The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading membership organization of blind and visually impaired people. It was founded in 1961 and incorporated in the District of Columbia.
Members: The Council’s membership numbers in the tens of thousands. The majority of its members belong to one or more of its 71 affiliated organizations. There are also members-at-large. Membership is not limited to blind or visually impaired individuals. There are many sighted members. Legal blindness is a requirement to serve on the ACB Board of Directors (with the exception of the Secretary and Treasurer positions).
Affiliates: ACB has 51 state and regional affiliates and 20 national special interest and professional affiliates. The state/regional groups meet statewide once or twice yearly and many of these organizations also have local chapters. Many of these local chapters meet monthly. The national special interest affiliates meet annually during the ACB national convention and many of these groups have state/metropolitan chapters.
Mission: The Council strives to improve the well-being of all blind and visually impaired people by: serving as a representative national organization of blind people; elevating the social, economic and cultural levels of blind people; improving educational and rehabilitation facilities and opportunities; cooperating with the public and private institutions and organizations concerned with blind services; encouraging and assisting all blind persons to develop their abilities and conducting a public education program to promote greater understanding of blindness and the capabilities of blind people.
Publications: The Braille Forum is a free monthly national magazine with a readership of approximately 26,000. It is produced in braille, large print, cassette, and IBM-compatible computer disc and contains articles on employment, legislation, sports and leisure activities, new products and services, human interest and other information of interest to blind and visually impaired people. The Council produces a monthly half-hour radio information program, ACB Reports, for radio reading information services. It also distributes TV and radio public service announcements highlighting the capabilities of blind people.
Services: Countless numbers of blind and sighted people benefit from these and other ACB services:
Toll-free information and referral on all aspects of blindness
Scholarship assistance to blind/visually impaired post-secondary students
Public education and awareness training
Support to consumer advocates and legal assistance on matters relating to blindness
Leadership and legislative training
Consulting with industry regarding employment of blind and visually impaired individuals
Governmental monitoring, consultation and advocacy including the “Washington Connection,” a national legislative hotline
Annual national convention
Issues: Some of the major issues in which the American Council of the Blind is or recently has been involved include:
Advocating for improved education and rehabilitation services for blind children and adults
Implementation and Enforcement of Americans with Disabilities Act of1990
Advocating for improved health care for blind and visually impaired individuals
Promotion of accreditation of agencies serving blind people
Advocating for improved services to older blind Americans to enable them to live independently outside of costly institutions
Litigation to preserve and expand employment of blind persons as fast- food service operators through the Randolph-Sheppard Act
Encouraging the production and use of reading materials in accessible media including braille, recording and large print
Reauthorization and expansion of the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit legislation which grants tax benefits to employers who hire persons with disabilities
Training of airlines personnel on how to serve blind passengers, and implementation of Air Carriers Access Act
American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services
The American Council of the Blind operates a chain of thrift stores, the profit from which goes to support the mission of ACB. Currently there are eight stores:
Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas
Detroit, Michigan (three stores)
The ACB Thrift Stores accept tax-deductible donations of all types of clothes, shoes, working appliances (electric only), furniture, toys, TV’s and small electronics, jewelry, books, art, exercise equipment, lawn and garden equipment, dishes and other kitchen items, bedding and miscellaneous items. All stores will pickup material at your home.
All items are cleaned up to the best of our ability and sold through the stores. The profits of the stores are used to support ACB services such as scholarships to blind and low-vision persons (over twenty scholarships are awarded annually), ACB Internet Radio, the Braille Forum (a free monthly magazine for the blind, published in Braille, large print and cassette versions), and advocacy for the disabled in general and the blind in particular. ACB also assists newly blind persons learn to cope with the challenges of blindness, with job re-training and with the use of technology.