President’s Notes, February 22, 2016

Federation family,

I hope that each of you is having a wonderful Sunday afternoon! We are gearing up for our 42nd Annual National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma state convention to be held the evening of March 31st thru the 3rd of April at the Holiday Inn City Centre located in downtown Tulsa. Sessions will be  fun and interactive. There will be items of interest for all blind persons and those who WORK WITH THEM. Additionally, there will be sessions specific to blind students as the Oklahoma Association of Blind Students are holding their first Student Seminar on Friday, April 1st, in conjunction with the Seminar day of our annual convention.  

General Session will include speakers and panels regarding rehabilitative services for the blind in Oklahoma, programs and services for blind persons of all ages including children’s programs in OKC and transition programs offered in state and out-of- state. Additionally, if you are interested in the Business Enterprise Program, are interested in Sports and Recreation or are a student of any age, there will be Division meetings of the Oklahoma Association of Blind Merchants, the NFB of Oklahoma  Sports and Recreation Division and the Oklahoma Association of Blind Students.

Our national representative is Ever Lee Hairston, a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind and  a recently published author.  

For more information and to register for convention please go to our convention page or call Glenda Farnum at 405-255-6482.

A final few items:

1.       If you are planning on attending the National Federation of the Blind national convention this summer in Orlando, Florida and are a first time attendee and are an active member, you may apply for the Kenneth Jernigan  Convention Scholarship. The KJ Scholarship provides assistance to attend the national convention but is not designed to entirely pay for your trip and attendance. Please read the article at this link. Read the directions carefully!!!! If you would like to apply, please contact me soon. The applications including a letter of recommendation  from me must be submitted by no later than April 15th. Please make sure to contact me before April 1st in order to give me time to write a letter of recommendation
for you and to get your application turned in on time 

2.       If you are a student who is legally blind or you know one, please apply for the National Federation of the Blind annual Scholarship program. Thirty scholarships ranging from $4,000 to 13,000 will be awarded to deserving blind scholars from across the nation. We should have at least one if not a few from Oklahoma. Part of the application process is an interview with the President of the National Federation of the Blind of the state in which you live. That would be me! If you are interested, please contact me via e-mail to schedule an interview. You may reach me at
For more information and a checklist including the requirements for the scholarship go to
the NFB Scholarship page. Read the directions carefully!!! The deadline for application is March 31st. You must have scheduled your interview with me before that time but our interview does not have to be before that date. The letter of recommendation from me is sent directly by me to the Scholarship Committee. We have had a number of students from Oklahoma in previous scholarship classes. Why not again? 

The below message is from Mark Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind: 

As you will notice by the number of items below, we are on the move in February. Please continue to find opportunities to encourage people to apply for our scholarship program, nominate people or organizations for Bolotin Awards, recognize outstanding teachers, and apply for our summer programs. The more
connections we make with others, the stronger we make the organization. 


Marrakesh Treaty:
Last week President Obama transmitted the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled treaty to the United States Senate for ratification. The Marrakesh Treaty was officially proposed in 2009, successfully adopted in June 2013 by the World Intellectual Property Organization, and signed by the United States in October 2013. For more information on the treaty, please visit the Marrakesh Fact Sheet

Access to Absentee Ballots:
We learned last week that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Judicial Circuit upheld the ruling in National Federation of the Blind et al. vs. Linda H. Lamone et al. requiring the state of Maryland to make an accessible online ballot-marking tool available to blind voters who wished to vote
by absentee ballot. 

Medicare and Medicaid Lawsuit:
We have filed a federal lawsuit charging the US Department of Health and Human Services through its sub-agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and its CMS sub-contractors, with systemically violating the civil rights of blind Medicare recipients. The action seeks to require HHS to provide blind individuals meaningful and equally effective access to their Medicare information.
More information is available in the press release. 


Braille Book Fair:
We have started collecting donated books for this year’s Braille Book Fair. Please encourage members to ship (via Free Matter for the Blind) their gently used, but no longer needed, Braille books to:

2016 Braille Book Fair
National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells St. at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21231 

We Need Foreign Language Assistance:
We need help with our efforts to add languages to the KNFB Reader. If you speak Russian, Greek, Czech, Bulgarian, Estonian, Ukrainian, or Indonesian; use a supported iOS device; and are able to help; please send an email to Please specify “Beta Testing” in the subject of the message. 

Dates to keep in mind:

·       March 3-5: NFB STEM2U San Francisco

·       March 31: NFB Scholarship Program application deadline,

·       March 31-April 1:
2016 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium ; Diversity in the Disability Rights Movement: Working Together to Achieve the Right to Live in the World

·       March31-April 3, 2016  National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma State Convention

·       April 15: Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Program nomination deadline,

·       May 1: Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award application deadline

·       May 17-20: BLAST, Chicago

·       May 19-21: NFB STEM2U Minneapolis

·       June 19-25: NFB EQ (first iteration)

·       June 30-July 5: National Federation of the Blind Convention, Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando, Florida 

Mark A. Riccobono, President

National Federation of the Blind 

I sincerely hope to see you at our upcoming state convention. Also, I do hope that there are many students who will take advantage of the Scholarship program and all of the opportunities that arise from being a recipient. As you move through the week, may you find positive ways to interact with everyone you meet.  


Jeannie M. Massay, President

National Federation of the Blind Of Oklahoma