[Nfbc-info] Fwd: [Nfbnet-members-list] National Federation of the Blind Newsletter - Reflections

EverHairston ever.hairston at gmail.com
Tue Dec 6 04:56:01 UTC 2016

Ever Lee Hairston, President
National Federation of the Blind of California
H: 323 654.2975
C: 323 252.9188
ever.hairston at gmail.com

You Can Live The Life You Want

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind via NFBNet-Members-List" <nfbnet-members-list at nfbnet.org>
Date: December 5, 2016 at 7:06:00 PM PST
To: nfbnet-members-list at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Nfbnet-members-list] National Federation of the Blind Newsletter - Reflections
Reply-To: "Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind " <IOF at nfb.org>

Imagineering Our Future

  Issue 92 

December 2016   

We begin with a letter from our national President, Mark Riccobono. This month we are sharing three newsletter articles with you. Harley Franklin Fetterman was a wonderful young man and his mom was kind enough to share his story. You will want to read about how much this inspirational man accomplished. And the holidays are coming soon, so we tell you about our Santa letters. We couldn't resist including a little on our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academies. We follow the articles with a holiday wish from the National Federation of the Blind. And at the end of the newsletter, you can find links to our calendar and happenings at our NFB JerniganInstitute.

Message from the President

Dear Friend,

The holiday season always brings to mind familiar stories. Some stories are about the little miracles that happen and others highlight the best of the giving spirit that exists within each of us. The holidays are not the only time when the evidence of this spirit is observed nor should it be the only time we exercise the joy of giving and sharing. I have always found the holidays to be a very reflective time to be thankful for all of the people that have had a positive influence in my life, especially during the recent year. I also enjoy that the holiday season brings out beautiful stories that demonstrate the best of who we are and inspire us to extend that giving spiritthrough the rest of the year.

I feel blessed that I get to encounter many wonderful stories every day through my membership in the National Federation of the Blind. Before I knew the Federation, I did not know what I could do as a blind person or how far I could extend my dreams. I first met the Federation twenty years ago, and I have found myself being thankful during every holiday season since that time and this year will be no different.

I have been contributing to this newsletter since we started it back in 2008. In fact, nearly every month I find a story from my own life to share. However, there are thousands of stories from members of the Federation around the country that demonstrate the true impact of our work. Therefore, we are going to focus our newsletter more on telling the stories of the people impacted by the Federation. Our Braille Monitor, our listservs, our social media, our website, and our other communication channels will continue to keep you in the loop about the details of our work and upcoming events. While we will continue to provide some information in this newsletter we are going to tell more of the stories of influence, impact, and inspiration that result from the work of the National Federation of the Blind.

As we come to the end of the year, I am pleased that we can share with you the story of a young man who I was blessed to have touch my life. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but he gained a lot from our organization in the short time he was a member and, in true Federation spirit, he gave a lot back to blind people around the country.

I warmly invite you to contribute to our end-of-the-year giving drive in order to help us continue to have maximum impact on blind people across the country. More importantly, I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. I hope that the coming year is your best yet, and I look forward to the new stories of success we will have to share with you next year.



Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

Harley Franklin Fetterman: Someone You Should Know

The National Federation of the Blind is blessed with thousands of remarkable members. Harley Fetterman was one of them, but Harley was more than remarkable. His short life was extraordinary. This article shares some remembrances and honors a very special person.

Many things should be said in memoriam of Harley, who passed away shortly after graduating from high school at the age of eighteen from complications stemming from a bone marrow transplant. Harley’s life touched all of us. We have been and will continue to be enriched by his active membership in the National Federation of the Blind.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Harley is “kind.” One of Harley’s classmates hated to go to school. This classmate may have been bullied. He was developmentally delayed and therefore different. But Harley took the time to speak with the boy and help him learn to shrug off much of the teasing. In the card that Harley‘s mom, Beth Freeborn, received after Harley’s death the boy’s parents expressed gratitude for Harley’s chat. No one knows exactly what Harley said to this vulnerable classmate, but the boy wanted to attend school after Harley reached out to him with understanding and caring. Sick kids enjoyed listeningto Harley play his guitar even while he was in the hospital coping with his own illnesses.

Another descriptor of young Mr. Fetterman is “persistent.” When he set out to do something he did it. He wanted to learn music and to read Braille music. Despite experiencing significant health problems, two rounds of chemotherapy, and two years of dealing with surgeries including brain surgery, Harley played at least four instruments by the age of eighteen. He wanted to visit all fifty states by the age of ten. Mom said that was not doable, but Harley did so before he turned eleven. He repeatedly testified in the Texas House of Representatives in support of initiatives dealing with blindness.

Harley exhibited his intellect. He worked his way up to the top rankings of readers during nine of eleven years in the Braille Challenge. He pursued development of a tactile tablet and excelled at STEM2U, NFB-EQ, and STEP programs. Before he passed away his dreams included obtaining a degree from Texas A&M University.  

One of Harley’s claims to fame fits his funny and friendly personality. He is the only one who has presented jokes twice on our monthly Presidential Release. Contemporaries miss him. Precious Perez recalls Harley in one of our programs, STEM2U, as funny and fun with a serious philosophical underpinning: “a leader who listened.”

Harley really “owned his blindness," says his mom. He thought that losing his vision at five was an optimum time as he was just learning to read.

Harley delivered an oratory speech in high school entitled “ Blindness Is Not Who I Am.” In that speech Harley opined, “even though blindness has affected me greatly, it is still just a characteristic of mine.”

Federation philosophy fit Harley like a glove. The National Federation of the Blind helped him some in building the skills of blindness like cane travel and Braille. His mother remembers that what Harley gained most however from his membership in the Federation was confidence. The opportunity to travel and to be surrounded by those who believed in his capacity played a part in shaping this wonderful youth.

Harley wanted to pay it forward. He benefitted from many mentors and he mentored others in our STEM programs. Harley was taken too early and we will miss him immensely. We mourn the fact that his future is not ours to share. But we can keep Harley’s spirit alive. Federationists honor his memory whenever we pay it forward. If Harley could join us, that is exactly what he would be doing with his love, hope, determination, and humor.

Letters from Santa

Many of you already know that we have a letters from Santa initiative. The goal is for Santa to write to blind kids in Braille. All one needs to do is fill out a short form on behalf of a child under the age of ten, and a letter will arrive from the North Pole. Stop for a minute though and parse what that really means: a child who often is the only Braille reader in their class, school, or even their county receives a letter that he or she can read independently. No other human reader is necessary. For a child who can feel different and alone this is a wondrous thing. “I can read it. I can keep it. Santa understands.” See https://nfb.org/santa-letters for more information.

Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Aftermath

We can all talk about our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academies, which ran more than three thousand hours of instruction this summer, but what does BELL mean for individual kids? BELL impacts its students in many different ways. One twelve-year-old NFB BELL Academy student reported that she enjoyed her first injury-free trick-or-treat outing thanks to her long white cane. She was able to keep up with her friends and enjoy the night with confidence in her ability to travel independently and safely. Wow! We gift mobility one person at a time.

Happy Holidays

This is our December issue, and we wish all of you happy holidays. We send love from our family to you and yours. We wish you the very best in the new year. The National Federation of the Blind will move into the next year with plans to help blind people like Harley. Our Santa Letters and BELL Academies will change lives with love, hope, and determination.

Do you believe in our mission? Does our tagline, live the life you want, inspire you? Do you expect the Federation to continue spreading our message that blindness is not the characteristic that defines an individual? If you do, we need your help. Please consider a gift to the National Federation of the Blind. It is easy.

To give online, visit https://nfb.org/donate2016, which will take you directly to a simple form. To donate by mail, please send your check, made out to the National Federation of the Blind, to:

National Federation of the Blind
Attention: Outreach
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230

Help us to help blind people live the lives they want. 

News from around the Federation

Our tenBroek Library highlights the celebration of the holidays with Kernel Book selections.
It may only be the beginning of winter, but our access technology team is always looking to the future.
Our national certification of Braille transcribers program extends congratulations to those recently certified.
A variety of holiday gift selections is offered by the Independence Market team.
We moved our legislative agenda. The long-awaited Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act Regulations are out. Now quiet cars will be safer for all. These regulations especially impact the blind and cyclists. Their legacy will be with us for decades to come.
As you can see, the Federation continues our work every day. You can visit our calendar to track our upcoming events.

Thank you for reading Imagineering Our Future.





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Interesting links:

Archive of Straight Talk About Vision Loss videos

National Center for Blind Youth in Science

Access Technology Tips




Access Technology

Voice of the Nation's Blind


Support the National Federation of the Blind through the Imagination Fund .



National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
United States
(410) 659-9314 

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