President’s Report to the National Convention, Part III

by Kim Charlson

For the better part of the last 20 years, ACB has worked with banks to ensure the customer experience for people who are blind or visually impaired is accessible. Whether we talk about braille statements or talking ATMs, ACB has led the way in working with the banking industry.
Earlier this year ACB was approached by JPMorgan Chase to discuss the next generation of outreach that they were seeking to have with the blindness community. These discussions culminated in a day-long meeting held at JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in New York City, where ACB was represented by Eric Bridges and Brian Charlson. This was a clear sign that JPMorgan Chase is taking accessibility seriously. All and all, it was a great first step to kick off the next generation of banking accessibility for our community. ACB and JPMorgan Chase view this relationship as long-term and very valuable. It should be noted that JPMorgan Chase is conducting focus groups this week, seeking feedback on the use of braille in conjunction with their products. We thank JPMorgan Chase for being a sponsor of the 2014 conference and convention.          
Much of my work this year has been with what I call the ACB infrastructure. This includes the board, committees and task forces, and the board of publications. Recognizing all of the great work being done by ACB committees and task forces, I want to give a shoutout to some significant communication initiatives undertaken by ACB’s Strategic Plan Goal Group 1 on communications and an effort by the board of publications to bring information to members in new ways.
Thanks to Larry Turnbull, you can now access ACB Radio itself on the new ACB Radio telephone system at (231) 460-1047 – where you can listen to the six ACB Radio channels over the phone. To listen to “The ACB Braille Forum” and “The ACB E-Forum” by phone, you can call (231) 460-1061.
For those using technology to keep up with information, ACB is there for you as well through social media.
You can opt to “Like” us on Facebook (americancounciloftheblindofficial); or “Follow” us on Twitter (acbnational). For those of you using Twitter, you can follow more detailed convention coverage at hashtag ACB14. We urge you to share and re-tweet messages to your friends and followers to help us spread the word about ACB.
The ACB Twitter account has grown over 65 percent in followers since last convention, and it continues to grow weekly. I want to publicly express appreciation to both the Twitter and Facebook teams for ACB. The Twitter team consists of four individuals who rotate week-long coverage for sending tweets out on our Twitter account. This team includes: Lisa Brooks (Ariz.), Jim Denham (Mass.), and Michael Malver (Minn.). ACB board member John McCann of Virginia is the Twitter liaison to the social media team.
The Facebook team is structured a bit differently based on the way Facebook is used and accessed. ACB’s Facebook page is just one year old, and I am very pleased that we have over 550 followers, and it is growing at a rapid rate. ACB treasurer Carla Ruschival (Ky.) is the Facebook team leader, assisted by second vice president Marlaina Lieberg (Wash.), Will Burley (Tex.), and Katie Frederick (Ohio). Francine Patterson and Eric Bridges, both of Virginia, from the ACB staff round out the team.
ACB has a strong commitment to expand its available communication channels to meet all of the information needs of our membership. Balancing everyone’s needs and taking full advantage of emerging technologies is important to me as president of ACB. We also continue to work hard to ensure that members without technology can have a variety of options to get the ACB information they need.
In closing, the American Council of the Blind and our thousands of members have much work to do over the next several years, not simply to improve programs and services for blind and visually impaired people, but to hold onto what we've fought so hard to obtain during the previous half century. We proudly represent all blind and visually impaired people regardless of economic status or functional ability. ACB advocates for a wide spectrum of programs and services for people of all ages and capabilities. Our work isn't always easy and at times, it can be discouraging.  Nonetheless, that is our charge and our mission. Our victories are even more exciting as they are hard-fought, and we should celebrate our successes as important steps in our advocacy. Working together we can make change happen … and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with all of you to make sure our dreams become realities.