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The Vigilant: June 2018

Joe Orozco, Editor

From the President’s Desk

Our NFB national convention is coming up fast. As you can imagine, things are rather busy at all levels of the organization. The frenzy of activities is even more exciting because we are part of the 2018 Convention Host Committee. Like many of you, I am energized by the great spirit of camaraderie this annual tradition offers. I look forward to connecting with friends, being inspired by our members pushing themselves to try new things and recharging my batteries with our philosophy at our “Federation family Reunion.”

Virginia Caucus

Please plan to join us at the Virginia Caucus on Wednesday, July 4 at 10:00 PM in Weikia 6.

Come meet our McDonald Fellowship and Jernigan Scholarship finalists as well as our National Scholarship finalist. Participate in our banquet exchange. Learn about the happenings across our various affiliate programs and enjoy fellowship with other Virginians and guests from across the country.

For additional details, contact:

Tracy Soforenko
Phone: 202-285-4595

Banquet Ticket Exchange at Convention

Everyone should plan to be at the banquet which serves as the convention high point. It would be great if we could sit together to cheer on our 2 National Scholarship Finalists and have some fun with the enthusiasm with a few Virginia cheers.

Banquet tickets are received from registration but you must exchange your ticket for a separate ticket to get a specific seat at a table. When you get your ticket, write your name on the ticket with print or Braille. If you want a vegetarian or special meal, also write that on the ticket. please speak to Evelyn Valdez who is coordinating Virginia’s banquet ticket exchange. Please make certain you highlight any special needs for meals. You can catch Evelyn at our affiliate caucus on Wednesday, July 4, or you may reach her via phone: 908-803-4891, or via email at: .

Do not delay. Evelyn will need to turn in tickets on the first day of General Session so please get her your tickets. If you want to sit with a specific group, give the tickets to Evelyn in a batch so she can ensure you can sit together at the same table. I believe banquet tables will hold up to 10 people.

Welcom Concert

I hope you are excited about our Welcome Concert scheduled for Friday, July 6 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Besides our headliner, APL.De.Ap from the Black Eyed Peas, we have tremendous performers including:

  • Marion Gwizdala, who sings and plays acoustic guitar
  • Precious Perez, who sings classic and rhythm & blues while playing the ukulele accompanied by a bongo player
  • James Brown, who will be leading a number of Federation songs such as Live the Life You Want and other recent Federation favorites

We will be selling $10 wrist bands which will be available for sale at the Welcome Table in the Lobby, the Hospitality Suite, the Virginia Table in the Exhibit Hall, and at the SUN table. All proceeds from the wrist band sales should be kept separate from other sales and should be provided to Sean McMahon. Sean can be reached on his mobile phone at 520 247-2197 or email at

Virginia Table in the Exhibit Hall (D19)

In order for the Virginia affiliate to accomplish all our goals, we need to fund the organization. One way we raise funds is by selling products at the Virginia table in the exhibit hall. This year, the Virginia table is D19.

We need you to work a shift at the exhibit hall. You will be partnered with someone else and it is a great way to make new connections and help us raise necessary funds.
While the Exhibit Hall is open each state, affiliate has their own table. At that table we get to meet and greet other fellow Federationists and their guests, sell our products (our peanuts are always a big hit,) and be an overall ambassador for our affiliate. With the exception of the General Sessions, the Exhibit Hall is the main hub of the convention.

Listed below are the times that our table will be operating and we will need individuals to fill those slots.

  • Wednesday, July 4th: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Thursday, July 5th: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
  • Friday, July 6th: 12:00 noon to 1:45 pm and 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 7th: 12:00 noon to 1:45 pm.

All shifts are currently available. Earl will also need a few individuals to assist him with setting up our table prior to our 11:00 am opening on Wednesday, July 4th and helping to break the table down after closing on Saturday July 7th.

Please contact Earl at the information listed below and if you have some desired shifts you would prefer to work let him know so he can try to accommodate you.
You can reach him via email at: or via cell phone at: (804) 252-8998.

Six Dot Dash

On June 3, the NFB of Virginia had 9 participants in the National Federation of the Blind Six Dot Dash in Baltimore. It was an outstanding event and we had a blast. Thanks to the generosity of President Riccobono, we had the opportunity to stay overnight at the Jernigan Institute and President Riccobono even met us for dessert and coffee back at the center after a long night working on the banquet address.

We were concerned because the weather reports predicted a downpour in the morning. However, the weather held out and it was a gorgeous cool morning with more than 100 participants and great fellowship. Potomac Chapter member Carl KNOETTNER had the fastest time in his age cohort. I will admit that I was having fun chatting with old friends and new during my walk of the 6 kilometers and did not have a fast time but it was a great morning.

Our Virginia team had a great time and truly enjoyed participating in this exciting event. The race was efficiently run, the course was beautiful, and we enjoyed the company of Federationists and friends from Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia.

Joe Ruffalo, a member of our National Board of Directors and President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey summed up the event more eloquently than I could:

“Every step I took was one step closer to the finish line however, we never
finish as the finish line should become our new starting line.
Every step I took was a step closer for Braille literacy for all.
Every step I took was in memory for all that came before us to make our
lives easier than the generation that came before us.
every step I took was a step for the next generation that is learning that
it is respectable to be blind.
Every step I took wants me to share the gift of the Federation.
Every step I took with my Federation family to raise expectations to live
the life we want was a step of joy!”

Project RISE at the Jernigan Institute

Over the weekend of June 8-10, our Project RISE students enjoyed an engaging program at the NFB Jernigan Institute. While the newsletter provides greater detail on this fantastic program, I wanted to share that I truly enjoyed getting to know these outstanding students, the staff and mentors and the volunteers who made this possible. I am impressed by our students, thrilled by the capabilities of the staff and grateful for the support from our National Center staff. It was an honor to be part of something that worked so well.

Visiting chapters

As I have mentioned, I really enjoy meeting our members in person. I am very pleased to attend the June 21 Fairfax Chapter meeting. Please let me know what your chapter is planning and maybe I can join you at your next chapter event.

As I said, it’s a busy time for us, and I hope you are finding a way to be a part of the activity. I mean this sincerely, it is not the same without you, so if we have missed you recently, please consider coming back soon.

Yours in service,

Tracy Soforenko, President
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

This Month’s Words of Inspiration

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”–Sam Ewing

Products to be sold at convention

From Michael Kasey, Fundraising Committee Chair and Earl Everett, Virginia Table Coordinator.

In addition to Welcome Concert Wrist Bands, we will be selling the following products:
We encourage you to help sell our items at convention, either at the Virginia table or as you travel around the Rosen Shingle Creek property. You may obtain these from either Michael Kasey, Mark Roane or Earl Everett at convention.

  1. Virginia Peanuts – Available in salted or butter toasted. We will sell these for $3 per bag or 2 bags for $5
  2. Maxell wired ear buds with a .5 standard jack for only $5.
  3. Two in One Lightning Adapter to allow for connecting both standard earphones and a charging cable simultaneously. Since the iPhone 7, wired headphones and the charging cable share the same flat Lightning port. If you need to charge your phone and still use 3.5-millimeter earphones, you need this 2 in 1 adapter. This $10 device is well built and will be a great asset.
  4. Leather Cross Body Bag – this Genuine Leather bag is ideal for holding your Aira Google Glasses and a MiFi or any number of other items. Measurements: height 7.8 inches; Width: 9 inches. Fully satin lined interior. Various colors including black, dark blue, red, and purple. Strap drop is adjustable from 14 to 28 inches. This bag can be worn over your shoulder or around your neck. Safe and secure, great for a small every day bag. This bag would be fantastic for keeping your Aira glasses and My-fi together. Suggested price $15.00 per bag.

The 2018 NFB Southeast Regional Student Seminar

An opportunity to sharpen self-advocacy, confidence, and social networking skills for blind students.

Eligibility: Blind High School and college students in the southeast states. Other interested students are welcomed to attend.

Activities Include: Engaging workshops with Federation mentors, interactive confidence-building opportunities, and chances to apply NFB philosophy to real world situations.

When: August 10-12, 2018

Where: National Federation of the Blind
The Jernigan institute
200 East Wells St.
Baltimore, MD 21230

To register, please contact Naim abu El-Hawa, Vice President, Virginia Association of Blind Students at 202.848.8932.

Registration opens on May 15, 2018 and closes on July 15, 2018. For any questions about this event, please contact Robert Parsons at 804.801.7674. Students that attend school in Virginia or Washington D.C. are eligible to receive a $25 subsidy to assist with travel expenses to the event.

Independence Market volunteers Needed

Mrs. Maurer and the NFB community Relations Team is compiling the schedules for the Independence Market demonstrators/helpers, storekeepers/pay station attendants, line marshals, and cashiers at the 2018 NFB National Convention.
We are looking for some people to work shifts and ask you to volunteer by emailing the Community relations Team at

Please reach out to them soon so you can get a shift that works for your schedule.

It is contemplated that each demonstrator/helper will work a four-hour (morning or afternoon) and a two-hour (lunch) shift. This is only a total of six hours.

As you may be aware, there are other duties to be fulfilled in the market. The shift times we will assign to line marshals or other positions within the market will be the same as the ones for demonstrators/helpers and the storekeepers/pay station attendants. The exception is cashiers. The days the cashiers work, their shifts will be extended to accommodate the count out procedure at the end of the shift.

Please consider helping to make the Independence Market a great place to find jus the items our members need.

A Loving Donation

From Brian and Danielle McCann (formerly Trevino)

Dear NFBV Family,

Over the past two years, we have been incredibly blessed to have found love and happiness with one another and on May 12 of this year, we were united in marriage. The National Federation of the Blind of Virginia has played an important role in our lives. Your support of us as individuals as well as us as a couple has truly meant a lot.
We believe that happiness and joy should be shared so as one of our wedding favors, we decided to give a small gift that will hopefully keep on giving.

It was a beach-themed wedding so to keep with the style, we did the following:

We placed organza bags in each guest’s place at the tables. Each bag had six gold coins in it. On our sweetheart table, we arranged three treasure chests. Each chest was designated for one of the three charitable organizations that have impacted our lives the most. Guiding Eyes, in honor of Brian’s guide dog Julie, the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia which was instrumental in the crossing of our paths, and the seeing Eye, in honor of Danielle’s guide dogs Abbie, Valla, Katie, and currently, Schulz.

We invited our guests to come up to our table and place their coins in the chest(s) of their choosing with the promise that we would count up the coins and donate the equivalent dollar amount to the three organizations.

We’d like to let you know that the NFB of Virginia’s chest had 73 coins in it so we are donating $73.00 with our sincere gratitude for the love and support you have given to us.

With love,

Brian and Danielle McCann

Do You Want to be Your Own Boss?
By Joe Orozco

I’ve heard blind people give advice that in today’s job market, starting your own business is a viable option. And, it is, but most people fail to see the reality of going at it alone. I run a freelance copywriting business outside of my day job. It keeps me afloat when our federal government shuts down, and I have to go to work without getting paid. I figure maybe one day I’ll grow old and retire from catching bad people, but when that day comes, I had better be prepared to make a smart transition.

Here’s a blog post I previously wrote for my freelance blog:

Self-employment looks appealing for someone who wants to quit a job they hate. Working for yourself, however, does not mean total, or instant, freedom. Being the boss will put you in direct contact with the obligations from which you were once shielded.

As a self-employed entrepreneur you will need to work twice as hard to enjoy the benefits you had as someone else’s employee. You will need to pay for your own health and life insurance, account for your full share of taxes, cultivate your own retirement plan, and cover your own vacation and sick leave. We haven’t even begun touching on the expense of day-to-day operations. Working for someone else generally means you will have a steady check and benefits even in slow months. If you cannot meet the obligations of maintaining a business with enough money left over to pay yourself, you are probably not ready to fly solo.

The idea that you can be your own boss is something of a mirage. Someone outside of your control will always call the shots. If your clients aren’t satisfied, your clients won’t buy your product or service. True, you can pick and choose the assignments you take, but you don’t get a complete picture of what it is like to work for someone until you’ve actually started working for them. Trust me; you will eventually wind up working with people far worse than the supervisor you thought you hated.

Are you prepared to stake your reputation on resolving conflicts with difficult customers? Working for someone else means personal differences can generally be kept within a department or within the company. Working for yourself, however, means you are the company, and the negative repercussions of personal differences could taint the customer base you serve. Word of mouth is just as good at destroying as it is at promoting.

But, you say, I am a creative type whose only boss is my mind!

Can you feel me patting your head?

There is a difference between doing something as a hobby and doing something to make a living. Even authors who spend hours working on the next bestseller are beholden to their readers to keep the royalties flowing. If readers aren’t buying what you have to say, it’s going to be a while before you can enjoy the flexibility of writing from a balcony overlooking a sun-swept beach.

Given all my negativity, you may have gotten the impression that I am against your dream to start your own venture. On the contrary, I am squarely in your corner, but I despise marketers who make it seem as though the only key ingredient to successful self-employment is desire. You need time, talent, and the tenacity to persevere when the chips are down, because more than 90% of businesses fold in the first five years.

Tips for Preparing for the Plunge

  • Think about the kind of work you can still see yourself doing in ten years.
  • Network inside and outside of your current job to learn your trade and identify potential customers.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for partners or contractors who can help lift your business idea.
  • Keep your day job and work for a couple clients after hours to get a taste for self-employment.
  • Start putting money aside that could sustain you for up to a year.
  • Minimize, or outright eliminate, any looming debt that could hurt your credit.
  • Familiarize yourself with the tasks you enjoy doing and those tasks you would rather outsource.
  • Do not leave your current job under negative terms; your boss could be an asset.
  • Expect the unexpected. If you’re injured and can’t work, who will pick up the slack?

Self-employment is an exciting prospect. There is something appealing about setting your own schedule, determining your own worth, and having something to show for your hard work, but that’s just it. Going into business for yourself full-time means raw determination.

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.

Exhibit Hall Information & Table Assignments

Exhibit Hall Assistance Desk

To the right of the entrance of the Exhibit Hall outside in the hallway is where you can request assistance. Hardcopies of this information will be available for your review. Assistance is available with navigating the Exhibit Hall upon request for those who would like it. There are a limited number of guides, so requests may not be able to be filled immediately at the time of the request.

Exhibitors Inside the Birches Exhibit Hall

The tables inside the Exhibit Hall are arranged in a rectangle around the perimeter of the room and are sequentially numbered in a counter-clockwise direction. Tables 1 and 2 are to the right of the entrance of the Exhibit Hall along a short wall. Tables 3 through 10 are along the long wall opposite the entrance. Tables 11 and 12 are along the opposite short wall. Tables 13 through 18 are along the long wall to the left of the entrance when you come in. Braille and large print labels with the table number are on the front right corner of each table.

  1. S&G Endeavors, Ltd.
  2. Sprint Vision
  3. VANDA Pharmaceutical
  4. BAUM USA Inc.
  5. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  6. Integration Technologies Group, Inc.
  7. Buddy Grey Music
  8. TCS Associates –
  9. Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
  10. Torres Foundation for the Blind
  11. Allied Instructional Services
  12. VFO Group
  13. Christian Ministry Teachers, as Audio Bibles for the Blind
  14. NFB Newsline of Virginia
  15. Anthem HealthKeepers Plus
  16. Aira
  17. ABLEnow
  18. No Exhibitor

Exhibitors in the Hallway Outside the Exhibit Hall

As you come out of the Exhibit Hall into the hallway, you will find tables 19 through 23 along the wall to your right. You will find a group of 3 tables, a gap, and 2 more tables.
19 No Exhibitor
20 Greater Alexandria Chapter of the NFB of Virginia
21 Blue Ridge Chapter of the NFB of Virginia
22 Peninsula Chapter
23 Virginia Association of Blind Merchants

Auction items

Displayed in the hallway along the wall across from the Exhibit Hall on tables 24 through 26.

Senior Seminar Agenda

Pines Room

12:15 Lunch.

12:45 Business Meeting:
Welcome, Nancy Yeager, President, NFBV Senior Division.
Introduction of attendees.
Division Minutes and Treasurer’s Report,
Sandy Halverson, First Vice President, NFBV; Potomac Chapter, NFBV; and Secretary/Treasurer, NFBV Senior Division.

12:55 Transportation Options – Going Places On Your Terms:
Moderator: Wanda Taylor, Church School organizer; Member, Alexandria Lions Club and other community organizations; Member, Alexandria Chapter, NFBV; and Member, NFBV Senior Division.

Uber and Lyft: Earl Everett, 2016 Leadership Fellow; Legislative Representative and Secretary, Richmond Chapter, NFBV; and Member, NFBV Senior Division.

Go Go Grandparent: Joe Hobson, Retired Public Relations Manager; Member, Potomac Chapter, NFBV; Member, NFBV Senior Division.

1:15 International Seniors Perspective:
Fred Schroeder, President, World Blind Union; and Former President, NFB of Virginia.

1:45 Break

2:00 (Room, Oaks 1) Seniors in Charge – Blind Seniors Learn New Skills and Gain Confidence:
Video Produced by the Colorado Center for the Blind, Littleton, Colorado.

2:30 (Pines Room) New Gadgets -Voice Recorder and Labeling System.

2:40 What’s Happening Nationally:
Glenn Crosby, Board Member, NFB Senior Division; Former President, NFB of Texas; Former member, NFB Board of Directors; and, along with his wife, Norma, received the 2017 Jacobus tenBroek Award.

3:00 Life After Hearing Loss:
Julie Greenfield, CMP, Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.
Jenifer McGilligan, Sign Language Interpreter
Mary Ann Kessler, Doylstown, PA; and Member, NFBV Senior Division

4:00 Feeling Low – Reaching Out and Making Connections, Emotional Support for Seniors:
Wanda Taylor
Joe Hobson
Debbie Everdale, Former Pre-School Teacher; Member, Potomac Chapter, NFBV; and Member, NFBV Senior Division.

4:30 Seminar adjourns.

The Vigilant – October 2017

Joe Orozco, Editor

From the President’s Desk

As you know, state convention is around the corner. We’ve been hard at work laying the final touches on what promises to be an event well worth your attendance, and hopefully, well worth the company of many of your friends and family.

If you are reading this message, I want to extend a heartfelt challenge. I would love for you to reach out to at least two people in your circle and encourage them to join us at Tyson’s Corner. I don’t mean individuals you already know who plan on joining us. I mean people who may have drifted away from us, people who might need a little extra boost the likes of which you know can be delivered through a convention. I’m talking about people, blind or sighted, who may have never heard of the Federation, and here’s the thing. I don’t want you to post to your Facebook or Twitter and call the challenge fulfilled. I would like you to send a personal email, or better yet, pick up the phone and tell them how much we would love to see them in just a few weeks. If everyone who reads this message can extend that personal invitation to at least two people they know, just think of how marvelous we can truly make this event.

One of the projects we’ve been working on in preparation for the convention is our recently unveiled Project RISE, the youth transition program proposal we brought forth to the board meeting in August. I am happy to report a team has been convened to propel this program forward, and I am even happier to report the work of this group is laying the groundwork for the kind of excellent service our affiliate is capable of demonstrating to the organization at large.

We are also hard at work crafting an employment component that will yield tangible results in your professional growth. From an etiquette dinner to collaboration in the workplace, from interviewing skills to dressing for success, our presenters are eager to engage you in dynamic seminars tailored to build your confidence no matter where you are in your career.

There is so much more to update and discuss. You cannot begin to imagine how excited we are to tell you all about it in just a few short weeks.

If you have not already done so, please Pre-register for the convention right now so that you save money. Remember, pre-registration ends Thursday, October 12. Remember October 12 is also the deadline to reserve your hotel rooms. For all the details on the agenda, deadlines, orientation and the like, please head over to the convention landing page to get all the information you need.

Thank you to everyone who has played a role in maintaining the momentum after National Convention. Thank you to everyone who continues carrying out the mission across our local chapters and divisions. Thank you to everyone who freely gives of their time to participate in email exchanges, teleconferences, in-person meetings, and other endeavors on behalf of your affiliate. Thank you for continuing to be a part of our Virginia family. Without you, this movement would not be the same.

Yours in service,

Tracy Soforenko, President
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

This Month’s Inspiration

“Parents often come to me looking for advice about the education of their children. The advice I give is pretty simple. Their children need, I tell them, to find alternative techniques for reading, mobility, and the like. On the whole, these techniques need to be as effective as those used by sighted peers if parents want their kids to be prepared to compete on terms of equality. Braille and print are just two parts of the total mix… Print or Braille? It’s a silly question not worth asking, as far as I am concerned. Most blind kids need to learn both.”–Charlie Brown, from the Winter/Spring issue of Future Reflections

Upcoming Events

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 14, 2017

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
Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore, 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, or email:

We invite anyone from our federation family to join us in this first annual event. If you cannot come, encourage anyone who lives in Southeastern Virginia to participate and or pledge to a walker. We appreciate all of your support in this new event.

The Return of the Prince William Chapter!

On October 2, members met to discuss the preliminary steps to reorganize the Prince William Chapter, formerly referred to as the Woodbridge Chapter. Among other topics, those present on the call discussed transportation, possible meeting locations, and of course, state convention. A first in-person meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, October 28.


Chin Center Library
13065 Chinn Park Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22192.

Time: 3:00 PM

For more information, please contact Marc Canamaso at: (571) 208-7889.

Spaghetti Dinner

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, the Peninsula Chapter will be hosting a spaghetti dinner to raise money for our chapter. The cost will be $8 or $4 for all veterans. For more information, please contact President Uricka Harrison at: (757) 898-1781.

Save the Date: Richmond Seminar 2018

Yeah yeah. It’s all about State Convention planning right now, but hey, it’s never too early to flip the calendar and start filling in important dates for the new year. Richmond Seminar will be held Tuesday, January 16, and even though our appointments will be held at a different venue, our lodging will be familiar. We are going back to the Delta Hotel, formerly known as the Crown Plaza. Room rates will be $129, and reservations can be made either by calling: 844-781-7397 and referencing NFBVA, or by booking online. Note reservations must be made by Thursday, January 4.

Sign Up for the Fairfax Chapter Newsletter

Want to keep up with all the cool and exciting activities the Fairfax Chapter is up to? Want to learn about our exciting and informative monthly programs? Want to find out about activities in the Fairfax area you’ll want to be a part of?

Here is how.

The Fairfax Chapter of the NFBV has a newsletter list and it is easy to be a part of it.

Simply click here, put in your email address, and you are done.

You will be one of the first to learn about our motorcycle rides around the city, indoor rock climbing adventures, and much much more.

So, what is keeping you? Click to sign up now!

State Convention News

The Exhibit Hall is Calling You!

This year’s Convention Exhibit Hall will be open from 12:00pm – 5:00pm on Friday November 3 with over 15 exciting exhibitors. You will not want to miss seeing the latest technology, learning about helpful resources and services, supporting your fellow NFBV Chapters by buying a raffle ticket or 2 for their spectacular prizes, and getting started on your holiday shopping with the various items for sale. Most of all you will not want to miss your chance at winning one of many door prizes donated by:

  • Allied Instructional Services
  • Audio Bibles for the Blind
  • BAUM USA, Inc.
  • BlindAlive
  • Buddy Gray Music
  • Christian Ministry Teachers
  • Torres Foundation for the Blind
  • VFO

Door prize details and how you can earn a chance to win will be coming soon. If you have questions, or if you know of an exhibitor who would like to squeeze in at the last minute, please contact Annette Carr, Exhibits Coordinator at: (703) 915-2837, or via email at

Door Prizes

Convention is right around the corner, and we need your help! Sarah Blumberg and I, Sarah Patnaude, co-coordinators of door prizes, are looking to assemble a small team to assist us in collecting and giving away door prizes at convention. If you want in on the fun, and we all know door prizes are fun, let either Sarah Blumberg or I know. What do we need?

  1. Someone to help us man the door prize table during registration
  2. 1-2 people willing to assist us during a general session with giving away prizes, specifically calling out names which will be in Braille.

If you have time on Friday to assist us or are willing to lend us your enthusiasm during a general session, please reach out to either one of us!

And, hey, are you ready to try your luck at convention and possibly win a door prize? I’ll let you in on a little secret on how you can increase your chance to being a lucky winner. The secret to winning a door prize is by having prizes in the first place. That’s right, you can’t win if there are no door prizes to give away. That’s where all of you come in. Your door prize coordinators, Sarah Blumberg and I, Sarah Patnaude, need your help with collecting door prizes.

As you collect door prizes, please email Sarah Blumberg or I with the following information.

  1. What the door prize is
  2. Who (individual or chapter) gets the credit

We look forward to another successful convention filled with many lucky winners!

Below is our contact information.

Thank you,

Sarah Patnaude, Co-Coordinator of Door Prizes

Sarah Patnaude
(804) 591 6153

Sarah Blumberg
(202) 427 4814

Excuse Me, Are You Interested in Joining Us for an Etiquette Dinner?

Do you remember to use utensils moving from farthest to closest to your plate? If food is served at the table, did you know to move items in a counter-clockwise flow? If eating soup, did you know you should scoop away from you? If drinking from a stemmed glass, did you know to lift the glass by its stem? Once finished did you know to partially fold your napkin and rest it to the left of your plate to signal you are done?

Aaaaaah, so many little unspoken rules!

And yet, so important that we know these and other socially accepted norms so that we make the best impression for our friends, family, and colleagues.

On Friday evening at the State Convention we will be hosting an etiquette dinner to go over some of the key points concerning dining in professional settings. It is very important that you please register in advance. The cost to pre-register will be $5, which you can take care of when you register online. Please know that the meal itself will be out of pocket. You will not pay for the meal as part of your registration packet. We are working with the hotel to prepare a menu that is delicious and affordable.

For etiquette dinner time and location details, please see the agenda.

Convention Arrangements

This is my first year running the logistics and operations for State Convention. As such, I will most likely make mistakes. Even though I am assembling a dream team to make the convention run as smoothly as possible, the buck stops here. For whatever goes well, you can thank my team. For whatever goes sideways, blame me.

Now, because I do enjoy minimizing errors, please stay with me for a couple items.

First, issues with the hotel. If you have problems making room reservations, please let me know. If you are experiencing slow or less than adequate service at the restaurant, please let me know. If the hotel has set up unnecessary obstacles, please let me know, and of course, if you are a speaker at the convention and require something for your room setup, please let me know.

It’s going to be November when we have our convention. Though I can try to ask that climate control be kept at a Goldie Locks level of just right, please don’t count on it. Bring jackets or blankets or whatever you need to self-regulate temperature.

Also, if the typical things go wrong in your room, whether it be related to amenities or something going wrong in your bathroom and the like, please call the front desk.

Second, the banquet. Our annual banquet is a key highlight of our upcoming state convention. It will feature a great keynote address, award presentations, our famous, or infamous, action auction, and a great opportunity to break bread with old and new friends.

As your Convention Arrangements Chair, here’s my sincere request:

Please purchase your ticket in advance, and please bring your ticket to banquet. Please do not put me in the awkward position of having to resolve meal orders Saturday evening at the banquet itself. The absolute last time you can purchase tickets will be on site Saturday morning, November 4, but if you have a couple minutes to spare, please register now so that you can have this step already taken care of by the time you get to convention.

Also, please help me and the hotel staff by not entering the ballroom before 7:00 PM. If you are an exception, you will be notified beforehand. Please do not challenge our marshals by attempting to get into the ballroom before it is time. Remember, there will be a pre-banquet reception going on where your presence and drinking of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is most needed.

And, finally, marshals. The affiliate will provide marshals for the board meeting, general sessions, and the banquet. If you are a division president or leading one of our seminars, I am kindly asking you to either recruit someone to help serve as a talking sign for your meeting or talk to our Chief Marshal, Sean McMahon, about arranging for a volunteer to help advertise your meeting room’s location. Sean can be reached via email at: .

For questions, concerns, complaints, you will find the best phone number for me that weekend in the agenda, but for your immediate reference, that number will be: 202-810-4023. Please do not email me as I will be very slow to check my inbox that weekend.

Whatever my team and I can do to help make your convention experience a great one, please let me know.

Respectfully yours,

Joe Orozco, Chairman,
Convention Arrangements

In Other News

Introducing A Couple New Virginia Federationists

The NFBV has been a key stakeholder in the concerns affecting blind residents in the commonwealth since 1958. The organization administers robust programs aimed at reversing general misconceptions of blindness. To that end, the NFBV believes the time is right to become more directly involved in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable segment of the community, blind children and youth. Hence, we introduce Project RISE, a program you’ll learn more about at our upcoming state convention.

But, who is supposed to help steer this ship?

Kathryn Webster, Program Coordinator

Kathryn Webster is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Data Analytics and Statistics. Kathryn grew up in Connecticut and is excited to begin her life in northern Virginia as a Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Outside of work, Kathryn serves as president for the National Association of Blind Students, bringing her passion of mentoring students and paving the path for future blind people together in this unique opportunity. She loves reading, traveling, and spending time on the beach. Kathryn says: “I am eager to kick off this program by promoting the abilities of blind transition aged students in the northern Virginia area. Project RISE will blend together the ideal mentors with promising students to provide experiences, preparation, and confidence to all participants.”

Luke Schwinck, Logistics Coordinator

Luke Schwinck, originally hailing from the mid-west, is a transplant in Alexandria, Virginia. Luke recently graduated from Wichita State University with an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology and a graduate degree in sports manager, with emphases in marketing and event management. He has had extensive experience mentoring both sighted and blind children and young adults in a variety of settings. Currently, he is serving on the board of the National Association of Blind Students and was a dedicated student leader in Kansas. Luke is married to Jamie, with one adorable boy, Jerico. Luke says: “It’s awesome when you get to combine all of your interests into one experience. Serving as Logistics Coordinator encourages me to execute my marketing and event planning skills, while transforming potential into reality for blind students.”

Welcome to Kathryn and Luke! Please be sure to make them feel at home in their new affiliate.

More ATM Testers Needed

We have an opportunity for a few more people to serve as ATM testers. The requirements are the same but the tests will need to be completed in October.

Please let me know if you can take on this testing responsibility and complete the task in October. The details are below.

In the NFB, we use collective action to break down barriers to accessibility to enable full participation in society.

The NFB will conduct nationwide Cardtronics ATM testing in September and October of this year as an important part of the NFB’s settlement agreement with Cardtronics. Our affiliate is included in this testing effort and will have the opportunity to test at least eleven ATMs for accessibility. If you would like to be a tester, please contact me before October 7. Testers will need to be able to read Braille instructions and should be comfortable using an ATM and completing an online survey. Testers will be asked to confirm that voice guidance software and other accessibility features have been added to specific, assigned Cardtronics ATMs. The tester’s role is critical to this project and I thank you for considering being involved.

As noted above, you must be familiar with using an ATM, must be a Braille reader who can assess that the Braille is accurate, must be able to log your results on a web site, and must be able to take notes about your experience

There are thousands of Cardtronics ATMs in Virginia, often in CVS and Seven 11.

You will be provided 1 or 2 very specific ATMs in your ZIP code to test since not all the ATMs are Cardtronics owned and operated so I will ask you to provide the following:


Phone number

Email Address

ZIP Code (you could provide both the ZIP code near your home or workplace)

There is a very specific set of questions to answer for each test so we are looking for individuals who can reliably complete this testing between September 1 and October 15. We want testers from around Virginia and We can reimburse expenses for completing the tests. You will be expected to withdraw money and that may incur a charge with your bank. Upon completion of the test, you will need to log your results on a web site to provide your detailed test results. This is how we will know if you completed the test.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me.

Tracy Soforenko
202 285-4595

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.

59TH Annual Convention

Tracy Soforenko, President

November 3 – 5, 2017

7801 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, Virginia 22043
(703) 893-1340

John Halverson, President

Our National Representative:
Norma Crosby, President, National federation of the Blind of Texas and Member of the Board of Directors, National Federation of the Blind

The Federation Pledge

“I pledge to participate actively
in the efforts 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.”

Convention Registration & Information

Convention registration and information will be held in the Cyprus Room, located in the meeting room area. The cost of on-site registration is $25. Pre-registration packet pick up and on-site registration will be open the following times:

  • Thursday, November 2 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and
    12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, November 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Door prizes and auction items can be brought to the registration desk beginning on Thursday evening.

Meal Functions

Tickets for all meal functions are available at the registration desk. Banquet and box lunch tickets must be purchased by 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 4.

Banquet: Banquet tickets may be purchased onsite for $40. We will not have reserved seating at the banquet this year. Seating will be open, so come early to get seats together. Do not forget to bring your ticket because tickets will be checked at the door.

Box Lunch: If you did not pre-register for a boxed lunch, tickets may be purchased onsite for $18, while supplies last. In addition, a limited number of student pizza lunch tickets may be available for those who did not pre-register for $7.

Note: For more information about hotel, registration or meal functions, please contact Joe Orozco at (202) 810-4023.

Door Prizes

Door prizes will be drawn periodically throughout convention sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and at the banquet. To be eligible for door prizes, you must be registered for the convention and present in the room when your name is called.

Action Auction

Throughout the convention we will be holding an Action Auction to raise money for the affiliate. The auction will be great fun with many valuable items up for bid. You will have a chance to preview auction items on Friday afternoon in the exhibit area. For more information, contact Jacki Brown, Chairperson and Auctioneer.

Contact Table

If you need assistance from the NFB of Virginia (such as helping a blind child get a good education, getting access to blindness skills training, learning to use NFB-NEWSLINE®, or resolving an employment discrimination problem), please go to the contact table. After the convention, a member of the NFB of Virginia will contact you. In addition, if you would like to sign up to receive any of our publications or would like to get regular updates about our programs and legislative efforts, please also visit the contact table. The table will be open during the board meeting, after the opening ceremonies on Friday, during General Session on Saturday, at the end of the banquet, and all morning Sunday. For more information, please contact Alex Castillo at (917) 532-7439.

Youth Track

Youth Track is coordinated by the Virginia Association of Blind Students and will run parallel to the main convention program. The Youth Track will connect students with positive role models and peers throughout the state; challenge students to think about themselves and their role in the civil rights movement; introduce students to our positive NFB philosophy on blindness; educate students about their choices for blindness skills training; and give them the opportunity to participate in exciting activities in the convention hotel. For more information, please contact Derek Manners at (903) 271-6494.


Childcare will be available for infants through fifth graders whose parents are registered for the convention. Child care will be available throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. Childcare will be located in the Redwood Room (Lower Level). We will have activities and games for the children. For more information, please contact Naim Abu El Hawa at (202) 848-8932.

Childcare will be offered at the following times:

  • Session 1: Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Session 2: Friday, 12:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
  • Session 3: Friday, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Session 4: Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Session 5: Saturday, 12:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
  • Session 6: Saturday, 6:45 p.m. to one half hour after the banquet ends

Snacks will be provided during Sessions 1, 2, 4 and 5. Even though childcare will be open and fully staffed during lunch on both Friday and Saturday, lunch will not be provided. Parents should either pick their children up for lunch at the end of Session 1 and Session 4 or provide a lunch for their children in the childcare room. Also, dinner will not be provided on Saturday evening. Parents should feed their children dinner prior to bringing them to Session 6. The cost of childcare is $10 per family per session.

Dog Relief Area

The Westin Tyson’s Corner has several grass areas on the property. There is one designated dog relief area, which is located at the end of the function hallway and through the exit doors. Walk down the steps and on your left, is a grassy area. Please deposit all waste in the trashcans provided.

Assistive Listening Devices

A limited number of assistive listening devices are available during all convention sessions and at the banquet. For an assistive listening device, please go to the contact table located in the back of the hall during all convention general sessions. A credit card or identification card is required as a deposit for the equipment.

Daylight Saving Time

Don’t forget to set your watches back one hour for the change that occurs early Sunday morning. Smart phones, of course, should handle this change automatically.

Presidential Suite

The Presidential Suite is Room 939.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Registration: Cyprus Room.

8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Prince William Chapter Organizing Meet Up: Presidential Suite, Room 939. We are re-establishing our Prince William Chapter. Interested individuals should join us for this informal meet up to discuss how do we meet our goals and make connections in the Prince William County area.

FRIDAY, November 3, 2017

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Registration: Cyprus Room.

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. NFB of Virginia Board of Directors Meeting (Open to All): Oaks Rooms 1 & 2.

General Session: Oaks Rooms 1 & 2

10:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Opening Ceremonies:

  • Call to Order – Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia.
  • Invocation – Rev. John Shellito, Associate Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Presentation of the Colors – NFB of Virginia Veterans.
  • Pledge of Allegiance – Ashley Tyron, 2017 NFB BELL Program Participant, Ashburn, Virginia.
  • Federation Pledge.
  • Star Spangled Banner – Mary Fernandez, Greater Alexandria Chapter, Woodbridge New Jersey.
  • Greetings from Our Host Chapter – John Halverson, President, Potomac Chapter, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Convention Arrangements – Joe Orozco, Chairperson, Convention Organization and Arrangements.

10:20 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Seniors Taking Charge: A Panel Discussion:

  • Nancy Yeager, Moderator, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Roberta Cohen, Chantilly, Virginia.
  • Mary Anne Kessler, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

10:40 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone: Reflections from Virginia’s 2017 McDonald Fellows and Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Winners:

  • Moderator: Sandy Halverson, Acting Chairperson, McDonald Fellowship Committee, and NFB of Virginia Liaison, Kenneth Jernigan Convention Scholarship Fund Committee.
  • Portia Baskerville, Richmond, Virginia.
  • Michael Kitchens, Portsmouth, Virginia.
  • Gerald Meredith, Richmond, Virginia.
  • Brandon Shuttleworth, Arlington, Virginia.

11:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. iParenting: Life as a Blind Mom in the Digital Age. Angie Matney, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

11:10 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. Action Auction.

11:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Welcome to Tyson’s Corner. Delegate Patrick Hope, 47th District in Arlington, Virginia.

11:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. Reports and Announcements

11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Rehabilitation Services for the Blind in Virginia. Raymond Hopkins, Commissioner, Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

12:00 p.m. General Session Adjourns.

12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Registration: Cyprus Room.

12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Exhibits: The Birches Room. Annette Carr, Exhibits Coordinator.

1:00p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Resolutions Committee: The Pines Room, Jennifer Shields, Chairperson. We encourage the participation of all members in setting Federation policy. Come help shape the policies of the NFB of Virginia.

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Virginia Association to Promote the Use of Braille. Evergreen Room, Patricia Droppers, President. Please come and join the Virginia Association to Promote the Use of Braille (VAPUB) where we will be able to put our hands on some new technology related to braille as well as discuss other important issues relevant to braille literacy for people of all ages. Help us show Virginians that braille is thriving.

Friday Afternoon Concurrent Seminars

2:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Eyes on you: Dress, connect, impress – Increasing the social and the professional you by Maximizing your Wardrobe Potential, Cultivating Relationships, and Leaving an Everlasting Impression. Uricka Harrison, Evelyn Valdez, and Alexander Castillo, Co-chairs, Dogwood Room (lower level). Focus on how you present yourself, both professionally and personally, to achieve your goals, promote your brand, and make a strong impression on others.

2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Living the Collaborative Life you Want – How Blind People Strategize to Work in a Visually Oriented Workplace: Oaks 1 Room, Sean McMahon, Chair. How do blind people effectively collaborate in the workplace be it remote virtual or face-to-face with their peers? We will have an interactive panel discussion about the technology and alternative techniques used by blind professionals to enhance their productivity on the job. In addition, participants will get the opportunity to apply the skills discussed in an interactive collaboration exercise.

4:00 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. Emergency Preparedness: Making Your Plans – Dogwood Room (lower level). Learn about how to create a plan for an emergency and overcome obstacles should an emergency occur. Learn from others and keep in control.

  • John Bailey, Moderator.
  • Courtney Arroyo, Outreach and Disabilities Integration Liaison, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management.
  • Norma Crosby, President, National Federation of the Blind of Texas.
  • Evelyn Valdez, Logistics Management Specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Public Meeting on DBVI Divisions, Programs and Services: Oaks 2 Room, Susan K. Davis, Policy and Training Coordinator, Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

    5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. At-Large Chapter Meeting and Reception: Presidential Suite, Room 939, Rick Holley, Chairperson.

    6:15 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Winning them Over with Professionalism and Poise: An Etiquette Dinner. Joe Hobson, Coordinator, Palm Court Room within the Blue Fire Grill. Pre-registration was required for this event.

    7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Convention Hospitality: Oaks 1 Room. Hosted by the Potomac Chapter, John Halverson, President. All registered convention attendees are welcome to join us for this fun Western themed evening of fellowship and hospitality. Don’t forget your ticket provided with your registration to enter this event.

    7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. A Walk on the Wild Side: Braille Carnival: The Pines Room. Hosted by the Virginia Parents of Blind Children: Laurie Wages, President
    Join us, with your children of any age, as you take a walk on the wild side to explore the animals encountered on a safari. Come play games and have a snack! We hope to see you there!

    8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Student Membership Kickoff: Dogwood Room (Lower Level), Robert Parsons, President.

    8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Virginia Association of Guide Dog Users Meeting. Willow Room, Robert Parsons, Secretary. The Virginia Association of Guide Dog Users will be conducting an informative business meeting regarding future division programs, legislative updates, and a special election for current vacant positions on its executive board. Please join in to cover topics like the ride share monitoring program, effective post training techniques, and medical/health related tips for new and seasoned handlers.

    10:15 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Scholarship Mixer: Presidential Suite, Room 939, Brian Miller, Chairperson.

    Saturday, November 4, 2017

    8:00 a.m. to 10:00a.m. Registration: Cyprus Room.

    General Session: Oaks Rooms 1 & 2

    9:00 a.m. Call to Order -Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia.

    9:00 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. Invocation – Althea Pittman, President, Eastern Shore Chapter, Melfa, Virginia.

    9:05 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. National Report – Norma Crosby, President, National Federation of the Blind of Texas and Member of the Board of Directors, National Federation of the Blind.

    9:35 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. Introducing the 2017 NFB of Virginia James F. Nelson, Jr. Scholarship Finalists. Brian Miller, Chair.

    9:40 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Action Auction.

    9:45 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. Engaging in STEM fields: A Youth Slam Experience. Michael Munn, 2017 Youth Slam Participant, Berryville, Virginia.

    9:55 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Our Globetrotter: Building Dreams Around the World. Fredric Schroeder, President, World Blind Union

    10:15 a.m. to 10:25 an Innovation at Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions, (BLIND Inc) Rob Hobson, Coordinator for Professional Development and Outreach, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    10:25 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Action Auction.

    10:30 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Struggles and Success in IEP Advocacy: A Parent’s Perspective on Providing Students the Skills They Need for Long-term Success. Giao Lai, Parent, Warrenton, Virginia.

    10:40 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Step One: Engaging Students. Robert Parsons, President, Virginia Association of Blind Students, Richmond, Virginia.

    10:50 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Project RISE: Resilience, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment. Kathryn Webster, Project RISE Program Coordinator, National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, Arlington, Virginia.

    11:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. NFB-BELL: Early Literacy, A Lifetime of Possibilities. Alex Castillo and Beth Sellers, Virginia NFB BELL Academy Program Coordinators.

    11:15 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. The Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired: Partnering for Success-Melody Roane, Director, Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VRCBVI).

    11:25 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Action Auction.

    11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Presidential Report, Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia.

    12:00 p.m. General Session Adjourns.

    12:05 p.m. to 12:15 p.m. Box Lunch Pickup: Intersection of Oaks Foyer and Main Hall (at the top of the ‘T’).

    12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Upward Mobility Luncheon, Mary Fernandez, Coordinator, River Birch Room. This luncheon will focus on individuals who are early in their career and trying to grow to move up the employment ladder. Whether you are a young professional, seeking to change careers, or trying to figure out how to find and partake of new opportunities, join us to connect and discover ideas for your future.

    12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Seniors Division Luncheon and Business meeting, Pines Room. Nancy Yeager, President.

    12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Virginia Association of Blind Merchants Division Luncheon and Business Meeting. Water Birch Room. Andre Tynes, Vice President

    12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Virginia Parents of Blind Children Luncheon and Business Meeting. Evergreen Room.
    Laurie Wages, President. Network with other parents: Use a Slate and Stylus Under Blindfold.

    12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Blind Students Luncheon and Business Meeting. Dogwood Room (Lower Level).
    Robert Parsons, President. Student Pizza Lunch pick up will be held in the Dogwood Room starting at 12:05 p.m.

    1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Registration. Cyprus Room.

    Saturday Afternoon

    Breakout Sessions

    1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Youth Track, Dogwood Room (Lower Level), Robert Parsons, President.

    2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Getting the Job Done – Advancing Your Job/Career Prospects, the Birches Room. Amir Rahimi, Communications Manager, ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, Coordinator. This career workshop will focus on helping you get and grow on the job. Whether you are a job seeker, a new employee, or someone trying to advance in the evolving workplace, this dynamic workshop will provide you the skills to navigate with greater confidence. We will combine great presentations, interactive sessions and the opportunity to learn from our peers to help you succeed. This year’s seminar will focus on self-reliance, private sector solutions, and charting your own path. Key areas of focus will include resume and cover letter critique, mock interviews, overcoming obstacles in the workplace, and networking best practices.

    2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Parent Track, Evergreen Room, Laurie Wages, President, Virginia Parents of Blind Children. Get your questions answered about the NFB from Michael Kasey, Past President of the NFB of Virginia and learn alternative techniques for your child

    2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Senior Track: Seniors in Charge. Video presentation and Discussion. Oaks 1 Room, Nancy Yeager, President.

    2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Senior Track: Staying in the Game. Pines Room, Nancy Yeager, President. Participate in discussions and presentations on such topics as: hearing loss; transportation; Senior activities around the country; and low impact exercise.

    3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Do You Dream in Color? Oaks 1 Room. Join us for a screening of the critically acclaimed film “Do You Dream in Color?” about four inspiring blind students and their journeys. This will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions to parents and NFB leaders. We will also discuss how the NFB can help students achieve their dreams in a discussion facilitated by Brian Miller and Fred Schroeder.

    5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Project RISE Open House for Northern Virginia students and parents.
    Kathryn Webster, Project RISE Program Coordinator, Evergreen Room. Learn more about Project RISE, meet our team and ask your questions.

    2017 Convention Banquet: Oaks Ballroom

    6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pre-Banquet Reception (Cash Bar): Oaks Foyer.

    7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Banquet Program – Charles Brown, Master of Ceremonies and Past President, NFB of Virginia.

    Invocation-Rev. Dr. Eugene Thomas, United Methodist Church, Arlington, Virginia.

    2017 James F. Nelson Scholarship Awards Presentation-Brian Miller, Scholarship Committee Chairperson.

    Banquet Address – Norma Crosby, President, National Federation of the Blind of Texas and Member of the Board of Directors, National Federation of the Blind.

    Action Auction – Jacki Brown, Chairperson and Auctioneer.

    Sunday, November 5, 2017

    8:00 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. Devotions: Evergreen Room.

    General Session: Oaks Rooms 1 & 2

    9:00 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. A Musical Invocation

    9:05 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. Building Your Federation Fervor: A Philosophical Study. Joe Orozco, NFB of Virginia Leadership Fellow, Woodbridge, Virginia.

    9:35 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Youth Track: Dogwood Room (Lower Level), Derek Manners, Coordinator.

    9:35 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Access to Information: NFB Newsline, the KNFB Reader and other technology to keep You Informed. Scott White, Director of sponsored Technologies, National Federation of the Blind, Baltimore, Maryland.

    9:45 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. X Marks The Spot. Evelyn Valdez, Potomac Chapter, Alexandria, Virginia.

    9:55 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Action Auction.
    10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Business Session:

    • Audit Committee Report-Michael Kasey, Chairperson.
    • Treasurer’s Report-Mark Roane, Treasurer
    • SUN Committee Report: Sandy Halverson, Chairperson.
    • 2018 Richmond and Washington Seminars-Deepa Goraya and Derek Manners, Legislative Directors
    • 2018 National Convention.
    • 2018 NFB of Virginia Convention.
    • Resolutions-Jennifer Shields, Chairperson.
    • Nominating Committee Report-Michael Kasey, Chairperson.
    • Elections.
    • Report of Youth Track Activities-Derek Manners, Coordinator.
    • Old and New Business.
    • Closing Remarks-Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia

    12:00 p.m. General Session Adjourns.

    Thank you to our Potomac Chapter for hosting the 2017 NFB of Virginia State Convention. Your hospitality made us feel like family and it made the convention one of our best ever.

    Thank You to Our Sponsors

    Gold Sponsors

    S&G Endeavors, Ltd. – S & G Endeavors has delivered collaborative strategic planning, meeting facilitation, and organizational development services for the last 15 years, to assist our clients in strengthening collaboration and overall success. Our firm has significant experience working with government, nonprofit, and for-profit companies on a variety of strategic-planning and facilitation projects all geared to improving overall effectiveness and efficiency. Differentiating us from our competitors is our use of large-scale and collaborative change and facilitation methods. These methods are based on the guiding principle that bringing the right people together with the right process allows the community or organization to tap into the wisdom that leadership and stakeholders bring, in turn, increasing ownership of new, actionable strategies. S&G is proud that our clients report that through our work, they have used a successful planning process that increases buy-in, allows for participative decision making, and engages participants in capacity building dialogue. 614-519-3026

    Sprint Vision – Sprint is committed to working with phone manufacturers and the blind and low vision community to deliver user-friendly accessible phones. 703-282-9846

    Silver Sponsors

    VANDA Pharmaceutical – A specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies to address high unmet medical needs and improve the lives of patients, such as those with Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24). 202-734-3400

    Bronze Sponsors

    ABLEnow – Virginia is among the first states in the country to offer an ABLE program, which provides people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to save money for today’s needs or invest for tomorrow in a simple, affordable and tax-advantaged account. Save for the future without endangering eligibility for certain benefit programs critical to health and well-being. 844-NOW-ABLE 804-310-0961 Rebecca Lyons

    Adaptify Solutions – We provide services and products for persons that are Blind, Low Vision, Deaf, Hard of Hearing and the DeafBlind. The services include Braille, Typing instruction, eye doctor, counseling, support groups. In our Store we have items that talk, large print, watches, phones, clocks, safety items etc. 301-589-0866 Christopher Emery

    Aira – Develops transformative technology that provides greater information and independence to those with vision loss by connecting them immediately via Smart Glass to a network of certified Agents. 858-876-2472

    Allied Instructional Services – Low Vision and Blindness Products, Embossers and Software. 804-368-8475

    Audio Bibles for the Blind – Audio Bibles produced especially for use with talking book players gives the reader the ability to navigate by book, chapter, and verse. Stop by and learn how to access this free resource. 941-748-3031

    BAUM USA, Inc. – BAUM Retec has been creating and improving assistive technology for people with low vision and blindness for more than 35 years. BAUM USA is one of six international offices dedicated to supporting people with vision impairment by providing world-class products and support. 855-620-7985

    BlindAlive LLC – Descriptive exercise routines include cardio, weights, BootCamp, stability ball, yoga, Pilates, stretching, balance, and a set of gentle workouts for beginners. Descriptions are provided within the exercise routines, and supplementary audio and text descriptions are also available. Workouts can either be downloaded to your computer or purchased on CD, thumb drive, or SD card. BlindAlive also has a newsletter, blog, and podcast, all available on our website or leave a message for a return call at 570-212-9979

    Buddy Gray Music – Do you have a piano that needs to be tuned or moved? Have you ever considered a career in piano tuning? If you answered yes to any of these questions, stop by to chat with Buddy about his company’s services, as well as learn about a career in piano tuning.

    Christian Ministry Teachers, – Free Bible literature in Braille, large print, audio, and RTF formats. 910-619-6576

    Integration Technologies Group, Inc. – Adaptive Technology available through Humanware for People with Visual Disabilities, 703-698-8282

    TCS Associates – TCS offers a full suite of innovative accessible services and solutions to ensure that employees with disabilities, students and individuals are able to perform the essential functions of their positions, have equal access to technology in the workplace and enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment and the pursuit of their personal or professional goals. 240-248-1826

    The Bureau of Engraving and Printing – Distribution of the iBill money Readers (Free) 202-874-2608

    Torres Foundation for the Blind – Blindness and low vision products. 202-349-8486

    VFO – Assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired. 800-444-4443

    Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired – VRCBVI provides quality training in the skills of blindness and promotes positive attitudes about the capabilities of blind individuals to make positive contributions at work and in the community. In addition to the training program we offer for adults, we also offer innovative and fun programs for blind youth that will challenge them to reach their full potential. Learn about these and other exciting initiatives at VRCBVI! 804-371-3323

    Exhibit Tables from NFBV Chapters and Divisions

    Blue Ridge Chapter of the NFB of Virginia – Hand-painted glass ornaments for sale. They make great holiday gifts. Stop by and check out the “Taste of Charlottesville” basket being raffled. Once you see what is included you will not be able to resist buying a raffle ticket or two. 434-409-8013

    Greater Alexandria Chapter of the NFB of Virginia – Stop by and see what the newest NFBV Chapter has been up to. 703-785-9929 Brian R. Miller

    Peninsula Chapter – Raffling off a beautiful hand-made crocheted blanket. Winter is coming, so stop by to buy a ticket or 2 for a chance to stay snuggly warm this winter. 757-848-1781 Uricka Harris

    “Virginia Association of Blind Merchants – 50/50 raffle. Gather your friends and buy a few tickets. The more tickets that are purchased will increase the jack-pot. The more tickets you buy the better your chance of feeding your wallet with some extra cash. 410-404-5255 Harold Wilson

    Dream Makers Circle

    You can help build a future of opportunity for the blind by becoming a member of our Dream Makers Circle. Your legacy gift to the National Federation of the Blind or the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia can be made in the form of a will or living trust, an income generating gift, or by naming us as the beneficiary of a retirement plan, IRA, pension, or a life insurance policy. You can designate a specific amount, a percentage, or list NFB as one of several beneficiaries. For additional information, please contact Patti Chang at (410) 659-9314, extension 2422 or at

    Vehicle Donations

    The National Federation of the Blind uses car donations to improve the education of blind children, distribute free white canes, help veterans, and so much more. We have partnered with Vehicles for Charity to process donated vehicles. Please call toll-free (855) 659-9314, and a representative can make arrangements, or you can donate online by visiting .

  • Join Us in Orlando: the 2017 McDonald Fellowship Program

    The 2017 NFB National Convention is an experience you do not want to miss.
    Many of those who have attended our national NFB conventions are amazed at how meeting and interacting with over 3000 other blind and low vision convention attendees has positively changed their lives. They not only learn how the problems of vision loss can be overcome, but also experience the confidence that comes with solutions.

    Robert and Marian McDonald selflessly contributed to our Virginia affiliate to further the progress and better the lives of those who are blind, visually impaired, and low vision in Virginia. In their honor, we recognize the personal benefits that come to people who attend a national convention for the first time. In their memory, the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia (NFBV) continues their legacy of education and empowerment to Virginia’s blind citizens.

    We anticipate awarding fellowships to assist each recipient with costs of attending our 2017 NFB National Convention to be held in Orlando, FL, from July 10- July 15. Please note: The banquet ends late in the evening of Saturday, July 15 and fellowship winners are expected to attend the banquet so return travel must occur on Sunday, July 16 or later. This event will take place at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

    The McDonald Fellowship program was established in 1998 to assist those who are legally blind and have never attended a convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) or those who have not attended in years and wish to come to a convention this year.

    Federationists are welcome and encouraged to apply for both the Virginia specific McDonald Fellowship and a national Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship. Details on the Jernigan Scholarship program will be emailed separately.

    We will link each of our fellowship winners with mentors who will assist them in getting the most out of their national convention experience. McDonald Fellowship winners are expected to attend the entire NFB convention and share their experiences by addressing our 2017 NFB of Virginia state convention.

    Deadline for applications for the McDonald Fellowship is Saturday, April 15, 2017. Winners will be announced May 15, 2017.

    Your application should be in the form of a letter delivered via electronic mail. There is no specific form for the application. Applicants should write a brief letter outlining reasons why they should be considered for a Fellowship and the letter must include:

    • A) Name, Address, phone and email, contact information
    • B) Chapter or other connection with the affiliate
    • C) How you will benefit from the experience
    • D) How you have participated with your chapter or the affiliate in the
      past year
    • E) Any other pertinent details

    In addition, you are required to contact your Chapter President or an Affiliate Board Member for a letter of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are due by Saturday, April 15, 2017.

    Applications or questions about the Fellowship program should be sent to Mary Durbin, Chairman, McDonald Fellowship Committee,

    or by phone at 757-431-1205 (home) or 757-472-2495 (Cell).

    Our committee wants to help you make 2017 the year you attend our national convention. The convention will be even better because you were there.

    • Mary Durbin
    • McDonald Fellowship Chair
    • 700 Biltmore Drive
    • Virginia Beach, VA 23454
    • 757-431-1205 (home)
    • 757-472-2495 (cell)
    • 757-962-3913 (fax)

    Annette Talks About Why Braille Is So Important

    On June 18, in Fairfax, Virginia, the Fairfax Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind had a table at a local event called Community Day. At the event, adaptive technology specialist Annette Carr talked about why she has been a member of the NFB for over 20 years and how important Braille should be in the lives of vision impaired people.