compiled by Ardis Bazyn
The recent membership committee focus call gave participants an opportunity to share what they found to be the benefits of ACB. We encourage you to disseminate the following benefits to blind and visually impaired people you know. Perhaps you don’t even realize all the benefits available.
One of the benefits for most participants was the feeling of being part of a community. Many have formed lifelong friendships after joining a chapter or affiliate. Many have built confidence in their blindness skills after learning from others, making them feel more independent. Members and friends have the ability to network and learn from one another during socializing time at chapter meetings, committee meetings, and affiliate and national conventions.
After becoming members, participants have gained an awareness of various issues, particularly those relating to blindness. They have learned advocacy techniques by attending legislative seminars in their state and nationally. With these experiences, they were able to advocate with community agencies and businesses. They have used state laws to their advantage and worked to improve them.
The ACB website (acb.org) shows news articles or press releases of state and national success stories. “The ACB Braille Forum” and affiliate newsletters keep members informed on historical legislation, accessibility challenges and solutions, as well as affiliate activities. ACB’s various email lists offer members avenues to explore and learn. Many options are available to hear about what is new in the blindness arena, such as mini videos and audios on ACB affiliate and national websites and streaming from ACB Radio. It’s easy for members to call or go online through the ACB Radio website link (acbradio.org) or the ACB website to the ACB Radio link. The app, ACB Link, gives many streaming and podcast options and information updates.
Others mentioned how being involved in ACB has kept them active, since ACB has so many special-interest groups, committees, email lists, conference calls on many topics, and other offerings. Many chapters have meetings or a lunch get-together where they have speakers who share information: technology training on OrCam, Echo or Dot, Siri on the iPhone, and other products, both low- and high-tech. Other speakers address transportation, audio-described plays and shows, accessible fitness tools, and other topics of interest. Chapters and affiliates also offer activities such as beep baseball, tours to wineries, accessible museums, sports arenas, etc.
Many students learn about our ACB and affiliate scholarships, both educational and for attending convention. With scholarship follow-up and persistent mentorship options, many winners come to love ACB as much as we do. Facebook shares and likes help to spread the word about our events and promote our activities to outsiders who then learn of our unique benefits. State and national ACB walks, Mutt Struts, and mobility walks spread the word about our efforts as well.
Members can share our benefits by doing the following:
· Sending letters to braille libraries asking them to share our convention times/dates with all their readers.
· Speaking to Lions Clubs, Elks Clubs, other service organizations, senior centers, and colleges about our benefits and support services.
· Holding grant-writing workshops for chapters/affiliates to get funds for our services.
· Encouraging conference calls for at-large members and/or young people/students so they understand all the benefits.
Please stay tuned for upcoming membership focus calls. Contact the membership committee for assistance with your affiliate. We have many past articles and hand-outs we can provide upon request.