Category Archives: Students

The Vigilant: August-September 2018

The Vigilant is a publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. For questions or submissions, please send the editor an email.

Joe Orozco, Editor


From the President’s Desk

I hope you took some time to enjoy some end of Summer fun with friends and family. We just brought my older daughter down to college for her sophomore year and my younger daughter is getting ready for her senior year of high school. Wow, does time fly.

2018 National Federation of the Blind of Virginia Convention

We are ramping up for the 60th Anniversary Convention of the National Federation of the blind of Virginia. Plans are coming together and you should expect this convention to be extraordinary. But, to make it truly special, you need to join us and invite some friends to come with you. Tremendous effort goes into making the convention experience valuable to all. We need you to help encourage others to participate in this year’s convention.

Details on the convention will be provided throughout the month. Some highlights we can share at this time include:

  • Diamond Anniversary Celebration – Uricka Harrison, Sarah Patnaude, and Joe Hobson are planning special events for our 60th Anniversary.
  • National representative – Our national Representative, James Gashel, will be truly inspiring. Jim has been a key player in many of the major decisions of the past 50 years and he has a powerful understanding of where we have been and where we are going.
  • Training Opportunities – Dan Wenzel, Director of Blindness Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND Inc.) our NFB training center in Minnesota, will be joining us for this year’s convention. We will have presentations on Project RISE, Summer Work Experiences, and the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

We are currently working on the agenda and will provide the full agenda in October.

Southeast Regional Student Seminar

The Southeast Regional Student Seminar, held August 10-12 at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, was a powerful experience for the 50+ students from across 10 states. It was a pleasure to work with student leaders on Friday morning for a great program to grow their leadership potential. Robert Parsons, President of the Virginia Association of Blind Students, played a key role in the planning of this outstanding event and there were over 10 Virginia students and many leaders from across the Commonwealth invested in the programming. John Bailey joined me in working with students on Friday evening and Saturday and everyone had a blast. The students were really impressive and they were eager to learned from leaders and share their experiences.

Project RISE goes State Wide

Our pre-employment transition service for students 14-21 is now running 2 concurrent tracks. Based on the success of our Northern Virginia pilot, we are continuing with the Northern Virginia program running 1 Saturday a month between September and May with summer work experiences. Additionally, we are launching a state-wide program where students will meet quarterly (at events like the state convention and a weekend at the Jernigan Institute) and will work with our mentors throughout the year to develop their skills. We want to share details on the program with all eligible students and encourage people to go to our Project RISE web site, or contact the coordinators via email, nfbprojectrise@gmail.com

Please note that in order to fully participate at the Project RISE specific programming at the state convention, we need students to apply to the program in September. Details on applying online can be found at the web site listed above.

Virginia Chapter Leadership Institute

As voted upon at our August 4 affiliate board meeting, the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia will shortly be launching the Chapter Leadership Institute, a training program designed to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders at the chapter and affiliate levels. The Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI,) will replace the former Leadership Fellows Program as well as the Virtual Chapter Retreat. The Virginia Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) is a bit different from past programs because we are not convinced we have all the answers in-house. We will balance use of Federation leaders and outside resources to grow chapter and affiliate leaders. Our focus is strong and vibrant chapters where we have many people sharing the load and working together.

Growing leaders in our movement is essential to our organizational success. It is vital to the continued success of our chapters and the Virginia affiliate. Most leaders in our movement remember that someone invested time and effort to develop them into the leader they are today. We know this is important to each chapter’s continued evolution and vitality. Chapter presidents have been tasked to recommend people for the program by September 15. If you yourself are interested in being considered for the program, I encourage you to please have a candid conversation with your chapter president.

The CLI will be coordinated by Joe Orozco of the Prince William Chapter and Domonique Lawless of the Richmond Chapter, both of whom have experience working for the Federation at various levels of the organization.

Visiting Chapters

It is an honor to participate in chapter programs and activities. It was a pleasure to participate in the 8/18 Potomac Chapter Auction and the Greater Alexandria 8/26 Strategic Planning Workshop.

Please let me know what your chapter is up to and maybe I can attend.

As always, I am encouraged and inspired by the work of our affiliate. You are a very important part of changing the lives of the blind. Please continue working alongside me. I believe together we really can bring about improvements anywhere our blind brothers and sisters meet challenges.

Yours in service,

Tracy Soforenko, President
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia


This Month’s Words of Inspiration

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius


2018 NFB of Virginia Scholarship Program
By Brian Miller, NFB of Virginia Scholarship Chair

Deadline – Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 11:59pm

The NFB of Virginia is pleased to announce the launch of its James F.
Nelson merit scholarship program for the academic year 2018-2019. Up to three scholarships of $1500.00 will be awarded based on academic achievement, community engagement, and leadership potential.

The NFB of Virginia believes that all blind and visually impaired students who apply for one of our scholarships can benefit from the experience of attending the state convention. As such, the NFBV will cover reasonable costs associated with attending the convention for all eligible applicants, including a room at the hotel shared with a fellow scholarship applicant, most meals, and the cost of registration and a banquet ticket. Scholarship applicants should work with their local chapter to explore transportation options, and should notify the scholarship committee if they encounter difficulties. Applicants are expected to pre-register in order to signal their intention to attend the state convention and to assist the scholarship committee to make hotel reservations.

To be eligible, all applicants must:

  • Be legally blind or have a visual impairment that qualifies them to receive services under IDEA or from a state vocational rehabilitation program;
  • Be a resident or be attending an accredited institution of higher education full-time in Virginia;
  • Plan to pursue a full-time, postsecondary course of study in the
    2018-2019 academic year; and

  • Participate in the entire NFB of Virginia state convention and in all scheduled scholarship program activities to be held November 9 to 11, 2018, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

To obtain an application, go to www.NFBV.org.

For a Word version of the application, email our scholarship chair.


Convention Operations Report
By Joe Orozco, Chairman

My name is starting to pop up more frequently in your inboxes. Sarah is cranking up the social media channels. Tracy is fighting extra hard not to look his age. It must be state convention season!

Alright, here are the main highlights:

Convention Registration

There are 3 ways you can pre-register for the convention.

1. Register online via the Brown Paper Tickets site.

2. Call Toll Free: (800) 838-3006 to speak with a Brown Paper Tickets representative.

3. Download the Pre-Registration form from our convention landing page and mail it with payment included to:

NFB of Virginia
3230 Grove Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221

By pre-registering, you will save $10 on the registration fee and $5 on your banquet ticket. Pre-Registration ends on October 26.

Remember, if you pre-register, you are automatically entered into a drawing for $100.

Hotel Accommodations

The Convention will be held Friday, November 9 through Sunday, November 11 , 2018. Take note that programming will begin at 9 AM Friday morning, so take advantage of the discounted rates to arrive Thursday evening, if your schedule allows.

Hotel information is as follows:

Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel & Conference Center
2801 Plank Rd.
Fredericksburg, VA22401

To make hotel reservations, please call: 540-786-8321, or Book your room online!

Room rates are $79 per night plus applicable taxes for Single, Double, Triple, or Quad occupancy. Reservations must be made by 5 PM on Friday, October 26, 2018. When you call the hotel, make sure to tell them that you are attending the convention so that you will receive the special convention rate. For anyone seeking to spend extra time exploring Historical Fredericksburg, the rate is good three days before and three days after the event. Individual reservations will not be guaranteed without first night’s deposit or credit card.

Please Note: The group rate is the best rate. Government and military discounts do not apply. For the rate to be honored, please contact the property directly. Do not use a travel site for booking.

Future Conventions

I know, we’re not even out with this year’s state convention agenda. Yet at our August board meeting we took the opportunity to announce the location of future conventions. We plan far in advance in order to identify and seize the best rates at some of the better properties.

In 2019 we will be hosting the state convention at the Renaissance in Portsmouth.

In 2020 and 2022 we will be rejoining our friends at the Westin in Tysons Corner. Hotel rates are steadily increasing, and so we took advantage of a multiyear agreement to keep the rates below $90.

We have temporarily tabled discussion on 2021. Part of our site selection will depend on local chapter development.

With the convention being held in Northern Virginia as often, we will need to revisit the way host chapters shoulder the financial burden of providing hospitality. At our August board meeting a proposal was raised that would have asked each chapter to contribute a set amount to ease the load on the local organizations. The proposal failed on a tie. If you have ideas on minimizing the cost for hospitality, please talk to Tracy or bring them for discussion in November.

Sponsorships and Exhibits

Following closely on the heels of that last point is the matter of sponsorships. If we create a robust enough program, we will be able to minimize the financial burden on our affiliate and chapter treasuries. Please, if you have any contacts at companies with an interest in investing in our programming, Annette Carr needs to be introduced to them. If you need talking points or ideas on how to approach businesses, please let us know.

Learn more about our Sponsorships and Exhibits program, and help us cultivate new partners in our shared mission to help the blind of Virginia.


Northern Virginia Bus for the 2018 State Convention
By John Halverson, President, Potomac Chapter

The National Federation of the Blind 2018 state convention is rapidly approaching. It will be held in Fredericksburg Virginia from November 9-11. It has been suggested that we arrange a bus to go from Northern Virginia to Fredericksburg and to return to northern Virginia at the conclusion of the convention.

During week days there are many opportunities to take either Amtrak or the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) from DC, Arlington or Alexandria to the convention. However on Sunday, November 11, after the convention concludes, Amtrak is limited to an early evening train and the VRE does not run.

Please let me know by October 1 if you are interested in sharing the cost of a bus.

There are three options:

  1. No bus.
  2. A bus going both ways.
  3. A bus returning to northern Virginia on Sunday, November 11.

If we do not get a strong response, we can only assume that people are not interested in a bus either way. We speculate that the Sunday North bound bus is viable but we need you to contact me to let me know you are interested.

John Halverson
703 379-1141
jwh100@outlook.com


Project RISE is Now Available Statewide

We are excited to announce that Project RISE (Resilience, Independence, Self-Advocacy, and Employment), our program for transition age youth ages 14 to 21 will be starting it’s second year in September and is now offering programming state wide.

Please note that the deadline to participate in the Project RISE programming at convention in November is September 20. If you have any questions, please email nfbprojectrise@gmail.com or call (203) 273-8463. You can also visit the Project RISE website at rise.nfbv.org.

Resilience | Independence | Self-Advocacy | Employment

Blind students ages 14-21 throughout the entire state ofVirginia will have the chance to interact with and form lasting relationships with young successful blind professionals, who have overcome many of the obstacles placed before blind students and now are eager to teach their younger peers how to conquer life.

The statewide program will meet four times throughout2018-2019. Students will have the opportunity to further develop skills such as travel, home management, and technology through interactive and hands on workshops and community activities.

Through mentorship and a positive environment, students of all ages will learn how to communicate effectively with teachers and employers to ensure they receive the tools they need to succeed in school, and the work place.

Students will share their educational and career goals andProject RISE will help them reach those goals through, resume and interview workshops, and placement in summer internships or jobs that interest them. Join us in this journey toward independence, confidence, and success! Blindness will never hold you back.

For any questions or to secure your spot Email: nfbprojectrise@gmail.com, Visit rise.nfbv.org, or call: (203) 273-8463.


How to be More Popular
By John Bailey, President, Fairfax Chapter

I was honored to be a part of the South Eastern Division weekend held at our National Center in Baltimore in early August. It was great to catch up with old friends and make lots of new ones.

One of the activities during the weekend I particularly found interesting was the breakout session where the students talked about the challenges they were facing and the ensuing conversations about how to resolve them.

One particular conversation that really caught my attention was where a student shared how hard it was to make friends and how challenging it was to get more socially active. This desire was shared by lots of their peers.

The problem sounded very familiar because this was the same challenge I had growing up vision impaired. It was tough being a part of the sighted community because you were not like them And, I didn’t know anyone else who was blind. It felt pretty lonely at times.

That all changed when I entered college. I met up with fellow students who really seemed to have it all together. They were interesting, popular, and were always being invited to parties and other social events. Two of them were my roommates and they were the Student President and Vice President. By watching them and following their examples, I was soon able to greatly improved my social situation.

The people I emulated were masters at being popular and here are the five actions they took that made them be people you wanted to hang out with.

Act Confident.

I have heard the phrase, “Confidence is sexy” many times and it is true. Even if you don’t look like a movie star or wear the latest clothes, being confident overcomes all that and more. But, how do you act confident if you don’t feel it? The answer is simple and with practice, people will begin to perceive you as self assured.

I said “act” confident on purpose. The first step in becoming more confident is by pretending you are. Act as if you felt cool calm and collected even if you don’t feel it. This will become easier over time because of all the positive feedback you will be getting from your new friends.

Listen more than talk

Every one wants to feel that they have something to say and you listening to them makes them feel good. And, that is what making friends is all about. When talking to others, spend most of your time listening. People will like you a lot more because you care enough to hear their thoughts.

Give and give some more

Friends help each other. So, don’t be stingy with your assistance. Make an effort to do something nice for every person you meet. Again, if you show interest in them, they will show interest in you.

Be the party!

Don’t wait to be invited to parties, host your own event and invite others. You know how being invited to something makes you feel special. What if you were hosting a party and made others feel special by inviting them. Making others feel special makes you special too.

Remember to smile

Because this is last on the list doesn’t make it any less important. When you smile, others will smile too. There is scientific research that shows that when you smile at someone, a part of their brain fires and they get good feelings about you. Smiling also communicates that you like them. People want to be liked. Smile while you are spending time with people and they will want to spend more time with you.

Wanting to be more socially accepted isn’t just a “blind problem”. It is a part of human nature to be liked and to have lots of friends. The actions I talked about will work for anyone who wants to better connect with others.

The bottom line to making friends is to make them feel special. If you make it a practice to be a better listener, be there if they need help, or just inviting them to an event, you will soon find yourself with lots more friends and much more satisfying relationships.


Quick tips-Making Our Meetings and Workshops More Accessible, Productive, and Fun
By Jeremy Grandstaff, 2nd Vice-president, Greater Alexandria Chapter

At the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia (NFBV,) we have a number of meetings. At chapter meetings for example, we invite people to come to learn about NFBV, engage more effectively in our work, and to learn more about our own abilities to transform our lives to achieve what we want.

This month’s quick tip is about helping us be more intentional and successful with our meetings. Whether a chapter meeting, or committee meeting, or even a conference workshop (just another type of meeting), Here our five quick tips to help us achieve success with our meetings, which will then keep people engaged and coming back from more.

1. Plan the meeting: Identify the overall purpose, the agenda, who we need to target, and information we can send in advance for people to be most prepared. Using a small team to help us answer these questions makes it even better.

2. Have a strong and interactive agenda: Identify the logistics of our meeting, each agenda item, and for each agenda item, determine the purpose of that discussion and any ways that we can get people interacting with each other to achieve that purpose.

3. Send reports in advance and share with attendees: Ask committee chairs to give you brief reports that can be included in the agenda and preparation materials. This allows the meeting to stay focused on questions and dialog, making things more interactive and exciting.

4. Have at least one item each meeting that asks people to dialog with each other: by creating a space for small group discussion, all participants at our meeting or workshop will better process information, engage in the ask, and pay more attention. Having a speaker at an upcoming meeting? Ask them to talk for 10 minutes, break people apart to discuss what they heard, and then hold the Q&A of the speaker (we will notice a difference in the dialog and Q&A).

5. Have a great closing: Leave people with excitement about what’s happening after the meeting and make sure we have asked people to lead action items. Also, ask for some people to check out of the meeting by sharing one thing we are taking away from the discussion. Make it Fun and exciting that we came to your meeting.

At NFBV, it is critical that we bring confidence, excitement, and a collaborative spirit to our work and ensuring we are engaging new members at effective meetings will help us do just this. Here is an additional resource that might help: cheat sheet for effective meetings. We’re always hear to help our leaders succeed, so be sure to let us know how we can help.


Hadley: The Hidden Gem for Blind Entrepreneurs
By Joe Orozco

Reprinted from my personal blog.

After the economic bust in 2008 many people went into business for themselves, and while it is always a good idea to be educated on the nuances of planning and launching a new business, you don’t necessarily need a full college degree.

These days online education is nothing unique. Anyone can take advantage of sites like Khan Academy and Udemy to take courses in specific topics. In fact, for anyone, blind or sighted, interested in various online learning options, check out this helpful article from The Simple Dollar. For blind computer users, however, it’s nice to count on a service like Hadley you know is always accessible.

If you’re blind, interested in starting a business, and have not given Hadley some thought, it’s time to reconsider it.

From their website:

Founded in 1920 by William Hadley and Dr. E.V.L. Brown, Hadley offers courses free of charge to its blind and visually impaired students and their families and affordable tuition to blindness professionals. Today, Hadley is the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind or visually impaired around the world, serving more than 10,000 students annually in all 50 states and 100 countries. Hadley is also the largest educator of braille worldwide. A 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, the school relies on contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations to fund its programs.

I want to turn your attention to Hadley’s Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship. The curriculum is broken into modules with specific concentrations ranging from social security, tax and accounting to legal, marketing, management and communications. While I have not seen any prerequisite requirements, I myself began, and would strongly recommend, the Self-employment with a Minimal Investment course as a starting point, because it provides a great panoramic picture of planning a business strategy.

Among other online courses, they offer:

  • Accounting for Small Business
  • Business Communications
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Fundamentals
  • Business Insurance
  • Business Law 1
  • Business Law 2
  • Business Writing
  • Market Research
  • Marketing: Conveying a Message

The online courses are all fully accessible with screen readers. It’s possible to stop and come back to your previous place in a module. The exams are laid out in a straightforward manner, and when you’re asked to submit assignments from your computer, the instructions are straightforward.

In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my Hadley experience. For no good reason, a dim part of me figured the courses were either too basic to be of any value or the instructors would be average at best. On the contrary, the class material has always been of solid caliber. The exams are well-balanced, and the instructors have always shown a firm handle of their subject. Without exception, they have been very responsive to e-mails and phone calls.

If anything, I sometimes wonder if Hadley is selling itself short. I take courses around my busy work schedule. If I had to pay a tuition fee, even a nominal amount, I might take my pace a little more seriously. The quality of instruction is so solid that you wonder if there’s a catch.

From the novice entrepreneur to the veteran, I think there’s plenty to be taken away from Hadley’s business-oriented adult learning curriculum. It proved beneficial in helping me draft a marketing strategy and revamp my overall business plan for my freelance business. I wish they would advertise their services a little better. I might very well be living under a rock, but I think Hadley could be making the mistake that blind people everywhere know it exists and what it offers.

If you’ve been talking about starting a full or part-time business but never got around to planning it; Hadley’s courses are an excellent means of taking that first crucial step.


Chapter and Division Announcements

Peninsula Chapter Annual Cookout

From Tasha Hubbard:

Hey there! Hi There! Ho There!

I know where I’ll be on 9 15 guess where?

At the annual cookout hosted by the Peninsula chapter

Full of fun, games, music and much laughter

Come from far and wide to join the celebration

Don’t you want to come help build the federation

So, aren’t you glad you asked?

Now, I’ll leave you with one small task….

Hmm What’s it going to be?

Just to please RSVP

And if you can’t make this particular celebration

No worries, we’ll gladly accept donations

When: September 15, 2018

Time: 1:00-5:00(or until you get tired)

Where: Deer Park Shelter 1 11523 Jefferson Ave. Newport News, VA

Cost: $10

Please RSVP by September 8, 2018 via email to: uricka.harrison@icloud.com.

Please send donations to Care of Nathan Branch

NFBV Peninsula Chapter
316 NanTucket Place Newport News, VA 23603

Walkathon in Colonial Williamsburg

From Corlis Jones, President, Greater Williamsburg Chapter

Walk With the Blind!

Join members of the Rivers and Bay chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia as we walk through Historic Colonial Williamsburg. Support us as we raise awareness of what blind people can achieve.

When: Saturday, October 13, 2018

9:00 AM: Registration Opens

10:00 AM: Kick Off

Where: Starting at the Capital Building (end of Duke of Gloucester St.), Colonial Williamsburg

Registration: $15

Sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay, Greater Williamsburg, Peninsula, and Tidewater Chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

“Living the Lives We want”

For more information, contact: Corlis Jones at phone: 757-565-1185, email: cmjones153@cox.net . Please make checks payable to NFBV and send them to: Carroll Bailey, 4700 Newport Forrest, Williamsburg, VA 23188

VABS Bowl with the Blind

From Robert Parsons, President, Virginia Association of Blind Students

Greetings Students and Virginia Federationists

With the fall season swiftly approaching, the season of advocacy is upon us once again. Yes, the month in which the nation’s blind raise awareness of our effectiveness and presence in local and national communities is finally returning. October is national meet the blind month and like our fellow affiliates, the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia is hard at work in preparing their local events to marry awareness and camaraderie between chapters, friends, and family. Last year, the Virginia Association of Blind Students executed their first meet the blind month activity with “Bowl with the Blind, “to overwhelming success and support. As a sign of future great annual events to come, VABS will be returning with this annual culminating event. The details are below:

Title: VABS “Bowl with the Blind.”

Date: Saturday, October 6, 2018

Time: 1pm-4pm

Price: $10 (Covers Three Games and Shoe Rental)

Where: Pin Boys at the Beach
1577 Laskin Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Stay tuned for ride share and car pool opportunities from Northern Virginia and Richmond. This year, VABS will be raffling a Google Home Mini during the event. Ticket prices for the prize will be $1 or five tickets for $3. If you would like to register for this event, please contact Robert Parsons at 804.801.7674 or rob.parso3389@gmail.com . I look forward to connecting with all of you in October.


NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

2018 Scholarship Application Now Available

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF VIRGINIA

2018 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The NFB of Virginia is pleased to announce the launch of its James F. Nelson merit scholarship program for the academic year 2018-2019. Up to three scholarships of $1500.00 will be awarded based on academic achievement, community engagement, and leadership potential.

The NFB of Virginia believes that all blind and visually impaired students who apply for a James F. Nelson scholarship can benefit from the experience of attending the state convention. As such, the NFBV will cover reasonable costs associated with attending the convention for all eligible applicants, including a room at the hotel shared with a fellow scholarship applicant, most meals, and the cost of registration and a banquet ticket. Scholarship applicants should work with their local chapter to explore transportation options, and should notify the scholarship committee if they encounter difficulties. Convention related expenses will be reimbursed or covered by the affiliate at the convention. Please notify the committee if you do not have access to a credit card or other means of covering pre-convention costs. Applicants are expected to pre-register in order to signal their intention to attend the state convention and to assist the scholarship committee to make hotel reservations.

The Scholarship Committee will review all applications and select the scholarship recipients. All decisions of the Scholarship Committee are final.

Please read all instructions carefully and pay close attention to the deadlines.

To be eligible to receive a James F. Nelson scholarship, all applicants must:

  • Be legally blind or have a visual impairment that qualifies them to receive services under IDEA or from a state vocational rehabilitation program;
  • Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or be attending full time an accredited institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • Plan to pursue a full-time, postsecondary course of study in the 2018-2019 academic year; and
  • Participate in the entire NFB of Virginia state convention and in all scheduled scholarship program activities to be held November 9 to 11, 2018, at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Individuals who have already won two James F. Nelson scholarships should contact the scholarship committee chair before applying. The intention of the committee is to not award scholarships more than twice to the same individual except in extraordinary circumstances. Exceptions to this policy will only be made by decision of the committee chair and the NFBV affiliate president.

Completed scholarship applications and all supporting documentation should be sent to the NFB of Virginia scholarship committee Chair Dr. Brian R. Miller, at

brmiller88@gmail.com

with the words “scholarship application” in the subject line.

Deadline: Applications must be received no later than 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

Applicants must submit at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, professor, counselor, or academic advisor who is familiar with their scholarship. Applicants are encouraged to provide additional letters of recommendation or references, including from employers, individuals working in the applicant’s field of interest, or leaders from the blind movement or other groups engaged in social change advocacy. Letters of recommendation may be submitted in email form.

An electronic copy of the applicant’s transcripts must be provided in support of the application. Unofficial transcripts in PDF form from the accredited institution are acceptable.

Download 2018 Scholarship Application form.

State Convention 2018

Please check back here as additional information is added to fully prepare you for the next NFB of Virginia State Convention. Alternatively, please consider signing up for the Virginia Announcement List to have updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Essential Details

The Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia will be held Thursday, November 8 through Sunday, November 11 , 2018 at the:

  • Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel & Conference Center
  • 2801 Plank Rd.
  • Fredericksburg, VA22401

To make hotel reservations, please call: 540-786-8321, or Book your room online!

Room rates are $79 per night plus applicable taxes for Single, Double, Triple, or Quad occupancy. Reservations must be made by 5 PM on Friday, October 26, 2018. For anyone seeking to spend extra time exploring Historical Fredericksburg, the rate is good three days before and three days after the event. Individual reservations will not be guaranteed without first night’s deposit or credit card.

Please Note: The group rate is the best rate. Government and military discounts do not apply. For the rate to be honored, please contact the property directly. Do not use a travel site for booking.

From the Hospitality House website:

Ideally located in the heart of everything, Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel and Convention Center welcomes you with 196 beautifully appointed guestrooms just off I-95, midway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia. We’re also within minutes of Fredericksburg’s famous Civil War and colonial sites, shopping, dining, the University of Mary Washington, and more. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’ll enjoy luxurious, affordable lodging, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, a junior Olympic size pool, two signature restaurants, convenient and walk-able shopping and dining in Central Park without ever leaving our parking lot, plus live music on weekends.

Sponsorships and Exhibits

Companies, nonprofits, and individuals interested in making an investment in the upcoming convention are cordially invited to sign up now! Add your voice to the largest gathering of blind Virginians in the commonwealth. Your services and products will find their way into the hands of blind students, parents of blind children, educators, rehabilitation experts, and many others. Your investment will help the NFB of Virginia carry out important programs benefiting everyone from blind youth to blind working professionals.

More Details Coming Soon!

Apply for the Expanded NFB of Virginia College Scholarship & Attend the 2017 NFBV Convention On Us

From Brian Miller, NFB of Virginia Scholarship Committee Chair

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF VIRGINIA

2017 SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The NFB of Virginia is pleased to announce the launch of its James F. Nelson merit scholarship program for the academic year 2017-2018. Up to three scholarships of $1500.00 will be awarded based on academic achievement, community engagement, and leadership potential.

The NFB of Virginia believes that all blind and visually impaired students who apply for a James F. Nelson scholarship can benefit from the experience of attending the state convention. As such, the NFBV will cover reasonable costs associated with attending the convention for all eligible applicants, including a room at the hotel, most meals, and the cost of registration and a banquet ticket. Scholarship applicants will be reimbursed for these expenses at the convention, so please notify the committee if you do not have access to a credit card or other means of covering pre-convention costs. Applicants are expected to pre-register in order to signal their intention to attend the state convention and to assist the scholarship committee to make hotel reservations.

The Scholarship Committee will review all applications and select the scholarship recipients. All decisions of the Scholarship Committee are final.

Please read all instructions carefully and pay close attention to the deadlines.

To be eligible to receive a James F. Nelson scholarship, all applicants must:

  • Be legally blind or have a visual impairment that qualifies them to receive services under IDEA or from a state vocational rehabilitation program;
  • Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or be attending full time an accredited institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • Plan to pursue a full-time, postsecondary course of study in the 2017-2018 academic year; and
  • Participate in the entire NFB of Virginia state convention and in all scheduled scholarship program activities to be held November 3 to 5, 2017, at the Westin Tysons Corner, Falls Church, Virginia.

Individuals who have already won two James F. Nelson scholarships should contact the scholarship committee chair before applying. The intention of the committee is to not award scholarships more than twice to the same individual except in extraordinary circumstances. Exceptions to this policy will only be made by decision of the committee chair and the NFBV affiliate president.

Completed scholarship applications and all supporting documentation should be sent to the NFB of Virginia scholarship committee chair,

  • Dr. Brian R. Miller,
  • E-mail: brianrmiller88@gmail.com

with the words “scholarship application” in the subject line.

Deadline: Applications must be received no later than October 1, 2017.

Applicants must submit at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, professor, counselor, or academic advisor who is familiar with their scholarship. Applicants are encouraged to provide additional letters of recommendation or references, including from employers, individuals working in the applicant’s field of interest, or leaders from the blind movement or other groups engaged in social change advocacy. Letters of recommendation may be submitted in email form.

An electronic copy of the applicant’s transcripts must be provided in support of the application. Unofficial transcripts in PDF form from the accredited institution are acceptable.

Link here to download a copy of the 2017 scholarship application

Why Parents and Students Should Attend the 2016 NFB of Virginia Convention (11/11 – 11/13)

Highlights for students and their parents:

  • Braille Carnival

    An exciting hands on Friday evening carnival for students of all ages.

  • Friday Student Social

    An engaging and interactive student social for students from middle school through college.

  • Saturday Student Breakfast

    with President Kasey in the Presidential Suite

  • Student Division Luncheon /Travel Excursion

    Paired with role models and peers, this travel excursion outside of the hotel led by and for students to connect with peers and organize programming for themselves.

    Since this excursion is outside of the property, students should not order the lunch offered through convention registration. Please see details below on the student luncheon.

  • Saturday afternoon Students programming

    Learn about how your peers are participating in sports and fitness, clubs and other leadership opportunities, and getting the training they need to succeed in school and beyond.

  • Parents Division Luncheon and Parent Track

    Connect with parents from across Virginia committed to advocating for their children and ensuring high expectations for their kids. Meet positive role models and tap the network of parents who are making things happen for their children. Learn about how to best advocate in the IEP process, technology for your student, how your student can engage in student run programming across the country, engage in sports & fitness in the community, and options for training on the alternative skills of successful blind people. Box lunch is recommended for parents attending this program.

  • Sunday Scavenger Hunt and Philosophy Chat

Additionally, in the General Session, there are great programs for parents and students including:

  • A Panel of parents of Blind Children Sharing how parents are advocating for their children while teaching their children to advocate for themselves.
  • Learn from positive blind role models who are running their own businesses, pursuing their dreams, and leading the way for blind people across America.
  • Learn about the accomplishments we are making together to advance the rights of the blind in Virginia, across the country and internationally so we can all live the life we want.

If you are going to attend the convention and you are planning to take part in our student programming, please send an email to the Virginia Association of Blind Students (VABS) secretary, Jennifer Shields, who will be able to count you in the running for door prizes and add you to the list for the luncheon on Saturday, November 12. Her email address is:

jen.shields929@gmail.com

We would like for all students to confirm if they are coming or not by Friday, October 21, 2016 in order to have an accurate count of how many students to expect. When you send the email, just include the following in the message body:

  1. Your name
  2. Your Chapter
  3. The days you are attending convention
  4. Your favorite pizza topping

Those participating in the youth track under the age of 18 must also complete, sign, and bring the below Youth Track Registration form to convention.

Click here to download the 2016 Youth Track RegistrationForm

Our hotel room block and reduced pre-registration pricing closes October 18 so act right away to reserve your space.

Link Here to the post for details on Convention Registration and Hotel Reservations

We hope you can join us.

2016 Youth Track Registration

We are again holding a special Youth Track designed to meet the needs of blind Students. In order to participate in this fun and exciting program, participants under the age of 18 must also complete, sign, and bring the below Youth Track Registration form to convention.

Click here to download the 2016 Youth Track RegistrationForm

Those participating in the youth track will also need to register for the convention :

Link Here to the post for details on Convention Registration and Hotel Reservations

National Federation of the Blind of Virginia 2016 Scholarship Application Now Available

The National Federation of the Blind of Virginia (NFBV) will award up to three James F. Nelson, Jr. scholarships in the amount of $1,500 at the organization’s annual state convention to be held at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 5700 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23451. The convention begins on Friday, November 11 and concludes at noon on Sunday, November 13, 2016. Scholarship recipients must attend the convention in Virginia Beach to receive their scholarship awards. The NFBV will cover reasonable costs associated with travel to the convention, half the cost of a room at the hotel, most meals, and the cost of registration and a banquet ticket. Winners will be reimbursed for these expenses at convention, so please notify the committee if you do not have access to a credit card or other means of covering pre-convention costs.

The National Federation of the Blind of Virginia is an organization dedicated to creating equality, opportunity, and security for all blind people. Winners of an NFBV James F. Nelson, Jr. scholarship need not be members of the National Federation of the Blind. The Committee will consider applicants for all eligible scholarships with one application. Individuals who have applied in previous years are encouraged to apply again.

The Scholarship Committee will review all applications and select the scholarship recipients. The Committee will notify finalists by telephone on or before October 15, 2016. All decisions of the Scholarship Committee are final.

To be eligible for these awards, each applicant must:

  • Be legally blind;
  • Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia or be attending school in the commonwealth;
  • Be pursuing—or planning to pursue—a full-time, postsecondary course of study in the 2016 – 2017 academic year; and
  • Participate in the entire NFBV state convention and in all scheduled scholarship program activities to be held November 11-November 13, 2016, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Application Process: Complete the 2016 Scholarship Application Form electronically and email it with the supporting documents to the scholarship committee chair:

NFBV 2016 Scholarship Form

  • Dr. Brian R. Miller
  • Email: Brianrmiller88@gmail.com
  • Phone: (703) 785-9929

Deadline: All applications and supporting documentation must be received on or before September 15, 2016.

Learn about our McDonald Fellowship Award

Has your attendance at the NFB National Convention ever crossed your mind?

Whether it is for the networking and fundraising opportunities your business or chapter can gain or for the constant feeling of camaraderie that is displayed year after year, the National Federation of the Blind’s 2016 National Convention is guaranteed to be an event our community can benefit from. Sometimes when looking at the financial demands that come with attending this event, many people may get discouraged because it may prove to be too steep, but there is definitely a way to alleviate that feeling.

Join the Virginia Association of Blind Students and NFBV Board at our informational session to explain and encourage you all to apply for our affiliate’s McDonald Fellowship Award. The McDonald Fellowship award is a grant that assists an individual in attending their first national convention and also enrolls the winner in a mentoring session where they can get assistance at the convention with attending all seminars and events that will make sure that they get the most out of their first convention experience. If anyone has ever attended the NFBV State Conventions in the fall, they would know that conventions are an experience full of opportunities to learn about an endless amount of interesting facts, products, and services; and the national convention does not disappoint with this opportunity. Some of the topics covered in our informational conference call will include:

  • The application process for the award.
  • The existence of the Jernigan Award, a national scholarship
    equivalent to the McDonald Fellowship in purpose.
  • The mentoring aspect of the McDonald Fellowship winners.
  • Testimonials from past winners of the award and what their
    convention experience was like.

The conference call will begin promptly at 8pm and will be facilitated by Student Division president Kimberly Valko, board member Robert Parsons, and McDonald Fellowship chair Sandy Halverson. For more information on this call and what the McDonald Fellowship has to offer, please join us on the conference call:

  • Wednesday, February 17, 2016
  • 8:00 P.M.
  • Phone Number: (641) 715-3850
  • Pin Number: 184 934

We hope that the prospect of attending National Convention with us will entice you to join us and hopefully submit an application to attend this irreplaceable experience.

2015 NFBV Scholarship Winners!

We thank the 2015 NFBV Scholarship Committee,

  • Sarah Patnaude , Co-Chair
  • Brian Miller, co-Chair
  • Deepa Goraya
  • C.J. Fish
  • Tasha Hubbard

For their countless hours to serve.

The committee is pleased to announce that there are two scholarship
finalists:

  • Robert Parsons (Richmond Chapter)
  • and

  • Chelsea Cook (At Large Chapter).

Please join me in offering congratulations to them both! We look forward to being with them at convention.

Thank you,

Michael Kasey

President

National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

How Blind and Vvision Impaired Youth can Make Friends, be Independent, and Have the Future They Want: 2015 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

The 2015 convention of the National Federation of the blind of Virginia

(Oct. 29 through Nov. 1)

wants to help vision impaired youth to have the future
you want. The NFBV will be presenting programs just for you that will give you the information you need to make friends, be confident, and make your own money. Vision loss doesn’t mean dependency.

Click here to download an accessible PDF containing the information you have been waiting for.

Click here to get information on how to register for the convention.