Greetings, fellow Federationists. Today is Thursday, October 3, 2019, and this is presidential release 487. It’s October, which means Meet the Blind Month, and you only really know that because it’s Meet the Blind Month. The weather outside is not very October-esque, at least here in Baltimore. It is hot. But we are looking for a great Meet the Blind Month, and, in fact, it’s going to be a hot Meet the Blind Month with all the activities we have going on.
I’m gonna talk to you on this release about Meet the Blind Month, and certainly one of the activities that launched on October 1st that made it a hot month for the National Federation of the Blind. You know Meet the Blind Month is a time when we come together as blind people in our organization, and we tackle the biggest challenge that we face as blind people. And that’s that we still face the misconceptions amongst the general public, how they understand or really don’t understand blindness, and how we live our lives independently as blind people. That’s still the biggest barrier that we face.
The biggest tool, the strongest tool, the most powerful tool that we have to combat that misunderstanding, is bringing blind people together into a membership organization of the blind. That’s where our organization stands out amongst any other in this country. The National Federation of the Blind is America’s civil rights organization of blind people, and it is the only organization that believes in the full capacity of blind people. If you stop there, a lot of organizations say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. We believe in the full capacity of blind people.” But they can’t back it up with anything.
The National Federation of the Blind is the only organization that believes in the full capacity of blind people, and has the power, influence, diversity, and determination to transform our dreams into reality. Because we are an authentic organization of blind people, we believe in blind people, but we can do something about it because of the power that have built together in the National Federation of the Blind.
We’re not an agency for the blind. We’re not a think tank speculating about what blind people need. We’re not a technology organization trying to sell a product. We’re not a research-focused organization. We are a membership organization of blind people. And Meet the Blind Month is about helping to facilitate conversations throughout our communities, honest conversations, about the capability of blind people, our hopes and dreams, where we want to go.
And to facilitate that understanding that we have come to know through the Federation philosophy. So when we think about Meet the Blind Month, we should remember that it starts with ourselves, and really understanding the philosophy of our organization, sharing with each other the understanding of blindness that has helped us to make progress for 79 years. Coming up here on our 79th birthday soon. So inherent in Meet the Blind Month then is membership in the National Federation of the Blind.
We need more blind people to come be part of our organization to understand who we are, what we do, and to come to have the understanding of blindness that we have. So as we go out and educate the public, we should make sure that we’re using that as an opportunity to reach out to blind people and teach then about the work of our organization, and invite them to come be part of our collective movement.
We need their experience, their perspectives, to be part of the mission that we’re undertaking. Now, part of that we would like them to know something about our philosophy and why we’re uniquely different, but we want them to come be part of our organization. And so as you go out in the community, I encourage you to find opportunities to talk about our philosophy, what it means, and to bring new blind people into that discussion loop. I think we should be doing this twelve months out of the year, but October is a key time for us to focus energy on it and stimulate new ideas for how we do it.
And so I encourage you to use Meet the Blind Month. Of course, October 15th, White Cane Awareness Day. All sorts of opportunities in front of us with many affiliate conventions also this month to promote the work of the National Federation for the Blind membership in this authentic civil rights organization. And thank you, in advance, for the work that each of you are gonna do this month to make that happen.
I do want to let you know that every Friday here in the month of October, we will have a Twitter chat hosted by members of the National Federation of the Blind. It’s gonna be hosted under the hashtag “#MeetTheBlind.” Every Friday, we will have a different theme, so I’d encourage you to get involved with those Twitter chats as well in social media. The first Twitter chat this week, so if you’re hearing this release right away, you might get in on it, although you might have missed it, is gonna be on games.
I bring that up because yesterday – well, two days ago, October 1st, we publicly-launched UNO® Braille, along with Mattel. We’ve been talking with Mattel for about a year now about doing a project, and I alluded to it in the presidential report at the national convention, but I couldn’t talk about it, which always hurts my feelings. I try not to keep secrets from the members of the National Federation of the Blind. On October 1st, we announced, along with Mattel, that UNO Braille will be on the store shelves at Target, officially available starting about the sixth of the month of October. You can make preorders online.
Last I heard a few hours ago, the presale orders of UNO Braille at Target dot-com had sold out. I think that was just a computer number issue. I think, probably, if you go online now, you’ll be able to find them, but I don’t really know. You can read more about the UNO Braille project and how you can get your hands on it by looking in the October Braille Monitor for the article about UNO Braille. I think, in all seriousness, there will be plenty of units available through Target.
But this is huge. Every deck of cards has the name and logo of the National Federation of the Blind. As a matter of a fact, every single card has the logo of the National Federation of the Blind on it. They’re in Braille. You can get them at Target stores. It costs $9.99. It’s gonna be a great stocking stuffer. I know affiliates are thinking about snatching them up to give away as door prizes. This is huge exposure for Braille and for the work of the National Federation of the Blind. I wanted to give to you on this release the audio of one of the videos that was released about the project on October 1st. Here is the Uno Braille audio.
I look forward to your feedback on UNO Braille. You can go to UNO Braille dot-com to read more about the project, get connected with resources, the videos, the how-to’s. There’s an Alexa skill that has been released for UNO as part of this. Great partnership. It’s part of our effort to get Braille more in front of the public and onto packaging. So check it out; play some UNO, and let me know how it goes.
In the video, you heard some audio snippets of a UNO game we had at the – we filmed at the national convention. The game went on for about an hour, and, finally, I told all the kids I had to go do something else. There was no winner declared, although some people, at least in my family, have declared themselves the winner for that particular UNO game. So UNO Braille, very exciting exposure for the National Federation of the Blind for Braille, and what we’re trying to do here in Meet the Blind Month. So get your hands on it.
I want to thank some more individuals who have joined our dream maker’s circle. This is the group of individuals who have committed to making end-of-the-life gifts to the National Federation of the Blind. Thank you to David and Mary Ann Robinson from Jackson, Michigan, for joining our dream maker’s circle. Also, Grace Codoza from Los Angeles has joined our dream maker’s circle in honor of George and Asako Codoza. So thank you to Grace, to David and Mary Ann, for joining our dream maker’s circle.
I do have some Federation family news to share with you, also, on this release. I regret to have to share with you that Mike Ard, the husband of Dana Ard, who’s president of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho, passed away suddenly near the end of August. Mike was a solid contributor to the National Federation of the Blind helping Dana, as well as other members of our Federation family in Idaho. Always there to lend a hand. I encourage you to keep Dana and her family in your thoughts and prayers.
Pam Allen reports that Lee Frasier passed away on September 20th as a result of a heart attack. Lee served as president of the Louisiana Association of Blind Merchants, and as a member of the board of directors for several years there in Louisiana. He was a solid contributor to the work there in many ways, including a skilled woodworker. He made many great contributions to fundraising efforts there in Louisiana. His presence will be missed.
I also have to let you know that Roslyn Bartlett, an active member of the Kansas City chapter of the National Federation of the Blind lost her battle with cancer in September. And, finally, Cindy Zimmer of Nebraska passed away. She worked at the training center in Nebraska, was active in Federation, including in our crafter’s division. I encourage you to keep all of these individuals and their families in our thoughts and prayers as we remember those Federationists that have departed us, who have contributed significantly to the work that we do.
This brings me to the end of this release. And before we get to the customary endings, I want to say I’m looking forward to visiting some affiliate conventions coming up here in the next couple of weeks. We have a number of projects happening before we get to the end of the year that are gonna be very exciting for us. Of course, when we get to November, undoubtedly, we’ll be talking about our Santa letter program and other activities that come up at the end of the year. I hope that you and your chapter are doing well.
I thank you, again, for your contributions to the National Federation of the Blind during Meet the Blind Month. I’m gonna go off, and, well, maybe play a game of UNO Braille in the midst of other things. So I hope that you get an opportunity to do so as well. I look forward to your work, our work, together. Let’s go build the National Federation of the Blind.