Presidential Release 518, August 2022 (English Transcript)

PAM ALLEN: Good evening, everyone. It is so wonderful to come together with everyone tonight from all around the country and around the world as we join for our August presidential release. 
Thank you so much for being here tonight, and I would now like to turn it over to President Riccobono. 

MARK RICCOBONO: Buon giorno, Pam! 

PAM ALLEN: Buon giorno, welcome back! 

MARK RICCOBONO: It's great to be back. It's hard to believe it's been a month since New Orleans, though. 

PAM ALLEN: We still feel the energy, though, it was great to be together. 

MARK RICCOBONO: 100%! I'm going to say it later, but great job to you and the rest of the affiliate on an outstanding convention. It's going to be hard to beat the Louisiana hospitality! It's gonna be hard. 

PAM ALLEN: I'll say, we had a great team, our Louisiana family really stepped up. So, super grateful to everybody. 

MARK RICCOBONO: I should have worn my convention T-shirt to this release. 

PAM ALLEN: We do still have some for sale if anybody missed them! 

MARK RICCOBONO: Maybe we can give out that information later. 
All right, and I know you had a good vacation, right? 

PAM ALLEN: We did. It was good. We all had a little refresh after a busy convention. 

MARK RICCOBONO: And we're back at it! 

PAM ALLEN: It's good to be back together for August release. 

MARK RICCOBONO: That's right. Okay, you ready to get started? 

PAM ALLEN: Sounds good. 

MARK RICCOBONO: Okay! Greetings, fellow Federationists. It is Tuesday, August 2, 2022, and this is presidential release 518, and it is definitely August, and it is HOT! Maybe it feels hot because we're still so energized from our 2022 National Convention in New Orleans! 

It was an amazing convention, so great to be back together with the Federation family in person. You know, Melissa and I had the opportunity to go to Italy shortly after the convention to celebrate our 20th anniversary, and I thought that the energy of the convention was going to dissipate a little bit while relaxing on vacation. But, never happened! Still feeling the full energy of our national convention, and had the opportunity while in Italy to take a moment to meet with the president of the Italian Blind Union, Mario Barbudo, and it was great to be able to share the excitement of the convention and the work that we accomplished together. So thank you to all of you who were able to come to the convention. I'm sure that you are feeling the energy just like I am from this year's convention. Whether you were in New Orleans with us, or participating in the virtual experience, I'm sure that you are feeling the energy of the convention. It was a tremendous convention in so many ways, from the hosting, the great work that our Louisiana affiliate did in hosting the convention, the outstanding activities of our divisions and committees, the amazing energy of the general sessions, including what I think is a most memorable opening ceremony -- I can still smell the pralines being cooked on stage! 

So many things. The sound of canes tapping all over the French Quarter. What a great convention! But I do want to look at what more we can do to make the convention even better in the future, and so I hope that you will take an opportunity to share your feedback through the post-convention survey, which is now available at nfb.org/convention. And that's true whether you were in person in New Orleans, or whether you participated in the virtual experience. And I know those who were part of the virtual experience had a lot of great memories to share as well. I've heard so many great things about the pre-sessions with Melissa Riccobono, who couldn't be in New Orleans, but I know she enjoyed hosting the pre-sessions. I enjoyed the virtual session in the presidential suite. 

You can also fill out the survey. So nfb.org/convention. Please give your feedback so that we can make the convention even better. If you missed some of the general sessions or parts of them, or just want to tune in to hear the pre-session banter, you can find all of the general sessions on YouTube. You can get an encore discussion of the convention by tuning in to the Federation's Nation's Blind podcast, where the convention is discussed, and we got to reminisce about the highlights of the convention, and of course, very soon, you will be able to get highlights both on our website and through the August/September issue of the Braille Monitor. And while the convention is still fresh in our blood, I do want to remind you that we will have another convention in 2023, and we should put that on our calendars, save the dates for our '23 National Convention in Houston, Texas, which will take place from July 1st to July 6th. I want to say in and amongst the convention excitement, we did have individuals who came down with COVID, and I hope that each and every one of you who did get ill from COVID have recovered well. And I want to extend appreciation to all of our convention attendees who did their part with masking, with testing, with helping out, jumping in where needed. Because someone did fall ill with COVID. 

The folks at the convention who observed our protocols really made a difference. And so many new first-timers and others jumped in to help with the convention. Even our affiliates jumping in to deliver banquet meals to individuals who had to quarantine in their room because of COVID, to some degree, the new normal. So thank you to each and every one of you. 

A lot of things came out of the convention that we don't have time to talk about on this release, but I want to talk about the fact that we had 18 resolutions passed at the Convention. You can find those at nfb.org/resolutions. I also want to thank board members Amy Buresh of Nebraska, John Fritz of Wisconsin, and Amy Ruell of Massachusetts who came off the board of directors. So thank you for your service. And of course want to take a brief moment to acknowledge Jeannie Massay, who passed away shortly before the convention. 

And congratulate our newly elected board members Donald Porterfield of Arizona, Barbara Manuel of Alabama, Sheila Wright of Missouri, and Grace Pyers of Rhode Island. Congratulations on joining the national board. Also at the convention, the convention adopted an amendment to the Federation constitution. That amendment was published, the proposed amendment was published in the June issue of the Braille Monitor. I wanted to let you know that the amendment did pass, and the updated current constitution of the National Federation of the Blind can be found on our website at nfb.org. You can also order physical copies of it through our free literature process. 

Now, last month, on July 26th, we celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And this is always an opportunity for us to advance our priorities as the organized blind movement. We, on July 26th, participated in a round table discussion that was held by Vice President Harris, and were able to use that forum to promote our work, especially our priority for web accessibility and digital access, which as you know is one of the most pressing problems we face as blind people in perk today. 

We have built a strong coalition that is supporting our priority of getting web accessibility and mobile app accessibility to be a standard in this nation. We like to call this ADA 3.0. And we do believe that our bill will be introduced into Congress on this topic very, very soon. We were hoping that it would have happened by the time of the ADA celebration, but it did not. 

Other activities we participated in on Capitol Hill, on July 26th, included a meeting of the Bipartisan Disability Caucus, and at that meeting, the current chairman of the disability caucus, who is Representative Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, announced the new co-chairs during the next Congress for the disability caucus. These are Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, so Michigan and Pennsylvania, this is an influence you can have on the disability caucus. We were very proud to be part of that event and to be recognized as key players in the disability community. 

Also during the ADA week of celebration, we participated in a hearing in the United States Senate to discuss the issues around government web accessibility and Section 508 access issues. On Thursday, July 28th, Anil Lewis, who is executive director of our Blindness Initiatives department, testified as one of four individuals during this hearing before the Senate Committee on Aging. Section 508 has left many things to be desired in terms of access in the government, and we have been pressing Congress to pay more attention to this issue. So it's really great that there was finally a hearing on this matter. Anil's comments can be found on the NFB website, and you can listen to the full hearing by going to the Senate Committee on Aging's website. Certainly we have a lot more work to do on Section 508 and government web accessibility, so there will be more about that going into the future. 

Now, we are in August, and of course for Congress, that means it's Congressional recess time! So I want to call this to your attention, because starting next Monday, on August 8th, the House and the Senate will both be taking their traditional August recesses. However, most members of Congress will be working in their district offices, and this is an opportunity for local Federation members to get out and meet with members of Congress and their local offices to advance our priorities and to let them know that it's important on the local level. And what a great way to beat the heat by beating on the door of members of Congress and getting them to share their air conditioning! But also to share and support the work of the National Federation of the Blind. Now, you want to try to make those appointments quickly because there's probably limited opportunity to meet with them in their local offices, so I encourage you to get on that. Try to have those local meetings so when you get to September we can register many more co-sponsors as we go into the final stretch of this Congressional session. 

Now, October is coming up, and that is Blind Equality Achievement Month. And we announced at the national convention an opportunity for affiliates or chapters or even a combination of affiliates and chapters to host the presidential release live during the first weekend of October. I'm really excited about the opportunity for Pam and I to hit the road again and do a presidential release live in a local community. If you would like to have your chapter or affiliate be considered for hosting our October presidential release, you should e-mail membership at nfb.org, with your pitch on what the release would look like, where it would be held, how you would use it to build the National Federation of the Blind locally, what activities you might put around the release, that sort of thing. 

The deadline to submit your proposal is Sunday, August 28th, and our intention is to select a location for the October release and announce it on the September 1st presidential release. So please get your suggestions in. We'd love to come to a local community with our presidential release live. 

Blind Equality Achievement Month is something we should be getting ready for in our chapters. It's a time when we get out in the community to spread our public awareness message, teach people about the capacity of blind people. You can check out nfb.org/blind-month for ideas and the latest updates on Blind Equality Achievement Month. You should also share and follow in social media the hashtag #BlindMonth. 
We also invite  you to send in your Blind Equality Achievement Months so we can share them on the webpage. You can send your event details to web at nfb.org, and we can put them on the website. 

October 15th also is, obviously, White Cane Awareness Day, and National Federation of the Blind now owns the domain whitecane.day, and you can go there to find information about white cane proclamations, we encourage chapters to go out and get proclamations and other information about the white cane, and we should promote whitecane.day during the month of October especially. So, looking forward to many activities in October and many great fall conventions coming up. 

I do have a number of other announcements here on this release, and the first is that the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, a great partner with the National Federation of the Blind, is offering each of our Federation affiliates up to 50 of the Action Fund's 2023 braille calendars. And I actually have my 2023 braille calendar right here with me. I encourage affiliates that might want an allotment of up to 50 of these calendars to let it be known soon. If you're not familiar with the Action Fund braille calendars, it's a 6-inch by 6.5-inch pocket-sized braille calendar that has all the days laid out in calendar form and also highlights a number of important holidays. And events such as the convention of the National Federation of the Blind, which you'll find if you look up July! 

Now, affiliate presidents that would like an allotment of up to 50 calendars for use by the affiliate should send an e-mail to [email protected] in order to make this request, and you need to get this request in no later than August 31st so that the calendars can be sent out to you in time for fall conventions and Blind Equality Achievement Month activities. So these requests should come from affiliate presidents and you can get up to 50 for use in your affiliate. This is something at the affiliate level, not at the chapter level. And you should take advantage of that soon so that the orders can get out to affiliates in September. 
However, individuals can also order free braille  calendars from the Action Fund, and you can start doing that now. You as an individual can receive up to 3 of these calendars. Again, you can go to actionfund.org to go to the calendar request form, or you can send an e-mail to [email protected], or you can call 410-659-9315 to make your calendar request, and those requests will be taken until the calendars run out, usually pretty early in January. So you will want to get your request in soon. 

So, again, actionfund.org to find the information on the Action Fund's website. 

During the convention, we also talked about improvements to NFB NEWSLINE, especially the launch of a new limited-access subscriber system for NEWSLINE. The NFB NEWSLINE now offers this limited access account, which enables parents to sign up individuals who they may want to have a limit access account, children, so that the access to specific content might be restricted. 

All subscribers under the age of 18 will need to have a parent to complete their access setup for NFB NEWSLINE, and the parents will be able to select either full access or limiting the access of the account to more age-appropriate content. So this is a good addition to NFB NEWSLINE. Obviously there's a ton of content there, and one of the things we've heard from parents is they would like some more ability to screen out some of that content, consistent with other parental controls, services that are used across the internet. So if this is of interest to you, visit our NFB NEWSLINE website and learn about the limited access accounts and use this as a great way to promote getting more young people engaged in the NFB NEWSLINE service. 

Our Center for Nonvisual Access Technology is hosting a training at the end of this month. These are monthly boutiques, we like to call them, on various topics. And in August, our topic is the basics of accessibility. On Tuesday, August 30th, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, our next boutique will be taking place, and it will introduce web accessibility topics including how screen readers work, what are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and the best ways for navigating web using access technology. You can register online at nfb.org for this training. We will put the full link, which is a little more complicated than nfb.org, in the chat feature this evening. But go to nfb.org to find the registration for our monthly boutique. 

I do want to celebrate some new chapters and affiliates that have joined the Pre-Authorized Contract Program of the National Federation of the Blind, and thank you to all of you who increased your PAC contribution or started a new one during the convention. Our virtual form, PAC form, worked really well during the convention. We made great progress on the PAC plan, but especially want to thank the NFB of Maine, the NFB of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Chapter, the NFB of California, San Diego chapter, the NFB of Colorado, Aurora chapter, on becoming the newest organizational members to the PAC program. You can go to nfb.org/pac to find our PAC form, to change your contribution, to sign up new, and I would encourage people to do that. We need those contributions to continue to do all the great work that we do. And I want to take an opportunity to thank Scott Spaulding of Louisville, Kentucky, for being the newest member of the Federation's Dream Makers Circle. The Dream Makers Circle is a way to make a commitment, an end of life  commitment, either through a will or some other form, to make a gift to the National Federation of the Blind. So thank you to Scott and all the Dream Makers Circle members. We had some special events at the convention for our Dream Makers Circle contributors. So I encourage you to join the Dream Makers Circle. You never know what special events will be at future events to thank you for your commitment. 

I do have some news on Federation family members on this release. I regret to share the passing of a number of members since our release. The first is Joy Harris of Alabama, who passed away on June 20th of this year. Joy was our affiliate president in Alabama for some time. She was a longtime leader and mentor to so many in the National Federation of the Blind, including myself, and her presence will definitely be missed. She had a long, long battle with cancer, and I encourage you to keep Allen Harris and their family in your thoughts and prayers. 

From Maryland, I regret to tell you of the passing of Ruth Stuart, who passed away on Friday, July 8th, during the convention. She had been getting ready for the national board meeting on July 7th in New Orleans when she had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital, and consequently passed away the next day. Ruth was 81 years old. She was very happy and determined to be at the convention, so she was really in a place where she very much wanted to be. 

Ruth was a long time member of our Greater Baltimore chapter and a graduate of the Colorado Center for the Blind. 

From Arizona, I regret to share with you the passing of Carrie Taylor, who was a long time member in Arkansas and in Arizona. Carrie died due to a brain hemorrhage in early July. 
From Colorado, we've received the news of the passing of Gary Poindexter, a longtime member of the Aurora chapter, who passed away on July 12th. I would encourage you to keep Gary's wife Sheila in your thoughts and prayers. 

From Illinois, Marilyn Greene reports the passing of Nadia Sherman, who was a member of the Chicago chapter and passed away in June. I should say that Nadia was only 24 years old. 

From Iowa, we received the news of the passing of Rich Kelly on July 13, 2022. Rich was an active member of the Federation, although some of you may know him much more prominently because of his computer business and technology training. He was especially known for his work to develop a tutorial to make QuickBooks accessibility more usable by blind people. So you should keep Rich in your thoughts and prayers. 

From Pennsylvania, Denise Brown reports the passing of Mark Leary on June 13th of this year. Mark was a member of the Greater Philadelphia chapter since 2012. 

Those are the Federation family notes I have for you on this release. I do encourage you to keep all of these individuals in your thoughts and prayers, and those who we may not have yet known about. 
I don't have any births to report on this release, but I have to say, it was so great to be at the convention with a number of very, very young Federation members who were born during the pandemic and consequently, New Orleans was our first opportunity to get to visit with them in person. So that was one of the convention highlights for me! 

I think, Pam, that's what I have for now. I'm going to turn it back over to you. 

PAM ALLEN: All right, thanks, President Riccobono. And I agree with you, it was great to meet in person all of the little ones, the newest members of our family for sure! 

And also, we want to send to you birthday greetings -- you celebrated a birthday last week! So happy birthday. 

MARK RICCOBONO: I did, as a matter of fact! 

(Laughter.)

It was great! 

PAM ALLEN: So, I wanted -- 

MARK RICCOBONO: I was entertained by the president of the Italian Blind Union for my birthday, which was a lot of fun. 

PAM ALLEN: Wow, that's a memorable birthday. 

MARK RICCOBONO: Yeah, we got to visit at aa restaurant in Rome and have a lot of food and a little bit of wine and share the news about what's happening in the United States and Italy as it relates to the independence of blind people, and we dreamed up some projects we might do together, which, you know, could be fun. So it was a great birthday. Not the kind of birthday you can have every year, you know? 

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, I was going to say, that's definitely extra special! 

(Laughter.)

MARK RICCOBONO: But between New Orleans and Italy, I ATE a lot last month! 

PAM ALLEN: You're going to go back to getting your steps in, huh? 

MARK RICCOBONO: Absolutely! 

(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: Well, I have our results for our poll. So before we get to our questions tonight -- and thanks everyone who took part in our poll questions this evening -- the first one was the idea of visually describing yourself has been in the news lately. What do you think of self-description? And the overwhelming majority, by a landslide was, it depends on the situation and/or the type of event. So that was the overwhelming winner, with a huge percentage of the vote. 

And then our second question, speaking of summer and staying cool, so, this question asked how you beat the summer heat, and our top vote-getter for this one was stay inside in the air conditioning, or by a fan. Followed by eating lots of ice cream, which is always a good thing! 

MARK RICCOBONO: Yeah, I've been enjoying an ice cream shake myself! 

PAM ALLEN: That's perfect. I couldn't think of a better way! 

So, we will, now, again, thanks, everyone who has sent in questions ahead of time or submitted them. We really appreciate the questions, so we've got a few questions to share. 

Our first one is related to reaching out to give support to those impacted by the flooding, and certainly we are sending out our support for all of those impacted in Kentucky, currently dealing with a really difficult situation. And we have Federationists asking about our Kentucky family and how they can help. 

MARK RICCOBONO: That's a great question, and I appreciate receiving it. And extend my own concern and heartfelt wishes that everybody in Kentucky is doing well. I have talked with our president, Jane Seif, in Kentucky. As we know from other situations, whether it was Texas or Louisiana or Florida, that these situations take a little bit to develop, because of course, at first, communication is very difficult. What we understand right now, and our leadership on the ground in Kentucky continues to monitor this, is that we're not aware of any Federation members who have been harmed by the flooding, which is good news. There are likely some individuals who have lost possessions in the floods, and so our affiliate is going to continue to monitor this, and if we find that there are needs for replacing technology and that sort of thing, we'll definitely put out a call to ask members to help support that. I would say there are a number of general efforts to help individuals displaced in Kentucky that people can contribute to. I think the governor of Kentucky has initiated one, so you can give to that if you want. But the good news is we're still all safe, and we're currently assessing the potential losses of property of our Federation family. 

PAM ALLEN: That's good, and we know our Federation family will be there always. 

Our next question is from an author, and she is gathering some information and asks President Riccobono if you have thoughts on what are the three top issues facing blind people, and what are solutions to those three issues? 

MARK RICCOBONO: We don't have too much time to cover that question! 

(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: Yeah, that's a... 

(Laughter.)

MARK RICCOBONO: Obviously, you know, access to technology, especially digital access to websites and to devices, continues to be a problem that we're working on, and that problem persists in all areas of life, whether it's education, employment, or independence in the home. 

Another and probably more important barrier that we face is and continues to be public attitudes and expectations about blindness and our capacity. That is why we continue to work hard to advance our public awareness message, and the best way that we can continue to change those attitudes is to help members of the general public get to know the capacity of blind people. Ask questions about how blind people do the things that we do. And people get to know us in a real way, on a personal level, and they get to know that, not just one of us, but 10 or 20 of us, they understand that it's not just about one amazing blind person. It's that blind people as a class of people have many characteristics that define them, not just blindness. 

So I would offer those two things. You know, we can debate about which things are most impactful to blind people, but those are certainly two that continue, obviously blind people continue to face great economic disparities because of lack of opportunities and employment, and especially in an economy with very high inflation, that continues to be an even greater barrier for blind people. So we need to find ways to get blind people economic relief and rehabilitation training so that they can get out and be  gainfully employed. 
PAM ALLEN: Thank you so much, and earlier in the release you were mentioning Blind Equality Achievement Month, and so we had some questions about accessing information from our Independence Market, and what kind of literature are available, kernel books and other types of literature. How can people find out about that. 

MARK RICCOBONO: Great, and I should say to the last question, to the author, of course the best solution to tackling the problems that are faced by blind people is the organized blind movement! So the National Federation of the Blind. So I appreciate that the author is engaging with our organization. 

So, our Independence Market. We are still working on getting our e-commerce back up and running. We will be migrating our website to Drupal 9 up and soon, and that will be up and running. But our communications team will be sending out information about our free literature, and you can find out about our literature at nfb.org. We have lots of kernel books that can be used during Blind Equality Achievement Month. Of course our general NFB brochure, Courtesy Rules of Blindness, braille alphabet cards. All of these things can be ordered through our free literature program in the Independence Market, and you're welcome to call and get information from the Independence Market about what we have, but you can also find information about our brochures on our website. 

PAM ALLEN: Right, and I know there are a lot of happy shoppers in the exhibit hall, so thanks to everybody who helped coordinate and volunteered to help with our Independence Market! 

MARK RICCOBONO: Absolutely. 

PAM ALLEN: It was great. 

And President Riccobono, you know, one of the things we do so often in the National Federation of the Blind is to help educate people. And so we had a question from someone who is seeking ways to educate her coworkers. They have some misconceptions about blindness, and sometimes underestimate her abilities to perform tasks or to be an equal part of her team. She was just wondering if you had some ideas or suggestions of what might help. 

MARK RICCOBONO: It's an age-old problem, especially if you're the only blind person in a workplace or in an education program or in some other community program. It can be really difficult to get fully integrated.

One approach, I think, is first and foremost to continue to carry yourself with a degree of professionalism and do what you need to do and work hard to, you know, even be a notch above everybody else in terms of your performance. So go above and beyond to show that you're really a contributor. 

The second thing is, work on building those relationships. If you show interest in other people, based on who they are, they'll start to show some interest in you. And that personal connection is really where some of those conversations can happen. 

But the third thing I would say is don't be shy about just offering to have some sort of educational session or open session on blindness to talk about the tools, the techniques that you use, and to demystify it.

Sometimes you've just got to hit it head on. And it's unfortunate that we have to spend time answering those basic questions. But sometimes people don't feel comfortable or like it's appropriate to ask the things that they're curious about, and so their reaction is simply to default to helping, or they just may not know what to do, and so it's easier just not to ask you to be part of the office environment. 

The last thing I would suggest is, you could offer to have your local chapter come in and do some training, so that it doesn't feel like you're on display. Get some folks from your local chapter to help come answer some of those questions and demystify things. And utilize something like Blind Equality Achievement Month as a time to say, look, this month is coming up, we'd like to do this educational program. So it's not about you and your participation in the workplace, it's about a DEI initiative that your employer could leverage during this month of October, and you're bringing them a resource and a program through local affiliate members. 

So those are all suggestions I would have. I'm sure that your local chapter or affiliate leaders would also have some good suggestions for you. 

PAM ALLEN: Excellent. Thank you. And our next question is related to convention. I just wanted to say thank you again, President Riccobono, for putting together such a dynamic convention agenda. So that's a huge undertaking, and I know that you seek input from others and get suggestions throughout the year as you build the convention agenda. So thank you so much for such a diverse agenda with so many different topics covered. We have a question about accessing, about purchasing T-shirts, so I hope people can get our T-shirts, and they are -- I can answer that question! 

MARK RICCOBONO: That's good, because I can't, so go for it! 
(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: So you can still purchase our T-shirts that we sold at convention. You can visit nfbla.org, and they are available for sale, $20 plus shipping. So we appreciate that. It's a great way to remember the convention. And so we appreciate that very much. They are available online. 

And the question concerning the convention agenda: How can people -- this is related to state convention planning -- what are some tips that you have for people who are getting ready to plan their fall state conventions? Since you planned the national convention agenda, what are some suggestions you have for ideas for people as they're building their agendas for the upcoming fall conventions? 

MARK RICCOBONO: Well, the first tip on planning conventions is don't bore people! 

(Laughter.)

Don't bore people. And the second tip is, try some new things. Try some things, some different formats. Don't have every presentation be the same. 

The challenge with an agenda is there are some things that you have to do to bring in people who are brand-new, right? You have to make sure that there's content about the Federation so that the new people really understand what the organization is and what it's about. But then you have to offer something different, unique, inspirational for people who have been there. 

I would recommend setting up speakers in a strategic way. Sometimes at conventions I've been to, it's like there's no sequence to who speaks after who. And it's kind of disjointed. 

So, be strategic about who speaks and when they speak. You know, if we have a member of Congress coming, we want to in general put a presenter or, if we have, say, a public official that we want to get to know our message, we're going to put someone strong before them, because they're likely to be in the room listening to that individual beforehand. So you don't want to put your strong person after that public official, because, in general, the public officials usually get out of the room as fast as they can. 

So be strategic. I always think getting young people on the agenda is great. But you have to spend some time making sure they're going to be comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. And remember to have fun, you know? Think about convention, state conventions that I've been to where people do skits or plays or they teach Federation philosophy by having interesting role-playing situations. Make the convention fun and find new ways to bring people in who have interesting stories and invite people from other states to come share their stories. Because they'll have something new as well. 

Building an agenda is always challenging, Pam, as you know! (Chuckling). And, you know, share ideas with other affiliates. Look at other affiliate agendas. See what other folks are doing to make their agendas interesting, and then try some stuff. Some of it doesn't work too well. But rely on good ideas, and remember that just because someone has a good story doesn't mean they feel comfortable telling it. So if you have someone that they have a really great story, but they're just not comfortable speaking in front of a crowd in a prepared way, then set it up interview style. Get someone they're comfortable with to just ask them questions, so that it's not formal, but it's interactive. And if that's going to work better to get their story out in front of the crowd, then use that. We could probably have a whole seminar on this topic! 

(Laughter.)

So let me just use this as an opportunity to say, if you have good ideas for next year's national convention, I'll start taking them now! 

(Laughter.)

PAM ALLEN: Excellent, President Riccobono, those are great suggestions, and I appreciate everyone submitting their questions. If we didn't have a chance to get to your question this evening, our phenomenal comms team will be following up with everybody. So thank you again, so much, for those great questions and for your thoughts this evening. 

I want to thank everyone for being with us tonight, and please join us for our next presidential release live on Thursday, September 1st 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. 

You can contact President Riccobono at 410-659-9314, or via e-mail at [email protected] 
Thank you so much for joining us tonight, and I'll turn it back over to you, President Riccobono! 

MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you, Pam, and the next presidential release, the leadership seminar will be here, so that will be kind of fun! 

As we come to the close of this presidential release for August, I have to say that the work has not slowed down after the convention. We had a group in our national headquarters to talk about the Nemeth Code and math accessibility, we had a group of teachers here, we have had our NFB BELL Academy in-home edition meeting for the past two weeks, and they're still meeting this week across Zoom. So, many things happening as we get toward the fall, and we'll be spinning up fall conventions later in the month, so a lot of great stuff happening. The work slowed down a little bit after convention, but ONLY a little bit! 

And we'll also be talking more on the release and going forward about our effort to start a Museum of the Blind People's Movement that we're going to need every member's engagement in helping to craft going forward. So a lot of great reasons to be excited about the work of the National Federation of the Blind. 
To close this month's release, and in honor of the work that's going on, I'm privileged to present to you some customary endings from some of our NFB BELL in-home edition participants from across the country! 

Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind. 

(Ending). 

SPEAKER: What's the difference between a pirate and a cranberry farmer? One buries their treasure and one treasures their berries. 

SPEAKER: Why can't you tell an egg a joke? It might crack up! 
What do you call an adorable angle? 

SPEAKER: I don't know, what do you call an adorable angle? 

SPEAKER: An aCUTE angle! 

SPEAKER: How do ducks learn to fly? 

SPEAKER: I don't know, how do ducks learn to fly? 

SPEAKER: They just WING it! 

MELISSA RICCOBONO: The preceding message was brought to you by Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, office of the president at nfb.org, 410-659-9314, www.nfb.org. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!