Independence: A Collaborative Approach

By Thomas Reid, PCB Convention Coordinator

You may recognize the title of this article; it is also the theme of the 2015 PCB State Convention and Conference. What exactly does it mean? Like independence, how you define the theme is based on your personal circumstance and aspirations. I can tell you how the Convention Program and Planning Committee defines its meaning.

For those experiencing vision loss, striving for independence is not what may be considered a solo activity. Learning to navigate the world without sight, whether literally or figuratively, starts with good training. As an advocacy organization, we in PCB know and understand that in order to make progress for all people with vision loss, we need to work with others. Whether it is working with our local, state and federal representatives to pass legislation or working with companies to gain access to products and websites, collaboration is in order.

A key aspect of being independent is the ability to act for ourselves and not allow others to dictate our decisions. Independence does not mean we do everything ourselves. In our striving to feel independent, many of us may sabotage our own success by thinking we need to perform every role. On the contrary, read the credits on any solo musician’s album. There are dozens of people involved in the project. From the additional musicians to the recording engineers and marketing and promotions team, each person is an influential part of creating this solo album.

Are you looking to take the next step in your own personal independence? Maybe your definition is to:
• Feel more confident walking alone in your neighborhood
• Begin using technology to get information without assistance
• Return to school to complete that degree you always wanted
• Find a new career

These are varying definitions of independence, but they each require working with others to reach your goal.

Join us this year in Harrisburg on October 15 through 18, 2015 as we collaborate throughout the weekend. The program will feature multiple discussions and examples of ways we can work with others to further expand our personal independence and that of others across the state who are experiencing vision loss including:

Peer to Peer Indoor Navigation – work with fellow PCB members as we explore the future of indoor navigation using LowViz Guide. Using strategically placed beacons along with an iOS accessible application, users are instructed how to access various landmarks within the hotel. These will include all meeting rooms, elevators, and the restaurant. Work with other PCB members to determine the best way to use this technology.

Empower Yourself to Learn Anything: Lisa Salinger will lead a presentation for attendees to understand the importance of taking charge of the ways to acquire knowledge. Focusing on ways to acquire information includes:

• When to use your personal network to learn and when to go solo
• How to find information without a computer
Where to start when you are not sure what you need to know
• And the one thing you should never do when trying to learn new things.

The IU and You; Collaborating for the Future: The Education and Employment Committee will provide for the audience a realistic view of how the IU vision services are determined and delivered, in order to advocate for education-related efforts more effectively.

As in every PCB State Convention and Conference, our goal is to empower, educate and entertain. You can bet that we will have multiple opportunities to work together as we have fun. It begins with the MCCB Thursday Night Team Trivia when we can work with teammates to answer questions for prizes and have lots of fun in between. Then team up with a partner and try your hand at Audio Darts in the second-ever Audio Darts Tournament presented by the Philadelphia Metro Chapter.

While beer tasting is more of an individual sport, it is a lot more fun with friends. Friday morning, join other beer enthusiasts as we tour a brewery and learn more about the beer making process. Finally, on Saturday night, we will all work together to figure out Whodunit! The Golden Triangle Council of the Blind will present our post banquet entertainment: A Murder Mystery Theater.

So now, the final move is yours. The Convention Program & Planning Committee is only the assist. You can score the goal, make the shot or hit the ball . . . ! You get the point!

Join us on October 15 – 18, 2015 at the Crown Plaza Harrisburg Hershey. The room rate is only $89 per night. Call now for hotel reservations: 1 (717) 234-5021.

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