You Hear It All the Time- Making a Difference

You Hear It All the Time – Making A Difference

You often hear people say “I want to make a difference in this world”. Representatives from the Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind gave our legislators from Tennessee in Washington an opportunity to do just that! The American Council of the Blind conducts a legislative seminar each year regarding important issues that affect the blind and visually impaired across this great country. MTCB sent four members to meet with each legislator or their legislative aids to discuss these issues. Can you imagine if only approximately five percent of printed material was available to you? Due to certain copyright laws, that is the case for the blind and visually impaired. The Marrakesh Treaty would allow authorized entities to make available most printed materials in a format accessible to the blind and visually impaired community. Students will have access to more text books and employees to materials vital to their employment. This treaty will also allow for the authorized export of materials from country to country.

Naturally, we all want to live in a sighted world, but as that is not the case, blind and visually impaired children deserve the best possible education to live safe, productive lives. The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act (HB 4040) fulfills the promise of a truly appropriate education for students who are blind or visually impaired. These students would receive valuable training and instruction from qualified teachers in areas such as braille, orientation and mobility, assistive technology, and social and independent living skills. The future will be brighter for these youth and as they are our future as well, brighter for us also!

I’ve heard it said that there is no better time to be blind or visually impaired than now – why you ask? The answer is assistive technology. Imagine you live alone and have no one and no way to read your mail – even the most personal of items. But, imagine there is a device called an optical character reader that would read most mail to you. This is just one example of the incredible devices available to the blind and visually impaired that would make their lives safer, easier, and more independent and even improve employment opportunities. However, most of these devices are over $500.00 which is an enormous price when living on a fixed income. We were advocating in Washington for a change in Medicare exclusions (HB 729) that at least some of these devices are purchased for qualifying Blind and visually impaired individuals. The simple right to privacy in reading one’s own mail that most citizens have is not an option for many in our unsighted world.

We at MTCB will not give up on making a difference for our blind and visually impaired citizens! Those words mean a great deal to us as they impact our everyday lives in a multitude of ways. We will continue to go to Washington and advocate for these and other changes and we will make a difference! Peggy Ivie Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind

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