Presidential Release 527, May 2023 (English Transcript)

This following is the transcript of the full live event. Please note: Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

MARK RICCOBONO: Well, I think Pam Allen is having trouble connecting. So sorry about that. Sorry that you all won't get to hear Pam's voice. Hopefully she will get connected. So I will tell you myself that I'm Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, and I'm glad you've joined us for our May presidential release. And since I can't banter with Pam, I'm going to go ahead and get started. Thank you for joining us.

Greetings, fellow Federationists. Today is Tuesday, May 2, 2023. And this is presidential release number 527. It's hard to believe that it is already May. So many great things happening in the National Federation of the Blind. We just had the meeting of our scholarship committee here at our national office this past weekend, and many activities planned across the Federation for this month. I'll extend a happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day a few weeks early. I know many Federation events happening on that day in support of, amongst other things, our effort to make sure that all websites and mobile applications are accessible to blind people.

As we get into this release, I want to remind Federationists that in and amongst the things we do, we have a tremendous staff in the National Federation of the Blind, and we are always looking for talented individuals to join the Federation staff. You can check out and go to our career opportunities. We mostly have our current opportunities listed there, but sometimes we may have some other opportunities that aren't yet posted. So just know we're always looking for talented individuals to work at the central office of the most dynamic membership organization of blind people anywhere in the world. So please check out our career opportunities.

I do have a lot to talk about on this release, so I'm going to jump in to a number of things. And the first is to talk to you about the National Federation of the Blind's social media outreach work. As a reminder, the Federation is active across many social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn and TikTok and YouTube. Maybe I've forgotten some. And we believe it's time for us to extend in some new directions. You know our goal with our social media, like with our other communications tools, is to reach blind people, individuals who don't yet know us, to engage the members of the Federation, and to some extent to reach the general public.

We've been on Twitter for well over a decade as a social media platform, and the past 6 months have had us very concerned about what is happening with this social media platform. Specific actions have been taken that really give us pause and have caused us to think that Twitter may not be an appropriate platform for us to have the National Federation of the Blind. Last fall you may have heard that Twitter took the step of laying off a number of staff. Most significantly, all of its accessibility team at Twitter.

Most recently, Twitter has changed its APIs, and this has caused blind people using some of the specialized alternatives to the Twitter mobile application, applications built specifically to make it easy for blind people to access Twitter, those have all been broken because Twitter changed its API.

And in the last month, Twitter also changed its process. The Federation has had a verified account. So when you saw tweets from the National Federation of the Blind, you knew it was from the Federation. They've changed the structure and they invite us now to pay to have a verified account.

These factors and more have really given us pause. And we believe that Twitter is no longer an appropriate platform for us to support as an organization, especially the way that they are shutting out blind people.

Now, we don't want to abandon our supporters, our members who continue to utilize Twitter, so we're not abandoning our Twitter feed completely, but we are going to start actively engaging with Federation resources and building a new community on Mastodon. And so this evening, and on this release, I want to invite all members of the Federation family to join us in this new adventure to launch what we call on Mastodon. And more importantly, to ask Federation members to help us shape what we want this community to be going forward.

Now, Mastodon is a social media networking space. It is decentralized so it is not controlled by any particular company. It has been around for a number of years, actually, but has really gotten into the news with what has happened at Twitter.

We invite people to join us on a Mastodon server that we'll be running. This is what people do when they join Mastodon. You join one of the servers out there, and you can connect with people on any Mastodon server anywhere in the world. So you don't have to join a specific server. We are launching an NFB Mastodon account with our own branded server, If you are already on Mastodon, or thinking of joining, all you have to do is follow the National Federation of the Blind by finding [email protected]. We've only recently established this account, and this is our initial foray into the Mastodon world.

We want to know, though, what ideas Federation members have for how we can use Mastodon to build the Federation community. So we want you to share information about what your experience has been in Mastodon. What are your favorite mobile applications or web-based applications for engaging in Mastodon? What tips and tricks do you have, and how would you like to see the Federation using this social media networking tool? To share those ideas, you can send us an email at [email protected].

That's [email protected]. Don't get that confused with our Mastodon presence, which is [email protected].

I'm pretty excited about how the blind of America will decide to shape our engagement as a movement in Mastodon as a decentralized social media network. Really excited to hear what ideas you have. And it's important that Federation members really guide how we use these new tools to build our awareness, to reach new people, and to establish new connections in the 21st century.

Now, I should also mention that we currently are not thinking of allowing anyone to join and have an account, but we would like to hear from members if you've had an account, first of all, would you want one, and how would you use it to build the National Federation of the Blind? We're going to give that some thought, see what our members say about what we should do, and make some decisions from there.  So take some time to get familiar with Mastodon. I'm exploring it myself.  And let's see how we can use it to build opportunities for the National Federation of the Blind.

Now, in the news lately, there have been a lot of stories about blind people with guide dogs who have been negatively impacted in a number of situations. One of them is the airlines. A member of ours, Lizzie, recently got a lot of awareness on Facebook because she was denied getting on an airplane, specifically on JetBlue, because she was traveling with a guide dog.

Now, we know that the changes that have been made in the rules for blind travelers with guide dogs have been a problem and we've been working on this. As part of our effort, last week, Al Elia, who is a member of ours and representing the National Association of Guide Dog Users, along with Lizzie and members of our governmental affairs group, went to meet with the senior officials at the US Department of Transportation to share Lizzie's story and to brief them on the problems that blind people are having with the rules and the airlines related to guide dogs.

We will be keeping Federation members up-to-date on this effort. We are considering certain steps with the Department of Transportation to try to solve this problem.

In the meantime, if you have experienced discrimination with the airlines while traveling with a guide dog, we ask you to please contact Al Elia. You can reach Al at his email. That's [email protected]. And your stories are going to be very important as we work to convince the government that there is more work to be done.

Also, when you run into instances with the airlines, we do want you to make sure that you immediately file a complaint with the Department of Transportation by visiting the website. If you need information about that, you can always reach out to our governmental affairs, our advocacy team here at the national office. We will also continue to share the link for filing complaints with the Department of Transportation widely. So let's keep the pressure on and change what's happening with recent discrimination against blind travelers with guide dogs.

Now, we are in the process of recruiting a new cohort for our Teachers of Tomorrow program. Applications are now open for our 2023-24 cohort. This program is important.  It connects current and future teachers of blind students with the lived experiences of blind people. Teachers of blind students, as part of this program, will have an opportunity to attend four in-person training sessions with the Federation as well as a number of monthly Zoom enrichment sessions where they can get to know and understand the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. Individuals who are current teachers of blind students—current meaning they just entered the field in the last 5 years, or individuals who are still studying to get their licensure in teaching blind students are eligible to apply for the program. Applications do close on May 31st for the next cohort. So we need to spread the word quickly to get teachers to apply. You can send teachers to the website, and have them search for Teachers of Tomorrow. And I would encourage you to use this as an opportunity to reach out to the up and coming teachers of blind students so we can create a relationship with them and start helping them be part of our work to build the organized blind movement.

Now the national convention is coming up, and I do have a number of notes about our convention, which will be in Houston, Texas, from July 1-6. It's now 2 months away.  Hard to believe. Still got a lot of work to do. First of all, I need to let you know that we have been publicizing a room rate for the Marriott that was not quite accurate. I'm sorry for that. The room rate at the Hilton has been accurate, but we've been telling you that the room rate at the Marriott is the same as the Hilton, $119 a night. It's in fact 125 dollars a night. I know if you've already made reservations at the Marriott, they've let you know.  But keep in mind you do get a Texas size lazy river at the Marriott. It's worth 6 bucks a night certainly. But we're sorry for that misinformation and we hope that you still will consider the Marriott as well as the Hilton. Two great options for our convention coming up.

Now, this is also the time when we need resolutions for our convention. And our resolutions deadline is coming up at the beginning of June. June 1, in fact, during our virtual convention. We extended the time for the committee to get the resolutions in before the convention. So it's June 1; that's our deadline. Now, you can send them to [email protected].

I do want to let you know that we have a new chairperson for the resolutions committee this year. This is Donald Porterfield out of Arizona. Sharon was a long time chair for the committee and is still going to be part of the committee and special adviser to the chairman, but she's very happy to be supporting a new Chair of our resolutions committee. I encourage you to get your proposed resolutions in as soon as possible.  Keep in mind that they do need to be in final form, although the chairman will be happy to talk to you about your ideas about resolutions and help you know how to write a resolution in proper form, as will many people around the Federation, especially folks on the committee. Keep in mind that the committee's job is to vet the resolutions that come and vote them up or down, proposing them to the convention. So please get your resolutions in before this month is out.

Now, during the convention season for the last few years, we have been promoting opportunities for members and others to support the work of the Federation through financial contributions. And this is a really significant part of supporting our organization. In 2023, you will again have the opportunity to support the Federation through what we call our give 20 program. Money is tight, but in order to do the work we do in this organization, we need those dollars, and every $20 makes a difference. So our give 20 campaign is one of our significant ways to get contributions into the organization this time of year. And if you make a 20 dollar contribution between now and July 6, the last day of our convention, July 6 at 3:00 p.m. Central Time, for your generosity, you will be entered into our give 20 convention drawing. This will entitle you to potentially win the following: Round trip transportation for two for the 2024 NFB national convention, which will be held in the summer of 2024. And you will also get a hotel at that convention, and you will have your registration and banquet tickets covered for two individuals. Oh, and by the way, you get 1,000 dollars in what our friend Alan Harris used to say is walking around money. So this is a great way not only to support the organization but to potentially get and finance your participation in our 2024 convention.

Now, donations for the give 20 campaign support the following funds of the Federation:  Our Kenneth Jernigan Fund, a board-designated fund that supports special projects.  One of those special projects is supporting first timers to come to the national convention. You can also support the SUN Fund, which is our rainy day fund in the National Federation of the Blind, allowing us to build assets and hopefully not use them.  But if we do have a time in the future when we need to, we have the SUN Fund available. Now, you can also support our White Cane Fund, which is our general fund, and those dollars can be used for any of the Federation programs. Gives us lots of discretion to do what we need to do. Or, finally, you can designate your contribution to the Jacobus tenBroek Fund, which as you may know manages and operates our national headquarters building, which we have the pleasure of occupying. So donations to the tenBroek Fund support our building.

Now, the more you give, the more chances you have to win. If you give $100, you get five entries into our drawing.  Each increment of 20 dollars gives you a chance. You can specify which fund you want to donate to. So be sure to specify that when you make your contribution. You can give online at our website.  We have a special form for the give 20 campaign. So you'll find that very prominently on our website. Or you can go to You can give by phone by calling our donation line at our main number (410) 659-9314, extension 2430. Or you can send a check to the National Federation of the Blind.  Make sure to note exactly what fund or funds you would like to give to.  And please send your check to 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

I would like to note that the drawing is for individuals. So although we will be taking contributions during our honor roll call, which we'll be talking about during the convention from our affiliates and divisions, and those contributions are appreciated very much, they don't count for the give 20 program. This is really to spark participation by individuals.

The winner of the drawing will be announced during the banquet at the convention.  Whether you're there or not. You don't have to be present to win. The way you get in is by contributing.

And I should finally say on this point that we are really happy that our partners at AIRA are matching contributions to the give 20 campaign up to $25,000 during this campaign season. So we are really happy that AIRA is offering the Federation this support. They are the leading company in visual interpreting services, and AIRA is honored to be one of our strategic partners and we're really pleased that they made this commitment to us for 2023. So not only can you donate 20 dollars, but it instantly becomes 40 dollars, thanks to AIRA.

Patti Chang, our director of outreach, also wants me to let you know that you can still become part of the Dream Maker Circle before the national convention. The Dream Maker Circle is our way of allowing members and friends to make an end-of-life gift commitment to the National Federation of the Blind. There's still time to do that before convention, and you want to do that because if you do, you will have a special invite for a Dream Maker Circle members only event happening during the convention. And so if you are interested, you've been thinking about it, please contact Patti Chang for more information. You can reach her at [email protected], or at our main number extension 2422.

Now I have a number of other announcements. Convention announcements don't seem to end this time of year. And I mentioned earlier our National Association of Guide Dog Users, and the division would like you to know that it is offering a convention sponsorship that would provide funding to support up to, let's see, support guide dog users who want to attend the national convention this summer. The sponsorship program, this is for supporting people to come in person to our convention. This year NAGDU is sponsoring two guide dog users with $500 sponsorships to get to and assist with getting to the national convention in Houston. In order to apply, you have to visit the NAGDU website, which is If you can't remember all of that, just go to and I'm sure you can find it. The application is open. It's been open for a while. And it will close on May 31. So if you are a guide dog user and want assistance getting to the convention, this would be a great thing for you to apply for.
If you have questions, contact Al Elia again. Al is going to be busy this month. You can tell. His email address again is [email protected].

Some of you may have noticed today that we put out a legislative alert about an effort that we are supporting. And I'm calling on Federationists this evening to swing into immediate action on this issue. There is an outstanding blind attorney named Karla Gilbride. She has argued and won significant cases all over the place, but she won a unanimous decision in front of the United States Supreme Court. To my knowledge, the only blind person who has done so. You have heard her name because she was key in the appeal hearing that we had for Joe Orozco that came up. She was the attorney that argued that case for us. She has been credited with many other things in the legal field.  And doing all this work as a blind attorney.

Karla has been nominated by the Biden Administration to serve as the general counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and we are supporting her nomination going forward. We need more blind people in more important places, and Karla has demonstrated a true passion and skill for advancing disability rights and especially representing blind people in these spaces.

This is an unusual call to action, but what we want you to do is contact Senator Schumer, who is the one who can make this vote happen. So we're asking that you please call or email Senator Schumer's office at (202) 224-6542. We want you to urge him to bring Karla Gilbride's nomination to a vote in the Senate as soon as possible.  We would like to see this nomination voted on and happen certainly in the next month.  You can also email Senator Schumer's nominations director, this is Catalina Tam at [email protected].

And just so you have it, Karla spells her name with a K. Make a call or email in the next 24-48 hours. Don't wait. We want to get this nomination moving. We need more blind people in important places of power.

Now, I have many legislative updates for you. We're already going long so I'm going to skim through these quickly to say that we're making good progress on all of our legislation. We've been gaining cosponsors on each of our bills. And we think that we have a good chance of getting some of these bills to move this year, so I would urge you to keep the pressure on. We will send out a legislative update with some of the details, but thank you to the affiliates that have helped pick up cosponsors in the last month or so. We still have work to do to get all of our bills and continue the momentum so that they can come to a vote. So remember that our legislative priorities continue to be important and let's continue to hold those members of Congress that have not yet committed to supporting our legislate agenda to do so, especially as they come into local communities during recess. Try to get a meeting, meet with them, and encourage them to do it. But also call them while they are in DC.

Now, we talked recently about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to add raised tactile features to feature bills printed by the United States. On April 13th, I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This is Len Olijar, who discussed with me the work that the BEP is doing to add raised tactile features to paper currency coming up.

We have had over the last decade plus a good working relationship with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and I'm really happy to say that we had a productive meeting, and they really are making great progress. I was personally able to preview the new $10 bill that's coming up. It's going to be released in 2026. I say preview. I was only able to touch the raised tactile feature. Nothing else. It was highly secretive. It was wrapped in other paper. But John Pare and I both got to experience the raised tactile feature on the 10 dollar bill and walked us through the very thoughtful process they've been going through to add this to the paper currency of the United States. This is based a lot on work that they did with us over the last decade. Some of you probably participated in activities at the national convention, and we have urged them to be at our national convention again this year. They will. We don't know what they'll be able to show at this year's convention because the release of the first bill with a raised tactile feature is still a couple years away. But we do believe they will be at the convention.

I did offer, by the way, that the Federation would be happy to run a free samples program for the new $10 bill. They didn't take me up on it, but we're still negotiating. So really great progress on that project.

I want to let you know about information regarding USA Hire. We're gathering feedback on the federal government's use of an assessment tool called USA Hire. This tool consists of a series of timed assessments that are administered as part of the federal government's employment application process and is similar to what back in the day were the Civil Service exams prior to its discontinuation, partly due to the work of the National Federation of the Blind to show that the civil service exams were discriminatory. That program was ended in 1981. And this USA Hire process is similar to that.

The assessments attempt to measure reasoning and analytical skills. USA Hire assessments are applied to some but not all job applications posted on USAJobs. The purpose of the assessments are to evaluate an applicant and their general competencies and soft skills as well.

We are currently seeking information from those who have experienced challenges with USA Hire in one of the following ways. And you would have experienced this if you've applied for a federal job. So accessibility of the platform using assistive technology; insufficient amount of time for the timed assessments; difficulties with logic games and vision-centered questions; difficulty requesting and receiving reasonable accommodations; requirement to produce medical documentation for a reasonable accommodation within OPM's prescribed deadline, which is three calendar days; requirements to produce medical documentation from only OPM-approved sources, such as ophthalmologists, etc., or, finally, other areas of difficulty due to accessibility.

If you've experienced one or multiple of those instances, we are asking you to document your experience and let us know what happened to you by contacting our advocacy and legal group by sending an email to [email protected]. It helps if you put USA Hire in the subject line, but you don't have to [email protected]. Or by calling our main number and dialing extension 2440.

Our partners at the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults have asked us to announce that they've relaunched, refreshed and relaunched ShareBraille is a contemporary website that allows blind people for free, well, blind or sighted people, to exchange Braille books by posting them and then saying you want them. It's a free service. By the way, the refresh of is using the Olivero theme of Drupal, which you remember. You remember Rachel Olivero was our director of technology here until she passed away in 2019. The ShareBraille website will be adding functionality in the coming months, and the action fund encourages everybody to set up a free account at and use it and give feedback about the new features you would like. There are Braille books, Braille print for all genres, ages, thousands of books. If you have books that you're looking to give a good home to, Braille books, that is, you can post them there for free. So again, I invite you to check it out. I think it's a great service that's operated for free, and it helps people build a library of books. And I suggest if you have books to give, this is a great place to provide them.

You can also go to if you have a book you wonder if it would be appropriate for the Braille book fair offered at the NFB national convention. You can enter it into the ShareBraille system and say you want to donate it to the book fair and we'll let you know whether it's likely to be a book that will be desirable at the national convention book fair. So check it out. Great service and great way to continue to promote Braille literacy.

I do want to mention very quickly that with our Pre-Authorized Contribution program, which allows you to make a monthly contribution to the Federation, we continue to make great progress. You can visit for Pre-Authorized Contribution to sign up and learn more about the program. But tonight I want to welcome from the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin, the Rock County chapter as the newest to join the PAC plan. Special shout out to them. I used to be a member of the Rock County chapter. So thank you for joining the PAC plan, and I encourage others to do the same.

I do have a number of Federation family notes to share with you on this release. From California, I regret to inform you of the passing of Dennis Holter on Thursday, April 20th. We were informed of his passing by his wife, so I encourage you to keep her and Dennis' friends in your thoughts and prayers.

From Colorado, we've been notified of the passing of Juanita Brunton, who passed away on Thursday, April 6th. She has been a staunch member of our Aurora chapter for many years, and she was also very active in activities with seniors, especially at our Colorado Center for the Blind. She is survived by her husband and a number of other family members. So I encourage you to keep Juanita in your thoughts and prayers.

From Texas, Norma Crosby informs us that on April 21, Frank Carrillo, who was Vice President of the San Antonio chapter of the NFB of Texas, passed away. Frank she describes as always being a bright light of the Federation and someone who loved doing the work of the organized blind movement.

From Virginia, I regret to inform you of the passing of Woodrow Berry, who was serving as President of our Blue Ridge chapter.

I invite you to keep all of these individuals in your thoughts and prayers, and those that I may have not known about passing during the past month.

I do have one joyous piece of news to share on this release, and it comes from the state of Georgia, where congratulations should be extended to Derrean Tucker and Du-shun Dotson, who were joined in matrimony on April 20, 2023. I'm told that both of them are very active members of the NFB of Georgia, and so congratulations to the newest married couple of the National Federation of the Blind.

Now, if Pam is with us, I'm going to throw it back to you, Pam.

PAM ALLEN: Hi, President Riccobono. How are you? You know, in the National Federation of the Blind, we are all about problem solving. So I am here.

MARK RICCOBONO: That's right. Great to hear your voice.

PAM ALLEN: Great to be with you tonight. So lots of things happening in the National Federation of the Blind. Exciting. It's a jam-packed presidential release.

But we do have a few questions.  First question is in relation to Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  We have a question about what the National Federation of the Blind is doing to celebrate.

MARK RICCOBONO: So we will have a number of Global Accessibility Awareness Day activities. We've been invited to present as a part of—well, first of all, let me take a step back. For those who don't know, Global Accessibility Awareness Day was established, what, 16-17 years ago? I forget now. Maybe less than that. We had on the convention agenda last year one of the original cofounders of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day effort. It's a day to really promote global accessibility by doing outreach to developers, coders, folks that are working on applications who aren't generally working in the accessibility area. It's a good way to create awareness. So GAAD has really become a thing with many corporations and organizations doing GAAD events in and amongst the events that we're supporting, which by the way, Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 18th this year. We will be supporting and sponsoring a webinar at 3:00 on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This is a 1-hour seminar to talk about Section 508, the impact of our work on Section 508 for government employees with disabilities and also others who might be interested. Human resource folks, government human resource folks that want to know more about Section 508, those interested in getting into government employment who want to be aware of Section 508. And of course for all of us members of the general public who utilize government-facing electronic technology, 508 applies. But this is really geared toward the employment side.

You can learn more about the 1-hour webinar that we'll be doing by visiting our website, Undoubtedly we have other activities we will be supporting on that day.

I also want to note that this particular seminar I call out because it is being supported also by the United States Access Board in partnership with the Federation.

PAM ALLEN: Excellent. Now, speaking about access, we had a question about some of the pieces, or what you use for access technology or how do you as President of the National Federation of the Blind stay organized and keep track of all the meetings and different presentations that you have to do.

MARK RICCOBONO: That's a loaded question. Let me just speak specifically to access technology. It's a great question. And what I want to say is that having many tools in the toolbox is important. So on a daily basis, I use a PC because we use PCs here at the national office. I use JAWS. I've been using JAWS for Windows now for longer than I want to admit. I haven't really spent much time with other screen readers because I've been using JAWS for a long time. I do use a Braille display. I carry a Braille display almost everywhere I go. I happen to use the Brailliant, and I use it connected to my iPhone but also it's a standalone device.

I almost always have a slate and stylus on me. So low tech access technology. It's reliable, flexible, does what I need.

I also use a Braille writer from time to time but I don't tend to carry that around. Of course I use a lot of mobile applications on my iPhone for access technology. So whether it's Be My Eyes or AIRA, or I could go down a whole litany of apps, which all do little pieces of certain thing it's. I also spend a lot of time kind of kicking the tires on technology to see what works.

How to stay organized. Well, that's a great question. I think the biggest tip I have, and what I try to do, is write things down and get them into a central place. So for me, I don't use a fancy to-do app or anything like that. I have a very basic way of keeping my to-do items in a Microsoft Word document under different headings, and I sort them almost daily to try to move stuff up to my list. But if I don't write it down, it probably gets missed. So staying organized, I use all of the tools available, and if someone has tips about other access technologies I can use to stay organized, I'll take them.

PAM ALLEN: Those are great suggestions. Thank you, President Riccobono.

Speaking of other new technology, we have had several questions about the Monarch and if people will be able to see it at national convention.

MARK RICCOBONO: Well, so for those who don't know, the Monarch is our partnership project with the American Printing House for the Blind and HumanWare to create a dynamic tactile display that does both tactile graphics and Braille on the same device. And I don't have the beta unit here. I did have it at the last release. You will definitely be able to check it out during the national convention. APH and HumanWare are working on the details. I know they will be wanting to recruit people to be part of focus groups. They're going to have it at their booth. They will be talking about it on the general session.  So there's scoop to the agenda right there. So you will definitely have opportunities.

And I will say about that, APH and HumanWare are really committed to hearing what blind people have to say about this device. And for us to dream big about what we want it to do and to let them know the limitations we find in it. So those opportunities will be coming. I don't know more than that at this point. I no he that APH and HumanWare are pushing very hard to move this technology as fast as possible.

Take the time during the convention to find a way to go to the booth or take advantage of other opportunities. I think you'll be pretty excited about it when you get it under your fingertips.

PAM ALLEN: Awesome. So it's a great opportunity to see it in person and hands on.


PAM ALLEN: Another question we have relates to our legal cases and how we make decisions about those, how you decide what cases we should take or not take, and what are the factors that go into that.

MARK RICCOBONO: That's a great question. We have a very robust strategy in the National Federation of the Blind. We try to use all the tools that we can, and we try to maximize the impact on blind people of the actions we're taking.

Our first and most powerful tool is to empower blind people to be their own self advocates, to be aware of what the law is, to know what the law is, to equip blind people with information about the law and what it says, what it doesn't say, and how to document it so that we can go out and be our own best advocates. And that's really the best tool we have because we simply can't fight on behalf of individuals every single instance of discrimination out there.

The next thing we do is try to bring things to scale with, like I said, resource kits to empower people to know what the law is, but where we find problems that we can bring to scale by writing letters to the government and various companies or by passing resolutions at the convention, we do that.

There may be other techniques we use, including going to meet with government officials. When we can't solve something by one of those means, we do look at whether or not we should bring a legal case. Litigation is slow. It's expensive. It is sometimes messy, depending on the who, what, where, and why. And so we have to make very careful decisions about bringing legal cases.

Now, when we commit to bring a legal case, we're in it to win it. And sometimes that can be a long time. We have a case against the Los Angeles community college district that will be in trial later this month. That case I think has been going on for 8 years now.  We've had cases that go on longer than that.

So it's a slow process. We try to bring cases that are in strategic priority areas. So we hardly ever today bring a basic web accessibility case because we've established good law on that. There's not a whole lot of gain for the community for us suing another website. We look for opportunities to expand that. So that's why we're pursuing federal legislation, because we simply can't sue every inaccessible website out there. So we look for cases that are going to expand the law, that are going to open up opportunities for a lot of people. So think about our supporting Joe Orozco's 508 case that has created a precedent that will benefit a lot of people. Or in unique circumstances. We can't take every case to trial because of the expense, time, and resources.  We just don't have enough lawyers or money or bandwidth to do that, so we try to be very careful about that. That's why we ask Federation members to give us information through our [email protected] because every intake we do, even if we don't take the case, is a data point. And every time we get data points about where blind people are facing discrimination, that gives us information that we can use in prioritizing where we put our energy and our limited dollars. Whenever possible, we try to create partnerships. If we can't take a case for whatever reason to get people to an entity that can. The problem always is in disability rights, we want to send people to lawyers that truly understand disability rights and who are willing to take the cases.

So it's a complicated area. Complicated decisions. And I'm working constantly with our general counsel to make sure that we're taking on cases that have maximum impact for blind people.

A common myth about the Federation is that we always rush out and sue people. That is not the case. We prefer to partner, to work together, but sometimes when entities simply refuse to talk to us, they believe that the basic level of equal access that we're asking for is too unreasonable, then we're forced to go into that legal posture. But more often than not, we're actually creating collaborations with folks and not taking things down the legal pathway.

PAM ALLEN: Excellent. Well, thank you, President Riccobono, for another outstanding presidential release. We have so many wonderful things happening and lots of work to do. And so I want to thank everybody tonight for submitting questions. And if we did not have a chance to answer your question, our amazing and outstanding communications team will follow up with you. We really appreciate all the great questions that were submitted in all the various formats.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight. And please join us for our next presidential release live on Wednesday, May 31st, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. You can contact President Riccobono at (410) 659-9314, or email at [email protected]. And I'll pass it back to you. Thank you.

MARK RICCOBONO: Thank you, Pam. Great to hear your voice.

PAM ALLEN: You too.

MARK RICCOBONO: That is what I have for this presidential release. We do have a lot of convention prep activities still to go this month in and amongst all of the other work we're doing for the Federation. I am particularly pressed this month because I will be going to New Zealand to the World Blind Union executive committee meeting at the end of this month, which is why the presidential release is actually on May 31st, our June release. Well, actually, for me, it will be June 1st, so technically it's the June release.  But many other things happening, including Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Lots of Federation activities leading up to the convention. So I'm excited about the work that we're doing and the work that we're going to do leading up to the national convention where we're going to be able to celebrate a lot of great victories.

I do want to close this release by saying happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, including my mom, who is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin.

And with that, I will leave you with the customary endings. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind.

SPEAKER: Hello, I'm Elizabeth Riccobono. What do you call cheese that's not yours?

SPEAKER: I don't know. What?

SPEAKER: Nacho cheese.

SPEAKER: Hey, Oriana, it's allergy season again.

SPEAKER: You've got to be pollen my leg!

I have a joke!

SPEAKER: You do?

SPEAKER: Why do bees have sticky hair? Because they use honeycomb.

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

(Event ended at 9:05 p.m.)