Political meetings, advocacy meetings, and religious meetings - I've attended more in the last few years (since becoming LB [legally blind] 6 years ago) than in my life until then. Some have been good or at least interesting, some boring but somewhat useful, some good mostly just for a change of scenery to get away from work or my house.
Shortly after becoming LB, one of the counselors at AIDB (the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind) told me about the National Federation of the Blind. Because it was December, he invited me to the local chapter's Christmas party, and he learned that I played autoharp. He was born totally blind, but plays piano and sings beautifully. A friend and I attended the luncheon party, and I joined in playing some songs. I did join the NFB, then later learned from yet another counselor (from the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, a/k/a Voc Rehab or VR) about the American Council of the Blind, which I later joined and continue to be a member of, having dropped out of the NFB. I like the policies of the ACB much better. Regrettably I wasn't a member of the ACB when the national convention was held here in Birmingham.
And I have been part of advocacy meetings regarding our local transit system, and have had several letters printed in The Birmingham News about transit.
I have been invited to attend brain-storming meetings regarding a variety of disabilities. (The "world" considers me "handicapped" or "disabled", though I consider myself mostly "inconvenienced".) A significant one was at the Lakeshore Foundation (which is one link I list on my blog), a fabulous place. I attended one on the property of UAB (U. of Alabama/Birmingham). I attended one at the Alabama Career Center (formerly known as the Alabama Employment Agency). You get the idea. I have learned a lot, some which I could personally use, some which I could pass on to others.
I have sufficient usable sight that I can usually tell when someone is looking at me and my white cane. Once I was waiting for the fixed route bus, to go home from grocery shopping. Several others were at the bus shelter. A little girl about 5 years old was watching me. I squatted a little to be more on her level, and asked if she wondered about my cane. She, holding onto her mother, said, "Uh-huh". As I began explaining (still mostly on her eye level), and showed how the cane folds up, and that the tip rolls, and that it's to help someone who doesn't see well, not to fall off curbs or bump into things, the others got quiet and listened and watched. When the little girl got onto her bus, she, unprompted, turned to me, waved, and said, "Thank you!"
A week ago, I got invited to attend another meeting. It was to begin at 1:45 in a Department of Justice building downtown, and the visitor was Thomas Perez, the US Assistant Attorney General. I took the day off work and rode the 11:00 fixed route bus to town (rather than scheduling VIP [paratransit). I met a friend (also LB) who'd also taken the day off work and had gone earlier. We walked a few blocks, ate lunch, then walked a couple more blocks to the meeting. We had to show picture ID, put our bag/purse on an x-ray belt thing, and walk through a metal detector. Then a few of us at a time were taken to the meeting room.
I guess about 50 people were there. The first part was so boring that my friend (well, several of my friends were there) dozed off - until one person mentioned transit. People were there in wheelchairs (2 such are lawyers), various stages of mental and emotional and physical problems, some with their drivers, some with their PCA (Personal Care Attendant). You get the idea. Six members of our ACB chapter were there.
I don't know that the meeting accomplished anything, but at least Attorney Perez saw that some of us do care about the situation for us in Birmingham, whether housing for those who need more than home care but do not need a nursing home, to accessible housing with ramps and room enough for wheelchairs, to things as "simple" as a better transit system for those of us who cannot see to drive, but who must have a way to get to work. I know that those of us in attendance who are blind all work full-time, some with Master's degrees.
I've also been invited to the second meeting of an advocacy group concerning vehicles being parked in bus stops. Regrettably I've been unable to attend, partly because "the mind is willing but the body is weak" - I'd like to attend (partly because I've never eaten at Los Amigos, where they meet) but there's other things going on, and physically I am too tired to attend everything; I have to set priorities. Now if I were younger ... sigh!
I'll write about religious meetings in a day or so, as our gospel meeting is this weekend! And I do look forward to it!
To be insightful means to intuitively grasp things - an "aha!" moment!
- I am a member of the church of Christ. I have been writing things since I was little. Some have been printed, some posted. I write to teach or encourage; to blow off steam; and for fun! I had my own motorcycle in my 40s; I was a bluegrass music DJ for about 13 years; I've performed some. I am a member of the NRA. In 2003 (age 59), I became high partial legally blind; in 2005, I had to get hearing aids! Franklin Field said: "Poor eyes limit your sight; poor vision limits your deeds". And no kidding, the picture was made April, 2012!
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