Ideas to Interest Students

Affiliate Meetings/Operations:

- Invite parents of blind children to your monthly meetings. Encourage families to participate in affiliate activities.

- Encouraging students to attend meetings

- Ask students to serve on specific chapter or affiliate committees rather than asking if they’d like to serve on a committee. Make students feel comfortable with being involved; treat them like any other member.

- Invite students to submit a resolution that affects them, such as creating a better system to find accessible electronic books. They would learn the resolution process and how it can help all members of all ages.

- Connections people make with other members are what is important in building membership. Students need to feel needed and wanted.

- Students should be encouraged to join special interest chapters or affiliates in their area of interest. Provide them with the known possibilities or where they can find the special interest chapters/affiliates.

- Arrange a membership contest and give a prize, like a free membership or gift certificate for whoever brings in the most members.

- Encourage members to give a gift of membership to a young person.

- Contact radio reading services or telephone newspaper reading services about your organization and ask them to circulate meeting information, especially high school or college campuses.

- Distribute your membership benefits brochure and include an invitation letter. Be sure to include: Some brief information about the ACB scholarship program, the Braille Forum, and the annual convention. Also, state your affiliate’s mission and highlight opportunities for development in the areas of leadership, service, special projects and fellowship.

- Invite several students so one isn’t there alone.

- Find a volunteer group that would be willing to help at a single meeting and offer hands on projects such as brailing or marking tapes, cds, food products, etc.

Conventions:

- Separate hospitalities for young people.

- Adults and youth could have lunches together in between the various sessions.

- Have your convention taped for archiving on your website or streaming sessions on the internet during the actual event.

- Invite families with kids and plan programs of interest for persons of all ages.

- Youth activities during your convention could be educational and recreational. They would likely also promote interaction between visually impaired children and adults.

- Some break-out activities especially for students.

- A talent show might encourage participation from both youth and adults.

- A reception for scholarship winners also links members with students

- A career fair could be held. Students and adults would be attracted.

- When inviting prospective exhibitors consider ones more applicable to youth and that might offer products for the visually-impaired that they may have seen advertised.

- Hold a first-timers seminar for newcomers or those not attending for a while. Tell first-timers about your organization and the membership benefits. Allow time for questions.

- Setup a buddy system, and plan when returning members will meet up with first-timers.

- Offer a place during pre-registration to request a buddy. If possible match them by similar interests.

- Some students will enjoy a diverse program, not just the student type of events. Have good, engaging, amusing and interactive speakers.

- Offer pre-convention tours, highlighting local historical sites.

- Sponsor a conference for students in conjunction with your convention and provide the meals. Find activities in proximity for them like an ice skating event.

- Invite students to come to a special dinner and have other students (or past students) explain the activities attended at a state or national convention.

- Write letters to DSS offices close to convention and send them your program, especially the parts that would interest students.

General Ideas:

- Have fundraisers for sponsorships or scholarships to get students to attend your activities. Hold raffles with good prizes; talk to local companies to get prizes donated.

- Write to high schools and colleges about your organization and inform them speakers are available. You are a resource for visually impaired students and to classes in general.

- Pay the first year’s dues for students. If one doesn’t exist, consider adding a junior membership category for those under 18.

- Have younger members participate on local talk shows or get interviews. Ideas for producing material follow. It may seem expensive but sponsorships could cover the cost.

* Purchase time on the radio for interviews

* Produce video for local TV shows or make tapes for local radio shows.

* Tape a live broadcast and use it repeatedly for public events.

* Could use ACB radio spots and modify them for local distribution.

- Establish a mentoring program to link visually impaired members with visually impaired youth or other newly blinded adults.

- Hold a Braille Literacy weekend.

- Have a barbecue, cook-out, or beach/pool party.

- Advocacy training and/or legislative seminars help members feel comfortable contacting officials about needed changes in services or legislation.

- Plan a youth advocacy and career weekend.

- Give state agencies, parent groups and rehabilitation centers your organization’s brochures and information about upcoming seminars and activities.

- Have members volunteer to speak at state orientation centers. Students go to these centers between high school and college.

- Share advocacy committees or network of members’ information on hand-outs that can assist visually impaired students with discrimination issues.

- Be aware of other groups working with the visually impaired - youth or adult, and attempt to work with them.

- Invite graduates that are visually impaired to come to a special graduation event in your community.

- Scholarships for college entice many students and show them organizations are interested in them.

- Offer to pay all or part of a student’s experience to a state or national convention. Once a student sees the value conventions, she/he is encouraged to attend again.

- Show students that the affiliate and its members do focus on issues important to younger blind members. For example, receiving textbooks in a timely, electronically accessible format is a primary concern to students of all ages.

- Conference calls interest young members. Help organize a student group in your affiliate that could meet via conference call every couple of weeks.

- Think of different ways students add to your organization. Assigning particular tasks make them feel more a part of your chapter or affiliate. This could be performing, contributing, or designing something at an event.

- Many students today are knowledgeable about new technologies. Ask them to help others learn or ask them to present about a topic.

- Send letters to all colleges and universities highlighting upcoming conventions.

- Hold retreats for families with visual impairments. Families could participate in events like a dog-a-thon and sponsors could be brought in. Money could be raised to allow visually impaired children to attend dvs plays and movies.

- Innovative contests such as musical scholarships or science camps are ways that might entice parents to participate.

- Participate more in your local school for the blind or special education programs.

- Activities like walk-a-thons, health fairs, and activities for White Cane Safety Day might interest students.

- Follow up the letter of invitation with a personal phone call to prospective members explaining membership benefits and inviting them to the next gathering.

- Offer seminars at colleges where multiple visually impaired students attend. Possible seminar topics include readers and drivers, technology and how to get it, networking with other blind persons, mentoring, etc.

- Invite students to Disability Days (Legislative Day) at your Capitol.

- Organize a cross-disability statewide event.

- Give Braille awards to students for expertise in the reading and writing of Braille

Activities and topics that may interest students

- Social gatherings including games and refreshments, popular DVS movies, dance instruction

- Have a college DSS office talk about services to people with disabilities.

- Talk about the issue of testing (Standardized tests (SAT, ACT, or GRE), college entrance exams, or other tests for masters programs, law school, or doctorate program).

- Topics such as researching on the Internet, public speaking, instruction on computer programs, mobility issues, GPS systems, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, civil rights and emergency housing, insurance companies charging high rates to the visually impaired, etc.

- A workshop on self-defense

- A shopping spree with volunteers might - perhaps an outlet mall, Farmers’ market, or something else difficult for visually impaired

- Delta Gama, pro golf organizations, Sierra Clubs, and other groups may be willing to help with recreational activities such as golf, sailing, skiing, etc.

- Attend an amusement park as a group.

- Other sporting or recreational activities might draw younger or more physically active members: camping, sailing, rock climbing, or river rafting.

- Blind golfing, Goal Ball, blind bowling, swimming, or a game night

- Visit a local Zoo

- Invite a representative from a local fitness club to share some ways for blind and visually impaired to exercise at home. Also share how to use the club’s equipment and facilities, followed by a visit by members to use the club itself.

- Have demonstrations on various technology or other devices.

- Share information about other services or membership organizations members are involved in.

- Talk to students about school to work programs, career planning, and share experiences of other successful working blind persons.

- Accessible voting

- How does one do or find things? Such as shopping in person or searching for products and information on the Internet.

- Have a “touch and show” gadgets session.

- Career or employment panel discussing:

* Various types of employment (government, private sector, non-profit)

* Varied backgrounds and different education levels.

* How to get the job,

* How to complete tasks on the job

* Necessary education in certain fields

- Employment skills focusing on resumes, cover letters and interviews

- Computer technology tips: How to copy cds, dvds, etc.; How to use Excel or other Office programs; How to merge documents.

- How to write formal papers.

- Leadership training

- Technology such as the latest cell phone alternatives, laser cane options, updates in note-takers, less expensive software, low tech items, etc.

- Braille literacy, how to encourage more blind students to learn Braille.

- Speaker sharing guidelines for accessible websites, this assists students in telling companies how to do it.

- Explore 508 laws for states relating it to accessibility on the job.

- Multi-cultural and diversity topics

- Program highlighting the guide dogs benefits versus white cane benefits.

- Accessible transportation and the process for getting approved for this service

- Free matter mailing, free telephone information (411),

- Fishing license discounts, National Parks Gold pass for disabled persons

- Free Bible on tape, DVS info, audio description for plays,

- Listing of catalogs for the blind and visually impaired, stores that sell toys for blind and visually impaired children, places to buy magnification devices, places that sell software and computers with speech,

- Listing of eye care centers for folks with low vision,

- Guide dog schools, the American Diabetes association, Hadley School for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, Books Aloud for the Lions International newsletter and other books in special formats, AFB, ACB