Archive for September, 2012

Media and Outreach

September 20, 2012

Today was World Day on the Mall in Lincoln, which was really more like “World Day in the Arena” since Centennial Mall is under construction. A couple of us put together a little slide show, and we brought our usual brochures and other things to help illustrate that blind people are pretty much the same as everyone else, and spent our requisite 4 hours at the table.

I was all kinds of excited, because events like this always bring out some of the best “how do blind people do this” questions. I was sadly disappointed this time; no one asked me how I go to the bathroom, and no one even asked if blind people have sex. (True story, can’t make this stuff up.) And, while Kayde’s dog did get lots of attention, no one asked if she can read signs or if she has a boyfriend. But I didn’t go home empty handed.

This guy came up to the table and says that he saw us on the bus yesterday. This is impossible, since I didn’t leave my house yesterday and definitely didn’t take the bus, but I understand that time sometimes blurs together so I’m not sure if he saw us on the bus on a different day or a different set of blind people on the bus yesterday. Regardless, he took a Kernel Book and started talking to us. It was all pretty normal stuff, until, “So do blind people have a designated religion?” There are just so many things I could have said, had this guy not been one of those nice old men who just doesn’t know. The first thing that came to mind was, “Do blonds have a designated religion?” closely followed by Kayde’s suggestion, “Yes, we must all practice Braillism.” But I had absolutely no fun with it and told the guy that I’d met blind people who were Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

One thing that World Day on the Mall reminded me about was what a diverse community Lincoln is. I saw at least two groups of people who spoke Chinese, and got to explain to them about Braille. I also saw at least one Spanish speaking woman, and it was neat that one of our Latina friends, who happened to be working at a table directly across from us, was there to help explain things and give her a positive impression of blind people. It did make me wish we had some materials out in other languages, and I’m making a mental note to ask my state president about ordering some materials from the NFB in Spanish, at the very least.

The other thing that preparing for this event brought home to me was just how much we don’t do with the media we have as an organization. I’m guilty of it too, we take all these pictures and they get buried on our personal cameras never to be seen again. If we’re really ambitious the pictures might make it onto Facebook, or into a folder on our personal computers or the servers at the national office. But, as far as I know, we really don’t have a lot of good material put together for events like this. Most of the videos we have are designed to be played for our members, or obvious prospective members. As many cool things as the Youth slam videos highlight, they’re each at least 15 minutes long. They’re not designed to catch someone’s attention as they’re walking by a table. I would love to see us put together a PowerPoint of pictures from events we have, particularly on a national level. Things like Youth Slam could have a PowerPoint that was prepackaged and could be downloaded from the website. Ideally this would contain some of the cool pictures we get, along with captions so they meant something to the blind people manning the table, along with short video clips showing blind people participating in these awesome programs. Another option would be to have a database containing all the pictures, again with captions, and videos we get from these events. Members could be given access upon request, and we could build our own presentations from there. This has the advantage of allowing members to tailor a presentation to an event, but it does mean that putting together the presentation would take a fair bit more time and effort since there would be thousands of videos and pictures to dig through. Honestly, I think the best option would be a combination of prepackaged presentations and access to individual pictures for those of us who want to make presentations for a specific event. But, whatever solution we go with, I think we need to do something to beef up our outreach efforts and grab attention. We have all these awesome events we put on, and so much innovative stuff we’re working on, and I would love to see us have the ability to share that with the general public in a way that’s engaging for them.