by Christopher Gray

At the 2004 convention, the American Council of the Blind voted to establish a means to recognize leaders in the blind community who have contributed significantly to the progress of blind individuals in all aspects of their lives. The resolution called for the formation of a committee to study building a framework by which ACB could create a means of capitalizing the organization through acquisitions such as property and buildings. By doing this, ACB can free itself from the burdens of rent and it can create new income streams depending on the type and amount of property purchased. This is a long-term project, but one that can serve the organization for decades.

This committee is made up of some of the most talented individuals in the field of blindness today. Chaired by Ralph Sanders, the committee consists of such notable blind people as Otis Stephens, Knoxville, Tenn., and Pam Shaw, Philadelphia, Pa. Not only does the committee contain members of ACB, but it also has among its active participants notable individuals from throughout the blind community generally. This committee has deliberated at length, and I am extremely pleased to share with you this month the mission statement the committee has adopted for this project. As you will read, the committee has chosen to undertake the creation of a national center on blindness. It is a center that can embrace the consumer movement led by the American Council of the Blind, and can also have a significant place for many other aspects of blindness and work for the blind.

The mission statement reads as follows: "The mission of the American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment is to provide a thriving and dynamic learning and communications center in an accessible location in Washington, D.C. that:

"-- Celebrates the tremendous contributions of individuals who have helped empower people who are blind or visually impaired to pursue their dreams, achieve their goals and successfully serve our world;

"-- Encourages open, honest and constructive dialogue on issues impacting people who are blind or visually impaired, promoting greater awareness of issues, meaningful solutions and effective advocacy;

"-- Facilitates partnerships resulting in better education, training, and success strategies for people who are blind or visually impaired; and

" -- Provides an office and meeting venue to organizations of and/or for people who are blind or visually impaired."

This is truly a mission of which we can be proud as an organization. I am eagerly awaiting implementing strategies and recommendations from this committee. Given the statement they have created, I believe ACB has taken a major step forward as an organization, and that this mission can lead us into a progressive and meaningful future in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

I hope that many of you can join us in Jacksonville at the 2006 convention to plan for this exciting project and enjoy the other fun and important work done by ACB each year at its annual convention and business sessions.

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