Blind Missourians are gathering in Jefferson City through Sunday for the 56th annual Convention of Missouri's National Federation of the Blind chapter.
The meeting at the Capitol Plaza Hotel will include business sessions to pass resolutions and vote for officers.
The agenda includes presentations from representatives of two of the nation's premiere rehabilitation centers for the blind, and from representatives from Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, and the Wolfner Braille and Talking Book Library.
The keynote speaker at Saturday night's banquet will be Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, who is expected to talk about national issues.
However, according to a news release, Riccobono is perhaps most famous for his role in the Blind Driver Challenge, when he made history in January 2011 for being the first blind person to drive a vehicle safely at the Daytona International Speedway, using non-visual access technology.
This past January, Riccobono was among 12 national leaders and automotive innovators honored with the Autos2050 Driving Innovation Award. It was presented by the Auto Alliance and the Alliance for Transportation Innovation for his leadership in crafting policies that will lead to the development of fully autonomous vehicles that the blind and other people with disabilities can use safely.
NFB-Missouri President Shelia Wright said in a news release, "The state convention is more than just a policy-making meeting. It is an opportunity for us to recognize past achievements and to refocus our energy to meet future challenges."
One of the federation's ongoing goals is to "show the public that blindness does not hold us back from living the lives we want."
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Wright noted: "In 2017, we participated in the National Fitness Challenge, which gave us an opportunity to show people that blindness does not prevent us from living physically fit and healthy lifestyles. Our annual summer BELL Academy is one of our most important programs — it provides young blind children with Braille instruction as well as introducing them to confident and competent blind adult role models."
Some convention highlights include:
Two "One Touch Self Defense" classes.
A Parents of Blind Children seminar.
Meetings of various NFB divisions such as the Diabetes Action Network, the Missouri Association of Guide Dog Users, the Missouri Association of Blind Merchants and the Missouri Association of Blind Students.
A showing of the movie "Do You Dream in Color?" a documentary about four blind high school students striving to overcome barriers to achieve their dreams.