December 2018 English Transcript

Greeting fellow Federationists. Today is Wednesday, December 5, 2018 and this is Presidential Release 478. We're in the middle of the holiday season so happy holidays to everybody. We're currently in the Hanukah time period, so if you celebrate Hanukah happy Hanukah to you.

It is a great time of year and we have a lot to be thankful for in the National Federation of the Blind. This past weekend we had the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind, as well as the Board of Directors of the Jacobus Ten Broek Fund in the building here, The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, for meetings and planning for the year ahead. We had a big Federation thanksgiving, along with our staff of the National Federation of the Blind on Friday evening. A great time was had by all and many great things are in store for the National Federation of the Blind. All of us recognize and are appreciative that those things are made possible because of the work that each and every one of you undertakes as an active participating member of our organization. So I hope that you had a great thanksgiving and look forward to an outstanding holiday season.

I have a few things to talk about on this Release before we close out the year. You know of course our advocacy work never goes on holiday. We continue to have a lot of things that we're working on to advance the rights of blind people. I want to thank all of you who took the time to fill-out our Blind Voters Survey. We've been doing this for a number of election cycles now. But this year we had a record number of blind voters complete our Blind Voters Survey and we'll be crunching the data and publishing a report about that very soon. But congratulations on a record-setting number of us filling out the survey so we can continue to hold the election's officials accountable for making sure that the systems that are used are fully accessible to blind people. I hope you did go out and vote. Certainly we are going to need each and every one of us to be active in the upcoming legislative priorities for 2019, so the work doesn't stop with voting.

Our work on the issue of the payment of subminimum wages to blind people continues. We recently published, I had an op-ed in The Hill last week about the 14(c) issue. It was entitled "American Nightmare: How Workers With Disabilities Are Denied Economic Prosperity." I encourage you to look it up online and share it around to help advance our efforts to eliminate 14(c) from the Fair Labors Standards Act.

You can't talk about advocacy without thinking about our 2019 Washington Seminar. Our great gathering-in meeting will be happening on Monday, January 28 at 5:00 PM. And if you're going to be there you're going to need a hotel room probably, unless you live very close. I want to remind everybody that the deadline for reserving hotel space at the Holiday Inn is December 28th. So please call or get online and book your rooms for the Washington Seminar as soon as possible so that we make sure there are adequate rooms for everybody.

You can visit to find all the information about Washington Seminar, including the hotel information. As a reminder the group rate for the Holiday Inn is $196.00 per night. This rate does not include the D.C. sales tax which is currently 14.95 percent. You can find the online booking information by visiting the page on our website or you can make reservations by calling 877-572-6951 and be sure to refer to the booking code NB8, that's N as in Nancy, B as in boy, the number eight. Please make your room reservations for the Washington Seminar before December 28th. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our great gathering-in on January 28th to kickoff our legislative priorities for the 116th Congress.

Last Friday we delivered and early Christmas gift to the members of the National Federation of the Blind through our NFB-Newsline Program and you probably didn't even realize that it had been done.

Some time ago I discussed with the convention the fact that we were going to integrate our NFB-Newsline Program into the Amazon Echo products and the skill went public on November 30th. So I thought I'd a quick demonstration of the new NFB-Newsline skill for the Amazon Echo. Now the engagement with the Echo is a little bit different than the interfaces we've been used to on the telephone or the mobile app because of the specific command structure you have to use. So I'm not going to go through all of the various commands and we're going to be putting together more tutorial and help information, but I wanted to introduce it here on the Release knowing that it may cause many people to decide to add this particular product to their holiday wish list.

So to find the skill on your Amazon Echo you just say "Alexa open National Federation."

Alexa:                          Welcome to NFB-Newsline. Hello Mark Riccobono. What would you like to read?

The Braille Monitor.

Male:                           Welcome back to the NFB-Newsline brought to you by the National Federation of the Blind, along with state sponsors. Hello, welcome to NFB-Newsline from Maryland sponsored by the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

                                    For more information call us at 1-800-964-9209.

                                    Visit the Maryland Information channel for topics of local interests. Reading the Braille Monitor dated December 1, 2018. Reading the Braille Monitor section of the Braille Monitor. There is one article in this section. Article one, Braille Monitor No, 61 No, 11 December 2018. Harry Winter editor of this delivered by email and imprint and Braille on USB flash drive, under the National Federation of the Blind Mark Riccobono, president.

                                    Telephone 410-659 –

Alexa stop.

So there's just a quick demonstration of pulling up the Braille Monitor on NFB-Newsline. I may have mine set at a faster rate than some of you prefer. You can get to well any of the publications on Newsline. We’re still working on some methods for enabling other features like television listings. You'll be able to get to all of your favorite publications and in fact you can use this to e-mail articles to yourself just like you can through the other means by just asking the device to send you the article via e-mail.

So you can use the Echo to get to NFB-Newsline and all of the content that you already enjoy in other ways. I know that I will be using the Amazon Echo to listen to Newsline. It's a great new way to get to the content that I've been enjoying in other places.

I should say that all you have to say, you don't have to do anything else, all you have to say is, "Open National Federation." You don’t have to go into your smart phone, you don't have to enable anything. If you call it up for the first time it's going to say it does not recognize your device and you have to enable each device. For example I have a number of Echoes and I've had to enable each of them. It will ask you if you want to logon and if you choose to logon it will guide you through asking for your six-digit identification and your four-digit pin. So make sure you have those handy before you go setup the skill on your echo. But once it's setup it's there, it's ready to go and you can get all of the features that you're used to in terms of reading papers and articles. I know that many of you will be excited about this.

Because of the voice interface again some of the commands are a little different so you'll want to refer to the documentation when it comes out. But I knew that many across the Federation would want to download this skill, get their Echoes, using it as soon as possible. So this Release actually is the first time we're publically stating that this skill is now available. So go join NFB-Newsline if you're not already participating in the program. It is free. You can join online by visiting or talk one of the members of the local chapter or your state Newsline coordinator about getting signed-up for this great free service now available as a special gift to the Federation for this holiday season now available on the Amazon Echo.

Congratulation to the team that worked on making this skill available.

I want to again acknowledge our Federation chapters that are contributing to the preauthorized contribution plan of the National Federation of the Blind. And my quick apology to the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho that I misidentified on the last Release as Ohio. So thank you to our chapters again in Idaho contributing to the Pack Plan.

This month I'd like acknowledge from the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois our Chicago Chapter; from the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa our Des Moines Chapter; from the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky our Greater Louisville Chapter; and from the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana our Caddo-Bossier Chapter, the greater Baton Rouge Chapter, the Greater New Orleans Chapter, the Greater Ouachita Chapter, the Greater St. Landry Chapter, the Lake Area Chapter, the North Central Chapter, and the Northeast Chapter. Thank you to our chapters in Louisiana and to all of other chapters for participating in the Preauthorization Contribution Plan Program.

Please if you are not contributing consider doing so. And if your chapter is not participating please consider having the chapter contribute on a monthly basis to the National movement.

I also want to acknowledge new members of our Dream Makers Circle. The Dream Makers Circle is a way for you to designate a legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind upon your passing. There are dozens of ways that you can do this and Patty Chang, our Director of Outreach is available to talk to you about these Dream Makers Circle. You can reach her at pchang, that's P-C-H-A-N-G via e-mail or you can call her at 410-659-9314, extension 2422.

The Dream Makers Circle is for those individuals who have made a commitment to leaving a gift of some sort to the Federation upon their passing. Again there are dozens of ways that that can be done.

Thank you to the following three members who have recently made the commitment to join this Circle, including Evraham Rabbie from Tel Aviv, Israel. Some of you may know him as Rami Rabbie. Also thank you to Maryland Greene of Chicago, Illinois and Sheila Wright of Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you to each and every one of our Dream Makers Circle members for helping us build a future full of opportunities in the National Federation of the Blind.

I do have just a couple of Federation family notes here. In December Raul Gaegos of Texas reports, actually what he says is, "I would like to report and brag that I got married to my best friend, Stacy Hardy, now Stacy Gaegos on October 26th. The marriage proposal was made at the NFB of Texas Convention the year before. Apparently it was accepted with great enthusiasm. So congratulations to Raul and Stacy on their recent marriage. Raul also reported to me about all the great work that they're both doing along with members of our Texas affiliate to build opportunities for blind people. So congratulations and thank you for your work in the National Federation of the Blind.

Also on November 3rd Michael Ozbend married Bree Brown who is a staff member at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. So I'd like to extend a great Federation congratulations to Michael and Bree Ozbend on your marriage. I got an invitation to the wedding, but sorry I couldn't make it, I was off doing work for the Federation but I understand it was a great ceremony.

We offer both of these couples the wishes of the Federation for many decades of happiness and good health.

As we come to the end of this Presidential Release I reflect upon the great work we have done this year in our organization. I am truly grateful for the small acts of kindness that each and every one of you put into fueling what we do in our organization. You know we've tackled some big things this year. We got the Marrakesh Treaty through the Congress and signed by the president.

We finalized the Space Available bill which we've been working on for a decade. Many, many, many victories that I don't have time to recount here. But it's the little things that each and every one of us do in our local chapters in talking to blind people that we meet, in answering telephone calls and e-mails that probably no one will ever know we undertook except for the people who are positively impacted. I am really grateful for those little acts of kindness because I think they are really the fabric of our organization and what make it possible for us to tackle the big things like getting the Marrakesh Treaty through the United States Congress.

We're making progress at an accelerating rate. We're reaching more people than ever before. And although we have a lot more to do in the upcoming year and years ahead I feel nothing but complete hope and faith for the future based on the tremendous work that's being done in this organization.

Me and my family are blessed to have each and every one of you as part of our Federation family. So we wish to extend to you our warmest season's greetings. For us we share in the Christmas season so we offer Merry Christmas. I am going to give the Riccobono's an opportunity to extend their traditional holiday greetings to you in a second, but after that I should note that we had a tour today of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute by a choir of blind individuals from Guatemala.

These were young people ranging from I think the youngest was 7 and the oldest in the group was 17, but most of them were in the 10 to 12 year range. They're doing a tour of the East Coast doing some performances. They came to visit our building today to learn about the nature of what we do in the National Federation of the Blind and take inspiration and learning form it. And we learned some things from what the group of blind people is doing in Guatemala to create opportunities for the blind. They have offered a song for you for the 50,000 members of the National Federation of the Blind at the end of this Release.

I asked them what the largest crowd that they had performed in front of and they said 5,000. I told them that we could give them an audience ten times that by putting their performance on the Presidential Release. So I hope that you enjoy the offering that they have and I hope that you enjoy the Christmas greetings that are about to come from the Riccobono family.

Thank you for everything that you do to build our organization and may we make 2019 our best year yet. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind.