[Nfb-announce] NFB Imagineering Our Future: "Blind man driving!"
JerniganInstitute at nfb.org
Sat Aug 15 22:26:54 CDT 2009
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Imagineering Our Future
August 14, 2009
In this issue:
* Message from the Executive Director
* What's New
* Braille Initiative
* Straight Talk About Vision Loss
* Technology Talk
* From the Jacobus tenBroek Library
* Independence Market
* Parent Outreach
* Spotlight on the Imagination Fund
* NFB Calendar
Message from the Executive Director
Defining moments are often marked by
unexpected events and the reaction of those
involved in the events. On July 31 I stood at
the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as
hundreds of blind individuals gathered in front
of the reflecting pool at the foot of the
memorial. Hundreds of young blind people with
high aspirations for their future were surrounded
by dozens of blind mentors and other members of
the National Federation of the Blind who have
worked vigorously to create opportunities for
this emerging generation. Music greeted the
crowd with messages of I have a dream, Your
story is yet unwritten, and They say that the
blind cannot do science and we say, SLAM THAT!
As the group gathered the wind picked up and the
sky opened to a hefty downpour. Yet the
assembled crowd, gathered to proclaim its dreams
for the future and the first class citizenship
that the Federation has been fighting for since
1940, did not let an unexpected rainstorm get
them down. Greeted by words from the White House
delivered by Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to
the President for Disability Policy, lifted by
NFB leaders Marc Maurer and Fred Schroeder, and
given wings by the inspiring story of Ever Lee
Hairston and the collective singing of We Shall
Overcome, the crowd bound tight together through
wind and rain to demonstrate that the
determination and commitment of the next
generation is as strong as those that laid the foundation of the Federation.
As the crowd turned east and marched down the
National Mall, I could not help think about how
far we have come, how important our work is, and
how inspiring the future will be. As we walked,
cheers came from all parts of the crowd, Who are
we . . . NFB, We won't let them get us down,
We are marching, a march for independence, and
dozens of other inspiring phrases. About halfway
to the United States Capitol, some of the blind
youth got the megaphone away from the NFB leaders
at the front of the procession and took lead on the chants.
The end point for the march was the new
Capitol Visitor Center. Representative Steny
Hoyer greeted the crown and drove home how
important it is for the blind to believe in
themselves and each other when getting the crowd
to repeat, If it is to be, it is up to me. NASA
administrators then presented Dr. Maurer with the
Louis Braille coins that flew on the STS-125
shuttle mission. As Dr. Maurer noted in the
National Convention presentation
of Braille: From the Hands of the Creator to
Earth Orbit, these coins are symbolic of our
progress and the opportunities ahead.
This summer I marched with dozens of young
blind people and I heard from them how much
trouble they have in the education system. The
sale of all 400,000 Louis Braille coins by
December 31 is one step in creating opportunities
that will eliminate many of those problems. I
now have a deeper appreciation for the words
Martin Luther King Jr. spoken at the memorial
because I too have a dream. A dream that one day
we will overcome the injustice in the education
system and the societal stereotypes that prevent
the blind from full participation in our
communities. I feel truly blessed that, on July
31, I was able to be part of an historic step
toward the realization of that dreamblind youth
and their blind mentors facing adversity, taking
responsibility for their future, and marching
forward with hope and faith. That is both the
dream and the reality that serves as the
foundation for the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.
Graphic: Signature of Mark Riccobono
Mark A. Riccobono, Executive Director, NFB Jernigan Institute
Featured NFB News
Blind Driver Challenge makes cover of the Washington Post
Blind Driver Challenge makes cover of the Washington Post
We've reported in the past about NFB's
encouragement of the development of a car that
blind people can drive. Engineers from Virginia
Tech who took on the Blind Driver Challenge
brought their prototype vehicle to the Youth
Slam, and on the last day of the Slam, Blind
Driver Track participants got behind the
wheel. Resulting press was overwhelmingly
positive and encouraging. More stories are still
being posted, but a most exciting piece was
published in the Washington Post on August 1, as
Youth Slam participants were traveling home. The
cover article, above the fold, proclaimed
Drivers Plot Their Own Course and included a
color photograph of one exuberant
sixteen-year-old blind first-time driver.
WashingtonPost.com's article was accompanied by a
gallery. Just some of the other notable coverage
came from the
York Times, and
News. Dozens more blogs, videos, and print media
reports stimulated comments, tweets, and offers
to help. It's a great first step toward changing
public perceptions that motoring independence is
impossible. Someday the blind will drive.
National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam
From July 26 to August 1, two hundred blind
youth from across the nation gathered in College
Park, Maryland, to learn about science,
technology, engineering, and math at the National
Federation of the Blind 2009 Youth Slam. This
program was designed to engage, inspire, and
encourage the next generation of blind youth to
consider careers that are falsely perceived as
impossible for the blind. The students were
mentored by blind role models for academic and social activities.
Youth Slam bull rider
Youth Slammer rides mechanical bull
In the daytime program, students and mentors
traveled across the large University of Maryland
campus to participate in hands-on classes in
their chosen track of study and other short
sessions on blindness. During the evenings, they
participated in social activities such as a
dance, a sports night, a talent show, and an
extreme recreational activities night that
featured rock climbing, bungee jumping, and
mechanical bull riding. They visited the
headquarters of the National Federation of the
Blind in Baltimore for a press conference on the
Braille literacy crisis. While at the National
Center for the Blind, they had the opportunity to
see the International Braille and Technology
Center and to visit an exhibit hall that
displayed cutting edge technology for the blind.
The Youth Slam concluded with a rally at the
Lincoln Memorial (punctuated by an exhilarating
rainstorm!) and a Youth March for Independence on
the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Youth Slams closing ceremony was held at the
United States Capitol Visitor Center, in the new
Congressional Auditorium. National Federation of
the Blind leaders, NASA astronaut Gregory H.
Johnson, and Congressman Steny Hoyer gave
inspirational speeches. Students were also
involved in the presentationsCaitlin Kasalo, who
sang the National Anthem to kick off the
ceremony, and student reporters Derrick Tuff and
Kayla Weathers. The Youth Slam could be followed
coverage was posted on
by the Youth Slam News Track.
Throughout the week of fun and challenging
activities, students grew in confidence and
science literacy and began to set goals for a new
future. These students are now a part of the
mission to change what it means to be blind.
Summer BELL Ringers!!
The NFB Jernigan Institute is just concluding its
2009 Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning
(BELL) summer program. The objective of this
two-state pilot program was to promote Braille
literacy through two weeks of exciting hands-on
activities and instruction to low-vision
children, who otherwise do not have access to
Braille. The BELL program provided us some
bell-ringing moments in that we gained some
valuable knowledge and exposed more children to
Braille and positive attitudes about blindness.
The BELL Core Team included three certified
teachers of the blind: Jacqueline Otwell
(Maryland Public Schools), Natalie Shaheen
(Indiana School for the Blind), and Paul Howard
(Indiana Public Schools). The team spent a couple
of weeks working at the National Center on
packaging the lesson plans and activities with
the intent that a ready-made program can be
offered to states in the future. Following this,
the team traveled to Georgia for two weeks
instructing children in the Atlanta area. After
a brief stint at the NFB Youth Slam, the team
began the second program in Maryland for students from the Baltimore area.
In both pilot states, children attended field
trips to local libraries, participated in Braille
learning centers with hands-on activities to
teach skills of tracking and contraction
recognition, participated in Braille-related
scavenger hunts, and were read to each day by
positive Braille reading adults.
The BELL program is a great way to get Braille
instruction to students who otherwise are not
receiving this instruction. We encourage states
interested in organizing such a program next
summer to contact the
<mailto:mthorpe at nfb.org>Education team at the NFB
Jernigan Institute to learn more.
In a recent e-mail, Dr. Maurer poses the
question, How many children in America are not
taught to read? His message continues:
The answer is 90 percent if the children are
blind. Most Americans are shocked to hear this
statistic. And we should be. The blind read and
write using Braille, so why is our educational
system failing to teach Braille to so many
children? Why are these children being denied
the opportunities that come with a proper
education? What if you could not read and write? Where would you be today?
There are three primary reasons for this
educational crisis: (1) there are not enough
Braille teachers, (2) some teachers of blind
children have not received enough training, and
(3) many educators do not think Braille instruction is even necessary.
To bring critically-needed attention to this
educational crisis, the United States Congress
authorized the minting of the 2009 Louis Braille
Bicentennial Silver Dollar with a portion of the
sale of each coin going toward a revolutionary
and comprehensive Braille literacy campaign.
Learning to read and write is fundamental to
education, which in turn is paramount to full and
equal participation in American society. This
coin, the first U.S. coin to have proper tactile
Braille, symbolizes independence, opportunity,
and the potential of blind people to make
significant contributions to society when they
are taught to read and write using Braille. To
learn more, read our report
Braille Literacy Crisis in America or watch our
Change with a Dollar.
this unique and beautiful coin now and help solve
this educational crisis for blind children in America.
The law authorizing this 2009 silver dollar
requires that any coins not sold by midnight on
December 31, 2009, be melted down. Time is of
the essencea 90 percent illiteracy rate is not
acceptable and the opportunity to purchase this coin will soon be gone.
Be part of the solution. Give the gift of
literacy. Create new
the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar today.
Marc Maurer, President
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
Dr. Maurer knows that the
Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar is a symbol of
hope for the future. The National Federation of
the Blind will use the proceeds from sales of
these limited-edition coins to advance
literacy in the United States. Every coin sold
reminds us that through our efforts another life
will be changed, another Braille book will be
made available, another teacher will receive quality Braille instruction.
Please continue to support our efforts by sharing
information about the coin with everyone you
meet. You never know who you might inspire to
join us in our effort to make change with a
dollar and finally put an end to the Braille literacy crisis.
For more information about Braille, the 2009
Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, and the
NFB's other Braille literacy efforts, please
campaign mailing list, and follow Braille
Straight Talk About Vision Loss
Dr. Maurer delivers 2009 banquet address
Photo: Dr. Maurer delivers 2009 banquet address
The NFB Jernigan Institute, under the
Center for Mentoring Excellence (NCME) project,
has produced a 13-minute DVD entitled
the Walk: The NFB Mentorship Advantage. This
video highlights the mentoring programs in six
states and illustrates how blind mentors have
impacted the lives of blind youth ages 16-26. The
NFB Jernigan Institute invites our
Talk About Vision Loss fans to review the new
video and learn more about the NCME on the NFB's
You will also enjoy the video of Dr. Maurer's
banquet speech at this year's national
Value of Decision. Plus, you can now hear audio
convention highlights on the NFB site, including
the Center of History report to the convention
on the Jernigan Institute's fifth anniversary.
Product and Access Technology Talk
Its been a busy time for the Access Technology
team here at the NFB Jernigan Institute. There
was the Access Technology seminar at the National
Convention in Detroit, and then during Youth Slam
the team did its bit with
and sessionsyou can expect further updates on
that on the
On another topic, the team has been working away
at finalizing the agenda for the
Accessibility Training Day on September 22. The
National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland
Technology Assistance Program, with sponsorship
from the Maryland Department of Information
Technology, will be hosting the event, the first
of its kind in Maryland, at the NFB Jernigan
Institute. The sessions will highlight strategies
for achieving Web accessibility in a government or nonprofit setting.
The registration fee for this daylong training
focusing on all aspects of Web accessibility and
compliance with Maryland laws and regulations is
$80, including a box lunch. Our keynote speaker
Lawton Henry from the
Wide Web Consortium, and the line-up includes
speakers from every part of the industry,
including Oracle, Adobe, AOL and Deque. For the
agenda and for more information please visit the
Accessibility Training Day page.
One company which takes nonvisual Web
accessibility to heart is
which just recently became the first e-tailer to
Nonvisual Accessibility Web Certification.
Newegg, as one of the largest online retailers,
sets the industry standard and shows that
accessibility is a benefit. For more information
please visit the
release or the
The fall only gets busier, with presentations on
DAISY production and cell phone accessibility at
Technology Industry Association conference in
Chicago in October 2009. In November, the team
will present to a variety of higher education
accessibility specialists at the
Higher Ground conference in Denver, Colorado,
Systems, on the work being done to make Blackboard Learn fully accessible.
In its copious free time, the team also shared
some experiences with the newly-accessible
on the blog; after all, who can resist a nifty new phone?
From the tenBroek Library
Photo: Jacobus tenBroek Library entrance
The tenBroek Library documents the
accomplishments of the blind throughout history
as well as obstacles to their progress. We are
therefore actively collecting biographies of
blind people, histories of the blind, and older
books on blindness and the blind. Once we
announce the public launch of our online public
access catalog (which will happen before the next
issue of Imagineering), Federationists and others
will have direct access to the growing historical
resources of our collection. Meanwhile, we are
already hard at work on the two important
historical projects funded by a grant the NFB
Jernigan Institute recently won from the National
Historical Publications and Records Commission, a
division of the United States National
Archives. The goal of these projects is to make
material in the Jacobus tenBroek Papers and the
NFB Archives easily searchable and accessible.
While we work at making of the tenBroek Library
an increasingly valuable resource for historians
of blindness, we also want readers of
Imagineering to keep in mind that the Federation
has published a number of
articles, many of which are already available online.
And speaking of history, have you yet obtained
your free copy of the CD of Louis Brailles 1829
book? With this CD, the tenBroek Library is
making Louis Brailles revolutionary explanation
of the Braille code generally available for the
first time in history. The CD contains page
images of the book, a transcription of the French
text, and a translation into English. You can
request a copy with an e-mail to
<mailto:jtblibrary at nfb.org>jtblibrary at nfb.org.
Make sure to include a mailing address.
Little girl doing homework on a Brailler
Little girl doing homework on Brailler
It is time for the
Independence Market back to school
sale. Students of all ages may find some of the
following items of use in their academic studies
and extracurricular activities:
cane gives a blind person independence to move
around the home and school environment.
2. A Braille or talking
3. An accessible
or clock helps you to get to class on time.
keep your items secure when using a locker at school or the gym.
5. Most students have several devices which use
batteries. Distinguish between discharged and new
ones with a
ranging from 5X to 14X are available in the Independence Market.
1. Do basic math functions with a
to books and record classes.
notes in class using 20/20 pens, dark lined
writing paper, writing guides, slates and styluses, and Braille paper.
4. Make Braille
to get organized.
For more ideas, check out the
Market online or <mailto:independencemarket at nfb.org>contact us for a catalog.
Photo: Braille Book Flea Market
Carol Castellano, president of the National
Organization of Parents of Blind Children, spoke
to the National Convention's general session on
Wednesday afternoon on the topic
Are You Trying to Make that Child Blind? This
and the following other convention audio items
will be of particular interest to parents of blind children:
Demand, the Crisis, the Solution in Education for
the Blind; presented by Edward Bell, Ph.D.,
Director, Professional Development and Research
Institute on Blindness, Louisiana Tech University.
Theory and the Practice: Education for the Blind
in the Public School; presented by Denise M.
Robinson, Ph.D., Teacher and Coordinator of
Programming for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Yakima, Washington.
* A panel on
an Essential Skill: Braille. Presentations were
made by Jerry Whittle, Teacher-Counselor,
Louisiana Center for the Blind; April Davis,
Coordinator of Summer Programs for Blind
Children, Louisiana Center for the Blind; James
Mays, Industrial Arts Teacher, Louisiana Center
for the Blind; Deja Powell, Cane Travel
Instructor, Utah Division of Services for the
Blind and Visually Impaired; Anil Lewis,
President, National Federation of the Blind of
Georgia; and Terri Rupp, President, National
Federation of the Blind of Nevada.
Spotlight on the Imagination Fund
As we culminate our yearlong Imagination Fund
efforts, we want to say thank you, thank you,
thank you. Thank you for all of the talent,
treasure, and especially time that you have put
into our 2008-2009 National Federation of the
Blind (NFB) Imagination Fund campaign. To date,
the NFB Imagination Fund has distributed over
$635,720 to NFB affiliates, with an equal
distribution going to support the work of our NFB
Jernigan Institute, and this year's NFB
Imagination Funds will come out to state affiliates soon.
A special note to state affiliates and
divisionsA quarter of the funds raised during
this years campaign will be used to provide
grants for local innovative projects that will
further our mission in ways such as building the
NFB state affiliates and divisions, reaching out
to blind people and their families, educating the
general public about the capabilities of the
blind, and developing members into significant
leaders of our movement. Special consideration
will be given to proposals that advance our
Braille literacy initiative. For more
information regarding the grant application
process, please contact the president of your
affiliate or division soon, as the deadline to
submit applications is September 14, 2009.
The 2009-2010 campaign officially began on August
1, 2009. Late summer and early fall will be a
time of great planning and development. As
Federationists, we will have many goals; we will
raise the bar. Stay tuned for updates in the
coming monthswhether we walk, run, or fly, we
will be doing it to raise awareness about our
independent spirit and to raise monies to support
our initiatives. As always,
<mailto:kbowman at nfb.org>staff at the National
Center will be available for questions, ideas, and suggestions.
Fund provides support for the outreach efforts of
local Federation chapters and affiliates
throughout the United States as well as the
research, technology, and education programs and
initiatives of the NFB Jernigan Institute. The
Imagination Fund was established January 2004
with the Grand Opening of our NFB research and training institute.
Photo: Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar
2009 Year of Louis Braille's Bicentennial,
launch of the first United States coin containing
readable Braille, and kickoff of the
Braille Literacy Campaign. Contact the
Mint to purchase your own
Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar.
Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) program in Maryland.
August 14-16, 2009 Texas CHANGE (Connections
Helping Another Navigate and Gain Excellence)
Mentoring Program mentoring wrap-up event at Port
Royal Resort, Corpus Christi, Texas.
August 22, 2009 GEMS (Georgians Empowered
through Mentoring Success) mentoring celebration
outdoor event at a farm in North Georgia.
August 28, 2009 Deadline to submit your Braille
to President Obama. Learn more by visiting
September 4-6, 2009 Labor Day leadership seminar at the NFB.
September 14, 2009 Deadline to submit NFB
Imagination Fund grant proposals. For more
information, contact <mailto:kbowman at nfb.org>kbowman at nfb.org.
September 15-17, 2009 Research in the Rockies
Symposium at the NFB Jernigan Institute.
Accessibility Day at the NFB Jernigan Institute.
October 2009 Meet the Blind Month.
Many who have not received quality instruction in
Braille can tell compelling stories of missed
opportunities and difficulties at school or on
the job arising from their lack of Braille.
Others who have experienced a full education in
Braille can tell stirring success stories of the
way literacy has changed their lives and helped
them to participate fully in society. Our goal is
to collect these storiesthe inspiring and the
compelling, the positive and the negativeand
compile them into a book about Braille literacy.
From the submissions we receive we will select
one hundred of the most powerful stories for our
book, and the author of each chosen testimonial
will receive a free Louis Braille commemorative silver dollar.
If you have been educated in Braille either in
school or through a rehabilitation agency and you
lead a productive life because of this knowledge,
or if you have been denied Braille instruction at
any point and you believe your life has been
affected by the struggles you have faced in
becoming literate in Braille, the world needs to
hear your story. If you are a parent or teacher
who has seen the positive effect Braille can have
on your children or students, your story needs to be told.
On October 1, the first day of Meet the Blind
Month, we will present our collected stories to
President Barack Obama, demonstrating through our
own voices the power of Braille literacy for all
blind Americans. We will share our hopes and
dreams with him; we will tell him about the
struggles we have faced in becoming literate and
the success that has come from our knowing
Braille. Through our personal stories we will
show him that Braille provides independence to blind people and makes us free
By reaching out to the highest office in the
United States, we can teach President Obama about
the critical link between Braille and
independence. If we can enlist his leadership, we
can insure a brighter future for Braille literacy.
We need your help in sending this message. To add
your story to our collection, please send it by
August 28 in print or Braille to Letters to
President Obama, c/o National Federation of the
Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland
21230. Be sure to include your full name,
address, phone number, and email address if you
have one. You can also submit your story online
and clicking the link entitled
to President Obama.
Fredric K. Schroeder,
Mr. President," Braille Monitor, July 2009
I've always wondered why they include braille
numbers on drive-up ATM machines. Now I know.
to New York Times article on the Blind Driver
Blind Drivers Take the Wheel," August 5, 2009
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Thank you for reading the NFB Jernigan Institute's Imagineering Our Future.
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Blind Teens Carry the 2007 Youth March for Independence Banner
Imagine a Future Full of Opportunity
Jernigan Institute, National Federation of the
Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314 Fax (410)
<mailto:JerniganInstitute at nfb.org?subject=Reply%20to%20Imagineering%20Our%20Future>JerniganInstitute at nfb.org
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