Nation's Blind Podcast

The Nation's Blind Podcast highlights different themes related to blindness, independent living, and news from the National Federation of the Blind.

Hosts: Anil Lewis, executive director of the NFB Blindness Initiatives department, and Melissa Riccobono, president of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children division and First Lady of the NFB.

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For episodes of our special series dedicated to blind parents, please visit the Blind Parents Connection Podcast page

Recent Episodes

May 13, 2020 – Behind the Scenes of Presidential Release Live

In this episode, Anil and Melissa have a conversation with President Riccobono, who takes us behind the scenes of the presidential release live. They discuss the history and purpose of the presidential release, why President Riccobono decided to take it in a new direction during the coronavirus pandemic, the success of the new format in bringing our community together, and how the presidential release and other Federation activities might continue to evolve because of what we are learning in this interesting time.

March 18, 2020 – What It Means to Live the Life You Want

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast explores the meaning of the NFB tagline, “Live the life you want.” Melissa and Anil chat with Gary Wunder, the wise and witty editor of our flagship magazine, The Braille Monitor. They talk about the exploration of our tagline in the March issue of the magazine, the myth of the model Federationist, and the need to raise expectations while at the same time respecting each other’s differences and choices. They also invite listeners to contribute to the discussion and to take the Braille Monitor survey, available online or by phone at 667-888-2454.

March 4, 2020 – Audio Description: A Professional Perspective (Part 2 of 2)

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast is the second of two episodes exploring the topic of audio description. Chris Danielsen chats with Roy Samuelson, voiceover artist and audio description narrator for hit shows like NCIS and Star Trek, Picard, and major motion pictures like the Oscar-nominated 1917. Roy talks about how he discovered the field of audio description, his evolution from narrator to passionate advocate, how collaboration with the blind people who make up the audience is essential to quality audio description, and how blind people can and should become involved in its creation and production.

February 26, 2020 – Audio Description: The Big Picture (Part 1 of 2)

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast is the first of two episodes exploring the topic of audio description. Anil Lewis chats with Everette Bacon, who, in addition to his duties as president of the NFB of Utah and a member of the NFB board of directors, also represents us on the Disability Advisory Committee to the Federal Communications Commission. Everette talks about his advocacy for audio description, explains the laws and regulations that require it on television and in movie theaters, surveys its availability on streaming services like Netflix and in live theater, and more.

February 19, 2020 – Celebrating Black History

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast celebrates Black History Month with a contemporary discussion from several leaders in our movement. Chris Danielsen chats with Denise Avant, Ron Brown, and Shawn Callaway, all dynamic African-American affiliate presidents and members of the NFB board of directors, who discuss discrimination as experienced by blind people who are also black.

November 27, 2019 – Meet Libra Robinson

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast features a member who saw a need to help blind people in her community and found a way to fulfill it. Chris Danielsen chats with Libra Robinson about starting her own computer training service, especially focused on blind seniors who often can’t get such training because they are not working. Libra’s program won her a 2019 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award.

October 31, 2019 – Meet the Blind Month

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast discusses why we celebrate Meet the Blind Month and how it enhances the understanding of both sighted and blind people about the ability of the blind to live the lives we want. Melissa chats with Ellana Crew about a Harry Potter-themed event that drew thousands of participants who had lots of fun, and learned about blind people and blindness skills too. 

September 23, 2019 – National Guide Dog Month

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast takes on the decision to use a guide dog and whether the problem of discrimination against guide dog handlers has gotten better or not. Host Melissa Riccobono chats with Al Elia who is a guide dog user and lawyer.

August 16, 2019 – Teacher Talk

This episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast continues our back to school series as Chris Danielsen chats with Cayte Mendez, a blind teacher in New York, about how she prepares for the year ahead. Cayte also offers some tips for blind people hoping to become teachers.

August 7, 2019 – Back to School Tips

On this episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast, Anil and Melissa talk about getting ready to go back to school. Melissa describes her solution for managing school supply lists, and gives tips for parents of blind children as well as blind parents that will help ensure your kids have a successful school year.

July 29, 2019 – Traveling Abroad with Your Guide Dog

One of our staff members, Ashley Alvey, joins Director of Public Relations Chris Danielsen to share her experiences and provide tips for traveling abroad as a guide dog user. 

July 3, 2019 – Vegas or Bust: Travel Tips for Convention

As we prepare for the 2019 National Convention, Jeff Altman, travel instructor at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, shares his tips for successfully navigating around Vegas. 

June 20, 2019 – Summer Programs: Discovering a New Calling

On this episode of the Nation’s Blind Podcast, Melissa Riccobono talks to Marissa Hirschman about how working a summer program changed her entire career path. 

June 5, 2019 – Summer Programs: Prepare and Pack to Independence

Melissa Riccobono chats with Arizona-raised Garret Mooney regarding preparing for a summer program even though he didn’t think he needed to attend it. Hear their tips and tricks on packing, and what brought Garret to tears during his experience. 

February 26, 2019 – Blind Parents: The Presidential Privilege

Anil Lewis connects with NFB President Mark A. Riccobono on new parenting, knowing who to call for help, and resources and tools for blind parents. Enjoy this conversation from two diaper-changing masters. 

February 19, 2019 – Blind Parents: The Turnball Story

Melissa Riccobono talks with the Turnballs from Oregon who are dealing with invasive involvement from the Department of Human Services at the start of their parenting journey. Hear their side of this story. 

February 12, 2019 – Blind Parents: The Fight for Rights Isn’t Over

Melissa Riccobono talks with Carla McQuillan, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, about a current case of blind parents who were discriminated against because hospital staff didn’t know how blind parents could care for a baby. This story wasn’t from ten, fifteen, or fifty years ago; Carla received the heart wrenching call on January 1, 2019. 

January 2019 – New Year's Resolutions

This month's episode is all about helping you keep your New Year's resolutions. Kayde Rieken talks about how she got fit on a college student's budget (check out and, Patricia Maurer discusses a program that will help you get your hands on more Braille books (, and NFB President Mark A. Riccobono discusses his hopes for the New Year for himself and for the Federation. 

November 2018 – Mentoring Can Be Momentous

This episode is all about mentoring and the role it plays in the lives of members of the National Federation of the Blind. LaKisha Holmes talks about how participating in a mentoring program during high school impacted her, Maurice Peret describes the new National Federation of the Blind career mentoring program, and NFB President Mark A. Riccobono shares a mentoring experience that was particularly memorable for him.

October 2018 – White Cane Awareness Day

This episode celebrates White Cane Awareness Day, which is October 15. Treva Olivero discusses how she uses her long white cane and her wheelchair, Domonique Lawless talks about being a guide dog user who also teaches cane travel, and NFB President Mark A. Riccobono talks about our free white cane program. We also hear several stories from listeners about the moment they realized what a powerful tool for independence their cane can be.

September 2018 – Orioles and Rice Krispies

In bonus episode 6, NFB President Mark A. Riccobono talks with Jessica Waller, vice president of sales and co-chair of the Kapable Employee Resource Group at Kellogg’s, about the Rice Krispies Treats® “Love Notes” program and Kellogg’s partnership with the NFB. In bonus episode 7, we interview Jim Hunter, play-by-play announcer and commentator for the Baltimore Orioles who talks about the Orioles becoming the first professional U.S. team to wear jerseys with Braille lettering.

August 2018 – Advocacy and Community Involvement

This episode is all about advocacy and community involvement. NFB President Mark A. Riccobono discusses local advocacy and describes some of the tools we have in our advocacy toolbox. Kaity Ellis, a student in New Mexico, talks about all the ways she is involved in her community. Finally, Chris Danielsen and John Paré describe some of our recent successes, as well as ongoing activities.

July 2018 – The Proof is in the Parenting

In this episode, Melissa and Anil talk to Stacy Cervenka, newly named chair of the blind parents group, about what the group is working on and how listeners can get involved. NFB President Mark A. Riccobono discusses the role groups, divisions, and committees play in the Federation in the Presidential Privilege. Finally, Joanne Gabias describes what it was like growing up as the child of two blind parents.

More Information

To listen to previous episodes, please visit the Nation's Blind Podcast archiveIf you have any questions about the Nation's Blind Podcast, or if you would like to contribute to future episodes, please email us at or call 410-659-9314, extension 2444.