February 2020

President's Letter

Dear Friend, 

The fastest growing segment of blind people is over sixty-five years old. I often tell groups I speak to that they should hope they live long enough to be a blind person. Sharing the understanding that we have in the National Federation of the Blind about living with blindness and the techniques that we use to remain independent is critical. It breaks my heart when older individuals are forced to move into assisted living arrangements simply because they believe blindness holds them back or because they have not received training in the tools and techniques they can use to participate fully in their household. We know that independence is a critical motivator for living well and blindness should not hold anyone back. 

You can help. If you know a blind person who does not know of the National Federation of the Blind refer them to us. If you know anyone facing vision loss, let us know. We can help them continue to live the lives they want. 


Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

Our Seniors Live the Life They Want

The National Federation of the Blind’s diversity encompasses blind people of all ages. The fastest growing segment is our older blind members. We asked our seniors to tell us what they do to live the lives they want.

Regina shared, “Last year, I persuaded my husband to take a river cruise in France – my best vacation ever! Another passion for me is fitness–I work out with a personal trainer twice a week, as well as doing cardio regularly. I try to have somewhere to go every day–a reason to put on my makeup, do my hair, and dress up!”

Ward says, “I sometimes reflect on my life as a retired person. I am busier now then I was when I worked full time. I start my weekdays attending programs at Silver Linings at Old Bridge, my local senior center. I also participate in yoga and chorus. I practice in two bands and teach keyboard.  In addition to those activities, I read at church. I am a board member of the NFB of New Jersey Senior Division and am active in several divisions and my local chapter. I guess this is enough to keep a seventy-one-year-old busy. Without my NFB philosophy to influence my life, some of this would have been more difficult. This philosophy refreshes everything we do, like a stream refreshes the woods it flows through. When you need its strength and knowledge to get you through a situation, our philosophy is always there.”

Besides talking about how our philosophy influences their life many people mentioned the encouragement and advice they found on our Senior Division Web Page and the NFB’s Senior Division Mailing List. Members use these resources to stay independent, mentor each other, and raise expectations. Check out those resources and search the Braille Monitor, our flagship magazine for more.

Latest News at the NFB

National Board Member, Terri Rupp, to Run Fifty Mile Ultra Marathon

Terri Rupp, our newest and youngest National Board member, is set to run fifty miles in her first ultra-marathon this month. Terri set a fundraising goal of $50,000 for #RunForNFB in the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. “You don’t literally need to lace up your shoes and run, but I invite you to help me reach this dream of $50K for the Federation while running a 50K. Be a part of supporting blind children with big dreams with the love and guidance from the Federation team.” Read more about Terri's run in our latest blog.

New Drupal Theme Honors Rachel Olivero

Rachel Olivero (1982-2019) was a dedicated member and leader of the nation’s blind, a well-known accessibility expert, and a friend to many. In October 2019, the Drupal Community, open-sourced platform for websites, honored Rachel’s lasting legacy by naming its new default theme “Olivero.”

“She was committed to making technology accessible to all people,” a Drupal expert said in the announcement, which was made at DrupalCon 2019. “We chose the name Olivero not just because we have made accessibility a top priority, but also because we aspire to develop this new theme in our community in a manner that is consistent with the qualities that Rachel embodied, including patience, generosity, and inclusivity.”

National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient Program Accepting Applications

NFB EQ (the National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient program) will be held June 21-27, 2020 at the Science Museum of Minnesota. NFB EQ is a weeklong adventure into engineering and problem solving. No specific level of engineering experience required. Engage in activities designed to strengthen knowledge and grow interests. Connect with the twenty-nine other high school teen participants while also exploring the local community and participating in various recreational activities. Apply for NFB EQ now! nfb.org/EQ

Protecting the Right to Appeal and File Cases with the U.S. Department of education

The lawsuit against the United States Department of Education (DOE) has resolved. The suit was filed when DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) changed the way it handles discrimination complaints, by revising its case-processing manual, in March of 2018. The changes required OCR to dismiss some discrimination complaints without investigating. The right to appeal was also eliminated at this time. DOE revised the manual again to roll back some of the changes in November of 2018, but the status of complaints that had already been dismissed under the March 2018 procedures was not resolved.

Under the agreement, OCR has reopened all of the nearly 700 disability rights complaints it dismissed and will investigate them following the complaint investigation processes as of November 2018. In addition, people who were denied the right to appeal the dismissal of their complaints between March and November of 2018 will be able to do so.

Take Action This Month

Stay involved in the National Federation of the Blind. There are so many ways to be involved with the Federation at the national, state, and local level.

Important Dates

We have an array of activities in the pipeline. The disability law symposium is coming up. STEM program for teens, nonvisual access technology training, and important deadlines approach. BLAST and national convention dates are nearing. Mark your calendars.