April 2023

President's Message

Dear Friends:

It is spring and with spring comes the baseball season. Many people know that I enjoy baseball and on the most recent Presidential Release Live I was asked about how a blind person might enjoy the experience of going to the ballpark.

Baseball is, in fact, a multisensory experience to begin with. One is bombarded by ballpark sounds, smells, and tastes. Ballparks have a distinctive feel too. For the play-by-play I take a transistor radio with me. It is worth mentioning that while traveling around the ballpark you get to meet many different people and share in the common experience of the game.

When I was a teenager, the best job I could think of was working at the ballpark. I convinced the Milwaukee Brewers to hire me as an usher. At the time, I did not identify fully as a blind person—I just knew I could not see so well. Thus, when I actually had to work in the stadium, I had no idea how to do the job as a blind person. I tried to fake it but without success. Instead of figuring out how to do the job as a blind person, I convinced myself that the job was actually not worth my time. As a fifteen-year-old, it was an amazing job for me. However, I did not believe in myself as a blind person and therefore faked myself into believing that the job was not worth my time. Today, my understanding is different, and I wish I could go back and tell myself to stick with it. I did not know it was respectable to be blind and I did not have a network of friends who knew the same. This happens to blind people every day which is why we have a continuous and urgent need to spread the word about our movement.

The shared understanding of blindness in the Federation has helped me realized that I can enjoy the things that society falsely believes are enjoyable only with sight. I know that blind people can find nonvisual techniques and use our other senses to enjoy life. If I am not sure how to do something in a particular situation, I am sure that one of my thousands of fellow Federationists will have an idea or two to help.
That’s just one of the reasons why I enjoy the largest gathering of blind people, the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. It is an opportunity to learn from other blind people. But equally as important, it is an opportunity to have fun and share camaraderie with other people who experience the world non-visually. Please join me this July in Houston. You can register now for in-person attendance or for the virtual experience by visiting our convention page.


Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

Jacob Bolotin Awards

The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards honor individuals and organizations that are a positive force in the lives of blind people. Dr. Jacob W. Bolotin (1888-1924) was the world’s first physician who was blind from birth. He achieved that goal despite the tremendous challenges faced by blind people in his time. Not only did he realize his own dream, but he also went on to support and inspire many others.

Winners of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards:

  • Break down barriers facing blind people in an innovative way
  • Change negative perceptions of blindness and blind people
  • Push past existing boundaries to inspire blind people to achieve new heights

Each year the National Federation of the Blind presents cash awards during our national convention. Past recipients have included entrepreneurs, volunteers, filmmakers, authors, mathematicians, technology developers, artists, and more. The founders of 64 Oz. Games, a 2022 winner, shared their inspiration:

Our accessibility kits take a board game off the shelf, and you put it together with our kit to make a completely accessible game.

We're firm believers in Braille. We believe that Braille gaming is Braille literacy. We are firm believers that Braille opens up opportunities, and by making these games accessible, we hope that we are making people realize that Braille is useful, Braille is important, and Braille offers opportunities that you would not get otherwise.

Learn more about the history of the award and previous winners on our Jacob Bolotin Awards page.

Latest News at the NFB

Unanimous Ruling in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools Advances Rights of Blind Students and Their Families

The National Federation of the Blind made the following statement on the recent unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools. The Federation signed an amicus brief in support of the position that the Court ultimately adopted, which is that students with disabilities and their families need not exhaust administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) before pursuing remedies under other federal civil rights laws.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The process of securing the right of blind students to a free, appropriate public education is usually more stressful and financially burdensome than it should be for these students and their families, and all too often it leads to incomplete and unsatisfying results. We therefore applaud the United States Supreme Court for affirming the rights of disabled students.”

Read the Perez v. Sturgis Supreme Court decision.

NFB Responds to Unnecessary Driver’s License Requirements for Employment and Spending for Independent Living Services for Older Americans Who are Blind

Unnecessary driver’s license requirements bar the blind from applying for employment and spending for independent living services for older Americans who are blind should be increased.

The National Federation of the Blind frequently releases comments, letters, and statements regarding a variety of issues that concern blind Americans. In March we took a stand on two important issues and shared our correspondence:

Ride for Literacy Announced

We are excited to partner with National Hockey League referee Dan O’Rourke for a journey of strength, dedication, and connection. This summer Dan will bike ride from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois, along the famous Route 66 to raise awareness for our mission of raising expectations. The pedals will start turning in July. Join us on the Ride for Literacy.

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.

Important Dates

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