October, 2015

Alaska NFB President's Report:


Hello again to our members and associate members and friends of the National Federation of the Blind of Alaska! I am pleased to provide an update of activities from our affiliate as this has been an exciting month.

The focus of October was our annual State Convention held at the Coast International Inn in Anchorage. Great food and wonderful hospitality from all the staff made our stay great! A cozy location for our Friday evening October 9 Meet-N-Greet and Saturday October 10 Convention Day included a fireplace where we took breaks and enjoyed the rustic surroundings. We thank you immensely!

We were blessed and honored to have National Federation of the Blind Executive Director Anil Lewis visit with us and address us with comments and observations from a national point of view yet on a regional level to understand how we all work together and accomplish some great milestones for folks with vision and vision/hearing challenges! Thank you Anil.

On Friday evening and again on Saturday, Supervisor Julie Hussman from the Alaska Division of Elections donated her time and resources to attend to educate us and practice on an Accessible Voting Machine. A sample ballot demonstration allowed members and visitors to learn how to use and practice voting. Afterwards several members stated that now they have the confidence to vote for themselves. Empowerment is such a wonderful thing! Thank you again Julie!

It is worth noting that according to State of Alaska statistics, only 1% of the disabled population qualified to vote go the polls. The NFB of Alaska under my direction will work this coming year to encourage education and participation for our vulnerable residents to vote on issues and support elected officials to improve our quality of living and live the life we love!

Communication is of the highest concern especially if disaster strikes! We heard from Pat our 1st Vice President and his wife Shanley on the importance of Amateur Radio. In addition to being a fun and exciting hobby especially for folks with disabilities via Handi-Ham Radio, we learned in times of emergency when all else fails there is ham radio. When Pat lost his vision he stated that ham radio helped him to reach out beyond the length of his cane. I would encourage everyone to consider enjoying this hobby and contact Pat for more information."

Technology is our friend and not our enemy although it can be frustrating oftentimes. Now the NFB has introduced the KNFB Reader and the NFB Newsline program. It enables individuals to have access to great varieties of information on many topics which was not available to blind folks previously. A report and demonstration provided a preview of this service which will be especially helpful to members geographically challenged all across our state. It will require funding to begin and maintain this resource for our members. I have directed the board with members to seek solutions to providing Newsline here in Alaska.

Tammy Kearney, Manager Commonwealth Braille and Talking Book Cooperative gave us insight on other applications used outside of Alaska for Talking Books and similar activities. I consider if some of these practices and procedures may be incorporated in our systems to improve education and access and reduce costs.

There was a good attendance including online streaming of our convention. We even received a report from a listener in New Zealand! Our great appreciation to Next Wave Radio Network providing our entire conference Live Streaming at no cost to our affiliate.

The convention was completely filled non-stop presentations and activities. I do not have all the time to details all the events as this was just a highlight. But most of all we are thankful for supporting personnel, staff, members and everyone assisting and participating with our convention. I do look forward that a year from now we will have grown our membership, encourage greater voter turnout and provide solutions for more members to live the life they love!

Tracy - Your NFB of Alaska Presindent
President Tracy Packee
National Federation of the Blind of Alaska
Email: NFBAKPackee@Yahoo.com