by Dan Spoone
I’m taking this opportunity to look back over the past three years since our last in-person convention in Rochester, N.Y. We have lived through a COVID-19 pandemic, the most significant disruption to the world economy since World War II, an extreme time of social unrest, a very politically charged presidential election, the largest inflation rates in 40 years, the reversal by the Supreme Court of a national policy on abortion, and the expansion of accessible mail-in voting for many blind and low-vision Americans. Personally, the last year has been very difficult with the passing of my father, emergency surgery to stent the main artery into my heart, and the sudden death of my brother-in-law from COVID. They found him on his living room floor one week after my father passed. These difficult experiences are not unique to me and my family. All of us have been through the ringer over these past three years. We have all lived through multiple COVID surges, heartbreaking family tragedies and the feeling that we have lost control of our lives. I’m angry, scared, frustrated, tired and worried for our future. How do we start to heal? My first thought is that we need to express our frustration with our lack of control and give ourselves permission to scream.
That’s right, I encouraged everyone at the 2022 ACB conference and convention, “Here, There, and Everywhere,” to stand up and scream at the opening session.
Scream if you lost someone over the past three years to this hideous pandemic! Scream if you are tired of wearing masks and spraying your hands with bad-smelling hand sanitizer! Scream if you are sick of trying to get a COVID test every time you have a headache, a temperature or runny nose! Scream if you are exhausted by all the political bickering! Scream if you can’t believe that a Wendy’s single meal and a grilled chicken meal costs over $25! Scream if you are tired of talking with your doctor on a computer instead of in person! Scream if you don’t understand the other political party! Scream if you are worried about your Social Security check making it until the end of the month!
We’re not done screaming yet.
Scream if you are amazed by the ACB Community and how these events have lifted our lives at a very difficult time! Scream if you are proud of how ACB has held three amazing conventions in the middle of a pandemic! Scream if you are impressed that ACB has increased its financial reserves by over $1 million during a pandemic! Scream if you are experiencing the best audio description in our lives thanks to the efforts of ACB! Scream if you feel empowered as a member of ACB to vote independently in all ACB elections! Scream if you appreciate the ACB advocacy efforts to improve accessible home COVID test kits! Scream if you can’t wait to get back together in Schaumburg, Ill. next year for another amazing ACB hybrid convention!
I’ll scream for my ACB family that came together in a time of crisis to make life better for our blind and low vision community! I’m so proud of all of our members and friends. Each of you are making a difference. Keep up the good work. And please, be kind to each other. This has been a tumultuous period in our country and throughout the world. It’s now time to stop screaming and take the time to listen to each other. Let’s celebrate our similarities and quit focusing on the differences that pull us apart. ACB Family, it’s time for a summer vacation. You’ve earned it. Hip, hip, hurray!