Have You Heard? The Visionary is Back!
Our Visionary newsletter is back and better than ever! The new, bi-monthly newsletter will continue to have all of your favorite features like, From the Director’s Desk and Monthly Observances but also new and improved sections like BEP Vendor Spotlights, Staff Spotlights, Program Spotlights and fun, tasty Recipes! If you’ve been curious about the people that make DBS great or have been wanting to hear more of the success stories from our amazing clients – then this newsletter is especially for you. Each new edition will give you an inside look at all of the ways the division positively impacts and serves our clients and communities.
It’s so important to us that this publication reflects the voices and interests of the visually impaired/blind community. This is why we want to hear from YOU! Whether you are someone with a visual impairment, an advocate for the community, a family member, or a friend, we invite you to be a part of this newsletter in whatever capacity you choose. There are many different ways to support and contribute, here are a few.
- Submit any in-person or virtual Florida event that would be of interest to the visually impaired community and advocates,
- Submit a relevant article pitch,
- Give us constructive feedback,
- Share the newsletter with your friends and family, or
- Simply just subscribe so you won’t miss the newest edition!
See Different Presents Read Different!
DBS’s See Different team strives to break barriers caused by misperceptions and lack of firsthand knowledge about people who are blind/visually impaired (VI). The team helps people see blindness and other disabilities through a different perspective – the perspective of individuals who are blind – and to recognize, appreciate, and value the opportunities these individuals bring to Florida's communities. Interactive forums, events and activities hosted by the team show, not just tell, how people who are blind/VI overcome barriers to independence and how they live, learn, work, and play alongside their sighted peers.
This June, DBS’s See Different team is hosting one such presentation, Read Different, and you won’t want to miss it! When you join, you will get the opportunity to learn about a great and FREE resource – The Talking Books Library, and how anyone can still read – no matter their disability.
The Read Different event will be 100% virtual and is open to the public. Attending this event will be especially beneficial for you if you are:
- Unable to read traditional print or hold a book due to a physical or intellectual disability
- A parent or counselor, ESE teacher, doctor, health professional who serves children, adolescents, young adults, or older adults with a print disability
- An advocate for those with disabilities in search of usable resources to share
- A once veracious reader who can no longer comfortably and pleasurably read print
We hope to see you there on June 7 at 11 AM. Don’t forget to invite a coworker and friend!
Here’s the information to join either using MS Teams or by calling in.
Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Read Different With DBS
Do you or someone you know struggle with reading print? Perhaps it is painful to hold a book for long or tough scanning pages with your eyes from left to right? Maybe the issue is recognizing words because of a learning disability, stroke, or failing eyesight? For these and a host of other “print disability” reasons, the Talking Book Library can provide life-enhancing and free services for anyone answering yes.
The Library is an extension of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) but serves people with many other disabilities. Eligibility criteria includes any Floridian with a disability that makes it difficult to read a traditional print book. This is great news because it means we get to support even more Florida communities and families.
On top of offering this service to more people who can benefit from it, the Library’s certification process has been streamlined and expanded – which means you won’t need a doctor to certify your eligibility. A counselor, therapist, nurse, or teacher will do! This makes it a lot easier to put Talking Books in the hands of those who really need and want them.
The Library not only lends talking books but also magazines, players, and other equipment. They have an app allowing quick, easy searching for and downloading of material to smart devices. As if all this isn’t great enough, the service is free, including returning books through the mail.
This summer, DBS’s See Different team is hosting a virtual Read Different event showcasing all the great resources at the Talking Book Library! You’ll also learn more details about the certification process, hear testimonials from longtime patrons, and see (or hear) how you can take advantage of all the useful things the Library has to offer.
DBS Believes #AccessibilityMatters
Digital spaces, apps, and technology are not always created equal. There’s been an increase in conversations around digital accessibility since the beginning of the pandemic due to the uptick in transitioning regular processes of daily life onto online platforms. However, the urge for more digital accessibility has been a prominent issue even before the pandemic began, especially for people with disabilities like low vision and blindness.
The Division of Blind Services’ (DBS) Accessibility Team is taking the lead in increasing awareness for digital accessibility and ensuring equality in digital spaces for people with visual impairments! One accessibility initiative gives us the opportunity to work with other government agencies, non-profits, and organizations and takes a closer look at their business structures to help them determine where accessibility needs to be added or improved. This will allow those who take part in the initiative to better serve their employees, customers and/or clients who stand to benefit greatly from accessibility improvements.
Due to the magnitude of this initiative, our Accessibility Team is expanding! If you or someone you know is interested and qualified in being a part of a team that keeps accessibility at the forefront, check out the available positions and apply at www.PeopleFirst.com.
Remembering Donald H. Wedewer Charleston, Former DBS Director
Donald H. Wedewer Charleston - Donald H. Wedewer, 96, of Charleston, South Carolina, passed away on February 7, 2022. Wedewer, whose accomplishments were recognized by four U.S. presidents, was a state and national leader in assisting those with vision loss. In 1990, the American Foundation for the Blind awarded Wedewer the Migel Medal, the highest award for serving those with vision loss. Wedewer was badly wounded in combat during World War II while serving as an infantryman with the 99th Infantry Division, resulting in his being a double-amputee with total vision loss. He and his wife later moved to Florida where Wedewer eventually became the Director of the Florida Division of Blind Services in 1974 and served until his retirement in 1989.
As the director, Wedewer was a transformative leader in improving the ability of those with vision loss in Florida, and nationwide, to access social services, training, and employment. Among his many accomplishments as director, Wedewer co-founded the Conklin Davis Center for the Visually Impaired in Daytona Beach, Florida, pioneered a breakthrough claims representative training program with the Social Security Administration, and created a highly successful public-private partnership with the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind to provide regional services to those with vision loss. In 1994, Wedewer was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, and he was later appointed by Florida Governor Lawton Chiles to the Florida State Commission on Transportation for the Disadvantaged.
In addition to his numerous other awards, in 2002, Wedewer was inducted by the American Printing House for the Blind into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. For his World War II service, including combat in the Battle of the Bulge, Wedewer was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Heart medals, and earned the Expert Infantryman Badge and Combat Infantryman Badge. Wedewer also received the European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign Ribbon with one battle star, American Theatre Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. Don enjoyed revelry with family and friends, a good bourbon and cigar, fishing, reading everything from religious texts to murder mysteries, and the Miami Dolphins.
Wedewer is survived by his wife of seventy-one years, Marabeth, a daughter and four sons, and seven grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Stuhr Funeral Home, Charleston, South Carolina, and Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, Tallahassee, Florida.
Published by Charleston Post & Courier from Feb. 8 to Feb. 10, 2022.
Revised for blog format.
New Year, Same Goal – To Serve You!
The first of the year always feels like a fresh start. People are settling back into their work routines, taking down their holiday decorations, and writing out their New Year resolutions. We want to join in, too! Our main focus every year is always to support our clients and the blind and visually impaired community in the best way possible.
On top of that, this year we plan to:
- Increase engagement and interactions with our amazing clients and community (That’s you!).
- Create virtual and [safe] in person events that increase awareness and educate people on the blind and visually impaired community (What kind of events would you like to see from us this year? Email your ideas to email@example.com).
- Make sure everyone eligible takes advantage of our resources and programs like our Braille & Talking Book Library, Business Enterprise Program and Rehabilitation Center!