October is Disabilities Awareness Month and over the weekend the National Federation of the Blind held a gathering in Buffalo.
One of the missions of the NFB is to erase the stigma of blindness and help blind and people with low vision. Along with a number of programs, the NFB also provides resources for living, working, learning and recreation. NFB National President Mark Riccobono explains why New York State is important in these endeavors.
“The hopes, dreams and concerns of the Organized Blind Movement, in many states, the agency gives a nod to input from blind people but isn’t really prepared to act on it.”
Riccobono credits New York State as being well ahead of many other states when it comes to accessibility for the blind. The NFB has affiliates in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. He says the state continues to innovate its resources.
“A couple years ago we worked with our affiliate here in New York to file a complaint about the NY Link kiosks, because they were not going to be accessible to blind people. And because of our work they ultimately made those kiosks accessible.”
There are many myths associated with blindness, Riccobono said, and the best way at understanding blindness is to get involved.
“Reach out to organizations like the National Federation ofthe Blind to learn about the possibilities and breakdown the misconceptions that you have. The best way to learn is to learn authentically from blind people, not to try and simulate what its like to be a blind person.”
Riccobono said the New York affiliate would be adding an outreach center in Buffalo in the “next few months.” According to the American Community Survey, across the state there are 387,900 non-institutionalized people with a visual disability.