As I reflect upon our recent 2021 National Convention, I am proud of the work we do together to create and nurture a welcoming environment for all blind people. Well over 6,000 people registered for our convention, which took place anywhere and everywhere via Zoom. When I see us come together to do the business of this membership organization and to spread our positive philosophy I am awed and humbled.
As I said in my banquet speech, “We can find hope, opportunity, and safety in knowing that we have created something meaningful within our nation. We have started by building a movement where we can, as blind Americans, work together on an equal basis for change. Our movement, like our nation, is not broken, but it is unfinished.”
We now turn to the work of building the Federation and executing on decisions and resolutions made by our membership. I thank all who participated in the convention for your commitment of time and energy. Being together in person in New Orleans will be even better. Please plan to join me at the largest gathering of the blind from July 5 to July 10, 2022 where we will continue to raise expectations and live the lives we want.
Mark Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
During our national convention in July, well over 6,000 participants attended seminars, workshops, meetings, and general sessions virtually. Attendees could learn about the latest and greatest technology, listen to advocates for legal and civil rights, hear the Presidential Report, and President Riccobono’s banquet speech. But there was more. Some of the most important parts of our convention involve the mentoring and networking opportunities available to members and nonmembers alike.
A scholarship recipient put it well:
“This was my first time applying for a scholarship and my first time attending an NFB convention. I feel incredibly honored to be accepted as a scholarship finalist, but even more grateful to be accepted into a family of extraordinary blind individuals, leaders, and allies I never knew existed. I’ve gotten used to being the only blind person in the room. As an artist struggling to compete in an art world dominated by non-disabled individuals, I often feel alone and directionless. Before attending the NFB convention, I didn’t know any other blind people. Now I know there is a movement and within that movement, there is strength in numbers.”
You can find something you missed or review your favorite moments of the 2021 National Convention by visiting our convention highlights page.
Celebrating Outstanding Blind Students
The annual NFB national scholarships were announced at our virtual convention banquet on July 10. The winner of the organization’s top prize of $12,000, donated by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults and named in memory of Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, is Lizzy Muhammad-Park, an aspiring Foreign Service officer from Maryland. Learn more about all of the thirty scholarship winners.
Wrapping Up Our Summer Academy for Blind Children
The NFB BELL® Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning—is a nationwide summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people. During 2020 and 2021, we hosted an in-home edition of the academy to continue to build and enhance education for children ages four through twelve. Along with virtual classes, students received Braille and other fun materials for lessons via mail at no cost. In early August, we started our third and final 2021 session. #BrailleIsLiteracy
Legislative Update: Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act Introduced in House
NFB applauded the recent introduction of the Medical Device Nonvisual Accessibility Act (H.R. 4853) in the United States House of Representatives and urged swift passage to protect the health of blind Americans. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the bill. This legislation calls upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promulgate nonvisual accessibility standards for Class II and Class III medical devices with digital displays. This standard would apply to devices such as glucometers, sleep apnea machines, blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and oximeters. Read more about H.R. 4853 in our Press Room.
Maryland to Take Steps to Advance Equal Rights for Blind Voters at Polling Places
NFB, our Maryland affiliate, and three blind registered Maryland voters have agreed with state election officials in a settlement that will make voting more private and accessible to the blind of Maryland. State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone and the Maryland State Board of Elections have agreed to take several measures to address issues. Read more about the Maryland voting rights agreement.
Curative to Make Scheduling of COVID Testing and Vaccination Accessible
NFB has reached an agreement with Curative Inc., under which Curative will make its technology accessible to blind screen-reader users. The NFB will monitor the accessibility of Curative’s services. Curative’s technology is used by California and other states to allow users to schedule diagnostic screening and testing for the COVID-19 virus or to set up appointments to receive a vaccination against the illness. The inaccessibility of online tools to conduct these tasks has been a significant barrier encountered by blind people seeking to protect themselves and their families from the disease. Read the press release about the agreement between NFB and Curative.
Throughout our local chapters and state affiliates to our national headquarters and diverse committees, the National Federation of the Blind is an organization of collective action. Here’s what you can do to get involved this month.
- Read, "Why I am Proud to Be Blind" by Jonathan Mosen in the most recent Braille Monitor.
- Check out our national convention highlights on the convention page.
- Share our career opportunities. The Federation is always seeking talented individuals to join our staff team.
There are so many ways to connect with the National Federation of the Blind. Don’t miss these upcoming events.