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January 2011 Bulletin

by NFBCal

January 7, 2011

To be read at chapter meetings:

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford

Happy New Year to all.  May this year start off with enthusiasm and continue to build team work and lasting friendships throughout the future.

The Blind Driver Challenge
The time has come when all of the blind people in America will witness a fantasy dream come true.  On January 29, 2011, the whole world will be watching as the unthinkable will come to fruision.  In Daytona, Florida, a blind person will actually get behind the wheel of a car and drive it independently prior to the Rolex 24 race.  California will be well represented by sixteen lucky people who were able to get tickets and hotel rooms.

The car will be controlled by a series of interactive computerized tactual signals.  The driver will where a helmit and gloves which will feed information to the driver as the car progresses through an obstacle course of cones.  Left – right directions will come from the seat, as well as, distance and speed wich will come from gloves and helmet.

This event is the result of years of research and development through a partnership between the University of Virginia, Engineering Department and the National Federation of the Blind.  Watch for television coverage and be sure to keep up with “Newsline for the Blind” to see who the surprise driver will be andjust how fast and far they can take the novel car.

Washington Seminar, 2011
Once again, a delegation of blind citizens from California will travel to Washington D.C. to educate Senators and Congressional representatives about issues concerning the blind.  Recently, we saw positive results of our collective action when Congress passed the “Pedestrians Safety Enhancement Act”.  This legislation will ensure that silent cars must emit an audible indicator to pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching.  We, the organized blind, brought the issue to the attention of Congress and worked tirelessly to educate representatives until the bill was passed.  Now, blind pedestrians will be safer when navigating streets and intersections in America. 

On February 1, 2, and 3 committed Californians will walk the halls of our nations capitol and ask for the support of fifty two Congressional representatives and our two Senators to help improve the lives of the blind in California.  Be sure to read the “Braille Monitor” to learn about the issues for this year.

Youth Programs
Applications are now being accepted for three programs geared toward youth between the ages of twelve (12) and twenty (20) years old.  They are the “Law and Advocacy in Washington” Program, deadline- February 1;  The
Junior Science Academy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math= ages fourteen (14) to eighteen (18); and the biennial, “Youth Slam”- ages sixteen (16) to young adult.  Please get the word out about these innovative and life changing programs.  For more information go to

National Scholarships
Don’t forget to spread the word about 30 scholarships which are now available to blind and visually impaired college students.  The National Federation of the Blind awards $122,000.00 in cash and equipment to qualified high school seniors who are accepted into college for the fall and matriculating college students.  Spread the wordto students, parents and educators.  For more information go to 

California Leadership Seminar
On April 1, 2, and 3, 2011 current and future leaders in the National Federation of the Blind of California will meet in person in conjunction with our semi-annual meeting of the Board of Directors.  Chapter Presidents should plan on attending or sending a chapter representative who has an interest in chapter development and recruitment of members.  This will be an intense working weekend where a strategic plan of action will be developed and initiated.  As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
I sincerely hope that all of you have a happy and healthy 2011.

Mary Willows, President
National Federation of the Blind of California

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