National Industries for the Blind National Conference Features World-Renowned Blind Painter

Working with 73 employees who are blind from across the U.S. to create a special art project


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—National Industries for the Blind will hold its national conference at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Richmond Hwy., Arlington, Va. 22202) on October 9-12 (view the full agenda here) in partnership with the National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind. The annual Training Conference and Expo brings together hundreds of representatives from NIB associated nonprofit agencies, industry leaders, federal customers and agency representatives and other partners to learn, network and exchange ideas.

At the Training Conference and Expo, NIB will honor the accomplishments of 73 Employees of the Year, people who are blind that have been selected from our nationwide network of associated nonprofit agencies. During the evening of October 12, NIB will celebrate the national winners and all of the 2023 nominees.

The goal of the conference is to present a festival experience that highlights activations for all senses. While it will include traditional conference components—keynote speeches from government leaders, training sessions and networking and business opportunities—it will also offer new features. The expo will showcase new technologies that can make jobs more accessible for employees who are blind. Two activated awards walls will highlight employees of the year, as well as customer and business partner award winners.

Perhaps the most exciting addition for 2023 is the artist in residence, John Bramblitt. Bramblitt, who is blind, is an American artist living in Denton, Texas. Known for his bright colors and a style that mixes impressionism with the modern feel of pop art, he has murals in New York and Dallas. His works have been sold in over 120 countries, he is a cultural ambassador for the United States, and he has recived three Presidential Service awards. He works as a consultant to museums in developing programs that are designed to include everyone—no matter their ability or disability.

When he lost his vision in 2001 due to complications from epilepsy and Lyme disease, Bramblitt’s hopes of becoming a creative writing teacher were shattered and he fell into a deep depression. Then he discovered painting. He learned to distinguish between the colors by feeling the textures. Using raised lines around the canvas as well as haptic visualization, he can “see” his subjects through touch. He paints amazingly lifelike portrates of people he’s never seen, including his wife and son.

During the NIB/NAEPB Training Conference and Expo, Bramblitt will hold studio art sessions for more than 70 employees who are blind or visually impaired. Bramblitt will also host open studio time during the Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. through noon.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a national celebration of the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, past and present. NDEAM showcases supportive, inclusive policies and practices that benefit employees and employers alike. NIB and its nationwide network of association nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind and the largest employer of people who are blind in the country.


Editor’s Note:  The 2023 TCE is open to media. Media are welcome to attend, see and learn about new technologies, meet John Bramblitt and see the special project created, and meet the employees of the year who helped to create the art. If interested, please contact Vicki Bendure at 202-374-9259 (call/text) or

About National Industries for the Blind

Incorporated in 1938, NIB is the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, and through its network of associated nonprofit agencies, the largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S. NIB creates opportunities for people who are blind to become wage earners and taxpayers, reducing their reliance on government support and increasing engagement in their communities. The organization offers career training and assists employers and employees in developing mutually beneficial workplaces. NIB’s vision is that blindness is not a barrier to employment. In 2021, NIB launched a national talent management enterprise known as NSITE. NSITE provides a continuum of employment services that connect employers with talented, dedicated people who are blind or visually impaired, including veterans. For more information, visit or