On July 6 the National Federation of the Blind will hold the third annual March for Independence. This march, a walk for opportunity, is one of our organization’s chances to help raise money to support our programs for the coming year. Programs that promote the independence and inclusion of the blind in society. You’ve heard Treva and I say it before, and we try to live it in our lives, we firmly believe that with the right training and opportunity blindness can be reduced to an inconvenient characteristic.
We’ve talked before about how the work of the NFB has made a difference in our lives. The collective experience and advocacy efforts of thousands of blind people have given us opportunities we may not otherwise have. Working for the NFB our jobs bring us into contact daily with other people that are benefiting from the work of the NFB. Treva works with young blind people who are involved in the mentoring program and get connected with competent blind mentors who can guide and teach them. The mentors develop relationships with blind youth and inspire confidence in them that they can do anything they want with the right training and opportunity. The work Tony participates in with the Access Technology Team is changing how blind students access online course materials that have not previously been accessible and helping to connect users with technology that will allow them to do the jobs they want to do.
We don’t tell you this, or ask you to help the organization, to ask you to help pay our sallaries. We want you to understand that we are deeply committed to changing the lives of the blind and promote the inclusion of properly trained blind people in society. The NFB has many programs that make a difference on the local level. In fact, much of the money raised from this effort will be divided amongst local affiliates and chapters. Through grants, another portion will be again distributed to the states to create programs for blind youth, parents of blind children, and other local programs that impact blind people directly.
Additional funds raised from the March will go toward developing programs to promote Braille literacy for the blind. Two-thousand nine marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth, and we are striving to change the literacy rate among the blind. Currently only 10% of blind children in the United States are being taught Braille. That means 90% of blind children will graduate high school being functionally illiterate. Audio books and computer driven speech output have their place, but Braille is the only way for a blind person to learn gramatical structure, syntax, spelling, and proper formatting. You can’t hear the difference when misspelling “here” and “hear” with synthetic speech, nor will spell check pick up on either of these as incorrect, but you can feel that with a Braille display.
You know Treva and I do most things together, as a team, this is no different. We are asking you to partner with us to help change the lives of blind people in this country. Tough economic times may impact what you are able to give, and we understand that, but know that any amount helps. Please visit www.marchforindependence.org, click on Sponsor A Marcher and give to either one of us.
Thank you for your support.
Tony and Treva