The National Federation of the Blind celebrated their 75th anniversary and their Connecticut affiliate held their 44th annual state convention in New London in November.
From Nov. 6 through Nov. 8, the annual convention consisted of several vendors and activists who collectively came together to hold this informational event at the Holiday Inn.
Logan Tech, a design and manufacturing company focusing on assistive technology for the visually impaired and non-verbal community, was represented by their sales manager Gary Tilbe. Glenn Dobbs, CEO of Logan Tech, was inspired to further develop this idea of technological assistance through his son Logan who has severe autism.
“Whether it’s the blind community, autistic community or non-verbal community; Logan Tech has helped many,” Tilbe said. Tilbe served as an advocate for the visually disabled at the NFB-CT convention, showcasing a few of the company’s latest technological advancements. One of their latest achievements, the Braille Label Maker allows for simplistic embossing in braille; useful for people of all ages who are learning braille as well as those who are already familiar with the language. The device also has a keyboard input for individuals who do not understand braille, but still have the need to use the braille labeling system.
Technological advances such as the ones Logan Tech offers, help the blind community live independently. “Expectations are very low in society; people will see someone who is blind and assume they can’t do certain things,” Erin Guillory, an advocate from the Louisiana Center for the Blind, said. He explained that positivity is key when coping with the stereotypes that fall onto those with visual imparities. “My wife is sighted,” Guillory said, a testament to the fact that human nature and compassion can transcend these disabilities.
“We need to be treated with dignity. We’re people like anyone else,” said Esther Levegnale, a board member with the NFB-CT Greater Hartford chapter, as well as secretary for the organizations Board of Directors. “The only difference is that we use alternative techniques,” Levegnale said.
Levegnale explained that the NFB advocates in a lot of areas in education and employment. “We speak to our congressmen in Washington about different issues,” Levegnale said, such as having all technological devices accessible for everyone and employers paying no lower than minimal wage regardless of the employee’s disability.
Federal programs such as the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, NLS, provide service to assist people who are unable to read or use standard print. “It brings the world to those who are blind,” Gordon Reddick, director of the Connecticut State LBPH, said. This service is accessible without costs through postage-free mail to people who meet the eligibility requirements.
“Just like a public library,” he said. Those that are visually impaired can experience literature through braille format and audio material.
Those various technological advancements and services bring more opportunities for growth and learning for people that are blind, helping to bridge the gap between the quality of life of visually handicapped citizens and our general populace. Education and literacy are essential for people regardless of any imparities.
Gradually, with the advocates from the National Federation of the Blind and the many services reaching out to the blind community, the nation is shifting toward enabling a more open minded and proactive approach to raising the standard of living for those affected by visual and audio related conditions.