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National Federation of the Blind Recognizes Thirty Outstanding Blind Students

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:35

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, August 3, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNational Federation of the Blind Recognizes Thirty Outstanding Blind StudentsMaureen Nietfeld of Colorado Awarded Top $12,000 Scholarship

Baltimore, Maryland (August 3, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, today announced the winners of its 2017 scholarships, which were awarded at the organization’s recent national convention in Orlando. The winner of the organization’s top prize of $12,000, donated by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, is Maureen Nietfeld of Colorado, who is studying human nutrition and dietetics and specializing in the care of organ transplant patients. "When I lost my sight I dreamed of being confident, and I dreamed of being independent and successful. I dreamed of being able to go back to work and go to school," said Ms. Nietfeld. "Thank you to the National Federation of the Blind for helping me to make my dreams a reality!"

Each of the other twenty-nine winners received, at a minimum, a National Federation of the Blind Scholarship in the amount of $3,000. In addition to their scholarship, each received a $1,000 check and plaque from inventor and futurist Dr. Ray Kurzweil, a Google Chromebook laptop, a $1,000 cash award from Google, and a certificate towards the purchase of a Talking LabQuest from Independence Science, for a total award for each winner with a minimum value exceeding $5,000. Here is an alphabetical listing of the other winners, with their home state, career goal, and scholarship name and amount (where appropriate):

  • Lindsay Ball, ME: Adaptive physical education teacher
  • Cricket Bidleman, CA: Anthropology professor ($3,000 Charles and Betty Allen Scholarship)
  • Katherine Brafford, CA: Work at the intersection of science and religion ($8,000 Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in Computer Science)
  • Aneri Brahmbhatt, IL: Record label manager
  • Shannon Cantan, HI: Business administration ($5,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Scholarship)
  • Melissa Carney, CT: Clinical psychologist
  • Trinh Ha, AR: Dietitian
  • Afton Harper, MO: Journalism
  • Qusay Hussein, TX: Psychologist
  • Catherine Jacobson, MN: Healthcare policy analyst
  • Cassandra Mendez, OH: Assistive technology developer ($3,000 Expedia Scholarship)
  • Tabea Meyer, CO: Advocate for marginalized groups ($5,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Scholarship)
  • Ibeth Miranda, TX: University professor
  • Regina D. Mitchell, NV: Psychologist ($8,000 Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in a STEM Field)
  • Jackie Mushington-Anderson, GA: Braille instructor ($10,000 JAWS for Windows Scholarship)
  • Efose Oriaifo, VA: Biotechnology
  • Chelsea Peahl, UT: Law/Advocacy ($5,000 Pearson Scholarship)
  • Gloria Rodriguez, WA: Disaster mitigation and emergency preparedness
  • Carla L. Scroggins, CA: International politics ($3,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Scholarship)
  • Luke Schwink, KS: Athletic marketing/Player development ($5,000 Mimi and Marvin Sandler Scholarship)
  • Alyssa Shock, NJ: Child psychologist
  • Heather Simmons, CA: Literature professor ($3,000 Larry Streeter Memorial Scholarship)
  • Wayne Smith III, MD: Computer engineering/Data security ($3,000 Expedia Scholarship)
  • Andrew Sydlik, PA: English teacher or disability advocate ($3,000 Adrienne Asch Memorial Scholarship)
  • Sophie Trist, LA: Novelist
  • Rachel Wellington, GA: STEM career ($3,000 NFB Science and Engineering Division Scholarship)
  • James N. Yesel, ND: Entrepreneur ($3,000 E. U. and Gene Parker Scholarship)
  • Zeynep S. Yilmaz, AZ: Rehabilitation counselor education
  • Ayoub Zurikat, TX: Mental health care provider

“The scholarship program is one of our most important initiatives,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We are proud to honor these blind scholars, who are studying everything from biotechnology to sports marketing, and in so doing raising the expectations of what blind people can achieve. Their accomplishments are proof of our conviction that we, the blind of this nation, can live the lives we want; blindness does not hold us back.”

Several hundred students competed for the scholarships. A committee of blind persons representing a cross section of the NFB membership, including several former scholarship winners, narrowed the field to thirty finalists. Each finalist was then given roundtrip transportation, hotel accommodations, and assistance to attend the National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando, where the committee spent several days getting to know each student. Only after that process was complete did the committee decide which scholarship to award each finalist. Nearly three thousand blind people attended the convention, the largest gathering of its kind in the United States this year.

Special thanks go to the Jesse and Hertha Adams Charitable Trust for its support of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship program.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

National Federation of the Blind Names Amy Lund 2017 Distinguished Educator of Blind Students

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:34

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNational Federation of the Blind Names Amy Lund 2017 Distinguished Educator of Blind StudentsDo NOT remove these tags!!!!

Baltimore, Maryland (August 1, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind has presented its annual Distinguished Educator of Blind Students Award to Amy Lund of Springfield, Illinois. Ms. Lund, a teacher of blind students since 2001, currently teaches blind and low-vision students throughout the Springfield, Illinois public school system. She became involved with the National Federation of the Blind in 2009 and has served as coordinator and lead instructor of the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academies conducted by the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois in both Springfield and Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Special Education, Low-vision/Blindness and a Master of Special Education, Behavior Interventionist and Material Adaptation, both from Illinois State University.

“Ms. Lund has shown an admirable commitment to teaching blind students the Braille code,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, “as well as to ensuring that they have the independent travel and living skills they will need to live the lives they want from an early age. Parents of blind students throughout her home state testify not only to her excellence as a teacher, but to her warmth, friendliness, and lifelong commitment to her students. We are delighted to present her with our highest honor for educators of blind students.”

The Distinguished Educator award carries with it a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to the National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando. While at the convention, which took place July 10-15, Ms. Lund addressed hundreds of parents of blind students and networked with other blind individuals and teachers of blind students.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

National Federation of the Blind Awards $50,000

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 08:13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgNational Federation of the Blind Awards $50,000Tenth Annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Presented at 2017 Convention

Orlando, Florida (July 18, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has presented $50,000 in cash awards to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions toward achieving the full integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. At the National Federation of the Blind annual convention in Orlando, the tenth annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards honored five innovators and advocates who are helping blind people live the lives they want.

A $5,000 award was presented to the American Bar Association, the national professional organization for lawyers, for its commitment to making its resources and conferences fully accessible to its blind members. A $10,000 award was presented to Dr. Paul Barlett of Cleveland Chiropractic College for his innovations in making complex medical diagrams and other materials accessible to a blind student. A $10,000 prize was also awarded to the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois for its FreedomLink program, which pairs blind youth with blind adult mentors to participate in independent travel excursions and recreation activities in the Chicago area. This year, two awards were presented to documentary filmmakers. Ten thousand dollars was awarded to Rooted in Rights, a project of Disability Rights Washington, for its film Bottom Dollars, which exposes the pitfalls of sheltered subminimum-wage employment for people with disabilities, and profiles disabled workers who have obtained integrated and meaningful employment. A $15,000 award was presented to co-directors Sarah Ivy and Abigail Fuller for their documentary Do You Dream in Color?, which follows four blind teenagers as they seek to achieve their dreams in the face of low expectations and barriers in the education system.

Dr. Jacob Bolotin, the namesake of the award program, was a blind physician who lived and practiced in Chicago from 1912 until his untimely death at age thirty-six in 1924. Dr. Bolotin was especially recognized for treating diseases of the heart and lungs. Despite his rigorous schedule tending to his patients’ needs at all hours of the day and night, Dr. Bolotin also became known as a public speaker and advocate for the employment of the blind and their full integration into society.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Dr. Jacob Bolotin was a pioneer who overcame low expectations and discrimination to become a renowned member of the medical profession without the benefit of the support services and civil rights protections available to blind people today. The National Federation of the Blind is proud to honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Bolotin by recognizing and financially supporting those individuals and organizations, both from within the blindness field and outside of it, who are doing exceptional work to help achieve the shared dream of Dr. Bolotin and the National Federation of the Blind—a society in which the blind, like all other Americans, can pursue their goals and live the lives they want.”

The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program is funded through the generosity of Dr. Bolotin’s nephew and niece-in-law, Alfred and Rosalind Perlman. The late Mrs. Perlman established the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust to endow the awards. Income from the trust is distributed to the National Federation of the Blind and the Santa Barbara Foundation for the purpose of administering the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program. For more information about the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards
Program—including more about this year’s winners, as well as eligibility criteria and application procedures—please visit www.nfb.org.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

United States Secretary of Labor to Address Blind Americans

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 11:59

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Thursday, July 6, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.orgUnited States Secretary of Labor to Address Blind AmericansR. Alexander Acosta to Speak at National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Orlando

Baltimore, Maryland (July 6, 2017): The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary, United States Department of Labor, will address the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando on the afternoon of Friday, July 14, at approximately 2:55 p.m. His topic will be "Building the Twenty-First Century American Workforce: Disability Does Not Define Your Employment."

"The low expectations that society has of blind people, as well as inaccessible workplace technology and other factors, still make finding and retaining meaningful employment one of our primary challenges," said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We are delighted that Secretary Acosta is coming to our convention to share the administration's thoughts on this topic with the members of America's leading organization of blind people."

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

3,000 Blind People to Arrive in Orlando

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 14:54

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: Wednesday, July 5, 2017Category: NationalChris DanielsenDirector of Public RelationsNational Federation of the Blind(410) 659-9314, extension 2330(410) 262-1281 (Cell)cdanielsen@nfb.org3,000 Blind People to Arrive in OrlandoExpected to Be Largest Disability Conference This Year

Orlando, Florida (July 5, 2017)

Event:             National Federation of the Blind National Convention

Dates:             July 10–15, 2017

Place:             Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819

Attention Politics and Business Editors:

Secretary of Labor to Address Convention of Blind Americans

On the afternoon of Friday, July 14, The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary, United States Department of Labor, will address the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Secretary Acosta will discuss the integration of individuals with disabilities into the twenty-first-century workforce. His presentation is scheduled to begin at 2:55 p.m.

Attention Technology Editors:

Self-Driving Technology to be Featured at Convention of Blind Americans

Self-driving automobile technology has the potential to bring unprecedented freedom and independence to blind Americans. At 3 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, July 13, David Strickland, General Counsel and Spokesperson for the recently formed Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, of which the National Federation of the Blind is a member, will discuss the role of the blind in leadership to develop this technology and the public policies that will make it a new transportation alternative for the blind.

Attention Technology Editors:

Expedia Executive to address Convention of Blind Americans

Bhala Dalvi, VP of Technology and Executive Sponsor of Accessibility for Expedia Inc., will address the convention of the National Federation of the Blind on Expedia's extraordinary efforts to make its travel websites and apps accessible to blind users and how accessibility has been integrated into Expedia's corporate culture. The presentation is scheduled to take place at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, July 15. Leaders of technology companies catering specifically to the blind, as well as Microsoft's chief accessibility officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, will also be addressing the convention throughout the Saturday general session.

Attention Education, Culture, and Arts Editors:

Critically Acclaimed Documentary about Blind Students to be Screened at Convention

The new critically acclaimed documentary, Do You Dream in Color?, will be screened as part of the National Federation of the Blind National Convention. This powerful film tells the stories of four blind teens as they strive to achieve their individual goals and to live the lives they want in the face of educational and other obstacles. One of the film's directors, Abigail Fuller, and one of the featured students, Carina Orozco, will participate in a panel discussion following the film. The free screening will take place Friday, July 14, at 7 p.m. in Panzacola Ballrooms F-1 and F-2.

Note: The entire convention agenda is available at www.nfb.org.

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About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

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