Let your voice be heard
By Christina Clift
January 2017 has been a busy month for the Memphis chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. Below you will find some of the highlights of our activities. If you are interested in attending one of our meetings or finding out more about the National Federation of the Blind call (901) 213-6270 or e-mail us at Memphis@nfb-tn.org.
Perhaps one of the most important projects our chapter is working on is hosting the state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee. Our state convention will be held from March 31 through April 2 at the Crown Plaza hotel located at 300 North Second Street. Registration is $10.00.
During the convention attendees may browse through the Exhibit Hall and learn about local resources and new assistive technology, mingle with guide dog users, successful blind merchants, or blind students during their annual division meetings. Attendees may dine with us during our Saturday evening banquet, get fit during our sports and fitness seminar, and learn about the issues that the National Federation of the Blind has been working on over the last year.
Finally, each person who registers and attends the convention is eligible for awesome door prizes including, gift cards, great gift bags, and cold hard cash. You can also stop by our hospitality suite and meet our chapter and division presidents as well as our board of directors, all while getting a quick snack.
Another project that we are working on is planning our annual Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy, which is scheduled to take place from June 12-23, 2017 at the Memphis Center for Independent Living. This will be the fifth year for our BELL Academy and we are currently accepting applications. The Memphis NFB BELL Academy is a two-week program for children who are blind or have low-vision from 4 to 14 years of age. The Academy is designed to teach reading and writing Braille, using nonvisual techniques, using assistive technology, and cane travel in a fun-filled hands-on environment.
The BELL Academy week will start on Monday morning with a meet and greet and end on Friday, June 23rd with a seminar for parents. Throughout the two weeks, participants will be exposed to science, life skills, sports and recreational opportunities and learn how to live from other successful blind adults the lives the youth want to live. Participants will also go on two field trips that will use the skills they learn during the NFB BELL Academy, all while having fun out in the community.
If you are interested in volunteering or know a child who could benefit from this great program, the local NFB would love to talk with you. Our second BELL Academy site is located in Clarksville and will take place on the campus of Austen Peay State University from June 11-17, 2017. The Clarksville BELL Academy is a one-week residential program. For more information look us up on Facebook at “Nfb-Tn Bell Academy” or visit our frequently asked questions page at http://www.nfb.org/bell and click on the link for participating states and then select Tennessee. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (901) 877-4549.
Next, members of the NFB of Tennessee traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a Washington Seminar. This year’s legislative issues centered on advocating for information and materials in accessible formats for blind individuals. The legislation that we asked our Tennessee legislators to support include the Access Technology Affordability Act, The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education, and The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.
NFB Tennessee also asked for our legislators to continue funding programs at the Library of Congress which provides books in a variety of formats for the blind and physically disabled. Stay tuned over the next few months for updates on these important pieces of legislation.
“It’s important now more than ever to stay abreast of what is going on in Washington,” said Craig McFarland, the first vice president of the Memphis NFB chapter “and to let your voice be heard on issues that impact your life.”
Finally, during the January meeting of the Memphis Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), elections were held as set forth in our constitution. The result is as follows: Christina Clift, President, Craig McFarland, First Vice President, Calvin Poole, Second Vice President, and Deborah Carter, secretary. Since no member wanted to run for the office of the treasurer, the duties have once again been assigned to our first vice president. Two board positions were also filled by Geraldine Parker and June Mangum.
On February 6, 2017, the board of the Memphis chapter will participate in their annual strategic planning meeting in which they will discuss strengths and weaknesses, member recruitment, retention, and engagement, fundraising, and outreach, as well as their goals for the next two years. Until next time, as always go and “live the life you want.”