April 2022

Message from President Mark Riccobono

Dear Friend, 

At the end of March, I travelled to Truth or Consequences New Mexico where Dan Parker represented the National Federation of the Blind in breaking the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® for the fastest blindfolded driver ever. The man behind the wheel this time was blind himself and achieved a speed of two hundred eleven miles per hour. The National Federation of the Blind supported Dan’s effort as part of our plan to shatter expectations and push the boundaries of what is possible, innovate and improve new accessible tools and strategies, and increase the speed at which we move towards accessible design of technology that facilitates full participation of the blind in society. We are proud to have Cruise and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation as partners in this historic effort and in the quest to ensure autonomous vehicles are fully accessible to the blind. As we develop driverless options for vehicles, nonvisual access must be a priority. 

I demonstrated the first milestone in our Blind Driver Challenge efforts in January 2011 by driving a Ford Escape equipped with nonvisual interfaces around the Daytona International Speedway. This was the first time we demonstrated that when nonvisual access is incorporated, blind people can drive. We started our Blind Driver Challenge almost two decades ago and I am pleased that our advocacy is being taken seriously by those who are innovating the future of transportation. We are continuing to fulfil our mission to raise expectations. As we shatter misconceptions, we are ensuring that autonomous vehicles are accessible to everyone and that all travel options are available to blind people.

Dan Parker will be sharing more about his journey at our 2022 National Convention in New Orleans, and I urge you to attend the largest gathering of the blind too. Visit our 2022 National Convention page.

Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

From Cane to Autonomous Car

The National Federation of the Blind has encouraged independent travel throughout our history. From the development of a longer and lighter long white cane and the training we provide at our NFB training centers, to our current work around accessible autonomous vehicles through the NFB Blind Driver Challenge™, we overcome low expectations to help blind people live the lives they want independently. 

A member from Illinois reflected on what independent travel means to him:
“From giving me free white canes that I use to travel every day to ensuring that someday blind people will be able to legally drive, I appreciate the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. Early on we worked for passage of white cane laws which made it possible for blind people to travel alone. Many do not remember that at one time it was considered by some courts to be negligent if a blind person walked outside alone. We have come a long way but there is more to do. We could never achieve alone what we accomplish through collective action, and we don’t even know where the limits are.”

The National Federation of the Blind is committed to working with manufacturers to develop accessible nonvisual interfaces for autonomous vehicles so that blind people can independently use the multitude of transportation options and tools in future.
Learn more by visiting our free white cane, NFB affiliated training centers, and NFB Blind Driver Challenge™ pages.  

Latest News at the NFB

We’re With U! A Benefit Concert to Help Blind Ukrainians

In collaboration with the World Blind Union and Mushroom FM, NFB is joining the global online blind community for a benefit concert to help blind Ukrainian refugees on Saturday, April 16, at 2:00 p.m., eastern. Follow on social media using the hashtag #BlindWithU. That's the letter U. Learn more about We're With U.

Dan Parker, a Blind Man, Breaks Driving Speed Record

Dan Parker, a blind racecar driver, achieved the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the “Fastest Speed for a Car Driven Blindfolded” on Thursday, March 31. Parker set a new speed record of 211.043 miles per hour on the runway at Spaceport America in his custom-built Corvette, which included an innovative audio guidance system designed to his specifications. Parker went blind as the result of a racing accident that took place ten years before, on March 31, 2012, and graduated from the Louisiana Center for the Blind seven years ago on March 31 as well. The record attempt was made as part of the acceleration of the National Federation of the Blind’s Blind Driver Challenge™—an initiative that aims to call attention to the importance of breaking barriers in mobility and to demonstrate the incredible achievements of blind people. Read more about breaking the record in our pressroom.

Nominations Open for Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award

The education of blind children is one of the National Federation of the Blind's highest priorities. We are committed to offering and supporting programs that enhance educational opportunities for this group. Please help us recognize dedicated and innovative teachers who provide quality education and meaningful experiences and opportunities for their blind students. Nominate a teacher, counselor, or administrator of program for blind students. The deadline is May 1. Learn more about the Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award.

Application Period Open for Teachers of Tomorrow Cohort

Members of the Teachers of Tomorrow cohort will participate in a free immersive professional development program that connects teachers of blind and low-vision students to the lived experiences of blind people. Learn more and apply for teachers of tomorrow

Take Action This Month

Throughout our local chapters and state affiliates to our national headquarters and diverse committees, the National Federation of the Blind is an organization of collective action. Here’s what you can do to get involved this month.

Important Dates

April 16, 2022: We’re With U! A Benefit Concert to Help Blind Ukrainian Refugees, streaming radio
April 26, 2022: Accessibility Boutique: Braille Production for Beginners, virtual
May 1, 2022: Deadline for Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award nominations
May 2, 2022: Presidential Release live, 8:00 p.m. eastern, cc and Spanish translation available 
July 5-10, 2022: NFB National Convention, New Orleans