by Debbie Kent Stein
On Friday, April 17, twenty-one blind students and a team of mentors and presenters from IABS and NFBI gathered at the Park Inn and Illini Conference Center in Urbana for Beyond Barriers, the second NFBI student seminar. The participants came from throughout the state, and ranged from high school students to doctoral candidates. Several were in GED programs, hoping to go on to college. "Beyond Barriers" was the culmination of months of work by the seminar committee under co-chairs Ronza Othman and Debbie Stein. The Publicity Subcommittee [Press Committee], led by Denise Avant, did an extraordinary job of spreading the word to agencies and the media. The seminar began at 6 on Friday evening, and was finished at 4 the following afternoon. Those twenty-two hours were jam-packed. Among the items on the agenda was "The View from Hollywood," in which clips from movies with blind characters served as a springboard into a discussion about attitudes. Sharon Howerton, Pat Kramer-Brown, and Ronza Othman spoke about strategies students should use to get what they need from Rehabilitation Services. Megan Joost directed a hilarious set of skits demonstrating what to do and what not to do in a variety of situations. Students had the opportunity to examine an assortment of adaptive equipment, from slates and styluses to the KNFB Mobil. To get everyone up and moving, Dave Wright, Janice Jeang, and Michele Wesley taught participants and committee members to dance the Macarena and the Chacha Slide. [and] Michele and Ronza sent everyone off on a scavenger hunt. Some of the best moments of the seminar occurred spontaneously during meals and breaks. On Friday night, as the dance teachers practiced and tested the sound system, people began to gravitate to the meeting room. It turned into a glorious after-hours dance, and a discussion that lasted, for the most intrepid, until two in the morning. It's hard to stop all the sharing and learning when they get started. NFB events are like that time and again.
By Terry Leap
I came into the NFB in the fall of 1997. I didn't have any idea what I would get myself into. I met a lot of nice people there. As I expected, I was very nervous at my first meeting. They told me that if I was going to want to achieve a goal for myself I had to get out there and do it. I knew that it wouldn't be very easy, but if I wanted to do it bad enough, I would really have to try. My first work experience was at the Guild for the Blind in Chicago. I volunteered there two to three days a week stuffing envelopes. I liked it a whole lot, but I found myself not doing my work. I was told that I had to try a whole lot harder or they wouldn't keep me. I knew I had problems, and if I really wanted to make it, my problems had to stay at home. I didn't seem to like this very well, so in the end I had to quit. It had gotten very rough for me to do and try. Through all my