The Braille Monitor                                                                                August/September, 2002

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Meet-the-Blind Campaign Guide

for Meet-the-Blind Month

 

From the Editor: This campaign guide for planning and conducting Meet-the-Blind Month activities was widely circulated during the convention and should be studied by leaders of every chapter across the country. For your convenience we reprint it here.

 

October 2002

Purpose: A nationwide campaign to increase awareness of and support for the National Federation of the Blind. Chapters throughout the country will conduct activities that get our message out in our local communities. These activities will be supported by a nationwide public awareness campaign that will include radio PSAs and specialized materials, including a professionally produced video appropriate for use during presentations to a wide variety of civic groups.

This person-to-person nationwide awareness campaign is designed to increase the understanding that the National Federation of the Blind is this nation's foremost organization of blind people. Our goal is to achieve nationwide recognition of the National Federation of the Blind as the group most associated with issues related to blindness and vision loss. When people think of anything related to blindness, they will think of the National Federation of the Blind, just as disaster help is associated with the American Red Cross. Activities conducted at the local and national levels will provide opportunities for NFB members to meet the public in a variety of venues. The goal is to increase the general awareness that we, the NFB, are the blind speaking for ourselves, and we are the best resource when it comes to vision loss and blindness.

Local chapters are encouraged to design a series of activities in the month of October that get our message out. To support this effort and to ensure uniformity in the way we present our message, the following materials will be available for use by state affiliates and local chapters:

* Branding Guide-a description of how to use our new logo and other materials. It includes electronic and print copies of the new NFB logo and tag line for use in promotions, signs, and other local materials.

* New logo stickers-stickers to be placed over old NFB logos that have been printed on existing materials for distribution.

* Meet-the-Blind Month flier-double-sided colorful flier that outlines the Meet-the-Blind Month program and can be used when soliciting the participation of establishments, civic groups, or media.

* Braille alphabet card-a new, colorful, double-sided printed card which presents the alphabet and numbers in Braille, for distribution to the general public.

* Meet the Blind-In Our Voices-a videotape that presents the history, mission, and programs of the NFB for use during speaking engagements with schools, civic clubs, church groups, and business organizations.

* Meet-the-Blind Campaign Guide-this document can be read during chapter meetings or during Meet-the-Blind Month planning committee meetings.

 

Suggested Activities

 

Informational Exhibits

NFB affiliates and chapters arrange to set up and staff exhibits during Meet-the-Blind Month at local banks, grocery stores, shopping malls, or any other retail or public spaces where traffic flow is plentiful. At the table exhibit members can conduct demonstrations such as writing people's names in Braille, folding money, using the long white cane, using simple pouring or other kitchen skills, and demonstrating speech and/or Braille-output technology. If the situation allows, members could also demonstrate NFB-NEWSLINEŽ, encouraging visitors to help spread the word that this free NFB service is available to all who cannot read newsprint. Materials should also be distributed. When you are distributing materials, cover up old logos with new logo stickers when appropriate. The new colorful Braille alphabet cards should be among the materials distributed. The exhibits are primarily designed to be lively, interesting awareness activities for the general public, but affiliates and chapters can have a fundraising component as part of the exhibits if desired.

 

Public Speaking Engagements

 

Many civic and community groups are always looking for interesting speakers for their luncheon or dinner meetings. Before offering to speak, it is best to call and find out the current name of the president or program chairman. Groups that could be contacted include Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Masons, garden clubs, neighborhood associations, and church groups, as well as low-vision support groups, senior centers, companies which can host brown bag information luncheon meetings for employees, labor unions, PTAs, and others.

NFB members designated as speakers should receive training from experienced members. The Meet the Blind-In Our Voices video is designed to be used in just such settings. It is a fourteen-minute video that outlines the history and the programs of the NFB. It can introduce a question-and-answer session, or it can be a part of a formal talk. Also, to prepare the speaker, make a list of points to cover or a list of frequently asked questions about blindness, and review in a group the best ways to answer such questions.

 

Media Appearances

 

Efforts should be made to arrange appearances on local talk shows or arrange for media to produce features about the NFB. The media always want a hook, something that will interest the general public, something that is new, and (if television is the medium) something that generates good pictures. Approaches you could use include:

* NFB-NEWSLINEŽ is interesting because of the technology involved and the fact that NFB-NEWSLINEŽ can be demonstrated over the air on either radio or TV.

* Similarly, our America's JoblineŽ can be demonstrated, but you should emphasize in demonstrations and discussions with media that JoblineŽ is a system developed and operated by the NFB, but it is now available to all citizens, not just the blind.

* Effective use of speech and Braille output technology and the importance of proper Web site design ensure that the blind can access the Internet with speech-output adaptive equipment.

* You can promote human interest stories of how our organization changes lives. Identify people in local chapters who have benefited from involvement with the NFB: scholarship winners, people who have attended one of our rehabilitation centers, individuals who have benefited from our employment or educational advocacy, examples of those new to blindness who have benefited from supportive fellow members by moving beyond depression and hopelessness. Be careful to identify NFB members who can be fairly articulate and are familiar with our message.

* Blind children and their families are always good for the media, especially if the child has just been recognized for an achievement or is participating in some nontraditional activity or if you can identify a media source that just likes wonderful, heartwarming stories.

 

Points to Emphasize When Meeting the Public, Interacting with the Media, and Giving Presentations

* The National Federation of the Blind is the largest membership organization of blind people and their families in this country.

* Our membership is over 50,000.

* We have over 700 local chapters and state affiliates and many divisions and interest groups.

* The mission of the National Federation of the Blind is to achieve widespread emotional acceptance and intellectual understanding that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but misconceptions and lack of information. We do this by bringing blind people together to share successes, to support each other in times of failure, and to create imaginative solutions.

* An organization of blind people is the best resource for individuals facing vision loss, their families, professionals who work with blind individuals, and governmental officials who deal with issues of importance to the blind.

* The NFB also operates many valuable programs and produces helpful materials, including:

NFB-NEWSLINEŽ

America's JoblineŽ

Braille Is Beautiful

The International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind

Three model residential rehabilitation programs

National Scholarship Program

Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, seminars, and other programs conducted by our National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

The NFB Materials Center

The Kernel Book series

The Braille Monitor

Future Reflections

The Voice of the Diabetic

* We are building the first research and training facility developed and operated by an organization of blind people, the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind.

* We are leading in the promotion of access to technology for the blind by advocating for the implementation of national technology access standards, conducting educational activities to inform technology developers and others of the importance of access design, and assisting technology companies in their efforts to bring to market helpful nonvisual access technology applications.

 

To order materials, to coordinate affiliate and local chapter activities with the NFB National Office, and for further information, please contact:

Dr. Betsy Zaborowski

Director of Special Programs

National Federation of the Blind

1800 Johnson Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21230

(410) 659-9314, extension 357

E-mail: <bzaborowski@nfb.org>

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