Presidential Release #473: July 2018 (English Transcript)

Greetings, fellow federationists. Today is Monday, July 16, 2018, and this is president release 473. This release is a little later than I had hoped but it was because of our outstanding fabulous 2018 national convention in Orlando, which wrapped up about a week ago. And I spent a few extra days on the road and was not able to get the release out before the last Saturday. So my apologies for that.

But we did have a fantastic national convention. The numbers were great. The energy was outstanding. The discussions and debate were as thoughtful and meaningful and lively as ever. What a great convention it was. You can get some of the convention material already online. The presidential report and the banquet speech text are already online, and over the coming days, more and more of the audio will be available as we get into the rest of the summer. You can check FNB dot-org for some of that information. During the course of the convention, a number of things happened that we’ll be talking about in the months going forward.

One of them is that we announced some new public service announcements, audio public service announcements that we’re going to attempt to get played in various radio stations across the country. You may have context and folks are running podcasts or radio stations that might be willing to play the new PSAs. You can go to NFB dot-org/PSAS to listen to the new PSAs. And we’ll be putting some more up there than the few that we announced at the national convention. I hope you enjoy them. I look forward to your feedback on them.

And in case you missed it, we did announce the location of the 2019 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. If you missed it, we will put the announcement that we aired during the board meeting at the convention at the very end of this presidential release. So if you missed it, great reason to be at the convention but you’ll have to wait a little longer. During the convention, we also announced a settlement agreement with Greyhound. Greyhound, we have discussed with them the inaccessibility of their website and their mobile app.

They have made commitments to us, and we believe that they’re good commitments. We had an executive from Greyhound at the board meeting during the convention. You’re going to hear more about our work with Greyhound. We’re going to have some work to put together a secret shopper program so that we can test Greyhound’s customer service and accessibility going forward so we will need some help from members with that project but you can look forward to greater accessibility of Greyhound bus lines mobile and Internet resources in the future.

Another thing that we talked about during the course of the national convention was our dream maker’s circle. This is our program that allows members and non-members to express a commitment to leave a gift to the National Federation of the Blind upon their passing away. It’s a gift that we hope you won’t fulfill on for many, many years to come. But it’s a way of leaving behind a legacy in the National Federation of the Blind and continuing the great work that we have the opportunity to do together.

Patti Chang is our director of outreach and is in charge of the dream maker’s circle program, and she’d be happy to talk to you about what it takes to become part of the dream maker’s circle. It’s really just an expression of your intent to leave a gift when you have passed away. And she can talk to you about that. I wanted to provide the list of individuals who have agreed to share their name as part of the dream maker’s circle. We do have some members who have requested to remain anonymous so thank you to our anonymous dream maker’s circle members.

But I’d like to share with you those who are currently on the list as of the close of the national convention this year. And as new people come on, we will share them on the release. So this is a longer list than sometimes but it’s a list that we appreciate your dedication to the organization. Here we go. Roland and Pam Allen. Dana Ard. Denise Avant. Everett Bacon. John Bergrin. Tom and Virginia Bickford. Charles and Jaqueline Brown. Ron and Jean Brown. Debra Brown. Shane and Amy Berish. Shawn and LaTonya Calloway. Patti and Francisco Chang.

Bunna de Hall and Tommy Powell. Christopher S. Danielson. Parnell and Kim Diggs. Rick Fox. James and Susan Gashall. Louise Geretti. Mara Gold. Everly Herston. John and Sandy Halverson. Steve Hastalis. Mike Hinkson. Kathy Jackson. Carl and Mindy Jacobson. Mary Ellen Geragin. Catherine Keim and Virgil Stenett. Barbara Kersh. Bob and Lynn Cressmer. Sharon Crever-Weissbaum and Harold Weissbaum. Scott and Anna Heat-Labar. Ann Marie Laney. Aneil Lewis. Bradley D. and Barbara E. Loess. Gary and Denise Mackenstaph. Al and Sharon Maknecky.

Tiffany Manish. Mark and Patricia Mauer. Carla and Lucas McQuillan. John A. Mitchell. Francis Mullane. John C. Mullen. Jim and Sharon Omvig. Ronza M. Offman. John G. Paree Jr. Linda Panell. Barbara and Robert Peirce. Kathy Randall. Eileen Rivera Lye. Mark Anthony and Melissa Ann Ricabono. Joe and Judy Ruffalo. Marvin and Meme Sandler. Fred and Kathy Schroeder. Barbara Shadnagel. Tracy and Sharon Sofarenko. Dick and Debbie Stein. Ruth Sante. David Tiki. Ramona Walhoff. Catherine C. Webster. Kevin and Bridgette Werley. And Gary and Debbie Wonder.

Thank you to each and every one of you, and our anonymous dream maker circle participants. If you’re interested in being part of this group, making a commitment to the federation, we need as many members as possible on this list before we start to go out and ask non-members to make a commitment to our dream maker’s circle that help us get others interested in us. If we have a huge list of members who have already made a commitment. Please contact Patti Chang at P-C-H-A-N-G at NFB dot O-R-G or call her at 410-659-9314 extension 2422.

I have a few other things to talk with you about here on the release. One of them is our independence market. This is where we sell items for blind people that you might be looking for; white canes, or slates, or Braille paper, or other items that we have. We have, for some time, operated an online e-commerce site for the Independence Market. That technology is one of probably the oldest technologies we have. Shortly before our national convention, we took the e-commerce site down. We’re planning on having it stay down until the redesign of NFB dot-org, which we anticipate could happen at the end of this year early 2019.

So, unfortunately, you will not be able to buy items online from our Independence Market. You can continue to call our main number, 410-659-9314 to get o the Independence market and order your items. It should not slow down the shipping of items to you. So please call the Independence Market if you’d like to buy items from the federation. During the convention, we talked some about opportunities to get blind people and others in the careers in rehabilitation for the blind.

And so I wanted to remind everybody that some of those opportunities come through the Professional Development and Research Institution on Blindness at Louisiana Tech that is offering scholarships for individuals who wish to pursue a master’s degree in either orientation and mobility or rehabilitation teaching. The Louisiana Tech program is the primary program in the country that prepares people to teach using structured discovery, cane travel, or structured discovery rehabilitation teaching, which federationists know is the most effective way to empower blind people to live the lives we want.

The master’s program at Louisiana Tech does have scholarships available, and you should reach out Dr. Edward Bell if you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities to pursue a career in working with blind people under the most dynamic educational program and higher ed. to prepare you do this, that there is in the United States. You can visit the website of the Professional Development Research Institute by going to www.pdrib.com. And you can contact Dr. Bell by sending an e-mail to ebell at latech dot-edu. That's E bell at L.A. Tech dot-edu, or you can call Dr. Bell at 318-257-4554. We need more people to get into this program and to be quality professionals in the field of blindness.

So if you’re interested in this career or know someone who might be a good candidate, please have them reach out to Dr. Bell as soon as possible. Speaking of jobs, we had an outstanding career fair at our 2018 convention. We had over 30 employers at our career fair, and one of them, of course, was the National Federation of the Blind. We’re always looking for folks interested in being employees, staff of the federation. We have a number of jobs currently on our website. I would encourage you to take a look at NFB dot-org, see if you’re qualified and interested in working for the National Federation of the Blind.

I do have a number of federation and family notes to share with you this month. The first is one that I neglected in getting on the May release. I’m sorry to have to let you know that Nathaniel and Trace Wales of Connecticut lost their young son David Thomas Wales in early May. He was about three years old. Nathaniel was at the convention. He was very happy to be in and amongst the federation family and I know he appreciates the love and support that we’ve already given him but I wanted to share this news with you if you had not heard and invite you to keep the Wales family in your thoughts and prayers.

During the convention, we learned about the loss of a couple of members. Don Jordan from Alabama, who was a member of 44 years. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and also a member of our New Jersey affiliate Rebecca Irving Bryant, who was 67 years old passed away on Thursday July 5. She had been a member of the federation for about 15 years, a very active chapter member in New Jersey; served on the state board. You should keep her family and those friends of hers in the federation in your thoughts and prayers.

We do have a number of pieces of joyous news for this release. I want to let you know that Cassie McKinney, our president in New Hampshire gave birth to Timothy on May 19th.  Timothy came in measuring 19.5 inches long and weighing 7.2 ounces. I have talked with Cassie. Timothy is doing well, as is Cassie in addition, big brother Robert is enjoying being a big brother, and dad Jamie is doing well. Unfortunately, they were not able to be with us at the national convention but they were tuned in so congratulations to the McKinney family.

Also, Allison and Darryl Hillicker have reported the birth of their daughter, Arabella Elysia Michelle Hillicker, who was born on May 28 at 11:34 p.m. A little bit under the wire there. Congratulations to the Hillicker Family as well. And, finally, I am happy to announce the marriage of Rex Shelter and Cammie Lure, which happened on May 26, 2018 in Oklahoma City. Rex and Cammie Shelter, we wish you many decades of happiness together in the National Federation of the Blind and beyond. Rex, I visited with at the convention. He was very happy and I’m sure Cammie is as well. So congratulations to the newest federation couple.

We do have a number of activities coming up here this summer although the convention is just a week behind us. Many things are underway in just a few days. We’re gonna be starting our National Federation of the Blind engineering quotient program, NFBQ. There are a number of Braille enrichment academies happening across the country. We’re gonna have one here in the building in just a couple of weeks. And we’re actively working on the remodeling that’s going to happen here at the national office. We talked a little bit about it at the convention.

We’re gonna be building new sleeping rooms in the north wing of our building on the fourth floor. Construction probably won’t start now until early 2019 but we have a lot of work to do to get ready for that. And so that will be continuing in and amongst a lot of programming her at the national office. A conference or two this fall, and of course many fall conventions. I hope that you continue to have a great summer. I know that the federation activities slows slightly in our chapters but usually not too much. I know there will be a lot of federation picnics.

So I wish everybody well. Thank you again for a fantastic 2018 convention. Here are some customary endings followed by the announcement of our 2019 convention in case you missed it. Let’s go build the National Federation of the Blind.