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Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020!

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Did you know…

that 70% of the web is inaccessible to people who are blind or visually impaired?

“Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential.”

~Debra Ruh, Ruh Global Impact

Today May 21st, 2020 marks the 9th annual celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles-based web developer, Joe Devon, and Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto. This accessibility holiday is a global event that helps drive awareness for those who are new to accessibility.*

*Source:

Deque Systems

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Black text on a teal square superimposed on a white background.

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Being Deaf-Blind During COVID-19

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Editor’s Note:

Here at Bold Blind Beauty our mission to “Improve humanity by changing the way we perceive one another” begins with empathy. Our values rest on the four pillars of P.I.E.R. (Passion, Inclusion, Equity, and Respect). We are passionate about breaking barriers, embracing inclusion, seeing people as individuals, with huge doses of respect. The awesomeness of our world is knowing each of us is unique and our journey through life differs from person to person.

Today, we are pleased to share with you an article written by Casandra Xavier. Casandra will share her perspective on living through the COVID-19 pandemic as a person who is DeafBlind. ~Steph

Being Deaf-Blind During COVID-19

By: Casandra Xavier April 17, 2020

There are going to be challenges for the DeafBlind when it comes to touching objects and people during this pandemic which will feed into additional isolation. Most DeafBlind people experience variations of deafness and blindness. For those who rely completely on touch of persons or things, it would be highly recommended that they keep their hands cleaned and protected at all times as well as their faces. If that is not possible, they would have to avoid people at all costs. When it comes to handling objects; it’s going to be another process of making sure they are able to avoid cross-contamination. I do not believe we would be able to take the new limits of isolation very well. It’s bad enough that we are already isolated within our own DeafBlindness even in large crowds. Some folks are already used to being completely alone while others would have no choice but to adjust. 

In my experience as a 30yr old Deaf-Blind woman living in Boston, MA, I would not be severely impacted by the new limits of not being able to touch people or objects. I have some vision and hearing remaining and I am used to being forced to navigate around barriers in life. I’ve been fortunate with the ability to find ways around complications as best as possible. If I cannot touch someone for the use of ASL (American Sign Language), I would be able to use “close vision signing” in good lighting. If I cannot touch an object, I would protect my hands with disposable gloves. The coronavirus only forces me to tap into my creative ways for avoiding problems in the long-run. I use various sources of assistive technology for distanced communication. When I want to track my stops on the buses before the outbreak, I would use my braille display with a stop tracking app. The app tracks all stops and routes in real-time as we move. I am able to keep the braille on hand and follow as everything moves. Technology for distanced communication is certainly going to replace touching people and objects for the remainder of this virus and beyond. 

If a DeafBlind person caught COVID 19 and needed to seek medical attention, there is a high chance that there would be a massive communication barrier. All medical staff would have their faces covered by masks and most DeafBlind people read lips if hearing voices are difficult. If someone still has hearing and uses amplification devices, it would be best for medical staff to speak louder and clearly if an interpreter is not going to be available. Medical treatment would be critically slower for all parties.  

As far as programs to assist the DeafBlind, there is a nationwide equipment distribution program known as “ICC” which stands for “ICanConnect” for the DeafBlind. ICC is covered by the FCC which allows anyone living with blindness and deafness to receive distanced communication electronics such as phones and computers and such to communicate with anyone they wish.  

If a deafblind individual needed to visit the hospital for any reason and communication is severely limited, there may be a few workarounds. There are a few apps that are accessible to those who use braille devices. The first app is called, “Ava” and it is a transcription app that translates spoken English into a written format which can be used with a braille display. Ava can be used on both iOS and Android devices. The second app is called, “BuzzCards” from Sorenson VRS for iOS and Android. BuzzCards is basically a communication app that can be used to request or communicate. I use all of the above for different situations. 

I am an assistive technology trainer for the blind and visually impaired in Boston and this pandemic has side-swiped my ability to teach anyone face to face. I currently have to train my students remotely and that is a longer process for both me and my students. I communicate with a variation of methods. I use American Sign Language as well as voice. I read braille and blindness-related technologies. I use a Bluetooth hearing aid that is able to connect to my iPhone for streaming media if needed. I used to be able to use SSPs (Support Service Providers) and ASL interpreters for organized events but I cannot do that anymore because of COVID-19. I now have to strategize around the complete lack of help, completing outdoor tasks take much longer. If I cannot find what I am looking for, I end up going home without it. I leave because I am afraid of someone coming near and possibly spreading the Coronavirus to me without knowing. 

My main concern for the DeafBlind people who end up needing medical attention would be the ability to communicate properly with the medical staff. I fear that the medical staff would not know the best practices for helping DeafBlind. Their faces are covered in masks and they are not able to touch the patient or their electronics to relay any communication back and forth.

It’s hard enough helping someone who is either deaf or blind. If you are Deaf, there may not be an interpreter available or the CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services may not work properly. If it is a blind person who ends up in the hospital, most staff are strangely uncomfortable with the thought of helping a blind person. The biggest challenge is helping someone who has a combination of blindness and deafness. Honestly, I hope I would not have to visit the hospital because of COVID 19 or during the pandemic. I sincerely hope no DeafBlind person would have to be in the medical facility during this disaster at all.

Final Commentary

Understanding that each of our life’s experiences can be vastly different from another brings us closer to empathy. Remaining open and curious to the idea that every person is unique helps us to be more compassionate with others. This means letting go of our preconceived ideas and respecting differences.

During this unprecedented time, have you considered the challenges people with disabilities might encounter?

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The image is a slip of paper stuck on a corkboard that says “Care = Empathy.” 

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Cultivating Resilience Practice 2: Self-Compassion

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Editor’s Note:

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’ new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph

Practice Two:  Self Compassion 

As we start week two of cultivating our resilience, let’s check in from last week. How was the experience of giving yourself permission to feel? Letting ourselves feel is an act of strength, courage, and authenticity.  Noticing, Naming, and Accepting our Feelings is Practice One.  

Now, take a pause. With these feelings, how are you talking to yourself? Is what you are saying to yourself helpful or hurtful? If you are beating up on yourself, this is hurtful and takes our pain/challenges to suffering. Notice your thoughts. If it is helpful and compassionate to yourself, you are practicing self-compassion our second practice in cultivating our resilience.  

What is self-compassion? 

It is bearing witness to your own pain and suffering and responding with love and kindness as you would to a friend.

~Kristen Neff

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. 

~Jack Kornfield

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within. 

~John O Donahue

Self-compassion could be offering a compassionate phrase to yourself when you are hurting. It can be a soothing touch and acknowledging your pain. Combining these two might look like: recognizing the hurt then acknowledging it with a touch, perhaps your hand to your heart, and a phrase: Oh that hurts – may I feel comfort at this time. 

This week take some time to notice how you are talking to yourself. Practice giving yourself permission to feel and then respond with encouraging words. What’s a compassionate phrase you might use when you find yourself in a difficult situation?  Some examples: 

  • May I feel safe May I accept myself
  • May I feel at ease May I find peace 
  • May I believe in myself May I feel love
  • May I be kind to myself May I feel enough 

A soothing touch might be your hand on your heart, on your shoulder, the butterfly gesture (hands crisscrossed across your heart and tapping on your shoulders), hands clasped together, or the yoga child post can be a calming meditative pose. See what feels right to you.  

Wisdom On Self-Compassion

We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages; that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival. 

~Joan Halifax

“Some people worry that self-compassion will close them off from other people by making them selfish and self-centered. The reverse is actually the case – the more open-hearted we are with ourselves, the closer we feel toward the rest of life. Self-compassion is the foundation for kindness toward others. When we’re more accepting of our own, we become more accepting of others.  Full acceptance of courses, moment to moment makes it easier to adapt and change in the direction we’d like to go.“  

Christopher Germer, Self Compassion, and Mindfulness

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it. 

~Mother Theresa

Self-Nourishment

Nurturing Ourselves in five areas: social, spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental. What nourishes you in each of these areas? Take note and intentionally practice nurturing. For me, a nurturing practice is tandem cycling both physically and emotionally. It fills me physically to be moving my body and connecting with my husband in this way emotionally is nourishing.   This week as you cultivate resilience:

  • Practice one: Continue to give yourself permission to feel
  • Practice two:  Practice self compassion and self-care

Resources for more study on this topic:

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Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Small Business Owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc, and founder of the Daring to Own Your Story ™ Retreats. She is also the author of Look up, move forward – her memoir of Losing her eyesight and finding her vision.  

You can follow her at:

Workbook: 

Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal will be out Fall 2020. Email Becky at becky.lpc@gmail.com to be on the waiting list or preorder.

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  • Header: Two hands are shaped like a heart are framing a golden sunset.
  • Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab. 
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Monthly Beauty | Tekesha Saffold

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Meet The Faces of Bold Blind Beautiful & Accomplished Women

Representation Matters! Bold Blind Beauty believes that “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” Today’s Cover Model, Tekesha Saffold, is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Palm Beach and she also serves as a Consumer Advocate and Consultant of the Palm Beaches. 

Following is personal and empowering insight from Tekesha.

“I am as strong as cloth with determination and dignity; I can laugh at the future to come because I am optimistic. I speak with wisdom because of my challenges, I have survived thus far, and positive affirmations of myself is always on my tongue. Because I have faith in my creator, I believe that all things are possible and I am a living testimony of blessings.”

~Tekesha Saffold

Tekesha’s Social Media Platforms:

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Beyond Sight Magazine Cover – Tekesha is a statuesque beauty formally dressed in an off the shoulder light-colored gown with a crystal-embellished waistline. She is smiling while holding a bouquet of flowers in the crook of her right arm while her left hand is on her hip. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 3 lines of white text to the right of Tekesha’s photo that says “Tekesha Saffold Bold and Beautiful .” In the bottom right corner is a yellow circle with an illustration of Abby looking at a reflection of herself in a standing mirror. She has on a teal dress and a white hat with a black band. In her right hand is her white cane. And of course, she’s sporting her signature explosive hairstyle (peeping from under her hat in the back), and “Monthly Beauties” is in yellow text under the circle.