Presidential Release 522, December 2022 Chapter Version (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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MARK RICCOBONO:  Greetings, fellow Federationists.  Today is Thursday, December 1, 2022 and this is presidential release number 522.

It is hard to believe that we are already in December, the final month of the year, and what a great year it has been for the National Federation of the Blind, really looking forward to ending the year with a great meeting of our board of directors, who is here.  In fact, they're here live at this presidential release.

They follow cues very well, too.

I'm going to dive right in because we've got a lot of to talk about on this release and the first thing is to talk about lifting up the National Federation of the Blind.  You know, Tuesday of this week is generally, known as giving Tuesday and on this giving Tuesday, 2022, the Lyft company, ride-share company Lyft, added the National Federation of the Blind to its roundup program.  This is really exciting.

There are something like I think only ten charities, maybe one or two more than that, and the National Federation of the Blind is one.  You can now add the NFB to receive contributions from every Lyft ride you take, just by rounding up to the nearest dollar.

More importantly, you can promote this with your friends and family.  Anybody can do this.  You don't have to be a member.  You just have to go into the Lyft app.  So I encourage members not only to join in doing this with your Lyft account, but please promote it widely.  It doesn't cost us anything, and every penny adds up very quickly.

It's really simple.  You just need to go into your Lyft profile, navigate to the Donate item, and when you choose that, choose National Federation of the Blind and once you've done that, make sure to share it with all your friends.  I know it works.  I went into the Lyft app on Tuesday to see if we were listed yet and found us and it only took about a minute and a half.

So please help to lift up the National Federation of the Blind.  Really exciting new initiative.
And thank you to Lyft for including us in that important program.

The National Federation of the Blind is investigating the accessibility of Indeed.  Indeed is an online job system, and we're investigating the accessibility of Indeed's pre-employment assessment tools.  If you have been invited by an employer to complete a pre-employment assessment through Indeed, or if you have wanted to, or attempted to, complete a pre-employment assessment as a way of broadening your resume and you've experienced issues, please contact Valerie Yingling in our legal office.  Her e-mail address is [email protected].

You can also reach her at our national office where this is one of the new investigations we're doing of the Indeed pre-employment assessments.  We would like to hear from you about it.

Now we are just a couple of months away from the 2023 Washington Seminar!  Our first time in person in a number of years and we're really looking forward to doing what we need to do on Capitol Hill with a new Congress to move the legislative agenda of blind Americans.

Please plan to attend the Washington Seminar by coordinating with your affiliate president, or if not your affiliate president, if someone else is leading your delegation for Capitol Hill.  You can find the hotel reservation information on our website and you should make your hotel reservations ASAP before the room block is gone.

The booking link for the Holiday Inn is on our Washington Seminar web page, which can be found at  Now that web page is also going to take you to updated information as we add various information about our legislative priorities, once we settle on them.  Other information including the agenda for Washington Seminar, all of that will be at  So I encourage you to continue to watch that page, but please get your reservations in soon for being with us at the Holiday Inn.  Looking forward to the great gathering on Monday, January 30th.  It's going to be great.

It is the giving season and I know many of you might be looking for some gift ideas, and you want to get your Independence Market orders in soon so that they can arrive at your door in a timely fashion before the holidays.
I do want to let you know that we are going to be making some price increases in 2023 in our Independence Market, like all aspects of the economy, we've been finding some difficulty in getting materials into our market and prices have gone up.  We work really hard to only pass on the costs that we pay to those who shop at the Independence market.  So I want to let you know about prices that will be going up on January 1st, because you may want to get some items before the end of the year.

Our mini telescoping and telescoping canes will be going up to $40 each.  Our folding canes will be going to $45 each. Our cane tips will be going to $2.25.  And these new prices as I say will be in effect starting on January 1 -- well, actually, January 3rd, because we're closed on the 1st and the 2nd, but January 3rd, 2023.

So get your orders in this year, and you can look forward to a bunch of new things happening with the Independence Market in 2023.

Today, we are also launching our scholarship application for 2023.  Now available until March 31st, 2023.  The chapters and affiliates should encourage students, blind students, to start their applications now.  You don't have to wait until March 30th to get your application going.

You want to check out the checklist online and see what has to be filled out.  We will be again giving away 30 scholarships, each valued at $8,000 apiece and this program is a great way to outreach to blind students about the National Federation of the Blind.

So I would encourage you to promote the program.  Help students to know what is required in filling it out.  You can find a detailed frequently asked questions document online at our scholarship page and please help as many students as possible apply.

The website is and I'm looking forward to the scholarship committee having a very, very difficult time selecting 30 individuals from the outstanding applicants there.
And keep in mind, this is also a good way to promote state-level scholarships as well when you're promoting our national scholarship program.  Now this is really exciting.

This evening, I have something very special to share with you, to launch on this release here at the end of the year.  For 2023, we have created three new video public service announcements, and we will be unveiling the first of them, the debut, right here.

The themes for those include connecting to our community; families being together; and your eyesight may change, but your dreams don't have to.

The goal is to get these video PSAs played in the various places we can and once we launch them in 2023, we will help members know how to promote them.  We'll also be promoting them through channels that we have established through our national organization.

I want to take a moment to thank members of the NFB of Texas for participating in the creation of our PSAs.  Also support from our performing arts division and Roy Samuelson who's helped us with this, as well.
You will notice that this may be the first time ever that a public service announcement has been built from the beginning to include audio description, right in the public service announcement.

So without further ado, I would like to share with you on this release the first public service video announcement that we will be releasing in 2023.


NARRATOR: All families are different.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: Women playing cards.

NARRATOR: And some have parents or children with little to no eyesight.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: A blind mom cooks with her daughter.

NARRATOR: What counts is being together.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION: A blind dad with his wife and baby play in a swimming pool and then walk together.

NARRATOR: Learn more at  National Federation of the Blind, live the life you want.


PRESIDENT RICCOBONO: Great work by our team to put together this PSA and there will be some more coming, and it's really exciting, and I think the innovation of the built-in audio description is really cool, too.

I do have a few Federation family notes, and the first that I want to share with you is about our Dream Maker Circle.  Our Dream Maker Circle is a way to make an end of life gift commitment to the legacy of the National Federation of the Blind, and I want to thank Elizabeth A. Jones of Smithfield, Virginia, who has become recently the newest member of our Dream Maker Circle.  I also understand in the last month, that we've had two other anonymous individuals join the Dream Maker Circle.  So it's okay that you haven't wanted to share your name, but thank you.  You know who you are.
If you want to join the Dream Maker Circle, it really makes a difference.  It's simply making a commitment to leaving us a gift upon your passing, and we hope that's a long time in the future, but this list is really important because it encourages other people to get on the list.

You can talk to Patti Chang at our national office about this.  She can be found at extension 2422 and our main number, 410-659-9314.  Or you can reach her at [email protected].

I do have a few sad notes to share with you on this release.  I regret to have to tell you of the passing of Karen Ashurst who passed away on November 12th, 2022.  Karen was the wife of long-time Federation member Michael Hingson. Michael and Karen were just 15 days from their 40th wedding anniversary.  So I would encourage you to keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers.

Also from California, we learned of the passing of Judith Tunell who passed away on August 25th.  She had been a member of the Federation since 1990, joining in Dallas, Texas.  She served in our Arizona affiliate for a time before coming to be part of our at-large chapter in California.  I would invite you to keep her husband, Bruce, in your thoughts and prayers.

From Maryland, we've learned of the passing of Brenda Deloach, who passed away earlier in November.  She was a long-time member of the greater Baltimore chapter.  Brenda was a teacher, and she was 74 years old.

From Iowa, I regret to inform you of the passing of Sandi Ryan who passed away on November 18th after a year-long battle with liver cancer.  Sandi was a long-time leader in Iowa and in our Diabetes Action Network.  She was a great chapter for many things, including access to medical devices, nonvisual access to medical devices, but also a true champion for Braille literacy.  She spent a lot of time advocating for Braille and helping members get access to education.

From Arizona, I regret to tell you of the passing of Carol MacIntyre who passed away suddenly on November 6th.  Carol was the mother of Katelyn MacIntyre, who serves as president of our performing arts division.  You may have met Carol during one of our national conventions.  She was always helping out somewhere with the division, and we're very sorry to hear of her loss so I would encourage you to keep the MacIntyre family in your thoughts and prayers and I would encourage us to use this moment to reflect on all of the Federationists who we've lost this year, and continue to send blessings to their families, but also recommit ourselves to moving forward in their spirit in 2023 for the National Federation of the Blind.

MARK RICCOBONO:   As we come to the close of this presidential release, I want to do a couple of things and the first is I would like to offer an opportunity to Pam Allen who is our chairperson of the board, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind, to make any end of the year comments she would like to, to the members of the Federation, so Pam?

PAM ALLEN: Thank you so much President Riccobono and really excited.  I want to take a moment to recognize you and also, Melissa who is here with us tonight.


As we come together at the close of the year, it's been such an incredible year, and we've shown our strength and our resiliency and our love and our dedication to helping blind people live the lives they want and that wouldn't be possible without the leadership and dedication, the example of you and Melissa and of everyone here in this room and joining with us, listening tonight or listening throughout the month at chapter meetings, the power of our organization is in our members, and the love and dedication that we have and that we show to increasing opportunities.

And so I'm so grateful and so thankful and wish everybody as we come to the close of this year, look forward to 2023 joy and happiness as we work together to help blind people live the lives they want.  So thank you, President Riccobono.


MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you, Pam and we appreciate you and Roland, as well.  We're really thankful for the work that you do every day on behalf of blind people.

We have had a great year in the National Federation of the Blind, coming back into in-person meetings again.  It felt a little weird sometimes, right, but it's really wonderful and the Federation really has come back with a lot of strength.  It was demonstrated in our very outstanding national convention in New Orleans, despite some interesting circumstances. Really, really a tremendous convention.  We've had hundreds of new members join our movement this year.  We've had great victories at all levels of our organization, from person to person, helping with individual advocacy to making cities better, to changing the laws in states to improve voting, to our national work, to turn the government around on making COVID tests accessible.  So many great victories.

We've even helped this year a blind person set a Guinness world record.  And we know that we have more dynamic advocacy issues in front of us.  The work is not done.  And we are building for the future and in addition to the strategic planning work that we're doing right now as an organization, which will be complete in the spring of next year, we have already begun laying the groundwork for so many powerful things.

One that comes to mind is our role in the great partnership with Humanware and the American Printing House for the Blind to build a dynamic tactile display and we're grateful to those organizations for inviting the Federation to be a leader in revolutionizing access to information for blind children in the future.


And we've committed this year to some bold ideas for the future, including launching our plans for the Museum of the Blind people's movement, and it shows the strength of our organization, that we're not simply taking on the easy things; we're taking on the very difficult, imaginative things, and many of you in our Federation family have already enthusiastically started helping us build those dreams together.

In fact, just earlier this week, when we talk about the museum, Dan Parker who did set our world record, he sent us his motorcycle, which he promised us he would do at the national convention.  It's downstairs on the first floor of our atrium now, a motorcycle that he drove independently on the salt flats in Utah to set a record along with the support of the National Federation of the Blind a number of years ago.

That's just one example of the type of dynamic things that might be in a future museum of the blind people's movement.
We know that we've already started beginning to build the next great phase of work in the National Federation of the Blind.  But that is possible and that happens because of each and every one of you, and I am truly grateful and thankful and blessed to be part of our community together.

There certainly are a lot of things that challenge us in society today, but as the year closes, and I reflect upon where we have been this year and where we are going, I'm filled with hope, energy and love, and I hope that you feel the same sense of hope and optimism about our future that I do.  And the reason I feel that hope and optimism is because I know we're in it together.  I know that I'm not alone, that it's us together, that you all are helping to do the work that we need to do to change the image of blindness in society, and that makes a difference on me and my family every day.

And so on this release, I want to deeply send my appreciation to each and every one of the Federation members out there, our friends and partners, for the work that you do, the dedication that you give on a daily basis to changing what it means to be blind and helping us live the lives that we want.

I also want to extend from the Riccobono Family, our warmest season's greetings to you and your family.  We are thankful to share with you this Federation family that we have together, that we choose to be in together, and we do hope that you and your family have a safe, blessed, and joyous holiday season.

With that, before we get to the customary endings, let me say for 2022, let's go build the National Federation of the Blind bigger, better, and bolder than we have ever imagined.

So for the customary endings, before we get to the customary endings, Pam, I meant to tell you that I had a friend who was in a production of a Christmas Carol recently, but the issue was that when they got up on stage, they forgot their lines.

Apparently, they had the Dickens scared out of them.

PAM ALLEN: That's pretty bad.  (Laughs) Badum-dum.

They're not throwing things, though.  You're good.  Not yet anyway.



FEMALE NARRATOR: Do you have a joke for me?



ELIZABETH: Where do Mr. and Mrs. Snowman go on their last anniversary?

FEMALE NARRATOR:  Christmastown?

ELIZABETH: No, the desert.

FEMALE NARRATOR: Hi, Oriana.  How many jokes do you have for us today?

ORIANA: I have two.

FEMALE NARRATOR: What are your two?

ORIANA: What do you give a Christmas tree when they have bad breath?

FEMALE NARRATOR: I don't know, what?

ORIANA: Orna-mints. I would tell you a story about how I cut down my Christmas tree, but it's kind of sappy.

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