National Federation of the Blind Response to COVID-19
Attending a Federation event is a personal decision to be made based upon your current health status and, when appropriate, in consultation with medical professionals. For the latest facts about the virus, we encourage accessing reliable information from sources such as the
World Health Organization (WHO) or the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Users of NFB-NEWSLINE® can also access the latest information in the breaking news section.
National Convention and National Headquarters
The 2020 NFB National Convention is taking place July 14-19 in Houston, Texas, as planned. At this time we do not believe there is a need to alter plans for our annual meeting. We will continue to evaluate the situation and the needs of attendees.
We will update the national convention webpage at nfb.org/convention regarding the status of the event and any related precautions to be taken.
At our national headquarters, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, we are taking extra precautions and implementing sanitation and safety measures to keep our members, visitors, and staff safe. We are evaluating our planned meetings and tours and will communicate with participants regarding the status of previously planned events. State leaders are asked to coordinate their plans with the President of the Federation so assistance can be provided and clear lines of communication can be maintained across the nation.
* Please review the general guidance for executing meetings during COVID-19 offered below.
* If an event is cancelled, appropriate messaging should be distributed through all relevant channels. Local chapter meeting changes should be coordinated with the affiliate president.
* Local chapters should communicate with meeting locations to understand what precautions those facilities are taking to support hosted meetings.
* Chapter leaders may want to secure supplies to assist members in keeping the meeting environment as free of germs as possible.
* Local leaders should ensure that clear communication plans exist for sharing updated information to members.
* For meetings of small chapters or of chapter or division boards, leaders might consider using a service like Zoom or FreeConferenceCall..com to conduct virtual meetings as a temporary measure if local circumstances do not permit public meetings.
General Guidance for Executing Meetings
The most important prophylactic step that Federation members can take is to encourage those who are exhibiting any type of symptoms related to a respiratory illness to refrain from attending any organizational events. If someone has been exposed to the virus in any way, that person should stay away from Federation events as well. Additionally, those who are in high-risk groups should consult with their medical professionals and consider staying at home. At Federation events, it is critical that everyone practice the highest level of hygiene.
* We should refrain from handshakes or physical contact like hugs, etc.
* Hands should be washed frequently and/or hand sanitizer should be used liberally.
* It should be recognized that serving food at Federation meetings is a potential exposure point. We recommend considering eliminating food at Federation events during the current circumstances. However, if food is to be served extra attention should be given to best practices for serving food and keeping surfaces clean. Specifically, anyone serving food should wear gloves, and before serving, hands, serving surfaces, and serving instruments should be sanitized.
Again, we will continue to monitor all aspects of this situation as they develop, focusing first and foremost on the health and safety of everyone in our Federation family. I wish you, your families, and your colleagues the best as we address these challenges.
Mark A. Riccobono, President, National Federation of the Blind