Meet the Blind

Group of blind hikers enjoying the terrain of Hawaii 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. We invite you to learn more about our organization and to take a moment to meet the everyday, dynamic members of our movement.

Meet the Blind Month

NFB Featured Members

Sheila Koenig

Listen to Sheila talk about teaching!

Sheila KoenigAlbert Einstein once wrote,"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." As I begin my ninth year of teaching, I still believe this statement to be true. I teach 9th grade English at South View Middle School in Edina, Minnesota, and one of my personal joys each year is to watch students marvel at the power of language. Whether we are reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Romeo and Juliet, students find truths in the texts, and they carry these truths with them as they leave my classroom.

My blindness impacts my teaching in only a small capacity. I use Braille for seating charts or notes, and I use speech on my computer. On the first day of school I discuss blindness with my students, and they really do come to see that blindness isn't a tragedy; I have found alternative ways to accomplish the same tasks as other teachers.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy reading, exercising, shopping, watching movies, and hanging out with family and friends. Because of my experiences in the National Federation of the Blind, I know with certainty that blind people can and do lead successful, happy lives.

Stacy Cervenka

Stacy CervenkaMy name is Stacy Cervenka. I'm 26 years old and I currently work in Washington, DC as a Staff Assistant for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

My job consists of a wide array of tasks. First and foremost, I run the front office, which entails answering phone calls from constituents, answering their questions about the Senator's stances on various issues, and passing their comments along to the Senator. I also help our Kansas constituents arrange various tours of local attractions, such as the White House and the Library of Congress, during their visits to Washington, DC. My favorite part of my job is leading tours of the US Capitol Building. I love having the chance to interact with the constituents face-to-face and get to know the people we serve on a more personal level. I enjoy knowing that I'm able to play a small, yet memorable, part in their Washington, DC experience.

When I'm not working, I love to roller-blade, swim, read, watch movies, and travel. I also love to go dancing, I'm currently taking a pilates class, and I'm very active in my church. My goal is do public policy in the field of education. I also hope to one day run for office myself.

I can honestly say that I would never be where I am today without the National Federation of the Blind. At my first NFB convention 7 years ago, I met countless blind adults and blind college students who encouraged me to reexamine my perceptions of what was possible for my life. They encouraged me to take a long, hard, honest look at where I was in terms of my independence and take practical steps to improve my blindness skills.

Because of the NFB and the skills and philosophy I learned at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, I am living a life I never would have dreamed was possible and I only look forward to what the future has in store.

Romeo Edmead

Romeo EdmeadGrowing up in Brooklyn New York as a blind child was an experience that taught me valuable lessons which played an integral part in making me who I am today.  For the first two years of my life I was actually sighted, but ironically my mother tells everyone that my life started after glaucoma took my sight away.  I attended pre-school with other blind children at the Manhattan Lighthouse for the Blind, and that is where I began to learn Braille.

Once it was time for kindergarten, my mother decided that public school was the right place for me to obtain an education.  Of course, my blindness was constantly ridiculed, but I made lots of friends along the way as my peers began to realize that I was not so different after all.  Eventually I was treated the same, as I spent many day's wrestling, playing tag, and running races in the school yard during recess.

Back in my neighborhood with my other group of sighted friends, riding bikes, rollerskating, and playing video games were everyday activities, especially during the summer months.  Everyday was a new adventure, as we all sat amongst each other figuring out how we could make the next day's activities more exciting than the previous ones. 

Today, I can say with absolute conviction that everything I participated in as a child helps me immensely to this day.  When I wanted to begin traveling on my own, I remember thinking that it could not be so difficult because I had already rollerskated at blazing speeds with out the use of a cane, so walking had to be a piece of cake.  It is this mentality that allows me to be fearless in life as a blind traveler today, and it also carries over to the judo classes that I take 3-4 times a week as well. 

Knowing that there are other blind people in the world who live life like me is something very refreshing.  The National Federation of the Blind opened my eyes to this fact when I discovered them at the age of 18, and the organization has certainly been one of the major positives in my life over the past 8 years.  It all comes together for me at national conventions, because I say that we are the blind trapped in a sighted world, but I almost feel like during convention time the sighted population is trapped in our world.

Other Ways to Meet the Blind of the NFB

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