We’re Zooming Now

Zoom Meetings! The Center is making it easier for you to attend our Lunch & Learn events from the comfort of your home. In the upcoming months, we’re lining up a lineup of highly informative speakers from the blind community. There’s a wealth of knowledge to glean from them, and you’ll have the chance to pose questions during these sessions. Recognizing transportation as a significant challenge for many of our members, we’re extending the option to dial in or join via Zoom for these meetings. Invitations are sent via email, containing either a Zoom link or a dial-in number. Whether you’re unable to join us in person or prefer the convenience of Zoom, please consider joining our next Lunch & Learn session.

The Art of Painting by Touch

The craft session this month offered a truly special experience for everyone involved. Colleen Hains collaborated with the Center to host this workshop as part of a grant project she was overseeing. Each participant received a vision-impaired painting kit, which included an array of tactile materials like buttons, cotton, wood, and plastic. Utilizing these materials, artists crafted their unique scenes and then applied paint to bring their visions to life.

Martina creating her painting

Lunch & Learn with CT-NFB

Lunch & Learn with NFB attendees at Thrive 55+

Due to popularity of this Lunch & Learn with CT National Federation for the Blind, we moved to a larger venue. Thrive55+ in Groton kindly provided space. Fifteen individuals were present, including six representatives from NFB and three joining via Zoom.

NFB provided insights into their diverse range of offerings, spanning scholarships, technology grants, and membership fees. They also highlighted their prominent fundraising event, the Birdies for Charity Fundraiser, affiliated with the Travelers Golf Tournament in Hartford, CT. We plan to continue networking and resource sharing with CT-NFB.

Lunch was served at the Thrive 55 Cafe, featuring a variety of deli sandwiches and wraps, salads, and desserts for everyone to enjoy.

Lunch & Learn with CT Library Accessible Books

Matt Geeza, Director of CT Library Accessible Books (CT-LAB), gave an excellent presentation on their services for individuals who are blind, have low vision, are print-challenged, or have physical disabilities, covering various reading aids like digital readers, the BARD app, and Braille books—all free with an approved application. This marked the Center’s first Zoom Lunch & Learn, attended by 16 people, with a lunch catered by Taqueria Cinco featuring tacos, quesadillas, and a birthday cake by Martina.

For more information, contact CT-LAB at 860-702-2220, or ask Tammy or Wendy. Interested in audiobooks? Try them for free, delivered via US Mail.

We Went Bowling!

Members and Friends Bowling at The Norwich Bowling Alley

15 members, family, and friends had a ball at the Norwich Bowling Alley last month. The bowling alley is not ADA-accessible but we managed. After we all bowled 2 games, we had lunch at 36 Town Grill in Norwich. Jim Harmon popped in for a visit while he was up from Florida.

We’re Zooming Now

Our Lunch & Learn gatherings are becoming increasingly popular (and well-attended!) We’ve expanded to include Zoom alongside in-person attendance at the Center. This ensures accessibility for those unable to attend physically or who prefer the comfort of their own home. Through Zoom, you can engage by asking questions and sharing comments, just like you would in person.

Zoom participation is simple! Before the Lunch & Learn session, check your email. Just click the link provided and follow the instructions.

Zooming at the Center

News From the Mac D Support Group

At April’s meeting, eleven people were present at the Center, with one participant joining via phone. Additionally, Zoom attendance was introduced for a trial run. We will keep using Zoom to enable those who cannot attend in person to participate in the support group.

The meeting included discussions on using the Podcast App and updates to the Seeing AI App. The session covered how to open the app, browse preset podcasts, search for podcasts, and use the library to save them. For the Seeing AI App, a new feature was introduced that allows users to execute commands via Siri, making the app fully functional with voice commands. Although the Seeing AI app has helped read short texts, documents, product descriptions, and currency values, using the commands has been challenging for those with low vision. With the new update, once configured in the settings, users can operate Seeing AI and its camera functions simply by saying commands like “Recognize Currency.” For instance, by pointing the camera at a bill and saying “Recognize Currency,” Siri will analyze and respond, e.g., “Ten Dollars.”

This group meets at the Center on the first Wednesday of the month and is open to the public.

Valentine Gnomes Craft Workshop

Crafters show off their Valentine gnomes

A group of members had a delightful time creating charming pink gnomes to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Following their crafting session, they mingled and enjoyed their lunches together.

Check out Board Member Mike Coughlin’s Podcast

Last fall, Mike Coughlin read a wonderful book entitled Thunder Dog: The True Story of A Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust by Michael Hingson. The book chronicles Michael’s life as a person, blind from birth, who lived in the sighted world, earned several degrees in physics and had a rewarding career. Led by his guide dog Roselle, he escaped from the 78th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 911. He is now a strong advocate for the disabled and a motivational speaker.

Mike Coughlin, Center of the Blind board member and leader of the Macular Degeneration Support Group, has been legally blind since age 7 and found many similarities with Hingson. An e-mail exchange with the author led to the production of a podcast. The podcast explores similarities in their lives and the obstacles they have overcome in spite of their disabilities. The podcast called Unstoppable Mindset by Michael Hingson is now available. Be sure to checkout this inspirational story!

Click here to listen to Mike Coughlin’s podcast

Click here to listen to more episodes of Unstoppable Mindset by Michael Hingson.

Lunch & Learn with Lions Low Vision Center

Twenty-one members and guests recently had the pleasure of meeting guest speaker, Steve Martin to hear about the services that are available to people who are dealing with low vision. You do not have to be legally blind to request the services of the Lions Low Vision Center. There is an application to be filled out by your eye doctor and an appointment set up after your completed application is received. For more info, contact the Center of the Blind at 860-447-2048.