Our September Spotlight series highlights high-impact projects and resources offered by two consumer organizations of blind people: the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
- September 5: ACB Audio Description Project
- September 12: NFB Self-Advocacy Toolkits and Resources
- September 19: ACB Media Network and Publications
- September 26: NFB Publications and Media and Free Materials
In this third installment, we spotlight some informative and entertaining offerings from the American Council of the Blind (ACB).
In the late 1990s, the American Council of the Blind pioneered something that had never been done before in the blind/low vision community and had very rarely been done anywhere else: Internet radio. Then called ACB Radio, this online station was envisioned as a place for blind people from around the world to come together, talk about the unique issues that matter to them, and enjoy fun music and other forms of entertainment. Now, many broadcasters around the world are hosting programs of all kinds on various platforms, thanks to accessible tools, some of which were developed by or for ACB Radio. Fun fact: our own project coordinator, Chris Nusbaum, has been involved in Internet broadcasting for the past 9 years!
Now, ACB Radio has expanded to become the ACB Media Network, a multimedia platform that contains podcasts, videos, archives of past shows, and 10 live streams. Check the ACB Media calendar to find out what’s happening on each of the media offerings set forth below:
These two channels are collectively known as “ACB Media Mainstream.” They serve as the “flagship stations” of the network and primarily contain talk programming geared toward the blind community.
ACB Media 3, also known as “Treasure Trove,” plays old-time radio shows from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, before the TV era.
The ACB Media 4 channel, “Café,” is the flagship music station of the network. It plays a wide variety of genres and features shows from blind/low vision DJs. This is often a particularly interesting station to listen to because they play a lot of artists who are blind/low vision themselves, so we have a unique opportunity to check out the diverse talents of our community.
ACB Media 5, the Community channel, provides streams of many of the events hosted by the ACB Community (more about those events later).
Other ACB Live Stream Channels
Other streams offer coverage of ACB events and other events of interest to the blind/low vision community.
The ACB Media Network offers a variety of podcasts that help us learn more about what ACB is doing and give us recorded versions of some of the live shows on the network.
ACB Conference and Convention Podcasts, including a web page linking to their collection of Audio Described Tours. Additional podcasts include topics like Advocacy, ACB Events, Technology, Employment, and “Community Podcasts:” offerings from several ACB Special Interest affiliates.
Other ways to access ACB Media
ACB Media has an app! Look for “ACB Link” in the iOS app store or the Google Play store. You can access all 10 streams there, as well as their podcasts, and much more information about ACB.
Want to listen on Alexa? Say “Alexa, open ACB Media.”
Check out more options on the ACB Media Page’s “Ways to Connect to ACB Media Programming.”
The flagship publication of the American Council of the Blind is the ACB Braille Forum. The magazine, which is published monthly in several formats, covers many topics of interest to blind/low vision people, ACB members and nonmembers alike. Here’s how ACB describes the Forum on its Web page: “The ACB Braille Forum is the official publication of the American Council of the Blind. In addition to the versions here on the web site, The ACB Braille Forum is available in braille, digital cartridge, large print, podcast, and by email. The ACB Braille Forum is your source for information about ACB and blindness issues.”
ACB Reports is a monthly audio report, similar to a radio or TV news magazine, highlighting activities of the ACB and interviews with ACB leaders. ACB Reports airs on the ACB Media Network and is available as a podcast.
The ACB Community
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, ACB national leaders, special-interest affiliates, and informal groups of members began hosting Zoom gatherings in an effort to bring people together around shared interests and keep a sense of community present even when our in-person social lives were largely brought to a standstill. Soon, the idea took off, and three years later the ACB Community is still going strong!
While all community calls are hosted primarily on Zoom, some are also simultaneously hosted in the Clubhouse app. Also, there’s a Facebook group for members of the ACB Community to keep the connection going outside the calls. Both members of the Bridges team are in that group, sharing our weekly Transition Tips and participating in other conversations. To receive the schedule of events for each day in your inbox, subscribe to the announce-only ACB Community email listserv by emailing ACB-Community-Eventsfirstname.lastname@example.org.
More from ACB: “You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription by replying to that email. This is an announce only list. Each morning, an email will be sent out with that day’s schedule. ACB will only post additional emails if there’s time sensitive information to convey.”
Resources for Students and Families
ACB is made up of state affiliates, including one in Maryland, as well as special-interest affiliates for people interested in getting connected with those who share their personal or professional interests. ACB Students is ACB’s national special interest affiliate for students, and they engage in a variety of education and advocacy efforts specifically for blind and low vision students across the country. For parents, ACB Families is a great resource for support and information.
One organization, many resources. In our next installment, we’ll spotlight what the National Federation of the Blind has to offer. In the meantime, if you need support tapping into the wealth of resources at your fingertips in the blind/low vision community, reach out to the Free Bridges Helpdesk. We’ll be glad to put you in touch with the resources for you!
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@IMAGEmd.org
- Text or Leave a Voice mail message: (410) 357-1546
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
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.