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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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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.

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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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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Employment Resources Independent Living Resources Information Resources Series: Summer Spotlight, June 2022

Summer Spotlight — Student Seminar Coming Soon!

Kick off your summer with the Bridges Helpdesk as we showcase all of the wonderful programs for blind/low vision students in Maryland during the summer of 2022! Beat the heat and join us as we cover:

  • June 7: LBPD Summer Reading Programs
  • June 14: Maryland Camps and Summer Programs
  • June 21: Online Summer Programs
  • June 28: Student Seminar Coming Soon!

Today we highlight a seminar taking place in Maryland that you won’t want to miss!

Reflect, Reequip, Reimagine: Raising the Bar for Blind Students!

The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland invite you to the 2022 Atlantic regional seminar, a fun-filled weekend brimming with opportunities for professional growth, confidence building, and mentorship!

The past years have challenged blind students in a variety of ways, but we will emerge stronger than ever. Through enlightening presentations, spectacular guest speakers, exhilarating activities, and thought-provoking discussions, we will reflect on the past, prepare in the present, and reimagine our future. Together we can raise the bar for blind students!

Time, Date, and Place

The Seminar will begin at 6: pm on Friday, August 12. It will conclude at Noon on Sunday, August 14.

The Seminar will take place at Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley by Marriott, 245 Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. You may contact the hotel at (410) 785-7000.

Registration and Lodging Logistics

Registration for the 2022 Atlantic Student Seminar closes on Thursday, July 21, 2022.

Before you rush to reserve your spot, please note the following:

Registration fee

*Each attendee is responsible for a $100 registration fee, payable to NABS, which will cover meals throughout the weekend as well as administrative expenses necessary to support this event. We encourage you to proactively reach out to your vocational rehabilitation agency and/or National Federation of the Blind state affiliate to help offset this expense. This fee is due by the time registration closes. Until we receive both your registration form response and this fee, your spot is not guaranteed.”

Masks and negative COVID test required

*Please note that all attendees will need to submit proof of a negative COVID test within 60 hours of our event’s start, regardless of vaccination status. This proof will need to be submitted to a designated party no later than noon on Friday, August 12, 2022. Additionally, masks will be required during all 2022 Atlantic Student Seminar activities.”

Lodging details

The Seminar organizers will not be assigning roommates for this event. The event organizers are more than happy to support you in finding a roommate if you require assistance, which you can indicate on the registration form linked below; however, if you do not either take the initiative to procure a roommate or reach out for assistance, you will be responsible for the hotel expense of $104 + applicable taxes and fees for each night of the event.

***Please direct questions to Logan Stenzel at stenzellogan@gmail.com

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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