State Convention

 National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey 41st ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION

November 9th through 12th, 2017
Theme: Live The Life You Want; Let’s Make It Happen – Honoring Longtime Member Jerilyn Higgins
Hosts: Central Jersey Chapter and the Braille Division

The 41st Annual State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey was held at the:
Holiday Inn Hotel
151 Route 72 East
Manahawkin, New Jersey 08050
Access Link accessible.

Thank you for attending the 41st state convention. Stay tuned for details for the 42nd state convention.


Live Facebook Stream

Throughout the convention, the New Jersey Association of Blind Students streamed the convention live via our Facebook page,

Food Drive

To all attending the state convention, the Barnegat Food Pantry accepted all unexpired nonperishable food items. In addition, the pantry accepted items such as shampoo, soap, body wash, laundry soap, papertowels, toilet tissue, etc. The staff were guests of the NFBNJ and joined us at the banquet where we presented all items collected.

White Cane Collection

Wondering what to do with that old cane you no longer use in the closet? Is that drawer of used canes collecting dust and taking up space? Donate your old canes to the new “You Cane Give” program. Kustom Cane is collecting donated canes to refurbish and send to individuals who are blind and visually impaired around the world. Let’s face it, we have it good in America. With the click of a button, we can order almost anything we need, including a cane. In countries like Mexico, China, India, and South Africa, people do not have access to the proper tools to empower independence and success. Do not let your canes go to waste! “You Cane Give” allows you to help us give your used cane to a person far away who needs it! We are in need of canes in all sizes. Kustom Cane has contacts in Peru, Nigeria, and South Africa wishing for a cane of their own.

Bring your used canes to the forty-first NFB of NJ state convention for a chance to win a cane exxessury pack from Kustom Canes. The pack will include a Bluetooth speaker cane charm, another charm of the winner’s choice, and a cane tip of the winner’s choice, a $60 vallue. One cane equals 1 raffle entry. If you are not able to attend state convention but would still like to take part in the raffle or if you would like more information on this program please contact Vee Gaspa at 434-989-1868 or

Guide Dog Relief Area

The guide dog relief area was in one location only. There will be both a grassy area and a cement area.

Directions from the hotel lobby:
Step off the elevator and turn right. Proceed 8 or 9 steps and turn left. Proceed about 50 steps through the convention hall corridor to reach the rear exit doors. Once outside, walk about 4 steps and turn left to find the sidewalk. Walk on the sidewalk about 100 feet to the relief area. The grassy area and cement areas are on the right at the end of this sidewalk. There is a line trash can on the grassy area. Please note: there is a parking lot to the right of the long sidewalk and a service delivery area just beyond the relief area. It is not necessary or advisable to step off the curb at any time to access the relief area.

If there are any questions, please contact Dan Facchini at 201-906-8655.

Hotel Navigation

We were pleased to featured LowViz Guide, an indoor navigation app for the blind and visually impaired. Developed in 2015 as a free community service by Macular Degeneration Support, the app has been provided at more than a dozen state and national conventions for blind/visually impaired attendees who have access to iPhones or iPads. LowViz Guide gives information on hotel points of interest and meeting room and schedule details. They provided step-by-step user instructions in large print, audio, and Braille formats and personal support for users during the entire event. For more information about LowVis Guide, visit


The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey’s exhibit room sponsorship for the 41st state convention, Live The Life You Want; Let’s Make It Happen, is provided below. We thank all exhibitors for their support to change what it means to be blind.

Let’s Make It Happen:


Raising Expectations:

Radwell International

Live The Life You Want:

Vanda Pharmaceuticals

Transforming Dreams:

3D PhotoWorks
Eye Assist, LLC
Independence Science
Sprint Vision

Can Do Believers:

Association of Blind Athletes of New Jersey (ABANJ)
Family Resource Network, EDGE Program
Mariposa Essence
NJ Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired (NJCBVI)
NJ State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (NJSL TBBC)
Support Service Providers of NJ (SSPNJ)
SW Unlimited, LLC

National Rep

We were honored and excited to have Scott LaBarre, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and the National Association of Blind Lawyers, as our national representative for our state convention. Please read his bio to learn more about Scott.

Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
LaBarre Law Offices P.C.
Denver, Colorado

Scott C. LaBarre owns and operates LaBarre Law Offices P.C., (LLO). LLO specializes in employment law, disability rights, Randolph-Sheppard Act cases, and some international policy work particularly in the area of copyright law. Mr. LaBarre has appeared in federal and state courts throughout the United States securing many important victories for his clients such as Enyart v. National Conference of Bar Examiners, 630 F.3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2011)(securing the right for blind students to use assistive technology as an accommodation on the multistate bar exam) and Cannon v. Palmer College of Chiropractic, 850 N.W.2d 326 (Iowa 2014)(securing the right of a blind student to pursue a doctor of chiropractic degree with his requested accommodations). He is permanently admitted before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth and DC Circuits, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the Supreme Court of Colorado, and the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland’s highest court). LaBarre has been named one of Colorado’s Super Lawyers, a distinction recognizing the top five percent of Colorado attorneys.

Prior to launching his own firm in July of 1998, Mr. LaBarre acted as general counsel for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Colorado, where he specialized in laws affecting the blind and disabled. Mr. LaBarre served in that capacity for five years. Even after establishing LLO, he remains very active in the NFB through his volunteer service in many leadership roles. In October of 2005, members of the NFB of Colorado elected LaBarre their President. He also serves as Chairman of the Preauthorized Contributions Committee, one of the Federation’s major national fundraisers. Additionally, he is President of the National Association of Blind Lawyers and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Center for the Blind. The Federation has presented LaBarre with the Raymond W. McGeorge Award in 2010 for his work on behalf of the blind in Colorado and the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in 2014 for his efforts to achieve successful adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Individuals Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, and Otherwise Print Disabled.

Since 2010, LaBarre has acted as the NFB’s lead delegate to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO’s) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights to work on an international treaty to create the international exchange of published works in accessible formats for the blind and print disabled leading to the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty in June of 2013. This work has led to his election to the Accessible Books Consortium Board, a body sponsored by WIPO and designed to serve as an entity implementing the Marrakesh Treaty on a practical level, promote cross-border exchange of accessible books for the print disabled, and to encourage inclusive publishing.

As an original and current member of the Steering Committee, LaBarre helped to establish the Federation’s Jacobus tenBroek Law Symposium on Disability Rights which gathers leaders from all sectors in the arena of disability rights to discuss the current status of the law and to plan needed reform. LaBarre has presented at the Symposium on several occasions. He is active in national, state and local bar associations through his service in many roles. LaBarre is a founding member of the Disability Rights Bar Association and serves on its Executive Board as Chairman. In September of 2016, LaBarre began a three year term on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors. He has also been a Commissioner on the ABA’s Commission on Disability Rights and served as its Chair from 2004-2007. Mr. LaBarre is also active in the ABA’s Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division and reassumed a position on its governing council starting in August of 2013, previously serving on the Division’s Council from 2005 through 2009. In the last decade plus, he has also performed the roles of a Director in the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, Vice Chairman and a member of the ABA-YLD Bar Leadership Team, YLD Liaison to the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, a member of the Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors, and Treasurer and a member of the Executive Council of the Denver Bar Association’s Young Lawyers.

Mr. LaBarre received his Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota in 1993 and his Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1990. He left Minnesota in 1993 to work at the National Headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind. He moved to Colorado in June of 1994. He is married to a wonderful woman who originally hales from Armenia, Anahit Galechyan. Anahit and Scott have two children, Alexander (born October 2002) and Emily (born December 2004).

Videos from Previous State Convention

Videos from a previous year’s state convention can be viewed on our YouTube channel, NFBNJTransformDreams.

Here are the direct links to the playlist for previous state conventions.

NFBNJ Presidential Reports

Here are the NFBNJ Presidential Reports given by affiliate president Joe Ruffalo during our state conventions.

Additional Information

If you have questions and need additional information, please contact:
Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Phone: 973-743-0075

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Contact Information

Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Phone: 973-743-0075

Coming Soon

9th Annual After the Holidays Party

January 6, 2018
1:00 – 5:00 PM
Knights of Columbus Hall
94 Bridge Street
Belleville, NJ 07109
Cross Street: Belleville Avenue
Access Link accessible

2018 NFB Washington Seminar

January 29 to February 1, 2018
Holiday Inn Capitol
550 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024

PayPal Donations

Please make a donation to the National Federation of the Blind general account, our general scholarship account, the Joe/Rose Ruffalo Memorial Scholarship account, or the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy. Please indicate which account you wish the donation to go into when making your contribution. You do not need to have a PayPal account to donate, simply use the information from your debit/credit card if you don't have PayPal. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation to NFBNJ via PayPal, please visit our PayPal Donations page.