Walt, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I would like some clarification from you regarding your reply to my post. since you believe there is an appropriate mechanism in place for representation, and you believe it to be adequate, do you know why there are no comments from them by this stage? I don't mean Mr. Cylke. I'm referring to our representatives themselves. Since I have learned of their existance, I would like to find out why they seem unaware of what is going on. Where can I locate the correct phone number and/or email address for my representative? According to my local library, each region only has one representative, and there are a total of 4 regions.
Another thing that I find troubling about what you've said is that the leadership of the ACB is actively saying that something's wrong. If our representation comes from within ACB and NFB, doesn't that indicate that our representatives are not able to advocate for us or participate in the future of such services> How does this fit with your understanding of how we are represented?
Furthermore, if I understand you correctly, you appear to think that the consumer organizations for the blind represent the blind community as a whole. Since there are quite a few people who belong to neither organization, what steps are taken to represent that segment of the population? From what I have been able to gather, there are a total of 4 blind people on the user panel, and I hardly think that four people can adequately understand or represent a community of our size and diversity of needs. We can't even get a list of this size to agree on what our needs are. Do you know if these representatives range in age, expertise with technology, and economic background?
Though I don't think we're quite ready for lobbying our lawmakers at this point, neither do I think that silence is appropriate. If my understanding of how things are being handled is wrong, then I'll be the first to change my opinion. For now, I don't see how this user panel is actually serving us as a whole and why they are not visible to us.
Finally, I fail to see how educating the public about our need for access to books is manipulative in a harmful way. Politicians make their case in the court of public opinion on a daily basis. It has been pointed out that NLS has had a small budget and that it is a lesser known agency that serves a small population. To me, raising public awareness of the literacy needs of blind people can only help us as a community, both by helping us to posibly get funding and by giving us a base to work from if advocacy does become necessary. I'd like to know why you see this as harmful.
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