November 2021

Message from President Mark Riccobono

Dear Friend,

The National Federation of the Blind provides support for a diverse group of blind people. I am glad to know that amongst those blind people are individual blind veterans. They served and sacrificed for all of us when they were in the military and we can’t express our gratitude enough.

We know that shared experiences, mentoring, and networking are crucial to our members. The National Association of Blind Veterans, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, provides a vehicle for those who share at least two intersecting characteristics, blindness and being a veteran, to network, mentor, and share information in a group where blind veterans can speak and advocate for themselves. Resolution 2021-03: Regarding Advancement of Employment of the Blind in Military Service, passed by the Convention in July, demonstrates the work we do around military service including breaking down barriers to employment of blind people in the armed services. I am pleased to work with all of you in an organization that honors and respects those who served, and pledge that we will keep working to open doors and ensure that blind veterans’ rights are protected.

Join me in thanking our blind service men and women this month and year-round for all that they have done and continue to do for our country and for the National Federation of the Blind. Show that we are honored to work side by side to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for our country and for the blind so that we can all live the lives we want.

With Gratitude,
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

We Appreciate Those Who Serve

This month we recognize our veterans for their service and sacrifices. We just observed Veterans Day, and here at the National Federation of the Blind we especially value our blind veterans and the proud members of the National Association of Blind Veterans, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. 

When Joe was in Vietnam, one of the first indications of his becoming blind occurred when he drove a truck into the ditch because they could not use bright lights, which might alert the enemy. Coming home was difficult because of people’s reactions to Vietnam. Recently, over the past three or four years, Joe has begun coping with PTSD and the effects of Agent Orange. Joe is proud to have served and is proud to be a blind veteran, but sometimes it is hard.

One of Joe’s biggest adjustments to blindness was figuring out how to play ball with his young son. He set up a high-contrast backdrop and pitched twenty or so balls in a row which his son went around and picked up before they did it again. Joe says he, “needed to surround” himself with positive blind people and he did so when he found a home with the NFB and the National Association of Blind Veterans. During his first meeting Joe thought, “This organization believes in me more than I believe in myself.” 

Alex is a veteran who says that hands-down the biggest adjustment he has had to make in relation to his blindness has been relying on others for rides. “I used to drive for fun.” When Alex attended his first National Association of Blind Veterans meeting, he was impressed by the “overall positivity” and “willingness to help no matter the circumstances.” That attitude helps overcome the biggest misconception about blindness which is that “blindness is the end of the world.”

Meet some additional members of the National Association of Blind Veterans as they introduce themselves during our 2021 Celebration of Freedom, and read more about our veterans’ division here.

Latest News at the NFB

Matching Gift Goal Reached

In his most recent Presidential Release President Riccobono thanked all of our contributors for helping us exceed our $50,000 goal during the Blind Equality Achievement Month matching gift campaign. Special thanks go out to our anonymous donor for pledging to match up to $50,000 in contributions during the month of October. We are grateful for each and every supporter for helping blind people to live the lives we want. You are truly appreciated, and we can’t say thank you often enough.

National Federation of the Blind Celebrates Eighty-One Years

The National Federation of the Blind was founded November 16, 1940, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Blind people from seven states—California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—attended that first meeting, which was held at the Redington Hotel in Wilkes-Barre, and successfully drafted a constitution for what would become the first national organization of the blind. Learn more about our history and governance.

New Federation Group: Survivors Group Formed

We welcome our newest National Federation of the Blind group, the Survivors Group, chaired by Kathryn Webster and Danielle Montour. The purpose of the Survivors Group is to create an intentional space for blind survivors of sexual misconduct and other forms of trauma and/or abuse, along with their allies, to share support and resources leveraging the positive philosophy of the Federation. Learn more about all of our Federation groups.

Inaccessibility of the California Insurance Exam Challenged

TRE Legal Practice and Disability Rights Advocates filed a disability rights lawsuit in California State Court on October 12 against the California Department of Insurance for its failure to ensure the accessibility of its licensing exam for insurance agents to blind applicants. Read the press release and the complaint to learn more.

Self-Advocacy in Employment Toolkit Launched

The National Federation of the Blind’s Self-Advocacy in Employment Toolkit is now available. Please share this resource throughout your network.

Senator Tammy Duckworth Brings Focus to Subminimum Wages on The Daily Show

On Thursday, October 21, Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL) appeared in a segment of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah where she and Trevor discussed the issue of subminimum wages for people with disabilities. As many of you may remember, Senator Duckworth was also a guest at our 2021 National Convention. In an interview for the convention, she and President Riccobono discussed the topic of subminimum wages and the unfair treatment of people with disabilities. We commend our friend Senator Duckworth for continuing to stand with us on this issue and Trevor Noah and The Daily Show for covering it.

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.

  • November is National Diabetes Month – Connect with the NFB’s Diabetes Action Network and share this helpful resource with anyone who might be interested.
  • Spread the Word About Our Upcoming Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest – It’s time, once again, for the Braille Readers Are Leaders (BRAL) contest, sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. This contest is for both children and adults. We are pleased to announce exciting changes to the contest this year including using an online platform called Beanstack. More details coming soon. Check back on
  • Request a Santa or Winter Letter Today – Each year, elves at the National Federation of the Blind have been Santa’s helpers in sending out Braille letters to children all around the country. This year, we are expanding our program to have a winter themed Braille letter for those who do not celebrate Christmas. We are providing both letters and the activities to go along with them in English and Spanish. Visit and complete the request form by December 17.

Important Dates

We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, workshops, and deadlines.