Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Textured Braille Wall Tags - O&M idea

Many times we found Madilyn getting turned around and confused about where she was in the house. The walls all feel the same and she could go for quite a few steps before getting to a corner or piece of furniture to help her identify her location. To break up the long sections of wall and mark the places where she needed to remember to let go trailing the wall and take a few steps in the other direction, we put textured and braille tags on the walls as a reminder. Not only did they help her to identify her location, but they encouraged her to reach out and explore! We saw instant progress being made in her trailing and walking skills, independently working to get to where she wanted to go! I definitely encourage you to take a few minutes and consider using the wall tags in your home, and even your child's school. It is easy and fun for all kids!

Click here to view the Wall Tags Activity Plan (pdf)
Use two different textures to show where two different rooms are separated but there is not a wall or door.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

UPDATE! Mission: Require Audio Description

Yay! I contacted another theater, The Rave Motion Pictures - Colonel Glenn 18, in Little Rock to request they install a system for audio description services in their theater. Keep reading for their encouraging response!

<<Note: I sent The Rave the same general email given in the first post regarding this Mission!>>

Hello Mrs. Kleck,
It is rather interesting that you sent your email when you did.  I had been doing some research and started asking about the possibility of us getting some applicable systems within the last 2 weeks.  The systems I am most interested in are the Captiview and the Fidelio from Doremi (brochures are attached).  I can go into specifics as to why I would prefer these systems over mopix, but most revolve around the fact that these systems have come about since the "digital revolution" where mopix is (was) a film system that can be converted to work on a digital system.  At this point I have no actual news other than that we have started having discussions and are following a process that can take some time.  I truly hope it doesn't take long, but we are still very early in the process (we haven't even recieved pricing).  I truly believe we need these systems and will continue to follow up until I have a definitive answer.  I would like to keep your email address so that when I get an answer I can follow back up with you.  Also, if we are able to aquire these systems I will need some help getting the word out and you seem like you could (and would) help me with that.  Please let me know if you have any questions I will do my best to answer them.
<name omitted for privacy>general managerravecinemas | colonel glenn 18
***My happy reply***

 Dear <general manager>,
Thank you so much for your prompt and encouraging reply! As my family was just at your theater yesterday to watch the new Chipmunk's movie. We took my daughter but it was hard for her to follow the beginning of the story since there was not audio description. I closed my eyes too, and realized there was no way she could understand without a verbal description of the images. We would really appreciate a serious effort into bringing the service to your theater.
I looked up the Fidelio and Doremi website information, as I was not familiar with their system. I do like that their system uses wired headsets that will not have an RF signal so close to your head. I will definitely be willing to help spread the word in the community, as well as nationally, when you have a system installed. Please keep me updated on the progress. My daughter is looking forward to 'seeing' the new movies in the future! Your action is definitely appreciated!

 So, that is the last we've heard from the manager at The Rave, but I'll definitely be following up with him very soon. I'm arranging a meeting with the local blind organizations in the central Arkansas area to help encourage the theater to go ahead with their idea, and to show the theater just how many people are in need of the service and how many more will back them up! Even if you are not visually impaired or do not even know a blind person, you can still help advocate by reinforcing the need for and equality of accessibility in public areas AND privately owned companies. The voices of MANY is much louder and more easily heard!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mission: Install DVS audio description services in at least one theater in Little Rock!

Most of you know by now what it audio description for the blind is, but you may not know that it can be very hard to get others, specifically movie theaters, to understand the need for this service. I recently asked our local theater to install DVS MoPix systems for my daughter and the many other blind population of the Little Rock area. However, I never heard back from the local staff manager on my first attempt. I then wrote their corporate office and to my surprise, got an answer! 

Here is the first email I wrote to the local theater address after never getting thru to a manager on the phone.

Dear Chenal 9 Imax Theatre,
My family and I frequently attend your theater to see all the latest movies, however my daughter Madilyn, age 6, is completely blind and is unable to get the full experience at your facility. Could you please install the MoPix DVS system to enable blind movie goers to enjoy your theater as much as my husband and I do. We would be more than happy to help raise awareness of the cause and even raise funds to get the technology installed in Little Rock. With the Arkansas School for the Blind also located in Little Rock, as well as World Services for the Blind and Lighthouse for the Blind, all in Little Rock, I'm sure we could make this happen.
I would love to talk more about the possibility with you. You can also check out WGBH MoPix online at http://ncam.wgbh.org/mopix/ to learn more about it, including costs, etc. Thank you for your kind consideration.
Hillary Welch Kleck(contact info removed for privacy)
Arkansas NAPVI, President
Sensory Sun Educational Technologies, Ownerhttp://sensorysun.blogspot.com *******
After no reply I sent added this to the beginning of the first message and emailed to their corporate headquarters:

----- Original Message -----From: Hillary KleckSent: 12/19/11 11:10 PMSubject: Described Audio Services
I recently contacted the theatre directly, but was disappointed to never hear anything in reply. I hope by contacting Corporate , I will get an enthusiastic reply! THanks!(copy of first message)
Here was their response. I've highlighted the statements that I thought were 'interesting':
From: <DTMOVIES email address>
Date: Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Subject: RE: Described Audio Services
To: Hillary Kleck

Dear Hillary,

Thank you for your emails to our website concerning the MoPix DVS system.  I apologize for the delay in response to your inquiry.

We very much appreciate your patronage at our Chenal location, and your interest in securing MoPix DVS for the theatre.  As someone with hearing disability due to childhood illness, I well understand the challenges and frustration of navigating a world that doesn't always accommodate impairments.  Your letter shows great dedication and commitment toward addressing the needs of not only your daughter, but to others with sight impairments and I admire your willingness to be a much needed advocate.  The new technologies that have been developed are exciting!  With the latest hearing devices for my ears and units at the theatres, it's only been in the past six months that I actually experienced a true audio experience at a movie, after a forty year career in theatres.

Upon being provided your letter for response, I checked out the website you provided.  Our company is currently involved in a major undertaking to update all of our theatres to digital, as well as working our way through several theatre sales.  While we do understand the need to address the movie going experience of all of our customers, especially those who would benefit from impairment assistance technology, we aren't currently in a position to devote the time and resources needed to investigate the systems available and how the equipment we have in place, and are working to put into place, will coordinate with the various systems.  We would ask your patience as we work through this, as we have "all hands on deck" to work through our current projects.  I am providing your letter, contact information and website information to the head of our projection so that he also has it in hand as we move forward with future technology improvements.

Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront and for your offer to be a resource of information and assistance to us.  Best wishes to you and your family for good health and happiness in 2012 -

(name removed for privacy)
Dickinson Theatres

To facilitate a prompt response and the tracking of this comment, please reply using the link provided below. (link removed for privacy)
As you can probably tell, I am more than disappointed in their response. I have contacted a variety of people regarding the "digital" issue to find out more details. The other theater in our area, US Breckenridge 12 by Regal Cinemas, to follow up on a lead that they already had the system installed. However, after speaking with a manager that sounded as though he had more important things to do than talk with me about it, they too are "trying to figure out what to do since they switched to digital."

Is it just me or does the fact that it is digital sound like it could only be good for the idea of advanced technology such as DVS? I'm a bit confused and more than frustrated, but I'll continue the mission, hoping to bring others in our area on board, as well as inspire uprisings in different cities as well! I would love to know if you are on the same mission, or need a little help with your requests. Everyone can join the CAUSE here http://www.causes.com/causes/645314-require-audio-description-for-the-blind-on-movies-and-at-theaters and advocate by emailing theater chains to tell them it is only fair for ALL to enjoy movies, not just the sighted. Closed caption services for the hearing impaired are fighting for their rights, too! Learn more on how to advocate on the MoPix website http://ncam.wgbh.org/mopix/#advocate.

Thank you! Follow our blog to keep updated on our mission!