by Kathryn Webster
From the Editor: Kathryn Webster is the president of the National Association of Blind Students and you will easily observe that some of the outstanding characteristics that got her elected are her ability to inspire, organize, and articulate the hopes and dreams of blind students. Here is what she says:
The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) commenced the 2018 Washington Seminar with vibrancy, energy, and passion. Though many students are left with no other choice but to attend academic classes, thus unable to partake in the advocacy done in-person during Washington Seminar, we had groundbreaking attendance this year! With over ninety-five students at our annual Winter Seminar, NABS was full of excitement as we kicked off another year of hard work, engagement, and most significantly, building the National Federation of the Blind. Perhaps this year was exceedingly special as we fought for equal access to education in the classroom through our efforts with AIM HIGH (H.R. 1772), something our sighted peers may take for granted, but our fellow blind students recognize as a sought-after right in higher education institutions. Still, we are fighting and we are pushing forward as we break down the misconceptions of society and bridge the gap between potential and success.
Our 2018 Winter Seminar was transformative, yet interactive, something NABS is now incorporating into our national events. Our membership spoke, and our leaders listened. No more are we tied solely to lecture-style presentations. Instead, we incorporated a legislative seminar coordinated by our NABS Legislative Advocacy Committee into our festivities. This got students out of their seats, engaging in groups, and fine-tuning their public speaking abilities. Students are the voice of our future, and there’s no better place to refine one’s leadership skills than alongside one of the proudest and most active divisions in the NFB. In addition to students practicing professionalism and self-advocacy through mock meetings, our leaders incorporated a friendly competition component, awarding the most polished mock meeting participants with prizes.
Beyond the legislative seminar during the winter NABS meeting, we heard from the executive directors from our NFB training centers, advice from a member of the national Scholarship Committee, a pep talk from our national government affairs team, and more. The highlight of our Winter Seminar was hearing from our national president, Mr. Riccobono, as he kicked off the week with encouraging and enlightening words. President Riccobono shared that students have the strongest voices in regards to AIM HIGH, so it’s up to us to get this bill passed! It cannot go without mentioning how grateful the National Association of Blind Students is for the generous support provided by President Riccobono and our national treasury, as we financially assisted over thirty-five students in attendance. Washington Seminar was the ideal spark to ignite what will be an incredible year for our national student division.