[NABS-L] NABS March Blog Post

Matthew Gip matthewhgip at gmail.com
Sat Mar 23 17:39:31 UTC 2019

Good Afternoon Students, 

I hope you are all doing well in your semester, whether you are now on spring break, nearing the end of your break, or getting ready for it. Needless to say, if you have some free time and can’t find something to do, we have you covered with this month’s blog post. This month, our theme is Starting and Building a Student Division by our good friend Katy Olsen. 

Note: The blog will be copied and pasted, attached in a Word document, and there will be a link to the blog post on our website for your convenience. 

Happy reading! 

From the Editor: Katy Olsen is from Iowa and she currently serves as president of the Iowa Association of Blind Students, a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. Here is her story. 

Starting and Building a Student Division 
My name is Katy Olsen, and I am the President of the Iowa Association of Blind Students. In 2016, a  group of college students and I who were new to the NFB of Iowa, saw what great things the NFB had to offer to us, and we didn’t want to keep it to ourselves. We knew that we had strong supportive mentors from our affiliate that would support us along the way, but we also recognized that if we wanted to start a student division, it would take some work.
Fortunately, we had a very strong core foundation from the start, that eventually turned into the student board that we have today. We came from different backgrounds and were at different points in accepting our blindness, but we all had the same goal and worked together to reach it. Just as expected, many people questioned whether we knew what it would take to start a division and warned us of the challenge we were entering. After some conversations as a group, we decided that we wanted to start an NFB of Iowa “student group”. To begin, we formed a group of leaders, much like a board and we took turns leading conference calls each month. At first, attendance was low and sometimes we questioned whether the time spent planning was worth it. As the year progressed, more and more students started coming to our calls. We improved our marketing strategies and found that personal invitations were extremely valuable. We would set up themed panels for our calls, comprised of both Iowa and outside students. Topics included internships, scholarships, budgeting and many other topics geared towards students.
After our first year of piloting our student group, we felt that we were ready to take the next step and form the official Iowa student division. In October of 2017, our division took off. Since then, we have implemented new programs and strategies to meet the needs of even more blind students in Iowa. To build our division we have contacted college disability offices and aim to host socials at least 4 times each year in different regions of Iowa. This month, we are excited to be starting  our member spotlights on our Facebook page. We will be featuring a new student from our membership each month to emphasize their accomplishments and help our community get to know one another. We have come a long way from the initial idea to form a student division and look forward to our future as the Iowa Association of Blind Students.


Matthew Gip
President | California Association of Blind Students 
Board Member | National Federation of the Blind of California 
Co-chair | National Association of Blind Students Outreach Committee 
Phone: (559) 375-2068
Email: matthewhgip at gmail.com
The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nations blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives they want. 

More information about the NABS-L mailing list