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National Federation of the Blind

Updated on March 19, 2014
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A White Cane:  The International Symbol of Blindness
A White Cane: The International Symbol of Blindness | Source

The white cane is the international symbol of blindness and it can be scary to a sighted person to think of themselves of their child using one. This is because the diagnosis of blindness is extremely misunderstood. Blindness has a variety of meanings. A person can have some sight, or limited sight, and still be considered blind. In the United States a person who has less than 20/200 vision is considered legally blind. Being blind is not a sentence for a bad life. It is the beginning of a whole new, different kind of life. The National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the world. The NFB has established many programs for blind people of all ages and is by far the best place to look for positive, encouraging support when facing blindness in either yourself or someone close to you.

Ways the NFB Can Help

  • Encouragement
  • Understanding
  • Support
  • Hear from people who know what you're going through
  • Make friends
  • Learn about blindness
  • Learn about different blindness techniques

Mission Statement

The National Federation of the Blind was established on the notion that blind people are just like everyone else. Blind people learn, grow, and positively contribute to society, just like sighted people. A blind person can do anything a sighted person can do, just in a different way. There are blind doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, and just about any other profession you can think of. This is why the National Federation of the Blind has established this as their mission statement:

"The mission of the National Federation of the Blind is to achieve widespread emotional acceptance and intellectual understanding that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but the misconceptions and lack of information which exist. We do this by bringing blind people together to share successes, to support each other in times of failure, and to create imaginative solutions"

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The NFB serves a variety of people from all over the country. Blindness occurs in newborns, children, teenagers, adults, and older people for a variety of different reasons. Some people have eye trauma and others have a medical condition that affects their eyes. This is why the NFB also has a variety of divisions, committees, and groups. The NFB has dozens of such association for it's members to take a role in. Some are listed below; others can be found at: https://nfb.org/divisions-and-committees.

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National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

Almost every parent of a blind child has that shocking moment when they find our their child is or will be blind. In that moment, most parents feel dread and heart break. The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) is a wonderfully amazing organization that was founded for parents whose children or child are/is blind. They help alleviate the shock by illustrating that blindness can be reduced to being one of a child's great many characteristics, rather than a defining trait. They have many resources, including:

  • "Future Reflections"- association quarterly publication
  • Braille Pen Pals Program
  • Braille Readers are Leaders Program
  • Braille Reading Pals- Early Literacy Program
  • Leadership Training
  • Mentors and Role Models
  • And MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Their primary goal is to provide parents with information on blindness and help support families with a blind child or children in any way they need.

The purpose of the NOPBC is to:

  • "create a climate of opportunity for blind children in home and society.
  • provide information and support to parents of blind children.
  • facilitate the sharing of experience and concerns among parents of blind children.
  • develop and expand resources available to parents and their children.
  • help parents of blind children gain understanding and perspective through partnership and contact with blind adults.
  • function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind in its ongoing effort to achieve equality and opportunity for all blind persons"

The NOPBC website is: http://www.nfb.org/nopbc.

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National Association of Blind Students

As children turn in to teenagers, they may seek to have a more active role in their life as a blind person. This is why the National Association of Blind Students is an association made of blind students of all ages. They provide encouragement and blindness skills and techniques to blind students through their quarterly publication, "The Student Slate," and by advocating leadership within your community and the NFB. The NABS mission statement is:

"The mission of the National Association of Blind Students is to promote equal access to educational and life opportunities for the blind. It is with a two-pronged approach that we strive to fulfill this objective. Within our organization, we work to provide blind students with timely and relevant information on topics of concern. NABS also serves as a forum for networking and information sharing among its members. Externally, NABS engages in educational and advocacy efforts to raise awareness among the general public of the capabilities of the blind and to ensure that blind students are able to compete with their sighted peers on terms of equality."

The National Association of Blind Students has two websites: http://nabslink.org/ and https://nfb.org/students.

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National Association of Guide Dog Users

In addition to using a white cane, many blind people choose to use a guide dog some times or all the time. The National Association of Guide Dog Users is an organization for people who have guide dogs, may want a guide dog, or are interested in guide dogs. They provide:

  • "Harness Up"- association quarterly publication
  • Forum for guide dog related questions
  • Information on guide dog laws in the U.S. and abroad

In addition, they also have a website at: http://www.nagdu.org/about.html.

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Diabetes Action Network

One very life changing consequence of diabetes can be blindness. This is why the NFB has the Diabetes Action Network. It is for members who have experienced blindness due to diabetes. They provide a variety of support and education through:

  • "Voice of the Diabetic"- previous association publication still available
  • Discussions on living with blindness and diabetes
  • "Bridging the Gap: Living with Blindness and Diabetes"- detailed publication

The DAN mission statement is:

"The NFB Diabetes Action Network educates, empowers, and inspires people living with diabetes and its complications. We share the Federation's 'can-do' philosophy, through our various publications, volunteer peer support, and advocacy for accessible diabetes technology. Together, we challenge one another to live our best and fullest lives."

Their website can be found at: www.nfb.org/diabetics.

The National Association of Blind Veterans exhibit at the 2013 NFB convention in Orlando, Fl.
The National Association of Blind Veterans exhibit at the 2013 NFB convention in Orlando, Fl. | Source

National Association of Blind Veterans

Blindness can afflict our Nation's finest either while on active duty or retired. The National Association of Bind Veterans was created to help promote and encourage blind veterans. They provide a variety of programs, the most notable being Operation Freedom Bell. Operation Freedom Bell is a rehabilitation training program for wounded veterans. It advocates independence while teaching essential blindness skills and techniques to veterans.

The purpose of the National Association of Blind Veterans is:

"The purpose of this organization is to serve as a division of the National Federation of the Blind; to be a vehicle for collective action by the blind veterans of the nation; to function as a mechanism through which blind veterans and interested sighted persons can come together to plan and carry out programs to improve the quality of life for blind veterans; to promote the cultural, vocational, and social advancement of blind veterans; to achieve the integration of blind veterans into society on the basis of equality with the sighted; to be a major resource for blind veterans and to focus on issues that particularly impact blind veterans; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of being a Blind Veteran."

Their website is: http://nabv.org/.

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National Organization of the Blind Senior

As people age, it is natural for our bodies to change and vision loss in the elderly is very common. The National Organization of the Blind Senior is an organization of older people who have lost some or all of their vision. They provide the following services:

  • Possibilities Fair held annually in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Literature on blindness later in life
  • Online discussions about blindness later in life
  • Encouragement while adapting to sight change
  • Help adopting alternative techniques
  • Support from division members

The National Organization of the Blind Senior's website is: https://nfb.org//seniors.

"Tap That" Cane Video

In addition to these associations, the NFB also offers various scholarships for a variety of purposes and they have extremely good working relationships with blindness centers throughout the United States. Plus, the NFB has state affiliates and divisions within most states and the NFB is always open to starting one in a state that does not have an affiliate or division. The NFB even provides a free cane for blind people every 6 months and a free slate and stylus annually, even if you are not a member. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with blindness I would encourage you to seek out your local state National Federation of the Blind representative. Most can be found on the NFB website or many state affiliates have Facebook pages. They are very open to answering any and all questions you may have about blindness. This organization was founded on the principles that encourage a happy, independent life while living with and adapting to blindness. Most members of the NFB are educated people who stand as role models to demonstrate to everyone else that any thing is possible with blindness. In fact, the current NFB President, Dr. Marc Maurer, has even rebuilt an entire car engine while being blind. He and all members of the NFB are proof that there is life after blindness. It is my hope that you would seek our organization for support, education, and understanding about blindness.

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