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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Employment Resources Independent Living Resources Information Resources Recreation Resources Series: Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups, May 2022

Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups — Students in the NFB and the ACB

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 fourth installment of our organization exploration, we hear from student leaders in each consumer group.

Maryland Association of Blind Students

Qualik Ford serves as president of the Maryland Association of Blind Students. In this interview, he shares information about what the Maryland Association of Blind Students does and how to contact them.

American Council of Blind Students

Aaron Espinoza serves as president of the American Council of Blind Students. In this interview, he shares information about what the American Council of Blind Students 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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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Employment Resources Independent Living Resources Information Resources Recreation Resources Series: Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups, May 2022

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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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Educational Resources Employment Resources Independent Living Resources Information Resources Series: Blind/Low Vision Consumer Groups, May 2022

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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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Employment Resources

Want to Be Your Own Boss? – #MomAndPopBusinessOwnersDay

Have you ever noticed just how many national and international celebratory days there are on the calendar? Join the Bridges Helpdesk this month to delight in some of our favorite themed days with us! Topics include:

  • March 1: International Zero Discrimination Day #ZeroDiscriminationDay
  • March 8: National Proofreading Day #NationalProofreadingDay
  • March 15: World Social Work Day #WSWD
  • March 22: National Goof Off Day #NationalGoofOffDay
  • March 29: National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day #MomAndPopBusinessOwnersDay

Today, we are privileged to present interviews with some fabulous blind small business owners. One dove right in as a young man and has operated several businesses, including restaurants, bars, and even a motorcycle shop. Another started her business slowly, while still working a full-time job and caring for her family. Another was a successful businessman who became blind recently; he got training, persevered, and is now looking to grow his very successful catering business.

Earl Smith has owned Smith’s Catering for 20 years. When he lost his vision in 2015, he did not give up his business; he took another road. With blindness training and his strong work ethic, Earl feeds our military troops at Fort Meade and provides jobs for our community.

Eileen Rivera Ley owns a successful consulting business, and Mike Bullis has started and run multiple businesses throughout his life. These two blind entrepreneurs guide us through their trials and tribulations and provide a fabulous roadmap for any aspiring small business owner.

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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Advocacy Resources Bridges Blog Employment Resources

World Social Work Day #WSWD – Learning from Blind Professionals in the Field

Have you ever noticed just how many national and international celebratory days there are on the calendar? Join the Bridges Helpdesk this month to delight in some of our favorite themed days with us! Topics include:

  • March 1: International Zero Discrimination Day #ZeroDiscriminationDay
  • March 8: National Proofreading Day #NationalProofreadingDay
  • March 15: World Social Work Day #WSWD
  • March 22: National Goof Off Day #NationalGoofOffDay
  • March 29: National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day #MomAndPopBusinessOwnersDay

Today, we share great advice and insights from two blind social workers in our area. These talented professionals share their favorite aspects of their social work careers. They also discuss blindness-specific challenges they have faced and overcome. They then give their advice about a social work career, and we share information about how to contact the Free Bridges Helpdesk.

Laura Havard is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), and she has more than thirty years of experience in the social work field. Her career has primarily concentrated on providing information and support to patients in healthcare settings.

Shawn Callaway is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) who works in Washington. D.C. Shawn enjoys working as a head case manager for clients who are blind/have low vision, and he also serves as a regional and national leader as president of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia and as a member of the Board of the National Federation of the Blind.

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.