October 2021

Letter from the President

For centuries the term “blind” has been used to articulate negative concepts and to identify individuals who, because they possess the characteristic of not being able to see, are assumed to be less capable than others. I thought I knew what the word “blind” meant until I met the members of the National Federation of the Blind. Now I use the word with confidence and back it up with actions—like working and traveling independently. This process of understanding and growth continues even today and is at the core of the mission of the National Federation of the Blind.

October has long been an important month for teaching others about the capacity of blind people. We used to designate it as “Meet the Blind Month.” That work was valuable as it helped us get to be better known in our communities. However, we are rebranding it this year as “Blind Equality Achievement Month” in order to raise the expectations even farther. We want more than to just be met, we want you to stand with us for equality, opportunity, and security. We want our nonblind friends, family, and colleagues to come to know that the definition of blind is best shaped by our lived experience not by the misperceptions of those who have not lived with the characteristic of blindness every day.

Together we can help others have the same transformational journey that empowered me. We invite you to join us in sharing this new definition, this authentic understanding, so that all blind people may live the lives they want.

Mark Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

We Expect Employment

Remember history. Advance equality. Celebrate accomplishments. Formerly known as Meet the Blind Month, the National Federation of the Blind celebrates the organized blind movement during October. Throughout the month, our members conduct a variety of outreach activities in their local communities. Many of these activities center on White Cane Awareness Day which is October 15. Our 2021 theme is “expect employment.” We showcase the abilities and accomplishments of blind people who succeed at a wide range of jobs while raising awareness of the myriad of employment resources the Federation provides.

Suzanne says, “The Employment Committee is near and dear to me because I am one of those individuals that ended up placed in a sheltered workshop. But I knew I wanted something different. When I came into the National Federation of the Blind there were different avenues in front of me, but employment was what fit. The Employment Committee has evolved into one of the premier entities within the NFB. Having a network develop between potential employers and job seekers has been a win-win.”

Suzanne exemplifies the capacity of blind people—she currently works for the United States Department of Defense in mainstream competitive employment. Learn more about Blind Equality Achievement Month and our employment initiatives. Check back often for updates on local events.

Latest News at the NFB

Participate in Generous Gift Matching Opportunity for Blind Equality Achievement Month

The National Federation of the Blind is excited to announce a generous Federation supporter is providing a matching gift opportunity in honor of Blind Equality Achievement Month. Every dollar contributed during October will be doubled up to $50,000. Double your contribution and help ensure that we fulfill this matching gift during the month of October!

Three Ways to Give:

  • Give online at https://nfb.org/donate
  • Mail a check to National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230
  • Contribute by phone using a credit card by calling 410-659-9314, extension 2282

Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium Set for March 2022

Join nationally renowned disability rights advocates at the 2022 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, the United States’ leading disability law symposium. The symposium will take place at the Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland on March 24–March 25, 2022. We will examine the right of people with disabilities to live in a world of pandemics, political polarization, and natural disasters. Please visit the law symposium webpage for additional information as it becomes available.

Total Permanent Disability Student Loan Discharge Program FAQs Available

The US Department of Education announced new rules to simplify and facilitate student loan discharge due to disability on August 19, 2021. The National Federation of the Blind prepared a FAQ document that contains the answers to many of the questions we have received.

Latest Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research Available

Volume 11 Number 2 of our Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is now available. Articles included in this issue describe how sculpture can be used to teach concepts in the visual arts education of blind students, inexpensive and easily employed methods to make geographic instructional materials accessible, the perspectives of blind patients on their interactions with healthcare providers, and the perceptions of blind students in post-graduate distance learning in STEM fields.

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.

  • Double your contribution by giving in October to the National Federation of the Blind. Thank you for your support!
    • Give online at https://nfb.org/donate
    • Mail a check to National Federation of the Blind, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230
    • Contribute by phone using a credit card by calling 410-659-9314, extension 2282
  • Celebrate Blind Equality Achievement Month! Participate in the following:
    • Sign up to join the National Association of Blind Students (NABS) on Saturday, October 16, at 8:00 p.m., eastern, for our virtual Blind Equality Achievement Month Trivia Fundraiser! The event will be a great night of friendly Federation competition and a celebration of the movement of the organized blind.
    • Learn about where the blind work in an upcoming webinar discussion celebrating the work and workplace accomplishments of blind and low-vision people. On Thursday, October 14, at 8:00 p.m., eastern, hear about what a typical day looks like, discover elements that prepare for career success, learn about alternative techniques and strategies used to do these jobs. Register for the webinar today.
    • Read the first post defining Blind Equality Achievement Month in the Voice of the Nation’s Blind Blog, “On Blindness, Equality, and Achievement: Who Defines Us,” by President Mark Riccobono

Important Dates

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