ACB Honors Legislators for Distinguished Service and Launches New Legislative Initiatives

by Melanie Brunson

ACB recently concluded its annual affiliate presidents' meeting and legislative seminar. Both of these events were well attended this year. Both programs provided participants with an abundance of information and ideas to take back to their affiliates, as well as opportunities for some stimulating discussion on a wide range of topics. One of the highlights of this year's activities occurred while ACB members were visiting Capitol Hill on the final day of the legislative seminar. For the first time in many years, ACB held an awards ceremony to acknowledge the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate who sponsored the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 and the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. As you may recall, both of these bills were passed by Congress and signed into law by the president during the closing months of 2010. ACB awarded the James R. Olsen Distinguished Service Award to Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts for their sponsorship of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, and presented the same award to Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, and Sen. Marc R. Pryor of Arkansas for their efforts on behalf of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Each of the award recipients spoke to the ACB members who gathered for the occasion, affirming his commitment to equality of opportunity for people with visual impairments, and a more accessible society for them to live in. Each expressed sincere appreciation for the award, and indicated an interest in continuing to work with us to advance our work on these issues. This was a very nice ending to a full weekend of activities.

Earlier in the weekend, ACB announced this year's legislative imperatives. These include efforts to gain access to information concerning prescription drug labels in alternate formats, to reverse rulings by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so that Medicare will cover low-vision aids, and to revise provisions in the Internal Revenue Code governing donation of vehicles to charity so that individuals can make donations and receive tax deductions in a more timely manner. For more information about the specifics of these legislative proposals, please visit the Washington Connection page of the ACB web site, or call the ACB national office.

The presentations that were made during both the legislative seminar and the affiliate presidents' meeting were recently aired on ACB Radio. If you are interested in listening to these programs, they are still available in the ACB Radio archives. In addition to legislative information, there was a lot of exciting information provided during the affiliate presidents' meeting, including some great news about leadership development initiatives that ACB is preparing to launch. Those who attended these meetings should have a lot to share with you and your affiliates, so feel free to ask them for a firsthand account of what they learned as well.

Even the weather was fairly cooperative this year. If you attended, thank you for helping to make this year's events the success they were. If you did not, please check out the resources that are available to you to find out more, and plan to join us next year.