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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Spring/Summer 2017 eNews

Creating a World of No Limits for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired

The words no limits appear above the braille translation

Nine-year-old Nestor loves to ride the train. The L train is the one he rides the most, and he likes to think that someday, when he is grown, he will work for the MTA as the engineer that drives that very train.

It doesn’t occur to Nestor that his visual impairment might keep him from realizing his dreams. He can see the day clearly, when he stands at the controls, and lurches the train forward, pushing it high speed through tunnels and toward the next station. He ignores anyone who tells him he isn’t being realistic.

“A guy was like, ‘Hey! You can’t be a train driver because you can’t see!’” Nestor recalls. “But in my opinion, I don’t think that’s true.”

Nestor is right to dream with no limits. Thanks to technology and other advancements in access and education, there’s no telling what might be possible for him when he grows up.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is launching its new No Limits campaign, dedicated to creating a world of no limits for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. We believe everyone should be able to learn, live, and work to their fullest potential, and we’re committed to discovering solutions that make that possible.

In the past we hoped for a future of inclusion. But today we are at a crossroads where there is a real possibility of a world with no limits – where people who are blind or visually impaired are working, going to school, and participating in community life, unhindered by barriers. AFB can see this future, and we’re determined to make sure that everyone else can see it too – both the people we serve and the world at large.

Through our No Limits message and public awareness campaign, we hope to harness the energy, inspiration, and motivation of key partners and the public to make this vision a reality. The timing could not be more critical.

The key factors for creating this world – technology, government policy and funding, workplace innovation – are already changing at a dizzying pace. People who are blind or visually impaired must be included in this future NOW or they will continue to be left behind.

We have made progress, but we cannot settle for the status quo. People who are blind still have higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and illness than those who are not, despite equal talent and ability.

The American Foundation for the Blind is committed to trading those outcomes for a more positive and equitable future. We hope to see Nestor driving his train, working for the MTA in some capacity, or even working as a veterinarian, which is his second career choice.

“I’m going to have four pets and children, probably,” he says, as he gazes into his future. “And if I do real well for myself, I’ll live in Manhattan.”

Join us in creating a world of no limits for kids like Nestor. Visit today to get involved.

AFB Celebrates the 2017 Helen Keller Achievement Award Honorees

Netflix, Google, and architect Chris Downey, AIA, received 2017 Helen Keller Achievement Awards at a gala in New York City on June 15. Each year, AFB presents the Achievement Awards to individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to improving the quality of life of people with vision loss.

AFB Board Chair Larry Kimbler stands with AFB President and CEO Kirk Adams, Netflix's Brian Macken, event MC Patricia Walsh, Google's Shawn Lauriat, and architect Chris Downey

The honorees and their accomplishments include:

  • Netflix for adding audio description to its streaming and DVD library content.
  • Google, for its significant investment in the development of products and services accessible to people living with disabilities.
  • Architect Chris Downey, for his innovative living and working space designs and his inspiring personal story as a successful professional with vision loss.
JPMorgan Chase staff enjoy the 2017 HKAA gala

Our thanks to our event Benefactor JPMorgan Chase; Underwriters the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals; Patrons Genentech, Google, Netflix, and UPS; and VIPs AB Data, CBS Television Network, Charter Communications, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, National Association of Broadcasters, and Vornado Realty Trust.

Next year’s Helen Keller Achievement Awards will take place in Oakland, CA, on April 4, to kick off the 2018 AFB Leadership Conference. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please contact Amanda Kolling at

Save the Date! AFB Leadership Conference Set for Oakland in April 2018

This year’s Joint AFB Leadership and Virginia Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) Conference(March 2–4 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott) attracted nearly 450 attendees (our largest attendance yet) from 41 different states and seven countries for three days of informative sessions, inspirational keynotes, and affirming award presentations.

Migel luncheon attendees give a standing ovation to the 2017 honorees

Our thanks to Mississippi State University, whose generous funding allows us to provide the popular track on aging and vision loss, to Vision Serve Alliance for providing the leadership track, and to the Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (AVRT), for leading six sessions geared to vision rehabilitation therapists.

Our deepest gratitude to the sponsors who supported us this year: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Delta Gamma Foundation, CTA and CTA Foundation, Google, Sprint, Verizon, Perkins School for the Blind, Mississippi State University, National Association of Broadcasters, Charter/Spectrum, Microsoft, NIB, Northrop Grumman, AT&T, Canon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Yahoo!, Humanware, APH, Facebook, and CTIA. These generous sponsors help to keep registration fees low and enable us to offer an outstanding program.

2017 Marriott Award winner Bob Vetere, past Marriott Award recipient Russell Shaffer, and NASA's Denna Lambert lead a discussion

Last, but certainly not least, special thanks to our partners who provided invaluable time and resources for this conference: AVRT, NIB, Maryland School for the Blind, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, and Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. Additional thanks to Maryland School for the Blind for brailling the conference, Migel, and Access Award programs, and to NIB and Delta Gamma for providing a crew of experienced volunteers.

Please mark your calendars now for the 2018 Leadership Conference, which will be held at the Oakland City Center Marriott, April 5–7. If you are interested in sponsorship, advertising, or exhibiting opportunities, please contact Amanda Kolling ( We look forward to seeing you again next year!

AccessWorld and JVIB Have a New Look

Your in-depth access technology content source (AccessWorld) and the essential professional resource for information about visual impairment (the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness) you love are now easier to navigate thanks to a fresh redesign. Visit AccessWorld Magazine’s homepage and check out the July issue, which is dedicated to tips for heading back to school. And then head to JVIB to learn how you can earn continuing-education credits by reading JVIB articles.

AFB’s CareerConnect® Announces New Lesson Plans

The new Transition to College lesson plans for teachers and professionals of individuals who are blind or visually impaired will be released later this summer. The new lesson plans include activities to help guide students transitioning from high school to college on understanding admission requirements, the cost of attending college, and the skills students with visual impairments need to succeed. This series will include approximately 20 lessons in total and can be partnered with the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide from last year.

AFB’s FamilyConnect® Offers New O&M Resources

A new orientation and mobility (O&M) section is in the works for FamilyConnect. The O&M information will be reorganized and expanded for children and teens who are blind or visually impaired. This is expected to be completed prior to the new school year in August. FamilyConnect is also updating the Teen section of the site for easier navigation.

AFB’s VisionAware™ Translates the Blind Parenting Series

The Blind Parenting series from VisionAware’s peer advisors has been translated into Spanish. This material is the first of its kind and is sure to impact the lives of those Spanish-speaking parents with vision loss. There are over 10 articles available and more are on the way this summer.

From the AFB Blogs

The American Foundation for the Blind and Coalition of Aging Organizations Oppose American Health Care Act Provisions
by Mark Richert, posted on the “AFB Blog”

Creating a World of No Limits
by Kirk Adams, posted on the “AFB Blog”

No Limits: Accessible Technology from Helen Keller to Google
by Helen Selsdon, posted on the “AFB Blog”

It's Officially Summertime! Don't Let Your Productivity at Work Go on Vacation
by Alicia Wolfe, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

Avoid a Rough Transition to Work As a Job Seeker Who Is Visually Impaired
by Steve Cardenas, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

Are Your Unemployment Challenges As a Person with Vision Loss Making You Bitter or Better? You Have a Choice.
by Alicia Wolfe, posted on “CareerConnect Blog”

My Experience As a Summer Transition Specialist with Blind and Visually Impaired Teens
by Shannon Carollo, posted on “FamilyConnect: A Parent’s Voice”

Empowered by Sports: The United States Association of Blind Athletes Offers Life-Changing Recreational Opportunities
by AFB Staff, posted on “FamilyConnect: A Parent’s Voice”

It’s Only a Cabbage
by Emily Coleman, posted on “Raising a Child Who Is Blind and...”

3 Helpful Tips When Taking Eddie Somewhere New
by Emily Coleman, posted on “Raising a Child Who Is Blind and...”

How Edward Came into the World
by Emily Coleman, posted on “Raising a Child Who Is Blind and...”

New Research: Combat-Related Blast Exposure Can Result in Prolonged Retinal Injury, Even in the Absence of Detectable Brain Changes
by Maureen Duffy, posted on the “VisionAware Blog”

Taking It to the Streets: Make the 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss Happen on a Local Level
by Priscilla Rogers, posted on the “VisionAware Blog”

Aira: A New and Exciting Access Service for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
by Audrey Demmitt, posted on the “VisionAware Blog”

Review of "I Am Helen Keller" by Brad Meltzer
by Holly Bonner, posted on the “Visually Impaired: Now What? Blog”

Shared Vision Quest Coast-to-Coast Ride: Interview with Mike Robertson
by Steve Kelley, posted on the “Visually Impaired: Now What? Blog”

Reasons Accidents Happen and How to Minimize Them As an Individual with Vision Loss
by Lynda Jones, posted on the “Visually Impaired: Now What? Blog”

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