Letter from NOPBC President
(Content Warning: the following information addresses sensitive topics regarding abuse, sexual violence, and misconduct.)
Parents, Educators, and Allies:
As a division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the Board of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) feels we must comment on recent information that has come to light regarding incidents of abuse, including sexual abuse, that have occurred at NFB activities and at our residential blindness skills training centers. We support the survivors who have bravely shared their experiences publicly and commit ourselves to helping to guide changes that must occur.
In his Open Letter of Apology, https://www.nfb.org/blog/open-letter-apology-president-riccobono, NFB President Mark Riccobono writes: “Many NFB members, former members, and people within our blindness community are hurting. For some, the pain comes from their lived experience of being abused or violated by one of our members and/or made to feel like no one else was listening or came to their defense at a Federation event or training program. For others, what they feel is empathy for survivors who were harmed by participating in the National Federation of the Blind, recognizing that we have not done enough within our movement and systemically within our community. We are deeply sorry that this is true and apologize for where we have failed. As the elected President of this movement, I carry the responsibility of this pain. I am profoundly sorry that anyone has been harmed by experiences in our movement.”
Like many of you, I am the parent of a blind child as are all the members of the NOPBC Board (one is the grandparent of a blind child). We are unwavering in our mission to support parents of blind children and to keep our children safe. As the NFB proactively seeks to identify and implement improvements in all areas as needed, please be assured that the NOPBC Board is involved in the deliberations and discussions about how we will effectively safeguard our students and families and all members of our community. We are committed to providing students and their families a safe space for open and necessary dialogue, and we will never waver in this commitment. Please know that we support survivors and their families, and we do not condone and will not tolerate disrespectful responses to their stories or attacks upon them.
On a personal level, I want you to know that I am struggling to adequately articulate my feelings about the many facets of this matter—to myself and in writing. Time is helping, as is open and frank communication with members of the NOPBC Board and others. I ask that you feel free (and encouraged) to reach out to me at NOPBCpres@gmail.com.
Our love for our children binds us all together. We will continue to support our children and one another as we move forward together during this difficult time.
Carlton Anne Cook Walker
President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
A proud division of the National Federation of the Blind