rchpay7 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 02:27:14 UTC 2016
reaching out to others
Most of us are active in the Federation today because NFB
members reached out to us, befriended us, answered our questions, and said
just that right thing that made us want to be a part of the organization.
And, though we want in turn to reach out to other blind people, sometimes we
find it difficult to know just what to say to someone who has reservations
about the organization or even about blindness itself. Below are some ideas
for responding to the common reactions we encounter as we extend our hands
to other blind people.
1. What does the NFB do?
q Our goal is to achieve full integration of blind people into all aspects
of society. We work to make this happen through public education,
legislation, programs for children, mentorship, scholarships for students,
senior outreach, professional groups, and much more.
q We are the civil rights movement of blind people.
q We are a nationwide group of blind people who come together to provide
support, encouragement, and practical advice for one another.
2. I'm not a joiner.
q I know what you mean; I have never considered myself a joiner either.
But the NFB helped me personally, and that's what brought me into the
q Our organization has room for all levels of involvement. You can even
just join a listserv or come to an occasional meeting if that's all you can
q By virtue of being blind, you are already part of a group. As group
members we want to work together to see that all blind people have the
chance to live their lives with dignity.
3. I don't get involved in politics.
q You can do many things in the organization, and you don't have to
participate in every activity. Holding an office is not the only way to get
involved in the organization.
q The NFB doesn't affiliate with political parties. We work only on
legislation that will expand opportunities for blind people.
4. I'm not blind.
q Most people in the NFB are not totally blind; you'll fit right in.
q Our focus is not on how much vision you do or don't have. We focus on
helping blind people figure out ways to get things done.
q We encourage people to use any tool that can help them get the job done
as efficiently and easily as possible, whether it is a magnifier, a screen
reader, a CCTV, or a cane.
5. The NFB is radical.
q In the NFB we believe that blind people can lead fulfilling, productive
lives. Does this sound radical?
q Because of society's negative attitudes about blindness, many people
might think that believing blindness isn't a tragedy is radical.
q We are working together to change society's attitudes about blindness so
that someday our belief in the capabilities of blind people won't be
considered all that radical.
6. The NFB opposes dog guides.
q We are not opposed to dog guides. We want blind people to use the tools
that work best for them.
q Many of our national leaders and members are dog guide users.
q We even have a dog guide division so that you can meet other dog guide
q We have filed many lawsuits to protect the rights of dog guide users.
q All blind people are welcome in our organization.
7. The NFB opposes audible traffic signals.
q We are not opposed to audible traffic signals in situations in which they
are necessary; we just believe that blind people should have the chance to
travel anywhere and not be limited to crossing only those streets with
q You don't have to agree with every policy of the organization. If you
want to improve the lives of blind people, you belong with us.
8. I can't get to meetings.
q We want you to be a part of us, and we will be happy to help figure
q If no meeting is close to you, you can start attending a meeting a little
further away. Often members of a chapter help find a way to get someone to
the meeting by finding a driver or asking another member to help the new
person get there.
q You can also get involved through listservs. Several email lists are
sponsored by the NFB in which you can talk to people and exchange ideas.
9. How do I join?
q Local chapter meetings.
q State convention.
q National Convention and Washington Seminar.
q Braille Monitor.
Other Useful Tips
q Don't let blind people or their family members pass you by.
q Make sure you get their contact information so you can follow up with
q Try to become a friend.
q Listen to their concerns about blindness and go out of your way to help
q Don't scare them away by coming on too strong. Remember, you probably
wouldn't appreciate a stranger telling you that you are doing everything in
your life wrong.
q Find out their interests and introduce them to other Federationists who
share those interests.
q Don't get bogged down trying to explain the nuances of our philosophy.
Remember that coming to terms with blindness is a slow process.
q Your top priority should be making them feel welcome in the organization.
More information about the Ohio-Talk