January 2024

President’s Message

Dear Friends,

I feel reenergized after wonderful family time during the holidays and the Federation is moving full steam ahead in 2024. We just celebrated Braille Day on January 4. Or should we say cell-ebrated since Braille is made up of six dot cells?

During the Q&A segment of our most recent Presidential Release, I answered a question about the relevance of Braille considering technological advances. I shared that some of my holiday break was spent simply labeling items in my kitchen in Braille. Sometimes people suggest that Braille is obsolete, but I respectfully disagree. Braille is one adaptive technique in the toolbox of adaptive techniques. Why not have the ability to utilize all the tools we might want in any given situation? Braille is one of the modalities we can leverage to share knowledge and process information in our lives. People picture reading whole books, but even if you never read an entire book, there are hundreds of ways to use Braille every day. I know I enjoy a Braille display that with the touch of a button connects to my phone or my computer, and I use Braille each day as part of my toolbox. In fact, as part of our Braille Day celebrations, we listed 215 uses of Braille on our Braille.Day webpage and I urge you to explore the list.

Let me close by wishing you and yours a very happy new year. I look forward to the work we will do in 2024. Let’s go and build the National Federation of the Blind and help blind people to live the lives we want together.

Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

Ordinary Hobbies Foster Full Participation

In the National Federation of the Blind, we know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. Our collective power, determination, and diversity achieve the aspirations of all blind people. We know that blind people can live the lives we want and that includes enjoying the same hobbies and activities that non-blind people value.

“My physical yoga practice gives me the confidence to live as my authentic self. When I flow into each yoga pose, I am not my race, gender, or disability; I am in tune with my body and breath.” – Marilyn

“I lift weights. I manage this as a blind person by making sure I am familiar with both the social and physical environment.” – Josh

“My husband and I are obsessive dancers. It took time for some people in our dance clubs to feel fully comfortable with my blindness but simply participating over time led to amazing friendships.” – Patti

Through participation in the National Federation of the Blind, we gain an authentic understanding of blindness and the confidence to fully participate in the world around us. By joining divisions and groups, we network around shared interests. By attending chapter meetings, state and national conventions, we connect to others and push the boundaries of what we think is possible.

Raise expectations and learn more about local chapters and groups by contacting your state affiliate to ask for details.

Latest News at the NFB

Court Affirms Award of Back Pay and Damages to Individuals Who Were Unlawfully Paid Less Than Minimum Wage

In a ruling handed down this month by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the Court upheld a 2016 decision from the United States Department of Labor that found three individuals employed by Seneca Re-Ad Industries, Inc. are not disabled for the work they perform and cannot be paid less than minimum wage. The Court affirmed the Department’s award of back pay and liquidated damages to the workers and underscored the concept that disability by itself cannot be used to demonstrate lower productivity.

The National Federation of the Blind has fought against subminimum wages for the blind and other workers with disabilities since our founding because it is a manifestation of society’s low expectations and false assumptions regarding the capacity of workers with disabilities. Learn more about the case and the Federation’s response in our pressroom.

Federation Opposes Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act

The National Federation of the Blind issued an open letter opposing the Cogswell-Macy Act, which expresses concerns about the negative impact the legislation will have on low-vision and blind students by its attempts to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Washington Seminar Legislative Priority Fact Sheets Published

Each year members of the National Federation of the Blind visit Capitol Hill to educate congress about issues important to the blind during our annual Washington Seminar. Later this month we will talk to representatives and senators about three key issues:

  • Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (H.R. 5813/S. 2984)
  • Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 1328)
  • Blind Americans Return to Work Act

The fact sheets outlining the Federation’s positions are now available on our Washington Seminar page.

NFB-NEWSLINE® Adds Five New Publications

NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free audio news service that offers access at no charge to more than five hundred newspapers and magazines, now includes even more:

  • Chicago Defender - an online African American newspaper. It was founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott and was once considered the "most important" newspaper of its kind.
  • Post-Journal - a daily newspaper, serving the area around Jamestown, New York. It is owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc. and is billed as "southwestern New York's leading newspaper."
  • Asahi Shimbun - founded in 1879, is one of the oldest newspapers in Japan.
  • The 19th - empowers women and LGBTQ+ people—particularly those from underrepresented communities.
  • Inc - an American business magazine founded in 1979 and based in New York City.

Learn about NFB-NEWSLINE®.

Take Action This Month

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.

Important Dates

We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, workshops, and deadlines.