Nation's Blind Podcast

The Nation's Blind Podcast highlights different themes related to blindness, independent living, and news from the National Federation of the Blind.

Hosts: Anil Lewis, executive director of the NFB Blindness Initiatives department, and Melissa Riccobono, president of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children division and First Lady of the NFB.

Subscribe and listen by searching for "Nation's Blind Podcast" in your podcast client. 

For episodes of our special series dedicated to blind parents, please visit the Blind Parents Connection Podcast page

Recent Episodes

Here is a list of episodes that include the show notes, the podcast episode, episode transcripts, and important relevant links as needed.

Not Letting the Flood of Doubt Win

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Melissa and Anil are joined by Marinela “Mari” Ortiz, an assistive technology instructor and writer. Mari shares her journey of pursuing her master's degree in assistive technology, including the challenges she faced at one university and her subsequent success at another. The discussion addresses topics including the importance of mentors and support systems in overcoming doubts and achieving goals and the value of meeting individuals where they are and helping them discover their own potential.

Important links:

Not Letting the Flood of Doubt Win (HTML)
Not Letting the Flood of Doubt Win (Audio)
by Marinela Ortiz (Braille Monitor, February 2024)

Not Letting the Flood of Doubt Win Podcast Transcript

Washington Seminar 2024

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Anil, Melissa, and Chris Danielsen discuss the upcoming Washington Seminar of the National Federation of the Blind. They talk about their memories of past seminars and the importance of advocacy, as well as the issues that will be addressed during the seminar, including Social Security reform, accessible medical equipment, and website and software accessibility. They emphasize the power of personal stories in influencing legislators and encourage listeners to get involved in advocacy efforts.

Important Links:

NFB Washington Seminar 

Washington Seminar 2024 Transcript

AI and the Blind 

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Anil and Melissa are joined by Gary Wunder, editor of the Braille Monitor, and Aaron Cannon, a blind accessibility specialist for Ancestry.com. They discuss the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in various aspects of life, with feedback from listeners incorporated into the conversation. The discussion touches on AI tools such as Be My AI and ChatGPT, their benefits and limitations, and the broader implications of AI for the blind community and for society. Your thoughts are welcome on social media and at [email protected] or by calling 410-659-9314, extension 2444.

Important links:

National Federation of the Blind Resolution 2023-13 Regarding Artificial Intelligence Chatbots and their Information on Blindness

Large language model (Wikipedia entry)

“There Will Come Soft Rains,” short story by Ray Bradbury about an automated house (Wikipedia entry with plot summary)

AI and the Blind Transcript

Shopping for the Holidays or the Everyday

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Melissa Riccobono and Anil Lewis discuss various shopping strategies that blind people use, both in stores and virtually, and some of the pros and cons of each method. Shopping methods discussed include using apps like Instacart, Shipt, and more, as well as acquiring assistance from Aira and Be My Eyes. Join the discussion by sharing your own strategies and tips for possible airing on a future episode!

Shopping for the Holidays or the Everyday Transcript

Braille Readers are Leaders 2023/24 Is Here

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Anil Lewis and Chris Danielsen introduce the 2023/2024 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest, which is  a project of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, a longtime partner of the National Federation of the Blind. Lisamaria Martinez, the project manager for the program, joins them to provide more details. They encourage listeners to sign up, practice their Braille skills at whatever level for a chance to win exciting prizes, and explore the benefits  of Braille literacy.

Important links:

Register for the Braille Readers are Leaders contest

Learn more about the Braille Readers are Leaders contest

Braille Readers are Leaders 2023/24 Is Here Transcript

Celebrating and Supporting Blind Veterans

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, Melissa Riccobono and Chris Danielsen discuss Veterans Day and the role of veterans in the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). They are joined by Dr. Vernon Humphrey, the president of the National Association of Blind Veterans (NABV), a division of the National Federation of the Blind; and José Centeno, a blind veteran, marathon runner, and member of the NABV. They discuss the work of the NABV in supporting blind veterans and advocating for their rights and benefits. They also talk about the importance of raising awareness about blindness and the resources available to blind veterans. The podcast highlights the contributions of blind veterans and the ways in which they have paved the way for advancements in rehabilitation.

The guests share personal stories and experiences, emphasizing the importance of camaraderie and support within the blind veteran community. They also discuss the need for continued advocacy and outreach to blind veterans, as well as the potential for more collaboration between the National Federation of the Blind and other veterans' agencies and organizations. CW: Mental health issues and suicide are mentioned in this episode. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.

Important links:

National Association of Blind Veterans website

News item about José Centeno’s marathon run

Celebrating and Supporting Blind Veterans Transcript

#BlindMonth 2023

In this episode of the Nation's Blind Podcast, hosts Melissa Riccobono and Anil Lewis discuss Blind Equality Achievement Month with two chapter and affiliate leaders, Cindy Scott-Huisman of Little Rock, Arkansas and Stacie Gallegos of Houston, Texas. They talk about the importance of educating the public about blindness and blind people and share the various activities and events they have been involved in to promote and celebrate blind equality. They also discuss the challenges of representing the blind community and the importance of individuality and choice in how we as blind individuals navigate the world and engage in public education. Note: The episode was recorded October 19, 2023, so days and dates referenced are relative to the recording date.

Important links:

Blind Equality Achievement Month

#BlindMonth 2023 transcript

Catching Up with CENA

The Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Accessibility (CENA) is a concentrated center of expertise, best practices, and resources that enables businesses, government, and educational institutions to provide accessible information and services more effectively to the blind community. In this episode, originally recorded around Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Anil Lewis reviews CENA’s work in education, employment, technology evaluation, navigation, accessible COVID testing, and more with Karl Belanger and Kennedy Zimnik of the CENA team. Many CENA projects are funded through the state of Maryland’s Nonvisual Access Initiative grants administered by the Maryland Department of Disabilities.

Important links:

Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Accessibility

Learn more about and register for CENA events, trainings, and boutiques

Accessibility Inclusion Fellowship Program

Higher Education Accessibility Online Resource Center

Join the BUILD Team

Catching Up with CENA transcript

Time to Submit your Resolution

If you haven’t already submitted a policy proposal for consideration at the national convention in the form of a resolution, or are just curious about the process, then this episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast will tell you everything you need to know.

President Riccobono talks with new Resolutions Committee Chair, Donald Porterfield, who also serves as president of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona and on our national Board of Directors, about how to submit a resolution, what happens once it’s submitted, and the importance of resolutions to the activity of our movement. Plus, Melissa has an important breaking news announcement, so be sure to listen all the way to the end!

Important links:

NFB Resolutions page: https://nfb.org/resolutions

Resolution Reminders by Donald Porterfield (Braille Monitor, May 2023)

Time to Submit Your Resolution transcript

The MrBeast Cure Controversy

The wealthy and influential YouTube celebrity MrBeast recently caused a stir in our community by posting a video in which he “cured” the blindness of a thousand people by funding cataract removal. In this episode, Anil Lewis and Chris Danielsen discuss why well-intentioned public efforts like this can be problematic. They also talk about what it means to be “okay with blindness” and about the importance of understanding and respecting individual choices regarding whether to seek or accept medical intervention to improve or restore eyesight.

The MrBeast Cure Controversy transcript

U.S. Currency to Become Easier to Use

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, United States Treasury Department, is close to producing paper currency with tactile features to make it more easily identifiable by the blind beginning with a new ten-dollar bill in 2026. Anil Lewis and Chris Danielsen discuss how blind people currently use paper money and the long journey to this announcement. But first, they do some myth-busting about the historical position of the National Federation of the Blind on changing our country’s paper money.

Important links:

2008 Resolutions, containing Resolution 2008-08 regarding the blind and American paper currency

U.S. Currency to Become Easier to Use Transcript

More Information

To listen to previous episodes, please visit the Nation's Blind Podcast archiveIf you have any questions about the Nation's Blind Podcast, or if you would like to contribute to future episodes, please email us at [email protected] or call 410-659-9314, extension 2444.