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Bridges Blog Information Resources

Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups — ACB and NFB Statewide

With summer nearly upon us, we invite you to join us as we explore the two largest blindness/low vision groups in the United States throughout the month of May. Regardless of whether you plan to participate in a convention this summer, we will cover the ins and outs of these organizations and how they can provide support to transition-age students.

In this third installment of our organization exploration, we hear from state leaders in each consumer group.

American Council of the Blind (ACB) of Maryland

Jo Ann Kucic serves as president of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) of Maryland. In this interview, she shares information about what the ACB of Maryland does and how to contact them.

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Maryland

Ronza Othman serves as president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Maryland. In this interview, she shares information about what the NFB of Maryland does and how to contact them.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME)

Now Accepting Submissions for “What I Wish For My Child” Campaign

The IMAGE Center of Maryland’s Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME) program is now accepting requests for its annual What I Wish for My Child campaign. The campaign provides custom-made devices for children with developmental or cognitive challenges so they can live and play more independently. 

Family members, caregivers, and educators are invited to submit a “wish” for a child between the ages of 2 and 21 with special needs. Once approved, a team of expert volunteers including professional engineers and student engineers from 11 colleges and universities, and medical professionals work together to design and build a custom device, making their wish a reality.

Three families will be selected to participate in the program free of charge. Additional families may be invited to participate for a minimal cost. Projects completed in the What I Wish for My Child campaign qualify for assistance under the Developmental Disabilities Administration’s Low Intensity Support Services (LISS) Program.

“This year, our engineers are looking for a challenge and to build something really unique,” said Mike Bullis, Executive Director of The IMAGE Center. “Our volunteers put their heart and soul into each design to allow kids to enjoy life more fully and with more independence.”

What I Wish For My Child 2022” YouTube Video

Parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, nurses, and others can apply to participate in the What I Wish for My Child campaign.

Submissions can include requests for devices such as:

  • Swings
  • Wheelchair Customizations
  • Wearable Technology
  • Desks
  • Beds
  • Scooters
  • Outdoor Recreation Equipment
  • Electronic Devices
  • Sports Equipment
  • Daily/Independent Living Aids

The deadline to submit a request to the campaign is Friday, June 3, 2022. Submissions can be made online at imagemd.org/what-i-wish-for-my-child/. For more information, contact Angela Tyler at (443) 320-4007 or atyler@imagemd.org.

About The IMAGE Center

The IMAGE Center serves all people with disabilities in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Harford County.  We are a nonresidential Center for Independent Living, and our staff are primarily people with disabilities living independent lives and teaching these skills to others. Visit imagemd.org to learn more and follow us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.  Executive Director:  Michael Bullis – 501c3 organization – EIN – 27-2774275

About Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME)

Founded in 1982, Volunteers for Medical Engineering is a program of The IMAGE Center that teams up volunteer engineers, student engineers from 12 schools and universities, and medical professionals to find creative, innovative solutions to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout Maryland and soon-to-launch, Washington, DC. The teams design devices that are tailored to meet the unique needs and requests of individual clients by either fabricating them from the ground up or modifying existing devices. Follow VME on Facebook.

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Bridges Blog

Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups— ACB and NFB 2022 National Conventions

With summer nearly upon us, we invite you to join us as we explore the two largest blindness/low vision groups in the United States throughout the month of May. Regardless of whether you plan to participate in a convention this summer, we will cover the ins and outs of these organizations and how they can provide support to transition-age students.

  • May 3: Overview of ACB and NFB
  • May 10: ACB and NFB 2022 National Conventions
  • May 17: ACB and NFB Statewide
  • May 24: Students in the ACB and the NFB
  • May 31: Parents and Families in the ACB and the NFB

In this second installment of our organization exploration, we share information about in-person and virtual options for the ACB and NFB conventions taking place this summer.

Why It Matters

National conventions are a great time for blind/low vision individuals to connect and learn from one another. Through various sessions, exhibits, and activities, the blind and low vision community shares resources, discusses best practices, and provides a massive support network that spans nationwide. There are also many opportunities for educators, rehabilitation professionals, friends, and family members of blind/low vision people to participate in and benefit from national convention. Bridges Helpdesk staff have attended and benefited from national conventions, and we welcome your questions about these exciting and transformative experiences.

ACB Convention

The 61st annual national convention of the American Council of the Blind will feature virtual-only sessions, in-person sessions, and combined virtual and in-person sessions. ACB is using this conference format for the first time at the 2022 convention.

NFB Convention

The 82nd annual national convention of the National Federation of the Blind will take place in person and also offers an online registration component for those who are unable to make it in person.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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Bridges Blog

Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups—About the ACB and NFB

With summer nearly upon us, we invite you to join us as we explore the two largest blindness/low vision groups in the United States throughout the month of May. Regardless of whether you plan to participate in a convention this summer, we will cover the ins and outs of these organizations and how they can provide support to transition-age students.

  • May 3: Overview of ACB and NFB
  • May 10: ACB and NFB 2022 National Conventions
  • May 17: ACB and NFB Statewide
  • May 24: Students in the ACB and the NFB
  • May 31: Parents and Families in the ACB and the NFB

In this first installment of our organization exploration, we will provide an overview of these two consumer groups and share how they can enrich the lives of those who are blind/have low vision.

Introduction

The two largest and most active blindness/low vision consumer-driven groups in America are the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Both of these organizations feature national conventions every summer, regularly advocate on Capitol Hill for accessibility and rights for the blind, and foster opportunities for mentorship for blind people across the United States. Many blind Americans choose to participate in these organizations in some capacity, whether they want to volunteer, need assistance or mentoring, are seeking community, or most often some combination of the three.

The Importance of Mentorship

Finding a community within the membership is part of what makes these groups so successful and effective. Maybe you are the only student at your school with blindness/low vision, or the only person in your family.

Many members of both of these organizations did not know any other blind people before joining. These organizations are an opportunity to connect with individuals who share similar life experiences, and with that comes a perfect place to learn from one another.

Members can have conversations about how they accomplish a task and trade ideas about how to navigate particularly visual situations. In this way, all members share information with one another, and everyone benefits as they add more tools to the toolbox. Mentorship, both formal and informal, is a cornerstone of both of these organizations in terms of practical and emotional support.

Special Interest Groups

Both ACB and NFB have special interest groups within their organizations. These groups are focused on a hobby, profession, or topic and allow all participants to learn and share about that particular subject. For example, both organizations have a Lawyers’ group where blind lawyers and prospective law students can network and learn from those in the profession. Both organizations also feature an art or crafting group where one can learn all about all this nonvisual creativity.

Usually, these special interest groups will have a meeting at the national convention. Even if you are not going to either convention, many of these groups meet virtually throughout the year, and you can feel free to reach out to the contact person listed on the website to learn how you can start attending meetings.

Explore the lists (ACB Special Interest Affiliates List and NFB Divisions, Committees, and Groups List) and see what matches your interests. You never know – someone out there may just have the nonvisual tip that you have been looking for or are ready to welcome you with open arms into their community!

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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