ACB plays a critical role in providing support and mentoring to blind and visually impaired individuals. Each year, ACB members volunteer thousands of hours providing peer support that contributes to the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.
ACB promotes inclusion and diversity through the work of more than 20 different committees and affiliates who provide mentoring and peer support for a variety of groups including people with low vision, people who are blind, people who are deaf-blind, guide dog users, seniors, students, the LGBT community, women and families experiencing vision loss. Many of these groups host regular meetings by conference call, offer email lists where individuals can maintain a continuous conversation on issues of mutual importance, and most of these groups host specialized programs in conjunction with the annual ACB Conference and Convention.
ACB encourages members to participate in the full range of committees, task forces and groups which are collectively contributing to the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
ACB Mentoring Program
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) aligns its programs and services with its mission, purpose, vision and core values. The development of a mentorship program will address a variety of concerns expressed by members and leaders within ACB. This program will serve as a roadmap and place an emphasis on meeting each member where they are and offer guidance to achieve desired goals and aspirations, while working to sustain and position ACB to be the premiere venue for Americans who are blind, visually impaired or have low vision. This program will be extended to meet the needs of affiliates, committees and chapters as they are encouraged to incorporate effective strategies into their respective areas of service. Learn more about the ACB Mentoring Program by visiting: www.acb.org/2022-mentoring-program.
Peer Support and Mentoring Resources
Following is an alphabetized list of ACB’s mentoring and peer support committees, task forces and groups with links for more information on each.
FIA is for artists who sing, play musical instruments, dance, paint, sculpt, carve, etch, knit, crochet, quilt, or who write literature of any kind. Each year, FIA hosts a performing arts showcase at the ACB Conference and Convention, as well as an art parlor, where artists can display (and perhaps sell) their artwork. FIA artists are painters (watercolor, oil pastel, and acrylic), sculptors, work in soft fibers (such as yarn), and much more.
The IAC focuses on ACB’s online presence. It provides input on the ACB website and assists with the administration of ACB’s myriad of national and affiliate email lists.
Founded in 1974 as the National Alliance of Blind Students, ACB Students provides mentoring and peer support for blind and visually impaired students and works to advance the equal opportunity and excellence in education for all blind and visually impaired high school, college and university students across the United States.
LUA is for readers who appreciate and want to share good books. LUA hosts a number of events at each year’s ACB Conference and Convention, including informational workshops, discuussions with Talking Book narrators, a book market and a book club.
BRL’s mission is to promote the importance of braille literacy and to advocate for the long-term availability of braille for all blind Americans. BRL offers a variety of interesting and informative sessions at each year’s ACB Conference and Convention.
SASI strives to increase awareness about issues impacting people with all degrees of combined vision and hearing loss. SASI promotes respect and understanding for individuals who use a variety of forms of communication, including American Sign Language, Print on Palm, and assistive listening devices. SASI advises ACB on the communication needs of people with combined hearing and vision loss, on community barriers faced by people with combined hearing and vision loss, and on the potential impacts of proposed legislation.
ACB Diabetics in Action was formed to advocate on behalf of blind and visually impaired diabetics. In addition to monthly conference calls covering topics of concern to blind diabetics, ACB Diabetics in Action advocates for accessible devices, including talking glucometers and insulin measuring devices.
The employment committee aims to reduce the rate of unemployment among people who are blind or visually impaired—currently in excess of 70%. The committee conducts educational and training workshops and job fairs at each year’s ACB Conference and Convention. The committee also produces and disseminates training materials and advocates on behalf of employees and job seekers with visual impairments.
ACB Families offers mentoring and peer support to individuals and families experiencing blindness or vision loss. ACB Families holds monthly peer support conference calls and bimonthly workshops by phone focusing on topics of interest to blind families, including financial planning, tax preparation, attending the ACB Conference and Convention on a budget, special education concerns, holiday gift-giving and much more. ACB Families also maintains an email list and a website where individuals can give and receive information about living in a family with blindness or low vision.
GDUI provides education, information, mentoring, peer support and advocacy services to and on behalf of guide dog users throughout America. Members include new and seasoned guide dog handlers, individuals considering a guide dog for the first time, family members, and anyone else interested in the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals who live and travel with guide dogs.
ACBRA holds meetings via ham radio for members, including a ham radio meeting at each year’s ACB Conference and Convention. These meetings serve as excellent opportunities for ham radio operators to connect and network.
This committee’s goal is to provide training for new and developing leaders. Its main project is the Leadership Institute, held at each year’s ACB Conference and Convention.
Founded in 1999 as Blind Friends of Lesbians and Gays, BPI seeks to provide a safe and supportive environment where blind and visually impaired members of the LGBTQ community can come together to discuss life, dating, and sight loss.
Founded in 1971, ACBL gives Lions across America the chance to share experiences and ideas, and to encourage others within ACB to become Lions and to participate in service projects within their local communities. ACBL hosts a Facebook page and an email list, and ACBL holds monthly teleconference calls, where participants help plan ACBL activities, discuss issues of importance to Lions, share ideas and seek help from fellow Lions.
CCLVI is a national membership organization established to enable people with low vision to make full use of their vision through all available aids, services and technology; to provide a mechanism for people with low vision to express their needs, interests, and preferences; and to provide education to individuals with low vision, professionals and the general public regarding the potential, capabilities, and needs of people with low vision. CCLVI also offers an array of sessions at ACB’s National Conference and Convention.
The membership committee assists ACB affiliates to increase and strengthen their membership by planning programs and projects, and through visits to affiliates who need assistance with membership development. The committee offers educational seminars, focus calls, and helpful materials to guide chapters and affiliates (including individuals forming a new chapter or affiliate) to build and maintain strong and committed members.
In memory of the contributions of ACB pioneer Durward K. McDaniel, the DKM Fund Committee sponsors two first-time attendees to each year’s ACB Conference and Convention. One attendee represents the East and one represents the West. Attendees are nominated by a sponsoring state or special-interest affiliate and are selected based on the leadership they exhibit and on the contributions they have made within the ACB at the local, state or national level.
The goal of the multicultural affairs committee is to promote and sustain a cohesive and inclusive environment that values and embraces diversity, cultures, differences, and perspectives within the framework of ACB. MCAC hosts programs and activities each year during ACB’s national convention that are designed to combat bias, bigotry and racism while promoting intercultural dialogue, awareness and respect.
This committee focuses on keeping schools for the blind open, and on the needs of blind students attending them, as well as assisting public, private and parochial schools with strategies for effectively meeting the educational needs of blind and visually impaired students.
The AAVL was created to provide education, information, support, guidance and programs to individuals, agencies, organizations, and institutions concerning the welfare and needs of seniors who are visually impaired, blind or deaf-blind.
The transportation committee assists ACB, its state and special-interest affiliates, local ACB chapters and members to maximize access to and the accessibility of all types of transportation, including public transit and paratransit, intercity bus and rail transportation, and other transportation modes which offer the potential for increasing the mobility, independence and quality of life for blind and visually impaired people.
The ACB Women Committee addresses the unique needs of women who are blind or visually impaired. The committee offers several program sessions during the ACB annual Conference and Convention, covering a range of topics, including health, physical fitness, self-image and more. The committee also offers a monthly telephone support group for blind and visually impaired women who are coping with breast cancer. Both facilitators are blind licensed social workers, and one has had breast cancer.
The International Relations Committee is responsible for creating contact between Americans who are blind or visually impaired and blind and visually impaired people from other parts of the world. The committee’s mission is to encourage and support the free exchange of ideas and information that enhances the quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired throughout the world; to promote attendance by international visitors at ACB annual conferences and other international meetings; to support international acacademic and training exchange programs for blind and visually impaired people; to initiate and maintain communication with international and regional organizations of people who are blind and visually impaired; and to develop special projects that promote productive relationships between ACB and blind people throughout the world.