Release Date: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)


3,500 Blind People to Arrive in Orlando

Event:   National Federation of the Blind National Convention

Dates:   July 3–8, 2011

Place:   Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel
           9939 Universal Boulevard
           Orlando, Florida 32819

Attention Editors:

Blind Driver to Take to the Road Again

In 2004 the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) issued the Blind Driver Challenge™, which challenged American colleges and universities to develop technology that would allow a blind person to drive.  Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory answered the challenge and has been hard at work since 2006.  This work culminated in a historic event on January 29, 2011, when for the first time ever, a blind person drove a street vehicle in public without the assistance of a sighted person.  Hundreds of NFB members, as well as tens of thousands of racing fans, were on hand as Mark Riccobono successfully navigated 1.5 miles of the road course section of the famed Daytona International Speedway course, avoiding both static and dynamic obstacles, in a Ford Escape equipped with technology designed to convey information about road conditions in a nonvisual way. 

On Tuesday, July 5, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., nearly one hundred and twenty people will get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Blind Driver Experience.  Mark Riccobono, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute, and the first blind person to drive a street vehicle in public, will give thirty individuals (and up to three of their guests) exclusive rides in the Blind Driver Challenge™ car equipped with nonvisual technology (the same car that was driven on the legendary Daytona International Speedway in January). 

Attention Editors:

Michael Hingson, Blind 9/11 Survivor, to Launch New Book

Michael Hingson, World Trade Center survivor and internationally acclaimed public speaker, will unveil his new book at the national convention.  The book, entitledThunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, tells the captivating story of how Hingson and his guide dog Roselle triumphed over adversity as they escaped Tower One on September 11, 2001.  Mr. Hingson will sell and sign advance print and audio copies of his book in the convention exhibit hall throughout the week and will be available for media interviews.  The book is being made available for the first time at the convention of the National Federation of the Blind because of Mr. Hingson’s long membership and passionate belief in this organization; convention attendees will be able to purchase it a full month before it is released to the general public.

Attention Education Editors: 

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to Hold Braille Book Flea Market

On Tuesday, July 5, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) will hold a Braille Book Flea Market for young book lovers.  The importance of Braille in a blind child’s life cannot be overstated, as only 10 percent of blind children are learning Braille, leaving 90 percent functionally illiterate. 

The market will be filled with tables of new and used Braille and print/Braille books for parents and children to browse.  UPS volunteers will then ship the books to shoppers’ homes, free of charge. 

Other exciting events for blind children and their parents will be held throughout the week.  On Sunday, July 3, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., NOPBC will be holding an all-day conference for parents and teachers of blind children, with sessions on important topics such as college preparation and adaptive tips and techniques for the classroom.

Founded in 1983, the NOPBC is a national membership organization of parents and friends of blind children reaching out to each other to provide vital support, encouragement, and information.  There are over three thousand members in all fifty states, and divisions or parent contacts in about thirty states plus Puerto Rico. 

Attention Sports and Lifestyle Editors: 

Blind Attendees to Learn Self Defense and More

As part of the program of the NFB’s Sports and Recreation Division, many different sporting events will be held at the national convention.  Blind people are often told they cannot participate in athletic pursuits, and the Sports and Recreation Division works to dispel that misconception with exciting activities throughout the convention. 

On Monday, July 4, from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m., convention attendees are invited to learn how to protect themselves with the always-popular self-defense class led by Sports and Recreation Division President Lisamaria Martinez, with the help of internationally renowned Sensei Stephen Nikols. 

And on Tuesday, July 5, from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, attendees are invited to try their hand at salsa dancing.  Individual and group lessons in all levels of proficiency will be provided.


NOTE:  The entire convention agenda is available at