How to Find Blindness Related Resources and Sharing Them
Compiled by: Ardis Bazyn, Chair
Our focus call on August 16 was called “How to find blindness related resources and sharing them”. One of the keys to building membership is finding ways to retain members. If members hear about blindness resources from your group, they likely will find it a benefit. On this call, we received lots of feedback on good blindness resources and many ways to share them with members and potential members.
One caller suggested providing a Booklet to members with local resources in your community (Print and Braille resource list). You could also provide it on a website if your chapter has one. Resources provided state-wide could be provided on your state affiliate website. These resources could include: a list of known talking products, getting applications and criteria for Parra transit, explaining where to get bus information and discounts for persons with disability, private transportation service if available, home assistance services for shopping or reading (Friends indeed, Love, inc., or Helping hands), list of stores that deliver in your local community (groceries, pharmacies, or other products), lists of companies or individuals who do home computer repair (particular those with experience on accessibility features/software), Dry cleaners pick-up and delivery, websites with applicable information on blindness related products and services, Free sources for medical information, Talking books through the National Library Service, local Radio Reading services, and your local Public library that carries audio cds and cassettes. Many resources discussed were regional or national in scope. You could provide a list of these as well.
Some regional and national resources that could be shared follow. Accessibledevices.com is a Link to downloadable manuals for a variety of technology products. Blindcooltech.com is a site with tech podcasts Demonstrating products. Afb.org has links telling about all types of technology, low and high tech. Techtalktidbits is an email list with helpful tech information. Doorstepdelivery.com, Gogopher.com, pinkdot.com, vons.com, and Peapod.com are regional companies that deliver grocery and other products in parts of the country. In some larger cities, you may be able to dial 211 for information for senior citizens.
Your city may have Parks and recreation activities which you could circulate. Some cities have parks with tactile tours or audio tours. Many museums have audio descriptions of some of their exhibits. You could disseminate a list of museums in your area which have guides or docents available upon request. Sports for all is an organization with Programs for people with disabilities such as swimming & bowling. Easter Seals has a list of guides for running, swimming. Etc. Check the Easter Seals website for availability in your community. Achilles Tract Club provides guides for runners. The Association of Blind Athletes chapters often provide tandem bikes. Some Sailing Clubs provide occasional sailing trips for people with visual impairments.
There are volunteers like VITA who assist people in completing their tax forms. Taxact.com is an accessible website that can be used to fill out your income tax forms (federal and most state) for free. There is a minimal cost for filing electronically.
Vista Center of the Blind provides free medical information in accessible formats. The Health Library can be contacted by email: email@example.com and on Wednesday mornings, they can be reached at 650-858-0202. Follow the audio prompt. The also carry pamphlets on prevalent eye diseases including diagrams, bibliography, etc. Some are available in Spanish.
As you have read, you now understand there are many, many resources you can share with your members and potential members. As stated on the call, at each meeting, you can have someone give a report of new or unpublished resources as well. You could use some of those already listed or explore the following suggestions. Some states have used senior stimulus money for independence- has your state done so? Does your state have new accessible Voting systems that your members have not seen? Ask your county to demonstrate one so your members might be more inclined to take advantage of them.
Have you shared either local or national Descriptive videos website links or local theaters with those available? Does your city or county have Disaster preparations presentations that could be shared with your chapter? Some cities/counties have a register of people with disabilities for use in emergencies. Some colleges may be willing to provide Counseling service over the phone using graduate students with faculty mentors. Some colleges might be willing to start a project to volunteer to assist in sports activities.
You might provide a speaker on any of these topics during your local chapter meeting or at a state convention. Members could share what they know on given topics like finding readers and drivers. You could share possible sources like church, retired persons, etc. You can also use a phone tree service to share up-to-date information on services, activities, and community low vision fairs.
Your chapter or affiliate can share booklets of resources (free or for production cost) to potential members you meet at resource fairs, technology exhibits, etc. When people with visual impairments visit a booth you’ve sponsored, visit a local chapter meeting, or see your website, they will be more likely to want to be members if they realize they may benefit. As your members network with others on a daily basis, they will find items of interest to pass on to members at meetings. Try some of these suggestions learned on this “membership focus” call.
As always, if your affiliate needs some assistance with membership, contact the ACB Membership Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.