NABS Notes | October 2019

In this edition, you will find:

• President’s Note
• Education Technology Survey
• New! NABS Notes Game
• NABS Now Podcast
• October Blog Post
• NABS Committee Updates
• Student Spotlight
• NABS Social Media

President’s Note:

This month has drawn my attention most notably to empowering ourselves to take action on our choices and initiate change when desired. As we plan the 2020 NABS Midwest Regional Student Seminar, taking place from March 20-22, I am energized by our student leaders who are working alongside me to share knowledge and resources to as many students as we can reach. In order for NABS to be as successful as we hope, we must challenge ourselves to educate more, advocate louder, and spread the practices of blind students to as many youth as physically possible. As we head to conventions nearly every weekend of October and November, the message of NABS is intentionally that of showering the nation with how-to and what-to do when struggles arise in the classroom and beyond. We will bring these lessons to our regional seminars, Washington Seminar, and each one-on-one conversation we participate in throughout our time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and provide suggestions or concerns, particularly how we can support you in your future endeavors.

Education Technology Survey:

The NFB is gathering information regarding the accessibility of education technology used in our nation’s schools (kindergarten through graduate level). If you use screen access software or other accommodations to participate nonvisually in educational programs or services, please complete this education technology survey once a semester and contribute to this important research. Direct questions to Valerie Yingling, Legal Program Coordinator, via phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2440 or via email at vyingling@nfb.org.

NABS Now Podcast:

As we prepare to launch, the NABS Now Podcast committee has been hard at work crafting exciting content for you all. If you would like to be a part of a future podcast episode, please fill out this Google form.

October Blog Post:

Title: To See, or Not to See
By: Dr. Arielle Silverman

From the editor:
Arielle Silverman is an activist and social scientist who is passionate about improving public understandings of disability. She obtained a Ph.D. in social psychology, after which she went on to found Disability Wisdom Consulting and publish several notable research articles relating to disability. Today, she works closely with students and parents to instill a positive philosophy of blindness, and disability. In the following post, she wrestles with the difficult question many of us have spent sleepless nights considering: if we could have sight, would we choose to have it? visit Disability Wisdom's website to read more of her engaging and thought-provoking content.

I have been blind since the day I was born. When people first meet me, they often wonder if I would want a “cure” for my blindness. So, would my life be improved if I could see? Sure, seeing sounds like fun, just like the ability to fly, an invisibility cloak, X-ray vision or the ability to read minds. All are things we might idly dream about during life’s pauses before we get back to its regularly scheduled programming. For me, sight is as exciting and mystical as any of these other superpowers, but having never had it before, it is something relegated to my imagination. In the meantime, I have found that most activities that the average person does visually, I can participate quite ably using my other senses, sometimes with the help of assistive devices. And the few things in which I cannot participate, I never cared much for anyway. There were times in my past when I fantasized about seeing for more than a few seconds. Usually the fantasy would go, “If I could see, I’d be friends with those popular girls at school” or “If I could see, that cute boy would invite me to the dance”. I wanted sight not for its own sake, but because I thought it was a means to inclusion and acceptance, or to an easier life. A few years ago, as my husband and I prepared to move across the country for my new job, we were getting rid of some old linens. I decided to send an old comforter of ours to my best friend “KJ” who lived out of state.

As I walked to the post office with the comforter tucked under one arm and my cane in the other, I struggled to locate the post office door. I knew I was near it, but could not find the entrance. I kept searching for the right sidewalk, readjusting the heavy comforter which was making my arm ache. “I wish I could see,” I thought. “Then I’d be able to drive to the post office, or at least, I could find the damn door!” And then, the next thought made me freeze in place for a moment, the comforter spilling out of my hand. “If I could see,” I realized, “I wouldn’t be making this errand at all. Because I never would have met KJ.” You see, I met KJ when we were both at a summer camp for blind kids back in Arizona, when we were 13. We went to different schools, and without blindness in common, it’s unlikely we would have met. I could have missed out on lots of hilarious teenage conversations conducted in our secret braille-speak (that’s B R L, for the uninitiated). I might never have enjoyed nearly twenty years of mutual, unconditional friendship that was, at times, one of the only constants in an ever-changing young adult life.

Nor, if I could see, would I have marched through the streets of Atlanta one summer morning ten years ago with more than a thousand other members of the National Federation of the Blind. I wouldn’t have sat listening to Congressman John Lewis tell us to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble” to bring equal opportunity to the blind. I wouldn’t have had that infectious sense of being a part of something necessary and something big. So you might say, “Well, if you could see, there would have been other best friends. And there would have been other chances to make a difference”. And you are probably right. But, this belies the fact that the speculation on a life without disability is an exercise in futility. We really cannot predict how our lives would have been shaped differently, for better or worse, if we had or didn’t have a disability, nor if we had been born a different gender or to a different family. We can only recognize the good we have, improve what we can change, and accept what we cannot. Certainly, having a disability is a pain at times. Sometimes physically, and when it is used as a reason for exclusion, sometimes emotionally. But over the years I have discovered the value of being a part of the disability community, the friendships, the special cultural connections, the mentors, and the chance to be part of such a dynamic collective. I don’t think I would trade that in for super eyeballs.

Student Spotlight:

Amy Albin
Amy Albin is a junior at Montclair State University pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in business administration. She has served as a proud member of the NFB of New Jersey for nearly five years, and this year she was honored to be a National Scholarship winner. Amy has engaged in several other legislative efforts, including attending a town hall meeting with her Congresswoman, Mikie Sherrill, to speak publicly in support of the legislation of the NFB. In addition to her work with the NFB, Amy is passionate about industrial and organizational psychology. She is currently researching to write a literature review about the relationship between job performance and job satisfaction. Recently, Amy wrote an article about subminimum wages, and it was published in her school’s paper, The Montclarion. Click this article link to read!

NABS Committee Updates:

Fundraising

NABS Fundraising is working hard for all of our students as of late. Look out for our NABS Get Fit campaign that will launch on November first. Have fun with the challenge and remember to involve your friends! Whether you know lots about football or nothing at all, we invite you to involve yourself in our Super Bowl Roulette game as well. Keep your eyes and ears open for future details, and if you just can’t wait for answers, join our committee to get the what’s-what early on!

Legislative Advocacy

The Legislative Advocacy Committee has been working to energize student divisions to be active on the legislative priorities of the National Federation of the Blind. We have been planning legislative activities for state conventions at the student division meetings so that students have a carved-out space to engage in our legislative work across the nation. For example, at the state convention in Oregon, students had a special opportunity to praise the state legislature for local legislative progress and call upon Congress to expand that progress to the entire country. In 2019, the state of Oregon ended the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities at the state level. At the state convention, students recorded short videos expressing their gratitude that we now have this protection in Oregon as we graduate from college and enter the job market. The videos also go on to ask that the protection be expanded to the federal level by repealing Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended. These videos are being posted on the NFB of Oregon's new YouTube channel. We continue the campaign to publish articles about legislative priorities in college and local newspapers to help bring the message of the Federation into the student space. This month's NABS Notes has a spotlight about our committee's secretary, Amy Albin, for her article in her university newspaper.

Communications

The communications committee is cranking out new initiatives at the speed of light, all to make sure we can be engaged with each other in new and thoughtful ways. We are having so much fun with our What's On Your Mind Wednesdays, and hope you are loving them as well. We also want to remind you to keep a lookout for our interactive riddles and puzzles, hidden somewhere in each monthly issue of the NABS Notes. And as always, we welcome everyone to join us on our committee calls on the second Sunday of the month at 8 PM Eastern, and our interactive membership calls on the 4th Sunday of the month at 8 PM Eastern.

Diversity and Inclusion

The brand-new Diversity and Inclusion Committee will be having our next meeting in early November. Our goal is to make this division an inclusive and safe space for all, so that we are able to celebrate our intersectional identities. We would love to have a diverse set of perspectives and ideas on how we can achieve our goal. Everyone is welcome to attend our calls and share any experiences or thoughts about ways to promote inclusion within the National Association of Blind Students through events, social media, and more!

NEW! NABS Notes Game:

Unscramble these NFB words! Once you’ve figured out the answers, put them in alphabetical order and email them to game organizer Johna Wright: johnawright98@gmail.com. Remember, if you’re the first person to email me with the correct answer, you will get a feature in next month’s NABS Notes! Also, if you get every month’s question correct from now until June, you will be automatically entered to win a cash prize at National Convention in Houston!
1. r i b l l a e
2. r c i c o o b o n
3. l d i b n
4. u g i d e o g d

NABS Social Media:

Follow us on Twitter: @nabslink
Follow us on Instagram: @nabslink
Find us on Facebook by liking our Facebook page or joining our Facebook group

Kathryn Webster, President
National Association of Blind Students
A proud division of the National Federation of the Blind
www.nabslink.org