Perspective from the President: National Convention, Special Service Providers, and More

President Riccobono sits in front of a tactile painting

Perspective from the President: National Convention, Special Service Providers, and More

By Mark Riccobono

Greetings fellow Federationists,

I want to thank Federationists from all over the country for reaching out to our national office here in Baltimore about the recent collapse of the Key Bridge, which is about nine miles from our building. Fortunately, none of our staff members were directly affected by this tragedy, but there was a huge impact on the Baltimore community. Our members and public transportation in the area and many other aspects of day-to-day life here in Baltimore were greatly affected. So, thank you to all of you who reached out. We are glad that our Federation community is safe. There was some tragic loss here in Baltimore that we're continuing to work through and will be working through for years to come.

We had a busy March. We hosted our sixteenth annual Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, which was another great success. We brought together disability rights advocates and legal scholars to talk about how we thrive as people with disabilities and how we drive the direction of disability law in this country. There was a lot of great conversation and it was another successful event. I encourage all of you who are interested in disability rights law to think about being present for our law symposium next year.

The big event on our mind right now is our national convention, which is July 3 through July 8 in Orlando, Florida. I want to remind you to check out our convention landing page for more details.

The president of our Deafblind division, Maurice Mines, asked me to share that our Deafblind division is coordinating volunteers at convention to assist with ensuring that deafblind members can fully participate in convention. Maurice says that volunteers will serve as special service providers during the convention. Anyone who is interested in helping should fill out the questionnaire on our website, which asks four basic questions and requests contact information. You can find that form on our convention landing page under the "SSP volunteer" link. The division will match volunteers with deafblind individuals, preferably from the same affiliate. We especially encourage people with tactile signing experience to volunteer their time.

We expect all volunteers to adhere to the Federation's Code of Conduct. We ask all volunteers to participate in a training at convention on July 3 at 10:00 a.m. We’ll determine a location closer to the date. The deadline to express interest in volunteering is May 31, which is also the deadline to complete the online convention registration. If you’re a deafblind person wanting some support, you should send an email stating, “I am requesting volunteer SSP assistance at the 2024 national convention" in the subject line. You should send that email directly to Maurice Mines at [email protected].

I want to thank our Deafblind division. We are an organization that believes that as blind people, we should speak for ourselves and define for ourselves what we need. The Deafblind division is defining what enhancements they need, is charging forward with that, and is working with national leadership to make this happen. This is truly in the spirit of what we do in the National Federation of the Blind.

To access the full presidential release transcript, visit the April 2024 transcript.