Community Calls

In my last post, I mentioned the Community Calls that The American Council of the Blind, (ACB) sponsors. Because I’m no longer part of the decision-making mechanism, I don’t know whose idea it was to create this service, but they deserve big-time recognition at the national convention in July. We all have learned the importance of face to face communication because of the necessity to curtail it for our own health. But we found that it was also creating mental and emotional problems that were just as big as the Corona virus itself.

As human beings, we need to be with other human beings, to have live conversations, to have interactions, and to be touched. Unfortunately, the third important need had to be postponed except for families and those who live together, but we found ways to communicate with live conversations and interactions. Zoom became a household word and became a life-saver in a very literal sense.

Business meetings were the first to utilize the platforms such as Zoom, but then social meetings began to use it as well. I was drawn into Zoomland by my writers group, my book club, a story-telling group, and even opening presents on Christmas Day. I watch my church service and participate in my Sunday school and Bible study groups via Zoom. I think it’s the best thing to come along since the telephone. Years ago, I would have thought the whole concept was kind of science fictiony. Now, I owe much of my survival of sheltering in place to this wonderful invention.

ACB came to the rescue for thousands of blind individuals all over the world who were stuck at home with very little social interaction on a daily basis. I was one of them. I’m not sure how I heard about these social meetings that were going on all day, every day, but once I logged on, I knew I had discovered a treasure. Some of these hour-long “Community Calls” are designed to educate, like recipe swaps, dog guide handlers’ discussions, technology webinars, yoga classes, mental health lectures, guitar lessons, knitting groups, and book chats. Many others are designed to help people get to know one another with games and reminiscing stories, all hosted and facilitated by ACB volunteers. These sessions, all of them are truly building a community. Everyone, who wants to, has a chance to talk, and while email addresses and phone numbers are not shared during the calls, there is a way for individuals to connect for private conversations. Talking to your computer is not the same as having coffee in your neighbor’s kitchen, but it’s far better than watching TV for hours or even listening to talking books, although there is a place for both .

Now that the Y has opened up, although the hours are limited, and social distancing makes it a bit awkward at times, and now that some restaurants have survived, and that most of my friends have been vaccinated, I expect that I will not be so dependent on the Community Calls, but I sincerely hope that they continue for people who are not as fortunate as I am and don’t have the opportunities I enjoy. And there are some that are my favorites, and I will treat them like a favorite TV show.

Thank you ACB for making this past year and a half bearable a

Mary Hiland

Author of

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: a Daughter’s Memoir

And

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life

Available at www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland

www.seeingitmyway.com

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