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February Bulletin 2011

by NFBCal


Race for Independence:

On January 29, 2011 a blind driver, Mark Riccobono, independently drove an SUV around the three and a half mile track at the Daytona Speedway in Florida.  Mark showed 100% accuracy as he maneuvered through an obstacle course, made sharp turns, and even avoided a surprise of four boxes thrown on the course to try to catch him off guard. 

Nearly 400 Federationists, dressed in purple shirts, were on hand to witness history in the making.  This event demonstrates to the world not only the possibilities for technology but it also demonstrates the possibilities for blind persons in the future.  The National Federation of the Blind proves to the world that anything is possible.  Given the proper training, education and technology we can compete with our sighted peers on the basis of equality.
Inland Empire Chapter Valentine’s Day fundraiser:

NEB of California Inland Empire Chapter is hosting a Fundraiser Luncheon for Valentines’ Day

When: February 12, 2011
Time: 12:00 noon to 4:00pm
Donation $10.00 (meal included)
where: VFW (Veteran Foreign War)
Address: 825 S. Magnolia Ave.
Monrovia, California 91016
we are inviting all Chapters to come and join in on the fun.
We will have a 50/50 bingo game, Raffle drawings and dancing.
For more information Contact Cheryl Thurston at 909-829-2481
NFB of California, Pathfinder Chapter:
Cordially invite you to our Chapter Building Reception come out and Join us to learn about the organization and some of the things we do to enrich the lives of the blind.

When: February 17, 2011
Time: 10:00am to 1:00pm
Refreshments will be served. Door Prizes will be given out to those who register
For reservation and more information please call: Rochelle Houston, Chapter Presidents
Phone: 323-754-9689
Chemistry Camp coming to California:

Announcing the 2011 California Chemistry Camp for Blind High School Students!

 Would you like to learn how blind people tackle the very visual subject of organic chemistry successfully? Do you have a general love for science? Do you want to learn how you can do chemistry as a blind person just as successfully as your sighted peers? Are you interested in how blind professionals use science in their careers every day? Then the 2011 California Chemistry Camp is for you!
 Come join the National Federation of the Blind of California, the California Association of Blind Students, the Lighthouse for the Blind of San Francisco, the University of California, Davis chemistry department, and up to twelve blind high school students for an Educational, exciting, and Fun-Filled weekend of science!
When: Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1, 2011.
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp near Napa, California.
Who: Up to twelve blind high school students ages 14-18 will be selected to participate.
Cost: There is no cost to apply for the program. Once accepted, however, donations from students or parents to the National Federation of the Blind of California would be most appreciated to off-set the expenses associated with the program.

 During this exciting and busy 3-day experience, students will get to learn how blind people use  chemistry in their careers, will explore techniques used by blind people to make chemistry accessible, perform hands-on accessible chemistry experiments, apply the chemistry they learned to some basic cooking, see the chemistry they learned turned into action with an exhilarating magic show, and talk with blind scientists who use science in their professional careers. The students will also be able to participate in recreational activities. Note that students need not only love science to apply. This will be a learning experience for all blind people!
Throughout the weekend, students will have quality time to socialize amongst each other and with blind mentors and instructors.
 Students will be put into groups of three and each group of three will work with a blind mentor. The blind mentor will act as a role model for the students during the course of the weekend and do everything with the students. The students will perform all activities with their mentors. Each group (three students and mentor) will most likely share a sleeping area.
 Transportation will be provided from three pick-up points in the San Francisco bay area to the camp. Students will be picked up at the pick-up points in the bay area around 2 PM on Friday, April 29 and will be dropped off at the same points at about 4 PM on Sunday, May 1. Parents are also welcome to provide their child with transportation directly to the camp if they wish.
 Preliminary applications are now available. All applications are due by March 1, 2011.

We hope to see you this spring at Enchanted Hills!
If you have any questions, contact
Henry Wedler
Program Coordinator
T: 707 338-3692.    
Washington Seminar::

By the time you are reading this bulletin, 18 blind Californians will be headed for the halls of congress.  On February 1, 2, and 3 hundreds of blind people will be visiting with Senators and Representatives to educate them about current issues concerning the blind in 2011.

The following is a brief description of the issues.

Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans:

Priorities for the 112th Congress, FIRST Session
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States.  As the Voice of the Nation’s Blind, we represent the collective views of blind people throughout society.  All of our leaders and the vast majority of our members are blind, but anyone can participate in our movement.  There are an estimated 1.3 million blind people in the United States, and every year approximately
75,000 Americans become blind.  The social and economic consequences of blindness affect not only blind people, but also our families, our friends, and our coworkers.

Three legislative initiatives demand the immediate attention of the 112th Congress in its first session.

Initiative 1

We urge Congress to work with blind Americans to create a Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind which mandates that consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and electronic office technology and software provide user interfaces that are accessible through nonvisual means.

This legislation should:

  a. Mandate that all consumer electronics, home appliances, kiosks, and electronic office technology and software be designed so that blind people are able to access the same functions as sighted people by nonvisual means and with substantially equivalent ease of use.
  b. Create a commission within the Department of Commerce to establish standards for nonvisual accessibility of electronic devices intended for use in the home or office.  Such a commission should represent all stakeholders, including:
 organizations of the blind;

 manufacturers of consumer electronics, home appliances,   kiosks, and electronic office technology and software,   or associations representing such manufacturers; and

 experts on universal design, electronic engineering, and   related fields.

Establish within the Department of Justice the authority to enforce the regulations promulgated by the commission established by this legislation.

  a. Authorize the commission to reexamine and rewrite standards
periodically as consumer electronic technology continues to evolve.
Initiative 2

We urge Congress to work with blind Americans to establish a commission within the Department of Education to set uniform national standards for the education of blind students in grades K-12.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other existing laws and regulations do not currently provide objective standards to measure the educational progress of blind students.

This legislation should:

• Create a commission within the Department of Education, comprised to ensure representation of all stakeholders, to set educational standards for blind children, and to promulgate regulations.

Initiative 3

We urge Congress to increase business opportunities for disabled Americans by enacting the Americans with Disabilities Business Opportunity Act.

This legislation should:

• Authorize tax credits to for-profit businesses that purchase goods or services from businesses owned by individuals with disabilities (including from businesses operated under the federal Randolph-Sheppard program),

• Amend Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act to include people with disabilities as presumptively socially disadvantaged,

• Change federal procurement law to provide that businesses owned by individuals with disabilities (including businesses operated under the federal Randolph-Sheppard program) are included on the list of preferred small businesses to which subcontracts must be awarded, and

• Create training and technical assistance programs to prepare
individuals with disabilities to operate businesses capable of securing federal and private contracts.

Blind Americans need your help to achieve our goals of economic security, increased opportunity, and full integration into American society on a basis of equality.  Enactment of these legislative proposals will represent important steps toward reaching these goals.  We need the help and support of each member of Congress.  Our success benefits not only us, but the whole of America as well.  In this time of national economic insecurity, these measures will contribute to increasing the tax base and encouraging the purchase of consumer goods.
Scholarships for Legally Blind College Students:

There is still time to apply for scholarships from the National Federation of the Blind.  If you are a college student, or planning to be in the fall, you maybe eligible for one of thirty scholarships up to $12,000.00.

For more information and applications go to
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Blind Woman’s Right to Use Technology to Take Professional Examinations:

We applaud a federal appellate court ruling affirming the right of a blind California woman to use screen access technology to take professional examinations required for her to receive a license to practice law.  The ruling was handed down by a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial Circuit.  It upheld preliminary injunctions granted by a federal district court requiring the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to provide electronic copies of its legal examinations to blind test takers so that they could read the questions with text-to-speech and magnification software.  The NCBE had appealed the injunctions, arguing that the law did not require it to provide electronic copies of the examinations and that the blind must choose from the menu of accommodations it was willing to provide.

Once again, the united efforts of the National Federation of the Blind has shown that patience and persistence will prove we are right.  We have the right to live in the world and pursue careers, have families, and yes, even drive a car.
Mary Willows, President
39481 Gallaudet Drive Apt. 127
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 248-0100

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