By Robert E. McClain
Like many of you, I am a long-time PCB member; however, I have not been able to attend many of the state conventions. I have been an active advocate for the blind and have served on various PCB committees over the years. As a result, I have enjoyed reading about the events and activities that take place at our conventions. Now that the evolution in technology has made it possible for those of us at home to listen to the convention’s goings-on over the Internet, I am really excited. I can sit in my armchair and listen to all of the events as they unfold or access them at any time, once they are placed in the archives on the PCB website. The slate of 2014 convention programs was outstanding as usual and I enjoyed listening to them very much. For me, it is especially exciting and gratifying to hear those presentations made by the committees that I am a part of, namely the Braille and Accessible Formats Committee and the Education and Employment Committee.
This year, I especially enjoyed the program put on by the Education and Employment Committee: “College Life: the Challenges and Changes,” because it brought to the forefront three college students — young adults who will not only be citizens of tomorrow but also advocates for the blind today and tomorrow! It is wonderful to see the young adults getting involved now and wanting us older PCB members to mentor them; we need them as much as they need us. As you know, the advocacy fight is an ongoing process. The students — Lizzy Muhammad, Nate Kottler, and Donnie Buie — in representing themselves and other young adult PCB members, did themselves very proud. In the forum, the students had to answer a series of questions posed to them by the Education and Employment Committee. Their responses were candid and thought-provoking in that many of their responses and approaches to dealing with college are different from what you or I may have experienced, due to changes in education, access and technology. The topics addressed by the students included: disability services, self-advocacy, orientation/mobility, disability culture, social freedom, independent living skills, time management, technology, and participation in activities. It is evident from their responses that each of them was well prepared and that they are handling college life just fine. Furthermore, one of the main points to take from this forum is that we PCB members are able to gather enough information from the panel of students to assist us as mentors, so that when we speak to other students, be they in college, vocational school or other training programs, we will have an idea of what problems they will face and provide them with constructive feedback in how to deal with a multitude of situations.
Congratulations to the three student panel members. I wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors! We know that they will be successful in whatever they strive for and knowing that they will be advocates for blind people and PCB brings more joy to my heart. If you are like me, sitting back in your favorite armchair and not able to attend this past convention, I strongly recommend that if you have access to the Internet, go to the PCB web site and listen to the convention audio. You will be glad that you did so!