Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Sharon Maneki
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland
(410) 241-9012
Mark Riccobono
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
Executive Director
(410) 935-4019

Two Blind Hikers to Blaze Maryland's Appalachian Trail

Baltimore, Maryland (July 11, 2012): Lou Ann Blake and Maurice Peret are hiking the forty-one miles of the Appalachian Trail that traverse Frederick and Washington Counties in Maryland.  The husband-and-wife hikers, who are residents of Baltimore City, are blind.  The purpose of the hike is to raise awareness of what is possible for individuals who are blind when the positive attitudes and high expectations of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland (NFB of Maryland) are coupled with proper training in the alternative techniques of blindness.

According to Ms. Blake: "Most people don't know someone who is blind, so they only know the stereotypes of blind people as helpless and incompetent that pervade society and the media.  Unfortunately, even today, the misconception is that a blind person cannot cross a street on her own, let alone hike the Appalachian Trail." 

Peret, who teaches blind adults how to travel safely and independently, added: "For blind people, hiking the Appalachian Trail requires the mastery of the nonvisual skill of traveling with the long white cane combined with the essential confidence to go wherever our hearts and minds will take us."

Blake and Peret are both members of the Greater Baltimore chapter of the NFB of Maryland, an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).  The NFB promotes the full integration of the blind into every aspect of community life.  

Melissa Riccobono, president of the Maryland affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, explained, “Blind persons can enjoy outdoor experiences and benefit from physical exercise along with our sighted peers.  What we need is the proper training, the right attitude, and the opportunity to succeed.”  

Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland will greet Blake and Peret when they arrive at the trail’s end in Harpers Ferry, WV, on Thursday, July 12.  Members of the media are invited to join the gathering and interview the hikers.