Presidential Release 510, November 2021(English Transcript)

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

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, everyone, welcome to our November Presidential Release, where we will later this month be celebrating the 81st anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind. We are so happy to have you all with us tonight. We'll be starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, so in just a few minutes. Just a reminder that if you did not have a chance yet to send in your questions, you can still send them through the Q&A feature on any of our social media channels, or you can send an email to [email protected]. Also tonight in addition to captions through Zoom, we are also using the captioning feature at 1CapApp for captions at your own pace, and that link will be available in the chat on mobile and on the web. Please join in our poll. The first question asks what do you think is your biggest barrier to equal participation in society. And our second poll question, we'd love to hear what your favorite Thanksgiving side dish is. Thank you again for being with us, and we'll be starting shortly.

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, everyone, welcome to our November presidential release. We're so happy you're with us tonight. We'll be starting in a few minutes at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Please take our poll, and thank you for being here this evening. Thank you for being with us.

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, everyone. Welcome. We are so happy that you're with us tonight for our live November Presidential Release.

We are thrilled that you joined us tonight. We just finished kicking off a very successful Blind Equality Achievement Month, and I know that President Riccobono has many wonderful things to share with us as we work in the National Federation of the Blind together. Good evening, President Riccobono, I'll turn it over to you.

MARK RICCOBONO: Good evening, there was a little ghost in the system, a little Halloween leftover!

PAM ALLEN: Apparently, he's still with us!

MARK RICCOBONO: So, Pam, I heard a rumor that you were dressed up like a New Orleans Saints fan!

(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, that would be my husband! It was a good day yesterday.

(Laughter.)

MARK RICCOBONO: Did you come across any good costumes?

PAM ALLEN: We had some great trick-or-treaters that stopped by our house, some very impressive firefighters and '80s people and black cats and all great kinds of creativity.

MARK RICCOBONO: Nice. Before coming in here, I was just on Facebook. I saw that Deja Powell and her husband from Seattle dressed up as a slate and stylus.

PAM ALLEN: Deja has lots of style!

MARK RICCOBONO: I bet she even had the right shoes.

PAM ALLEN: I have no doubt. She's excellent. What about your kiddos?

MARK RICCOBONO: They dressed up as zombies and things like that. I was unfortunately not there for the trick or treating because I was coming home from the great state of Colorado, but I have seen the impressive pile of candy!

(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: Well, enjoy that!

MARK RICCOBONO: Should we get started?

PAM ALLEN: Sounds good.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thanks, Pam.

Greetings, fellow Federationists. Today is Monday, November 1, 2021, and this is presidential release number 510. Man, does it ever feel like the Thanksgiving season around here. The air is crisp and cool and just starting to really get that feeling of the holidays. I'm looking forward to that, but there's so much still to go in the month of November before we even get to Thanksgiving. I just got back from the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado convention, which was in person in Denver. It was great to be in and amongst Federation members again, and running from meeting room to meeting room, and remembering all the ways we used to do things, really, really great to be in Colorado and to visit our Colorado Center for the Blind. It was a great way to kick off November, leading into November, when the Federation will celebrate its 81st anniversary on November 16th. So happy anniversary, Federationists. I hope that you find ways to enhance the work that we do this month as we celebrate our anniversary.

Now, a few things here on this release to put in front of you, and one of them is the Washington Seminar. I know I mentioned this last month, but many of you have been asking, what about the 2022 Washington Seminar? And we are planning to have the Washington Seminar from February 7th to 10, 2022. That means that the great gathering-in meeting will happen on Monday, February 7th, at 5:00 p.m., 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, as is tradition.

Currently, the plan is for us to be in person in Washington, DC. We continue to work with our contacts in Congress, and are working to make sure that we really know what the rules will be with visiting Congress by the time we get to February.

We're not quite ready to announce all of the details, because that situation is still evolving, so please stay tuned. I know that many of you are eager to make your plans and travel to DC, and we want that to happen. But we also want to make sure that we do this in the most responsible way. So hang tight a little bit longer. You can always visit nfb.org/washington-seminar to get the latest information. But once we have the final details that we can feel confident in, you'll be the first to know. And we will spread the word as far and as fast as we can. So know that we're trying to do our due diligence and try to do this the right way to make sure we can be effective on the Hill, keep everybody safe, and meet whatever the rules and requirements are. So, looking forward to our Washington Seminar in February. You can put the dates down either way.

On October 12th, the AbilityOne Commission released a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the payment of sub-minimum wages by AbilityOne-affiliated nonprofit agencies. This is due in large part to blind advocates who we've been able to get appointed to the AbilityOne Commission and our allies. In short, the NPRM proposes a requirement that any affiliated nonprofit agencies with the AbilityOne program provide a certification that it will not pay sub-minimum wages using 14(c) certificates. The National Federation of the Blind has prepared comments in support of this proposed rulemaking, and we will be submitting those and publishing them also to our website later this week.

We are going to want NFB members to help amplify these comments, and get them noticed, and let the Commission know that you also, as individuals, in addition to us as an organization, support this proposed rule. So, more details will be coming. I urge chapters to share this information to get people to post comments in favor of the Federation's comments, and congratulations to the work of strong blind advocates to help take this next step in eliminating sub-minimum wage payments. And in the last month, we've also had Illinois and Delaware, by the way, that have taken actions to ' eliminate sub-minimum wages in those states. So we continue to make great progress, but we should not take the pressure off. So we're going to need your help on this AbilityOne NPRM. Stay tuned. Information will be coming.

A few things I want to share with you regarding our work in the Federation. And the first is a question that often comes up about kiosks. We've gotten the question, why do we now talk about kiosks so much? Whatever happened to websites? I run into all these inaccessible websites all the time. Why have we forgotten about websites?

I want to share with you that we have not forgotten about websites, by any stretch of the imagination! But we recognize that advanced digital interfaces are being created very rapidly in these kiosk systems, and these barriers are going to prevent blind individuals from having independent access and fully participating in so many ways. And the pandemic has really accelerated the use of these kiosks in so many situations. We need to create the kind of foundation with these technologies that we have for our websites. The fact is, yes, we still have a lot of work to do with website accessibility. There are a lot of inaccessible or partially inaccessible websites in very important places. And we need to keep the pressure on there.

But we've also created some very good law, there are very good standards, very good practices out there. You can learn about them at our Accessibility Switchboard project.

Kiosks are the next phase of the work that we have to do. And there's a real opportunity for us, also, to influence good innovative designs in this area. That's why we're focusing on kiosks. The Federation is broad and dynamic enough to do both of these things, and that's really our intent, is to do both of these things. But to get ahead of the kiosk curve, so that hopefully when we look back 10 years down the road, we're much farther ahead on kiosks than we were on websites, and so we're doing both these things. So if you come across in accessible kiosks, please share that information either on the legal advocacy form on our website or through the staff here in our legal advocacy department. We'll continue to collect data. And certainly you should talk to the companies that you come across that have inaccessible kiosks yourself and ask them to make them accessible. And the more people that are asking, the more that we will find these technologies out there. And if you find some really innovative kiosk accessibility approach, share that with our technology team here. We'd like to know about that.

Now I want to talk to you about the Federation's code of conduct, and this is a really important item. The board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind has been working on revisions to the Federation's code of conduct, and this evening, we are releasing a draft of the code of conduct, and asking for comments about the draft from the membership of the Federation, and we're hoping to get those comments in by December 2nd at noon Eastern time. So, a little more than a month from now. So that we can consider feedback from the membership as we finalize, the board is going to meet here in Baltimore in early December, we're going to finalize the revision of the code that hopefully will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

So, a few highlights of things that we've changed in this draft code, that you will find now at NFB.org/draftcode. First we've updated the introductory section, including bringing the revision date right up front so it's easy to tell that you have the most recent version of the code that you're looking at. We've added a new Section 2 to the code, which clearly specifies who the code applies to, and in what situations. The revisions have been made to Section 4 of the code, which was previously Section 3 in the current version, so the new Section 4 removes sexual harassment and clarifies some other aspects, and sexual harassment has been moved to a new Section 5, which is a specific section regarding sexual misconduct.

Also, we've made edits to the conflict of interest section to clarify some terms and who needs to report conflicts of interest, and we've extensively revised Section 11, which is the violations and reporting procedure section. And that section, in addition to the new Section 5, that's where the substantial amount of new content could be found. And also, we've generally streamlined some of the language and clarified some of the terms.

There's many ways that you can give feedback, and I would encourage you to go check the code out, the draft code, and give feedback. But you've got to do it in the month of November or early December, so that the board can consider it.

You can send an email to code feedback, all one word, [email protected]. Or you can go online to the same page and find the form and either type in your comments directly or upload a file with your comments included. The form, you can submit the form either anonymously or you can choose to give your name. Again, NFB.org/draftcode. And you can view the draft code there in HTML or you can download a BRF file, if you want to read it on a Braille device, or put it in a Braille embosser. I encourage you to check out the draft code and give the board your comments. The board will be considering this material as we go into the fall in-person board meeting, and prepare the changes for 2022. Thank you for your engagement in this work

Also, in October, we announced our transition from the blind survivor task force to the survivor led group. Our blind survivors group is now up and running. Katherine Webster of Massachusetts and Danielle Montour from Texas are co-chairs of this group. To talk briefly about the blind survivor group at the National Federation of the Blind, I'd like to introduce Danielle Montour. Danielle, are you out there?

DANIELLE MONTOUR: Thank you.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you, hi, Danielle.

DANIELLE MONTOUR: Hi, I am. This is Danielle speaking. My name is Danielle, I go by she/her and they/them pronouns, and I'm very happy to be here, and very grateful that we're now talking about survivors in a group form. We are having an intentional space for blind survivors, and their allies to the survivors of abuse, sexual abuse and other forms of abuse and trauma, to share support and resources and just exist in a space by us, for us. And really just bring our stories together, that's one part of it. And another part that kind of runs alongside that is to -- we want to have a better place, we want to be building the organization, and we want to be here as survivors, acknowledging our experiences and the pains and the triumphs and all the things that go with it, and really building the Federation through that, and making our own support better, making our community better, and, you know, bringing the entire Federation up as well.

We are, you can contact us through a few different channels. We have a mailing list now that we just got up and running. It is [email protected]. You can send a blank email to [email protected]. It's a private list, so only Katherine and myself can see the list. You can reach out at 410-969-9314 extension 2218 if you'd like to leave a voicemail instead of writing. Beyond that, we want to start having this conversation quickly and getting to know everyone and for us all to start sharing our hopes and what we would like out of this group and out of these meetings, and to just really get a sense of where we're all at and what we're feeling, and just finding what we really hope will come out of this moving forward. We have two calls coming up for that. That is on Sunday, November 7th, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, and Wednesday, November 10th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That Zoom link was sent out in an NFB email, and I believe it is on -- I would love if someone could correct me on this -- if not, but I believe it's online as well. Is that correct? ?

MARK RICCOBONO: It should be on the safe and support page at nfb.org, Danielle.

DANIELLE MONTOUR: Perfect, thank you so much. So please find us there, please come talk to us, and we want to all get to know each other and start really sharing what this means to us and how we plan to move forward, both in our own healing and in organizational building and healing. So, thank you very, very much.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thanks Danielle, and I appreciate the co-chairs of our blind survivors group and the work that's going to happen going forward, there's a lot of great things that I know are going to come out of the formation of this new group in the National Federation of the Blind.

So I have a number of announcements here. I'm going to try to go through them very quickly, and the first is related to the Access Technology Affordability Act, we've been doing great on this, keep it up. On September 27th, the Access Technology Affordability Act was incorporated into the House version of the Build Back Better Act, and for the last month, we have been working diligently to make sure that the ATAA stays in that bill. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, and despite my writing to both Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer, we received word very late last week that the ATAA was taken out of the most recent version of the Build Back Better Act.

Now, the act is not final. It hasn't been voted on and passed. So we still have a shot to get the ATAA included again, but we're going to have to act quickly! Which does really mean, like, this evening, or tomorrow. We need all Federation members who are in a position to do so to contact Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer and let them know that we want the Access Technology Affordability Act included into this bill!

You can send an email, or you can call, if you send an email, and by the way, we want you to put the pressure on Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer. If you send an email, please write a subject line like "please maintain the ATAA provision in the Build Back Better Act". We need them to see these emails and to know that it refers to this bill. So that they'll pay attention to it.

Let me give you some contact information for the Speaker and the Majority Leader. Of course, via telephone, you can always reach either of their offices through the Capitol Switchboard, and that number is 202-224-3121. Again, 202-224-3121. Don't think they're answering the phone at this hour, so you'd have to call them in the morning. But you can definitely call.

Now, if you're going to send an email, for Speaker Pelosi, we recommend that you write to Terry McCullough, who is the chief of staff. Terri's email is [email protected].

If you're going to, and I urge you to, write to the Majority Leader, his chief of staff is Mike Lynch, and you can reach Mike by writing to [email protected].

If you send an email, we ask you to copy Jeff Kaloc here at the National Office, so we are aware of it and have a copy of it. Jeff's email is [email protected]. Pour the pressure on as soon as you can. If you can do it this evening, great. Otherwise do it first thing in the morning. It's really important. We have great support for this bill. We want to see if we can make one more big run at getting it to be in this important legislation that's being considered in Congress. So thank you for taking action on that.

Another big thank you to Federation members who helped support our matching gift effort that we had for Blind Equality Achievement Month. We were able to meet our  matching gift pledge of $50,000, so thank you to you and our anonymous donor for putting up that matching pledge. Federation members, we exceeded our goal, and that's going to really prepare us going into the end of the year and beginning 2022.

We did have a great Blind Equality Achievement Month, many great activities around the Federation. Of course this year we focused on employment, and many affiliates took that opportunity to spin up discussions about employment or to leverage things happening here at the national level.

Also a reminder that because we were focused on employment, we launched a self-advocacy in employment toolkit. You can find that on our legal resources page at nfb.org. You can also get to it through our Blind Equality Achievement Month page, nfb.org/blind-month. So continue to utilize that resource, and think about what we want Blind Equality Achievement Month to be like next year, and share your ideas.

Let me talk to you a little bit about Braille and reading! We are partnering once again with the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults to support the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest for this year. Registration is going to be opening this month for this annual reading contest that encourages Braille reading amongst children and adults. The reading contest starts December 1st and runs through the middle of January. So registration will be open soon, and the contest period starts in December. You can go to actionfund.org to find information about the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest for 2021, and I encourage chapters and affiliates to use this program as a way to do outreach to blind children and their families, but also to encourage Braille reading and mentorship amongst adults in the chapters. I know that a number of chapters last year used this as an opportunity to get together and share some mentoring, read together, inspire each other. We have some new tools happening for the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest this year, and I've gotten a little sneak preview of some great incentives and prizes that are happening!

So I encourage everyone who is interested in Braille reading to promote the contest and participate if you're willing.

It's also the time of year where we again reestablish our partnership with Santa Claus at the North Pole. So this year, again, the National Federation of the Blind will be helping jolly old St. Nick to provide Braille letters to blind children who are 10 years of age or younger. Now, this year, the Federation is also expanding this partnership to offer letters that celebrate winter to those children whose families may not want to put Santa Claus front and forward. You can get a letter, a winter letter also for your child, and again, this is for children 10 years of age or younger.

Each option, the Santa letter or winter letter, is available in both English or Spanish, and the letters come with both Braille and print copies, along with some additional fun activities and that sort of thing. Obviously the print is for the parents that are not literate in Braille so they can know what's in the package as well.

The registration for the letters, I guess the request form, will be available starting November 8. You can learn more at nfb.org, and of course, you'll want your letter in time for December, so it's a short window. So make sure you get in there early so you can get your letter ordered and please spread the word to families in your affiliates.

For the last two years, we have had the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning program virtually, in what we call our in-home edition. And that's been really successful. But we're looking forward to 2022, where we're planning to have some in-person BELL Academies again in some affiliates that are ready to take that on. But we're also planning for a national virtual in-home edition that will have a limited number of spots. So we're going to do both. NFB affiliates are encouraged to have a BELL coordinator to help share information and coordinate at the affiliate level. Again, if you're not planning to do an in-person BELL Academy, you can still promote the in-home edition to children and families in your state, and a coordinator could really help make that happen. If you haven't yet appointed a coordinator, a BELL coordinator for your affiliate, please send contact information for who you would like that to be, I guess this is really targeted at affiliate presidents and leadership, to send an email to [email protected] with the affiliate coordinator's contact information so we can keep you up to date

I also want to let you know that on the Federation's anniversary, Tuesday, November 16th, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, our NFB Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access to Education, Public Information, and Commerce, or what we call our CENA, will be hosting an accessibility boutique on tactile graphics. Kind of a cool way to celebrate our anniversary. You can visit our list of accessibility boutiques and register for the November 16th tactile graphics one. I encourage you to do that.

I have a few NFB family news to share on this release, and a few notes of passing that we didn't get until recently that happened in August. From our Kentucky affiliate, I regress to share the news of the passing of Dennis Franklin, who passed away on August 20th. Dennis was a longtime member of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. He joined some time in the late 1960s. He served as treasurer of the state affiliate for a number of years. He also served in a couple of terms as president of the Greater Louisville chapter. Definitely would ask you to keep Dennis in your thoughts and prayers.

From Florida, we received the news from Kaye Baker, who is the president of the Greater Jacksonville chapter, of the passing of Valerie Robinson on August 30th. Valerie is described as a tireless and caring advocate, and she had been a member of the chapter for a number of years.

From our Wisconsin affiliate, we learned today that just yesterday, Roger Behm, a lifetime member of the Rock County chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin, passed away from complications of COVID. I knew Roger. I was a member in the Rock County chapter at one point. He was a great advocate, and did all that he could to get technology to any blind person he could. So I encourage you to keep Roger's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

Now, from California, Rochelle Houston, the president of our Pathfinders chapter, sends the sad note about the passing of Sarah Mosley. Now, Sarah was 104 years old. She was the oldest and longest serving member of the chapter there, longest active member, and she was a real life force in that chapter. I had the honor of meeting Sarah at the National Convention in 2018. I remember we introduced her at the Rookie Roundup, and one of the oldest participants we've had in the Rookie Roundup meeting at the convention! So, really sorry to hear about the passing of Sarah, but someone that lived every year of her life with real vigor, and she made a great difference in the Pathfinder chapter. So she will be missed.

Now, I do have one joyful bit of news to share that comes from Adelmo Vigil of New Mexico. He says congratulations are in order to Chris and Tara Chavez on the birth of Sean Kendall Chavez born in on October 5, 2021, weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces, measuring 20 inches long. Tara is the president of the Albuquerque chapter and the second vice president for the affiliate. So, congratulations to the new parents, and welcome to Sean as the newest member of the National Federation of the Blind.

Pam, I think that's what I have at the moment. I'm flipping it back to you!

PAM ALLEN: Okay, thank you so much, President Riccobono. And I just want to share just a quick reminder for our tonight for our questions, just a reminder that you can ask questions in the Q&A feature, which is available on the web and in the Zoom app.

Also, you can email questions to [email protected], and our outstanding communications team will be following up on questions. So thanks, everybody, for those who have submitted questions already. I want to share our results for our poll. We appreciate everyone's participation this evening in our poll. So, our first question was, what is the biggest barrier you face to equal full participation in society? And the top answer, with 39%, was low societal expectations. Which is what we at the National Federation of the Blind are all about changing.

Our second highest was lack of access to reliable transportation, something that we are also continuing to work on. So we really appreciate the input.

We also had, in honor of Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks, we asked about everyone's favorite Thanksgiving side dish, which, this, I must say, this top answer surprised me a little. But our top vote-getter was stuffing or dressing, depending on where you live, what you call it.

MARK RICCOBONO: Really!

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, I know, surprising! I know! I was surprised as well. I thought it would be, why fill up on side dishes when there's pie afterwards?

(Laughter.)

Which is my favorite. 15% of people said that.

But our second vote-getter was mashed potatoes. So, another delicious...

MARK RICCOBONO: I'd take mashed potatoes over stuffing.

PAM ALLEN: And third, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, one of my favorites.

So, thank you for participating. We have some questions for you, President Riccobono. First, from Jennifer, if you could update us on the progress of enforcing our 2019 resolution to have agencies for the blind increase representation of blind people on their boards of directors, staff, of all levels, and getting them on board with encouraging departments of rehab and agencies to align with that practice.

MARK RICCOBONO: Great question, Jennifer, and thank you for asking it. This is an effort that is still underway, and definitely can be amplified by every affiliate. At the national level, we were prepared to really go like gangbusters and promote this as we went into 2020. And we -- not to say we put it on hold, but we put it a little bit on the back burner because of COVID. You know, we were really focused on getting agencies to continue to provide services and to make sure that, you know, agencies were helping blind people to get access to the real resources they needed, around COVID testing and things like that.

So, very soon, we're going to have a webpage at nfb.org highlighting the re solution about the pledge for the private agencies for the blind, and highlighting those agencies that have committed to the pledge.

Like all our national resolutions, there's a lot you can do at the local level. You have local agencies in your state, private agencies for the blind. You can make them aware of our resolution, about the pledge. You can urge them to do something about it. You can urge their board members to do something about it. You can pass a resolution at your affiliate convention calling out specific agencies in your state. To take up the pledge.

And the chapters who are close to these agencies can do the same.

So we haven't forgotten about it. But it's also going to take some real work at the local level. Obviously, at the national level, we can put a lot of pressure on agencies, but when you're sitting in the same town, the same state where those agencies are doing business, you're going to have a lot of influence. So go ahead and take that resolution and work with those agencies to get them to sign the pledge and work toward getting more representation of blind people in their agencies starting now. Great question.

PAM ALLEN: Okay, thanks so much. And our next question is from Mark from Nevada, and he's wondering when local transit agencies have a labor strike by the drivers, what considerations should we think about if we're asked to weigh in by the media or by involved parties?

MARK RICCOBONO: Well, that's a good question, and a unique question! You know, obviously, we want to be careful as an organization. We want to be supportive, but we want to make sure that the issues we're supporting are within the realm of policy that relates really to blind people. Obviously, transit is important, and we want transit, and I'm sure a lot of us at a personal level want to make sure that the transit workers are appropriately compensated, because that means they're happier when they're transporting us. But we have to be a little bit careful about getting outside of our lane with these issues. So, what I would say as it relates to workers' issues like that is, although it kind of relates to blindness because it affects us, we need to be careful staying out of the politics of issues like that where we don't have a real policy stake. And that's really a conversation that your affiliate board or local chapter board should be having. But don't let other people draw the Federation into their issue. We have to be careful about when we pick sides. And I don't know the details of this specific issue, but it sounds a little to me like it would be outside of our realm of things we'd be concerned about.

And, you know, we want to make sure that our name and our brand continues to be clear and strong, and we have done really well at getting broad support on our issues from people who usually don't agree on other things, and partly that's because we're really laser-focused on making sure that we're amplifying issues that relate to blind people. And we don't just lend our name to things that are kind of involving blind people.

So I'd be real thoughtful about endorsing a particular side of an issue that only really kind of touches Federation policy.

PAM ALLEN: Okay, great. Our next question is from Wade, and Wade is wondering, when it comes to state benefit program, how are recipients around the country dealing with accessibility issues? He references a story from Indiana and just wonders how we were handling that.

MARK RICCOBONO: Yeah, so, we had a case in Indiana which was a great victory, you're going to hear about it in the Braille Monitor, we talked about it a little bit at the national convention. We should definitely be looking at the advocacy work in the accessibility of benefit programs, and you can look to the work we did in Indiana as a national organization as a model in terms of what states should be doing to make their websites to benefit programs accessible. That's really going to happen on a state by state basis, and it's a good thing for the affiliate to take up as a priority. Not just the rehab agency, but whether it's unemployment or family support, any of the other state benefit services, the processes should be accessible, the website should be accessible, and you should use the Indiana work we've done as a model for what you can do in your state. By the way, including the action in the state could be to get a stronger bill in the state legislature to make sure that these state agencies are meeting their obligations by being fully accessible.

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, definitely a model there for sure, to follow. So, thank you so much, and this question has been submitted by Raul, who is president of our National Association of Guide Dog Users and first vice president for the NFB of Texas. Raul is wondering, President Riccobono, has a question in reference to your favorite cane decoration during the holiday season.

(Laughter.)

Raul likes penguins.

MARK RICCOBONO: Penguins!

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, so he mentioned that he's got -- and also decorates his cane and dog red and green trim. So Raul is curious about what your holiday festive decoration is.

MARK RICCOBONO: Nice. I have to admit, I don't often spend a lot of time decorating my cane, but I have put lights on my cane before. So I have to go with lights. But I'm open to suggestions! And now that I've said that, you know, I'm sure I'm going to get people mailing me all sorts of decorations for my cane!

But I'm going to go with lights on that one, Pam. How about yours, Pam? What do you decorate --

PAM ALLEN: I don't know, I'm kind of like you. Raul has thrown out a challenge! I have to think of something really creative. I also like the red and green look like Raul mentioned too.

MARK RICCOBONO: So, Pam, we're going to be together in person for the next Presidential Release, right?

PAM ALLEN: That is correct.

MARK RICCOBONO: So our challenge is going to be to decorate our canes for December 2nd!

PAM ALLEN: I'm glad I have some time to think about that.

(Laughter.)

Well, I appreciate everybody's questions tonight. Thank you so much for submitting these questions, and as we mentioned, if we did not have a chance to answer your question tonight, we will, our wonderful communications team will be following up with everybody. And I want to thank everyone, again, as we prepare to celebrate our anniversary later this month, the National Federation of the Blind, I would encourage everyone to join the next NFB Presidential Release live on Thursday, December 2nd, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, using Zoom, the Nation's Blind YouTube channel, our internet stream, or by asking your Amazon device to open Nation's Blind.

It will also be the week of our national board meeting!

Contact President Riccobono at 410-659-9314 or via email at [email protected]. Thank you so much, and I'll turn it back to you, President Riccobono.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you very much, Pam. It's great to hear your voice. Look forward to having you in person for our next Presidential Release live.

That's what I have for November for you Federationists. I do hope you'll take an opportunity to celebrate the Federation's anniversary on November 16th. I know I am very thankful for the difference that this movement has made in my life and for all of us in this nation, and I'm looking forward to what we're all going to build together going forward.

Since I won't have an opportunity, I'm going to take it now to wish everyone in the Federation a very happy Thanksgiving, and again, express my gratitude for the work that happens every day in local communities that makes such a difference in this nationwide movement we have. We do have a lot to be thankful for as an organization, and it starts with the bond that we share with each other. So, thank you for the opportunity to serve and build alongside each and every one of you. I'm going to leave you with some customary endings by saying let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth Riccobono and I'll be telling you two jokes!

How do you know that you're done with your math homework?

You put a D in front of 1 and then it's done! (D-ONE).

How do you make 1 disappear? You put G in front of it and it's gone.

I have a Thanksgiving joke for all of you. What do turkeys do the day after Thanksgiving?

They take off their peacock disguises!

The preceding message was brought to you by Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, [email protected], 410-659-9314, www.nfb.org. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!

(Instrumental version of Live the Life You Want playing, fading out).

(End of Presidential Release)