[NFBMO] An oldie but goodie

Shelia Wright sbwright95 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 17 04:58:13 UTC 2022

Loved reading this article again. As I read it, I felt a sense of pride on
how far we have come and how committed we are to go forward. Imagine the
possibilities. Let's keep making dreams come true. If not the National
Federation of the Blind then who?




From: NFBMO <nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Daniel Garcia via NFBMO
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2022 8:11 PM
To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List (nfbmo at nfbnet.org) <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Daniel Garcia <dangarcia3 at hotmail.com>
Subject: [NFBMO] An oldie but goodie


The following is from the June 2012 Issue of the Braille Monitor
bm120605.html> . Note that Marc Riccobono was not yet the president of the
NFB at the time.


Blind Man Experiences Weightlessness

by Mark Riccobono


Dominic Del Rosso, Leland Melvin, Mark Riccobono and Terry Lee smile at the
camera while in the aircraft used to simulate weightlessness.From the
Editor: Mark Riccobono writes the lead article for an electronic publication
from our Jernigan Institute entitled Imagineering Our Future. This month he
discusses his trip to NASA, the time he spent in a craft simulating
weightlessness, deciding to leave the safety of his seat to explore movement
in this environment, and his hope that this is only the first of many trips
blind people will take, going ever higher, until one day we reach outer
space. Here is what our first blind driver has to say about taking another
exciting ride:


Mark Riccobono and Leland Melvin have their hands clasped in front of them
in readiness for a dive.Dear Friends,


Since 1940 the members of the National Federation of the Blind have been
directing their own movements. Before that time blind people did not have
that degree of freedom and independence. An essential element of that
freedom and independence has been working together to direct ourselves into
new realms and explore horizons that were previously unimagined.


For about a decade the NFB has been working with the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) to create greater opportunities for the
blind. I was recently invited to participate in a reduced-gravity flight
along with NASA astronaut and Associate Administrator for Education Leland
Melvin. Reduced-gravity flights attempt to simulate weightlessness through a
series of parabolic dives. During our flight in early February we
experienced thirty-two periods of weightlessness.


Mark Riccobono is shown doing a summersault, but since he is weightless, no
part of his body is touching a solid surface.My goal in flying on this trip
was to explore something of what the experience would be like for a blind
person as part of NASA's astronaut program. At the beginning of the flight I
needed to learn how to manage my newfound freedom of movement in ways I had
never before experienced. Like early Federationists I did not have a great
wealth of experience to draw upon. My choice was simple: I could sit belted
into my chair and experience weightlessness from a safe and extremely
limited position, or I could be like those early Federationists (who were
not content being confined to rocking chairs and sheltered employment) and
venture out to learn how to be independent in the new environment.


Mark Riccobono goes down the stairs as he exits the simulator.The Federation
creates opportunities for blind people to expand their horizons and provides
a network of friends who provide a knowledge base from which to start.
Although we have yet to go many places, the experience we have accumulated
through the Federation is a tremendous guide in our new adventures. Whether
it is a newly blind person learning to explore the world in a new way or an
ambitious blind youth seeking to explore an area not yet well known, the
Federation provides an unparalleled framework of knowledge and support.


By the end of our reduced-gravity flight I was doing summersaults and
learning how to use the weightless environment to move and explore. I can't
wait until that glorious day when a blind person sits in the International
Space Station and reports to us what a sustained period of time in
weightlessness is like and how this learning can be applied to other
domains. The power in our work comes from our individual experiences shared
through a collective network for independence and freedom.


Your support of our work plays an important role in giving blind people a
greater degree of freedom than ever before in history. Where will we go
next, what will be the next horizon, and how will it change our
understanding of hope and freedom? Our commitment and imagination will be
the only limits to the answers for those questions.


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