by Dan Spoone
It’s time to look back and celebrate. What an amazing year! It was filled with so many highs and lows. Yet, we end the year humble and proud of all that ACB accomplished in 2022.
As I write this article, we are celebrating the second annual Audio Description Awards Gala. This gala is a confirmation of how far ACB has led the blind and low vision community in the advancement of audio description. The gala featured the first AD People’s Choice Award to the show, Obi-Wan Kenobi. This Star Wars-themed production is streamed on Disney+, produced by Lucas Film, and the audio description was created by Deluxe. There was testimony from Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, and an award presentation from Stevie Wonder. Thanks to the Audio Description Project (ADP) Committee and the ACB staff for all of their efforts. Together we make a difference.
In the area of advocacy, ACB was instrumental in introducing two new bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Website and Software Application Accessibility Act takes a huge step promoting accessibility in the digital platforms that are so important to our quality of life. In addition, the Communications, Video and Technology Accessibility Act was introduced to expand equal access in broadcast media, streaming and communications for the deaf/blind communities. ACB continues to work to improve accessibility for at-home COVID tests and promote equal access to the ballot box with election ballot return for mail-in voting. Together we make a difference.
ACB partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to provide 21 scholarships with a combined value of $92,000. We had a truly hybrid convention in Omaha and broadcast on ACB Media. Members participated from across the nation and around the world. All ACB members had the opportunity to vote with fully accessible “Vote Now” ballots for five Board of Directors positions and three Board of Publications (BOP) positions. We debated 22 resolutions and four constitution and bylaws amendments. It was the first chance for so many members of the community to get together in person. You could feel the love and excitement throughout the event. Together we make a difference.
ACB Media hosted over 20 state affiliate conventions, and the ACB Community Events platform passed 10,000 events with 300,000 unique touches. The ACB Community is a game changer. This platform provides our affiliates, committees, members, corporate partners and friends an opportunity to connect in a welcoming environment. It’s so easy to create a show, get it scheduled, promote it through the community event calendar and have it professionally hosted and broadcast. You can meet ACB for the first time one week by attending an event and be facilitating an event the next week. Now that’s instant access to ACB. Together we make a difference.
With all these ACB accomplishments, the most humbling events took place over Thanksgiving. The Friendsgiving event on Thanksgiving Day always reminds me of why Leslie and I got involved in ACB: the joy of connection and being there for each other. It was fantastic to hear the stories of how our ACB family has made a difference in so many lives. We are there when our friends need us. For those alone on a holiday, ACB is there. For those needing some encouragement, ACB is there. For those needing some technical assistance, ACB is there. For someone just needing a friend to listen, ACB is there. ACB makes a difference!
Finally, we were amazed by the outpouring of generosity at the ACB Media Holiday Auction. It’s so much fun to hear everyone bidding against each other for food, crafts, jewelry, technology and unique specialty items. However, it’s not about the items. It’s about the love that everyone is showing for ACB. It’s truly humbling to see how much so many care about ACB and our mission to make life better for all members of the blind and low vision community.
Occasionally, someone contacts me and asks, “What does ACB do for me?” For me, this is an easy answer. It takes a national presence to truly organize our community to make a difference. It is our collective voices that gets the attention of the nation. We have a voice with the federal government, corporate partners, the broadcast and print media, other blindness organizations and the public at large. Our next chance to lift our voices will be on March 10 in Washington, D.C. at our Accessible Currency Rally in front of the White House to promote the Harriet Tubman $20 bill. We hope to see you there.
Thank you for being a member of ACB and being someone who cares. Together we will all work to make a difference. Leslie and I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Please remember the quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”