Anyone, blind or sighted, is permitted to join the NFB, but a majority of members in its local chapters, state affiliates, and nationwide divisions must be blind, as must its officers and board members at every level with exception of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. This structure is intended to ensure that the organization is run by blind people and reflects the collective views of its blind members, the NFB refers to itself as "the voice of the nation's blind."
The philosophy of the organization is “The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back. ”
The organization's former President, Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, said, "We who are blind are pretty much like you. We have our share of both geniuses and jerks, but most of us somewhere between, ordinary people living ordinary lives."
The NFB works to promulgate its philosophy by educating and recruiting new members, working to educate the general public, and interacting with legislators and policy makers at the local, state, and national levels. The positions of the National Federation of the Blind on issues are determined by its national convention, which meets annually and typically has between 2,500 and 3,000 delegates from the organization's affiliates in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The policy positions of the NFB take the form of resolutions, which are voted upon by the convention. Like a union, the convention is subsidized by the organization making it affordable to those attending. The agenda of the National Convention is published on-line prior to its convention. Its logo is called the whosit and consists of an outline of a walking person with a white cane.
The NFB-style white cane is longer than most in order to allow the blind person to use a more natural walking position with their arms at their sides, rather than extended in front of them. The added length also allows the blind person to walk more quickly by giving more advanced information. In addition, the lighter weight of the fiberglass and carbon fiber canes, coupled with the metal tip, provides more information than the heavier aluminum style canes with plastic tips. Federation members view the long white cane as a tool of independence and self-determination, rather than one of helplessness and dependency, as it provides greater mobility to the blind.
According to wikipedia