In the journey of navigating blindness and visual impairment, finding support and resources is paramount. Among the organizations making a significant impact in this space is the National Federation for the Blind (NFB). Founded over eight decades ago, the NFB has been a beacon of hope and empowerment for individuals experiencing sight loss and those supporting them.
For someone experiencing any kind of disability, it’s often difficult to conquer numerous social barriers to succeed. But in 1940, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek founded NFB; the very first national organization that has paved the way to so many doors opening for those who are blind and visually impaired in America.
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek was born in 1911 as the son of Canadian prairie homesteaders. At the age of seven, he lost his vision in one eye due to a bow-and-arrow accident. At the age of fourteen, his remaining sight had completely deteriorated, and he became totally blind.
His life and career reflected what he believed about blindness—blindness does not equal incapacity. As a teenager, he attended the California School for the Blind in Berkley. He had the ability to network by writing numerous letters. He became the leader of the blind civil rights movement, a constitutional and welfare rights activist, an accomplished professor at University of California, Berkley, a public servant, scholar and orator.
The Origin of NFB
By 1934 Dr. Jacobus ten Broek joined with others to form the California Council of the Blind. This later became the National Federation of the Blind of California, which ultimately evolved into NFB.
NFB was born out of the need to address the systemic challenges faced by the blind and visually impaired community. Dr. tenBroek envisioned an organization that would unite blind individuals, creating a strong collective voice to advocate for their rights and improve their quality of life. Today, the NFB stands as a testament to his vision.
The Impact of NFB
Over the years, the NFB has achieved numerous milestones, significantly impacting the lives of those with visual impairments. The organization has played a pivotal role in advocating for crucial legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws have been instrumental in advancing the rights and opportunities of the blind community, ensuring equal access to education, employment, and public services.
How Can NFB Be Helpful to You
The NFB provides a wide range of services and resources tailored to the needs of blind and visually impaired individuals. These services include education and training in essential skills like Braille, assistive technology, and orientation and mobility. NFB also offers support in employment and career development, empowering blind individuals to pursue their professional aspirations. Additionally, the organization runs programs to promote independent living and offers scholarships to blind students pursuing higher education.
The NFB Convention
One of the most anticipated events in the blind community is the NFB Annual Convention. This gathering serves as a hub for networking, learning, and advocacy. It typically takes place in early July and attracts thousands of attendees from across the nation. The convention features seminars, workshops, and presentations on various topics related to blindness and visual impairment. It’s an opportunity to connect with peers, learn about the latest technologies, and engage in discussions that empower the community.
How to Become an NFB Member
Becoming a member of the NFB is a simple yet impactful way to support and be a part of this community. Membership provides access to resources, information, and a platform to contribute to advocacy efforts. To join, visit their “Join Us” page. You can locate and become a member of your local chapter, or contact your state affiliate president.
Through its advocacy, services, and annual convention, the NFB continues to be a vital resource and a beacon of hope for this community. Whether you are personally affected by sight loss or wish to support the cause, the NFB provides opportunities for engagement and positive change.
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About Us. National Federation of the Blind, 2023 https://nfb.org/about-us
“Dr. Jacobus tenBroek.” Blind.net, National Federation of the Blind, 1990, 2010,
Blake, Lou Ann. “Who was Jacobus tenBroek?” Braille Monitor, nfb.org, 2006,
“History and Governance.” National Federation of the Blind, 2023 https://nfb.org/about-us/history-and-governance
“Join Us.” National Federation of the Blind, 2023, https://nfb.org/get-involved/join-us.