Compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The three segments of the ACB membership seminar at this year's convention were: creative ways to involve students and seniors in your chapters; how state and special-interest affiliates can work together to provide diverse conventions; and how to find blinded veterans in your communities throughout the U.S. to invite them to your affiliate meetings and events. First we had two skits, one with two students (Elizabeth Kelly and Claire Stanley) talking about a recent chapter meeting that one of them had attended. Next we had a skit with two seniors (M.J. Schmitt and Allan Peterson) talking about a chapter meeting that one had attended. In both skits, the student and senior who had attended a chapter meeting were sharing the positive aspects of the meetings with their friends. If you'd like copies of the skits to use at your affiliate convention, contact Ardis Bazyn via e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, (818) 238-9321. After the skits, Brenda Dillon read and distributed copies of program ideas particularly of interest to students and another for topics specifically for seniors. Those are included at the end of this article.

The presenters of the second segment of the seminar were: Debbie Grubb (Florida), Jeff Thom (California), Ann Byington (Kansas), and Marlaina Lieberg (Washington). These presidents told the audience how their state and special-interest affiliates work together to give ample time in the convention schedule for joint and separate programs. In some cases, the state affiliate convention committee incorporated members from the special- interest affiliates. In other cases, contacts were made with special- interest affiliates to ask if they wanted to have any programming at the convention. These state affiliates only charged the special-interest affiliate for rooms when they had to pay extra for them. These state affiliates do include the special-interest affiliate events in the state affiliate registration form and also include their items in the affiliate convention program. Speakers addressed the general sessions as well as in some special-interest sessions, sharing or saving expenses for both. Each presenter felt that having joint conventions was a positive way to build membership in the state and special-interest affiliates. Kansas has also added a unique component: having speakers give accredited seminars so professionals can get continuing education unit credits for attending these sessions. These panel members urged audience members to contact them if your state convention committee would like to have more participation with special-interest affiliates.

The third segment of the seminar was on the topic of reaching out to blinded veterans. How can local chapters and state affiliates work together with the Blinded Veterans Administration to support local veterans? The speakers on this panel were Robert Smith of Minnesota, a regional outreach coordinator for the BVA, and Ellsworth (Skip) Sharpe from Maryland, the current president of Visually Impaired Veterans of America. Skip talked about the benefits of VIVA and told the listeners to tell their members about the support and information available. Bob Smith advised audience members to contact local veterans' hospitals and find out about blinded veterans in your community. Each VA hospital has staff assigned to assist blinded veterans. You can let them know how your local chapter can support blinded veterans. What follows are the handouts given at the seminar. Program ideas for young people: - Employment panel: employed visually impaired persons - Employment skills: focusing on resumes and interviews - Computer technology tips: what students would want to know

a. How to copy CDs, DVDs, etc.

b. How to use Excel or other Office programs

c. How to merge documents

- How to write formal papers

- Leadership training

- Inviting both blind and sighted students to an event

- Transition to college

- Social events

a. Pizza party

b. Sports event or DVS movie

c. Dance instruction

Program ideas for seniors:

- Using radio reading services

- Eligibility for paratransit and local transportation services

- "Available Senior Companion" or "Helping Hand" service

- Free or low-cost computer training programs

- Where to find inexpensive computer systems

- "Friend to Friend" services (phoning seniors who live alone)

- Signing up seniors for Medicare D

- Showing low vision aids (magnifiers or cooking aids)

- Advantages of a guide dog or white cane

Your affiliate or local chapters could prepare a resource list to share with new members, seniors, or others with recent vision loss. These lists should include where they can receive disability support and services in the local community as well as the state. Please share your membership ideas at the next membership focus call on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007. Keep this date open on your calendar. As always, the call-in number will be 1- 866-633-8638. The passcode will be the date of the call, 102107. The October call topic will be "Boosting Your Membership: Getting them in and Keeping them in."

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