[Nfb-announce] NFB Imagineering Our Future: "Blind man driving!"

Mark Riccobono JerniganInstitute at nfb.org
Sat Aug 15 22:26:54 CDT 2009

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Imagineering Our Future

      Issue 15
August 14, 2009

In this issue:

    * Message from the Executive Director
    * What's New
    * Education
    * 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
    * Citation


    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 
Channel, 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 Slam’s 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 
and ongoing 
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.


Braille Initiative

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

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 
join the 
campaign mailing list, and follow Braille 
Literacy on 


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 
home page.

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 
Mark Riccobono's 
the Center of History” report to the convention 
on the Jernigan Institute's fifth anniversary.


Product and Access Technology Talk

It’s 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 
come under 
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, 
along with 
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 Braille’s 1829 
book?  With this CD, the tenBroek Library is 
making Louis Braille’s 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.


Independence Market

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:

Personal Management

1. A 
cane gives a blind person independence to move 
around the home and school environment.
2. A Braille or talking 
aids navigation.
3. An accessible 
or clock helps you to get to class on time.
4. Accessible 
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 
6. Handheld 
ranging from 5X to 14X are available in the Independence Market.

Study Aids

1. Do basic math functions with a 
or abacus.
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.


Parent Outreach

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 year’s 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.


NFB Calendar

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.

August 3-14, 
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 
story to 
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.

September 22, 
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 
by visiting 
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

Back to Top

Thank you for reading the NFB Jernigan Institute's Imagineering Our Future.

Mentor Trevor Attenberg leads campers along the nature trail

Photo: Group on white water raft

Support the Jernigan Institute through the 

Photo: Young woman playing flute

Interesting links:

of Straight Talk about Vision Loss videos

Center for Blind Youth in Science

Technology Tips

Photo: Youth practicing martial art



of the Nation's Blind

Photo: Senior couple

Publication archives:

of the Diabetic



Photo: Mom and son take a moment and a hug

Graphic Logo: National Federation of the Blind

Visit us at 

Photo: Blind little girl with cane

Photo: Blind youth reading Braille book

Photo: Blind girl examining model of constellations

Photo: Blind boy with tactile globe

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) 
659-5129      E-mail 
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