[Nfbnet-members-list] National Federation of the Blind Newsletter - Reflections

Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind IOF at nfb.org
Tue Dec 6 03:06:00 UTC 2016

National Federation of the Blind logo with tagline: Live the li

Imagineering Our Future

   Issue 92

December 2016

We begin with a letter from our national President, Mark Riccobono. 
This month we are sharing three newsletter articles with you. Harley 
Franklin Fetterman was a wonderful young man and his mom was kind 
enough to share his story. You will want to read about how much this 
inspirational man accomplished. And the holidays are coming soon, so 
we tell you about our Santa letters. We couldn't resist including a 
little on our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academies. 
We follow the articles with a holiday wish from the National 
Federation of the Blind. And at the end of the newsletter, you can 
find links to our calendar and happenings at our NFB JerniganInstitute.

Graphic: section divider

Message from the President

Dear Friend,

The holiday season always brings to mind familiar stories. Some 
stories are about the little miracles that happen and others 
highlight the best of the giving spirit that exists within each of 
us. The holidays are not the only time when the evidence of this 
spirit is observed nor should it be the only time we exercise the joy 
of giving and sharing. I have always found the holidays to be a very 
reflective time to be thankful for all of the people that have had a 
positive influence in my life, especially during the recent year. I 
also enjoy that the holiday season brings out beautiful stories that 
demonstrate the best of who we are and inspire us to extend that 
giving spiritthrough the rest of the year.

I feel blessed that I get to encounter many wonderful stories every 
day through my membership in the National Federation of the Blind. 
Before I knew the Federation, I did not know what I could do as a 
blind person or how far I could extend my dreams. I first met the 
Federation twenty years ago, and I have found myself being thankful 
during every holiday season since that time and this year will be no different.

I have been contributing to this newsletter since we started it back 
in 2008. In fact, nearly every month I find a story from my own life 
to share. However, there are thousands of stories from members of the 
Federation around the country that demonstrate the true impact of our 
work. Therefore, we are going to focus our newsletter more on telling 
the stories of the people impacted by the Federation. Our 
Monitor, our listservs, our social media, 
website, and our other communication channels will continue to keep 
you in the loop about the details of our work and upcoming events. 
While we will continue to provide some information in this newsletter 
we are going to tell more of the stories of influence, impact, and 
inspiration that result from the work of the National Federation of the Blind.

As we come to the end of the year, I am pleased that we can share 
with you the story of a young man who I was blessed to have touch my 
life. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but he gained a lot from 
our organization in the short time he was a member and, in true 
Federation spirit, he gave a lot back to blind people around the country.

I warmly invite you to 
to our end-of-the-year giving drive in order to help us continue to 
have maximum impact on blind people across the country. More 
importantly, I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. I hope 
that the coming year is your best yet, and I look forward to the new 
stories of success we will have to share with you next year.


Graphic: Signature of Mark Riccobono

Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind

Graphic: section divider

Harley Franklin Fetterman: Someone You Should Know

The National Federation of the Blind is blessed with thousands of 
remarkable members. Harley Fetterman was one of them, but Harley was 
more than remarkable. His short life was extraordinary. This article 
shares some remembrances and honors a very special person.

Many things should be said in memoriam of Harley, who passed away 
shortly after graduating from high school at the age of eighteen from 
complications stemming from a bone marrow transplant. Harley's life 
touched all of us. We have been and will continue to be enriched by 
his active membership in the National Federation of the Blind.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Harley is 
"kind." One of Harley's classmates hated to go to school. This 
classmate may have been bullied. He was developmentally delayed and 
therefore different. But Harley took the time to speak with the boy 
and help him learn to shrug off much of the teasing. In the card that 
Harley's mom, Beth Freeborn, received after Harley's death the boy's 
parents expressed gratitude for Harley's chat. No one knows exactly 
what Harley said to this vulnerable classmate, but the boy wanted to 
attend school after Harley reached out to him with understanding and 
caring. Sick kids enjoyed listeningto Harley play his guitar even 
while he was in the hospital coping with his own illnesses.

Another descriptor of young Mr. Fetterman is "persistent." When he 
set out to do something he did it. He wanted to learn music and to 
read Braille music. Despite experiencing significant health problems, 
two rounds of chemotherapy, and two years of dealing with surgeries 
including brain surgery, Harley played at least four instruments by 
the age of eighteen. He wanted to visit all fifty states by the age 
of ten. Mom said that was not doable, but Harley did so before he 
turned eleven. He repeatedly testified in the Texas House of 
Representatives in support of initiatives dealing with blindness.

Harley exhibited his intellect. He worked his way up to the top 
rankings of readers during nine of eleven years in the Braille 
Challenge. He pursued development of a tactile tablet and excelled at 
STEM2U, NFB-EQ, and STEP programs. Before he passed away his dreams 
included obtaining a degree from Texas A&M University.

One of Harley's claims to fame fits his funny and friendly 
personality. He is the only one who has presented jokes twice on our 
monthly Presidential Release. Contemporaries miss him. Precious Perez 
recalls Harley in one of our programs, STEM2U, as funny and fun with 
a serious philosophical underpinning: "a leader who listened."

Harley really "owned his blindness," says his mom. He thought that 
losing his vision at five was an optimum time as he was just learning to read.

Harley delivered an oratory speech in high school entitled 
Is Not Who I Am." In that speech Harley opined, "even though 
blindness has affected me greatly, it is still just a characteristic of mine."

Federation philosophy fit Harley like a glove. The National 
Federation of the Blind helped him some in building the skills of 
blindness like cane travel and Braille. His mother remembers that 
what Harley gained most however from his membership in the Federation 
was confidence. The opportunity to travel and to be surrounded by 
those who believed in his capacity played a part in shaping this 
wonderful youth.

Harley wanted to pay it forward. He benefitted from many mentors and 
he mentored others in our STEM programs. Harley was taken too early 
and we will miss him immensely. We mourn the fact that his future is 
not ours to share. But we can keep Harley's spirit alive. 
Federationists honor his memory whenever we pay it forward. If Harley 
could join us, that is exactly what he would be doing with his love, 
hope, determination, and humor.

Graphic: section divider

Letters from Santa

Many of you already know that we have a letters from Santa 
initiative. The goal is for Santa to write to blind kids in Braille. 
All one needs to do is fill out a short form on behalf of a child 
under the age of ten, and a letter will arrive from the North Pole. 
Stop for a minute though and parse what that really means: a child 
who often is the only Braille reader in their class, school, or even 
their county receives a letter that he or she can read independently. 
No other human reader is necessary. For a child who can feel 
different and alone this is a wondrous thing. "I can read it. I can 
keep it. Santa understands." See 
for more information.

Graphic: section divider

Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Aftermath

We can all talk about our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and 
Learning (BELL) Academies, which ran more than three thousand hours 
of instruction this summer, but what does BELL mean for individual 
kids? BELL impacts its students in many different ways. One 
twelve-year-old NFB BELL Academy student reported that she enjoyed 
her first injury-free trick-or-treat outing thanks to her long white 
cane. She was able to keep up with her friends and enjoy the night 
with confidence in her ability to travel independently and safely. 
Wow! We gift mobility one person at a time.

Graphic: section divider

Happy Holidays

This is our December issue, and we wish all of you happy holidays. We 
send love from our family to you and yours. We wish you the very best 
in the new year. The National Federation of the Blind will move into 
the next year with plans to help blind people like Harley. Our Santa 
Letters and BELL Academies will change lives with love, hope, and 

Do you believe in our mission? Does our tagline, live the life you 
want, inspire you? Do you expect the Federation to continue spreading 
our message that blindness is not the characteristic that defines an 
individual? If you do, we need your help. Please consider a gift to 
the National Federation of the Blind. It is easy.

To give online, visit 
which will take you directly to a simple form. To donate by mail, 
please send your check, made out to the National Federation of the Blind, to:

National Federation of the Blind
Attention: Outreach
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230

Help us to help blind people live the lives they want.

Graphic: section divider


News from around the Federation

tenBroek Library highlights the celebration of the holidays with 
Kernel Book selections.
may only be the beginning of winter, but our access technology team 
is always looking to the future.
national certification of Braille transcribers program extends 
congratulations to those recently certified.
variety of holiday gift selections is offered by the Independence Market team.
moved our legislative agenda. The long-awaited Pedestrian Safety 
Enhancement Act Regulations are out. Now quiet cars will be safer for 
all. These regulations especially impact the blind and cyclists. 
Their legacy will be with us for decades to come.
As you can see, the Federation continues our work every day. 
can visit our calendar to track our upcoming events.

Thank you for reading Imagineering Our Future.

Graphic: section divider

Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity Logo

Combined Federal Campaign Approved Charity Logo

Charity Watch Top Rated Logo

GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant Logo

Charity Star logo

a Gift Today

Back to Top

Image of a hand holding a cell phone with the KNFB Reader logo

Two girls attending Youth Slam smile widely.

Gift Today

To donate a vehicle to the NFB, call toll-free
(855) 659-9314
or visit our

 To donate clothing or household items to the NFB,

or call toll-free
(888) 610-4632
to schedule a pickup or to find drop locations.

Photo: Father and Child

If this issue was forwarded to you and you would like to subscribe, 
please email <mailto:JerniganInstitute at nfb.org.>JerniganInstitute at nfb.org.

Two people use their canes as they walk down the sidewalk.

Please check with your company to see if it offers a matching program 
that will match your gift.

A man uses alternative technologies to read a restaurant menu.

Interesting links:

of Straight Talk About Vision Loss videos

Center for Blind Youth in Science

Technology Tips


A young blind boy examines the leaves on a tree.



of the Nation's Blind

A blind girl reads Braille to her older sister.

Support the National Federation of the Blind through the 

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
United States
(410) 659-9314 

Unsubscribe from this mailing or 
from all future mailings.  
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbnet-members-list_nfbnet.org/attachments/20161205/c48a21fc/attachment.html>

More information about the NFBNet-Members-List mailing list