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!

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.

Donations through Multi-Media

As a part of our Foundation’s efforts to grow in social reach and awareness, we have been searching through various marketing tools and companies to find our best fit.  And what have we discovered?  That there are philanthropists–companies and individuals–who give their resources, time, and energy toward these specific services for non-profits like us!  
Our first marketing and branding find in the fall of 2012, was with the Causality Group based out of San Antonio, TX.  With little experience in grant writing, we applied for a matching grant from Causality, the funds from which we hoped to expand our web presence as well as update our printed, collateral materials.  And we were successful!  After being given this opportunity by and with Causality, we have put together materials for our new website (coming soon!) as well as think in a broader scope of how our Foundation can move forward.  With the help of Causality’s multi-media expertise, we can now organize a sustainable trajectory for our non-profit thereby expanding our resources, especially online.
Another mult-media driven individual to whom we owe much appreciation, is Drew Sanders from Drew Sanders Media.  In hearing about our cause, community involvement, and attempts to cultivate a wider contiguity, specifically within the realms of media, Drew offered his skills in videography and blogging–not to mention his time–for our benefit.  He is currently editing two video projects for the Foundation–one of which will be featured on the aforementioned updated website!–which were shot on site at Mississippi Industries for the Blind.
Drew and Employee of the Year, Sandra Williams, preparing for her on-screen interview for last week’s filming.
So if you’re ever wondering how you can help our non-profit–SHARE.  Retweet.  #FF.  Any positive online exposure that you can give us through your own social media presence–be it e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, a personal blog, whatever–heightens the community’s awareness of our services and programs.