By Sue Lichtenfels, Chair
This past June, PCB launched a new website to promote its work. The website team designed the layout, made sure the site was accessible, and installed software that enables interactive information and idea sharing. While the Website Committee will continue to address the technical issues of the site, President Swartz has established a new committee to manage the actual content on the site.
The PCB Content Committee is responsible for cultivating and managing all content for the organization’s website(s). Content includes, but is not limited to, articles, audio files, videos, blogs and entries, organizational documents, resource materials, etc. The overarching goal of the committee is to make sure PCB’s online presence is fresh, positive, interactive, and, whenever possible, perception-changing. Specific duties of the committee are:
- Solicitation of timely content from both inside PCB and externally from the public at large.
- Development of policies and procedures to guide content creators, designated posters, and commenters.
- Collecting, editing, and publishing content in a timely manner.
- On-going review of online content to evaluate accuracy, timeliness, relevance, and appropriateness.
Currently our committee members include Maryann Alexander, Rosemary Martin, Thomas Reid, Jeanette Schmoyer, Tony Swartz, and me, as chair. We meet by conference call at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month. We welcome new committee members.
With regard to the current PCB website, we are reviewing the existing content to determine what information is absent or needs to be updated. Over the next few months, we plan to bring archives of The PCB Advocate online. In addition, we will be establishing blogs for PCB’s five advocacy-related committees: Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Braille and Accessible Formats, Education and Employment, Low Vision, and Technology Access. The purpose of the blogs is to provide on-going, timely postings of topical articles, news, and resource information. The platform allows readers to share their own ideas and comments as well.
The loftiest goal of our committee is the eventual development of an additional new website that educates the public in general about the abilities and activities of people with vision loss. Following is an excerpt from the convention presentation which explains this concept:
When you look at the vision loss community, we truly are a cross-section of society. We come from different races, different countries, and different religions. Our population includes people of differing ages, sexual orientations, financial means, and family histories. Some of us enjoy opera, while others like Springsteen. There are sports fanatics, athletes, and couch potatoes. In our lives, we have elderly parents, multiple siblings, and young children. Some of us like to lie on the beach, or climb a mountain, or dance the night away. The bottom line is that while we all have been impacted by vision loss, we are all different. And how we educate the public about our differences is by telling our stories.
It’s time we told the world our stories, not about the bleak, dark world that they have told themselves we live in, but about the vibrant, robust lives that we as humans, who happen to have vision loss, lead. We believe author Howard Gardner when he writes, “Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” And so we invite you to take up arms with us.
Our virtual arsenal is the launch of a new website: A website that will be a window into the lives of people with vision loss, and others, such as friends and family members, who are impacted by vision loss. We want to share stories not just from Pennsylvanians, but stories from those across the country and around the world. Let’s be clear, this is not just another website for resources that list support groups, provide information about eye conditions, advertise where to go for a braille watch, or offer tips on how to label your canned goods. Rather, this is a site of reflection. Our stories mirror our life activities, with which the general public can relate. Will you discuss what effect your vision loss does or does not have on the featured experience? Of course, but the focus will remain on the activity and how you experience it, first, as a person, and, second, as someone with vision loss. The goal of these stories is to allow the public to see us as people first.
The estimated date for the launch of the website depends on the volume of content we can generate. I strongly encourage anyone reading this article today to spread the word about this unique opportunity to your friends, family members, and organizations. The stories can be in the form of written articles, audio clips, or even video files. We are also seeking links to other timely, relevant stories that are already out there on the web. Please email your stories to: email@example.com and type “online story” in the subject field.
For those of you who don’t feel creative in the story sense, we still need your help. We are looking for producers to check sound and video quality. We need editors to categorize articles and check facts. We also need BOLOs — people who can be on the lookout for relevant stories and potential topics for new stories. Of course we need techies (a.k.a. young people) to assist with the social media aspect. If you will help with any of this, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “volunteer” in the subject field.
Finally, we need one more very important thing – a name for this website. We are looking for something that will be catchy to the general public, yet not too cutesy. We would like to avoid blindness or vision related words. Email suggestions to email@example.com.
The full audio from the convention presentation, including Thomas Reid’s proof of how such education efforts can change people’s perceptions, is available at www.pcb1.org/convention-audio-2014/. The presentation also includes a sample story to illustrate the message we want to send.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “A thousand candles can be lighted from the flame of one candle.” Please help us fan the flames of enlightenment.