Back from the Hill – ACB Legislative Seminar 2012

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the ACB President’s Meeting and Legislative Seminar.


The President’s meeting is a chance for leaders of state affiliates of the American Council of the Blind to participate in presentations and share information all geared to aid the growth of the state organizations.


The Legislative Seminar focuses on the main goal of the organization, advocacy. The weekend consists of presentations designed to assure all attendees are prepared to speak to Federal Legislators on pre-determined imperatives.


For more information on the advocacy side, please read my daily coverage from DC posted on MCCB


Now you know it’s just natural that I would want to focus on the impact technology has made on the seminar experience.


While this was not my first time participating in the seminar, there have been a few technology changes since my first visit to DC in 2007. Although some of the technology was available in various forms, it was not as prevalent among people with vision loss due to the lack of accessible options.


Social Media

Although Twitter began in 2006 and became more popular in 2007, the lack of a truly usable interface limited its popularity and usage in the blind community.


It was great to see that access via ios devices and screen reader friendly programs has made its usage close to on par with those who are sighted.


Attendees and remote participants alike could collaborate on all things related to the seminar via the hash tag # NLS12.


I have to send a shout out to ACB National for their posting of notes during the seminar. They provided great information which enabled me to rely on their notes and comments for my own purposes.


ACB Radio has provided live coverage of the seminar in past years. A more recent development is the ability to access the audio stream while on the go. Again, smart phones, especially the IPhone, have improved this access for those of us with vision loss.


I’m almost ashamed to say that I did not take advantage of some additional tech that could have assisted my time on the Hill. Several people on my Twitter timeline talked about various Congress related apps that provide lots of information including quick access to email addresses and even Twitter handles to publicly thank the representatives for their time.


I thought of using a DC Metro map application to help with navigating our way from the hotel to the Capital. Unfortunately this thought came to me after we were on the train! Man, I must be slipping.


My focus was on providing those in my PCB family with varying forms of media to give them an opportunity to experience the seminar remotely. I attempted to shoot a video and load to YouTube, but unfortunately the audio was too poor. Video, you ask? Yes, indeed, remember not everyone in the organization is totally blind. In fact chances are that the majority have some usable vision. I know this is true in my local chapter. And why not, if we produce the video right, it is the most universally accessible and appealing.


I did get a chance to record spontaneous audio captured on the way home following our visit to the hill.


All in all, it was a great trip and I hope most of all that our efforts prove to be successful – we see the passing of HR 860 and HR 4087.

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