compiled by Ardis Bazyn
Membership and involvement are two common topics in ACB. This summer, ACB’s membership committee held a “Special-Interest Affiliate Showcase” at the virtual convention. Its goal was to familiarize members about the purpose of each special-interest affiliate. When members of state affiliates learn about the type of members these affiliates are recruiting, they can more easily recommend that their members check them out. Some of the ways to have both the special-interest affiliate members and the state affiliate members understand each other is to know how each might help the other in recruiting, in finding programming for both types of members, and in widening the base pool of possible members.
When your state affiliate holds its convention, consider asking members of special-interest affiliates in your state to participate. You might ask a special-interest affiliate to create a presentation relating to their affiliate. Someone from the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America could tell members about the Randolph-Sheppard program and how blind or visually impaired people have been able to own their own business or work for a vendor or state agency in the area. A person from the Braille Revival League could give the history of braille and its importance today. Other affiliates such as the American Association of Blind Teachers, Blind Information Technology Specialists, Independent Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs, or the American Association of Visually Impaired Attorneys could give a presentation on specific professions. Endless ideas are available for including all special-interest affiliates. Your convention coordinator could offer a time slot for a break-out session. In this way, both special-interest affiliates who wish to increase membership and state affiliates can benefit.
Consider putting information about special-interest affiliates in your state affiliate newsletter, on your website, and in your email discussion list. You could ask members from each special-interest affiliate to start a statewide chapter. You could contact the president of each of the special-interest affiliates and ask for information about them.
As the membership committee asked for participants for the summer showcase, we requested information from each special-interest affiliate: member requirements, purpose, and what offerings or benefits each had. These could include a quarterly or occasional newsletter, email discussion list or announce list, educational website, or regular conference calls. For a copy of the handout, contact Ardis Bazyn, firstname.lastname@example.org. It is available as an email attachment, large print, and braille.