NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Director A.V. Diaz will be a keynote speaker at the annual National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Convention on July 1 in Louisville, Ky. His invitation to speak is the result of NASA’s new collaboration with the NFB, aimed at encouraging the blind to consider entering scientific and mathematical fields.

“Together with the National Federation of the Blind, we hope to inspire blind youth to consider opportunities in science and engineering and to engage blind and visually impaired individuals in the Nation’s space program by using the excitement of NASA information,” said Diaz.

The convention, to be held from June 28-July 4, will be the largest assembly of any organization of disabled people to meet this year. An anticipated 3,000 people will attend, coming from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and over 15 foreign countries. Those at the convention will have the opportunity to talk to blind role models, attend informative meetings and learn about current developments that are improving life for the blind.

“The fact that NASA is sending one of their leaders says to our members and the rest of the world that blind people are worth the effort and that a population that many write off as not able to contribute much to our society can, with proper training and opportunities, make a significant contribution,” said Marc Maurer, NFB president.

The NASA/NFB collaboration seeks to facilitate the means that will lead to increased employment opportunities for the blind. This includes examining current resources available, looking at what NASA technologies could be adapted to assist the blind and finding ways to provide knowledge in a manner accessible to the blind.

“At a recent event to unveil the Braille book Touch the Universe, initiated by NASA’s Associate Administrator of Space Science, we witnessed how, once again, the use of exciting science information can create a difference to improve the quality of life for an individual by giving access to knowledge,” said Diaz. “I believe that the time is right to re-double our efforts to seek ways to enable others, including the blind community, to benefit from the fruits of our exploration.”

NASA is committed to developing cutting-edge technologies, processes, techniques and transferring knowledge from its research and discoveries to benefit both commercial ventures and the quality of human life.