I joined my Federation family for the October presidential release live from Jackson, Mississippi at the Mississippi School for the Blind. I was so happy to be there and to wish everyone a happy Blind Equality Achievement Month. That was a great way to kick off our work. We spent the day distributing water to our friends and colleagues in the movement–water donated by our own National Association of Blind Merchants Division.
It was so heart warming to be in Jackson on such a historic day. October 1 was the sixtieth anniversary of James Meredith integrating Ole Miss in 1962. When I reflected on that moment, which is one of the most iconic and impactful events in the civil rights struggle for Black Americans, it reminded me that it is even fewer than sixty years ago that we got the first white cane law passed in this country, and so it is less than sixty years ago that we, as blind people, started to assert our right to belong in the world.
As James Meredith asserted that he and others like him had the right to belong in the educational setting, we began less than sixty years ago to assert that we as blind people had the right to live in the world. And, in fact, we are still fighting that struggle in so many places.
When I come to this Blind Equality Achievement Month and I think about that seminal day for civil rights, it reminds me how much work we still have to do to belong.
Therefore, my charge for all of us is to use Blind Equality Achievement Month to assert our right to belong. I encourage our members to have those honest conversations with members of the public about our rights and our desire to belong and participate fully in society.
Let us use this month as an opportunity to lead the education and public awareness around blindness and the capacity of blind people so we can raise expectations.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
Blind Equality Achievement Month
Formerly known as Meet the Blind Month, the National Federation of the Blind celebrates the organized blind movement each October. Throughout the month, our members conduct a variety of outreach activities in their local communities such as white cane walks, service projects, film screenings, and social events. Much of what we convey is rooted in language and aims to increase public awareness and improve the perception of what blindness truly means.
President Riccobono wrote:
We use the word “blind” because the word “blind” is not merely appropriate, it is essential to reflecting the belief that it is respectable to live and compete on terms of equality as a blind person. We use the word “blind” because we reject the outdated notion that blindness is a tragedy that limits possibilities. For us, the word “blind” has power and meaning.
Visit our Blind Equality Achievement Month page to learn more and explore opportunities to celebrate around the country. Read Blind Equality Achievement Month: Yet Another Thing that Makes October Special from the December 2021 Braille Monitor for more.
Latest News at the NFB
Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act Introduced
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced The Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (S. 4998) and (H.R. 9021) in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives recently.
We commend Sen. Duckworth and Rep. Sarbanes for their leadership and for introducing this legislation with the full support and collaboration of the disability community. Once passed, this legislation would require the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to establish a clear and enforceable uniform national framework for website and software application accessibility, reaffirm that existing disability rights law covers websites and software applications, and ensure that accessibility standards keep pace with new and emerging technologies.
With respect to a website or application, accessibility means a website or application that enables individuals with disabilities to access the same information, engage in the same interactions, communicate and to be understood effectively, and to enjoy the same services offered to other individuals with the same privacy, independence, and ease of use as individuals without disabilities. Read about the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act.
National Federation of the Blind and Vispero Announce $50,000 Challenge Grant
Challenging expectations at work, school, and home. Blind Equality Achievement Month is a great time to contribute to our mission. Thanks to a generous challenge grant from Vispero, every dollar contributed between October 15 and the end of the year will be matched up to $50,000!
Double your contribution and help ensure that we fulfill this matching gift. To find out how, visit our challenge campaign page and check out the announcement video.
Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities Comments Submitted
The National Federation of the Blind submitted comments to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights regarding its notice of public rulemaking for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in late September. The Notice for Proposed Rule Making proposes to clarify and expand nondiscrimination requirements in Section 1557 of the ACA and requested feedback specific to telehealth, medical devices, and website, and mobile app accessibility. Read our comments on the Policy Statements section of our website.
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.
- Help us challenge expectations and meet the challenge grant goal of $50,000 by contributing. Learn more about our partnership with Vispero and how you can help.
- Join us on Friday, October 21, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. eastern as we celebrate the work and accomplishments of successfully employed blind professionals. Register for the Where the Blind Work Webinar.
- Use the hashtag #BlindMonth on social media to promote Blind Equality Achievement Month.
We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, webinars, and workshops.
- October 21, 2022: Where the Blind Work Webinar
- October 25, 2022: Education Technology Accessibility Boutique
- October 26, 2022: NFB Virtual Career Fair, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. eastern
- January 30, 2023: Great Gathering-In kick off to Washington Seminar, Washington, DC
- March 23, 2023: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, Baltimore, MD
- July 1-5, 2023: 2023 National Convention, Houston, TX