Our 2022 National Convention was our first time back in person since 2019. The feeling of collective action was as powerful as ever and you would have never known we had spent anytime distanced from each other. In coming together in New Orleans, we experienced the collective heartbeat of our movement as blind people. We are unstoppable when we join with one another to raise expectations and live the lives we want. Read about the success of our past year in my 2022 Presidential Report.
If you attended our 2022 National Convention, thank you for your participation, engagement, and support. With the work of our members, support of our sponsors, and contributions of our partners, this was truly one of our best conventions ever, but we can always raise expectations for the blind of America. Please share your experiences of the 2022 National Convention. Take the #NFB22 survey now online or by phone. To complete the survey by phone, call 229-632-7878 or toll-free 833-632-7878.
Whether or not you were with us this year, please plan to join me and around 3,000 of my friends next year in Houston for our 2023 National Convention. Mark your calendars for July 1 through July 6, 2023. If you missed the convention, you can still experience the highlights on our website and the Nation’s Blind YouTube channel.
The convention inspires us to live the lives we want. After convention Melissa and I traveled abroad to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary and my birthday. I am happy to be back after a wonderful trip to Europe where I also enjoyed visits with blind leaders in Italy. I even visited the village where the Riccobonos came from. Our 2022 National Convention and my time abroad have left me reinvigorated and ready to continue the work of this amazing organization.
As I wrote this letter, I was presented with a Braille thank-you card from one of the emerging Braille readers who participated in the NFB BELL® Academy hosted at our building by the Maryland affiliate. BELL is just one of many exciting educational efforts that took place this summer. The impact of these programs is experienced in dozens of states across the nation.
During the coming year we will be carrying out the priorities set by our convention including the continued development of the Museum of the Blind People’s Movement which you will learn about in a future issue. Thank you for making our progress possible.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
From July 5 to July 10 the National Federation of the Blind National Convention took place in-person in New Orleans, Louisiana. The impact of being together again in the same space was palpable. Our convention is the governing body of the National Federation of the blind; hence, we say national convention not national conference. We conduct the business of the Federation, but NFB conventions are more than business meetings. Networking with other conventioneers and learning from each other is always an important part of our conventions and we are so happy to share fellowship as the premier organization of the blind.
Some of our students shared their thoughts about the impact of past conventions:
“Very soon after I went blind, I went to my first convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Though as a 6-year-old I was not scared about my future as a blind person, learning about the NFB and going to conventions showed me tons of independent blind people who I could look up to. Real life superheroes that I could aspire to be like.”
“After starting my master’s degree, I attended my first convention of the NFB. That was a transformative and beautiful weekend. I was suddenly amidst a wide variety of successful people who share my most unique characteristic. The diversity of the group, coupled with the warm welcome I received was life changing. Social workers, attorneys, teachers, and scientists were among the conventioneers. Never had I encountered so many blind people at once, and never had I been so graciously included in a new group.”
You can listen to or revisit the highlights of our 2022 convention, or you can listen to an encore of the general session preshow commentary, a post-convention review, on the Nation’s Blind Podcast with the preshow panelists. Listen to the podcast episode here.
In 2023 we will be in Houston, and we invite you to join us to experience all that a National Federation of the Blind convention has to offer. Please mark your calendar for July 1, through July 5, 2023, and plan to attend the largest gathering of the blind.
NFB Reaches Give $20 Campaign Goal—Thank You, Donors
Running up to and through the 2022 National Convention, our Give $20 campaign gained momentum towards our goal of raising $50,000. We reached it at the last hour and that means HumanWare will match the $50,000 contributed by many individual donors. NFB thanks HumanWare for the generous gift and thanks everyone who helped us meet the match by contributing and sharing the campaign with friends and family.
Senate Committee on Aging Hearing Held Regarding Accessible Federal Technology
Anil Lewis, Executive Director of Blindness Initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind, testified on Thursday, July 28 before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging on the importance of accessible federal websites and technology. Anil’s full written testimony can be found on the Policy Statements page of our website. You can also watch the full Senate Committee on Aging hearing.
United States Postal Service Report Regarding Free Matter for the Blind Issued
The United States Postal Service Inspector General released a report on Tuesday, July 26 with the result of their review of the Free Matter for the Blind Program, as requested by Senators Van Hollen, Hyde-Smith, Peters, and Portman. An impetus for this Inspector General investigation was the testimony of Federationist Rania Dima at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and the Federal Government in July 2021. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to advocate for better service for blind people who depend on the USPS to receive important material in alternative formats.
New Guidance Available on Nondiscrimination in Telehealth
The NFB applauds the US Department of Justice and Health and Human Services for recently issuing guidance on nondiscrimination in telehealth, and we encourage members and health-care providers to review this important information.
Update: More Accessible At-Home COVID-19 Tests Available
The Biden-Harris Administration, with assistance from the National Federation of the Blind, launched an initiative to offer free at-home testing options that are accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The tests work with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app to provide users with audible instructions and test results.
Currently, the free and more accessible COVID-19 tests are not available on the online system. We are urging the administration to resupply. Meanwhile, please call 1-800-232-0233 to order the tests. We are working to learn more about when the online ordering system will be available.
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.
- Read President Riccobono's 2022 Banquet Speech, “Spirit, Togetherness, and Service: the Signature of the Blind People’s Movement”
- Please thank all of our 2022 National Convention Sponsors who support the work of the Federation. You can also watch the Sponsor Preview – Virtual Showcase on YouTube.
- Read our recent blog post. Longtime Federationist, Todd Elzey, wrote about his employment experiences and excitement for the promotion of self-employment opportunities in the recent post, “Entrepreneurism: A Solution to Unemployment and Underemployment of the Blind”.
Mark your calendars. Attend the upcoming Presidential Release via Zoom. Save the date for Washington Seminar, Blind Equality Achievement Month, Disability Law Symposium, and more.
- September 1, 2022: Presidential Release live, 8:00 p.m. eastern, CC and Spanish translation available
- October 2022: Blind Equality Achievement Month
- October 15, 2022: White Cane Awareness Day
- January 30, 2023: Great Gathering-In kick off to Washington Seminar
- March 23, 2023: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium
- July 1-6, 2023: 2023 National Convention, Houston, Texas