Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Blind politics

Just as in other community of more than a handful of people, the blind and visually impaired community has its own “sub-culture” and its own set of politics. In the United States, there are two major large umbrella groups for people who are legally blind – the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind.

While both groups can agree on many issues, they also each have their own beliefs about issues affecting the legally blind as well as in organizational style. Think of it like the difference between Republicans and Democrats, or Methodists and Presbyterians.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a member of the NFB since I was 19 years old. I was a national scholarship winner one year. I served on the board of directors of the Kansas affiliate for many years. But, I haven’t been active in about a decade.

There are a number of reasons for that – but none of them have to do with a lack of caring about the issues or the mission. It had more to do with my own health, scheduling and some things that were happening at the local level that by now are probably solved and anchient history. The thing is now I’m pretty swamped being the vice president of the HPS Network so I haven’t sort of reconnected.

Both organizations, however, can be very useful sources of information. You just have to check them out, question your own beliefs on things, and see where you feel most comfortable.

I wanted to explain all that to those who might not be familiar with these groups because both groups are having their national meetings during the next two weeks. A lot of news will likely come from those events and I sort of wanted to put all the stuff I’m likely to be posting soon into context for those that needed it. Grin!

Obviously I have a preference or I wouldn’t bother to be a member – but I have many friends that are members of the ACB as well. And, just like politics and religion, there are issues on which I don’t completely agree. I’ve just chosen where I feel I best fit most of the time.

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