by Linda Oliva-McKinley, ACBDA Membership Co-chair
We are a dynamic affiliate with multiple committees, and monthly board meetings that are open to our community. Our annual dues are a bargain at $10 and aren’t due until March 1st! A sweet deal, if you'll pardon the pun. We provide a quarterly email newsletter, and our ACBDA email listserv is a very active one. Members share their struggles, triumphs, journal articles and recipes, so there is truly something for everyone! Several of our members have chosen to be lifetime members of ACBDA.
Many of our members are Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics, as would be expected, but we also advocate for and assist family members or spouses who care for diabetics. Those who may have been told that they are borderline diabetics or “pre-diabetic” or who simply want to optimize their health and wellness as blind or visually impaired people, also attend our information calls. Our workshops during national convention are structured to provide more in-depth guidance in the management and education around this disease, which has reached epidemic levels.
On the second Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m. Eastern, we present topics of interest via Zoom and by phone. Before community calls were introduced, we had monthly Wednesday information sessions by telephone. Speakers have included representatives from podiatry, exercise and physical therapy, nutrition services, and vendors of products unique to diabetes. On the third Saturday of each month, at 5 p.m., we sponsor a community social chat where all are welcome. By popular demand, our program committee has added a second community chat on the fourth Monday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The links can be found on the weekly schedule for the community offerings sent daily by Cindy Hollis and her staff.
Political waters are never stagnant, so our officers and membership must stay on top of the latest gamesmanship in Washington. Legislatively, we are currently collaborating with CNIB and NFB to ensure that Congress understands the need for accessible durable medical equipment, not only for insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, but for such basics as oximeters, thermometers and pacemakers. We must have the option and ability to test, monitor and manage our diabetes independently via these devices, just as sighted people do. The technology exists to manufacture these, and they ought to be accessible straight out of the box just as they are for the non-disabled population. Fortunately, our affiliate has people from Hawaii to Maine, so there are opportunities to contact most senators and representatives as their constituents.
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and vision loss. As of this writing, a standing Peer Mentor Relations committee has been created to provide support on an individual level. Navigating a new or changing diagnosis can be less onerous if we learn from another who has successfully dealt with the combined hassles of vision loss and diabetes. This program is detailed elsewhere in this issue of the Forum. Since the form of diabetes, degree of vision loss, and treatment regimen vary throughout our community, a new or existing affiliate member can be paired with a mentor who shares very similar characteristics or circumstances. For example, a Type 2 diabetic being treated with oral medication has specific needs that differ from a Type 1 diabetic who uses an insulin pump. Monitoring and treatment products on the market are not created equal, so the level of blindness or low vision also will factor in when pairing a current user of these products with someone who may be totally new to the method. Obstacles and barriers are frustrating, so linking up with a peer-to-peer mentor can be beneficial.
To learn more, or to become a member, visit our website, www.acbda.org. If you encounter difficulty and would like help accessing the payment link, please email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!