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.

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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.

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:

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

The Myth of the Model Federationist

Is there such a thing as a model Federationist or blind person? Is Federation philosophy a rigid set of rules? How do we provide support and raise expectations without judging each other’s choices? Anil and Melissa discuss these questions, dispel some common misconceptions, and point to some resources to help understand and apply the NFB philosophy.

Important links:

NFB Philosophy: What It Is and What It Is Not (Braille Monitor article by President Riccobono and others)
The Nature of Independence (Speech by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan given at the 1993 National Convention)

The Myth of the Model Federationist Transcript

NFB Helps Win Battle for Blind Federal Employees

This episode highlights recent developments in a case supported by the National Federation of the Blind, Orozco v. Garland, addressing the right of federal employees to sue their agencies under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act when information and communication technology are inaccessible to them in violation of that law. Roving reporter Chris Danielsen interviewed Ronza Othman, an attorney and president of the National Association of Blind Government Employees, right after oral arguments in the case to understand its implications. Anil and Melissa play that interview, discuss what has happened since the case was argued, and talk about what it hopefully means for the future.

NFB Helps Win Battle for Blind Federal Employees Transcript

Important links:

Voice of the Nation’s Blind blog post about the case
News brief about the court ruling
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report on section 508 compliance
Response of Senator Bob Casey to the DOJ report

Meet the Monarch

In January 2023, Anil and Melissa spoke with Dr. Craig Meador, President of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). They discussed the monarch, the new dynamic tactile display that has emerged from a partnership among APH, Humanware, and the National Federation of the Blind. With ten lines that can display both braille and tactile graphics, this device is a potential game-changer, especially for blind students. Hear about its potential and the ways in which a partnership with the organized blind movement made it possible.

Meet the Monarch Transcript

Meet the National Organization of Blind Black Leaders

In celebration of Black History Month, this episode highlights the National Organization of Blind Black Leaders, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. Melissa and Anil talk with Shawn Callaway, the division’s president, who is also president of the Washington, DC affiliate and a member of the national board of directors. Shawn explains the inspiration for forming the division, its mentoring and educational efforts, and how it functions as an integral part of the National Federation of the blind. The division welcomes all, and you can become a part of it by reaching out to Shawn at [email protected].

Meet the National Organization of Blind Black Leaders Transcript

Important links:

December 22, 2022 - Kellogg’s and NaviLens: A Path to Inclusion One Cereal at a Time

In this episode, Melissa chats with Beth Foor from Kellogg Company, makers of some of your favorite cereals and snacks. Beth shares her story with blindness and discusses NaviLens, a technology to assist blind and low-vision adults. Kellogg is proud to be the first food company to feature this technology on packaging in the U.S on select cereal boxes. The NaviLens app and the NaviLens GO app are available for free download for use on both iPhone and Android.

December 22, 2022 Nation's Blind Podcast Transcript

November 1, 2022 - Supporting Tomorrow's Teachers of Blind Students

In this episode, Anil and Melissa talk with Karen Anderson, who coordinates educational programs at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute. She talks about the Teacher of Tomorrow program, which connects teachers of blind K-12 students with blind people so that our lived experience can inform their instruction of the children they teach. Karen shares the reaction of some of these teachers to the kick-off event of the year-long program, which was held at the end of September 2022.

November 1, 2022 Nation's Blind Podcast Transcript

October 12, 2022 - Blind Equality Achievement Month Featuring President Riccobono

This episode features an interview with NFB President Mark Riccobono about the purpose and importance of Blind Equality Achievement Month, formerly known as Meet the Blind Month. President Riccobono talks with anil and Melissa about how blind people are often forced to educate the public in situations that are not ideal, making it critical for us to plan intentional ways of conducting this education. Blind Equality Achievement Month is a dedicated time for us to create these intentional opportunities by conducting educational events or by simply interacting with the rest of the public in our own communities through volunteering, social events, and more. #BlindMonth

October 12, 2022 Nation's Blind Podcast Transcript

September 22, 2022 – Netflix Winner of 2022 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award 

This episode features an interview with Elisa Beniero of Netflix. The popular streaming service received one of the 2022 Dr. Jacob Bolotin awards at the National Convention in New Orleans. The award was given for Netflix’s industry-leading work in providing quality audio description in multiple languages for an ever-increasing number of hours of programming (over 18,000 at the time the interview was recorded and counting), as well as for its focus on authentic casting of the blind and for accessibility innovations on its app and platform. Elisa talks to Chris Danielsen about Netflix’s commitment in all of these areas and more.

September 22, 2022 Nation's Blind Podcast Transcript

August 16, 2022 – Meet Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Winner Caroline Karbowski

This episode features an interview with Caroline Karbowski, who received one of the 2022 Dr. Jacob Bolotin awards at the national convention in New Orleans. She is the founder of See3D, which provides all kinds of models created through 3D printing technology to blind people, teachers, schools, and families of blind children  who request them. Caroline describes how she became a sighted Braille user and then was led to expand her skills to the creation of these tactile models, which include Braille labels if desired as well as  written descriptions in accessible formats.

August 16, 2022 Nation's Blind Podcast Transcript

July 21, 2022 - Reviewing an Outstanding Convention

In this episode, Anil and Melissa chat with President Riccobono, as well as Chris Danielsen and Danielle McCann, who participated in the “pre-shows” for virtual experience registrants prior to the board meeting and general sessions during the recent national convention. They give an overview of our first in-person convention in three years, discuss some of their personal favorite moments, and share information about how you can relive your own favorite moments or experience aspects of the convention for the first time.

June 10, 2022 – Prepare for Convention

In this episode, Anil and Melissa chat with John Berggren, Executive Director for Operations for the National Federation of the Blind and chairperson of convention organization and activities. He tells us about some of the features and amenities of our two hotels, including dining options and where our meeting spaces and exhibit hall will be located. They also discuss our COVID safety protocols, including how you can acquire and submit a test result prior to arriving in New Orleans and what to do if you feel ill during the convention. Finally, they preview the virtual experience for those who are unable to join us in person.

May 19, 2022 - Center for Excellence in Nonvisual Access #GAAD

In this special episode for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD), Anil Lewis and his special guest co-host take a deep dive into the work of the National Federation of the Blind Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA). Meet the team behind the work of this center, funded in part through a grant from the Maryland Department of Disabilities, and learn about the events and trainings provided, as well as resources like the International Braille and Technology Center, Accessibility Switchboard, and more. The episode also includes a message from Maryland Secretary of Disabilities Carol A. Beatty. For more information about the CENA or to collaborate with us, visit or email [email protected].

January 19, 2022 - Behind the scenes of JAWS with Ted Henter

The Nation’s Blind Podcast is back for 2022! On this first new episode, recorded in the fall of 2021, Anil and Melissa talk with Ted Henter, who is one of the pioneers of the modern Windows screen reader. Mr. Henter was the cofounder of Henter-Joyce, which created the original Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen reader still available and widely used today. Listen to find out about his fascinating life before JAWS as well as about how this groundbreaking, life-changing product came into being.

    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.