by Doug Powell
Question: When blind and visually impaired people get together, what is one of their favorite subjects to complain about? Answer: their rehabilitation experience. Hopefully, but rarely, the next question should be: "How do we improve the system?" The answer: Advocate for change. Some affiliates are very successful at advocating at the state level for change in general, and at their rehabilitation agency in particular. Other affiliates have been having a very tough time getting the changes they feel are important implemented.
An ACB Partnership to Help
The Rehabilitation Issues Task Force and the Advocacy Services Committee have committed to a joint project to try to improve affiliate advocacy at the state level and advocate successfully at the local and state level to improve rehabilitation services (and perhaps increase ACB membership in the process).
We have identified three ways to accomplish our goals:
- We will co-host a series of conference calls focusing on different subjects of advocacy and rehabilitation. The first call is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern. The subject will be: The Essentials of the Rehabilitation Act. Subsequent calls will focus on topics such as: Advocacy 101 — The Basics; Developing Relationships and Trust; Changing Procedures vs. Changing Laws. These calls and topics are still in the planning stages, so input from you on topics you would like to see discussed is welcomed.
- The partners will coach affiliates committed to specific advocacy efforts upon request by the affiliate. We cannot do the advocacy for you, but if you want guidance on what to do and how, we will help. If interested, please submit a request with the following information: affiliate name, contact person and his/her contact information, the specific concern to be addressed along with desired outcomes, and specific information on previous efforts on the issue and their results.
- We will co-sponsor a session at this year's conference and convention either reviewing some of the highlights from the activities above, or delving more deeply into a topic arising from the work above.
Get on Board
We are very excited about the opportunity to contribute and share successful skills and techniques for advocacy at the state level with you. We're also excited about helping affiliates understand and use information about the rehabilitation system to help members and potential members have a meaningful, successful rehabilitation experience. If you have questions or suggestions about this initiative, or if you'd like to submit a coaching request, please contact rehabilitation issues task force chair Doug Powell at [email protected] or (703) 573-5107, or contact advocacy services chair Jeff Thom at [email protected] or (916) 995-3967.
And lastly, if you would like to be in the conversation about rehabilitation, please join ACB's rehab-stakeholders list from the listserv page at acb.org. We look forward to your participation.