Open Letters on Blind Equality Achievement Month

From the Editor:
This post was made possible by contributions from Matthew Gip, Kaitlyn Ryan, and Trisha Kulkarni. Thank you for sharing your perspectives with us during this important month for our movement.

Greetings, my name is Kaitlyn Ryan, and I am a rising junior at Western Illinois University, where I am majoring in Communication with a minor in Human Resources, with the goal of pursuing a career in a company’s Human Resources department. Formerly known as Meet the Blind Month, and now known as Blind Equality Achievement Month, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) celebrates the organized blind movement during the month of October. Throughout the entire month, Federation members throughout the nation organize and initiate a wide variety of outreach activities in their communities to gather and work with their local chapter, divisions, and state affiliates.

Every year, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) celebrates an important aspect on October 15th, called White Cane Awareness Day. As we all have become familiar and accustomed to, the white cane is an essential tool that provides us the ability to achieve a full and independent lifestyle. The white cane allows us to travel freely from place to place, whether it is from school, work, or even grabbing a coffee cup from Starbucks, if you are a coffee lover like me. Additionally, White Cane Awareness Day is our way of advocating and educating the public on what the white cane is and how we use it as a blind individual to travel safely and efficiently around our community with confidence, determination, and motivation to live the lives we want.

I had the privilege and proud opportunity to attend a White Cane Awareness event while attending BLIND, Inc., in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back in October of 2018, BLIND, Inc. staff and Minnesota Federation members organized a White Cane Day event in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where a parade was held near the Capitol building. There were many blind people in attendance and we all participated and walked as a large group, using our long white canes and navigating the crowd and obstacles that was set before us with our skills and alternative techniques to boost our confidence. Furthermore, we had a handful of sighted individuals that approached us with questions out of curiosity in regards to what the white cane is properly called and how we are able to use it effectively. This was a very fun event to participate in and I definitely had a memorable and extraordinary experience, and I also felt that this event was well planned and conducted smoothly by those on the planning committee. I hope to continue to partake in many more White Cane Awareness events to show what it means to be a blind person, receiving and spreading equality, and achieving my goals as a proud Federationist, and I encourage everyone to join alongside me as well.

Dear Federation Family and Our Allies,
The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) is leveling the playing field for blind students in and out of the classroom. This is our mission all year round, but the month of October is a special Time for our movement. The work we do as an organization every single day helps blind people around the world obtain equality while achieving their goals and living the lives we want.

If you are a blind student or someone simply looking to broaden your information about our capabilities, NABS is a great place to start. Our blog, The Student Slate, features posts from a diverse group of students and professionals. We offer tips, tricks, advice, and reflections from all walks of life. This is a place to celebrate the experiences and achievements of our members. Our NABS Now Podcast is a podcast made by students for students. (Don’t worry; our episodes are pretty great for non students, too!) From conversations on blind philosophy and diversity, to practical information for navigating school and the job market, this is an upbeat resource shared around the globe.

Beyond these two initiatives, our division is filled with interactive resources that are constantly growing. We host a variety of calls every month on Zoom. Our website contains toolkits, frequently asked questions, and so much more! I invite you to explore and share what we have to offer as we celebrate this special month. This is a time to reflect on where we have been and excitedly look ahead at all we are and will continue to accomplish. NABS is proud to stand with our members who are living the lives they want and positively educating others along the way.
Yours in Our Movement,
Trisha Kulkarni: President, National Association of Blind Students