We recently concluded our fiftieth anniversary gathering of the Leadership Seminar in Baltimore and I just returned from Chicago where we broadcast the Presidential Release Live and celebrated the finale of our Route 66 Ride for Literacy. We are planning for October which is Blind Equality Achievement Month and White Cane Awareness Day which comes up soon on October 15.
As we enter this busy time of year which includes many of our state conventions, I have been sharing my belief that the strength of our organization comes from each of you, our members, our partners, and those who support us. Progress, even within big sweeping movements like ours, is not built in big moments but in small ones. Our steady march forward relies on the thousands of contributions made by individuals in local communities. It relies on us not always getting it right but in always pointing toward our ultimate goals and adjusting our work to get better each day. Each of you are critical to pulling together those thousands of small actions and connecting them into a network that makes all the difference to blind people around the world.
Please help build that network by participating in Blind Equality Achievement Month in October. Our theme this year is “Celebrating Contributions from our Community.”
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
In the National Federation of the Blind, we support one another in many ways. Sometimes we simply share tips and techniques or an understanding of our authentic lived experiences. At other times we collaborate with others to advocate for ourselves and for one another to improve inclusion. In 2023 we have aimed quite a lot of our advocacy on breaking down the barriers faced by guide dog handlers from ride share services and airline denials. Some rideshare drivers simply will not pick up a person with a guide dog despite the law, and airlines impose extra, sometimes inaccessible, hoops for guide dog handlers to maneuver each time they travel by plane.
A guide dog handler shared her experience working with the Federation to improve access:
“My preferred way to move through the world is with my guide dog by my side. Sometimes, we face barriers to public access which can be discouraging. Thankfully, the National Federation of the Blind is always here to support us and other guide dog teams across the country.”
The National Association of Guide Dog Users, a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind, plays an integral part in much of our advocacy relating to guide dog teams. Public transportation is particularly relevant for blind people who cannot obtain a license to drive a vehicle, and whether one elects to employ a cane or utilize a guide dog, blind people expect and should receive equal treatment. With love, hope, and determination we work to ensure that blind people enjoy equal access to public transportation services and independent and inclusive public access in our communities.
Route 66 Ride for Literacy Celebrated
We celebrated the completion of the 2,700-mile bike ride along Route 66 taken by Dan O’Rourke to bring awareness and funding to the National Federation of the Blind on September 8 in Chicago. The Ride for Literacy has, so far, raised more than $47,000 and generated press coverage helping to spread our message about the capacity of blind people. Watch the Route 66 Ride for Literacy Finale and contribute by visiting our Route 66 Ride for Literacy page.
Lego Braille Bricks Available
Lego consulted the National Federation of the Blind in the development of Lego Braille Bricks which are designed to help children learn Braille in a fun and playful way. The 287-piece set recommended for ages six and up is now available to the public for $89.99.
Justice Department Issues Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Website and App Accessibility -Federation to Comment
The US Department of Justice issued a proposed rule on the accessibility of web information on August 4. The National Federation of the Blind has concerns about the proposed rule and is preparing comments to submit before October 3. Please watch for our comments and add your voice.
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.
- Read the August-September issue of the Braille Monitor which includes President Riccobono’s Presidential Report, our convention roundup, awards, and more.
- Lift up with Lyft Round Up by tapping on the menu in your ap, choosing donate, and selecting the National Federation of the Blind. All future fares will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and one hundred percent of the proceeds are sent to the Federation.
- Check out the Voice of the Nation's Blind Blog! Recent posts include: “Embracing Change: Lauren Altman’s Federation Story,” “The Role of Forgiveness in Advocacy Work,” and “August Perspective from the President.”
We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events and workshops.
- September 26, 2023: Accessibility Boutique, Using Chromebook as a Blind User, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EST, virtual
- October 2023: Blind Equality Achievement Month
- October 3, 2023: Presidential Release Live from Louisville, KY, 8:00 p.m. EST, CC and Spanish translation available
- October 15, 2023: White Cane Awareness Day
- October 31, 2023: Accessibility Boutique, Workplace Technology, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EST, virtual
- January 29-February 1, 2024: Washington Seminar, Washington, DC
- July 3-8, 2024: National Convention, Orlando, FL