(Editor's Note: Philip Kutner is the president of the San Mateo County Council of the Blind.)
When our San Mateo County Chapter (SMCCB) in northern California (just south of San Francisco) decided to create a web site, we first looked at what affiliates of other state chapters have done. This information is compiled at our site, www.acb.org/affiliates/index.html.
It was a surprise how few other local chapters had their own web sites. After gleaning ideas, we made a table listing the states, with links to their web sites. It also showed how many chapters had web sites. We hope that each state's webmaster will check this table and help us update it. As more ACB members become computer literate, it will become a cheaper and more rapid method of communication.
Then it was time to start our site. We had to select an Internet Service Provider (ISP). We also researched the name of the site, or Uniform Resource Locator (URL), to see if the acronym for San Mateo County Council of the Blind (SMCCB) was available. It was — so we chose it. Our web site is www.smccb.org. All of the extensions (.com, .gov, .edu, .net, etc.) were available and the cost was the same to register them, except TV, which was much more expensive.
Our webmaster was familiar with Dreamweaver, so that was the program used to create the site. We decided to start with information about our chapter and then to add material that might be useful and interesting to others who might visit the site. This is a labor of love and a task that is ongoing. We are constantly adding new material and updating of the existing information. Our Web Site Contains:
• Our yearly calendar
• A list of vision publications
• A membership application
• A list of vision links
• Our officers and resources
• What our members do
• Information on color blindness
• How to start a web site
• Information for the newly blind
• Communicating with the sighted
• Search box for our web site
States with Chapter Web Sites
New Jersey: 2
New York: 5
North Carolina: 0
North Dakota: 0
South Carolina: 0
South Dakota: 0
West Virginia: 0
State without e-mail address – Rhode Island
Our SMCCB membership list has the names, addresses and phone numbers of the members, and also their e-mail addresses. It is updated monthly and distributed at our monthly board meetings. Our chapter web site has an annual calendar of events, listing the dates of general meetings, board meetings and field trips. This is updated regularly. Our web site can be found at www.smccb.org. Our telephone squad calls everyone every month to remind them to attend our general meetings and ask if they have any questions. Our newsletter goes out in hard copy to those without e-mail.
As more of our local members become computer literate, e-mail and the information posted on the web site will become more valuable. This is especially so for non-members who are searching for information.
In the future we hope to develop a questionnaire for all the states. For states having a web site, the questions would relate to their experiences in starting, and the problems they had or are having. It also would be interesting to learn the reasons preventing other states from building a web site. Is it lack of funds, technical inability, seeing no advantage, or other reasons?
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