In the National Federation of the Blind we are the blind leading the blind. We mentor and are mentored through our connection to the Federation. As I travel, I encounter our mentors and mentees all around the country, and I reflect on the chain of mentoring that happens in our movement. I learned from many amazing friends and role models myself. When I came to the National Federation of the Blind in 1996 people offered to help. “I've got you; I will show you how we do it; I will go with you.” Eventually I found my own voice and my mentors starting learning from my perspective. That was when I learned that mentoring is in fact a dynamic two-way relationship. I continue to find a great deal of value in being a mentor and having mentors even today.
I know that my children will benefit from strong mentoring within the National Federation of the Blind just as I did. They are young, but I also know that the fastest growing segment of blind people is over sixty-five years old. Our seniors truly benefit from mentoring. They tend to have less access to services and formal education around blindness and the nonvisual techniques that can help seniors stay independent. Mentoring teaches skills and confidence necessary for our seniors to live the lives they want. However, our blind youth will also benefit when newly blind seniors learn the positive philosophy of the Federation and start to become mentors for the younger generation. They have a life experience that is valuable in the mentoring process and that enhances our understanding of the capacity of people to live with blindness. I imagine the blind youth will have a lot to teach as well, including how to use technology effectively without eyesight. In our movement, mentoring is a give-and-take and continues over time.
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
In the National Federation of the Blind, we have always stated that we are a family. I have often thought of that and taken strength from it. Every one of us, sighted or blind, has at some time felt isolated or doubted ourselves. Factor in vision loss and the situation may rise to another level; however, in the Federation we are never truly alone. We have all benefited from mentors whether they be formal or informal. I know I have greatly benefited from the encouragement and support of others.
As a senior citizen and member of the NFB for over forty-five years, I have had numerous opportunities to mentor, teach, and counsel blind people, newly blind, families, friends, educators, and other professionals. There is deep satisfaction derived from bringing blind and sighted people from a place of despair and hopelessness to a place where they realize that the possibilities are endless with our love and support. Although we strive for independence in life, we are all truly interdependent.
Our senior population is growing, and we have a great deal to offer and to learn. To me, it is most important to think of others with a telephone call, email, or text, or maybe a cup of coffee, a meal, and an adult beverage. As people age and our social networks contract, it is nice to know that someone is thinking of us.
National Federation of the Blind Response to COVID-19
The National Federation of the Blind is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Guidance to state affiliates, local chapters, and affiliated training programs regarding this situation has been provided and we will continue to coordinate resources across the country. As a nationwide organization, we recognize that consistency and clear communication are critical to managing our operations during this critical time. The health and safety of all of our members, staff, and friends is always our top priority. Read our news brief.
Protecting Guide Dog Handlers’ Right to Travel
There are new proposed rules concerning service animals in air travel—some of which are discriminatory. The NFB and our guide dog users division, the National Association of Guide Dog Users, recently submitted comments on service animals and the Air Carrier Access Act. Additionally, we have facilitated discussions with major airlines to share our mutual concerns and better understand each other’s individual perspectives. Furthermore, we are committed to creating rules that balance these interests.
Deadline Approaching for Blind and Low-Vision Teen Summer Program
National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient (NFB EQ) Program
June 21-27, 2020
Science Museum of Minnesota
NFB EQ is a weeklong adventure into engineering and problem solving. No specific level of engineering experience is 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. Enriched experiences. New friendships. More independence. The deadline to apply is March 29. Apply now at nfb.org/eq.
The Nations Blind Podcast Presents New Episodes on Audio Description
Audio description is a form of narration used to provide key visual elements in film and other media. Hosts Anil Lewis and Melissa Riccobono, and interviewer Chris Danielson, explore the big picture in audio description and give us a professional’s perspective in the two most recent Nations Blind Podcasts.
Voice of the Nation’s Blind Blog: Census 2020
The 2020 Census is about to begin April 1. Information on completing the questionnaire is already being mailed out. Fortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau appears to have put in a lot of effort to make the 2020 Census accessible. Our latest blog post covers the importance of the 2020 Census, if it is accessible, and how to participate. Read "Time to Be Counted."
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 levels.
- You can still contribute to Terri Rupp’s #RunForNFB race by making an online donation and adding #RunForNFB to the contribution note.
- Spread the word about NFB EQ by sharing nfb.org/EQ.
- For those who do or do not read it, take the Braille Monitor survey.
- Check out our senior division website and the NFB’s senior division mailing list.
- Submit your comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making on service animals and the ACAA.
Important deadlines approaching including scholarship, STEM program for teens, and more. BLAST and national convention dates are nearing. Some events have locations and some are through Zoom teleconference. Note: Upon careful consideration regarding COVID-19 throughout the United States, we are rescheduling the 2020 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium to March 25-26, 2021.
- March to May: Spring state conventions; check our calendar for dates
- March 29: Deadline for NFB EQ applications
- March 31: Deadline for scholarship applications
- March 31: Accessibility Boutique—Procurement of Accessible Software for the Office; Zoom teleconference
- April 14-17: NABM BLAST; Chicago, IL
- April 15: Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award application deadline
- April 15: Deadline for Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship (for first-time attendees)
- April 28: Accessibility Boutique—Technology and Training Options for Seniors
- May 26: Accessibility Boutique—Textbook Provider Showdown
- June 21-27: NFB EQ; St. Paul, MN
- July 14-19: NFB National Convention; Houston, TX