The Vigilant – September 2017

The Vigilant – September 2017

Joe Orozco, Editor

From the President’s Desk

The Virginia affiliate has been working harder than ever!

First, you may be interested to know we had an outstanding national convention with over 80 people in attendance and 68 people at the Virginia Caucus. I hope you shared the experience that the national convention provides. The national convention is also a great deal of work with Virginians taking part in presentations to the General Session and many smaller sessions, mentoring of first time convention attendees, fundraising, and significant contributions of time and talents throughout the convention to make it a success. Please know that your efforts are truly appreciated. If there are stories from this year’s convention where you helped others or were helped by others, I would love to hear about them.

We completed our Harrisonburg BELL program and Arlington BELL program. These programs make a significant impact on students and parents. I had the honor to visit the program in Arlington and cannot adequately express how fulfilling it was to witness our success. Thank you so much to the individuals tasked with making this such a rewarding experience for the children involved.

At our August 5 Board of Directors meeting, we tackled many items of business. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Project RISE – Project RISE is a pilot pre-employment program for transition age students. We agreed to continue the development of a program and proposal between now and the November state convention. We anticipate an Open House for the program at the state convention and further partnership efforts. If there are questions, please reach out to me.
  2. NFB of Virginia Leadership Fellows – We decided to focus on growing and developing our existing base of Fellows. The current Leadership Fellows will be meeting later in August to discuss how we continue on the path of leadership growth over the next months.
  3. State Convention Brainstorming – There was a rousing discussion of state convention topics. Everyone was pretty excited for our upcoming Virginia convention. As stated at the meeting, please feel free to share additional ideas with me. Please also know that we generated more ideas than can fit. We will integrate what is possible.

Finally, our expanded NFB of Virginia Scholarship Program was just launched. Students are strongly encouraged to apply and take advantage of this program to encourage greater participation in our convention.

The pace is quick and I am excited for our trajectory. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Yours in service,

Tracy Soforenko, President
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

A Word From the Editor

Our affiliate publication is only as good as the information we gather. Much of what I publish here is gleaned from our Announcement list, but really, who wants to read a digest of what you’ve already seen? It’s a start, but I know we can do better.

Please, if you have ideas on how we can improve the publication, do let me know. I’ve contemplated running a series on highlighting members around the state as a way to help us get to know one another. Perhaps we could run a series of items explaining how to operate certain popular apps. Maybe we can spotlight the great work of certain chapters?

All wonderful ideas, but each new idea also means one more item on my plate, so another great addition would be your assistance. If you would like to help with putting this monthly publication together, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Your help will never be turned away.

With that, enjoy this month’s newsletter!


Joe Orozco

This Month’s Inspiration

This month’s message comes from our very own Dr. Fred Schroeder, LITERACY: THE KEY TO OPPORTUNITY, from the Braille Monitor, January 1990.

“When we as blind people seek to change the conception of blindness held by professionals and by society at large, we meet resistance founded in the belief that it is the professional who knows what is best for the blind. Never mind high unemployment and lost opportunity we are asked to accept that the training and technology with which we are plied are the best that can be offered. Never mind that many of us lack the basic dignity that comes from true literacy. As Dr. Jernigan puts it, For all the good will beamed at us by public opinion; for all the aids and services, boosts and assists, props and prosthetics pressed upon us, we, the blind people of this great society, are not yet really free not yet fully independent not yet truly equal. What bars us from first-class status is not inferiority inherent in blindness, but rather the tacit acceptance of a diminished role with minimal expectations and minimal opportunity for full participation. The message I wish to bring is not one of bitterness or hopelessness. Instead, it is my conviction that out of strife and conflict can emerge a new image of the blind as able to compete on terms of equality. To do this we must have available the tools to make it possible. We must develop an attitude that it is respectable to be blind and that the tools associated with blindness constitute the very foundation on which first-class status can be based. It is the negative conditioning of society which leads us to believe that blindness constitutes inferiority and that the tools of blindness likewise equate to inferiority. When we rid ourselves of this false doctrine, then we will be able to free ourselves from the failure concept associated with Braille a concept which promotes the idea that Braille is a last alternative only to be used when all else fails.”

Read the message in its entirety.

Affiliate Highlights

State Convention 2017

State convention is only two months away. Please refer to the State Convention landing page to get details on dates, room rates, key deadlines, and transportation. Check back often as we add more details to the page. You may also wish to subscribe to the Virginia Announcements list to get the information as soon as it becomes available. The online registration has not yet been set up but will be available soon as in years past.

If you experience any difficulty in reserving your room for the convention, please contact Joe Orozco: 202-905-7919.

To help us promote the state convention to your friends, family, and colleagues, please point them to:

Also, we want to engage government agencies, companies, and entrepreneurs interested in promoting their products and services to our membership. If you know of someone interested in making an investment in this year’s convention via our Sponsorship and Exhibits program, please point them to:

Additionally, Earl Everett is gauging interest in reserving a bus to go from our southern chapters to Northern Virginia for the convention. If you have not already done so, please talk to your local chapter leadership. Questions can also be directed to Everett by phone at: (804) 252-8998, or by email at:


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

* 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, at 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.


Please complete this application by entering your responses after each prompt. All applications must be received by October 1, 2017. All supporting documents (i.e., letters of recommendation and transcripts) must be received by October 7, 2017.

1. Full Name:

2. Email address:

3. Preferred phone number (indicate if mobile or home):

4. Mailing Address – Street, City, State & ZIP:

5. Date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY):

6. Year of study – i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate student:

7. Your current or expected field of study (major):

8. What is your degree objective? (Associate, bachelor’s, master’s, law degree, or doctorate):

9. Name of the high school you attended or attend if you are an incoming freshman, and cumulative GPA:

10. Name of the college or university you will be attending in the
2017-18 school year:

11. If you are not an incoming freshman, please provide your cumulative GPA for the college or university where you currently attend:

12. List other colleges or universities you’ve attended, degrees earned, and cumulative GPAs as appropriate:

13. What is your long-term career goal? Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?

14. Describe extracurricular activities or community service in which you have been or are currently involved:

15. What specific techniques and/or attitudes do you think are essential to live independently as a blind person? Describe the skills and strategies you employ as a blind or visually impaired person to accomplish your goals:

16. Provide examples of ways in which you’ve demonstrated leadership – this could be in your community, school, place of worship, or as part of a social organization outside the home:

17. What do you think is the most important challenge facing blind students today?

18. Describe what you hope to gain from the experience of attending the Virginia state convention:

19. Please indicate whether or not one of the leaders of the Virginia state student division may contact you, and by what preferred means – email, phone, text:

20. How did you hear about the NFB of Virginia James F. Nelson scholarship program?

Please tell us anything else you think we should know about you in evaluating your application. Feel free to list any awards you have received, experiences that reflect who you are or anything else you think we might find of interest.

Only complete applications will be considered. The Scholarship Committee takes no responsibility for notifying you if required information is missing from your application. Be sure to review your application for completeness before submitting. If you encounter any difficulty in submitting your application, or if you have questions, please contact the scholarship committee chair.

NFBV Scholarship Committee Chair Contact Information:

Dr. Brian R. Miller

Email: Brianrmiller88 (at)

Phone: 703-785-9929

List of References:

Please provide the names of individuals from whom you intend to seek references, and their affiliation with you as a scholarship applicant.

Reference #1: Name, affiliation

Reference #2: Name, affiliation

Reference #3: Name, affiliation


By typing my full name and the date below, I confirm that all of the information provided above and in related attachments is true and correct to the best
of my knowledge.



NextCare Urgent Care check in kiosk Accessibility

The NFB is investigating the accessibility of NextCare Urgent Care check in kiosks as a part of our ongoing effort to ensure that kiosks are fully and equally accessible to blind customers. There are a number of NextCare locations in Virginia.

If you live or work near a NextCare Urgent Care location and/or have visited a NextCare Urgent Care center within the past year, please contact Valerie Yingling, legal program coordinator at the NFB, at

. Information about NextCare Urgent Care locations are available at

If you want more information, you can also call Valerie at (410) 659-9314, extension 2440.

Virginia ATM accessibility Testers Wanted

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 August 15. 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 Tracy Soforenko, tracy.soforenko (at)

Have you started planning for “Meet the Blind Month” yet?

If you have either already started or just haven’t gotten around to it yet, here is one of the easiest methods for getting the word out about your chapter and making lots of important friends.

Meet the Blind Month is October. White Cane Safety Day is October 15. What could be better?

If you are not familiar with White Cane Safety Day, it was started several years ago to inform the public that those of us who travel using a white cane have as much right to the sidewalks and crosswalks as anyone else. That is right. They really needed a law to say that.

Well, White Cane Safety Day is a perfect opportunity to reach out to your city or county leaders and have them do a proclamation for you. It can give you lots of visibility if you work it right.

Basically, you write up a draft of a proclamation and submit it to one of the local government offices that handles that stuff. They clean it up (making sure to spell everyone’s names right) and set up a date to present it. On that date, you and everyone you can get to support you should show up and get your picture taken with the local officials and you may even be able to make a speech or two. Lots of content for the media.
Creating a proclamation is really easy. Below is an old one the Fairfax Chapter did. All we need to do now is to change the dates and include the name of the new Mayor. Then, just send it in and wait to be contacted.

Below is the old proclamation. Please feel free to tweak it to your needs and submit that. It is really a simple process and there is no reason your chapter shouldn’t be doing it every year to remind others of what a great job you are all doing.


Office of the Mayor
The Honorable Mayor Robert F. Lederer
City of Fairfax

Whereas, on October 15, 2006, the Fairfax Chapter, of The NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF VIRGINIA will observe White Cane Safety Day; and Whereas, the purpose of White Cane Safety Day is to make the public aware of the white cane as a symbol of independence and freedom of blind people, and to promote public awareness of the blind as equal and productive citizens; and Whereas, during this time the NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF VIRGINIA will remind all citizens that persons carrying a white cane or using a dog guide are legally blind and have equal rights under the law to housing; to all places to which the public is invited including, but not limited to, places of lodging, amusement, and recreation; to all modes of public transportation; and to all the streets and byways of our communities; and Whereas, at this time motorists are to remember that the law requires drivers to exercise appropriate care when approaching blind persons; and Whereas, it is also at this time that the NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF VIRGINIA reminds employers that when blind persons receive proper instruction and genuine opportunity, they compete on equal terms with sighted persons and are, in fact, employed within the broad spectrum of competitive labor and within the professions:
Now, therefore, I, Mayor Robert F. Lederer, Mayor of the City of Fairfax, Virginia , do hereby proclaim October 15, 2006, to be White Cane Safety Day in Fairfax and commend the NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND on its sixty-six years of effort to achieve security, equality, and opportunity for all blind people of this nation through education, advocacy, and consultation, and urge all citizens to be cognizant of the events arranged for this time. Dated this 15th day of October, 2006.

Robert F. Lederer

Celebrate Meet the Blind Month with VABS Bowling

Help the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia kick off “Meet the Blind Month” with an afternoon of fun and recreation. The Virginia Association
of Blind Students will be hosting a bowling event to raise awareness of the month and make the presence of our state’s blind residents felt. Bring family, friends, and fellow chapter members to the event and engage in networking, social media campaigns, and a raffle for an Amazon Tap.

Date: Saturday, October 7, 2017

Time: 1pm

Location: Pin Boys at the Beach

1577 Laskin Rd. Suite. 100

Virginia Beach, VA23451

Enjoy a crisp autumn afternoon bowling with friends, relaxing near the oceanside, and supporting the efforts of VABS to educate the public on the effectiveness of blind students in our state and around the country. Our public would be satisfied with hearing all the success stories that blind students can give and you could be just one anecdote away from meeting a future employer or scoring a future internship. Take this afternoon to gamble on a chance to redefine your future.

Price of games for all members are $2 and the shoe rental is free. This is an open event and all friends and family members are welcomed to join us this afternoon. We will be raffling off an Amazon Tap for $5 per ticket. You must be present to win this prize.

For more information, please feel free to contact Robert Parsons, President, at
Fredericksburg program on social media and a simple system for amazing growth

Where are all your new members? Where is all the money that helps your organization make lasting change in your community? Where are all tomorrow’s leaders who are looking for an outlet for their creativity and an organization who can help them realize it. And, why aren’t they coming to you?

Not having a presence on the Internet means you are pretty much invisible. Without being visible, your members will disappear. Your sources for funding will dry up. And, your chapter will become irrelevant in your community.

Getting a social media presence on the Internet isn’t hard if you know how to do it. Ted Talk speaker and Fairfax Chapter President John Bailey has been studying social media and public relations for years and he will be showing us his system for leveraging the power of social media to grow membership, raise more money, and make those community connections that are so important to the growth of any organization.

Just a few years ago, John realized the secret to getting current members reengaged while attracting valuable new ones when using social media.

Not all the social media options are right for every organization. By answering just a few simple questions, John will be able to help you choose which social media outlets are right for you and how effectively you can communicate your value using those channels.

Come join the Fredericksburg Area Chapter on Saturday, September 16, 2017 and learn John’s simple system for growing your chapter’s membership, improving fundraising, and becoming a well-known resource in your community.

Where and When:
10:00 to noon in the Cable Studio room at the Central Rappahannock Library, 1201 Caroline Street.

For more information about the chapter and it’s valuable programs, contact:
Holly Frisch, President
Phone: (540) 899-7747
E-mail: holly (at)

Other Items of Interest

Apple iOS Products and the Blind User

Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired
Apple iOS Products and the Blind User

Instructor: Rich Cavallaro, VRCBVI Access Technology Instructor

Are Apple’s iOS products really accessible for the blind user? Have you heard about the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch? Better yet, do you have one of these devices? Are you unsure how to use it, or wonder if a blind person can really use a touch screen device? Come to this seminar and learn how to:

Navigate a touch screen
Type on an onscreen keyboard
Use the voice over screen reader
Find out what all the buzz is about Siri
Learn how to find, download, and install applications from the app store
Learn what applications are accessible and find resources to make the search for accessible applications easier
Incorporate Braille with an iOS device (both typing and reading Braille)
Who: This workshop is designed for people who are blind or vision impaired who own an iOS device, their families, and for those who will be teaching the use of these devices.

When: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Where: Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired, 401 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227

Cost: $25.00 which includes lunch

How to Register: Call Olga Skorackyj at 804-371-3324 or e-mail her at Then mail a check made payable to VRCBVI in the amount of $25 to VRCBVI, Attention: Olga Skorackyj, 401 Azalea Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227. The deadline for registering is Friday, September 22, 2017. You can cancel your registration through Friday September 22, 2017. After this date, all payments will be non-refundable. Up to fifteen participants will be accepted into the seminar. Once the class is filled, interested individuals will be placed on a waiting list, and will be notified if there are cancelations. If there are fewer than six people registered, the seminar will be canceled.

Come prepared to have fun, learn a lot, and unlock not only your device but its potential as well!

Thrivent’s Choice Dollars donations can help NFB

Are you a member of Thrivent Financial? There are multiple ways for members to give back to the National Federation of the Blind.

Are you a member of Thrivent Financial and eligible to direct Choice Dollars? With Thrivent Choice, you can recommend where some of Thrivent Financial’s charitable outreach funds go. Choice Dollars funds can make a world of difference to the NFB.  Directing Choice Dollars is easy. Simply go to Thrivent Choice to learn more and find program terms and conditions, or contact Nathan Beattie, Financial Associate, at 515-276-1527, extension 228, or

Thrivent’s Action Team Program

Thrivent’s Action Team program is a volunteer program for Thrivent members to lead a one-time fundraiser, service activity, or educational event with the help of their family and friends.  Thrivent will provide resources to help promote the event, promotional items (including Thrivent t-shirts) and a Community Impact Card with $250 of seed money. To learn more and apply, visit Thrivent Action Team, or contact Nathan Beattie, Financial Associate, at 515-276-1527, extension 228 or

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.