Scurlocks Remain Active in NFB

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Doug Scurlock, Anil Lewis, Deputy Executive Director of the NFB Jernigan Institute and April Scurlock at a recent NFB leadership seminar at Little Rock.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) believes the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight, but the misunderstanding and lack of information surrounding blindness. According to the NFB website, www.nfb.org, when a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness is only a physical nuisance. The National Federation of the Blind is the largest organization of the blind in America. Founded in 1940, the Federation has grown to include over 50,000 members, including interested sighted persons.

It is estimated that over one million people in the U.S. are blind, and each year 50,000 more will become blind. Studies show that only AIDS and cancer are feared more than blindness. However, blindness need not be the tragedy which it is generally thought to be. The NFB as a whole is working diligently to change what it means to be blind.

A family with ties to Rector is greatly involved with this organization. Doug and April (Ellis) Scurlock, along with their boys, Logan and Dalton, all hold or have held offices in this organization at the state and local levels. April currently serves as secretary of the state board of directors for the National Federation of the Blind of Arkansas, a position she was elected to in October 2012. She has served as the secretary of the At-Large Chapter while Doug was the treasurer for the same chapter. Last year, April chaired the state convention committee which she was also chosen to do again this year. Their boys both serve on the ARK ABS-Student Division board. Logan currently serves as the treasurer while Dalton holds the position of a board member. This family stays actively involved because of April's progressive vision loss due to an eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). April is a fifth and sixth grade math teacher in Mount Ida where she has taught for the past 10 years. April is the daughter of Gene Ellis of Rector and Brenda Rush of Senath, Mo. She graduated from Clay County Central in 1993.

The NFB is a consumer organization of blind people working together to improve opportunities for the blind and the understanding of blindness by the general public. The NFB has affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with over 700 local chapters in most major cities.

The purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is to act as a vehicle for collective self-expression by the blind. Since its beginning in 1940, the NFB has been working toward the ultimate goal of helping blind persons achieve self-confidence and self-respect, and the complete integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. The National Federation of the Blind is doing this by providing public education about blindness, information and referral services, scholarships, literature and publications about blindness, aids and appliances and other adaptive equipment for the blind, advocacy services and protection of civil rights, employment assistance and support services, development and evaluation of technology, and support for blind persons and their families.

A newly blinded person faces difficult adjustments. One of the best medicines is to meet other blind people and learn of the techniques they use. Membership in the NFB provides this common meeting ground and a sense of participation and restoration of confidence. By means of speeches, pamphlets, and radio and TV appearances, members of the NFB strive to educate the public that the blind are normal individuals who can compete on terms of equality.

This past weekend, Doug and April had the opportunity to participate in a leadership seminar in Little Rock which was conducted by Anil Lewis, Deputy Executive Director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. The pair learned many valuable leadership qualities that can be passed on in their leadership roles through their positions within the organization. They participated in a state board meeting, mock chapter meeting, and learned about the NFB philosophy and structure. Both believe this is valuable training that can be used within the organization and in their daily jobs, as well.

"I have gained so much knowledge from being a part of this organization," April said. "It has taught me great leadership skills, as well as, helping me to believe in myself while losing my vision."

April maintains a positive outlook on blindness and says it will not keep her down. The NFB strongly advocates independence and she is following their belief to the fullest.

"The greatest impact for me regarding the NFB is that blind people run this organization," she said. "Sighted individuals, such as my children, can be members of the NFB; however, blind people must hold the ultimate leadership positions, such as president and vice-presidents. This shows me that being blind is not a problem, just a nuisance that I must overcome. There are many successful blind people within the NFB."

Those interested in learning more about the NFB may go to their website, nfb.org, contact April by email at a1teacher02@hotmail.com or by phone at 870-490-1825 or the state president of the NFBAR, Mrs. Terry Sheeler, by email at tosheeler@cox.net or by phone at 479-841-6081.

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