The Palmetto Blind


The Palmetto Blind

The voice of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina




Picture Caption:

Cherokee Chapter Christmas Float in the Gaffney Christmas Parade Featuring,  “Captain Opportunity and the White Cane Crusaders”




Winter 2023 - 24



I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind; to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.




The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

          The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina publishes The PALMETTO BLIND twice a year. Edited by David Houck, it is available in large print, braille, and electronic formats. Color pdf versions are available upon request. The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is chartered under the laws of the State of South Carolina to promote the spiritual, social and economic well-being of all blind South Carolinians. The state organization is an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, the nation's oldest and largest organization of blind people. The PALMETTO BLIND is available free of charge to any blind individual. donations of $10 to offset the annual subscription cost are welcome, but not required. Checks may be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and sent to: 

Valerie Warrington, Treasurer


119 S. Kilbourne Rd.

Columbia, SC 29205.


Note: Braille or large print copies may be retained for personal libraries. A special thank you goes to Shannon Cook who proofreads the Palmetto Blind.





4                  2023 NFB Houston Convention by David Houck

8                  67th Convention of the NFB of SC - “A Winning Team” by David Houck

15                Presidential Report - August 19, 2023  byy NFB of SC President Marty R. McKenzie

18                Blind Journalist Reflects on Challenges, Advocates for More Open Doors

by Dominic Calabrese

21                The Sumter Chapter Celebrates Blind Equality Achievement Month-BEAM

21                Anderson Chapter Holds Christmas Event  By Demetrius Williford

22                Increasing Accessibility in STEM Learning for Visually Impaired Students  By Sarah Hubbart

26                From the President’s Desk  By Marty R. McKenzie

27                From the Editor  By David Houck

28                Final Thought





2023 NFB Houston Convention

By David Houck



          The 2023 NFB Houston Convention took place the week of July 4 at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel with the overflow Marriott Marquis Houston just a few blocks away. Even the weather forecasters predicted Houston Texas would be the “hot” place to be. Many Federationists flew in from South Carolina, from around the nation and from across the globe. For those not able to make the trip, there was a virtual convention experience via ZOOM. There were three first timers who received Jernigan convention scholarships, Vincent Downing of the Spartanburg Chapter, Eric Hilton of the Sumter Chapter and Ronda Phillips of the Columbia Chapter. For our first time attendees, the NFB convention is full of so many blind persons with white canes and guide dogs! My first NFB Convention impressed me with how many blind people there were in one place. Federationists travel with ease and don’t just stay in the hotel all week because we are explorers. Each Jernigan scholarship winner will be accompanied by a chapter member who will see to it that these “Rookies” get the full convention experience.

          Those arriving on Saturday, July 1 were greeted with a variety of conferences, division and committee meetings and meetings for the Jernigan Scholarship winners and other first timers. These meetings continued throughout the convention on most any topic for the blind of all ages, interests and careers.

          Sunday, July 2 was the same with many NFB committee meetings and the Exhibit Hall opened (which was open much of the time during convention week).   The Exhibit Hall contained an enormous amount of literature, aids and appliances, booths representing most every state affiliate and a variety of technology vendors demonstrating their wares. There was so much to choose from in making decisions on attending meetings! Sitting in on the NFB Board meeting reveals important information about the work of the Federation. Convention registration was 3,489 delegates including 70 from foreign countries and 1,090 virtual participants. It was announced that the 2024 NFB Convention will take place July 3 to 8, 2024 in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel. South Carolina ranked 4th in the nation in reporting new members. South Carolina ranks 3rd in the nation with SUN Shares with $1,260. SC ranks 12th on the PAC (Pre-Authorized Contribution) Plan with monthly giving of $944 with 49 contributors.

          Tuesday, July 4 began with the first opening General Session of the NFB Convention. The morning session began with a big Texas welcome from the host affiliate followed by recognition of blinded veterans attending the convention being recognized and thanked for their military service. The Roll Call of States and announcing of the NFB Nominating Committee members was made. The Tuesday afternoon General Session began at 2 p.m. with Marc Riccobono making the NFB Presidential Report. This report highlights the accomplishments and challenges which took place since the 2022 NFB Convention. NHL Referee Dan O’Rourke reported on the plans for the upcoming July bike ride from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois, along the famous Route 66 to raise awareness of our mission of raising expectations. Dan O’Rourke has been an on-ice official for the National Hockey League (NHL) since 1999. After growing up watching his blind father defeat all obstacles in his path, Dan wants to give back to the organization that further empowers blind people to live the lives they want. There will also be meet and greets along the ride. He is drumming up support for the Federation’s braille literacy programs. All are encouraged to contribute.

          The next presentation was made by Barbara Cheadle, President Emeritus, and Carla Keirns, President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children who rendered four decades of history and progress in the Parents of Blind Children Division within the NFB blindness movement. Next was Craig Meador, President of the American Printing House and Bruce Miles, Chief Executive Officer of HumanWare who spoke on their cooperative venture with Monarch in spreading braille literacy. The Monarch is a device which gives the user a tactile window for reading braille much like a sighted person would read text on a tablet.

          The final Tuesday afternoon General Session featured a Museum of stories by Federationists about their experiences and growth which will benefit future generations of blind people as we build the Federation. Several South Carolinians are featured in this library of oral histories. The many NFB Scholarship recipients were presented and they each spoke before the large audience.

          The Wednesday, July 5 morning General Session got underway with the NFB Financial Report, the Roll Call of States and election of officers on the NFB Board. The next agenda item discussed NFB strategic planning investments regarding our future goals. Then Susan Mazrui, Director, Global Public Policy, AT&T Services, Inc.; Seattle, Washington spoke concerning transforming corporate America through opening doors for the blind. Afterward, Karla Gilbride, Civil Rights Attorney; Silver Spring, Maryland spoke concerning achieving equality from the standpoint of a blind attorney.

          The Wednesday afternoon General Session featured all concerning taking risks in order to achieve. This was demonstrated by “Securing Equal Protection under the Law: The Essential Role of the Organized Blind Movement,” Eve Hill, General Counsel, National Federation of the Blind, and Partner, Brown, Goldstein, and Levy; Baltimore, Maryland. “A One-Hundred-Year Legacy at the American Foundation for the Blind: What Will Be Different in the Decade Ahead?” By Eric Bridges, President and CEO, American Foundation for the Blind; Arlington, Virginia. Then we heard from a panel topic entitled, “Thousands of Voices Lift a Shared Agenda: A Report from the Federation’s Advocacy and Policy Department” by Moderator: John G. Paré, Jr., Executive Director for Advocacy and Policy, National Federation of the Blind; Baltimore, Maryland, Jeff Kaloc, NFB Government Affairs Specialist; Baltimore, Maryland, Jesse Shirek, NFB Government Affairs Specialist; Baltimore, Maryland and Justin Young, NFB Government Affairs Specialist; Baltimore, Maryland. The US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, addressed the convention via a video message. Sixteen Convention Resolutions followed as there were read, discussed and voted upon.

          On Thursday morning the General Session featured several presenters beginning with “Leveraging Personal AI to Build the Organized Blind Movement” by Suman Kanuganti, CEO,; San Diego, California. Artificial intelligence is an emerging tool by which the blind can capture and use AI to benefit the blind and our movement. One can converse with another’s AI to learn more about them without speaking with them directly which was demonstrated by the presenter’s conversing with President Riccobono’s AI. AI is not a replacement of you but an extension of you. Personal AI is controlled by you and cannot be sold. It is a way to get our stories out there. Next we heard the topic, “Artificial Intelligence Directed by the Blind: Progress and Possibilities with Be My Eyes” by Mike Buckley, Chairman and CEO, Be My Eyes; San Francisco, California. A merger of technology and human kindness. Their products are always free. Virtual Volunteer AI (now called “Be My AI”) allows artificial intelligence to describe pictures in great detail. Mr. Buckley demonstrated its use by having pictures of the meeting hall described in detail. AI is not always accurate as it may assume things. A new product released was Be My Eyes Groups where you use a trusted circle of people in the use of AI. The next presentation was “Together Living Blindfully: Perspectives on the Wisdom of the Shared Blind Community” by Jonathan Mosen, CEO, Workbridge, and Producer and Presenter, Living Blindfully; Wellington, New Zealand. Because of generations of blind leaders have forged access to technology to advance for the blind. Those who berate Federation advocates are also the ones who stand in line for the access we have endeavored to create. Yet they have done nothing to make things happen. We must advocate to continue the process as technology increases where it is inaccessible to the blind. The next topic was, “Rebuilding What I Should Have Known: Reflections on My Journey to be Accountable to the Blind Community” by Shir Ekerling, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, accessiBe; New York, New York. He discussed how AccessiBe can turn from not being helpful to the blind to becoming helpful in its work. They are here to learn from the experts, YOU, the Federation. Your feedback is important. Our next presentation concerned, “Defining Meaningful Access and Consumer Control: The Blind and the Evolution of Overlays” by Curtis Chong, Nonvisual Access Technology Consultant; Aurora, Colorado. Looking into automation to look at the website and make them more accessible. This does not cover all aspects of accessibility and it does not guarantee accessibility usability. We must go after companies which need to offer accessibility to  the blind. Next on the agenda was “Tired of Waiting: Perspectives on Ride Denials from Uber” by Liza Winship, Director of Driver Operations for the US and Canada, Uber; San Francisco, California. Ms. Winship discussed problems concerning Uber and the blind. Liza says Uber is working on it. Our next presenter spoke via ZOOM concerning “Full Participation of the Disabled in America: Nothing without Us” by Andrés Gallegos, Chairman, National Council on Disability; Washington, District of Columbia. There are many more areas whereby access by the blind is still needed. Blind and low vision users need the same access as the sighted receive. The last morning speaker updated the delegates about “Expanding the Reach of the National Library Service: A Commitment to High Expectations for Blind Patrons” by Jason Broughton, Director, National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled; Washington, District of Columbia. He wants to understand your wants and needs where you are, despite your level of technical expertise, including braille.  Programs include Braille on Demand, a Braille e-Reader Program, the Marakesh Update for international books, a Spanish language website, and moving NLS to the Capitol Hill Library of Congress by 2025.

          Congratulations to Lenora Robertson for winning the Thursday afternoon opening $100 door prize! The Thursday afternoon General Session was the last one before the evening Banquet. This session was kicked off by “The Sixteenth Annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards” by Everette Bacon, Chairperson, Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee, and Board Member, National Federation of the Blind; Salt Lake City, Utah. These six awards recognized the efforts of those who have made a significant contribution to the blindness movement in a myriad of ways. Those receiving the awards are listed in the September/October 2023 Braille Monitor. Next we heard about the, “Transformation of Jobs in the AbilityOne Program: Disability Advocacy, Leadership, and the Power of Concentrated Action” by Chai Feldblum, Vice Chairperson, United States AbilityOne Commission; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.   She has a record of civil rights actions for the disabled. We are at an increasingly transformative moment in opening significant job opportunities for the blind.   We are transforming AbilityOne. Next item on the agenda was “By Us for Us: A Report on the Federation’s Research, Training, and Partnership Programs” by Anil Lewis, Executive Director for Blindness Initiatives, National Federation of the Blind; Baltimore, Maryland. Anil stated that blind people have the capacity and the right to live in the world. NFB projects and programs need to continue to be built which includes the NFB Leadership Seminars, Kenneth Jernigan Leadership in Service Program, Blindness in Engineering, STEM to You programs, ECLIPSE Citizen Science Project, Braille means Employment, online Nemeth Curriculum, Braille in Home, etc. State agencies need to employ the blind in their agency on all levels including the Commissioner and in the board room. The following item was “We Have Work to Do: Reflections on Changing the Blind Employment Paradigm” by Mary Fernandez, Lead Disability Inclusion Consultant, Cisco Systems; Silver Spring, Maryland. Increasing inclusive career opportunities by eliminating employer bias and opening opportunities for the blind in employment are the keys to equality. The next to last agenda item for the afternoon session was “Working Together to Elevate the Blind in America: A Leader and Partner of the Organized Blind Movement: presented by The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, United States House of Representatives, Eighteenth Congressional District; Houston, Texas. Both the NFB and the Congress can work together in partnership to create equal treatment for the blind in all walks of life. And the last item concerned, “Digital Access for All: Leading the Way in Advancing the Right to Live in the Twenty-First Century” presented by The Honorable Tony Coelho, Former Congressman, United States House of Representatives, and Author, Americans with Disabilities Act; Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Equal access in this digital world should not exclude the blind.

          The Thursday evening Banquet was the highlight of the convention as we heard from President Riccobono who gave the Banquet Address. The Mistress of Ceremonies was Pam Allen. There were Introductions and several Presentations,  The scholarship recipients we heard from at Monday’s Board Meeting received their scholarship awards. Other awards were also presented before the convention was adjourned. Delegates returned home with enthusiasm concerning all that was presented. The 2023 NFB Convention was truly a success. The full convention details including passed resolutions are listed in the September/October 2023 Braille Monitor.


          Here is a brief synopsis of the convention roundup from President Marty R. McKenzie from the Positive Note following the convention. Fifty-three National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina members are back from the National Convention held in Houston, Texas and we are recharged for the next year! There were many opportunities to learn and grow during this special time and three Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship winners did just that. The Rookie Round-Up, seminars around various topics and presentations were inspiring. In the Presidential Report, President Riccobono gave an update on Federation activities during the past year with emphasis on what is “deep in the heart of the Federation”.


67th Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina

“A Winning Team”

By David Houck



          Thursday, August 17, 2023 was hot and humid. You would find many Federationists gathering at the Embassy Suites in Columbia, checking in and exploring the hotel’s amenities ahead of the convention. Others arrived early as well getting ready to set up the Exhibit Hall and Registration early Friday morning. Many commented throughout the convention about how hospitable the staff and servers were in working with the blind.

          By Friday at 9:00 a.m. the Exhibit Hall opened and the Exhibitors began filing in to set up and greet and speak with members checking in all day long.


Photo Caption:  Exhibit Hall


          All morning and throughout the afternoon there were several meetings including a “Rookie Round-Up” for first timers, the Blind Merchants Division (kudos for the goodie bags), the SC Association of Guide Dog Users, the At Large Chapter, the SC Association of Blind Students, the Blind Seniors Division, the SC Parents of Blind Children Division, and a “Back to the Basics: A Beginning O&M Skills Refresher by our NFB National Representative Ron Brown from Indiana and the Second Vice President on the NFB National Board of Directors. Following was a brief NFB of SC Board meeting.

          At 7:00 p.m. the highlight of the evening was the Reception featuring a band with a Sports theme, a dinner consisting of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings and fries. NFB of SC President Marty McKenzie got everything off to a rousing start and even former NFB of SC President Parnell Diggs and his wife Kim joined in with the festivities.


Photo Captions:  Reception Hall Sports Theme

Parnell and Kim Diggs enjoy the evening


          The Reception lasted until 10:00 p.m. The Blind Merchants distributed snacks as well as you might find at any sporting event. Many dressed in colors of their favorite sports team.

          Early each morning the Embassy Suites offered a free breakfast buffet which everyone enjoyed. By the time 9:00 a.m. rolled around, the convention was gaveled to order by NFB of SC President Marty McKenzie. Following a warm welcome from President McKenzie, NFB of SC 2nd Vice President and Sumter Chapter President Debra Cantyh, gave the invocation. The Boy Scouts who were on hand to be of assistance throughout the convention, performed the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance was made. Sarah Massengale sang the National Anthem beautifully. Columbia Chapter President and state board member Isaiah Nelson greeted the audience being president of the host chapter. NFB of SC Board Member Andrew Adams and First Vice President Lenora Robertson gave out the door prizes throughout the convention.


Photo Caption:  Andrew Adams and Lenora Robertson


          The first topic was presented by Lauren Altman, the National Association of Blind Students President, who emphasized the road to independence runs through NABS for blind students. National conventions of the NFB provide much access to information and sharing among other blind students in one becoming a more efficient student. Through fundraising, advocacy and membership development, confidence and independence is encouraged leading to a better quality of life.

          Next, the President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Representative, Carol Castellano, spoke on raising her own blind child by raising expectations in developing life skills in leading a normal life. Student expectations are different in different schools. Is literacy, mobility and education encouraged with high expectations and skill development or are students accommodated due to low expectations, achieving dependence?


Photo Caption:  Carol Castellano


          NFB Board Member and Indiana O&M Instructor, Ron Brown presented the NFB National Report,  Important dates to remember, July 3 – 8 at the Rosen Center in Orlando for the NFB 2024 National Convention. The NFB is set up under four pillars:  1. Membership, 2. Advocacy, 3. Education, and 4. Resources. He spoke further on joining national committees, the scholarship program, and the Jacob Bolotin Awards.


Photo Captions:  Ron Brown                          

Darline Graham


          Commissioner Darline Graham spoke about progress at the SC Commission for the Blind. For the first time in quite a while, there is only one vacant board position on the SCCB Governing Board with a majority of the members being blind. Staff turnovers have decreased and the number of interns has increased. Steve Cook was promoted to the Statewide Service Manager’s position. SCCB Students attended the NFB Houston Convention in conjunction with the NFB of SC’s Successful Transitions program in the SCCB’s Summer Teen Program. This annual program had 29 students this year. There was even a new, improved STEM Career Exploration Lab. She also thanked the NFB of SC for Assistive Technology Training accomplished through the Federation Center of the Blind utilizing four certified blind assistive technology instructors. Facilities improvements were also discussed. Carol Anderson, new SCCB Consumer Services Director was also introduced.

          Scott A. Falcone, Director of the Division of Outreach Services, SC School for the Deaf and the Blind emphasized the School’s upcoming 175th Anniversary and the preparation involved. The blind are encouraged to get involved and contribute their experiences to the project. The swimming pool and bowling alley have been reopened for use by the students.


Photo Caption: Scott A. Falcone


Jennifer Falvey, Director of Talking Book Services gave her report.  Ms. Falvey congratulated this year’s Summer Teen Program as the best year ever and there was a second group of students who later came and worked hard. There are 4,200 SC patrons but we need to do more to get the word out about Talking Book Services and make referrals. This was followed by a Fit Break by Janice Bright of the NFB of SC Sports and Rec Division,     


Photo Caption:  Jennifer Falvey


          Belinda Banks and Isaiah Nelson spoke about the upcoming SCSDB Blind Alumni weekend and the 175th SCSDB Anniversary. The next item concerned Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by Derique Simon, Chairman who invited everyone to join in with the DEI meetings as we can all learn from each other. The final topic for the morning session was the Presidential Report by President Marty McKenzie. He emphasized being a winning team. The key points are, teams must understand each other and their roles,  capitalize on each member’s strengths, reach consensus as a team, build trust, and respect each other. We are a winning team. President McKenzie then reviewed this past year since he became President, noting how we work as a team. A detailed Presidential Report follows this convention article.


Photo Captions:  Belinda Banks & Isaiah Nelson

Derique Simon

Marty McKenzie


          The Afternoon Session got underway as Sonia Timmons, Parents of Blind Children Leader, Moderated a panel discussion on Where the Blind Work, featuring Administrative Law Judge Parnell Diggs, O&M Instructor Ron Brown, Blind Licensed Vendor Belinda Banks and Registered Nurse Lauren Reeves. They discussed their individual experiences and answered questions regarding their careers.


Photo Captions: Sonia Timmons & Panelists (L-R) Parnell Diggs, Belinda Banks, Lauren Reeves and Ron Brown


          Ed Bible, Chair and Anna Price, Co-chair of the NFB of SC Legislative and Advocacy Committee recounted their experiences with the Washington Seminar and in hosting the Legislative Breakfast for the General Assembly. This was followed by a fit break. Next, Parnell Diggs, Frank Coppel and Ed Bible each spoke of David Houck’s celebration of forty years of service at the Federation Center of the Blind. The next item was about Breaking Barriers: A Journey to Becoming a Triathlete by Amy Hatten, with the Sports and Rec Division. She related her desire to be a triathlete. This article appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of the Palmetto Blind.


Photo Captions:  Convention audience

(L-R) Ed Bible and Anna Price              

Amy Hatten


          The next item entitled, Project Inspire and STEAM Camp, was presented by Dr. Tina S. Herzberg, Professor, Visual Impairment Program of the    University of South Carolina Upstate and Dr. Mary E. Robbins, Teacher of the Visually Impaired of the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Outreach Program. The student activities included water cycle aspects like a jigsaw activity and gallery walk. experimentation on data presentation in new ways, climate changes, and learning from complex data. Teamwork was the key.


Photo Caption:  Dr. Mary E. Robbins &Dr. Tina S. Herzberg


          Steve Cook, NFB Newsline Administrator, spoke about the variety of media in Newsline and how to sign up for this free program accessed by phone, mobile app and podcasts.


Photo Caption:  Steve Cook


          The Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind report was given by Chair Thom Spittle, Tracy Spittle discussing Children’s Camp, and Shelley Coppel with Shannon Cook reporting on Senior Camp respectively. This camp belongs to the blind – let’s go and have a great time!

          The afternoon session was concluded by Ed Bible and david Houck recounting the activities, events, public service, and training services of the Federation Center of the Blind since last year’s convention.


Photo Caption:  Thom Spittle and program participants


          The evening Banquet was exciting as President Marty R. McKenzie was the Master of Ceremonies. He welcomed the audience and introduced Roxy Reid to give the Banquet invocation. After the meal was complete, our NFB National Representative Ron Brown gave the keynote address. Mr. Brown emphasized his “transformative moments” in dealing with his blindness, the use of a white cane, and how the National Federation of the Blind assisted him in achieving living the life he wants while giving opportunity to other blind persons.

Photo Caption:  Shannon Cook


          Shannon Cook, Scholarship Chair, distributed the following scholarships:  Matthew Duffell-Hoffman received $1,880 and Andrew Adams received $3,320. Those making scholarship contributions included the Anderson Chapter, At Large Chapter, Belvedere Chapter, Ed and Julie Bible, Chesterfield Chapter, Columbia Chapter, Computer Science and Technology Division, Steve and Shannon Cook, the Federation Center of the Blind, Grand Strand Chapter, Greenville Chapter, Carolyn Phillips, Janice Smith, Sports and Rec Division, the Sumter Chapter, Sonia Timmons and the Upper Dorchester Chapter. Thanks to all who had a part in the 2023 scholarship program.

          Our convention sponsors are an important part of the convention, helping to defray the cost involved. They are as follows:            Sumter Lions’ Club, Silver level sponsor, Brunson Law Firm, Sumter, Bronze Level Sponsor, Neil’s Lawn Service, White Cane level sponsor, Rockhill Lions’ Club, White Cane level sponsor, Columbia Funeral Home, White Cane level sponsor, and Carolyn Phillips, White Cane Level Sponsor. They all make a real difference in the operation of this convention!

          Awards presented at the Banquet give the federation an opportunity to recognize those who have had an impact in work with the blind in south Carolina. The Midlands Gives Award, given to the best fundraiser on this project which yielded the NFB of SC $12,200 and $4,048 for Rocky Bottom, was presented by Valerie Warrington, Treasurer to theBelvedere Chapter. Frank Loza accepted the trophy on behalf of the chapter. The Educator of the Year Award presented by Committee Chair Tracy Spittle was awarded to Jennifer G. Jeffcoat. The Employer of the Year Award was presented by Committee Chair David W. Bundy to Lexington Mental Health. The Donald C. Capps Award was presented by Committee Chair David Houck to Gerald McMurray of the Belvedere Chapter. Along with the plaque, a $100 bill was presented. Gerald is the first sighted member to win this award. The Distinguished Service Award presented by Marty R. McKenzie went to  Dr. Tina S. Herzberg for her leadership in the field of education. The Presidential Citation, also presented by President Marty R. McKenzie went to David Houck for his forty years of service as the Federation Center’s Executive Director. David Houck also received a forty year service award from Shannon Cook earlier as recognition by the Center’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Houck stated that the two plaques represent his learning from those he serves as much as serving those who call on him. The Columbia Chapter Gamecock and Clemson quilts drawing was held and George B. Martin received the Clemson quilt and an employee of Little Pig’s Barbecue in Columbia received the Gamecock quilt.

          The remainder of the Banquet time was dedicated to raising funding for the NFB of SC which amounted to over $10,000.

          The Sunday morning session began with a devotional and memorial service brought by Melinda Jones and Doug Hudson. The service called to remembrar those federationists we lost since last year’s convention. Valerie Warrington gave the Treasurer’s Report for the NFB of SC and Rocky Bottom. This was folowed by the Resolutions Committee report given by Parnell Diggs and Anna Price. The following resolution was passed by the convention.



Resolution 23-01


          Whereas, agencies in the South Carolina blindness field potentially provide important educational and vocational support to equip blind South Carolinians with the necessary skills and means to live the lives they want;  and,

          Whereas, (while a variety of local, state, and federal agencies provide services to members of the public from time to time throughout life) it is often the agencies for the blind that have the most frequent contact with blind consumers during their lifetimes; and,

          Whereas, agencies in the blindness field are often among the most prolific employers of blind people;

          Now, therefore, be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina in convention assembled this 20th day of August 2023, that agencies in the South  Carolina blindness field will recognize and respect the contributions of blind employees and the dignity of blind consumers and that this respect will be demonstrated in hiring practices, opportunities for career advancement, access to services, buildings and other physical structures, as well as the right to travel safely and independently to and from agency facilities, and to navigate independently on the premises; and

          Be it further resolved such actions will take place with input of the blind individuals affected; and

          Be it further resolved that agencies in the South Carolina blindness field will take such action as is necessary to carry out policies consistent with this policy.


          Frank Coppel presented ways we can support our national organization through such giving programs as the Dream maker’s Circle, the Pre Authorized Contribution (PAC) Program and the SUN Shares Program. Before the elections took place, Janice Bright lead the crowd in a Fit Break. Finally the election of officers took place which included Michelle Scott, first district, Frank Loza, third district, Linda Dizzley, fifth district and two at-large positions with two year terms. Derique Simon and Roger Webb were elected to those positions. Janice Smith was elected to fill a partial one year term in an At-Large position. Our hats off to those who served the last two years and were not re-elected or who chose to step down. We appreciate their service! Following the elections, winners for a few drawings and remaining door prizes were pulled. The convention adjourned and everyone departed for home. We truly are stronger together!



Presidential Report - August 19, 2023

By NFB of SC President Marty R. McKenzie



          We began this convention by introducing a sports related theme at the Friday night reception where our members came with sports paraphernalia representing teams they regularly support. The atmosphere was designed to be celebratory and joyful and people had a lot of fun. This prepared convention attendees for the hard work of the following two days.

          As we begin this Presidential Report, it is important that we have a concept of what a winning team looks like. There is much information written about teams, their make-up, how they function, what it takes to be a winning team, etc. It is not the purpose of this report to delve deeply into all of that information, but there are key points that we must consider.

•         Teams must understand each other and the roles of each member of the team.

•         Teams must identify the strengths of each member so that they can capitalize on those strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

•         Teams must be able to reach consensus. This means that all can support a decision for the good of the team even though some are not in agreement.

•         Teams must be able to trust each other. This characteristic can take time to develop.

•         Finally, teams must respect each member and honor the fact that everyone has something to offer.

The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is a winning team! As an organization, you elect a board of directors that shepherds the organization from convention to convention as outlined in the constitution. This year has been successful from my view as your elected president. Let’s talk about the year and our accomplishments.

The first NFB of SC board meeting was held at the Federation Center of the Blind on September 17, 2023. Take aways are:

•         Establishing expectations for all board members

•         Communication and how this will work

•         Considerations for board meetings

Check the U of SC sports schedules to avoid hordes of descending Gamecock fans.

Palmetto Connects was started a few years ago as a way to disseminate information and it continues. At the September 22, 2023 Palmetto Connects, each newly elected board member had a few moments to speak to the attendees and communicate information about themselves. It was an exciting way to get the new board members out there to some folks who were not able to attend convention.

          We are proud of the Successful Transitions program under the leadership of Andrenia Corder. Over the past year, accountability measures have been put into place to ensure that we comply with the requirements of the SC Commission for the Blind and their Pre-ETS services. There was a restructuring of the program and the SCCB began to make more requests of Successful Transitions. There is work to be done still, but we are in a much better place than we were one year ago.

          The Oversight Committee meets a minimum of monthly to review progress and address concerns that arise. Beginning with the next full staff meeting, at least one member of the Oversight Committee will be present in person to gather information firsthand and to provide support to the Successful Transitions’ staff.

          At the request of the Commission, Successful Transitions took students to the NFB national convention and they participated heavily in the Youth Track. For those who were first-time conventioneers, it was a very exciting and rewarding experience.

Successful Transitions also participated in Summer Teen and held the extended teen program. These events generated a great deal of excitement as 29 participants were on hand. The Commission is highly complementary of the work of the Successful Transitions team and continues to look for opportunities where we can partner.

          At last year’s convention in Charleston, South Carolina, a group formed to express interest in a South Carolina Association of Black Leaders Division. This is in keeping with the National Association of Black Leaders. The constitution was approved at the November board retreat and the division has proven to be vibrant and strong. Ably led by Derique Simon, an NFB of SC board member, the division has presented interesting topics and programs and continues to flourish. Congratulations to this wonderful group of individuals for their hard work.

          Sometimes, we as Federationists do things because they bring positive attention to blind people and what we can do. Debra Canty is a master at conducting her chapter’s annual Christmas gala. There are a myriad of details and Debra attends to them all. I was asked to serve as the keynote speaker for this event and it was an amazing experience to be present with this group. Debra stated that it involves many people from the community and they can see that blind people live the lives they want; blindness is not what holds us back!

          As we moved into 2023, the Statewide Seminar yielded many items of interest. With more than 125 people in attendance, it was one of the largest seminars in recent history. Many program items took place including the introduction of Sonia Timmons as the leader of the South Carolina Association of Parents of Blind Children. This group is very important in many ways. First, it is a safe place where parents can ask questions, share information and receive support for the many challenges they face as they assist their blind children in the public schools. There are also resources available regarding IEPs and services for blind children. Sonia is a highly effective leader who is well organized and we hope to return this group to a division in convention assembled this year.

          We continued and renewed our engagement with the General Assembly by sponsoring a Legislative Breakfast at the State House. While we currently do not have any legislative initiatives running, it is very important that the General Assembly know us so that the relationships exist when the need arises to work on a legislative item.

On March 4, 2023, Second Vice President Debra Canty and I traveled to Hampton County where the reorganization of the Hampton Chapter took place. At the organization’s largest, there were 61 chapters within the NFB of SC plus divisions. It was a great group there and Gregg jones was elected president. The chapter is coming along and some members are here at state convention.

          The Federation Center of the Blind’s Executive Director, David Houck, along with Successful Transitions staff participated in the Annual Technology Expo organized each year by the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program. This was very exciting as WLTX Channel 19 interviewed David Houck at this event. This interview was followed up by another interview around the Columbia chapter. President Isaiah nelson, Secretary Shannon Cook and David Houck were interviewed about the BBQ and other topics. This provided the NFB of SC with some positive press coverage in the last year.

          The NFB of SC participated strongly in the Annual Vision Summit where digital literacy was the focus this year. Sonia Timmons and the Successful Transitions team were able to make many connections which will assist with rebuilding the Parents of Blind Children Division and Successful Transitions learned a great deal that can be used in their work with students ages 13-21. The NFB of SC is now and has always been a strong partner with the South Carolina Vision Education Partnership.

The NFB of SC has many new members and it is important that they learn about Federation history and our philosophy regarding blindness. This happened at the Statewide Leadership Seminar where the constitution governing the NFB of SC and by-laws of the Federation Center were read and discussed. The constitution for Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind was also presented. The relationships of the boards among the entities was also discussed. Former presidents Frank Coppel and Parnell Diggs assisted with this informative session and they also provided a perspective on our history. This was just a small presentation on our history and there is much work to be done in this area.

          The NFB of SC offers many great opportunities for its members at all levels. The NFB of SC podcast hosted and produced by Steve Cook, president of the Computer Science and Technology Division is one way to get information out. I along with other Federation leaders were interviewed this year and this can be accessed by anyone who is interested. Andrew Adams, Second District Board member, continues to host the Tech Talk each Saturday afternoon beginning at 3:00 p.m. This informal activity has had many guests from other states drop in where any topic related to blindness may be discussed. The more technical members work to assist those who are less technically minded with a variety of topics including smart speakers, iPads and iPhones and a host of other items. It is a huge time commitment and this regular event has a strong following.

          The major fundraising activity in the spring was Midland’s Gives. We were offered a $5,000 match by the Cheerful Giver and we exceeded that amount. Additionally, Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind took the Power Hour home and earned a significant amount as well. There were many individuals involved in making this a success and plans are already underway for next year to ensure that we maximize our financial position through this event.

          One of the last major events was the re-organization of the Charleston Chapter in early June. Approximately 25 people met at Calvary Lutheran Church on Saturday, June 10, 2023 and spent some time meeting and greeting. The chapter approved a new constitution and elected a new board. The convention will hear from one of the officers later today. Since that time, the chapter continues to add members on a regular basis.

          In mid-June, I was selected to be interviewed for the Disability Next Door campaign sponsored by Able-SC. This interview took place at the Federation Center of the Blind and was handled by Flock and Rally, a well known public relations firm in Columbia. Video was also taken of me at the piano which will appear as well. The premise is to show that people with disabilities are all around us, they are our neighbors, they work in places where the public encounters them and they live the lives they want. These videos can run for several years in the future in various forms.

As your president, I have felt like it was an extremely busy year! The state board demonstrated what team work can look like in every way! Each board member has honored any request that I made of them and I am deeply appreciative of the hard work they all do! While I may not have listed each member here because we do want to have lunch at some point, every member is important and contributes to our cause.

          We will continue to work together, to expand what we can accomplish as we go build the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina! With love, hope and determination we can create a world where blindness is merely a nuisance and we, the blind, can live the lives we want! Blindness is not what holds us back!


Blind Journalist Reflects on Challenges, Advocates for More Open Doors

By Dominic Calabrese


          AccessibilityJournalism July 3, 2023   (Editor’s Note:  Reprinted in the Palmetto Blind with permission. Dominic Calabrese worked as a Public Relations Consultant with the Federation Center of the Blind until last year. He moved to Chicago and is a writer for Accessibility Journalism. Here we present one of his recent articles.)

Written By Dominic Calabrese

          As long as she can remember, she was fascinated with the news. "I was the weird kid that liked watching the 5pm and 10pm news on TV, and listening to the news on radio," she laughs. As the years passed by, her interest only deepened and by the time she was a sophomore in high school, she decided to study journalism.

Unlike her classmates, however, Sandy Murillo was blind and had some special challenges to overcome.


Photo Caption:  Sandy Murillo


          A resident of suburban Harvey, Illinois, Murillo was born with glaucoma, an eye disease that is very rare in children. Around the age of two, she became totally blind as a result of the disease.

          "When you’re blind there are numerous challenges you face and naming hthem all would take too long! " she smiles. "There are life’s practicalities," she continues, "things like finding transportation to and from places, accessing material I can’t read, going to unfamiliar places and not knowing how well I’ll be able to access their services."

          Murillo, now 33, acknowledges that these are the everyday challenges blind people face constantly. While those challenges can be hard and frustrating, she says that she has learned how to advocate for herself, plan in advance and come up with creative solutions to overcome the hurdles in her way.

          According to Murillo, one challenge that remains almost intractable is the public's common perception about people who are blind.

          "I often come across people that are overly helpful, or that have low expectations of me simply because I can’t see," she says. "I try my best to be assertive and show them how I can do things without sight. Hopefully that enlightens them and brings home the point that I’m as capable as the next person."

          Murillo proved that she was as capable as the next person! She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in News-Editorial Journalism from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2012.

          "As far as we know, I’m only the second totally blind person to receive a journalism degree at U of I, and so I am very proud of that accomplishment," she smiles.

          In 2014, she landed an internship at Chicagoland Reading Information Service (CRIS) a daily broadcast system geared towards marginalized communities and housed at The Chicago Lighthouse, one of the nation's premier organizations serving individuals with disabilities and veterans.

          Murillo is no stranger to The Lighthouse, having received special instruction there as a child through the organization's Birth to Three program.

"My internship was only supposed to be 6 months, but 9 years later I’m still working full time at Chicago Lighthouse Media and CRIS Radio!" Murillo laughs.

Now, she is the Associate Producer at Chicago Lighthouse Media, where she oversees all day-to-day operations of the station and production. In addition, she conducts research, writes copy and is a co-host of "The Disability Minute," a weekly report on disability issues which airs on Chicago's highly rated WBBM 105.9FM.

          Murillo also hones her journalism skills by writing “Sandy’s View," a blog that offers her thoughts on various issues affecting the blind and visually impaired community.

          "I’ve written this blog since 2015, and it has viewers all over the world," she notes.

          During a time when the country is politically divided and the mass media is often caught up in the polarization, Murillo maintains that journalists should focus on covering the news and giving the public the information, they need so they, in turn, can make the best decisions possible.

          "Still, we as journalists should not be oblivious to things happening around us and should point out problems that need fixing and causes that need to be addressed," she states, adding that reporters should avoid taking extreme positions.

          Along these lines, Murillo believes in looking at the different sides and angles of the story.

          "No matter what news outlets you look at, always make sure they are credible and have a good reputation," she says.

          Murillo admits that her lifelong passion for journalism remains unabated, despite the obstacles she has faced not only as someone who is blind but as a woman of color.

          "I always joke that I meet all the qualifications when it comes to diversity," she smiles. "I’m Latina, female, and blind!

          While applauding journalism for becoming more open to diversity and inclusion in regard to race, sexual orientation and gender, Murillo expresses frustration that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to achieving full equality for disabled journalists.

"We don’t just want to be part of the story, we also want to be writing and producing stories," she maintains, calling on newsrooms to hire more journalists with disabilities.

"Who better to report about the disability community than journalists with lived in experience," she asks. "This would be a great way of diversifying the newsroom, but also to inform the general public about disability issues."

          Murillo points to the unique role that blind journalists can perform.

"As disabled journalists, we have the unique power to speak up for other people with disabilities and create more awareness and understanding, especially when it comes to educating society at large," she says.

          For herself, Murillo plans to continue working in radio and print journalism, focusing on disability awareness. She may also write a book, perhaps an autobiography.

          "In my ten years or so as a journalist, my greatest satisfaction is knowing that through my radio segments and blogs, I’m able to enlighten people with and without disabilities. That most certainly makes my passion for journalism and disability awareness grow even stronger!"



The Sumter Chapter Celebrates Blind Equality Achievement Month-BEAM



The Sumter Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina observed October as, Blind Equality Achievement Month-BEAM. We began with an interview with yours truly, Debra Canty, President and Doug Hudson on WLTX TV NEWS STREET SQUAD-NFB SUMTER CHAPTERS STORY… which brought awareness. We resume meeting in-person, after three and a half years during the pandemic on the tenth, brought awareness in the community at the Sumter County Fair during the week of the seventeenth through the twenty-first. Our fundraiser drawing winner during the fair was Lori Anne Coley. We culminated with a table set-up with brochures, etc. We finished the day with a 3k Walk on the twenty-eighth in the community along with Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence observers as well.

          Kudos! Shirley Abrams, Trish Butler, Teresa Davis, Joyce Engles, James Green, Eric Hilton, Kherissa Morant, Henry & Gracie Richardson, Judy L. Simon, Laura James and Sheletha Taylor.


Anderson Chapter Holds Christmas Event


By Demetrius Williford



The Anderson, chapter of the national Federation of the blind Of South Carolina had our annual Christmas event on December 2, 2023. This year, our Christmas event was located at the Anderson civic center. this event may have been one for the ages. We had a beautiful atmosphere with decorative Christmas trees, prestigious, individuals from our community of Anderson County, great speakers, and some delicious food that was catered. This year we had 96 individuals in attendance. On behalf of the Anderson, chapter of the national Federation of the blind, Of South Carolina, we hope to continue to encourage those individuals that’s going through a form of vision laws.


Increasing Accessibility in STEM Learning for Visually Impaired Students

August 01, 2023 by Sarah Hubbart


Editor's note: This article was reprinted with permission from The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) Copyright NEEF. All rights reserved. Learn more by visiting


Students of all backgrounds and abilities are exploring the nexus of hydrologic sciences, visual arts, and music through the Water Cycle Visualization Project (“WaterViz”).

This digital tool translates real-time data from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest’s watershed in New Hampshire into a variety of creative mediums. Funded in part by a Greening STEM grant presented by NEEF and the USDA Forest Service, the project helps middle school students explore the water cycle in a way that is most accessible to them.

More than 1,000 miles away from the watershed, Mary Robbins, PhD, teaches at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. She recently incorporated the WaterViz curriculum into a week-long session of a summer camp for legally blind teenagers and young adults hosted by the South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB). Because the program presents data in so many different ways, students with visual impairments can easily engage with the lessons.

While at the SCCB camp, students had opportunities to:

  • Learn how artists, musicians, and scientists collaborated on the multidisciplinary WaterViz project
  • Analyze, interpret, and build 3-D scale models based on real scientific data
  • Design and construct their own creative data representations
  • Learn about climate trends
  • Present their work at a “Water Showcase” finale event

“Programs like WaterViz give students a way to engage in science and math that builds their confidence,” said Robbins. “We break down the data in a way that helps students make new discoveries and play to their strengths.”

Helping Students Visualize a Future in STEM

When teachers feel unprepared or unable to address the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom, it can be difficult for those students to connect with the material. Unable to access information in the ways they need to learn, they often get frustrated and shut down.

“For example, math and science are often taught visually, which can be hard for blind students to connect with. If they can’t participate to the fullest extent, they often struggle and decide they ‘don’t like’ these subjects,” said Robbins.

WaterViz flips this narrative by giving students options in how they can engage with science curriculum. At the end of the SCCB summer camp, students had the opportunity to choose how to present their findings to the group. There were many clever ideas: some students created 3-D models, and others played musical instruments. One example that particularly stuck with Robbins was a teen girl who wrote a short story about the water data. While nervous, she read her story aloud to the group, who responded with overwhelming applause—building her confidence.

“This project shows that people with all sorts of backgrounds have something to contribute,” said Robbins. She explained that experiences like these can ultimately help students conceive of a future for themselves in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

STEM is for Everyone

Because WaterViz was created with accessibility in mind, there is no need for the program to be retrofitted to meet the needs of students with visual impairments. The curriculum follows best practices for font legibility, incorporates alt-text descriptions for all graphics, and provides accessibility options such as large print, compatibility with screen readers, and braille code.

“We really didn’t have to make any changes for our low-vision or blind students because we started with a Universal Design for Learning perspective. We made the lessons as accessible as possible from the beginning, but we are also constantly refining,” said Robbins.

Universal Design for Learning is a framework used to design learning environments that are accessible to all. The goal is to change the design of the environment to reduce barriers rather than change the learner. NEEF and Toyota Motor North America have previously sponsored projects that follow the principles of Universal Design, including a similar project for visually impaired students at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida.

Another important part of the SCCB summer camp was the opportunity for students to participate in discussion panels with professionals working in STEM fields. They were introduced to career paths they may not have even known were options.

Identifying mentors and role models is important to help students with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in STEM build a sense of community at the start of their higher education and professional journeys.

Teaching Tools to Make STEM More Accessible

Six WaterViz lesson plans for grades 6-8 are available online for educators to download. This includes a folder of digital lessons that may be printed, accessed electronically, downloaded as an accessible PDF, or translated to Braille.

In Fall 2023, Robbins will be teaming up with Dr. Tina Herzberg of Project INSPIRE (Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille) to offer the WaterViz camp virtually. Project INSPIRE offers many free resources for teachers of students with visual impairments, including virtual sessions for middle and high school students and STEM-centered braille reading competitions.

How to Support Inclusivity in Your Classroom

Are you an educator with a student with visual impairments or other disability in your classroom? Robbins says that while it can feel intimidating at first, ensuring your classroom is inclusive of all learning styles will ultimately make you a better teacher. 

“You will need to be more attentive and provide more details, which will ultimately benefit all of your students,” said Robbins.

She also stresses that it’s important to remember that students with disabilities are just as capable as any other student. “Maintain high expectations for both the student and yourself,” said Robbins.

In addition to the online WaterViz curriculum, Robbins recommends the following resources for teachers working with students with low or no vision.

  • Paths to Literacy: a collaboration between Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired that provides teaching strategies, resources, and research to teach literacy foundations for children and youth with visual impairments.
  • Paths to Technology: an online resource designed to assist educators and families in learning and staying current on ever-changing technology for students with visual impairments and blindness.
  • American Printing House for the Blind: offers a variety of free online courses for educators to increase their ability to respond to the needs of students with visual impairments.

In the end, Robbins says the relationship you forge with your students will have the greatest impact on their success. “Perhaps more important than any specific resource is the relationship and dialogue that a teacher has with the student to understand how to reach them and figure out what is best for them,” she said.



From the President’s Desk

By Marty R. McKenzie


We are now in December and the last six months of the year are almost complete. In July, 53 Federationists traveled to Houston, Texas for a wonderful convention and we were all rejuvenated and motivated to return and continue the work of the Federation. Since becoming President, I have looked for the slow time in the year for Federationists and I now know that there is no such thing! We are always busy and about the work in this big program of serving the blind.

The state convention held in August was an outstanding event with 186 people in attendance. The hotel did an outstanding job of hosting this yearly event for us and we were generally very happy with the service we received. There are a few things to tweak for next year, but I am already excited about the 2024 convention.

Elections were held and new board members were added. Congratulations to Roger Webb, Janice Smith and Frank Loza who joined the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina Board of Directors this year. We also extend our deep appreciation to Ed Bible, Loretta Green and Isaiah nelson for there faithful years of service as board members. These individuals made huge contributions to the work we do and continue to do so even though they are taking a respite from the Board of Directors.

October brought several Blind Equality Achievement Month (BEAM) events throughout South Carolina. Many chapters worked hard to ensure that Federationists and our cause appeared in the public eye. Michelle Scott and Lauren Reeves of the newly reorganized Charleston Chapter were interviewed and did an outstanding job of telling their story. Debra Canty from the Sumter Chapter was also interviewed locally and did an excellent Job representing the NFB of SC. The Cherokee County Chapter held a BEAM event at the county administration building and had a wonderful program where chapter members were recognized and a great time of fellowship was had by all. The Anderson Chapter and Spartanburg Chapter also held BEAM events that promoted the work of the NFB of SC in a very positive way. There may be others that I missed, and I thank everyone who worked so hard to make BEAM a successful time in the NFB of SC.

The Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired SC Chapter held its annual conference in North Myrtle Beach at the Beach Cove Resort on November 2-3, 2023. One of the highlights was a panel of Federationists including Belinda Banks, Derique Simon, and Parnell Diggs along with Federation friend Mary Lynn Barnes who participated in a panel moderated by Dr. Tina Herzberg and Marty McKenzie. This panel was very similar to the Where the Blind work panel which took place at the state convention. It was very well received by the professionals in the room and demonstrated what blind people can accomplish.

The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina Board of Directors and the Rocky Bottom Board of Directors took up heavy agendas at the board retreat held November 17-19, 2023 at Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind. There was much accomplished and there is much more that we need to do. The National Office pushed policies that affiliate boards must review and adopt. We got started, but we will have additional work to do in this area.

I want to extend a very special congratulations to Andrenia Corder, Director of Successful Transitions, for all of the hard work she and her team did during 2023. We started the year with many changes and much work to do. The Successful Transitions team has had an excellent year with many accomplishments for which we are proud. While there is much work to do in the future, the program is definitely going in the right direction.

As I close out my comments here, I wish for each of you a merry Christmas or happy holiday season and a prosperous and productive new year! Let’s go build the National Federation of the Blind of south Carolina!



From the Editor

By David Houck


To start with, I was impressed with the quantity and quality of BEAM events in

October. Just during the week of October 9, I was involved in a ZOOM meeting on Tuesday, October 10 with the Detroit Chapter of the NFB of Michigan,  I spoke of my 40 year career, my background, experiences and answered several questions. Maggie Floyd, Columbia Chapter member was online too as Sarah Nelson Norwood had set up the interviews. On Thursday, October 10, Isaiah Nelson’s church, Haskell Heights Baptist Church, prepared and served the dinner while the Pastor fed us spiritually. On Saturday, October 14, the Columbia Chapter hosted a big breakfast which was well attended. I know I had almost more than I could eat. There were attendees from as far away as Sumter.

          The Positive Note Federation Facing Facts 15 week section on, “Who are the blind who lead the blind?” were very interesting and revealing biographies on our NFB of SC Board Members. I believe we all have interesting personal experiences concerning our blindness and how we overcame these obstacles. That makes us a Federation family.

          As we look forward to 2024, there are some anniversaries to take note of. The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind celebrates its 175th anniversary, the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina celebrates its 80th anniversary, the SC Commission for the Blind celebrates its 58th year of service on May 6, the Homestead Exemption law was passed 50 years ago adding blind South Carolinians to reduce (what was then) the first $10,000 in value from their property tax payment, and Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind celebrates 45 years of service. All these anniversaries have one thing in common as they all affected the lives of blind South Carolinians in living a better quality of life!







          When midnight strikes on December 31, 2023, after all the holiday get-togethers and parties are over, the 2024 New Year dawns as a clean slate. 

          We take into account our blessings for those who have gone before us, paving our way toward a bright future.  It is time to awake, become active, participate in those things which make life better for everyone and actively participate!

          When we all work as a team we can conquer huge tasks and make a real difference for all concerned.  Let’s not sleep through the winter season, hoping that spring will solve our problems.  Don’t spectate, but participate!