I begin this message from the president with a heartfelt "thank you" to the assembled membership of the American Council of the Blind for electing me to a final term as president. It is an honor and a privilege to serve this organization and I hope to do so with unflagging energy and commitment during these final two years.
Many things of great importance came out of our 2005 convention in Las Vegas, Nev. Full reports will be forthcoming in the November issue of "The Braille Forum." In this message, I would like to highlight two particular items of significance on which priority will be placed during the next two years. Both of these items deal with members of our community who have somewhat of a minority position. These are people and groups to whom we need to reach out and assist to become vital, involved, and active members of the American Council of the Blind.
The first initiative is Project METRO. METRO stands for Multicultural Endeavors through Reorganization and Outreach. The idea for this project came out of a reception held during the Las Vegas convention for multicultural members of the organization. Approximately 35 ACB members met and discussed how ACB could better reach out into the African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and other racial and ethnic communities. We have always led the way in these areas within the organized blind movement and we are well positioned to continue and improve upon this work.
To lead and facilitate these efforts, ACB is very lucky to have Cynthia Towers step forward and volunteer her well-known and respected capabilities. Cynthia has distinguished herself within our movement, first acting as ACB's secretary for six years, and more recently by serving as the ACB convention coordinator. She has overseen the Houston, Pittsburgh, Birmingham and Las Vegas conventions and done so with distinction. I doubt if many of us are fully aware of all the work involved in coordinating ACB's annual conventions. Cynthia is certainly among that small and competent group of hard-working, contributing individuals. In the next several months, she will be writing to the membership in the pages of "The Braille Forum" and working with the membership throughout the country to carry forward the important and vital work of Project METRO. I am extremely excited about what this project can accomplish, and I ask everybody to be in touch with Cynthia and those assisting her in the coming months.
The second project on which a renewed priority and focus is to be given also came as an outgrowth of the Las Vegas convention. The need for this renewed focus began to surface in early June when Carla Ruschival brought to ACB's attention requests for over 50 assistive listening devices by convention registrants. We only had eight devices on hand, and some quick work had to be done to increase this number appropriately. During the convention itself, a need for interpreters also arose in order for ACB to serve the deaf-blind participants in Las Vegas. The latter request was a challenge for which we were not entirely prepared, and it was brought to the board of directors for study and future action during the post-convention board meeting. My purpose in mentioning it here is to indicate and acknowledge that this is something on which ACB intends to devote significant effort, and to indicate publicly our commitment as an organization to the hearing impaired and deaf-blind membership and potential membership of ACB. Through the board of directors, staff, and the sight and sound impaired committee, ACB is renewing its longstanding commitment to this segment of our community.
We are fortunate to have dedicated and committed members among us who are willing and able to take up these initiatives. You will be reading much more about these efforts in the months to come.
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