The Braille Monitor December 2005
Fourth Annual Meet the Blind Month Campaign
by Jerry Lazarus
Charlottesville, Virginia, Mayor David Brown presents a proclamation to NFB chapter President Kathy Owen.
From the Editor:
Here is Jerry Lazarus's report on Meet the Blind Month 2005:
Our membership has done it again. For the fourth year in a row we have increased the number and types of events held across the country. More than three hundred outings were planned and completed this year by affiliates, chapters, and active members to make October 2005 the most successful Meet the Blind Month to date. (For a complete list of events go to <www.nfb.org/meet/schedule05.htm>.)
The campaign, which was
first launched in 2002 and conducted during the month of October, is a coordinated,
nationwide project planned and designed to provide opportunities for members
to reach out to their communities, schools, local civic groups, and others to
let them know about blindness and the NFB, ensuring that the public will learn
even more about our movement.
Early planning by affiliate and chapter presidents, taking advantage of the free Braille alphabet cards, NFB literature, Kernel Books, PSAs and NFB promotional videos provided by NFB President Marc Maurer, not only helped increase the number of events but enhanced the creativity, versatility, and energy displayed in this, our best year yet.
The National Center staff processed and shipped more than 375,000 pieces of literature, Kernel Books, Imagination Fund brochures, and NFB public service videos to Meet the Blind Month organizers for distribution to the public.
NFB of Hawai'i member Brook Sexton (far right) instructs Hawai'i Governor Linda Lingle (center) and Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller (left) in travel techniques using the long white cane. Both officials joined the march of more than 150 blind Hawai'ians and supporters through downtown Honolulu as part of White Cane Safety Day.
The Braille Is Beautiful video kit program was sent to interested affiliates and chapters at no charge. The program, a disability-awareness curriculum for elementary and middle school students, includes two copies of the video Jake and the Secret Code, along with a teacher's guide in both Braille and print. Many affiliate and chapter members visit public and private schools during Meet the Blind Month, and Braille Is Beautiful is an easy and interesting way to demonstrate and promote Braille. NFB Braille alphabet cards are given to the students, and, after viewing the video presentation, they have a better understanding of the Braille code and the way a blind child uses Braille to read and write. No doubt, by using a professionally produced video with a follow-up discussion with blind adults, the visits achieved the goal of sharing with the students the importance of Braille.
In addition a number of our members made arrangements with Lions Clubs and Rotary-type service groups to act as luncheon or dinner speakers to share the message about blindness and the NFB. Some used the adult version of the Braille Is Beautiful video--That the Blind May Read, while others used one of our informational videos, including the Science Academy video that was shown during this year's national convention.
NFB of Illinois, Kankakee Heartland Chapter President Bryan Turner with his guide dog Madison walked from Momence to Reddick for Meet the Blind Month. Bryan's walk helped raise money for the chapter and increased the public's awareness about blindness and the work of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois.
From north to south, east to west, and many points in between, chapters held meet-and-greet events. In Rhode Island Richard Gaffney held a bake sale at the Warwick Mall and, while speaking to buyers, distributed our literature. In New York, Greater Long Island Chapter president David Stayer participated again at the Bellmore Street Fair, distributing literature and selling our blue NFB bracelets. Heading south, despite all its weather-related problems, Florida had a very active year with at least eight different chapters or divisions developing many events. Southwest Florida Chapter president Joanne King held a number of meet-and-greet activities and participated in the 2005 Vision Awareness Walk. Gloria Mills, president of the Tampa Bay Chapter, organized two Wal-Mart outings and a White Cane Walk from the Tampa Bay City Hall to the Hillsborough County Center and picked up White Cane proclamations from both locations. Towards the west, in Ohio five chapters scheduled various events. Wal-Mart meet and greets were popular with these chapters, according to Annette Anderson (NFB of Cuyahoga County), Ronald Williamitis (NFB of Miami Valley), and Mary Pool (NFB of Stark County).
Further west, Bryan Turner,
president of the Kankakee Heartland Chapter of the NFB of Illinois, along with
his guide dog Madison solicited sponsors and walked more than thirty miles to
raise awareness about blindness and the NFB. In Washington State, Judy Jones,
Tacoma Chapter president, promoted our public service announcements to local
radio and television stations, while Kris Lawrence, president of the Seattle
Chapter, presented the Braille Is Beautiful video to both the Lions
Club and a local Girl Scout troop.
In California at least five chapters scheduled events, including Wyeman Wong from the San Francisco Chapter, who organized a walk-a-thon, and President Shelley Alongi from the Orange County Chapter, who helped with a Braille Is Beautiful workshop sponsored by the California Affiliate and picked up White Cane Safety Day proclamations in multiple cites in Orange County. Nathaniel Wales from the River City Chapter involved his chapter with the Blind Olympics, on the grounds of Cal State University.
Wal-Mart, the nation's
largest retailer, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts continued to offer an outstanding
opportunity for NFB members to get in front of hundreds of shoppers during the
month and in many cases helped create a profitable fundraising component.
Meet the Blind Month events helped break the stereotype of blindness when Utah Valley Chapter members participated in a fun event at the Hee Haw Farms corn maze as reported by Utah's Daily Herald. NFB of Utah members Kara Campbell and Ray Martin said the event helped show people that the blind like to join their families in outdoor activities just like everyone else.
Yasmin Reyazuddin from the Sligo Creek Chapter of the NFB of Maryland receives a Disability Mentoring Day proclamation by Montgomery County chief administrative officer Bruce Romer. Yasmin helped place three young blind people in mentoring positions for the day. Placements were at Verizon, Computer Technology Associates, and the Montgomery County Department of Aging.
The NFB of Idaho's Treasure Valley Chapter hosted its annual community recognition dinner and silent auction October 6, with a theme of beyond the horizon. The honorary chair was a popular motivational speaker; the MC was the morning anchor on the River Radio; honored friends were the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation (for donating scholarships), Hallmark Motors (for handling car donations), and David Carter, coordinator of the Braille Transcription and Production Project at the Corrections Corporation of America facility near Boise. The chapter expressed its appreciation to sponsors and all others who participated. This festive evening has become a major event in Meet the Blind Month and an important fundraiser for the chapter.
NFB of Alabama president Mike Jones inspired inventors of the future with the second annual National Federation of the Blind of Alabama Invention Competition for young inventors at the Wrights Mill Road Elementary School. The competition, as reported by the Opelika-Auburn News, involved designing a practical item that could be used by the blind. The winning entry was "The Capteller" which would allow blind people to enter the soda aisle of a grocery store and simply read a Braille-inscribed bottle top to determine a bottle's contents. Each member of the winning team was awarded a $25 savings account provided by AmSouth Bank.
These members and listed chapters of course only begin to recognize the individuals who participated in planning and conducting the many 2005 Meet the Blind Month events. We congratulate all who were involved and look forward to hearing about your plans for our 2006 Meet the Blind Month campaign.