Getting starting with running: Insights from a blind runner.

Woman running out of the frame on sidewalk alongside brightly colored flowers on a sunny day.

Today is National Running Day! Did you lace up your shoes?  For those of us who are blind, getting out for a run can be a challenge.  Being a runner for almost 29 years, I thought I would share some tips on getting started with running, and also how a blind person can get some running in, even if they can’t see what is directly in front of them. 

Getting Started:

  1.  In the beginning, run at 60% of your maximum speed.  A good way to check on the pace is if you are able to have a conversation while you are running.  Yes, you can and should be breathing a little heavier, as long as you are able to get words out and hold a conversation.
  2. Build up to 20 minutes at the same pace; better to start slow and feel comfortable than to start off like a rocket. Distance is not as important as time when you are new to running.
  3.  Be consistent with your cardio.  Running every other day is better than twice a week.  Not only will your lungs appreciate the consistency, but so will your bones, joints and muscles.
  4.  Stretch for 5-10 minutes after your run.  The best stretching takes place after your muscles are warmed up.  If you are tired on your run, use a break to stretch for a couple minutes after 10 minutes of running and end your workout with a post run stretch.
  5.  Increase your run by 10%-25% as you get more comfortable with the distance. 

Options for those who are blind to get out and run are at times dependent on machines and volunteer guides.  If you have enough functional vision to get out and run on your own, I recommend you find a track and do laps.  Most tracks are a quarter mile to a lap.  If you have a treadmill, or access to a tread mill, put braille marks for speed, up and down, miles per hour, start and stop so you can navigate.  Of course this is easier to do at home, but if you belong to a gym, ask them if you can put braille labels on their treadmill.  I have found that most people that work in gyms are understanding and want to be helpful and encouraging.  Worse case scenario, ask them to start the machine for you and increase the speed to where you want to be running at.  Make sure you know where the stop button is or the emergency button is so you finish when you want to finish.  While most treadmills are touch screens, the emergency buttons are not, it is usually a plastic key that is magnetically attached to the treadmill.  Once you pick it up, it stops the treadmill. 

The best place to run is outside!  You can enjoy the weather and make new friends with your volunteer guides.  Reach out to your friends and network to find out if there are any runners among them.  Check out unitedinstride.com, which is a web site that allows you to search for people who are interested in volunteering as guides and will try to match you in your city.  Reach out to your local running club and let them know what your goals are and what type of help that you need.

Over the years, I have built up a roster of people that I train with, so I have been able to develop a schedule for who I run with on what day of the week.  It’s a great way to build up a routine and stay on track, it keeps my guides on schedule too!

I have benefited a lot from running.  Not only has it been a competitive outlet for me, it has been a great way for me to challenge myself, make lifelong friendships and as a way to improve my health. 

Happy running!  Remember, there are more people who are willing to be guides than there are blind runners! 

Written by Joe Quintanilla, Vice President of Development and Major Gifts at National Braille Press and runner extraordinaire.  

Joe ran the Boston marathon in 1994 and made the US Paralympic marathon team for the 1996 games in Atlanta, GA. Joe has been instrumental in establishing running-based fundraising here at National Braille Press.  Just this year, NBP runners have raised over $37,000. If you are interested in 2020 opportunities to run for NBP, sign up for our News and Events Email List.

8 Years of GAAD and 35 Years of Technology Guides

Today is the 8th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)!  The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access and inclusion for the more than one billion people on the planet with different disabilities.

Being a publisher of assistive technology guides for blind and visually impaired users written by blind and visually impaired authors, GAAD is a big deal to us.  Providing access to information is at the heart of National Braille Press’ mission, and these guides are an important part of that mission.  It turns out, they have been for a while.

2 NBP Published technology guides each with an illustration of a 1980's personal computer.
From the NBP Archive: copies of “The Second Beginners Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visual Impaired” and “Add-Ons, The Ultimate Guide to Peripherals for the Blind Computer User.”  

 In 1984, National Braille Press published The Beginners Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visually Impaired.   Once available in print, braille and cassette, this guide, and the subsequent Second Beginners Guide (1987), takes the reader through the speech software programs available for IBM and Apple computers.

Flash forward 35 years. We’ve replaced the cassettes with eBraille formats, and are more committed than ever to publishing timely guides written by blind assistive technology experts for blind and visually impaired users.  With topics covering everything from IOS to the Google Suite and dating apps, our goal is to provide instructional and practical information that helps blind and visually impaired consumers become proficient users of some of the most popular technologies and devices that support our modern lives.

Click here to check out the available technology titles in our bookstore.

To learn more about GAAD and how you can join the conversation click this link.

Here’s the Team NBP Boston Marathon recap.

Erin Connors hugging NBP's VP of Development, Joe Quintanilla at mile 24 of the Boston Marathon.
Erin Connors making a quick stop at mile 24 to give NBP’s Joe Quintanilla a hug.

They trained. They ran. They conquered.

Another Boston Marathon is in the books, and we couldn’t be prouder of the two National Braille Press runners. Collectively these two athletes have raised over $27,000 for braille literacy. 

Boston resident, Erin Connors, signed up to run for team NBP back in 2013, and was stopped by the SWAT team with a half mile to go after the bombing.  On Monday, she came back to cross the finish line, despite waking up with the flu that morning.  Not only did she complete the marathon this year, she has set out to beat the current NBP Boston Marathon runner fundraising record of $18,600!

With Boston as the final race needed to complete each of the Worlds Marathon Majors, William Flynn finished with his best time yet.  William has run the Chicago, New York, Berlin, Tokyo and London Marathons.  With Boston checked off the list, he is one of handful of people in the world to complete all six.  Just as thrilling as that accomplishment is, this son of a braille transcriber is equally thrilled to have raised more than $10,000 so that more blind children have books to read!

William Flynn smiling for the camera at mile 24 during the 2019 Boston Marathon
William Flynn smiling for the camera at mile 24 during the Boston Marathon.

We are so grateful to these two individuals, who like us, believe that blind children and adults should have access to the printed word.

We’d also like to thank the John Hancock Non-Profit Program for providing National Braille Press with their bib numbers and our team sponsors, Bellwether Edge, Gainz Bakery Cafe and Two Little Owls Schoolhouse.

If you’d like to donate to team NBP, click this link:  http://bit.ly/2Xmm221

To return to the National Braille Press homepage click here

Announcing the 2019 Touch of Genius Prize Winners

There are two Touch of Genius Prize winners this year!

Canute – Bristol Braille Technologies – won $5000
The Canute is a 360 cell braille display, with 9 rows of 40 cells developed by Bristol Braille Technologies in the UK. The Canute will be the first affordable multi-line display on the market. Targeted toward education settings and libraries, and looking toward areas of math, science, coding and music, the Canute has endured many iterations and been a cooperative experience between braille readers across the world. This “kindle for the blind” is surely be an innovative game-changer and will only push forward braille literacy. 
http://www.bristolbraille.co.uk/

Braille Sheets – ObjectiveEd– won $5000
Braille Sheets is an interactive app to help children learn to read braille developed by ObjectiveEd. ObjectiveEd’s mission is to help children with visual impairments maximize educational results. The app makes it easy to enter programs/lessons for students, see lessons from other teachers, and pair with an actual braille sheet where the student is tactile-y learning letters and words as they are getting real-time audio feedback. A collection of lessons and games, Braille Sheets will be a great supplement for teachers and an easy, affordable way to help students learn braille and become literate. 
https://www.objectiveed.com/

NBP awarded the Touch of Genius prize to the winners at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference on Wednesday, March 17th.

Image on left: Brian MacDonald (NBP) with Marty Shutz of ObjectiveEd at TOG reception. Image on right: MacDonald with Ed Rogers of Bristol Braille at TOG reception.

The Touch of Genius Prize is made possible by the support of the Gibney Family Foundation! Thank you!

Learn More about touch of genius prize here
National Braille Press Logo (take me back to nbp.org)
Take me back to nbp.org!



The Anatomy of a Free ReadBooks! Bag

by Kesel Wilson, Editor and Programs Manager

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
―Frederick Douglass

How often do you come across something that is both free and of tremendous value? How often does everything you need to begin a challenging journey come in a single free bag? How often do you find resources created specifically for you by an organization with 90 years of experience? If you answered “Not often” to any of these questions, you probably aren’t aware of our ReadBooks! childrens’ braille literacy program.

Since we began this program in 2003, we have sent free bags of beginning braille materials to over 17,000 parents and teachers of the blind and visually impaired all across the United States and Canada. We believe passionately that literacy is the foundation of education, independence, self-expression, privacy, lifelong learning, and success in the workplace. Our ReadBooks! bags are designed to give caregivers and teachers the knowledge and resources needed to start children on a path of early braille literacy and they are 100% free. Let me take you on a quick tour of the bags and their contents:

We have 3 different bags, for 3 different age levels, and the bags come in both English and Spanish versions:

  • A red bag is for ages 0 to 3;
  • A blue bag is for ages 4 to 5;
  • And a green bag is for ages 6 to 7.

IMG_4650.JPG

Blue ReadBooks! bag with below contents inside

Every bag has:

  • A welcome letter from our president, Brian Mac Donald
  • An order form for a free book for called “Just Enough to Know Better.” This book will help you learn “just enough” braille to help your child learn it too.
  • A sign-up sheet for our Children’s Braille Book Club—a low cost subscription program featuring a new print/braille book every month.
  • A flyer about our Great Expectations program—a program that brings picture books to life for blind children with picture descriptions and free online activities.
  • Our most recent catalog, so you can be up to date on all of our newest braille books.
  • A braille alphabet card, so you can learn the braille symbol for each letter of the alphabet.
  • A Happy Birthday coupon, which can be redeemed for a free braille children’s book.
  • A caravan block, which is a fun, tactile block for practicing your braille alphabet.
  • A “Because Books Matter” pamphlet to help you understand why braille is so important to literacy and independence.
  • A “Because Pictures Matter” pamphlet which explains how and why to introduce your child to tactile graphics.

The other items in the bag vary according to the age level of the bag, but each bag has:

  • A print/braille picture book for practicing beginning reading with braille;
  • A tactile graphic for exploring non-textual information through touch;
  • And a tactile manipulative, such as a sensory ball or Wikki Stix—to experiment with tactile play.

I encourage you to take advantage of this free resource! You can order your bags directly from our website at https://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/programs/readbooks/readbooks.html