Membership Handbook

Welcome to the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB)!

This pamphlet was developed to answer some questions that you, as a new member, may have about the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB.)  Founded in 1936 PCB is one of the oldest organizations of persons with a disability in the United States. PCB offers independent democratic resolutions on social, educational, rehabilitative, transportation and public safety issues.  PCB is affiliated with the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the largest consumer-driven organization of blind and visually impaired persons and friends in this country.  ACB and its affiliates, including PCB, promote social, economic, and educational opportunities for all blind and visually impaired people.

PCB consists of approximately 20 chapters throughout the state and is the largest consumer-driven organization of blind and vision-impaired Pennsylvanians.  Its members are of different ages, interests, and ethnic groups and represent a wide variety of occupations, political persuasions and religious affiliations.  In numbers, we join together to solve the problems and change the stereotypes held by our society.  It is through working together that the challenges of blindness can and will be overcome.

Since all members are an integral part of this organization, PCB connects us all together to create a support network.  When a blind or vision-impaired person is discriminated against, all of us are affected.

We also celebrate each member’s individual achievements and the accomplishments of our chapters. Recently, for example, the PCB was instrumental in changing the White Cane Law by having the fine increased for drivers who endanger a person who is blind or vision-impaired and using a white cane or dog guide as they cross a street. PCB was an active part of developing the “Person with Disabilities Transportation Program (Shared Ride)” and is a member of the Disability Voting Coalition.

Throughout the state PCB chapters and individual members have been involved with accessible voting machines, para-transit issues, installation of accessible pedestrian signals, and many other developments that affect the daily lives of blind and vision-impaired persons.  When you become a member of PCB, you automatically have a sense of belonging to a group of people who truly understand and welcome you to a wonderful family of caring friends.

You should soon be receiving the PCB magazine, THE ADVOCATE which is published quarterly.  The interests of PCB regarding blindness range from student life and technological advances on the one hand to the concerns of parents and senior citizens on the other.  Members stay informed on national developments in all areas of blindness in the monthly publication of the American Council of the Blind, the BRAILLE FORUM.  Members also keep each other aware of daily issues through our online listserv, and various lists from the American Council of the Blind. The PCB and ACB Websites offer many resources on blindness for our members and for the public. Please refer to the detailed contact information at the end of this handbook.

By joining a local chapter, each member receives help through mentors who can give both advice and assistance in problem-solving and when advocacy is needed. Monthly meetings and social activities lead to lasting friendships and lessen the feeling of isolation often experienced by those with vision loss.  Annual conventions of PCB and the annual ACB conventions also provide valuable learning experiences as well as opportunities to meet vendors of blindness-related products and services.

Any resident of Pennsylvania who is 18 years or older is eligible to become a voting member of PCB. Persons under age 18 can become a Junior Member.  The seven categories of members are: Chapter Members, Members at Large (those not residing near a chapter), Life Members (people who pay Life Membership dues), Junior Members, Honorary Members, Corporate Members and Agency Members.  The latter four are nonvoting categories.  Agency Members and Corporate Members are groups who donate annually to support the organization.  Chapter Members, Members at Large and Life Members may vote, present motions, speak on the floor of the state convention, serve on committees, and hold an office.

As a member of PCB, you can participate in making the world a better place for blind and vision-impaired people; advocate for change at the local, state, or national level; and serve on one or more of the PCB committees which address blindness issues such as Braille, Employment, Governmental Affairs, or Transportation.  Other PCB committees include Awards, Bylaws, Convention Planning, Convention Site Selection, Finance, Fund raising, Long Range Planning, Low Vision, Membership, Nominating, Personnel, Publicity, Resolutions, Technology, and Website.

Through advocacy efforts you can help make accessibility the norm.  Total accessibility means being able to read any materials available to the public, walk in a safe environment, work in any setting we choose, and participate in any activities that other people do.  You can strengthen our advocacy and service efforts by inviting your friends and colleagues to join us.  The pathways open to you are many and varied.

PCB chapters vary in their focus.  Many are geographically defined by cities, counties, or regions, while others reflect a special interest shared by the members.  The current chapters of PCB are: Beaver County, Capital City in Harrisburg, Carl Shoemaker in Mifflin County, Cumberland County Care and Share, Erie County, Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh, Hank Bloomberg in Clearfield-Jefferson Counties, J.F. Kennedy in Philadelphia, Lackawanna County, Lehigh Valley, Luzerne County, Monroe County, New Castle Regional in Lawrence County, Oil Valley in Venango County, Philadelphia Regional, Red Rose In Lancaster County, York Area, and Washington County. There is also a Special Interest Group; The Delaware Valley Council of Citizens with Low Vision in Philadelphia.

Contact information: Pennsylvania Council of the Blind Voice: (717) 920-9999  or Toll-free (877) 617-7407. Fax: 717-920-9988 Address: 931 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102. E-mail: pcboffice@pcb1.org PCB website: www.pcb1.org PCB Listserv: pcb-l@yahoogroups.com

American Council of the Blind: 2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201 Voice: (202) 467-5081 or Toll free (800) 424-8666 from 2:00 p.m. to 5p.m. Monday through Friday. Fax: (202) 467-5085

For the latest in legislative and governmental news call: Washington Connection: (800) 424-8666 from 5:00 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and all day on weekends and holidays. ACB Website: www.acb.org Listserv: acb-l@acb.org

Return to Membership page