By Tony Swartz
The 79th Annual Convention and Conference of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind is now behind us. I’d like to open with a word of gratitude to all of our members and volunteers who contributed to the success of our gathering. If I attempt to recognize all of those who in some way supported our efforts, I will inadvertently fail to mention someone. But be assured, if you lent assistance, your efforts were deeply appreciated. I do, however, want to recognize one organization that, when we hold our convention and conference in Johnstown, contributes in so many ways. This year, the Cambria County Association for the Blind and Handicapped and the Agency’s President/CEO, Richard Bosserman, provided training for the convention hotel staff and transportation to members to and from the convention tour venue. In addition, agency staff served as guides, assisting members to familiarize themselves with the hotel’s layout.
I wish to also express my appreciation and that of the organization to the Convention Program and Planning Committee and our Convention Coordinator, Thomas Reid, for a successful, informative, and well-planned event. The convention weekend was filled with special moments, but perhaps the most special for me was a presentation by our college students as they spoke about the trials and rewards of college life. Our students bring a unique energy to our conference and on Saturday evening during the Team Trivia event, they sure showed us how to have fun. Every student is welcomed in PCB. Both our state organization and our chapters have done their best to assist students with hotel and travel expenses, so I look forward to even greater student participation at next year’s convention.
I would ask that you take the time to read the Resolutions Committee report later in this edition. There you will find the text of Resolution 2014-01 which was presented and passed at this year’s convention. The resolution directs the leadership of our organization to investigate and, if necessary, seek remedy regarding those policies and procedures of the PA Civil Service Commission related to accessibility of testing and additional levels of qualification imposed on individuals with disabilities. The resolution’s creation and adoption was based on the experiences of several of our members. In future editions you will be kept informed of the results of our organization’s investigation and any actions taken.
Over the last two years, the PCB leadership has made a concerted effort to contact and involve our at-large membership. On the first Saturday of even months, PCB hosts a conference call to which all at-large members are invited. During the one hour call, at-large members are informed of PCB activities and events, and participate in discussions of various issues and topics related to the organization and advocacy. Beginning September 2014, and on the first Saturday of subsequent odd months, at-large members have been invited to call in to the conference line to participate in a general informal discussion. The call is facilitated by PCB at-large member Nancy Scott, who leads discussions related, in one form or another, to coping with blindness and low vision. Topics range from how tasks are accomplished by individuals who are blind or low-vision, to various informational telephone services, to discussions of the use of simple forms of technology and all topics in between. Conversations are informal and all who call in are given the opportunity to share ideas and to ask questions. If you are an at-large member and wish further details, or would like to receive a notice by phone or email regarding at-large conference calls, please call the PCB office at 717-920-9999 or toll-free at 877-617-7407.
A reminder to all chapter leaders: as we reach the end of the year, it is your responsibility to report your 2015 chapter membership to the PCB state office. If you haven’t yet done so, please contact the PCB office for further details regarding reporting procedures.
As I have done in previous winter editions, I ask each member to seriously evaluate your participation, renew your membership, request to change committees, or consider joining one of PCB’s standing committees. Please let the leadership know of your intentions by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel that you need to discuss your qualifications or interest in a particular committee, or if you feel that I could offer you some further guidance, please feel free to call me at 610-799-4565 any weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. As a member of a standing committee, you will be expected to participate in committee meetings and assist to accomplish the goals of the committee and the overall mission of PCB. All members of the organization, including members at large, are welcome and I encourage you to serve.
To all members of PCB and our friends and supporters, I close by offering my best wishes to all for a happy holiday season and good health and prosperity in the new year.