[nfb-talk] NFB Imagineering Our Future: October Is Meet the Blind Month

Mark Riccobono JerniganInstitute at nfb.org
Thu Oct 1 02:03:37 UTC 2009

Graphic Logo: NFB Jernigan Institute
this newsletter as HTML in your browser.
last month's newsletter.

Imagineering Our Future

      Issue 16
September 30, 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

    How many blind people do you know? Do you 
know a parent, an engineer, an artist, a 
fisherman, an athlete, a great cook, a world 
traveler, or a librarian who happens to be blind? 
Most people do not know hundreds of blind 
people.  Many do not know one blind person.  The 
best way to know about blindness­how it impacts 
your life and how it does not­is to get to know many blind people.

    This is why the National Federation of the 
Blind initiated 
the Blind Month during October of each 
year.  During the next month, the thousands of 
members of the NFB will be engaging in public 
events to provide information about the 
capabilities of the blind and to shatter 
misconceptions.  The greatest problem facing 
blind people is the misunderstanding that people 
have about what it is like to be blind.

    My wife Melissa and I are both blind.  We 
frequently encounter people who have trouble 
imagining how we manage our two-year-old son, 
Austin.  Sometimes people go as far as mentioning 
how nice it must be that we have Austin to take 
care of us.  While on one hand our daily 
encounters with misconceptions and low 
expectations like this one are frustrating, it is 
balanced against the great satisfaction that 
comes from every opportunity we get to talk to 
people about the techniques we use to fulfill the 
responsibilities of parenthood. We are fortunate 
to know dozens of blind parents and the various 
techniques they use.  It is hard to imagine our 
facing a situation in parenthood that one of our 
blind friends who has children has not already 
faced. We are truly blessed to have the family of 
the National Federation of the Blind and to have 
met hundreds of other blind people who help 
broaden our horizons and encourage us as we reach for our dreams.

    Through our Jernigan Institute we are 
creating greater understanding among the public 
and broadening the horizons for the 
blind.  Please take an opportunity during Meet 
the Blind Month to reach out and get to know some 
more blind people or take a moment to teach your 
friends and neighbors what you have learned about 
blindness from your blind friends. The members of 
the NFB will be out in your community so that 
many more people might meet the blind.

    Thank you for your continued support of our 
efforts to change what it means to be blind.

    Graphic: Signature of Mark Riccobono

    Mark A. Riccobono, Executive Director, NFB Jernigan Institute


Featured NFB News

Meet the Blind Month, held during October, is our 
nationwide campaign to increase awareness of and 
support for the National Federation of the Blind 
(NFB). This person-to-person awareness campaign 
is designed to increase the understanding that 
the NFB is the primary resource when it comes to 
information about vision loss, blindness, and 
rehabilitation. Visit the 
the Blind Month page for more information.



Where the Blind Work

A blind sculptor at work
A blind sculptor at work

Blind people are working in a wide variety of 
jobs that people mistakenly believe require 
sight. Blind students are often “tracked” into 
certain fields, whether they are interested in 
them or not. Within the pages of 
the Blind Work, a joint project of the Jernigan 
Institute and the NFB Writers Division, you will 
find written personal accounts of the various 
types of employment that blind people are engaged 
in, how they do it, how they entered the field, 
and what positive influences were helpful in 
achieving the goal of employment. This is a great 
resource to assist youth to plan for future 
employment and for adults who are looking to change jobs and/or careers.

We need your description to add to this 
ever-growing resource of careers and how the 
blind compete within them. Particularly requested 
are descriptions of jobs found in the auto 
industry (manufacturing positions, design, sales, 
mechanic, auto body, parts, management, etc.).

Please answer these questions in your description:

1. Name, Industry in which you work, Job title, Address, Phone number, E-mail.
2. Explain to us what any worker would do on this 
job (specialized blindness alternatives will appear below).
3. Tell us the cause of your blindness. Then, let 
us know about the alternative methods and/or 
techniques you use to perform your job.
4. Let us know of any required special training, 
education, certificates, experience, etc., needed for this job.
5. Tell us about anyone or anything that aided you to be successful.

When completed please e-mail your answers to 
<mailto:newmanrl at cox.net>Robert Leslie Newman, 
president of the NFB Writers Division.  For more 
information, visit the 
the Blind Work Web page or that of the 

Braille Research Consortium

Earlier this year, the NFB Jernigan Institute 
formed a collaboration of people interested in 
Braille research­the Braille Research Consortium 
(BRC).  This group began by looking at what 
research we need and the data that already 
exists.  The BRC held its second meeting this 
month at the Institute. The purpose of this 
meeting was to plan for a research conference 
dedicated entirely to topics related to 
Braille.  With the support of Dr. Kay Ferrell, 
National Center on Severe and Sensory 
Disabilities, University of Northern Colorado, 
the group was able to come together at the 
Institute to plan for what will certainly be a 
historic conference. The conference, entitled 
“Research in the Rockies:  An Interdisciplinary 
Exploration of Braille Reading and Writing,” is 
being planned for early June 2010 in Denver, 
Colorado.  The purpose of the conference will be 
to explore current emerging research from a wide 
range of disciplines that pertains to Braille 
reading and writing.  Details about the call for 
papers will be available later this fall.

NFB-NEWSLINE® Announcement

NFB-NEWSLINE® has recently added Science News 
magazine to its roster of over three hundred 
publications.  Published since 1922, this 
award-winning biweekly news magazine is written 
for science professionals and others interested 
in science, medicine, technology, and physics. 
Content provides new development updates and 
discusses their scientific and real-life 
applications.  Articles cover the environment, 
nutrition, agronomy, chemistry, research, 
development policy, mathematics, computers, 
behavioral sciences, astronomy, biology, 
materials science, biomedicine, life sciences, 
physics, and technology.  In print, the magazine 
reaches nearly 130,000 subscribers and more than one million readers.

this message to a friend and spread the word 
about the 
service that lets blind subscribers access 
information in newspapers and magazines at the 
same time as their sighted colleagues, friends, and family members!


Braille Initiative

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.  Plus, the U.S. Mint 
has announced that a Braille Education Set with 
the Louis Braille Silver Dollar will be available on October 8.

Buying a coin is an easy way to “make change with 
a dollar” and finally put an end to the Braille 
literacy crisis.  The coin is available from the 
Mint only through December 11.

this newsletter with people you think would be 
interested in coin collecting, literacy, and blindness, before it's too late!

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

The NFB Jernigan Institute invites our 
Talk About Vision Loss fans to review the new 
27:  Mary Jo Hartle, the NFB Jernigan Institute's 
Director of Education, and Natalie Shaheen, 
Education Program Specialist, talk to Mark 
Riccobono about the Institute's Braille 
initiatives, including the Braille Enrichment 
through Literacy and Learning (BELL) 
program.  The BELL program, held in the summer of 
2009, was a two-week program that exposed low 
vision children ages 4-12 to Braille.


Product and Access Technology Talk

Video message from Gov. Martin O'Malley projected to conference
Gov. O'Malley video message to conference

The National Federation of the Blind and the 
Maryland Technology Assistance Program, with 
sponsorship from the Maryland Department of 
Information Technology, hosted the first 
Accessibility Training Day on September 22, 2009, 
at the NFB Jernigan Institute.  The sessions 
highlighted strategies for achieving Web 
accessibility in a government or nonprofit 
setting and focused on all aspects of Web 
accessibility and compliance with Maryland laws and regulations.

During the event luncheon, the NFB honored Apple 
and GE for their outstanding leadership in 
accessibility for the blind.  Apple was 
recognized for making its popular iPhone 
accessible to blind users, and GE was recognized 
for its continued commitment to ensure equal 
access to their Web sites for blind consumers. GE 
and Newegg.com were recently awarded with the 
NFB’s Gold Level 
Web certification.  The certification ensures 
that Internet sites or applications are fully 
accessible to and usable by blind people employing screen access software.

It's easy to keep current with Jernigan Institute 
accessibility issues through the NFB's 
Technology Tips and 
Technology blog.


 From the tenBroek Library

A Hammond Typewriter, of the type used as a 
writing aid for the blind 125 years ago
Hammond Tyepwriter

Excitement about the Louis Braille Bicentennial 
has spread from the National Center to all 
corners of Baltimore, where other organizations 
have joined with the NFB in commemorating this 
great man’s birth.  Museum studies students at 
the Johns Hopkins University have produced a fine 
exhibit on Louis Braille and his code, using 
objects borrowed from the museum collection of 
the tenBroek library.  The Baltimore Museum of 
Industry has mounted the fully accessible 
and will keep it open through next April. Anyone 
who has the opportunity to visit Baltimore in the 
next few months should not miss this wonderful exhibit.

Remember, we still have copies of the CD version 
of Braille’s 1829 first published explanation of 
his alphabet of raised dots.  Get yours before 
the supply runs out.  For your free copy, send us 
an e-mail at <mailto:jtblibrary at nfb.org>jtblibrary at nfb.org.

Speaking of historical documents, we’re pleased 
to announce that Anna Kresmer has joined us as 
project archivist.  Anna will be working with Lou 
Ann Blake and other library staff on getting the 
tenBroek papers and the NFB archives in shape for 
historians and anyone interested in the founder 
of the Federation and the history of the 
organized blind movement.  The archives project 
is funded by a grant from the National Historic 
Publications and Records Commission, a division of the U.S. National Archives.

Finally, we’re still fine tuning the online 
public access catalog of the tenBroek 
Library.  Watch the NFB Web site for word of when 
we unveil it.  Meanwhile, use your imagination 
the contest to pick a name for the catalog.


Independence Market

Braille Is Beautiful
Braille Is Beautiful full curriculum kit

Promoting Braille Literacy During Meet the Blind Month and Beyond

Many chapters of the National Federation of the 
Blind are engaged in activities during the month 
of October to alert the public to the critical 
need for Braille literacy for blind children and 
adults. The ability to read and write Braille is 
one of the key skills that enables a blind person 
to function independently and competently at 
home, at school, and on the job. We need all our 
friends to help us advocate for more Braille 
literacy programs.  You can use our 
Curriculum to teach sighted children about the value of Braille.

This innovative diversity awareness program uses 
the beauty of Braille to build a bridge of 
understanding between sighted and blind 
children.  It teaches sighted students how to 
read and write the Braille alphabet code.  As 
they discover how much fun it is to read and 
write Braille “bumps," they come to respect and 
appreciate the way blind children learn, and 
ultimately accept them as friends and equals in 
the classroom. The program targets sighted 
children in grades four through six, but it can 
be adapted for younger or older youth. It can be 
used in the classroom or with individual 
students, youth clubs, or service organizations. 
No previous experience with Braille or blindness 
is required to successfully teach the 
material.  The program comes in various kits to 
fit different budgets and instructional needs. 
The kits can be ordered from the 
Independence Market.


Parent Outreach

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan 
Institute, the National Association to Promote 
the Use of Braille, and the National Organization 
of Parents of Blind Children are pleased to 
announce the 27th annual Braille Readers Are 
Leaders contest. This contest encourages children 
around the country to be proud of their ability 
to read Braille and continually work to improve 
their skills. Children in grades K-12 can win 
T-shirts, cash prizes, and even an 
all-expenses-paid trip to the 2010 NFB National 
Convention!  All for reading as many pages of 
Braille as possible over a two-month period!

We know that the majority of gainfully employed 
blind adults use Braille daily, demonstrating 
that Braille readers are leaders! To promote the 
use of Braille in recreational reading among 
blind adults as a means to maintain and improve 
their skills, we have added the Braille Readers 
Are Leaders contest for adults. Braille-reading 
individuals 18 years of age or older who are no 
longer enrolled in compulsory educational 
programming in the USA and Canada are eligible to 
compete in the contest. Adults with various 
levels of experience reading Braille are welcome 
to join in the fun. Contestants will compete for 
cash prizes, national recognition, and bragging rights.

To add to the fun, participants of all ages will 
have the opportunity to form teams and compete 
for a special award. Gather your friends, show 
your team spirit, and read, read, read!  For 
detailed information please visit 

Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest Facts

    * This year we are asking that all 
contestants register online at 

    * Registration begins October 1, 2009
    * All who register by December 1 get a T-shirt
    * Braille pages must be read between November 
1, 2009, and January 4, 2010. All contest 
materials must be received no later than Friday, January 22, 2010
    * To request a paper registration form please 
contact us at (410) 659-9314, extension 2510 
(K-12 contest) or 2312 (adult contest), or 
<mailto:BrailleReadersAreLeaders at nfb.org>BrailleReadersAreLeaders at nfb.org


Spotlight on the Imagination Fund

Little marchers show their spirit
Little independence marchers

Federationists have always been good at imagining 
and creating a brighter future for the 
blind.  Over the past year we proved our talent, 
creativity, and commitment to our work once again 
with another successful campaign, raising almost 
$400,000 for the Imagination Fund!  This is a 
remarkable achievement, particularly given the 
difficult economic times we face.  We are looking 
forward to another successful year, full of excitement and challenge.

Half of the funds raised during the 2008-2009 
campaign will soon go directly to affiliates, 
supporting local and state outreach efforts to 
benefit the blind throughout the country.  Over 
the past few weeks we've received dozens of 
excellent grant proposals for the coming 
year.  Many of these programs will be brought to 
fruition by 2008-2009 Imagination Fund proceeds. 
It is thrilling to see what we have accomplished, as well as what lies ahead.

All of us on the Imagination Fund Steering 
Committee, like most Federationists across the 
country, are also spending time this fall 
educating the public about the literacy crisis 
among the blind.  We are all finding imaginative 
ways to sell the Louis Braille Bicentennial 
Silver Dollar, to call attention to the crisis 
and fund revolutionary programs to meet the 
challenge.  We recognize the importance of this 
effort because we know the power of Braille 
literacy­it offers a future full of opportunity for the blind.

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.

the Blind Month.

October 2009  Presentation of 
letters to President Obama.

October 1, 
Readers Are Leaders Contest registration begins.

October 1-November 30, 
Reading Pals Early Literacy Fall program dates.

October 8, 2009  Education Set including the 
Louis Braille Silver Dollar available from the 

November 1, 2009-January 4, 
Readers Are Leaders Contest time period.

November 15, 2009  Deadline to 
contest to name NFB Jacobus tenBroek Library's online public access catalog.

December 1, 2009-January 8, 
Reading Pals prize entry forms accepted.

April 15-16, 2010  Jacobus tenBroek Disability 
Law Symposium, National Federation of the Blind 
Jernigan Institute.  See information about 

July 28-August 1 and August 4-8, 2010   2010 NFB 
Junior Science Academy.  Read a 
on the 2008 NFB Junior Science Academy.



On March 26, 2009, the National Federation of the 
Blind conducted an event at our headquarters in 
Baltimore, Maryland, to announce the release of 
the Louis Braille Commemorative Silver Dollar, 
the first coin issued by the United States with full-sized, readable Braille.

Among the many dignitaries present for the Louis 
Braille coin launch was Brandon Pickrel, a 
seven-year-old totally blind student. He read a 
statement in Braille about his hope for the 
future. Some of the words in this statement were 
pretty big for a seven-year-old, but he got 
through it without great trouble. He loves 
Braille. He has been learning it on paper but 
also by the experience of a Braille display on a 
notetaker at school. When his friends learned 
that Brandon would not be able to take the 
notetaker home with him for the summer, they 
found a way to give him one. Brandon was so 
excited about receiving it that he had trouble 
sleeping. He didn't want to go to bed. He wanted 
to read using his new notetaker.

Brandon does not know about the culture of 
blindness; he knows about the excitement of 
reading and the thrill of learning. He does not 
think of himself as a blind person who is 
incidentally a child growing up in the United 
States. Instead, he thinks of himself as a kid 
who looks forward to the excitement of life in 
the way that all kids do. He will learn about the 
complexity of intellectual debate and social 
structure as he grows. For now let us help him read.

  ­Dr. Marc Maurer, 
Value of Decision,” an address delivered at the 
banquet of the NFB annual convention, July 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 
<mailto:JerniganInstitute at nfb.org?subject=Reply%20to%20Imagineering%20Our%20Future>JerniganInstitute at nfb.org 
Visit us at www.nfb.org
Better Business Bureau logo
American Institute of Philanthropy logo

The National Federation of the Blind meets the 
rigorous Standards for Charity Accountability set 
forth by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and is 
Top-Rated by the American Institute of Philanthropy.

this newsletter.
If this issue was forwarded to you and you'd like 
to subscribe, please e-mail 
<mailto:JerniganInstitute at nfb.org?subject=Reply%20to%20Imagineering%20Our%20Future>JerniganInstitute at nfb.org.

from receiving email, or change your email preferences.

More information about the nFB-Talk mailing list