During this month’s Low Vision Support Group which was held this past Tuesday at Mississippi Industries for the Blind, we were introduced to a new grant program called iCanConnect.  This funding program, found here at iCanConnect.org, gives people with hearing and visual impairments the opportunity to apply for assistive technology.


Participants at our Low Vision Support Group enjoy their refreshments while Kathy Foster of Low Vision Etc. poses for the camera!

According to the website, “the goal of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) [which funds iCanConnect] is to ensure that every person with combined hearing and vision loss has access to modern telecommunication tools and the training necessary to use them, granting every individual the opportunity to interact with the world as an involved, contributing member of society.”  Thus, each state receives funds from this program and is able to distribute computers, braille devices, signalers, and other technologies on a case-by-case basis.

Assistive technology, such as this Pebble HD, magnifies and enhances text for visually impaired individuals.

Assistive technology, such as this Pebble HD, magnifies and enhances text for visually impaired individuals.

If you live in Mississippi and would like to find out if you qualify for this assistive technologies grant, please contact the state’s iCanConnect partner, The Arc of Mississippi.

As always, a HUGE thanks to Kathy Foster & Low Vision Etc. for their monthly contributions to our support group.  Next month’s meeting will be held on the 17th of September–hope to see you there!

Write-Up from Mississippi Department of Employment Services on MIB’s External Employment Program

Big Rock Cafe Youth Workers Graduate

Georgia Gowdy and Tichina Johnson, student workers in our MDES state office snack shop, were recently members of the 2013 graduating class at the Mississippi School for the Blind.  The two will be assisting Terry Lowery and Daniel Bennett this summer in the Big Rock Cafe at the state office.

Georgia, better known as Peaches, is a 21 year old from Byram who dreams of becoming a culinary artist.  she plans to attend Hinds Community College Raymond Campus in the fall.  After graduation from Hinds, she plans to attend Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Atlanta or Texas.  Her dream is to become a topnotch chef and run her own snack bars.  At MDES, Georgia runs the cash register, helps keep the dining area clean, and serves and assists the customers.

Tichina, known as Shina, is an 18 year-old native of Lexington and aspires to be a Music Engineer.  She plans to attend and graduate from Hinds in Raymond and Jackson State University.  She loves mixing rap music and making tracks that can be identified by ear.  Tichina stocks condiments and soft drinks, and makes sure everything is clean and running smoothly in the dining area.

Georgia and Tichina have received training and placement assistance from the Addie McBryde Rehabilitation Center for the Blind for the past two years.

Assistance is donated from the Mississippi Industries for the Blind for transportation and evaluation and the Business Enterprise Program which provides summer work for these students,’ said Rosie Gibson, Director at the McByde Center. These programs help us train and place eight legally or totally blind students each summer in positions to help them become successful, productive citizens.

Georgia and Tichina will work in the Big Rock Cafe from 8 a.m. till noon Monday through Friday this summer.

Wagner-O’Day Act Celebrates 75 Years!

Happy 75 years to all National Industries for the Blind affiliates and other Wagner-O’Day Act adherents!  Check out NIB’s timeline of key milestones below to see how Mississippi Industries for the Blind and other agencies like MIB have gotten where they are today!

  • 1930s: Leaders in the blindness community urge Congress to open up government markets to nonprofit agencies that produce products made by people who are blind.
  • 1938: On June 25, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Wagner-O’Day Act into law. Named after its co-sponsors, Senator Robert F. Wagner and Congresswoman Caroline O’Day, the Act directs government agencies to give priority, when purchasing products, to nonprofits that employ people who are blind.
  • 1938: On August 10, NIB is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) private, nonprofit corporation by the community-based nonprofits participating in the program.
  • 1952: NIB launches SKILCRAFT®, a unifying brand name for quality products made by people who are blind.
  • 1971: Senator Jacob K. Javits sponsors legislation adding the purchase of services and including agencies serving people with severe disabilities to the original Wagner-O’Day Act. The legislation becomes known as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act.
  • 2007: The Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled changes the operating name of the program to the AbilityOne Program.
  • 2013: The AbilityOne Program and NIB celebrate their 75 year anniversary.

Visit NIB’s 75th anniversary micro site for more historical milestones and events: www.NIB75Years.org.