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December Bulletin

by NFBCal

Greetings Fellow Federationists,

“May peace be your gift at holiday time and your blessing all year through”- anonymous

Join us to celebrate the New Year and the promise of hopeful resolutions for positive growth in 2014. The newly organized Davis Canes and Tails Chapter warmly invites everyone to attend an event which will bring community members and federation leaders together to celebrate our accomplishments.

Featuring live music “The Rhythm Method Band”. Tickets are available for $40 each if purchased before December 15, 2013. All tickets purchased after December 15, 2013 will be $50 each. Tickets will not be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone.
Terese Retherford (707) 290-1517
Lisa Hilas (415) 606-8775
Purchase tickets online at

Washington Seminar 2014
Once again, California federation members are preparing for a trek to Washington D.C. to introduce ourselves and our mission to members of the House of Representatives and Senate. We will be making appointments with members of the 113th congress first session on January 28, 29, and 30, 2014. We would like to ask anyone who has contacts with local representatives to call the home office and recommend that the representative schedule time to meet our advocates.

Amongst the topics we will discuss are the TEACH Act (H.R. 3505) introduced by Congressman Joe Petri and The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R.831) introduced by Gregg Harper.

The TEACH Act stands for Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act will direct the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to develop accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies in institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Blind college students must be equipped to compete on the basis of equality which means having access to text books and research materials.

H.R. 831 will repeal section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and phase out the discriminatory practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. There are many examples of individuals with significant disabilities who, when provided the proper training and support, have acquired a competitive job skill to earn at least minimum wage. Very few, if any, disabled or nondisabled individuals acquire a competitive job skill through performing menial tasks in sheltered, segregated, subminimum-wage work environments.

At-Large Chapter Meeting
The At-Large Chapter will meet on the second Thursday of each month. In December the meeting will be held on December 12 at 7 p.m. The purpose of the At-Large Chapter is to give those who cannot attend regular monthly meetings an opportunity to stay connected and up-to-date with the latest issues concerning blind people in California and across the nation. The call in number is 712) 432-0175. The passcode is 184220#.

Dr. Marc Maurer Announces His Retirement
The following is taken from a message sent by Dr. Fredric Schroeder, first vice-president, National Federation of the Blind: “As you know, Dr. Marc Maurer has been our national president since 1986. He has served as president longer than any of our previous presidents and has guided us through a period of unprecedented growth and change. It was under Dr. Maurer’s leadership that we established the Jernigan Institute and all of the programs that have been so successful in demonstrating the truth of our assertion that given proper opportunity and training, blind people can live and work as others. In particular we have developed many programs designed to provide blind children and youth with the skills and confidence they need to compete fully in their education and to develop their life ambitions. We have conducted the Youth Slam, Science Academy, and more recently the BELL programs.

In the area of technology under Dr. Maurer’s leadership we developed the KNFB Reader Mobile allowing blind people to have immediate access to print with nothing more than a cell phone and special software. And then there was the Blind Driver Challenge. There is no question that lack of access to reliable transportation remains a major barrier for blind people.
Yet, the Blind Driver Challenge showed that we could develop the technology to enable a blind person to drive a car, not simply sit passively in a car that drives itself.

These are the expressions of Dr.Maurer’s leadership. Yet at the heart of his leadership is his spirit and his belief in every blind person. He has inspired and encouraged us, faced the most difficult challenges with resolution and strength, and he has kept us together, and never let us waiver in our belief in our own right to live normal, productive lives.

On Saturday afternoon Dr. Maurer told the board that it is his intention to not seek reelection to the presidency next summer at our national convention. He feels the time is right to transition to the next president, the next individual who can lead us for a quarter century or more. Dr. Maurer is in good health and believes that it is important that he step down from the presidency while he is able to assist with the transition. Dr.
Maurer told the board that he, Dr. Maurer, plans to support Mr.
Mark Riccobono as the next president of the National Federation of the Blind.

Mr. Riccobono presently serves as the Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute. He is an accomplished individual with the strength and wisdom to assume the serious responsibility of leading our movement. He has brought to his work the imagination and competency we demand from our president.
We are truly fortunate that within the Federation we have individuals who are able and willing to give all they have to furthering our move toward true equality. The demands of the NFB presidency are unimaginable. We require our leader to give all of his time, all of his imagination, and all of his personal reserve of judgment to leading our organization. This is what Dr. Maurer has done for the past 27 and a half years, and it is what Mark Riccobono will do for the time of his presidency.

The transition brings to an end one chapter in our history and what a glorious chapter it has been. We cannot face the loss of Dr.Maurer’s leadership without a sense of sadness; but the transition to a new president is not just the absence of what we had before. The transition heralds a new chapter in our history and with it, new opportunities-the chance to take all that has come before and build something bigger and more powerful than we have ever known.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Maurer for his leadership, his friendship and his faithful devotion to our cause; and please join me in wishing Mark Riccobono the very best as he seeks to take the foundation that is all that has come before and build upon it the next great chapter in our history.”

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575

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