Perspective From The President: National Convention, Rubik's Cubes, and More

President Riccobono stands in front of a tactile painting

Perspective From The President: National Convention, Rubik's Cubes, and More

By Mark Riccobono

Greetings, fellow Federationists.

We are 2 months away from the 2024 National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando, Florida. A lot of our efforts are focused in that direction this May and June. We are also celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 16. We still have a number of spring conventions underway, and many other activities across the Federation as well.

We are in the midst of primary elections. Some of you have already voted in the primaries, but many of us still have to. We also have the presidential election in November. If you are a registered voter, you have the legal right to cast your ballot privately and independently. We support that right for blind people by reporting the barriers that blind people across the country face when voting.

If you have encountered instances where you are unable to vote accessibly, privately, and independently in primary elections, whether in-person, by mail, electronic, or something else, we encourage you to do two things:. We want everyone to report these incidents to the United States Department of Justice by emailing [email protected]. You can also call 800-253-3931.

Please also notify us about your incident so we can help track them and coordinate our advocacy efforts. if you're sending an email to the DOJ, please copy Jeff Kaloc, one of our governmental affairs specialists, at [email protected]. You can also call Jeff here at the national office.

We have very strong participation in our national convention, which I mentioned earlier. Our room block is entirely booked for several nights of the convention, and no more rooms at the Rosen Centre are available. We also have rooms at two overflow hotels—both beautiful properties where we have had previous conventions. You can call the Rosen Plaza at 800-627-8258. The other is the Rosen Shingle Creek, which is a little farther away. Their phone number is 866-996-6338. The $129 and $139 room rates apply to both overflow hotels. We are arranging shuttles from those properties to get to the Rosen Centre. I encourage you to get a room as soon as possible. There will be no cancellation fee if you want to move from one hotel to another. You can find all of this information under the “prepare for the trip” section on our convention landing page.

Switching gears: this is the 50th anniversary of the most popular puzzle toy in the world—the rubiks Cube. I am pleased to announce that the National Federation of the Blind has partnered with Spin Master—a leading global kids' entertainment company and the owner of the Rubik's Cube brand—to include nonvisual elements to the classic cube to engage the blind community in this puzzle.

Blind people have solved the Rubik's Cube in its current form, and there have been knockoff versions with tactile features. We have sometimes sold a knockoffs in our Independence Market. For the first time, the Rubik's brand is embracing this idea.

Many blind people have never tried to solve or engaged with the Rubiks Cube because of its lack of tactile features. Our partnership led to the Rubiks Sensory Cube, which reimagines the classic Rubik's Cube by including nonvisual tactile elements. Even the packaging includes tactile elements—Braille on the front, and a tactile square surrounding a QR code containing more information. Most importantly, the cube has squares and circles and filled-in circles and dots for a real tactile experience. This will soon be available in our Independence Market and through other sources. It's significant that Spin Master has worked with us for this 50th anniversary to make this popular puzzle toy accessible. It's a great example of fostering inclusion.

We would like to hear from blind people who are fans of the Rubik's Cube, novices and speed-cubers alike. Reach out to our communications group by sending an email to [email protected]. We would love to connect with you and include you in some of our fun work to promote this partnership.

To access the full presidential release transcript, visit the Presidential Release page.