For many years I had a poster in my office of John F. Kennedy holding his young son and including the quote, “A child miseducated is a child lost.” I have always thought it perfectly frames the need for a strong early start. This is true for all children. For blind children it is especially important that the early start in education include Braille and the National Federation of the Blind. When it does not, blind children are lost in the low expectations of a world that falsely believes vision is a requirement for success. When parents of blind children find the village of support that exists within our organization their child will have the tools needed to find their way through their entire life—from mentors, long white canes, and the implementation of laws to protect their civil rights.
November 16, 2020 is the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Federation. This week is also American Education Week. That the two come at the same time is fitting. Education—whether teaching the general public about the capacity of blind people, giving blind children an early start in Braille, or teaching newly blind seniors they can continue to live independently—has always been a central component of our programs. You can contribute to our educational efforts every day. Whether it is sharing our Braille alphabet cards, telling families about our early childhood resources, or contributing financially to our work on a monthly basis, there are many ways for you to help. We need you to be part of our educational outreach team.
I did not know about the National Federation of the Blind until I was in college. My two blind daughters have grown up in the Federation and the difference is striking. I witness the difference an early start makes every day and I know that it is a direct result of the support of the members of the Federation. Thank you to all the educators out there. Whether you teach in a classroom every day or simply spread the word about educational resources (like our organization), you make sure that none of our children are lost. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for your support of the next generation of blind people.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
As President Riccobono stated, an early educational start makes a difference. Our early childhood initiatives provide young blind children and their families with support and guidance to master the fundamental skills of literacy and independent travel. We also work to provide other resources to young children and parents through the year. Currently, the National Federation of the Blind offers the following early childhood opportunities at no cost to families:
- Braille Reading Pals Club, an introduction to literacy through Braille
- Early Explorers Program, introduction to the long white cane
- Santa Letters
- Distance Education Resources (new in 2020)
- In addition to the programs and resources, families gain access to the support network of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Federation of the Blind.
Patricia Maurer, who directed our early childhood initiatives until her retirement earlier this year, wrote:
Our Early Childhood Initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind give families and their young blind children a rooted start—a start in early Braille skills, a start in cane travel, and a start in the Federation. These roots grow and blossom into our next generation of scientists, teachers, senators, and Federation leaders. Reading Braille and walking with a long white cane can become part of the child's daily life, and he or she will begin to gain confidence and independence from an early age. Parents will understand that with love, hope, and determination, their blind children can flourish and live the lives they want!
Learn about the various programs that are part of our Early Childhood Initiatives and be sure to read more stories and experiences in the quarterly publication for parents, Future Reflections. Let’s get connected early!
Second Matching Gift Announced: More Than Ever Campaign Launched
President Riccobono confirmed that during Meet the Blind Month we reached our goal of $50,000 to meet Freedom Scientific’s matching gift and thanked all of our members for their contributions. We are so grateful to Freedom Scientific, a Vispero brand and the maker of JAWS for Windows and Focus Braille displays, for their support. On November 12, NFB and Freedom Scientific announced an additional pledge of $50,000 if the Federation can match that amount by December 31, 2020. Now we can double our dollars during our More Than Ever campaign. If you are in a position to help, you can contribute in three ways:
- Visit our donate page.
- Mail your check to National Federation of the Blind at 200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230.
- Call 410-659-9314, extension 2282 to donate with a credit card by phone.
You can also support NFB by spreading our message on social media and asking your friends and family to give.
Registration Open for Braille Readers Are Leaders, a Contest for Children and Adults
Encourage more Braille. Improve reading skills. Win prizes. The National Federation of the Blind is partnering with the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults to present the 2020-2021 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest to encourage Braille literacy and reading for pleasure. Children and adults across the United States compete against their same-grade peers to read the most Braille pages between December 1, 2020, through January 18, 2021. Registration opened November 1. Learn more about the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest.
Blind Bar Applicants in NY and DC Can Take Bar Exam Remotely
NFB commended bar admission authorities in New York and the District of Columbia for implementing procedures that allow blind bar candidates to take their licensing examinations remotely, as non-disabled candidates are being permitted to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, but expressed concern that other jurisdictions are not following suit. Read more about remote testing here.
It’s that Time of Year—Braille Letters from Santa!
Every year Santa Claus turns the staff at the National Federation of the Blind into his honorary elves to help him send letters and activities in Braille to young children (those under the age of ten) across the United States. Between November 9 and December 16, parents can submit a request for a letter at nfb.org/santa-letters. The form can also be printed and faxed to 410-685-2340 or emailed to [email protected]. Beginning Monday, November 30, the Braille letters from Santa will start going out to children. The Braille letter will be accompanied by a print copy as well and some other fun holiday activities. The deadline for letter requests is December 16. Learn more about Santa Letters.
Scholarship Program Applications Open
Every year, the National Federation of the Blind awards more than $120,000 to blind scholars across the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in recognition of their achievements and professional aspirations. Each scholarship is awarded based on the student’s academic excellence, community service, and leadership. The application is now open, and we encourage students to start the process now. Review the scholarship application checklist and the scholarship program FAQs. Share this opportunity that invests in the future of blind people. Learn about the eligibility and requirements of the 2021 scholarship program.
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.
- Subscribe to our flagship magazine, the Braille Monitor, by emailing [email protected]. November issue available!
- Contribute to our More Than Ever campaign by visiting our donate page. Freedom Scientific will match your gift.
- Read our latest blog: More Than Blindness: My Algebraic Equation
We certainly are a busy organization. Don’t miss these upcoming events, workshops, and deadlines.
- December 1, 2020: Presidential Release Live 8:00 p.m. ET
- December 1, 2020 through January 18, 2021: Braille Readers Are Leaders contest
- December 13, 2020: Open House Gathering Call for potential members
- January 4, 2021: Presidential Release Live 8:00 p.m. ET
- February 1, 2021: Presidential Release Live 8:00 p.m. ET
- February 8, 2021: Washington Seminar and Great Gathering-In, virtual