[Nfbnet-members-list] Blind Man to Take to the Road at Daytona International Speedway

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Fri Jan 28 22:14:24 UTC 2011

Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen at nfb.org
Blind Man to Take to the Road
at Daytona International Speedway
Baltimore, Maryland (January 28, 2011):

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest 
organization of blind people in the nation, announced
today that Mark Anthony Riccobono, a blind executive who directs 
technology, research, and education programs for the organization, 
will be the first blind
individual to drive a street vehicle in public.  Mr. Riccobono will 
be behind the wheel of a Ford Escape hybrid equipped with nonvisual 
technology allowing
a blind person to drive it independently as part of a historic 
demonstration scheduled during pre-race activities leading up to the 
Rolex 24 at the Daytona
International Speedway.  The demonstration is set to take place at 
11:30 a.m. EST on January 29.
Mr. Riccobono said: "I have been blind since the age of five, so I 
never got to try for a driver's license or drive a car without 
another person telling
me which way to steer.  The NFB's leadership in the Blind Driver 
Challenge(tm) has taken something almost everyone believed was an 
impossible dream and
turned it into reality.  I am looking forward to getting behind the 
wheel and demonstrating to the world that being blind does not 
prevent me from engaging
in any activity I choose as long as I am able to get the information 
I need.  This will be a truly historic occasion for my blind brothers 
and sisters
and for America, and I am humbled and proud to be part of it."
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "The sight of a blind individual driving a vehicle without 
assistance from a sighted
person will shake the foundation of public misconceptions about 
blindness and blind people by showing that even tasks that are 
thought to require vision
are possible if a blind person has access to information in a 
nonvisual way.  Vision is not a requirement for success.  Capacity, 
imagination, and determination
are all that is needed, and blind people have all of these qualities."
Mr. Riccobono was the first director of the Wisconsin Center for the 
Blind and Visually Impaired, a state agency that serves Wisconsin's 
blind children.
Since coming to the headquarters of the National Federation of the 
Blind in 2003, he has spearheaded many initiatives, including 
educational programs designed
to engage blind youth in the fields of science, technology, 
engineering, and mathematics.  He currently serves as executive 
director of the NFB Jernigan
Institute.  He and his wife Melissa, who has worked as a school 
counselor and serves as president of the Maryland affiliate of the 
NFB, live in Baltimore
with their two small children, Austin and Oriana.
The NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) is a research project of the 
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute-the only research 
and training facility
on blindness operated by the blind.  The Jernigan Institute 
challenged universities, technology developers, and other interested 
innovators to establish
NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) (BDC) teams, in collaboration with the 
NFB, to build interface technologies that will empower blind people 
to drive a car
independently.  The purpose of the NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) is 
to stimulate the development of nonvisual interface technology.  The 
Virginia Tech/TORC
NFB BDC team, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of the 
Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech., is the only 
team that has accepted
the challenge.  The team uses the ByWire XGV(tm) developed by TORC 
technologies as the research platform for the development and testing 
of the nonvisual
interface technologies that allow a blind person to drive.
For more information about the NFB, please visit
  For our digital news release about the Blind Driver Challenge(tm) 
and the debut of the BDC car at the Rolex 24, including audio and 
video clips for television
and radio, please visit


About the National Federation of the Blind
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
people in the United
States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, 
education, research, technology, and programs encouraging 
independence and self-confidence.
It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of 
the nation's blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National 
Federation of the
Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in 
the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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