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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Accessible Food Delivery Apps

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will share information about the ease of accessible food delivery apps and websites.

Why It Matters

Gone are the days when we are limited to a few pizza places that deliver via phone call. Gone also are the days when a person must have a car in order to get their favorite food to eat at home. Knowing about food delivery apps and websites is important because they are an accessible way for you to place orders and have them delivered right to your door! Perhaps no one wants to drive to pick up the food. Perhaps you are bored of the same options at the school dining hall. Perhaps you want to have a few friends over and enjoy some good cuisine. Whatever the case may be, food delivery apps and websites have emerged over the last few years, and they allow you to get food from restaurants nearby without worrying about traveling.

Examples of Food Delivery Apps and Websites

There are three main food delivery companies that you can either use via an app on your smartphone or via the company’s website:

Uber Eats

DoorDash

Grubhub

In addition, many restaurants now have their own websites on which you may place food orders. Often placing your order through the restaurant’s specific app or website can help cut down on cost.

Tips on Using Food Delivery Apps and Websites

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Information Resources Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Getting Food Package Information

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will discuss nonvisual ways of obtaining directions on food packages.

Introduction

Say goodbye to not knowing information on food packages! Whether you are looking for directions for a brownie mix, preparing a frozen pizza, or nutrition label details to keep yourself safe from any potential allergens, the Bridges Helpdesk is here to give you tools in your toolbox so that you can access any printed information via the method of your choosing.

Directions For Me

Directionsforme.org is a great tool to find accessible directions, nutrition information, ingredients, and sometimes allergy warnings quickly and easily. Just look up your brand and item and the website will have exactly what is written on the box in an accessible format! Use the search function or go to the categories page and you’ll find so much information!

Want to make Jiffy corn muffin mix? They have it! How about Stove Top stuffing? They have it! Your favorite frozen pizza? Choose from all of the well-known frozen pizza brands and you will be able to find the exact instructions to cook an easy dinner. Wanting to know exactly how much protein is in your favorite granola bars? How about the exact ingredients? You can view complete nutrition labels with ease on this handy website!

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is an artificial intelligence application that can identify text, currency, and colors for people who are blind/low vision. This app is available in 16 languages. It has the capacity to do many things, but we have identified two specific modes that are particularly helpful for reading food packages.

Seeing AI is available for free from the Apple App Store. However, at this time, Seeing AI is not available for use on Android devices.

Short Text Mode

This mode is extremely useful because it recognizes text without requiring the user to take a photograph. Simply open the app, make sure the “short text” mode is selected at the bottom of the screen, and point the camera where you think the text appears. As soon as the application detects text, it will begin reading. This means that you can aim the camera all around the food package until it starts reading the information you are looking for.

Document Mode

If you really want to zoom in on some text, you can use Seeing AI in document mode. The app will speak verbal directions to help you to get a clear picture. Once your camera is properly aligned, the app will automatically take the picture for you and then present it to you as a readable, accessible document on your phone’s screen.

Aira

Aira is a service-based smartphone app where you can call an agent in real-time to assist you with tasks in which visual information might be helpful. The call consists of an audio and visual component, similar to a Zoom or FaceTime call. Users often rely upon Aira agents to assist them in reading directions and/or nutrition labels on food packages, as well as getting critical information like best-by dates. There are paid monthly subscriptions available for Aira users to have varying amounts of service minutes available to them. However, even those who are not paying customers are permitted free five minutes of Aira service every 24 hours. If you would like to become a paid subscriber or want to learn more, please contact the Bridges Helpdesk.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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Teen Blog

Jul 22 Newsletter Teen and Young Adult Programs

IMAGE Logo
News from IMAGE Teen and Young Adult Programs July 2022
Highlights
Summer is in full swing at The IMAGE Center!
Students pose together in a Namaste pose in front of a wall that says "Love Evolution".
As always summer is fast moving and IMAGE programs for teens and young adults are in full swing. With summer comes lots of fun outdoor plans, vacations and even last minute getaways. If you have registered your child for a summer program please keep in mind your time away and notify program instructors of any program sessions that will be missed. At The IMAGE Center we strive for clear communication with our students and families in the hopes of providing the most meaningful, goal oriented programs possible. If you have feedback on our programs we would love to hear it!   Click here to send us feedback!
Support Youth Programs at The IMAGE Center
IMAGE is of a cartoon pencil with the words scribbled "You Can Help".
Save the Date! SPONSOR A STUDENT WEEK August 22-26th   Keep your eyes open in August for more information.
Celebrating Fearless Moments
Fearlessly Justin~   This month teen and young adult programs would like to highlight current PreETS student, Justin Dorsey for his initiative in learning. During self-advocacy training sessions IMAGE instructors will share a great deal of resources with students to open discussion about self-advocacy and the significance of such skills throughout daily independent living. In his session, however, it was Justin who, alongside his instructor, contributed resources that have helped him to best understand self-advocacy in the past. Justin took the initiative to share resources that not only helped him to best understand what it means to be a self-advocate, but those that can also help others as well. At IMAGE we encourage our teens and young adults to be Fearlessly themselves. Thank you Justin for being a fearless advocate! Check out one of Justin’s self-advocacy resources below!    Here is to being FEARLESSLY you today!   Have a fearless moment to share? Email Jess Leone at jleone@imagemd.org
Upcoming Events
The Connect Program & Peer Mentorship
IMAGE: We are back and we missed you!

Join us for in-person sessions of Connect beginning in June!
Sessions will take place on the following dates with locations throughout the Baltimore County Community from 6-8pm. 
June 14th & 28th, July 19th, August 9th & 23rd 
 
Space is extremally limited. Please consider registering today! 
Link is in the post. 
 
Connect Program Peer Mentors 
The Peer Mentorship program in collaboration with the IMAGE Connect program provides an opportunity for students to engage in leadership roles helping to assist peers in instructor-led activities and lessons. 

PLEASE NOTE: WE ARE ONLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR CONNECT PEER MENTORS WITH PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE FOR OUR SUMMER SESSION ONLY. NEW PEER MENTORS PLEASE EMAIL jleone@imagemd.org WITH INQUIRES. 

Have you Previously been a Connect Peer Mentor? Register today. Link is in the post.  
 PreETS Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy Training Program
Two hands shaking in a hand shake with the words all around them that read "Knowledge, Experience, Skills, Ability, Competence, Training, Growth".
The PreETS One Day Group Training July 22nd at Harford Community College is NOW FULL.
 
Interested in future opportunities for increased self-awareness and self-advocacy training? See below.

Self Awareness and Self Advocacy (SASA) Training is a collaborative partnership program between The IMAGE Center and The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). 
 
 
What benefit does this training provide? 
● Empowerment for teens and young adults to explore skills of self awareness and self advocacy as they relate to either college preparation or vocational exploration. 
● Information on disability disclosure, rights and accommodations related to college bound and career bound students. 
● Personalized goal setting and skill building in relation to increased independent living. 
● Student and family resources for all future outcomes. 
 
Who is eligible for this FREE training? 
·        students enrolled in a secondary school (including home school or other alternative secondary education program), post-secondary education program, or other recognized educational program and has not exited, graduated, or withdrawn; 
·        students at least 14 years old but less than age 22 
·        students have a disability documented with an IEP, 504 plan, medical records, or a doctor’s note. 
 
To learn more about SASA training please contact: Jessica Leone, Director for Teen and Young Adult Services at The IMAGE Center 443-275-9396 or jleone@imagemd.org 
 
All registrants will need a direct referral from DORS to get started: 
Already connected with a DORS counselor? Contact your counselor directly and ask for a referral for the PreETS Training provided by The IMAGE Center. 
Not yet connected with DORS? Simply follow the link to request a referral. A case file for referral will be created for you and you should be contacted by DORS within 10 days.      
                      https://dors.maryland.gov/consumers/Pages/referral.aspx 
                  *Schools may seek permission from families to refer students directly* 

In-Person Programming Plan of Action
COVID-19 Coronavirus & Contagious Virus In-Person Programming Plan of Action Teen and Young Adult Service Programs Updated for all teen and young adult in person programming through September 2022.
The IMAGE Center is acting to keep staff and consumers safe to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious viruses easily spread through our community.   

Here’s how we’re doing our part:  

Follow our Leaders. We follow all State guidance related to education-based activities, including reopening actions and face covering requirements on the State of Maryland for reopening advisements and Governor’s orders

Flexible scheduling. In-person and virtual program options will remain available.

Reduce contamination risk. Program materials will be sanitized prior to and after program use.  

Before you join us in person, please:   
Monitor your health and interactions. Join us online instead if you have: Cough, shortness of breath, fever, or any other symptoms of COVID-19 or other contagious viruses. Recent exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or other contagious viruses. Staff will perform temperature checks upon arrival. Students with a temperature of 100+ will not be permitted to participate and will need to provide a negative PCR COVID test to return to programming. Students with seasonal allergies should not attend programs if symptoms cannot be remedied with over the counter or prescribed medications. Students will not be permitted to participate if they exhibit symptoms.   

Prepare and pack. Bring a backpack with items you will need for the duration of the program including: water, a snack, beach towel, sunscreen and writing or communication device.   

Take precaution. Hand sanitation will be provided for check-in, transitions and check-out.   

Respect personal space. Activities will be designed with respect for social distancing and mindful spacing.  

Talk about it. Please contact us at youthservices@imagemd.org  if you have any questions or concerns.
Categories
Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Orientation and Mobility Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will share tips for navigating dining halls and other buffets nonvisually.

Introduction

Blind/low vision college students have told us that one of their biggest challenges when adjusting to college was navigating the school dining hall.

Dining halls are almost always organized as buffets, with the occasional sandwich deli line or salad bar. There are some students who will go through the buffet line and put a bit of each offering on their plate, but we know that this method does not work for everyone. For one thing, you may want to know your specific options just like the students around you. For another, food allergies can make that an unsafe practice.

So, let’s load up our mental plates with some tips and tricks for navigating the dreaded buffet line!

Navigating the Dining Hall

Here are three methods that we recommend for navigating the school dining hall. Note that all of these methods may take some getting used to as you adjust and learn what works best for you.

Asking for Assistance

Whether you ask workers or fellow buffet line goers, the dining hall is never short of individuals whom you can ask for visual information. Some students like to find people and ask as they go, and others like to enter the dining hall and ask right off the bat if the staff can spare a worker to go through the line with them.

Using Aira

Aira can assist you in navigating the lines and describing your food options to you. Feel free to view our previous posts about Aira so you can understand how it works:

Going with Friends

College is a unique time in which you are constantly surrounded by your peers. As a result, students are always coordinating times to get meals together. As you settle into school and meet friends, it is always acceptable to go through the buffet lines together and ask questions about the food options. After all, they are all going through together anyway and commenting with joy or sorrow about the day’s offerings!

Familiarization/Scouting it out

Although buffet options can change, many dining halls will have certain fixtures that you can come to expect will stay in the same spot. Whether you choose to have a dining hall orientation session or learn where things are over time, you will come to know where certain foods are and where to go to find them. Perhaps the sandwich line is always just to the left inside the door, or perhaps the ice cream station is along the back wall.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

Categories
Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Grocery Shopping Methods

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will cover nonvisual methods for grocery shopping.

Introduction

Grocery shopping independently can seem intimidating at first. Grocery stores are large and filled with printed inaccessible information.

Blind/low vision individuals all have their own methods for grocery shopping, and we recommend experimenting with the strategies outlined below so that you can find which system or combination of methods works best for you.

Whether blind or sighted, we at the Bridges Helpdesk know that going in with a shopping list is always a helpful start! This will not only help you stay organized and save you future trips to the store to grab forgotten items, it will also help you stay on budget.

In-Person Grocery Shopping

Many blind/low vision individuals prefer to shop in person for their groceries. Here are a few ideas on how this can be done:

Shopper’s Assistant

If you go up to the customer service desk, which is usually located somewhere near the front of the store, you can ask them if you can get assistance from a store employee to help you shop. That individual can then walk with you around the store and assist you in obtaining the proper items. Some stores may request that you call in advance so that they can ensure to have an employee available to you when you arrive.

Friends and Neighbors

In college, most students do not have cars. Many students rely upon their friends who have cars to take them on grocery runs every now and again. You could always tag along with the group. Alternatively, many colleges and universities have shuttle systems that drop off near grocery stores, and you could then make a plan to go either with friends or independently. There are also many blind adults who have arrangements with family or neighbors to go grocery shopping together or who pay personal shoppers to accompany them to the grocery store.

Winging It

Especially if you know your usual grocery store very well, you may find that you can easily go in and grab items of your choosing. Maybe you need to ask a question of a fellow customer here or there to clarify a specific item, or you use Aira, Seeing AI, or another visual assistance app to help along the way. Nothing wrong with a bit of adventure!

Online Grocery Shopping

Online grocery shopping was already on the rise, but the pandemic made its popularity even more widespread.

When you shop for groceries online, you will almost always have the option of picking your groceries up from the store, which you can do using an Uber, Lyft, or hired driver. You will also have the option of having the groceries brought directly to your home by a delivery driver.

We have experimented and we believe that the costs for pickup and delivery are comparable: either you are paying a driver to bring you to the store and back home, or you are paying delivery fees and a tip if the groceries are brought to your home.

Some examples of pickup and delivery ordering services include but are not limited to:

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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