Simple, personal relationships drive understanding and change. That is our intention with Meet the Blind Month, to spark the one-on-one personal conversations about blindness that help to create understanding. As blind individuals, we know that those who truly come to understand what blindness is--and is not--are those who get to know us personally. We may not want to talk about blindness all day every day, but we are prepared to answer questions in an effort to demystify the experience of living with blindness.
In a time driven by fast facts and instant sharing of Facebook posts, the way to drive sustained understanding is through personal stories. I am fortunate that I get to talk to blind people all over the country. I get to learn who they are, what they strive to achieve, the challenges they face from living in 2019, and the artificial barriers they encounter in society. Sometimes the conversation is about their experience as a blind person, but often it is about their experience living in a local community that is dealing with all of the current issues of the time. The intent of Meet the Blind Month is to create opportunities for intentional conversations, and they are not always easy conversations. Almost all blind people I know face the consequences of low expectations due to the people around them. Whether it is from employers, neighbors, or people we encounter in everyday travel, the low expectations can feel quite heavy as we continue to push through. It is our hope that by opening honest dialogues with blind people in your community you will not feel sorry for us, but rather understand the difference you can make by sharing the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind.
Meet the Blind Month is about growing our community of understanding and determination. Thank you for the role you play in sharing our messaging and our priorities. Please share your “ah-ha” moments regarding the blind people in your life and the understanding you have gained from your experience of taking the time to get to know their life experience. Above all, thank you for your understanding and recognition that it is not pity we seek, but rather the privilege of full participation in society on terms of equality.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
After its launch in 2002, Meet the Blind Month continues to grow each year. The National Federation of the Blind reaches out to teach people about blindness year-round. But we especially focus on spreading our positive message this month.
For me this has been a great experience. I think that Meet the Blind Month is extremely important because it gives us the opportunity to educate others on what it is to be blind.—Federation Member
Walk-a-thons. Festivals. Library presentations. A variety of outreach activities hosted by our members all over the country will occur in October. Our theme this year is web accessibility and how accessible tools for daily life promote independence. Many of the activities will center on White Cane Awareness Day. Learn how you can participate in Meet the Blind Month.
Our first Lady, Melissa Riccobono, shared her favorite Meet the Blind Month moment and it so exemplifies what this celebration is about.
“Several years ago some chapter members, including Mark and I, were at a festival Brailling names on alphabet cards. A young girl and her parents came up to our booth. We Brailled the girl’s name, and her mom shared that she had a friend who was blind in her kindergarten class. Mark took out his slate and stylus and asked the girl if she wanted him to write a note to her friend. She enthusiastically agreed. While he was writing the note, Mark started showing the girl how Braille and the slate and stylus worked. When the note was done, he handed it to her, along with the slate and stylus, and told her she knew how to use it, so she could have it. He wanted her and her friend to be able to write to each other.”
Launching UNO Braille Cards!
The National Federation of the Blind partnered with Mattel Games to launch UNO Braille, the first official UNO® card deck featuring Braille. UNO is globally the number one card game by Mattel. UNO Braille features Braille on the corner of each playing card to indicate the card’s color and number or action. UNO Braille is doing more than making this beloved game more accessible. It is also helping promote the importance and normalcy of Braille by putting it in places people might not expect and integrating it into the play of both blind and sighted children.
There was so much excitement around UNO Braille that the presales sold out on the first day. During the week of October 6, the games were stocked on shelves across the country. More information is available in our press release.
Earlier this year we objected to the CW’s casting of a sighted actor in a blind character’s role in the new show In the Dark. This led to a resolution that was passed at the 2019 National Convention. This fall the popular show This Is Us on NBC has cast a blind actor as a significant blind character. Not only is the actor blind, the storyline shows a blind person living the life he wants; blindness does not hold him back.
While we don’t have a direct correlation that the protest influenced the show, we do know the casting happened after the initial run of #LetUsPlayUs and that we have provided consultation to This Is Us. We strive to encourage more opportunities for blind actors throughout all sectors of the entertainment industry. Thank you for your part in supporting these efforts.
Supreme Court Declines Petition to Hear Domino’s Case:
Domino’s Pizza asked the United States Supreme Court to rule that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not apply to the internet after the Circuit Court determined that their web site and mobile app must be accessible. Blind people, like everyone else, engage in daily online interactions and transactions. On October 7, The Supreme Court denied Domino’s petition for certiorari leaving the lower court’s decision intact. The Circuit Court’s decision is consistent with our position that businesses must make their web sites accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
We continue to encourage all businesses to require the WCAG 2.1 AA standard in the development of their websites, and invite businesses to work closely with us in these efforts to ensure accessibility to the blind. Resources regarding web accessibility can be found through our Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access.
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.
- Celebrate White Cane Awareness Day.
- Attend an activity for Meet the Blind Month.
- Make a contribution today.
- Follow #MeetTheBlind on social media.
- Learn about the blind who lead the blind, the NFB Board of Directors.
- Read our most recent blog post, UNO Braille and the Importance of Inclusive Play.
Mark your calendars.
- Fall Conventions: review the calendar for details
- October 15, 2019: White Cane Awareness Day
- October & November 2019: Accessibility Boutiques
- November 1, 2019: Scholarship Application period begins
- February 10, 2020: Washington Seminar and Great Gathering-In, Washington, DC
- March 26–27, 2020: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, Baltimore, MD
- April 14-17, 2020: NABM BLAST, Chicago, IL
- June 30-July 5, 2020: National Convention, Houston, TX