NELDS: Creating a Better Future for Those with Vision Loss, by Jeff Thom and Chris Gray

Whether it's legal advocacy for those who are blind or have low vision or providing educational seminars, the National Education and Legal Defense Service is working to serve each and every one of us. For example, at the two most recent ACB conventions, NELDS has presented seminars on health care reform and the Americans with Disabilities Act. As we plan for the 2012 convention, we invite you to suggest advocacy issues that you feel would be important to address in our next NELDS seminar.

Our most recent project is to work with Eric Bridges, ACB's director of advocacy and governmental affairs, to provide non-legislative advocacy services. By providing financial resources to ACB for this effort and utilizing the resources of its board members, we hope to assist as many people with visual impairments as possible. If you, or someone you know, has an advocacy issue and would like to obtain our assistance, we urge you to contact Melanie Brunson by e-mail at mbrunson@acb.org or by telephone at 1-800-424-8666.

The unmet need for legal and advocacy assistance is staggering, and there is so much more that NELDS could be doing for those who are blind or who have low vision. We would love to expand what we can offer, but as with all organizations, there are associated costs. This past year, NELDS has reached out to individuals and ACB affiliates. Thanks to all of you who have responded, many with unexpected levels of true generosity. From this, we know that you understand the need.

To encourage even greater participation from individuals and affiliates, NELDS has created five levels of membership. They are:

* Bronze, $25

* Silver, $50

* Gold, $100

* Platinum, $500

* Diamond, $1,000

No matter what level you choose or even if you choose to give a different amount, we strongly encourage you to join with us to expand services to those in need of help with advocacy and to all of us in need of additional education in advocacy matters. Together, we can create a brighter future for those with vision loss.

For questions or additional information, please contact Chris Gray at chris@bayareadigital.us.