March 2020 English Transcript

Greetings, fellow Federationists. Today is today is Thursday, March 4, 2020, and this is presidential release 492. We are rushing into March here with a lot of great activity. We just had a leadership seminar over the weekend, over the leap weekend, the 89th leadership seminar of the National Federation of the Blind. The Kangaroo Court seminar, as a matter of fact. So when you come across the latest individuals to be in the leadership seminar, be sure to congratulate them on their hard work to work on their emerging leadership in the National Federation of the Blind.

Last month, we had a fantastic Washington Seminar, maybe our best ever. Actually, I’ll go farther than that. It was our best ever. We had a tremendous program. We had a tremendous showing. We had tremendous support from members of Congress, and, of course, our members all made it happen. A few highlights at the Washington seminar at the gathering in to help kick off the great gathering in. We had representative Bobby Scott. He is from Virginia’s third congressional district. He is chairman of the house committee on education and labor, and he is the primary sponsor of H.R.873, which as you know is the transformation to competitive employment act.

Chairman Scott gave us a rousing speech at the beginning of the gathering in. I’m sure you’ll hear more about it. We had a great congressional reception with a record number of members of Congress coming to greet us. I thought I’d give you the list just so you can observe the impressive turned out that our members helped to make happen at our congressional reception. We had join us, Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland. He’s the lead co-sponsor of S.815, which is the Access Technology Affordability Act. We had representative Robert Latta from Ohio.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington. She’s the lead co-sponsor of H.R. 873 the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. We also had Representative Mike Thompson. He’s from California. He’s the sponsor of H.R.2086, which is the Access Technology Affordability Act. Representative. Sanford Bishop from Georgia. Representative Bill Pascrell from New Jersey. Representative Alma Adams from North Carolina. Representative John Sarbanes from Maryland represents our national headquarters right here.

We had House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer from Maryland. Representative Donna Shalala from Florida. Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania. Senator Casey is a sponsor of S.260, which is the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. In the senate, we had a Representative Chris Smith from New Jersey. Representative Smith is sponsor of Sammy’s Law, which is a law we have helped to shape. It has to do with safety in the use of ride share and ride share technologies. We had representative Steve Stivers some from Ohio. Representative Jamie Raskin from Maryland. Representative Ron Estes from Kansas.

All of those individuals, except for Representative Estes, spoke. Representative Estes came right at the last second as we were closing down, and he declined an opportunity to get on the mic. Fifteen members of Congress showed up at our congressional reception. A tremendous showing. Thank you to each and every one of you that made that possible. You can read more about the Washington seminar in the April issue of the Braille Monitor. But let me tell you a little bit about the impact numbers just coming out of the Washington seminar. On these bills, I’m going to tell you the change in number of co-sponsors. In the senate, our Access Technology Affordability Act S.815, we picked up five co-sponsors in Washington seminar. Now having 20 co-sponsors. In the house, Access Technology Affordability Act H.R.2086, we picked up 27 co-sponsors for a total of 76. The Gain Act, in the house H. R.3929, we picked up 16 co-sponsors, leaving us at 20 co-sponsors.

For the Senate Aim High Bill S.3095, we picked up one co-sponsor bringing us to six. For the house version of Aim High, that’s H. R.5312, we picked up 24 co-sponsors bringing us to 28. Tremendous work. Let’s keep the pressure on. Let’s let him know we gotta get these bills passed before we get into the summer and the presidential campaigns take over all the oxygen. Let’s get these bills done so we can go into the next congress with some fresh ideas and some great accomplishment. Thank you to your work to this point. Let’s get the rest of the job done.

Now that we’re into March, the online registration for the 2020 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind is open. As you know, we will be in Houston from July 14 to 19. You can register online now and it’ll be open to you through May 31. You get a price break for registering online. You can avoid some of the hassle in lines at convention. We’re looking at continuing to improve our registration process, so I urge you to register online. It helps us with the planning. If you register online, your costs will be $25.00 per person for registration, $70.00 for banquet tickets. The prices go up after the online registration closes, so be sure to take advantage of it while you can.

One of the new things we’ve added into the registration process this year is you can also register your children to participate in NFB camp. In fact, we need you to register your kids. If you do not do so, you may not have a spot for them in our childcare program at the national convention. A reminder to first timers that we do have Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship Funds available for first timers. You can find information about the Kenneth Jernigan first timer scholarship, our first timers guide, all of our convention information, including the registration link online NFB dot-org slash convention. I am looking forward to being with you in Houston. I have registered, Melissa and I, and we are ready to go for our best convention ever.

One last quick reminder about our Braille Monitor survey, which I’ve talked about previously. You can still complete it through April 1, so please do so. We’re getting a great response. But if you haven’t responded, we need your response. You can do so online by going to Survey Monkey dot com, slash R, slash BrailleMonitor. So SurveyMonkey dot-com slash R, slash BrailleMonitor, all one word, or you can dial 667-888-2454. That number again, 667-888-245. We are looking forward to your feedback and to incorporate it into the future of the Braille Monitor.

I want to acknowledge the latest part of our organization to sign on to contribute on a monthly basis to our preauthorized contribution program. Thank you to the NFB of New Jersey student division for being on the pack plan. Also, we have our dream makers circle, which is a circle of individuals who have made a commitment to leave a legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind upon their passing. There’s all sorts of ways you can do it. You can talk to Patty Chang about the options available. You can reach your here at extension 2422 or you can e-mail her at P. Chang NFB dot-org. I, this month, would like to welcome David Wilson Jake the First and Elizabeth Ann Jacobs to our dream makers circle. These are the parents of Bill Jacobs, who’s an employee of the National Federation of the Blind. The Jacobs live in Lexington, Virginia. Welcome to our dream makers circle.

I do have a few Federation family notes here to share with you at the end of the release. I regret to let you know that Wayne High of Georgia passed away earlier this year. I think I missed it on the February release. Wayne was a longtime member and contributor to the Federation. He served as our president sometime back in our Georgia affiliate. Also, our Jefferson City Chapter in Missouri informs us of the passing of member Glenda Elgin on January 28th.

Our greater Carroll County Chapter of the NFB of Maryland reports the passing of Rod Boudreaux on February 18th. Rod was one of our sighted members and was very innovative and devised many solutions to help members of the Federation with difficulties they faced and to live the life they want. One of the most interesting and popular things he did was to invent an audible soccer ball. Ron Brown, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana, reports the tragic passing of Frank Ricks, who was chapter president in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was consumed by a fire in his apartment on February 2st.

Also, we need to let you know of the tragic news from our River City chapter in the National Federation of the Blind of California, which reported the passing of Paul McIntyre, who was killed during an assault at a mental health facility, where he was providing social services within his position as a social worker. I urge you to keep all of these individuals and their tremendous work commitment and living the spirit of the National Federation of the Blind. Their friends and family also in your thoughts and prayers as we come to the end of this release.

We do have a busy month of March ahead. We have our Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium. I will be going to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest to present about autonomous vehicles on behalf of the Federation. We have a number of other activities and programs going on and of course we’re starting to get ready for our national convention. I do urge each and every one of you to continue to take care of yourself and follow best practices, especially as it relates to health. Of course, we’re all concerned about the virus that is threatening a lot of the globe, and so we urge each and every one of you to do what you need to do to make sure you take care of yourselves and those around you.

I’m looking forward to some great stuff we have ahead in the Federation, and I’m looking forward to going to some spring conventions to see what’s happening through our affiliates in the coming months. Before we close out of course we will have the customary endings. But, for now, let’s go build the National Federation of the Blind.