Presidential Release 516, May 2022 (English Transcript)

("Smile" by Uncle Kracker playing)

PAM ALLEN: Good evening and welcome! We are so excited that you are joining us for our May presidential release. I am so excited that we are broadcasting live from the Marriott, the site of our 2022 National Federation of the Blind convention in beautiful New Orleans, and we are all looking forward to welcoming you. Please remember to fill out our poll. We have some great questions tonight. We would love your input.
Also, remember that you can still send in questions to [email protected], or send through the mobile app. We're also doing closed captioning this evening.

We will be starting at 8:00 Eastern. Welcome. We are so excited you are with us tonight.

(Music playing: "Zydeco Cha Cha" by C.J. Chenier)

(Music playing: "Try Everything" by Shakira)

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, everyone! We are so excited that you are joining us for our May presidential release, live from the great city of New Orleans! We are broadcasting from the Marriott hotel, site of our 2022 convention, and we can't wait to welcome all of you!

Please remember to fill out our poll questions about global accessible day, and also our question asking which local cuisine or beverage of New Orleans are you most interested in tasting! So we look forward to reading those results.

And again, we will be starting in just a few minutes. Thank you, everyone who sent in questions so far. We'll be starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 7:00 p.m. convention time, also known as Central Time. We'll be starting shortly.

(Announcement in Spanish regarding Spanish interpreting services)

(Music playing: "Convention Time")

¶ ¶"We have new timers and regulars too. Girls, bring your dresses, and guys, brings your suits. Ooh, it's convention time for you." ¶ ¶

(Music playing: "Live the Life You Want")

¶ ¶ "Live the life you want. Nobody can stop you. Shoot for the sun and break on through. So you're blind, you'll be fine. We've got good news. You can live the life you want, yes, we know the truth."
¶ ¶

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, my Federation family! I'm so excited to welcome you to our May presidential release. We are broadcasting live from the great city of New Orleans --

(cheering and applause)

We are so happy to have with us awesome members of our greater New Orleans chapter, and we cannot wait to welcome you in person in just a short couple months.

So welcome this evening. Thank you so much for being with us. It is such a treat to broadcast live to our Federation family.

This is a historic moment, our first presidential release on the road. I would like to introduce our President, President Mark Riccobono. (Cheers and applause).

He is wearing Mardi Gras beads too.

MARK RICCOBONO: With another live audience! This is great. The live live audience. This is great. It's great to have you all here in the room, and Pam has outfitted me with these nice Mardi Gras beads here. So I'm getting in the spirit. Behind us here, for those of us watching on Zoom, we have the Mississippi River, right down Canal Street from where we are. So hopefully you'll be with us to experience this in person, but we're so pleased to be in this beautiful location. Pam, it's always great to be with you in person, but you can't have hard work without a little play too, so we got to go out this morning to Cafe Du Monde. So we got there first thing and got to enjoy some beignets. I don't know what people said on the poll. I guess we're going to find out. But I enjoyed them. And the three pounds of powdered sugar that came with them.


PAM ALLEN: We may still be wearing some.

MARK RICCOBONO: That's right.

Our Louisiana affiliate was so gracious that when we showed up there, a band broke out. Let's play a 30-second clip of our experience at Cafe Du Monde.

(Jazz music playing).

Okay. If that doesn't get you in the mood --

PAM ALLEN: That's part of our welcoming committee.

MARK RICCOBONO: And they're all over the city, which is cool. So I really hope folks take advantage of this.
It's great to have you all here in the room. I don't know, Pam, should we get started?

PAM ALLEN: I think we're ready. Let's do it.


Greetings, fellow Federationists. Today is Monday, May 2, 2022, and this is presidential release 516, live in person in New Orleans at the Marriott, with members of the --



-- with members of the greater New Orleans chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana. It's so great to be together. We do have a lot to talk about. There's also a lot happening, all at the same time. So for our members who are participating in the Muslim faith, I do want to acknowledge that Ramadan is coming to an end. So an important holiday today. And for all of us teachers out there in the National Federation of the Blind, I want to thank you on behalf of all of the members. It is teacher appreciation week, and we definitely appreciate our teachers, certainly those who are active in the programs of the National Federation of the Blind. We are here at the New Orleans Marriott with a backdrop of the Mississippi River behind us in the great city of New Orleans for our 2022 convention. We'll talk about that in a few moments. But a few other things first.

One is our effort last month to participate in the We're with U concert in Ukraine. I want to congratulation the entire National Federation of the Blind for making a huge difference. Starting with our concert that happened on April 16th that we were an active participant in, along with supporting the World Blind Union, and with the support of Mushroom FM, we raised over $100,000.


Yeah. For the World Blind Union's Ukrainian Unity Fund. That really could not have happened without the support of so many Federationists across the country. We had over 100 blind performers from around the globe participate in this concert. If you missed it, you were under a rock, something, you can still stream the concert. It can be found on Go there. You can also get to it from the NFB's page which is That's the letter U. Go check out the consenter you will want to listen to all 11 hours. It's pretty good. Some performances, like mine, might be worth skimming over, but all the rest are really great. And congratulations. Really, I'm blown away by what we were able to do with the Federation teaming up with blind people around the world. Really impressive. I'm sure we'll talk about it more at our convention.

I want to talk to you quickly about a training opportunity that's available later this month, on Tuesday, May 31, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Our Center of Excellence for Nonvisual Access staff, along with Maurice Peret as well as the Maryland Department of Labor and other blind leaders will host a seminar to boost participation and recruiting of blind people into jobs. We know that we want to bust the myths that blind people face and that employers have about employing blind people. So, you'll want to tune in to this training, especially if you are seeking employment or have an interest in helping blind people get into employment. You should also encourage employers to participate in this panel discussion, which will truly address the fears and misconceptions, concerns that people have about recruiting blind people into employment opportunities.

For more details about this training on May 31 and to register, you should go to to get more information.

The National Federation of the Blind continues to monitor the Social Security Administration's implementation of our 2020 settlement agreement regarding the accessibility of kiosks being used in social security offices. The SSA field offices have obviously been closed for a number of months, really, I guess years at this point. They have been reopening, and we are gathering information about the accessibility experience of SSA's current visitor intake processes. If you have visited an SSA facility or office, field office, since they've reopened in April of 2022, please reach out to Valerie Yingling at the national office to share your experience. Valerie can be reached at extension 2440 or via email by sending an email to [email protected]. We're specifically gathering information on whether the field offices are using kiosks, web-based, or human check-in processes and whether those processes were fully accessible to blind individuals. So, if you've had that experience, please let us know.

Also, a quick update on our efforts to push the government and manufacturers to produce fully accessible at-home COVID tests. We continue to work closely with the government on these issues. We've had a number of meetings now with the National Institutes of Health, with the White House, with other officials about this topic, and we're slowly but surely starting to recognize that they are making some progress in this area.

We've noticed, though, that a lot of states have the potential to push on this issue as well. So, for our local advocacy efforts, we put together a sample letter that you can use or modify to let local officials know that we need them to distribute accessible COVID tests.

Please coordinate with your chapter and affiliate President if you plan to use this letter and send it to local officials. We want to make sure that we are focusing our efforts in the right place, and if we've already been working with local officials, we want to make sure that is coordinated with our local leadership. But this letter is available on our website along with all of our COVID testing information. That's You can find the sample letter there. I encourage you to download it, modify it for the specific situation. We should continue to keep the pressure on the local officials, because they will help to keep the pressure on the federal administrators but also, they'll be more responsive when the federal folks present opportunities for them to get accessible testing options.

We are going to have a convention in 2 months! Many of you have not registered and your time is running out. Online registration for our in-person convention closes on May 31st. So, get registered as soon as you can.

We also want you to mark your calendar to be with Pam Allen and others of us at the rookie round up meeting, which will happen at the convention, scheduled for Tuesday, July 5th, at 8:00 p.m. convention time, that's Central Time, and you'll want to be on hand. If you are a first timer at the convention or because it's been 3 years you forgot, what happens at an in-person convention, you might as welcome and review the details. It's going to be a good time.

Now, for those of you who can't be with us in person, we will have a virtual experience that will give you some opportunity to engage in the convention activities and especially to connect with our general sessions on Zoom. In-person registration will also make you eligible for some door prizes specifically for our virtual convention experience attendees. Now, this registration will be open up through the convention, but you won't want to wait, because if you register for the virtual experience, you will also get updates on the convention and special information about promotions and that sort of thing. is your landing page for all things convention related. All information can be found there.

Now, the convention happens because of many, many, many people, and we need you to help with the convention if you're coming. One of the areas we always need help is in our Independence Market. Members from across the country help to demonstrate products in the Independence Market, and it's really powerful when people come to our convention and they have a blind person talking to them about the tools they're thinking about buying, especially newly blind individuals. So, we need you to sign up for a shift to work in the Independence Market. It's a great way to give service to the National Federation of the Blind. If you're interested in doing a shift at the convention, you can email Jen White at [email protected].

Also want to let you know that our convention career fair is coming back in person for the first time since our 2019 convention. So, on Wednesday, July 6th, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. convention time, we will have an in-person career fair. You do need to register for this career fair in advance. It's required. And registration opens for the career fair on May 10 and will be open through June 21.

We will not accept walk ins. You must register. It is free, but you do need to fill this out. You find that also at Not yet because it's not available, but it will be available on May 10th, so go to our convention page at that time and sign up if you are a job seeker looking for opportunities. In 2019 when we had our last career fair, we had over 40 employers at the career fair, and 200 job seekers. So, it's a great opportunity. There are a number of partners in the National Federation of the Blind who are eager to come back to our convention and find talented blind people. Keep that in mind. If you're looking for employment, it would be a great way to justify coming to the convention, especially to your rehab counselor who should pay for you to come and find employment. So please come to the convention, participate in the career fair.

One of the many activities we do at the convention is have our resolutions committee offer resolutions to the convention for consideration. Resolutions are policy statements, significant policy statements of the organization because they are passed by the convention. You should come participate in the activities of the committee, listen to their meeting, and certainly if you're interested in the particular issues that are being discussed, be prepared to advocate for them or against them if you think it would be bad Federation policy on the floor of the convention. You do need to be in person to do that.

If you want to submit a resolution to the committee, you should have your resolution in final form in to the committee chair 30 days prior to the committee meeting which happens on July 6. So, you need to have your resolution in by June 6.

Now, we've been using the 30-day standard for the last 2 years and it's worked out pretty well, so we're going to maintain that for the in-person convention. It has been different in the past for in-person conventions, but for this in-person convention, we're sticking with the 30 days, so get your resolutions in to Sharon Maneki, our resolutions chair, no later than June 6th if you want them considered by the committee. If you want to submit questions or to submit your resolution, if you want to talk further with Sharon about the resolutions process and what you're thinking about, you can email her at [email protected] or call her at (410) 715-9596 to talk about your resolution. If for some reason you do miss the June 6th deadline, she can talk to you about the extra steps you need to go through to get your resolution considered by the committee and potentially by the convention.

Affiliates and chapters should also remember that at our convention we do the honor roll call where we acknowledge financial contributions made by chapters and affiliates to the National Federation of the Blind. We encourage chapters to bundle their contributions with the affiliate because we're going to credit it to the affiliate. We only list the affiliates in the honor roll call, so if you want to, if your chapter wants to make a contribution, I encourage you to make it to the affiliate to go to the national organization, and I do encourage you to participate with your affiliate in contributing to the financial health of the Federation. Affiliates and divisions wishing to be part of the honor roll call, also groups of the Federation sometimes get together and collect money to make a contribution to the organization, we invite you to do that, and you can do that by making your pledge or sending your contribution in as soon as possible.

Now, pledges or contributions can be given in advance of the convention by sending us an email at [email protected] by June 20th. So, if you're making a pledge, please send an email by June 20 and we will record it by the honor roll call.

If you are going to send in your contribution by June 20, please still email us at [email protected] the amount of your contribution and which of our funds it will be dedicated to so we can watch for the check in the mail. So, whether you're pledging or planning to send your contribution before June 20, please send an email.

Now, remember that contributions for the roll call can be to any of our four main funds. That is the white cane fund, which collects general donations for the organization; our Kenneth Jernigan fund, which supports first timers to the convention, and I know we're going to have a great pool of first timer there's year; our SUN Fund, which collects money that is available to the Federation for a rainy day. We hope not to have to use it, but it gives us a safety net in case we do run into a situation where we are in financial need. And you can also contribute to the Jacobus tenBroek memorial fund which oversees the operation of our property in Baltimore.

Now, we do ask that affiliates and national divisions fulfill pledges made to the honor roll call by August 31st of this year. If you have questions about the roll call, you can, again, send them to [email protected] and we'll get them answered. I'm looking forward to celebrating all of the great financial contributions from around the organization at our convention on July 9.

There's more fundraising to talk about. Individuals, we also need you to help support the organization financially through our 2022 Give20 campaign, which has launched just today. You may have seen it in social media. There's plenty of time for you to contribute. But thank you to those who have already jumped in to give your Give20 contribution for 2022. Individuals can support the work of the National Federation of the Blind through our four funds which I've already discussed, and you can be eligible to win some really cool prizes, especially a trip to attend our 2023 convention which will be in the great city of Houston, Texas. I'm sure Houston is going to make a run for the attendance record, taking it away from Louisiana.

(Audience yelling "No!")

The only individuals eligible for the drawing for the Give20 program are individuals. Give20 contributions can be made to any of the four funds, and you can identify which fund you want to support in which amount on the web. If you're going to donate online, it's really important that you go directly to the Give20 donate form at, and you'll find our specific campaign donation form there and you can put in all of your information, also get more background if you forget which fund contributes to what, all of the information is there.

You can also call in advance of the convention and give via phone. Our phone number, (410) 659-9314. Please use extension 2410 for our Give20 campaign.

Also, you can send us a check. Please send that check directly to the NFB at 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230. Be sure to include a note with your check about which funds you want to contribute to. And if you're contributing funds to multiple of the funds, whether it's KJ and white cane or SUN, just indicate that. You only need to send one check with the total amount. Just let us know how you want it broken out and be sure to indicate that it's for the Give20 campaign.

Now, what we do is for every $20 you give, we will give you one entry. So, if you donate $100, we will give you five entries. You can also encourage your friends. Ask your friends and family and neighbors, say we're getting back together in the National Federation of the Blind and the best way you can support what I do is to give 20 -- or more -- to the National Federation of the Blind, and your friends could win a trip to our 2023 convention. But maybe for whatever crazy reason they don't want to come to our convention. They don't have to accept that as the prize. Alternatively, if you don't want to come to the convention, you can get $2,000 in cash. So can you encourage your friends if they say I'm not interested in the convention, it's okay, they should be interested in supporting you and what you're interested in. But if that's not a motivator, see if they're interested in $2,000 and whether $20 to help the blind of America advance our cause is worth it for the chance to win $2,000.

Now, it doesn't stop there. All that goodness, but it gets better. Every dollar that is contributed is doubled thanks to the support of HumanWare. Generous gift from HumanWare. As you know, HumanWare is the maker of solutions that help blind people live independently and participate successfully in today's world. $50,000 has been matched by HumanWare. So, every contribution totaling up to $50,000 will be matched by HumanWare. Thank you to our friends at HumanWare for this generous support.



Now, to launch the Give20 campaign, I got together with one of my friends at HumanWare to talk about this great opportunity. And, you know, as the communications folks do, they want to make it gimmicky, so they asked us to play a little game. Let's roll that video.


SPEAKER: Hello, everybody! This is Danielle at the National Federation of the Blind. I am part of the communications team, and today I have two friends here with me on Zoom and in the room. And I'm going to let them introduce themselves and then we're going to play a game of Wordle.

MARK RICCOBONO: This is Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. Really glad to be here.

SPEAKER: Thanks, President Riccobono. This is Peter Tusik with HumanWare. And I guess we're here to play Wordle.

MARK RICCOBONO: What is Wordle, Danielle?

DANIELLE: You get six chances to guess a 5-letter word with no hints.

MARK RICCOBONO: This sounds like something the marketing guys came up with. I thought we were here to talk about the partnership between the National Federation of the Blind and HumanWare for our Give20 campaign to generate support for the programs of the National Federation of the Blind.

PETER: That was my thought as well. I guess that idea wasn't trendy enough at times.

MARK RICCOBONO: I think it's pretty trendy.

PETER: I think so too!

MARK RICCOBONO: I guess a good five-letter word would be "blind" because we think it's respectable to be blind. And in our Give20 campaign we've run the last couple years, it's an opportunity for people to give $20 or more to support the programs of the National Federation of the Blind. We've done this for a couple years and we kind of came up with this idea during the pandemic, and I'm really proud that HumanWare is doubling the contribution this year to make 2022 bigger and better.

PETER: We are thrilled to be another partner with it. That could be another five-letter word. "Human." We are proud to be a partner this year as well as being a partner of the National Federation of the Blind and doing many things in tandem for the better part of two decades if not longer. So, as we're committed to providing technology and really improving access to the world around us.

DANIELLE: See, you're already collaborating. President Riccobono, you said the word "blind," that is also a five-letter word. Should we start the game?

MARK RICCOBONO: Peter, when you talk about partnership, what comes to mind is the word "dream." We have worked with HumanWare really since the beginning of HumanWare's being founded, and so many things have come to be. Of course so many powerful Braille devices. But I think one device that comes to mind that was really a dream that has just transformed so many things, the Victor Reader stream.

PETER: I think "dream" is a great word.

DANIELLE: We could have solved it already. I'll pull it up quickly. It takes two seconds, I promise.

MARK RICCOBONO: But what we really need, though, is money. We need to continue the life changing work of the members of the National Federation of the Blind. "Money" is a five-letter word. You can give some money between May 1 and July 10 to our Give20 campaign, and HumanWare will generously match that contribution up to a certain amount and you will be eligible to participate in some of our Give20 promotions.

DANIELLE: Match is a five-letter word!

MARK RICCOBONO: So, money will help us to continue the dream that we have with the partnership between the blind and the great team at HumanWare to allow us to advance our work in the National Federation of the Blind.

PETER: And we are more than happy to be able to match that $50,000 goal. And that is going to be unbelievable when we reach it, and I know we'll have some status updates along the way to help get us all there.

MARK RICCOBONO: I'm thinking $50,000 is huge with two Gs.

DANIELLE: Or happy?

That certainly did the go the way that we expected but we still had fun. Display the power for a moment to Braille and beyond. Give to Give20 at or you can donate via phone by calling (410) 659-9314 extension 2430. Thank you for your support.

National Federation of the Blind: Live the life you want.

MARK RICCOBONO: All right. A successful game of Wordle there. You should promote it across the net. I'm sure if you use #wordle, it will go viral.

A number of other things happening this month. We have been for a number of Mays now, over ten, Global Accessibility Awareness Day is happening this year on May 19. Of course, our work to increase accessibility in the National Federation of the Blind happens every day. But Global Accessibility Awareness Day or #GAAD is an opportunity for members of the National Federation of the Blind to amplify the accessibility message, join the global community, and promote digital accessibility, and promote our priority to have technology built for blind people, be led by blind people, informed by blind people, and have nonvisual access prioritized. So, I encourage you to participate in this, especially in social media, for our chapters to have events, accessibility events on May 19th and to be aware of the other activities happening. Now, that week the Federation will be doing a number of things. We're helping to participate in the ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium, and on May Monday, May 16 from about 11:15 a.m. for the next hour I will be giving a keynote address about the blind driver challenge and our work on nonvisual access technology. So, you may want to tune in to that. Information will be available in our social media.

Now, quick update on our accessibility efforts. The Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act, HR4853, has been making great progress since our Washington Seminar. But we need to keep the pressure on. We need to reach out to members of Congress to continue the great momentum. And this bill especially we need to move in cosponsors over the next month or so. So, what we need you to do is email your representative and ask them to support the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act, HR4853, and tell them why it's important to you as a blind person.

You can also contact your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking to be transferred to your representative. We sent out a recent legislative alert about this, so I want to call that to your attention as a priority. We will be sending out other legislative alerts on the ATAA and our other legislative priorities. But let's again give us something special to celebrate when we get together at our 2022 convention by making great progress on this bill.

Getting ready for convention, you may want some logoed NFB wear, so I wanted … do you know that our Independence Market has jackets available as well as polo shirts. You can show off your NFB pride by getting ahead of some of this logo wear. You can purchase NFB three button polos in many colors, and also the jackets. I was going to bring mine to New Orleans, but I couldn't find it in my closet. I guess I have to buy another one. Probably one of my kids stole it because it's so classy. So, you can buy those in many colors as well. I do recommend them both. They're really great. And the jacket is a pullover wind breaker style, and it's got a number of great pockets. That is available for $30. And let's see, the three button polos are available at $24. You can call our Independence Market, get those ordered, and they can be to you before the national convention.

Now, I do have a number of Federation family news items to share with you on this release. First of all, I want to talk about our Dream Makers Circle. This is an opportunity to make a commitment to leave an end-of-life gift to the National Federation of the Blind. We've had a few new people join the Dream Makers Circle and I want to thank them on this release, especially Annemarie Cooke and Douglas McCray of South Hampton, New Jersey. Don and Lynn Gentry of Fredericksburg, Texas. And Jeannie Massey of Oklahoma. Thank you for joining the Dream Makers Circle of the National Federation of the Blind.

I do regret to inform you of the passing of a number of Federationists. From Arizona, Donald Porterfield reports the passion of Justin Hughes on April 25th. Justin was second Vice President of the east valley chapter of the NFB of Arizona. He was a long-time member and a very active in many parts of the organization including our legislative activities in Arizona.

From New York, we've learned about the passing of Linda Spurill who passed away on March 31st. Linda was 69 years old. Linda was a member of the Buffalo chapter for several years before she passed away.

From the state of Wisconsin, Bill Meeker and Cheryl Orgas report the passing of Nancy Gurney on April 6th, 2022. She was age 71. She was a member of the Milwaukee chapter for several years until her health prevented her from participating actively in the chapter.

From Maryland, I regret to inform you of the passing of Ruth Sager on Saturday, April 9, at age 71. There are many things we could say about Ruth, a longtime leader in the National Federation of the Blind in many parts of the country. More recently she served as President of our national seniors’ division, inspiring so many people to continue to live life fully and independently when they didn't think they could with their blindness. She was a leader in the Maryland affiliate, chapter leader and division leader. More recently with our Baltimore County chapter. In the long history that Ruth had with the National Federation of the Blind, she also worked at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I encourage you to keep Ruth's husband Phillip and her children in your thoughts and prayers.

Also, from the state of Connecticut, we've learned of the passing of Jacquilyn Billey who passed away on April 10 at the age of 84. She served with many distinctions in the movement. She served as President of the NFB of Connecticut in the 1980s. She won our highest award, the Jacobus tenBroek award, in 1988. I had the opportunity to speak with her daughter Andrea last week, who expressed to me how important the Federation was in Jackie's life and how much she looks forward to continuing to support the National Federation of the Blind in her mom's honor. So, I would encourage you to keep Andrea and Sarah, Jackie’s daughters, and the rest of their family in your thoughts and prayers.

And I have one final note to share with you from Iowa, which is the passing of Jim Omvig on April 27. Jim, there's so many things we could say about Mr. Omvig. Definitely a giant personality who lived the Federation philosophy in everything that he did, and he advanced our mission in everything that he did, especially representing who we are in its most personal form by bringing so many people into this movement through his warmth and generosity. He made a tremendous difference in advancing our work and the quality of our work, especially in bringing it to adjustment to blindness training for blind people across the country. Of course, he's written so much in the Braille Monitor and through his work to put together the freedom for the blind book. We could talk for a long time about the contributions of Jim Omvig. I count myself blessed as having been able to know him, learn from him, be mentored by him in my time in the Federation, especially during his time when he lived in Baltimore overlapping with my time in Baltimore.

Now, another impressive thing about Jim Omvig is he also won the Jacobus tenBroek award in 1986. So, Jim and Jackie were back-to-back JTB winners. We did not have an award given in 1987. Jim continued for many decades to contribute to the National Federation of the Blind, as did Jackie, even after receiving our highest award. I definitely encourage you to keep Sharon and all of the members of Jim's family in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn his passing and as we come into the convention which was such an important time for Mr. Omvig.

I encourage you to keep all the Federationists that I may not have known about in this release in your thoughts and prayers.

Pam, that's what I have at this moment for this release. I'm going to turn it back over to you.

PAM ALLEN: Okay. Thank you so much, President Riccobono. We are definitely remembering all of our Federation family who are no longer with us but with us in spirit. Just thank everybody so much for participating tonight in our poll and also in sending in so many great questions. We really appreciate it.

I'm going to share the results of our poll now. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is coming up, as President Riccobono just discussed, our top winners in this category for our poll questions were medical devices came in first of the area of greatest concern, followed closely by home appliances and work-based technology.

Our second poll question relates to -- and this was a hard one for a lot of people. The question asked about what food or beverage are you most looking forward to when you come to New Orleans and are most interested in tasting. Our top vote getter on this was "I can't choose just one." (Laughing) I can relate to that. I think, President Riccobono, all your talk about beignets... that was our second-place winner, followed by hurricanes. So, there is certainly a lot of delicious food here in the great city of New Orleans, and I know everybody will enjoy. So, we are excited to welcome everybody to enjoy that.

So, thank you, everyone, for participating in our poll questions.

We have excellent questions. In fact, one of the questions that was asked this evening, President Riccobono, asked about our banquet meal. Will it be New Orleans themed?

MARK RICCOBONO: It will have the flavors of New Orleans. How's that? At least the air will influence it if nothing else.

PAM ALLEN: Good answer. Good answer.

MARK RICCOBONO: Let me just say, let's see, I've only been here, well, for just about 24 hours. You won't have a problem finding great food. And I'm sure the bank wet food will be right up there with it. Some really amazing culinary talent in this town.

PAM ALLEN: No doubt about that. That is for sure.

And our next question, and this is a great question. We're talking about welcoming in new members and we have so many awesome members of our greater New Orleans chapter here with us in the room tonight.


They're a great testimony to this. I know we have many new members who have been welcomed in. So, President Riccobono, our question is about what does it mean to be a membership chair, what are kind of the top responsibilities and what's a great way, some suggestions that you might have for those serving in membership building capacity?

MARK RICCOBONO: So, it's a great question. And in one sense, everybody has the responsibility of recruiting members, right? We all have that responsibility.

But we need someone in the chapter to kind of help be the real leader on that, to be the one that's reminding us at every meeting, we need to be recruiting members. Membership chairs should be the one that's helping to make sure that we have people greeting and welcoming new members. The membership chair should be somebody making sure that we on board new members, that we're giving them someone to talk with about what is the National Federation of the Blind and the things that we want them to know as part of the onboarding process, to explain to them how much dues are and that they're annual and how you have to get voted in and things like that.

The membership chair is really the one helping to coordinate all that and being a cheerleader for getting more members in. I know some membership chairs come up with creative ways to incentivize members in the chapter to bring in new members and that sort of thing. Many other people in the chapter should help. Certainly, often the chapter secretary maintains the membership list. Obviously sometimes that's the treasurer because the treasurer is collecting the dues. But making sure to recruit new members, plans for calling people we haven't seen in a while, find out why they haven't been at a meeting, have they been sick, who are the folks who were members last year but didn't rejoin this year. Let's call them and find out why. Maybe they just fell out of the loop. That's what the membership chair should do and inspire people in the chapter to bring in new members.

PAM ALLEN: Awesome. All right. Thank you so much, President Riccobono. And we have another question. This is related to accessing museums and what are some ways that the National Federation of the Blind is working on increasing access. This member from our California affiliate has questions about going into museums where people aren't discouraged from touching things and what is a good way to advocate for better access.

MARK RICCOBONO: That's a great question that we can't maybe adequately answer in a short period of time. We should invite our local chapter President to say a few words before we adjourn to welcome people to New Orleans. But the museum accessibility is really important. A lot of us don't go to museums because there's never been anything interesting there that wasn't behind glass. So, there are a few things you can do. First of all, we at the national level have been doing advocacy work with museums, with partners. We've had a couple of different projects to do accessibility work in museums. We are actually participating in the American museum association meeting later this month in Boston. There are a number of people in the Federation interested in ways to get more museums to be accessible. And if that's you, we should get you connected with those folks so you can have that conversation.

But in your local community, what are the museums that are important that you want to have access to? Go there. And when you find that things aren't accessibility, ask to talk to the leadership there. Find out if they have a community outreach committee that you can serve on to help inform them about what would make their exhibits more meaningful to blind people. And the truth is that the things that would help facilitate access to blind people help to engage all sorts of individuals.

So, if there's a museum you're particularly interested in, find out if they have an accessibility person. Many museums do. Ask who is in charge of accessibility and talk with them. If they say what's accessibility, you can get in the door and educate them on accessibility.

We have a lot of work to do in museums, and one of the ways we're looking to tack that is to potentially build our own museum that will be a model for the rest of the world about how to have a fully accessible and inclusive museum experience.

PAM ALLEN: Excellent. I know we are very eager to hear from our host chapter President. We're just building up the suspense, but we have another question that snuck in about our Independence Market. President Riccobono, we have a lot of eager shoppers out there that are wondering about any updates on online presence of our market.

MARK RICCOBONO: Well, there are many of us asking this question. So, I hesitate to make a promise because I have made a promise to you before. So, I will say this. We want to make sure we get the online presence for our Independence Market right, and we are currently in the process of implementing an upgrade to which will be executed before the convention that will really facilitate the runway for the new e-commerce for the Independence Market. I suspect with all of the other convention activities, getting the e-commerce up before convention is not likely, but after convention, you will see the new e-commerce for the Independence Market. After which convention? Uh, probably this one. I can't make any hard promises, but I will say that by the time we get to the convention in July, I do hope to deliver to the Federation a solid estimate on when our e-commerce will be back up and available. It will be bigger and better than ever, and I can tell you that I am more frustrated than any of you about the e-commerce and I work in the same building as the market so I can just go downstairs and buy stuff, but I'm still frustrated.

We're going to get it done. Technology is complicated, and we have a lot of technology we're trying to implement, new stuff all the time. It's coming. Be patient. In the meantime, we have a great team waiting to take your call in Baltimore, eager to get your stuff out to you as soon as possible.

PAM ALLEN: Okay. And speaking of convention and our great welcoming committee and all the wonderful things that will be happening this summer, question: Where would be a good place, President Riccobono, to stay updated on getting information about airport shuttles and options for parking and any other updates on safety protocols? Are there any kind of suggestions that you would give people to stay in tune in case there's developments?

MARK RICCOBONO: So, first thing is is your one-stop shop for all of the convention information. I do encourage you to register, because being registered is the best way to get the latest updates. We'll be pushing out information about the convention, the latest information, what we're finding, updates from our sponsors. So, when you register for convention, you put in an email address, you'll get up-to-date information.

We have been talking with the hotel just today as a matter of fact, and the visit New Orleans folks about the best hotel shuttle options. We'll be pushing that information out on the convention page. Also in emails. We're also looking into some other things. We know many of you are interested in parking, or I should say some of you are interested in parking. As I'm sure our greater New Orleans chapter members will attest, parking in the downtown area around the French Quarter near the hotel is an ongoing challenge for the city of New Orleans. So parking is not easy, and it's not cheap here where the hotel is. We're doing our best to work with the New Orleans folks to find some other options for folks who are driving to the convention, but just know that it is a challenge. It's a challenge for any group coming to New Orleans. But again, it's New Orleans. You know? So it's worth it.

PAM ALLEN: Awesome.

Well, and speaking of that, we have shared this evening, we are delighted that we have so many awesome members of our greater New Orleans chapter, and we have our President, Tammy Green, who is going to give us a welcome.

MARK RICCOBONO: Come on up here, Tammy.


TAMMY GREEN: Thank you, President Riccobono, and also Pam, my affiliate President. It is so great to be here live at the site of our 2022 national convention at the beautiful Marriott hotel right in downtown New Orleans!



I want to thank my chapter members for coming out today. I have all of my officers here, and many of our chapter members are here. So, thank you all as well for coming out this evening.

I also want to extend a personal invitation to all of our fellow Federationists out there to come and join us in New Orleans for our 2022 convention. The Louisiana affiliate has a lot of great fun and exciting things for you all to do when y'all come here. The Marriott is walking distance to the very famous French Quarter and Bourbon Street. I know you're all very excited about that. And also, just to enjoy all the things that New Orleans has to offer, our good food and many other things. So, you can start your diet now to lose a few pounds so when you get here, you can just enjoy yourself and eat. So yes, if you have not already, please, I'm inviting you to go ahead and get registered. May 31st is coming very fast. And also get your reservations in here at the Marriott hotel. And also, at the Sheraton hotel. So, we are looking forward to seeing you all, and we are going to have a lot of fun.

And on another note, we are planning on breaking our very own attendance record.


That's right. In our in-person attendance record. So, I know you all want to be a part of that, so you all come on and join us here in New Orleans. Again, that will be July 5-10 at the Marriott in New Orleans. See you all when you all get here!


PAM ALLEN: All right. Well, you can see you are in for a real treat. So, thank you so much, Tammy. And awesome chapter here. On behalf of our whole affiliate, we can't wait.

I want to thank everyone who has submitted questions this evening. We really appreciate all the participation here live in the room and also all of our participation in our chat and also participating in the poll. If we did not have a chance to answer your question, our fabulous communications team will be following up with you. So again, we appreciate all of the great questions and the dialogue.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight. Join the next presidential release live on Wednesday, June 1st, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can contact President Riccobono at (410) 659-9314 or via email at [email protected].

Thank you, and I'll turn it back over to you, President Riccobono.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you, Pam.

I think this on the road format is pretty cool. Maybe we should do this again later this year. Maybe when we get to convention, we can talk about how chapters can apply to have Pam and I come. But you have to meet the hospitality of the New Orleans chapter.


I should have said that the Give20 campaign is open now and you can make your contributions until the middle of the day on July 10th. You don't want to wait until July 10th necessarily, but you do have until about 3:00 p.m. convention time on July 10 or so to make your contribution. So, get it in as early as possible.

If you want to make your contribution via telephone, you can call (410) 659-9314 and dial extension 2430. That's for our Give20 campaign.

That's what we have for this May presidential release. There is so much more going on around the Federation, and there is a lot of work to do before we get to New Orleans. I want to wish everybody a happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day. So many other great activities happening in May. I hear about more and more chapters opening up, getting together in person. It just gets me very excited for the future we are building in the National Federation of the Blind.

Now, before we get to that future, though, we have to have some of the customary endings. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!

SPEAKER: Hi, Oriana. It's May. Did you know you were born on the day of the Preakness 12 years ago?


SPEAKER: No? Well, we have some horse jokes, right in honor of the Preakness. What's your horse joke?

SPEAKER: What kind of horse lives next door?

SPEAKER: I don't know. What?

SPEAKER: A neigh-bor.

SPEAKER: I have one for you. What does a horse say when they fell? I've fallen and I can't giddy up!

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