The notion that we are in the season of giving is interesting to me. I joined the National Federation of the Blind in the summer of 1996 and it was one of the richest seasons of giving I have experienced. Actually, the season of giving has not stopped since I received the gift of membership in this movement. As I travel around the country, I encourage everyone I meet to become a part of our movement because I know what it will give to them.
Even more importantly, our movement gives blind people a critical opportunity to give back-- one of the essential elements of full participation and independence. This year, we have emphasized onboarding our new members because it also helps to remind our existing members (whether their season has lasted one, five, twenty-five, or fifty years) of the core values that give our collective action strength and power. This process has allowed us to spark open discussions with potential members and to debunk the myths about the Federation philosophy about blindness.
We welcome all to consider membership in our Federation family. If you are not yet a member, I invite you to explore membership and to join our dynamic, diverse, and innovative organization of the blind. If you are already a member, I am proud to march alongside you, and look forward to our continued work together to raise expectations and to help us all live the lives we want.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
As we reflect on 2019, we must consider the collective action of the National Federation of the Blind and what it really means. We are first and foremost a membership-driven organization. The fact that most of our members are blind and that our leaders are blind people is what makes us different. The most important word in our name is “of.”
This year we focused on membership. We welcomed all to consider joining us and we emphasized the value of our diversity. Our updated Code of Conduct underscored our expectations of all members.
As we look forward, we will continue to work hard to recruit, grow, and nourish members of this dynamic, diverse, and powerful organization. President Riccobono’s article, Membership in the National Federation of the Blind: Equality, Opportunity, and Security Through Collective Action, in the April 2019 Braille Monitor best details what membership and collective action mean to us.
If you want to consider membership, please read that article and sign up for one of our open houses by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Conference calls for perspective members are held once a month.
We often ask, “why are you a Federationist?” but we are usually asking that of our veteran members. Since we are growing in new members, we spoke with one new member to ask instead, “why do you want to be a Federationist?”
Samantha decided to join the NFB recently. She is a young theatre major who won one of our scholarships and attended a state convention to receive her award. We asked her why she wants to be a Federationist. Her explanation speaks to much of what we do for one another. Sam wants to make a difference, and she has already taken up the task of social media and photography for a NFB transitions club for teens. While at our state convention Sam mentioned her major and Elizabeth, another student, enthusiastically chimed in about her love of theatre and how our #LetUsPlayUs Campaign started. What she learned about our advocacy in the entertainment industry is important to her. “The people were all so friendly I just knew I wanted to take part.” Most of all, Samantha wants to be a part of our movement because she appreciates the mentoring and networking that is intertwined with the work that we do each and every day.
AIM High Act Introduced
On Friday December 6, the AIM High Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (H.R. 5312) will promote instructional technology and content that are accessible to the blind and other students with print disabilities.
“This legislation is critically important to all blind students and to me personally, as the father of three children, two of whom are blind,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. Learn more in our Press Room.
FBI and Justice Department Fail to Grant Equal Access to All Employees
The NFB is supporting a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice. Joe Orozco, an intelligence analyst, must utilize inaccessible technology to perform his work. The FBI deployed the technology and has offered no alternative means for him to access the information required.
“It is nothing short of shameful that two of our nation’s top law enforcement agencies are disobeying the law and failing to value the contributions of Mr. Orozco and other blind people who are helping to protect all Americans,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. Learn more in our Press Room.
In Memoriam: Dr. Donald Capps: Long Term Leader of the National Federation of the Blind Passes
The National Federation of the Blind would like to express its deepest appreciation and warmest sympathies to the friends and family of Dr. Donald Capps, who passed away on November 6, 2019. Learn more in our Press Room.
Stay involved in the National Federation of the Blind. There are so many ways to be involved with the Federation at the national, state, and local level.
- Support the Federation with your dollars or find an option to give that works for you. Our collective action and membership building need your contributions.
- Spread the word about Santa Letters for blind boys and girls. The deadline is December 16 so that Braille letters from Santa can be delivered on time.
- Read Parenting While Blind. Shawn Callaway addresses the fear many of us have that misconceptions will cause our children to be inappropriately taken from our homes.
- Share Am I Really That Special? From the December Braille Monitor, the flagship publication of the Federation.
Mark your calendars.
- December 17, 2019: Tips and Tools for an Accessible Smart Home, Zoom Teleconference
- January 4, 2020: World Braille Day
- January 9-11, 2020: NFB BELL® Academy Training Seminar, Baltimore, MD
- February 10, 2020: Washington Seminar and Great Gathering-In, Washington, DC
- March 26–27, 2020: Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium, Baltimore, MD
- April 14-17, 2020: NABM BLAST, Chicago, IL
- July 14-19, 2020: National Convention, Houston, TX