Presidential Release #508, September 2021 (English Transcript)

Please note: the following is the full transcript of the Presidential Release on September 1, 2021.

PAM ALLEN:  Hello, everyone.  You have joined us for our pre-presidential release kick off.  Are you in the right place.  We're having a few technical difficulties with our music, but do not worry.  We will be starting here momentarily, and we are happy you have joined us for the September release.  We will start at 8:00 eastern.  So if you haven't had a chance to please take part in our poll, we are all looking forward to being together for our presidential release, so we will be starting shortly.  Thank you so much for being here.
We are going to get started here shortly, everyone.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Pam, we're going to blame the hurricane.  That's what we're going to do.
PAM ALLEN:  Okay, everybody.  The cicadas have been hard at work with our technical difficulties with the music, but we are going to get started here shortly with our presidential release for September.  We are so happy you are here with us.  We especially welcome anyone joining us for the first time.
Please take part in our poll.  We would love to have your feedback.  And also, we are also offering closed captioning.  Again, if you have not had a chance to submit your questions, you can do that on any of our social media platforms or send an email to [email protected].
We will be starting in just about 2 minutes.
PAM ALLEN:  Good evening, everybody.  We're going to start here in just another 2 minutes.  In the National Federation of the Blind, we know that we can live the lives we want.  Thank you for joining us for updates from our President.  We are so happy that you're with us this evening, and we will be getting started shortly.
PAM ALLEN:  Good evening, everybody!  We are so happy to welcome you this evening for our September presidential release.  Thank you so much for being with us tonight.  And we appreciate your patience.  We are working on a few technical glitches, but we are going to get started.
Our Spanish interpreting will be beginning momentarily.
Again, good evening.  Thank you for joining us.  And we are really happy that you're here with us.  I know that we have all been looking forward to this release tonight.
It is now my pleasure to introduce for his remarks, President Riccobono.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Good evening, Pam.  How are you?
PAM ALLEN:  I'm doing well.  How are you today?
MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, we're getting rained on.  I don't know if we can blame the technical problems on rain, but we're getting lots of rain here in Baltimore.  I know you know about this.
PAM ALLEN:  Yes, we do.
MARK RICCOBONO:  How is our Federation family in Louisiana?
PAM ALLEN:  Thank you.  I want to take a moment to thank everybody for their concern for our Federation family in Louisiana and in Mississippi.  Those who have been affected by Hurricane Ida, I want to especially acknowledge our community service division for reaching out and so many individual Federationists from around the country for offering support.  Our family in south Louisiana, many of our members have evacuated and are in the process of assessing and moving forward.  We are a very resilient Federation family, and so your support means a great deal and we appreciate the offer.  And we will continue to lean on our Federation family during the recovery as we have.  So thank you all for your concern for us.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Great.  Well, I'm glad at least right now it appears that folks are safe as far as we know.
MARK RICCOBONO:  We know from the last couple years, it takes a week or so for us to start getting good data on what's going on.
It is great to hear your voice, though.
PAM ALLEN:  Thank you.  Glad to be here.
MARK RICCOBONO:  You ready to get started?
PAM ALLEN:  I think we're ready.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Okay.  Sounds good.  We will go ahead and get started with plan B for the presidential release.
Greetings, fellow Federationists.  Today is Wednesday, September 1, 2021, and this is presidential release number 508.  Welcome to the symbolic start of fall with Labor Day right around the corner.  We know that fall is here in many ways, but of course we're still feeling a lot of the summer heat here in Baltimore.  And I want to express that we are thinking about our Federation family who have been impacted by Hurricane Ida, and we are monitoring the situation along with our affiliates in Louisiana and Mississippi, and if we learn that there are needs that can be fulfilled by the Federation, we will certainly put out the word.  And I know many of you are eager to help.
I wanted to welcome to this live presidential release the participants of the 90th leadership seminar.  I would still like to do that, but they're not in the same room with me because of technical difficulties.  But we have just started the kickoff for our 90th leadership seminar, the first one that we've had since COVID.  The last leadership seminar was in late February of 2020.  So it's great to be working on these activities again.
I want to talk just for a moment about the presidential release live.  This event has been very successful, and many have urged us to keep it up.  And we have done that.
We still want to have a presidential release presence at each of the chapter meetings across the country, so we're going to be putting a condensed version of the presidential release live out starting with this month's release for the chapter meetings.  It will be more condensed than what you get here in the live format.  So I encourage Federation members to continue to tune in to the live event.  You will get more announcements and information, up-to-date details than you would in the version for the chapters.  I encourage our chapters, though, to continue to play the release so that we can share that bond across the country and discuss those most important items.
Now, this is presidential release number 508, and of course 508 brings a lot of things to mind.  So in honor of 508, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, we thought we would use this release as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to help improve implementation of Section 508, especially as it relates to government technology.  We know that Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is not enforced in the way that it was intended, and many blind people continue to experience inaccessible technologies in federal websites, in software, and in employment settings.  And the Federation continues to be dedicated to advocating for full and equal access in all aspects of the federal government's technologies and services.
So we are gathering information from blind people regarding Section 508 barriers that you might have experienced so that we can push a little harder on the federal government.  If you have experienced issues filling out job applications or dealing with websites or in your employment with the federal government, or public-facing websites of the government, please reach out to Valerie Yingling here at our national office.  You can send her an email to [email protected].  If you know of blind people who work in the government and who have shared their experiences with you, please ask them to share them with us in the National Federation of the Blind.
Next month we're getting ready for our October awareness campaign.  And as you know, for just over 20 years we have designated October as Meet the Blind Month.  I announced previously that we are taking a fresh approach to a Meet the Blind Month, and have been looking at how we rebrand it.  Obviously we want people to meet our organization and our members all year round, but we do want to have a focused, dedicated time where we can truly push ourselves out into the community to get our history recognized, to advance equality in everything that we do.  And so we are rebranding our October campaign in line with celebrating our history and programs and values in new ways:
And so this October, we are going to be designating as Blind Equality Achievement Month.  You know, our individual and collective efforts, our individual and collective accomplishments need to be celebrated.  Our progress toward equality for the blind in the nation needs to be promoted.  But we also know there's so much work to do.  And we want to use the month of October to present how proud we are of what we have achieved individually and collectively as a movement, but also to talk about where we are going and what we still need to do to achieve true equality for all blind people.  And so Blind Equality Achievement Month is an important part of that.
Now, throughout the pandemic our members have especially stepped up to show their innovative approaches and ideas and have really shown the strength of what we can do together by bringing new ideas and inspiring each other to take on new projects during the pandemic and taking advantage of the use of technology.
I'm looking forward to what our members will do with our refreshing of the month of October, and rebranding it as Blind Equality Achievement Month.  I know that many of you are eager to get out and try some new things and to find new ways to move our organization forward.  So I would continue to urge you to do that this October.  We have plenty of time still to plan for what we want to do and to think about what we need to do in the future to build programs to spread the word and connect people to the National Federation of the Blind.
So for blind achievement month 2020 on social media, we want you to use the #blindmonth.  And you can also send your planned events and activities to [email protected] so we can get them added to our web page related to our activities in October.  Still plenty of time to get literature ordered from our Independence Market.  You can send us an email and get literature, alphabet cards, that sort of thing sent out to local chapters.
We do encourage that you get creative about how to do in-person events.  Obviously we want to continue to be smart.  Think about what kind of outdoor activities we can do.  But if you can't or don't feel like in-person activities can be done in your area, there's still lots we can do with virtual activities, and I would encourage you to plan for those.
You can email [email protected] to make literature orders or call us here at the national office.
Also, October 15th we continue to brand as White Cane Awareness Day.  You can find a sample proclamation on which you can use to get public officials to proclaim October 15 and to celebrate the work of the National Federation of the Blind.
So let's go build another successful October full of opportunities to innovate and celebrate our achievements as we march together toward equality.
More information can be found at, and please, continue to share your ideas about what we need to do this October.
I want to acknowledge new contributors, folks on our Dream Maker Circle and also contributing to our preauthorized PAC program.  Welcome to the Dream Maker Circle Corbb O'Connor of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Thank you for being the latest person to make the commitment to make a gift, leave a gift to the National Federation of the Blind.  Welcome to our Dream Maker Circle.
And to our latest chapter contributing to our Pre-Authorized Contribution program, welcome to the Wisconsin association of blind students.  I think it's a fitting month to welcome the student division in Wisconsin to PAC.  I was reflecting that 25 years ago this month I helped start the student division in Wisconsin, so thank you to our Wisconsin students.  Thank you to all of our contributors to PAC and those making the commitment to our Dream Maker Circle.  You can do that too.  I encourage you to visit our PAC form on the website or to visit our giving page, learn about the Dream Maker Circle and reach out to Patti Chang at our national office if you want to learn more.
More on the access technology affordable act.  We now have 109 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.  That bill is HR-431 and in the Senate we have 23 cosponsors for S-212.  When you include the originating cosponsors, this means that we have achieved a quarter of both the House and the Senate, so congratulations to the Federation on getting to that marker.  Special thanks to California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for bringing on the latest cosponsors added to the list.  We should now shoot for getting half of the members of Congress, both the House and the Senate, to support these bills.  We are continuously working with Congress to find opportunities to advance these bills, to get it attached to bills that are moving through Congress.  So we need each and every one of you to keep contacting your members of Congress.  If they haven't cosponsored, keep pushing them.  Keep reminding them.  Keep telling them you want this bill so that we can get it added to a bill that's coming up or we can keep building the cosponsors so that they will not be able to ignore the bill and simply have to push this forward.
So let's get to half of the Congress before the end of 2021.  That's going to go a long way to getting this bill through Congress.
I want to give a special shoutout to the state of Montana that has restored NFB-NEWSLINE in the state as of today.  So great work by our Montana affiliate to restore NFB-NEWSLINE to all blind people in Montana.  Our NFB-NEWSLINE program continues to grow, and content is being added all the time.  Remember, this is your service.  So if you have things you want added to NEWSLINE, please speak up, let us know.  The best ideas have come from Federation members sharing their hopes and dreams for this service that we have built together.  
Speaking of students, mentioning them earlier, the federal student loan resources, there's recently been changes announced by the administration to the total and permanent disability or TPD discharge program for federal loans.  A TPD discharge relieves you from having to repay certain types of federal educational loans on the basis of your total and permanent disability.  Now, this is a real opportunity for blind people who are eligible to have their loans forgiven.
Now, starting this month, new procedures are coming into place that the Department of Education has initiated especially impacting those who receive SSI or SSDI.
Now, if you've seen this announcement, it's very, very complicated, and it's a little hard to comprehend.  Our governmental affairs team is currently working on putting together a frequently asked questions document so that we can make sure all Federation members are up to speed on this program, the changes that might be coming, including a rulemaking that will be happening in October.  We in the National Federation of the Blind will certainly be providing feedback on that rulemaking.  We expect to have our FAQ sheet on this program up on by about the middle of September.  If you have immediate questions about the program and questions you would like us to ask of the federal government, you can reach out to Stephanie Flynt, [email protected] with any questions you have.  We will have that information up on the web as soon as possible.
Also noted today that the August-September issue of the Braille Monitor is available at  If you get the monitor sent to you in audio form on thumb drive, don't worry.  It's coming.  It hasn't gone out in the mail yet, but it is up on the web.  I wanted to call your attention to it.  I know many of you are eager to revisit some of the great content from the national convention.
I regret to inform you of the passing of a number of Federationists.  Doreen Franklin passed away on August 10 from COVID-19.  Doreen was a member of the NFB of Florida Treasure Coast chapter for many years, and she was a huge advocate for parents of blind children.  Doreen leaves behind her husband David and their four children.
Also regret to have to tell you of the passing of Ed Meskys of New Hampshire.  Ed passed away on July 25th.  Ed served as both our New Hampshire affiliate President at one time and President of the Lakes Region chapter in New Hampshire.  Many of you may know him for his interest in science fiction, but he had many other distinctions, including his service in the National Federation of the Blind.
The NFB of Maryland reports a number of members who have passed away.  Mike Records passed away.  He had been a member of our western Maryland chapter.  
And also Theresa Thomas passed away on August 8, 2021.  She was an enthusiastic member of our Sligo Creek chapter.  Theresa has been ill for several years, but she has continued to participate in our state and national convention.  She's always been eager to jump up and help Federationists whenever she could.
Also Ruby Collier, longtime member of Maryland's Eastern Shore chapter passed away on August 11, 2021.  Ruby was 96 years old.
Also Kathleen Nelson, a member of the Aurora chapter of the NFB of Colorado passed away on the fourth of July.  She had been a member of ours in South Dakota before moving to Colorado.  She was 74 years old.
Also regret to inform you of the passing of Tolita Mitchell from Louisiana.  She passed away on August 15th.  She was a well-respected leader and beloved mother, friend, and colleague, mentor to so many in our Louisiana affiliate.  Tolita served as President of our Caddo Bossier chapter, and she was a member of the NFB of Louisiana's board of directors.  In case you don't know, of course Tolita is the mother of Daphne Mitchell, who is a leader in the Federation.  She is a member of the Louisiana Center for the Blind's board of directors and served on the Federation's task force.
Finally, I regret to have to share the passing of Charlie Brown of Virginia who passed away on August 1st.
Charlie was a longtime leader for nearly 50 years.  He served as a national board member, including serving as an officer, as our treasurer.  He served in many other capacities in the Federation.  He was a significant force in advancing the rights of blind people, especially in his position as President of the Virginia affiliate for 26 years.  He was a lawyer who worked on so many aspects of our work.  He most recently he was very dedicated to the voting issues.  He was critical in advancing our issues and advancing blind people's participation in the American Bar Association.  And amongst all of his work, he will certainly be remembered for that, but also for his kind and loving mentorship of so many.  Not just from the front but also the quiet calls that he made to share his perspective, his leadership, his advice and guidance to so many, including myself.  We're going to miss Charlie.  I know that we will be having an article detailing his work in the Braille Monitor very soon.
I urge you to keep Charlie's wife Jackie and family and the friends, family, and loved ones of all of these who I have mentioned and those I may not know about in your thoughts and prayers as we come in to the month of September.
Pam, I think that's what I have for now.  I'm going to turn it back to you.
PAM ALLEN:  Okay.  Great.  Thank you so much, President Riccobono, and I have our results from our polls this evening.  So thank you, everyone, for participating.  We had some great questions.
Our first poll tonight was, for our upcoming Federation radio project, which would you be interested in listening to.  And our top vote getter was stories about blind people.  And some of our other top performers were podcast episodes as well as music from blind artists and recordings of NFB speeches.  So some great ideas.
And our second poll is what signifies to you that fall is here.  For this question, our top vote getter was the temperature has dropped and there is a crispness to the air.  And our second vote getter was that school has started.
The introduction of the pumpkin spice latte, 18%.  I know we're all looking forward to fall, so thanks, everybody, for sharing your thoughts and ideas on our polls, and thank you for everyone for sending in some great questions tonight for our Q&A.
Just a few housekeeping points.  You can also email questions to [email protected].  We appreciate all the contributions that everyone has made.  And so we'll kick it off with some questions, if you're ready.
PAM ALLEN:  All right.  So our first question is related to the poll actually.  And some curiosity about the NFB radio project.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Is there a specific question or just curious?
PAM ALLEN:  Just curious.  Just any information about the NFB radio project.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Okay.  Well, our NFB online streaming project is coming along.  We have a number of members who have jumped up to help with this.  We have a lot of great ideas that are coming together for this project, which I think at the moment we're calling the Voice of the Nation's Blind, kind of like Voice of America.  It's not a new brand for us, but that's what we're thinking it's going to be called.
We're not quite ready to launch it yet.  We're still working through some technical details and approaches.  Obviously in the Federation we have a ton of great content, and we want to figure out how to curate that content in a way that's going to be meaningful.  So stories about blind people.  Well, we got those, right, Pam?
PAM ALLEN:  That's right.
MARK RICCOBONO:  So it's coming along.  I could venture to make a promise about when, but I'll either be wrong or I'll scare the team working on it to death.  So it is coming.  I expect you will hear something before the year is out.  I think that's a pretty generous time line.  But we're excited about it amongst all the other things.  So keep your ideas coming.  Send your thoughts to [email protected].
PAM ALLEN:  Excellent.  Okay.  So we all look forward to that.
Our next question comes to us from Mark of Nevada.  And the question is, many local, state, and regional agencies in Nevada have started using overlays on their websites.  Some of them work and some not so much.  So Mark is wondering how best to approach this challenge.
MARK RICCOBONO:  So that's a great question, Mark.  I think what we should do is find some ways to give our affiliates and members better guidance on what to do with that.
I do encourage you to identify those websites where you're having trouble and document those so that we can really keep track of what happens.
Now, we are of course being proactive about overlays and trying to address the concerns around it.  We had a resolution about this at the convention, and we are helping to coordinate a summit meeting on overlays in October.  That's the big picture.
To Mark's question, though, I think at the moment what I would recommend is continue to document those websites that you're running into, especially when you find the overlay causes problems, and share that with our tech team here at the national office.  And we'll be talking with the tech team about what guidance we can give blind people who may be running in to those websites so that we can especially collect examples where the overlay is not working well.
We want to be leaders in helping to guide the use of overlay technology and the discussions, and that will be happening in the coming months about how this technology can be used responsibly and in a transparent way that moves us toward greater accessibility, doesn't cause issues.
So it's an emerging topic.  I think it's a great question for Mark to raise.  I'll raise it with the rest of the team.  But if you have more ideas about what we can do in this area, please continue to share it.  We are discussing some other actions to take around overlays, especially where they are causing more barriers for blind people.
PAM ALLEN:  Okay.  We have a question just wondering about an update on the Independence Market online ordering process.
MARK RICCOBONO:  This is the put the President on the spot today.  I didn't ask the team for permission on this.  Obviously our e-commerce for the Independence Market has been far too long in coming.  We're still doing user acceptance testing on the new e-commerce site, which is why it's not live yet.  I think it will be live by our next presidential release, if not before that.  We're looking forward to getting it live and then building up our market presence.  So it is coming.  I regret that it has taken so long to get to where we are.  But hold your dollars.  In plenty of time for the holiday shopping season.
PAM ALLEN:  All right.  I just recently ordered something and it was here within 3 days.  So I appreciate all the hard work there.
MARK RICCOBONO:  I'm surprised with the mail.  The mail is the problem.  It's not the market.
PAM ALLEN:  Exactly.
MARK RICCOBONO:  So our next question has been submitted by Linda Dominic.  And this question is, how can we improve the situation regarding more vehicles and drivers to get to work on time and also a question about improving accessibility in New York City.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, two great questions that I'm going to say these are the kind of issues that are perfect for our local chapters to work on.  Obviously in many places we've grown to love rideshare as an alternative, especially to finding good drivers.  That system has broken down because those companies are having trouble finding drivers.  So I would encourage our chapters, this is the kind of networking and resourcing our local chapters are really good at.  When I first moved to Baltimore, I had no idea.  Where do I find a driver, who are the good drivers out there.  And we created a list and shared names of cab drivers that we found were good.
I don't think it's our job to help Lyft and Uber increase their driver pools, but I would certainly suggest that our chapters continue to network and share resources about who people are using for drivers and readers and things like that.
Similar for New York City, right?  I mean, this is the kind of thing that our chapter or chapters in the New York City area should be working on and our affiliate.  Any time I go to an affiliate, I hear people say this thing:  Well, you know, it's different here.  We have lots of transportation issues.
I hear this in every single affiliate I go to.  A constant issue for us, working on transportation.  But I think those issues are really best tackled through our local chapters leveraging the expertise and resources we might have at our state and national levels.  So great question.  I'm sure if I could solve the New York City transportation issues, you know, I would have a different career.  (Chuckling).  But I think by working together in our local chapters, that's our best approach.
PAM ALLEN:  Excellent.  Thank you so much.
Our next question is from Haley asking about if you could please give an update regarding the transition from our survivors task force to the survivors group and what the status is.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Great question.  So our task force provided the board with a number of recommendations that we're working through, and we're currently in the process, we've gotten some names that were forwarded as recommendations from our survivor task force as individuals that could be coleads for the new survivor group that we want to establish in the National Federation of the Blind.  We're still having those conversations and interviews.  So that's still happening.  And because of August schedules, vacations, things like that, those are still happening.  Not as fast as we would have liked.
If you're interested in being a part of leading the survivor group, please feel free to reach out to me at the office of the President.  Still would be happy to talk to you about that.  But we still have some folks we're currently talking to.  We're hoping to get that group spun up this fall so that we can continue those efforts.
In the meantime, also, our board of directors is making its way through all of the various recommendations.  Our Code of Conduct process is still in place and is working well, but we also welcome feedback on that.  So if you have feedback about our current process, procedures, please send it along.  I remind everybody that the board of directors has established an email address, [email protected] and we're continuing to take feedback.  So thank you to everybody I know is eager to get the survivor group up and running.  It is important, and we want to be sure we vet the conversations correctly.  I want to make sure I give an opportunity for the names that have been put forward to have the conversation with me and another member of the board.
So it's coming.  I'm hoping that that will be ready to really push forward by the time of the October release.
PAM ALLEN:  Okay.  Thank you so much.
Our next question is from Scott Wilson.  Scott would like to know, as the President of the largest blindness organization, what advice would you give to a newly elected officer in the NFB?
MARK RICCOBONO:  Ah.  Well, so I assume this means officer at a local or affiliate level.  Look, elected office in the Federation is like any elected office should be is a high responsibility.  Sometimes in our organization, people get elected in many different ways.
What I would say is, the first thing you should do is understand your obligations as a leader.  That means being familiar with the constitution, the Code of Conduct, any other relevant policies that your chapter or affiliate has.
The second thing I would say is make sure that you continue to stay plugged in to what is happening across the Federation.  So often I find that there are local leaders who get trapped in what's happening locally, and they miss the fact that local leaders should be bringing the national priorities, threaded with the state priorities, to the local level to demonstrate, to show that we're part of this broader network.  You know?
We get dozens of questions as leaders of the organization, and we couldn't possibly answer all of them because not any of us has all the answers.  The important thing for leaders to remember is that we're part of this broader network that we can pull on for support.  We don't have to have all the answers.  Now, I'm not saying as a leader you shouldn't work to be smart and learn the answers yourself, you should.  But you should also recognize that we have a whole network of people out there.  So study the Federation.  What's happening.  Not just what we're doing but our philosophy.  And try to apply it in your own life.
I know when I became an affiliate President, I really decided I needed to double down on my own examination of my philosophy, how I was applying the Federation philosophy in my own life and articulating our beliefs about blindness really helped push my own independence and understanding.
So those are the things I would say.  I guess one more thing.  All of the best leaders I know, and I would say this is true of every single person of our national board, have benefited from the advice, counsel, standing on the shoulders of others.  Don't be afraid to talk to other leaders about the Federation about what you don't know.  Don't be afraid to ask those questions of other leaders across the country, whether it's our chapter President's list, finding other ways to connect with leaders online.  Heck, pick up the phone and call a seasoned chapter President somewhere.  That is the best of what we do in the Federation, and the strongest leaders I know have gotten to be strong leaders because they've leaned on other leaders and they continue to do that.
If you're having trouble finding other leaders to reach out to and get mentored by, reach out to us through [email protected] and we will help you get connected.  Also your affiliate President can help you get connected.  We want to build the network we have.  That's what makes us strong.
PAM ALLEN:  Excellent.
All right.  Well, I want to thank everybody for submitting questions tonight in our various forums, and thank you so much, President Riccobono, for your thoughtful answers.
And again, just to express our gratitude from the NFB of Louisiana and NFB of Mississippi for everyone's offers of support and concern for those impacted by Hurricane Ida, we are truly appreciative and grateful for everyone reaching out and for being there to support our Federation members as we work on rebuilding and helping to support them during the rebuilding process.  So thank you, everybody, so much.
And I know, again, if your question was not answered this evening, our wonderful communications team will be following up with anyone if we did not have a chance to get to your question this evening.
So thank you again, everybody, for submitting.
And now, President Riccobono, before I turn it back over to you, I would just like to remind everybody that you can join the next NFB presidential release live on October 1 at noon Eastern Time using Zoom, the Nation's Blind YouTube channel, our internet stream, or by asking your Amazon device to open Nation's Blind.
Contact President Riccobono at (410)659-9314 or email him at [email protected].
So thank you, President Riccobono, and I will now turn it back over to you.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Great.  Thank you, Pam.
That's the news that I have to share for September.  We do have a busy fall ahead of us in the Federation.  We have a number of affiliate conventions already that have happened, underway for the fall.  We're all trying to balance the struggles of staying safe in person, whether we should go virtual.  I continue to urge everybody to stay safe, stay smart, and continue to build the Federation.
We're going to move to some of the customary endings, but before we do that, let me say, let's go build the National Federation of the Blind.
Now, Pam, we're coming up, it's not quite Halloween, but the candy is already in the store.  So and it is back to school time.  So do you know why the M&M decided to go to school?
PAM ALLEN:  I can't imagine why.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Because they wanted to be a Smartie.
PAM ALLEN:  Drum roll.
MARK RICCOBONO:  I don't know if we have any other customary ending.  But if we don't have them, which I don't think we do, you can tune in to the recorded version to get them.  They're very cute.  You'll want to hear them.
That's the best I got, though.
So, you know, we've been having this live release now since April of 2020, and this is the first one where we've had major technical difficulties.  So you've got to say our record is pretty good.
So thank you for tuning in, everybody, to this technology-broken version of the presidential release live.
Pam, I don't know, did you say when the next one was?
PAM ALLEN:  I sure did.  October 1st at noon eastern.  And we will very much look forward to everybody being present with us.
MARK RICCOBONO:  Yeah, we're going to try something new.  So tune in at noon.  I know it's an odd time.  We're going to try to do that for Blind Equality Achievement Month kick off.  We're going to try it.  If it works, cool.  If it doesn't, we get it.  But we're trying some new things.
So thank you, Pam.
Thank you, fellow Federationists.  Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind.
Good evening, everybody.
SPEAKER:  Hi, I'm Oriana.  Why do kittens get in trouble at school?
SPEAKER:  Because they're copy cats.
SPEAKER:  Hi, I'm Elizabeth Riccobono and I'll be telling you a joke.  Why did the ghost stop studying?
SPEAKER:  Because they were too ghoul for school.
The preceding message was brought to you by Mark Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind.  [email protected].  (410)659-9314.
Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind.