Release Date: 
Friday, July 18, 2014
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Awards Scholarships to Thirty Outstanding Blind Students

Deja Powell of Utah Receives $12,000 Scholarship

Baltimore, Maryland (July 18, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, awarded scholarships to thirty blind scholars at its seventy-fourth annual convention in Orlando, Florida. Among the recipients was Deja Powell, of Saint George, Utah, who was awarded the program’s highest honor, the $12,000 Kenneth Jernigan Award, sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. In the fall, Powell will continue to pursue her Ph.D. at Capella University. Powell previously won an NFB scholarship in 2002. She is currently an orientation and mobility instructor and plans to one day open a charter school for blind students. 

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from mechanical engineering to tax law, and in so doing raising the expectations of what blind people can achieve. Their accomplishments are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”  

More than seven hundred students competed for the NFB scholarships. A committee of blind persons representing a cross section of the NFB membership, including several former scholarship winners, narrowed the field to thirty winners. Each winner was then given roundtrip transportation, hotel accommodations, and assistance to attend the NFB convention in Orlando, where the committee spent several days getting to know each student. Only after that process was complete did the committee decide which scholarship to award each winner. Nearly three thousand blind people attended the convention, the largest gathering of its kind in the United States this year.

In addition to the NFB scholarship, each of the thirty winners received a $1,000 check and plaque from Ray Kurzweil; a Google Nexus tablet for access to the Blio e-book reader from K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc.; and a $1,000 cash award from Google. 

Please contact Jessica Freeh at for a photo of the scholarship winner. For more information on the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program, visit