Future Reflections  Winter/Spring 2007

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What Can Blind People Do?

by Barbara Cheadle

The politically correct (PC) response to the question posed in our title--What Can Blind People Do?-- might be a perky, optimistic, “Whatever they want to do,” but if forced to give examples, I suspect most people would come up short.

While the PC answer really is true, it’s not a very satisfying response to those of us (parents of blind children, for example) who really need to know more. After all, achieving independence and living a full life has many components: a job, a family, personal independence, participation in the community, hobbies, recreation, sports, leisure pursuits, travel, volunteer activities, religious participation, activism, clubs, and much more.

Getting specific answers to this question is one of the many reasons parents should attend a national convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). For over sixty years, the members of the NFB have been expanding the frontier of what is believed possible for blind people to do in all areas of life. One of the ways the NFB does this is through organizing special divisions around specific topics. Here’s how these divisions work.

Each of the divisions is led by an elected president and board of directors, and membership is based on interest, participation, and the paying of annual dues. Currently, there are twenty-six active divisions, including the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Each division holds an annual meeting at the NFB convention. Some of them also sponsor special workshops and/or other educational activities for their members at the convention. Most of the divisions also sponsor listservs and a few of them organize special events and/or conferences between conventions. And all of them have members who are willing to provide support and information to each other and to parents and their blind kids throughout the year.

So, how can parents tap into the knowledge, resources, and blind role models these divisions can offer to families of blind children? This year at the 2008 convention, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children is structuring our activities so that families can meet blind members from these divisions, can attend division meetings, and otherwise participate in division-sponsored activities or workshops. Division leaders will speak at the NOPBC conference on Saturday, June 30th, the divisions will help sponsor and conduct activities for children on Saturday, and the divisions will be ready to welcome families to their meetings, most of which occur on Monday, July 2. More details are in the NOPBC conference packets and on our NOPBC Web page at <www.nfb.org/nopbc>. To request an NOPBC conference packet, please see the Web page or contact Barbara Cheadle at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (410) 659-9314 extension 2360 or 2361.

The NFB Web site also publishes a list of divisions with contact information. It is reprinted on page ____ of this issue as a resource and service to our readers. Since the divisions are operated out of members’ homes and new officers are elected annually, we recommend that you also check the Web site for updates before calling. The list is available at <www.nfb.org/nfb/Divisions_and_Committees.asp>.

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