Presidential Release 519, September 2022 (English Transcript)

This transcript is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings
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(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.  Grab a cane, get trained, gotta get moving.  Make a change and a wage, that's what we're doing.  Come with me and 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." ¶ ¶

ANIL LEWIS:  All right, come on, 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.
Woo!  Welcome to the presidential release live!  That's our leadership seminar choir.



My name is Anil Lewis.  I'm standing in for Pam Allen.  And let me introduce you guys to this wonderful guy. I'll turn the mic over to our President, Mr. Mark Riccobono.


MARK RICCOBONO:  Thanks, Anil.  You know, that's a different opening than we usually have.  That's great.

ANIL LEWIS:  Gotta switch it up a little bit.  It's hard to compete with Pam.
MARK RICCOBONO:  We have the 91st leadership seminar here at the national center, so welcome to our audience.


And Anil, we have quite an audience this evening.  You may not recognize, but we're actually, I didn't tell you this ahead of time because I knew you would get nervous, but we're the opening session of the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona convention, which is happening right now.  The theme of the convention is Our Movement; Our Collective Stories.  So hello to the NFB of Arizona.

ANIL LEWIS:  Arizona!


MARK RICCOBONO:  Wish I could be there in person.

ANIL LEWIS:  There's a newly elected board member there.

MARK RICCOBONO:  That's right.  And they're going to have a philosophy discussion after this, so I encourage more chapters to think about how they could incorporate the live release into their work.

Are you ready to get started?

ANIL LEWIS:  I am ready.  It is all yours.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Okay.  Sounds good.
Greetings, fellow Federationists.  Today is Thursday, September 1, 2022, and this is presidential release number 519.  Here from our national headquarters with our 91st leadership seminar in attendance.  

That was a cue.


They're a little slow, you know.

Many of us are dealing with back to school, but also the Federation is back to building across the country.  

Just got back from our first set of fall conventions last week and a little ahead of fall.  And a lot of great things are happening.  Of course we had a great summer in the National Federation of the Blind, but we are ready for fall, where we will be accelerating the pace of progress through in-person meetings and many other activities to build our movement.

I have a number of things to share on this release.  First I want to acknowledge that September is national guide dog month.  This really is an opportunity for us to kick off our promotion of independent travel and freedom for the blind that's going to lead us right into blind equality achievement month in October.  Wanted to really elevate on this release our National Association of Guide Dog Users, also known as NAGDU to some.  And our division has a great wealth of information and resources on the NAGDU website.  That's

Also, our President of NAGDU, Raul from Texas, reminds us of the great things they talk about on the listserv.

Now, back to school time is always an interesting one.  As a blind parent of three children, two of whom are blind, I know well the difficulties that come with back to school and trying to navigate all of the access to information issues that come up.  And of course that's really on top of all of the normal adjustments that any parent has to make during the back to school process.

I want to remind Federation members, whether you're dealing with the back to school or whether you're supporting folks in your chapter who are dealing with it, the Federation has a number of important resources that can be helpful in this process on our website at  There's a bunch of them on our home page elevated for this back to school time.  One of them is a blind parent's essential guide to effective communication from public and private schools.  You can find that in both English and Spanish.

Also we have the self-advocacy in higher education tool kit for our blind students that are navigating colleges and universities.

And whether you're a parent or a blind student, you can participate in our ongoing efforts to gather information about nonvisual access barriers to educational technology.  This is our educational technology accessibility survey which is always available on our website.  We try to gather information about educational technologies from kindergarten through graduate school.  It's there all the time.  We want you to go there every semester or really anytime you're encountering a new educational technology.  It's part of our monitoring effort.  Let us know what's working and what's not working.  We want to know both so that we can track the trends and know who to talk to, know who to hold up as good examples.  We use this in our advocacy work, in our education work, and also sometimes in our legal work.  So please go to, find that educational tech survey, and complete it.

I want to let you know on this release, the free standard COVID tests provided to Americans is coming to an end on September 2nd.  Which is tomorrow.  The number of tests that have been made available for blind people will remain available after September 2nd, assuming that supplies still last.  So don't assume just because you've heard that the government program is ended that there aren't still tests available for blind people.

Now, online ordering for the government-sponsored tests for blind people was shut down for a short time because, get this, nonblind people were taking the tests.  Yeah.  But the government fixed that.  So the online ordering is now up, and you can order by calling 1-800-232-0233 or find the online form for the coved tests that are available to blind people.  You can find details about the online website at  And we'll continue to promote that as long as we know that those tests are available to blind people.

We will be working with industry partners and others to find ways to continue to make accessible COVID tests available to blind people across the country.  We continue to encourage insurance companies to sponsor accessible COVID testing, and there will certainly be more on this topic from the Federation in the time going forward.

Also want to call out that on our COVID test page, you can find a survey there that you can give us feedback and information about your experience with at home COVID testing.  Again, very helpful with our advocacy efforts.

The Federation, as part of our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives has launched a new web page to centralize some of the resources, articles, and things that our organization is working on in the DEI initiative. This includes the 5-year diversity calendar that we made available earlier this year to help chapters and affiliates with planning and avoiding conflicts on certain important holidays.

You can get to the new diversity page by going to the "get involved" section of our website at, or you can navigate directly to, and I would certainly encourage you to give feedback to our diversity, equity, and inclusion committee about other resources that we should post there to help build the Federation.

You've heard me say a number of times that the Federation is engaging in a strategic planning process during the next year.  We are currently in what's called the SCAN phase of our strategic planning work.  Our consultants at Mission Minded are gathering information about the state of affairs across the nation for blind people and the conditions for blind people conducting a number of telephone interviews and talking with members across the Federation.  Mission Minded is our consultant and they're working with the steering committee of Federation members that the board has put together that will advise the process and make recommendations to the board.

As part of that process, the SCAN process, or what you might think of in traditional strategic planning is the SWOT analysis, we are going to be conducting a survey.  I'm letting you know this now because there's a very tight window on the survey.  The survey is going to be running from September 19th through the end of that week, the 25th.  So I really am asking you to carve out 15 minutes during that week.  And even if you're hearing this release at your chapter meeting during the fourth Saturday of the month, you still have a day or so to fill out the survey.  Carve out 15 minutes to go online, and we will be disseminating the survey widely across the NFB listservs.  Or you can call in on our telephone survey system.  Your feedback, your voice is really so valuable in this process, and it would make a big difference if you would take the time to fill this survey out.  So please, plan to do that.  Plan to be part of it.  And plan to socialize it with your chapter members.  Help others in the Federation fill it out who made need assistance.

Again, you'll be able to find the link at our website and through email over the coming weeks, but if you need to take it via the telephone, it will be available to everybody at our telephone survey number which you've heard: (229)632-7878.  If for some reason you do need a toll free option, that's (833)632-7878.  Please fill out the survey and be part of our strategic planning process.

Now, the United States Senate will be back in session beginning on September 6th and remaining in session for the rest of the month.  The U.S. House of Representatives will be back in session beginning September 13th through the end of the month.  This is a great opportunity for you to utilize September to help convince members of Congress to cosponsor our initiatives.  We do believe, we're optimistic that we will see some additional bill movement including introduction of some new bills for us during this month, but the most important thing is that you reach out to members of Congress to get support for our bills.  That momentum is going to be really important going into the election in the next Congress.  We believe that we have some good opportunities to get at least one of our bills passed before the end of the congressional session.  So please keep on the steam, keep holding them accountable, and get those cosponsors in.  It is not too late.  And if nothing else, we want a good momentum going in to the elections and into the next Congress.
And speaking of the midterm elections that are happening across the country this November, I want to encourage every member of the National Federation of the Blind to get out and vote!  In getting out to vote, I hope you will also raise concerns about any accessibility barriers you find with your boards of election, together with your chapters and affiliate, to help continue to raise expectations in voting in your local community.

On the Federation's website where we list all of our policy statements.  Our policy statements make.
Our center for nonvisual access group here at the national office is conducting a number of trainings in September that I wanted to call to your attention on this release.  Two events in particular.  On September 14, a half-day seminar will be held on web accessibility testing from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  The seminar will cover both automated and manual testing and discuss several tools that will facilitate making websites accessible.

On September 27th, an accessibility boutique will be covering Office 365 online.  The group will be discussing the web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and provide tips for using them accessibly.  You can find information about these activities and register for them by going to

Final announcement, this is hot off the presses just earlier today, our Dream Maker Circle is our commitment program where people can pledge an end-of-life gift to the National Federation of the Blind to make as part of their legacy the continued work of our movement.  I wanted to welcome Barbara and Richard Keen from Silver Spring, Maryland.  Thank you for your commitment to the Federation going forward.

I do have a number of Federation family notes to share with you on this release.

'm sorry to announce the passing of Wiley Smith, known as Buck.  He passed away Wednesday, July 27th. It is reported that he was 88 years of age, and he describes Buck as the oldest continuous active member of the NFB of Pennsylvania.  He shares that Buck was a wealth of information about the earliest days of the NFB.  He actually did meet and spend time with the first President of the Pennsylvania Federation of the blind, and he also attended the NFB national convention that was held in Philadelphia in the 1960s.  He was one of the founding members of the keystone chapter of the NFB of Pennsylvania, and I think a really important note, Jim says that Buck always did serve his part in any capacity he could find.  Though he did not serve in leadership role as an elected officer, he was the first to jump up to be on a picket line or stuff envelopes.  There was no job in the Federation that was beneath him, and he was a continuous member participating where he could up until the last 12 months of his life when his health prevented him from participating.

I would urge you to keep Buck's friends and family, especially Patricia, his partner of 35 years or so, in your thoughts and prayers.

From Utah, every receipt Bacon reports the passing of Tracy MacDonald of our Red Rocks chapter who passed away on August 21.  She was only 50 years old.
Beverly Fulton passed away on July 5th.  She had served for several years as a board member for the Kansas City chapter.

From South Carolina, we received word of the passing of Dorothy Barksdale, otherwise known as Dot, who passed away on Tuesday, August 16th.  And I have to say, I had the opportunity to be at the South Carolina convention where Dot was memorialized and celebrated in so many ways.  It was a real honor to be there for that.

It's worth noting that Dot was the first African-American member to join the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina some 50 years ago.  Many knew her participating at the Federation center in South Carolina and in so many other ways.  So she will definitely be missed in our South Carolina affiliate and in other places.

And finally, this is a really hard one, but from Alabama or Michigan, depending on how you look at it, I am really sorry to inform you of the passing of Allen Harris on August 10.  Allen was a giant in our movement. Allen was dynamic, warm, welcoming, firm but gentle.  He spent time and served as a mentor to me.  Of course Joy Harris passed in June.  The loss of Allen shortly afterward, really hard to take.  So I definitely encourage you to keep the Harris family and friends who knew and loved both Allen and Joy in your thoughts and prayers.  I know it's a big, big impact on our Alabama Federation family.

I think, Anil, those are the notes that I have for now.  I'm going to turn it back to you.

ANIL LEWIS:  Okay.  So if I could take a little moment of personal privilege, Allen was instrumental in my growth as well.  I remember he came down to the Georgia affiliate when I was President and really gave us the "what for."  We both found out that we had a love for sweet tea.  Not just sweet tea, diabe-tea, which is sweeter than sweet tea.  Joy loved chocolate covered nuts.  They called her the Nut Queen.

We have some poll results here!  Looks like people were able to choose as many as they wanted.  Let's see what we have here.  The first question was how do you plan to participate in Blind Equality Achievement Month.  October is right around the corner.  Looks like our largest one was 41% in organized function with my chapter, which is a great answer.  The others were activity planned for my place of work or school.  18% said an event in my community.  And 30% said I don't have anything planned; I guess I should get started.

Yes, what are you waiting on, 30%!  Get started!

Second question:  What are you most looking forward to with fall starting soon.  Let's see.  The big winner was --

MARK RICCOBONO:  I'm sure yours was pumpkin spice.


ANIL LEWIS:  I was trying to see the largest one but I don't see the order.  The first one was 26%, football.  I used to think that's the guy's time.  There are more females now that are football fanatics, oh, my goodness.
46% said cooler weather.  Amen!  Summer is not over!  That is a lie if you step outside.

3%, school starting.  That means there's not a lot of parents that answered this poll, because I'm going to tell you, when my younger one, yeah, that was the top winner for me.

19% was the pumpkin spice.  And as Stephanie Cascone says, PSL, pumpkin spice latte.

And remarkably enough, 2% of people said raking leaves.  Have fun with that.  I'll let you have it.

President Riccobono, are you ready to answer some questions?

MARK RICCOBONO:  Of course.  As long as I don't have to rake leaves.  One advantage of having a cement yard.

ANIL LEWIS:  Okay.  This one came in just recently through the Q&A.  Do you provide training on NVDA.

MARK RICCOBONO:  We support NVDA.  We really don't do training on screen readers as an organization, however.  We tend to run programs through our center of excellence to expose people to what the options are, but really training on screen readers is not something we do.  I would encourage you to tap into the community of blind people who have developed resources in this area and definitely if you're looking for resources, call on our access tech trainer division.  They would be best suited to help you find resources.

Great question.  Not something we've really delved into.  If we took on trying to train all blind people in technology, we would have a lot of work to do.  So what we try to do is spearhead best practices for raising the expectations on training.  But it's something we'll look at and talk to our group and see what new possibilities there are.

ANIL LEWIS:  Sounds good to me.

Let's take advantage of our live studio audience here.  I believe Stephanie agreed to be the runner.  I think we have some live questions.  So we'll take a couple of those.

MARK RICCOBONO:  This will be a first, I think, that we've taken from a live audience member.

ANIL LEWIS:  We'll see if they have the stuff that takes.  This seminar is still in the making.  We'll see if they can step up to the three strikes seminarian.

I believe Carmen had a question for you.

SPEAKER:  Hi, Mr. President, this is Carmen from the southern California chapter.  I just wanted to ask you if you could give some advice to a chapter that we're developing, which is the first Spanish chapter in California.  And if you could just share some wisdom and some advice about maybe priorities or some things that we could focus on in the near future, we would really appreciate that.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Great question.  Applaud the effort to do new organizing in a dynamic way in our California affiliate.

When organizing a chapter, the first thing is really to make sure, first, that you're coordinating with the state affiliate to get the guidance about the development of the chapter.

The second thing is to get the new members that are gonna make up the establishment of this new chapter grounded in the Federation.  Individuals have to know what it is they're joining.  What are we trying to build. And in order to know what you're trying to build, you have to have some understanding of the organization. So there's many ways to do that.  Of course reading literature, having people come speak to a group. Oftentimes before chapters are formed, a group of people will get-together periodically, maybe a couple times a month to really start understanding the philosophy.

Also visiting other chapters.  What is it that chapters do?  To get the understanding that chapters are local communities to help support the work of the state affiliate as a whole, right, to contribute to the broader state affiliate, and as an extension of the state affiliate to support the work of the national organization.
So I would encourage visiting some other chapters and getting to know from those chapter what's has worked and what hasn't.

So I would, before setting out a lot of grand priorities about changing the local community and this and that, which all needs to happen, start with just really understanding the nature of the National Federation of the Blind and the importance of blind people working together to self-determine the future.  Because there's a lot to take on and we can't accomplish it all in the first year.  So we need to build a corps of folks to work together over a long period of time.

And the last thing I'll say about that is have fun!  The way that chapters get built and stick together is by knowing each other.  It's not transactional, coming to a monthly meeting.  You're getting to know people.  The reason we come back to chapter meetings is because we're invested in the others there.  So get to know each other.  Get to know what the hopes and dreams are.  What are the unique talents that people have and how can they contribute to the chapter.  Great question.

ANIL LEWIS:  Well answered too.

I'm going to take one from the email list.  This individual says, in past conventions, you've made the exhibitor list with contact information released.  Are there any plans to do that?

MARK RICCOBONO:  That's a great question.  I'm sure we do intend to make it available.  I have not looked since I didn't know the question was coming.  But I would start with and look for it there.  And if you cannot find it there, I would encourage you to send an email to [email protected] and we'll definitely help get that list to you if it's not available at

ANIL LEWIS:  Sounds great.

We'll take another one from our live studio audience.

MARK RICCOBONO:  We need a microphone.

SPEAKER:  Good evening, Mr. President.  I just wanted to ask, what is the best way to get some of our chapters to really focus on the growth in pulling in younger members to continue the legacy of our affiliates and our chapters?

MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, an age old question, I guess.  I think a mentoring program can be an important way to help our chapter members understand that they have something to offer.  It's not just that we want to bring in people to the chapter to push people out of the way.  We actually want mentoring.  We want people who have been members, who have been contributing, to pass on that knowledge, that expertise that they've had.

So a mentoring program can be a great way to do that.  Training people on what it means to be a member, how they can welcome people in.

But another way would be to create an incentive program for people to bring new members to the chapter. You know, every time someone brings a new person to the chapter, maybe they get entered into a drawing for something or -- I mean, I think incentivizing the idea that we need new people.  And we don't just want them to come, but we need to invest in helping them understand the organization.

So another way could be to set up a youth group that would be part of a chapter.  For example, in the greater Baltimore chapter, for a while, at least on chapter Saturdays, we had a transition program that happened usually after the chapter meeting I think it was.  But we were able to pull those young people in to the chapter meeting.  One time we even let them run the chapter meeting.  I know --

ANIL LEWIS:  How'd that go?

MARK RICCOBONO:  It was great.  It was not a conventional chapter meeting, I'm letting you know, but it was good.  It was great.  They got training, they observed, and then we told them the essential things to do.  Obviously the chapter planned it at a time when there wasn't a lot of heavy business or debate to do, but they set the program, they ran the meeting and planned the collection for PAC and that sort of thing, but they got to do it in their way.  It was done respectfully because they understood the importance of the chapter, but they also got the ownership of running a meeting.

There's lots of things you can do and I'm sure others have creative ideas.  There's a good opportunity I guess to call out our chapter Presidents listserv where chapter leaders could be sharing ideas about how to do this.


I'm going to go back and forth and now take a question from the email list.  What are some of the ways the chapters and affiliates can help with the situation in Jackson, Mississippi?

MARK RICCOBONO:  So, you know, our hearts definitely go out to the people in Jackson, Mississippi, dealing with the water situation there.  Like with so many situations, I think we don't know yet.  Obviously our affiliate and our chapter in Jackson will continue to reach out to blind people where there are needs.  If they identify them, I'm sure that the affiliate will let us know.  A lot of times in these situations, the needs don't really emerge right away.  I do know that our chapter there has good communication, and I'm sure they will let us know if there are ways that the Federation family can be of assistance.

ANIL LEWIS:  So we'll take another question here from our audience.  So Liz, I believe you have a question?

LIZ:  Thank you.  This is Liz Carver from Houston.  President Riccobono, I just wanted to ask if you have any advice or suggestions for chapters that are planning events for the October Blind Equality Achievement Month and what kind of events people might plan to do.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Blow them away!  That's what I say!

I think anything that the chapter members are motivated by and that helps raise the profile of the organization and our philosophy in local communities is great.  I mean, and don't take on an activity just because it sounds like the right thing.  If no one wants to do it, it's not going to inspire people to understand blindness differently, right?

You know, our chapters are diverse.  They come up with great ideas based on what's happening in the local community.  Just to go back to my home chapter here, in Baltimore, is planning to hand out water during the Baltimore running festival.  This is one of the biggest events that happens in town.  It gets thousands of runners.  What a great way to be visible, do something fun, and, you know, get the name of the organization out there.  And in this case, we're not raising money, but at least it sets the stage for another time our name will be more out there.  So it really depends on the chapter what the priorities are.

The important thing is that we're building awareness of the organization, opportunities for blind people, and really engaging people in the community.  And certainly in this case, like in Baltimore, people aren't going to expect to see blind people out there passing out water, so I think it's pretty cool.

ANIL LEWIS:  Yeah.  We should have a video of people running up seeing the blind people handing them water.  That would be good B roll to have.

I have another question from email.  There's an individual with a new boss at their current job that wants to remove some of the accommodations they've been using previously, in order to save the company money.  So they want this person to try to explore some less expensive ways of making the job accommodations.  She wants to know if this is right, if there's someone she can turn to to help her with this.  What do you have for her, sir?

MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, I think employment situations are always tricky.  But I would maybe see if you can come to an understanding that with the person that there are lots of things around the office that are helpful to the employees that aren't being suggested to be taken away.  For example, if we had fewer lights, the organization would save money.

ANIL LEWIS:  (Laughing) I love it.

MARK RICCOBONO:  But many people in the office need the lights.

I think when you put it to them like that, understanding that this is something that is contributing to the productivity of the employer, and certainly we should always be looking, all of us, for better ways to do things, but I think, you know, to be singled out, you should have the conversation with your boss to say, look, this is an important part of my adding value to the company.  You may be saving money in one area, but you're going to make it less effective for me to be part of the team and therefore help the organization.
It's a complicated question to answer because of course I don't know all of the circumstances, the players, but what I would say is consider networking with people in your affiliate as well to get some ideas, and of course if need be, some advocacy support.

I guess on that advocacy support piece, I would continue to have the conversation and not be confrontational.  But I would follow up all of the conversations with an email or someway that you can document it to say, I just wanted to recap what I was trying to communicate in our meeting today, so that it sounds, it's not confrontational, but you're creating documentation that if there is a situation down the line, you at least have it in writing.  So often we hear from blind people who face discrimination and you say, well, did you document it?  And they say, well, no.  And then it's really hard for us to help do something.

ANIL LEWIS:  Good point.

Back to our studio audience.  Cory?

CORY:  Good evening, President Riccobono.  This is Cory Brooks from Savannah, Georgia.
I wanted you to explain to the people how it's important to have more non-sighted members in your chapter than sighted members.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, we're an organization of the blind.  And therefore our constitution at all levels requires that at each level of our organization, it is majority controlled, run by blind people.  And so that includes our local chapters.  Our local chapters have to have a majority of their members be blind.  And if the majority of their members are not blind, a local chapter would be in violation of Federation policy and a state affiliate board should decide to do something about it, which could include reorganizing the chapter.
It's not that non-blind individuals aren't welcome in our organization.  They are.  We have a number of members who are great contributors to our movement.  But we're here for blind people.  Our organization, the most important word in our name is "of."  We have to, in order to be authentic to our mission, our constitution, our values, our brand, we have to be run by the will of blind people.

And so the one way, if a chapter does get into a situation where you have a number of individuals who are not blind who want to be members, I mean, they can be in some chapters there's a provision for associate members where they can participate; they just don't have voting rights.  And that can make the numbers right.

But, you know, if your organization locally is not being run and operated by a majority of blind people, I would say it's not in keeping with the values of the Federation and we should think about it.

ANIL LEWIS:  Are there any other questions from the audience?  I have a personal question.


ANIL LEWIS:  That's the only reason I decided to do this is because I have the mic.  No, God bless you. You have been reelected this past convention.  So you've had many years of experience in this role underneath your belt.  I'm just curious, based on the way that I know you, you are your own worst critic and you're always self assessing.  Based on your previous experience in the office of President, where do you see yourself really focusing on getting President Riccobono to grow more?

MARK RICCOBONO:  Oh, man.  See, none of these questions I get ahead of time.

ANIL LEWIS:  Yeah, yeah.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Well, I think the biggest growth opportunity, it's so hard, right, to disconnect the organization from the personal.

The biggest thing that we're taking on is the development of the Museum of the Blind People's Movement. It's a big project.  It's a big idea.  And to keep it clean for the live audience, it's scary.


MARK RICCOBONO:  It's really scary.  But it's important.  And so when I think about it for me, it's challenging me to organize the work differently so that I can make sure I'm prioritizing the right things.  It's stretching.  You know, I sat with a partner of the Federation and said, you know, I need a half a million dollars from you.  By the way, they committed to half a million dollars.

ANIL LEWIS:  Very nice.

MARK RICCOBONO:  I went to another partner and said, I know you can't do this, but we need your help getting a million dollars out of this organization.  They said they would help.

Now, that's going to require a lot more meetings, and asking for a million dollars.  And knowing that some people are going to say no, right?

And then once you get the money, making sure we do something that is really in keeping with the spirit of this big idea.

So I think it's taking it to the next level, right?  I mean, there's still so much core work that we have to do, and that work continues.  But it's having those bigger projects to work on that really challenges continuing to grow the skill set.

And I guess the other thing I would say is, getting groups of Federation members together like this leadership seminar is part of the continued growth because people ask new questions and you're like, oh, what do you do with that.  So yeah.  Good question.

ANIL LEWIS:  Well, I love the fact that you continue to push yourself despite all you're going through, and you will always have my love and respect and commitment being shoulder to shoulder with you in this fight. The key is to always leave them wanting more.  I know there's other questions but I have to segue because another thing I appreciate in the time that you have is you, sir, are the master of the reveal.  Now, since I have no idea where it's going to happen, I'm just standing in for Pam Allen.  Maybe she knows.  But there's supposed to be a presidential release live on site somewhere and I think you're going to acknowledge that.  But before I give up this microphone, I thank everyone who tuned in to the appropriate presidential performance this evening.  There was a competing President for our release and I'm glad you chose to be with us this evening.

So sir, I'll leave it to you to let everyone know where our next presidential release will be broadcast.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Yeah, thank you.  And you can read CNN to see what President Biden had to say.


Well, I think that is all that I have for this presidential release except that before we get to the customary endings, we do need to tell you about our next presidential release and presidential release live event.  We got more than a dozen submissions from chapters and affiliates across the country, and it was a really hard set of proposals to go through, weighing many options.  Pam Allen and I looked at it along with members of our communications team really hard to decide where to go.

One thing that's clear is that we do need to take the presidential release live on the road more often because there really is a lot of excitement about continuing to build the Federation and taking advantage of these opportunities.

So we're going to find ways to do that.  And I encourage you as you find opportunities that might be good for the release hosting in the future, please write to us with those ideas with enough time for us to potentially plan for it.

So thank you to all the chapters and affiliates who did submit great proposals.  I'm sorry we can't be in all of the places at the same time.

I have invited, though, the chapter President at the location that will be hosting our presidential release live on October 1st, and so if our chapter President is there, I would turn it over to you to introduce yourself.

LASHAWNA FANT:  Hello, Federation family.  My name is Dr. LaShawna Fant.  I am the chapter President in Jackson, Mississippi.  We will host the October 1st live presidential release here in the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi.  We are thrilled to kick off blindness equality achievement month here in the city of souls.  You can access the live presidential release through Zoom, the Nation's Blind YouTube channel, our internet stream, and by asking Amazon to open nation's blind.

You can contact President Riccobono at (410)659-9314 or email [email protected].

On behalf of this hospitality state, I say thank you.


ANIL LEWIS:  The presidential release is going to Mississippi.  Nice.

MARK RICCOBONO:  Thank you, Dr. Fant.  And I know that our hearts do go out to you and all of our members in Jackson.  And I know that you'll let us know if there's something we can do to help.  But I'm looking forward to being there on October 1st.  Really exciting.  So thank you for being with us to make the announcement!  That's why I was kind of surprised when the Jackson question came up earlier.

I think with that announcement, that exciting announcement, that's what I have to offer for this presidential release.  I'm looking forward to the next one in October, but we got a lot of great work to do this month before we get there.

Again, please take the time the week of September 19th to fill out the strategic plan survey for the Federation.

And with that, I'll leave with you our customary endings by saying let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!

SPEAKER:  Hi, I'm Oriana Riccobono and I have two jokes for you:  Why did the new student steal a chair?


SPEAKER:  Because the teacher told him to take a seat.


SPEAKER:  What did one calculator say to the other?

SPEAKER:  You really press my buttons?

SPEAKER:  No.  You can always count on me.

SPEAKER:  I'm Elizabeth Riccobono and I'll be telling you one joke:  Why do ghosts make good school mascots?

SPEAKER:  I don't know.  Why?

SPEAKER:  Because they have a good school spirit.

SPEAKER:  Oh!  You know what?  I was in South Carolina this weekend at the NFB meeting, and you know what they told me?  You know what they told me they use downfall to polish their furniture?  NFB Pledge!

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