SUMMER ACB MEMBERSHIP SEMINAR
Compiled by Ardis Bazyn

At this summer's seminar, we focused on two topics: membership benefits and planning successful meetings. We also heard from Earlene Hughes from Blind Information Technology Specialists, since they received the Membership Growth Award for having the highest percentage increase in membership this year. If you would like copies of the flyers that were handed out at the convention, please call Ardis Bazyn at (818) 238-9321 or e-mail [email protected] Successful Meetings: When, Where, and How?

When do you hold meetings? Are they convenient for most people to attend? Saturdays, Sundays, or weekday evenings may work better for working people to attend.

Where do you hold meetings? Do you have them in restaurants, public meeting places, churches, libraries, or senior centers? Senior centers may keep younger people away. You could hold occasional ones in senior centers to attract them as well.

How do you invite people to meetings? Do you have phone trees, e-mail lists, flyers, PSAs or ads on radio and in newspapers? Do you have your meetings announced on radio reading services in your area?

Do you plan your meeting in advance? Do you have speakers, topics of discussion, and a prepared agenda? Giving out this information in advance might help attendance.

Does your president run a good meeting? Is there a greeting, welcome to newcomers, and a positive atmosphere? Are difficult people handled well (such as "thank you, but we must move on")?

Is your meeting organized? For example, is there an order for regular reports, old business, new business, speaker or program? Are meetings interesting and/or challenging for most members? Is there a mix of advocacy, support mechanisms, networking, as well as socializing? Does your meeting incorporate some networking and get-acquainted time? Do you have a lunch, dinner, or snack either before the meeting starts or afterward?

Do you have an assistive listening system? These systems include a cordless microphone and whatever number of assistive listening transmitters you purchase. This might help those with hearing difficulties. You could consider applying for a grant from a Lions Club in your area.

ACB Member Benefits

- Purpose: Provides positive advocacy for blind and visually impaired people and helps change stereotypes of society and promotes social, economic, and educational opportunities

- Provides education about blindness, resources, and support

- Advocates for members on specific issues: discrimination, housing, employment; availability of talking ATMs, accessible pedestrian signals, accessible web sites, and talking voting machines

- Awards student scholarships

- Donates scholarships to first-timers for conventions

- Finds mentors to give advice and help in problem-solving

- Publishes monthly magazine, "The Braille Forum"

- Hosts listservs for sharing blindness issues

- Updated web site with information and resources, www.acb.org

- Produces Internet radio shows, www.acbradio.org

- Plans an annual convention, including special-interest affiliates

Affiliate Benefits

- Builds local chapters as support network for members

- Awards scholarships for students

- Develops loans for employment

- Grants crisis funds for emergencies

- Produces brochures with tips and ideas

- Disseminates up-to-date information through phone or email

- Publishes quarterly affiliate newsletters

- Hosts listserv sharing blindness issues

- Updates web sites with information and resources

- Plans annual conventions and seminars


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