The National Federation of the Blind began 2023 by celebrating World Braille Day on January 4—the birthdate of Louis Braille. Braille is an important tool for so many aspects of life. I was not given instruction in Braille until the summer I turned twenty-one years old. It was like a renewal; it opened new doors and it allowed me to make new resolutions for my future. It always feels appropriate to launch a new year celebrating Braille.
On January 4, our partners at the American Printing House for the Blind announced the name for the dynamic tactile display they are developing in partnership with both HumanWare and the National Federation of the Blind. Because the most efficient way to read Braille is two handed and the motions outline the frame of a butterfly the new multi-line display, which will simultaneously display tactile graphics and Braille, is named Monarch.
Monarch could revolutionize the way we teach blind children by giving them access to graphics at the same time and with the same ease as sighted children. As a parent of two blind children, I experience the hardship that comes when my daughters are denied the same educational materials as their peers. And I might enjoy access to tactile displays of maps and art myself. I doubt we have imagined all the applications for a dynamic tactile display yet, but I look forward to discovering them.
Shortly after World Braille Day, our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service. To my knowledge, Dr. King and the Federation’s first President, Dr. tenBroek, never met, but I sometimes imagine the lively discussion that would have occurred between these two civil rights champions. The work of these important figures and the intersections of their work continue to be as pressing as ever in 2023. In the organized blind movement, we continue to seek a deeper understanding of intersecting characteristics within our community. The diversity of our membership and fostering an inclusive organization is essential to the future of the National Federation of the Blind.
I hope you will take time to work on our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, attend some of our DEI events, and visit our DEI page to learn more and read my letter about the meaningful process of improving our movement.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind provides a loving, supportive, and encouraging family that values full participation of all people within and outside of the organization. Our national Board of Directors exemplifies both our diversity and our welcoming culture. A few Federation members shared:
“Seeing the number of BIPOC and female board members on our national board makes me proud.”
“As a person with asthma and severe allergies I appreciate my colleagues’ understanding of the seriousness of these issues and their willingness to avoid wearing scented products during our meetings.”
“We value developing strong leaders from within, and we can do the hard work to make sure future leaders represent the diversity of our organization.”
We celebrate and embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core value in our mission to achieve equality, security, and opportunity for all blind people, because we know that we are stronger together. As Barbara Manuel, one of our national board members described, “The National Federation of the Blind strives to embrace one common thread that is tightly woven throughout our movement, ‘blindness’. We are a close-knit family and it’s our goal to create a place for every blind individual, from every walk of life.”
Thanks to All Who Helped Exceed the Vispero Matching Gift Challenge Goal of $50,000
Thanks to everyone who contributed, shared our message, and helped us far exceed our goal of $50,000 in our end-of-year campaign. Special thanks go to Vispero for matching 50,000 dollars in contributions to the National Federation of the Blind during the last three months of the year. Vispero continues to be a valued partner on many levels and we appreciate our collaborations with the maker of access technology like JAWS and ZoomText.
NFB-BELL® Academy Application Period Opens with In-Person and Virtual Options
The NFB BELL Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning®—is a nationwide (United States and Puerto Rico) summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want. During the summer of 2023 both in-person and virtual options are available. Learn more about NFB-BELL Academy.
US Senate Special Committee on Aging Report Regarding the Accessibility of Federal Technology Issued
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, published a report on Tuesday, December 14, authored by the committee titled “Unlocking the Virtual Front Door”. The report details the findings of an eleven-month investigation detailing “widespread failure across the federal government to ensure that federal technology is accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, and veterans.” The full report can be read on Senator Casey’s website.
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.
- Attend the Great Gathering-In, which is the very exciting opening session of the Washington Seminar, on Monday, January 30, at 5:00 p.m. eastern.
- Read the January issue of the Braille Monitor.
- Listen to our latest Nation's Blind Podcast, “Kellogg’s and Navilens: A Path to Inclusion One Cereal at a Time.”
We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, workshops, and deadlines.
- January 19, 2023: Where the Blind Work Webinar featuring blind medical and healthcare professionals, 8:00 p.m. eastern
- January 30, 2023: Great Gathering-In kick off to Washington Seminar, Washington, DC
- January 31, 2023: Accessibility Boutique Webinar, 2:00 p.m. eastern
- March 23, 2023: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, Baltimore, MD
- July 1-6, 2023: 2023 National Convention, Houston, TX