[NFBOK-Talk] {Disarmed} Imagineering our Future - National Federation of the Blind

Jeannie Massay jmassay1 at cox.net
Mon Dec 5 20:25:24 UTC 2016


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
Jernigan Institute.


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
spirit through 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 listening to 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

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
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National Federation of the Blind

200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
United States

(410) 659-9314 


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