comply with the law and we hope that other public entities will follow suit as websites increasingly become go-to resources for critical public information.”
About Westchester Council of the Blind of New York
WCBNY consists of blind and visually impaired volunteer members. Through a network of advocacy and support, WCBNY focuses on the needs of people living with visual impairment. We strive to be a voice for all people who struggle with physical and attitudinal barriers resulting from others who don’t understand blindness. Our members volunteer and take part in important initiatives concerning people with disabilities in Westchester County like emergency preparedness, transportation, and accessible and safe streets. For more information, visit www.wcbny.org.
About Disability Rights Advocates
Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. As part of that mission, DRA has advanced multiple precedent-setting cases related to website access for persons who are blind or low vision; including securing the most comprehensive settlement ever to make online voter registration and election information accessible to millions of blind voters in New York, ensuring that blind voters in Alameda County, California had access to accessible, private voting machines on Election Day, and obtaining a settlement agreement requiring accessibility improvements to all of the roughly 4,000 Redbox video-rental kiosks in California. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to websites and web applications, disaster preparedness planning, voting, transportation, health care, employment, education, and housing. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.
This email was
Thanks to Kim Charlson and the Perkins Library for the Blind, the memoir I wrote is now an audio book for listening through the National Library Service, or NLS. Expressing how it felt to listen to my words for the first time was emotional. It was immensely gratifying and powerful. A few weeks prior to the email notifying me the book was in the final editing stage I listened to the introduction I penned for GDUI’s A HANDBOOK FOR THE PROSPECTIVE GUIDE DOG HANDLER (4th Edition), also recently released as a free digital book available via the NLS talking book and braille library.
Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust DBC11582
Chiappetta, Ann. Reading time: 4 hours, 27 minutes. Read by Ana Maria Quintana. A production of Perkins Library, Perkins School for the Blind. Animals and Wildlife. Drawing on her skills as a poet and a therapist, the author of this candid memoir explores her life-changing relationship with her guide dog. The book is also available on Bookshare and all eBook sellers as a digital book and print soft cover. Go to www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/
The GDUI Handbook’s catalog number is DB92557 and it is also available from Bookshare.
Here’s to a book-filled 2019.
Inspired by Yellow Lab Bailey.
It began in 2015, after Annie met Bailey and the two became a team. Bailey was making the transition to his new partner, a new home, and a new routine, all of which probably contributed to Bailey’s attitude about the dog bed in the office.
After the destruction of dog bed one, Annie tried a new mat, professed by the company to be “chew proof”. It was not Bailey proof, but durable. Annie thought reinforced steel mesh corners would be an improvement, but did not share this with the manufacturer, thinking it might insult them.
The next bed was almost too big for the office, but after the dutiful corner-chewing, along with numerous patch work and generous bitter apple spritzes, it survived, tattered but useful.
After hearing a few remarks from office mates asking when Bailey was going to get a new dog bed, Annie decided it was time for a change, plus she was tired of sewing and hot gluing up the corners a third time. Annie shops online, and the decision to try a round bed is like a canine-inspired epiphany.
chewing won’t occur, because, well, round beds don’t have corners.
A 40-inch polyester-filled bed is ordered. It is delivered and schlepped to the office three days later. The paratransit bus driver smiles when Annie says it is her guide dog’s new bed.
The transition does not go well; Bailey applies passive resistance, unwilling to get off the old bed; Annie must wrestle the old bed from under Bailey’s large Labrador butt, and afterward, convince Bailey the new fleece-topped cuddly bed is not a huge toy. Bailey ignores Annie’s professions and verbal coaxing, like, “You will be warmer, right Buddy?” and so on. He paws at it, finds the fabric handle and drags it from one side of the office to the other and eventually, with a few treats, and the “place” command, he takes a nap upon it. Day two is much the same: enter the office, paw at it, fling the bed around like it is a hover craft, and afterwards, decides he will take a nap under the desk instead. Okay, thinks Annie, he will go to the bed when he wants to curl up into a doggie-ball.
Day three is much like day two with one exception: he tries to drag the bed while Annie and the computer tech are troubleshooting. Annie has to take charge and put an end to the shenanigans. Luckily for Bailey, the tech is a pet lover and he approve of the tough love modality.
It is now the weekend, and Annie anticipates the traveling dog bed shenanigans will continue. Annie wonders what is going on inside Bailey’s peanut, tries and fails to think like a dog. Is he confused? Maybe he really does see the bed as a huge fluffy, dog toy? It is a sobering thought and might be a little unfair for Annie to think this about her sweet and loyal guide dog who is also a dog possessing intelligent disobedience skills.
Birthday Wishes for our Verona who is 12 years young. We have known her since 2009, when she was two years old. She guided me with focus and precision until age seven, at which time decided to let us know she didn’t want the job anymore. She comforted my clients during times of emotional pain, eased the physical pain of adults and children with pet-assisted therapy, and while she worked, was by my side for presentations and workshops.
Now she enjoys her retirement being a cherished pet and we couldn’t have chosen a more loving and intelligent dog. We love you, sweet Verona.
By Ann Chiappetta
I wait for the knock
Once it comes my life will change forever
Since I arrived
For two days and nights
For my entire life until now –
I sit on the bed
Wondering how it will feel an hour from now
And go numb with nerves
Question scroll across the marquee of my mind
What will she be like?
Will she like me, learn to love me?
The hot red letters of doubt scroll past
Can she guide me?
Will I be able to trust her?
Then the knock comes and my heart jumps
“Come in.” I say
Hoping I can open my heart with as much ease as the door.
I hear her nails click on the floor
I put out a hand, touch her head
She licks me, tail wagging
“Ann, this is Verona.” the trainer says
I don’t really know what to say or how to feel
But her presence soothes me
“Aren’t you a beautiful girl?” I coo as the trainer leaves
We sit on the floor together
The marquee of doubts vanishes
The blocky, red letters fade
Replaced by a message of calm, canine acceptance
Dressed in ebony
She settles her head in my lap
Each stroke of my hand
Strengthens the hope, quiets the fear
The questions dissipate with the knowledge
— Stroke by stroke —
That she is the one who will lead me
Ready, Set, Go!
I am so pleased to announce our Lions Club is in the final stretch of preparations for our second annual DINING IN THE DARK fundraising event to benefit the services provided by the WESTCHESTER COUNCIL OF THE BLIND OF NEW YORK WESTCHESTER OF THE BLIND OF NEW YORK, along with raising funds to continue supporting causes in Westchester and in our County seat, White Plains. As the White Plains Lions President and co-host, it is exciting and a bit nerve-wracking for me. I am confident our members will make this a wonderful event. Tonight, I tested the portable PA system, and as I held the microphone in my hand I felt a frisson of anticipation — I cannot wait to welcome the guests and supporters and make the evening something to remember. Stay tuned for highlights from our event. Look up the White Plains Lions up on Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/whiteplainslions/
Taxi Cabs Deny Blind Woman and Guide Dog Rides in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
The statement above is what I wish could be splashed across the news media for the three-minutes of attention it should receive in this time of informational and cultural news-shaming. It is most likely not going to happen. If it did, it would increase awareness and make some kind of difference. I hope by sharing this blog post, it will catch fire and gain some exposure.
On September 16, 2018, while on vacation, I was denied cab rides twice in one day. All to often, while checking my Face Book feed, I read about other guide dog users being denied taxi and CFH (Car-for-Hire) rides, making them late for work, or being refused reimbursement by the CFH company. When is this kind of discrimination going to slow down?
I want to start a campaign CFH services refusing passengers with guide and service dogs because it happens, it is unlawful, has an emotional and financial impact on passengers and it is biased and discriminatory.
I proposed the #deniedride has tag campaign and hope this can go viral. If you have been denied service by a car-for-hire like Uber, LYFT, Medallion cabs, and contracted cars for paratransit passengers, share it on Twitter, Face Book, and other social media sources and don’t forget to tag It #deniedride