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National Federation of the Blind Newsletter No. 83

Posted in Updates From National

National Federation of the Blind LogoIn this issue:

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Message from the President

Dear Friends:

As we were preparing for the 2016 Washington Seminar of the National Federation of the Blind, a major snowstorm that reached blizzard status struck the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area. During and after the storm Federationists from around the country reworked their plans, made extraordinary efforts to get to Washington, and offered generously to help others do the same. I was proud to have over two hundred members of the Federation on Capitol Hill last week sharing their life experience with the staff and members of Congress who were hearty enough to be at their posts.

The tremendous warmth, commitment, and dedication observed during the past week was a great example of what we do in the Federation to help each other grow by sharing our life experiences. In particular, I was reminded of the openness with which Marc Maurer, Immediate Past President of the National Federation of the Blind, wrote on the topic of generosity in one of our Kernel Books. His title story for When the Blizzard Blows reminds us that the opportunity to be generous should not be overlooked; instead it should become a pattern of thought in our lives. It is something I have experienced many times over in our organization and a lesson I try to keep in mind.

While a blizzard is a great opportunity to reread some of the literature we have experienced in the past, the past week is a good reminder that the stories of blind people living the lives they want—stories that are shared in our Kernel Books, through our Braille Monitor and Future Reflections publications, and now in our YouTube video channel—are worthy of revisiting on sunny days as well as snowy ones.

Although it is a couple of weeks early, happy Valentine’s Day.


Graphic: Signature of Mark Riccobono

Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

P.S. Last month I had the pleasure of going to jury service, and writing this letter reminded me of another favorite Kernel Book story from the When the Blizzard Blows book written by my friend Bill Meeker from my hometown. If you get a chance, read “The Verdict Is In.”

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What’s News at the NFB

Petition to President Obama to Upload the Regs

The NFB launched a We the People petition on January 12 which urges the White House to upload the ADA internet regulations. Please read the post at And sign and share the petition, which is found at

WBU/ICEVI Joint Assembly Registration Open

The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) Joint Assembly. To register or for more information, go to

KNFB Reader Wins Applevis Award

The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to announce that KNFB Reader has been chosen by the AppleVis community as the winner of the Best Assistive iOS App of the Year for the second year in a row. Follow this link for details:

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Braille Certification Training Program

Under a contract with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS), the National Federation of the Blind administers the courses leading to NLS certification of Braille transcribers and proofreaders. Successful completion of these rigorous courses requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of the students. We congratulate the following individuals who earned certification during the month of November 2015:

Literary Braille Transcribing


Jill Christine Kline, Anaheim


Nancy Murphy Kalinowski, Portland


Marianne  Burke, Pointe Vedra Beach
Christiane Gallet Head, Jacksonville


Michael  Hall, Lexington
David  Morris, Lexington
Neil R. Mulder, Lexington
Eric M. Schuster, Lexington
John M. Siebenthal, Lexington


Shelley Lynne Castle, Faribault


Gregory Leon Banks, Las Vegas

North Carolina

Quentin J. Bowers, Laurinburg
James Ray Hugus, Laurinburg


Janie Marie Gonzalez, Gatesville
Amy Nicole Schwab, Gatesville


David Anthony Scherer, Spanaway


Kathy Lynn Hartje, Mauston

Literary Braille Proofreading


Keith Michael Roberts, Riverton

Mathematics (Nemeth) Braille Transcribing

North Carolina

Joseph Edmond Germain, Laurinburg

South Carolina

Hollie T. Knight, Greenwood


Music Braille Transcribing


Leonard Prince Joyce, Grafton

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It’s Never Too Early for Summer Plans

While cold winds blow, we enjoy preparing for fun summer activities. One of our favorites is the NFB Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Acadmy. This summer, in more than thirty states across the country, the NFB BELL Academy will provide Braille and nonvisual skill instruction to students ages four through twelve using time-tested lessons and proven techniques to build the self-confidence, positive attitudes, and essential nonvisual skills of blind youth so that they can live the lives they want. For more information about an NFB BELL Academy near you, please contact Carlton Walker, manager of Braille education programs at the NFB Jernigan Institute, via email at or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2225. Additionally, please visit our website at, which will be regularly updated as more detailed information about summer programs becomes available.

The NFB BELL Academy would not be such a tremendous success without the efforts of its many dedicated volunteers, as well as committed organizational partners Wells Fargo, Seedlings Braille Books for Children, and the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. To read more about their work in the community, including with the NFB, see Wells Fargo’s December press release.

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From the tenBroek Library

Are You Interested in Conducting Research at the tenBroek Library?

We are pleased to welcome all researchers interested in the many aspects of blindness, with the exception of its treatment and prevention. Our collections focus on the organized blind movement, the education of blind children, disability law and policy, the history of attitudes toward blind people, and literary works by blind authors. We work hard to preserve the history of blind people in a variety of ways, including collecting NFB literature, maintaining the Federation’s archives, and building our collections of archival papers and published works. We also document the life experiences of blind people in the United States in interviews collected through our oral history program.

Our collections are open for use by all and the holdings of the tenBroek Library can be accessed in three ways:

  • The Blind Cat: our online public access catalog (OPAC) where researchers can search our collection of published materials. The scope of our published materials extends to all facets of blindness, except the medical treatment or prevention of blindness, and includes print, talking-book, Braille, and digital formats.
  • The Cane Tip: our online finding aid database describes the manuscript and archival collections held by the Library, including the Personal and Professional papers of NFB founder Jacobus tenBroek, the papers of past NFB President Kenneth Jernigan, and the NFB Institutional Archives, as well as several smaller collections.
  • Email: send your reference questions to and we’ll contact you to discuss your project!

To learn more about the holdings of the Jacobus tenBroek Library, please visit the Blind Cat, the Cane Tip, or contact us by email at to schedule a visit!

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Independence Market

Some of our new members and friends may not be aware of the National Federation of the Blind Independence Market. The Independence Market is the conduit through which the National Federation of the Blind distributes our empowering literature to our members, their families, and the general public. Our literature shows how blind people can live the lives we want by helping us to raise expectations of ourselves.

Our Kernel Book series continues to be a popular public education tool. The stories written by our members about their everyday experiences with blindness let others know that we share the same hopes and dreams as the rest of the broader population and that we have the capability to live fulfilled lives by working productively, raising families, and engaging in our communities. In addition to reading our Kernel Books online, print copies can be requested from the Independence Market free of charge to share with others. We also have a few titles still available in Braille.

The Independence Market is also a source of low-tech blindness products that make everyday life easier and enhance the independence of the user. Products include Braille learning aids, Braille writing and labeling supplies, white canes for traveling independently, talking clocks and watches as well as Braille watches, clothing organizers and color detectors, kitchen and sewing aids, tactile and audio marking aids, board and card games, large-print recordkeeping and writing aids, magnifiers, medical devices, digital recorders, and much more.

You may learn more about what the Independence Market has to offer by visiting us online. There you can browse our e-commerce site and download our catalog. If you have questions, please contact the Independence Market either via email or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216. Our staff will gladly assist you Monday through Friday during regular business hours.
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Self-Advocacy in Higher Education 

Understanding legal protections in higher education and navigating the college accommodation request process can be challenging. In many cases, the departments and procedures colleges establish to assist students with disabilities are ineffective or do not fully consider blind students’ needs in relation to emerging technology. Equal access in higher education is an ongoing priority issue for the NFB. To better address students’ needs and to help prevent or mitigate access barriers, the NFB Legal Department has created the Self-Advocacy in Higher Education Toolkit. Please take time to review this toolkit and forward the information to other blind college and university students.

For more information, contact Valerie Yingling, paralegal, at (410) 905-6754, extension 2440, or
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Access Technology

The Access Technology Team had a perfectly splendid time at the recent snowbound Washington Seminar. Not only did the team, as usual, get to sit in on a rousing Great Gathering-In, but we conducted some early tests with the Transforming Braille Display. This twenty-cell display, soon to be released as an inexpensive alternative to the available options, was available for hands-on review for the first time to anyone willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement (it is not a final product, after all). Many people stopped by to experiment with this new piece of technology and many found it to be an exciting addition to the existing lineup.

In other news, the team is now ramping up to the 31st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN), taking place in San Diego on March 21-26. By coincidence, all of this year’s presentations will fall on Thursday, March 24, so those of you who will be there can make an NFB day of it. The topics are optical character recognition on mobile and desktop, technology for increasing Braille literacy, and mainstream reading platforms for blind and visually impaired students. The team is excited to be working with co-presenters Yue-Ting Siu from San Francisco State University and tplus educational vision services and Richard Orme from the DAISY Consortium for those last two presentations.

In addition to the usual Access Technology Team presentations, this year’s CSUN will also include a first-time speaker from the National Federation of the Blind—our own Anil Lewis, executive director of the Jernigan Institute. He will be co-presenting with Mike May, longtime pioneer in navigation for the blind, on Facilitating Accessible Indoor Navigation Technology.

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NFB Calendar

Upcoming Events

March 3-5: NFB STEM2U San Francisco

March 31-April 1: 2016 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium; Diversity in the Disability Rights Movement: Working Together to Achieve the Right to Live in the World

May 17-20: BLAST, Chicago

May 19-21: NFB STEM2U Minneapolis

June 19-25: NFB EQ (first iteration)

June 30-July 5: National Federation of the Blind Convention, Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando, Florida

July 31-August 6: NFB EQ (second iteration)

August 18-25: WBU-ICEVI General Assembly, Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, Florida

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For just as the diamond exhibits value, so does the National Federation of the Blind shine with love, hope, and determination as a collective reflection of the value each blind person brings to our movement. Like the individual carbon atoms, under pressure we have bonded together in love and faith to demonstrate to ourselves and to others that we have value—we are the blind, we have come to celebrate, and we will let our value shine.

— Mark Riccobono. “The Federation at Seventy-Five: The Determination of Value and the Reflection of Hope.” 2015 NFB National Convention, Orlando, Florida, July 10, 2015.



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