compiled by Ardis Bazyn

How can we get more people to attend ACB activities as well as at state and national conventions? This was the topic on our last ACB membership focus call. First, we talked about how to get people to local meetings. Choosing a good restaurant seems to draw many, particularly if it is easy to find by bus, train, or paratransit. Having interesting speakers was also a priority. Suggested speakers' topics were: aspects of audio description; public transportation spokespersons; blind and visually impaired people talking about activities they've done -- sailing, tandem biking, sky diving, water skiing, bowling; and speakers on services available for those who are blind and visually impaired or low income, such as the telephone reader, library services, and city services.

Many participants mentioned secondary activities besides the regular meetings as necessary to getting and keeping members in a chapter. Some chapters' additional activities included:

- Book Club meeting once a month

- Audio-described movie night

- Guided museum trips

- Tandem bike rides

- Bowling trips with rails provided

- Picnics and barbecues

- Camping weekend for members

- Sailing outing with volunteers

- Mall shopping with volunteers

- Discussion groups: e-mail, phone, or Internet chat

- Christmas dinner/party

- Game night: cards, board games, etc.

- Live plays audio-described

- Golfing outings

- Senior center low vision discussions/low tech products and information

- Beach party: swimming, water skiing, tubing, and fishing

- Karaoke night or sing-along (guitar or keyboard)

- Providing winter sports: cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, sleigh rides

- Having retreats

In order to get more attendance at events in chapters or conventions, it was suggested that chapters have fundraisers in order to give members incentives to attend. Active members who participated in fundraisers would get discounted tickets, discounted meals, free transportation, and other benefits. Scholarships could be granted to first-timers for conventions. Interested people could write letters stating why they'd like to go. Rehabilitation centers might provide stipends if enough programs were provided for orientation students. A youth leadership conference could be incorporated into your convention, or you could provide youth activities and employment panels.

Other activities and assistance for conventions could entice more people to attend:

- Publicizing availability of assistive listening devices

- Chartering a bus

- Using a speakerphone or Skype system

- Writing workshop

- Low vision sessions: gardening, cooking, practical aids

Each quarter, the membership committee sponsors a membership focus call. The next one will be held on Aug. 25, 2008 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (5:30 p.m. Pacific). The call-in number will be 1-866-633-8638. Generally the meeting ID is the date, but it was too early to set up the call at press time. Stay tuned to the membership e-mail list. If your affiliate doesn't have someone on this list, please contact Ardis Bazyn at [email protected].

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