Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Annual Meeting Highlights

October 22, 2020 American Printing House Episode 16
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Annual Meeting Highlights
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Annual Meeting Highlights
Oct 22, 2020 Episode 16
American Printing House

APH’s 152nd Annual Meeting took place early October in a virtual format, due to the current pandemic. Nearly 1,300 participants logged on to learn how to handle challenges brought on by COVID-19 to be successful in the future.

On this episode, we look back at the Annual Meeting which features: Dr. Craig Meador, APH President, State of the Company Address; the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field induction ceremony; a keynote speech from Tyler Merren, Paralympian; and several sessions and panel discussions.

Links:

Show Notes Transcript

APH’s 152nd Annual Meeting took place early October in a virtual format, due to the current pandemic. Nearly 1,300 participants logged on to learn how to handle challenges brought on by COVID-19 to be successful in the future.

On this episode, we look back at the Annual Meeting which features: Dr. Craig Meador, APH President, State of the Company Address; the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field induction ceremony; a keynote speech from Tyler Merren, Paralympian; and several sessions and panel discussions.

Links:

Jack Fox:

Welcome to change makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Paul Ferrara:

WELCOME BACK TO CHANGE MAKERS, A PODCAST FROM AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE. I’m Paul Ferrara, part of the Communications team at APH. During our 152nd Annual Meeting held earlier this month, APH President Dr. Craig Meador offered a powerful charge, reminding everyone in the field of blindness of the importance of their work as it relates to civil rights and social justice. We’ll listen in on those remarks later, but first we’ll recap Annual Meeting and replay some key moments. Be sure to check our show notes for links to full recordings from Annual Meeting. Due to COVID19, this was our first ever virtual Annual Meeting and while COVID has been a trying time for all of us, going virtual allowed us to host our largest Annual meeting ever, with nearly 1300 attendees, including advocates, educators, innovators, leaders and parents from the community of visual impairment. The theme for this year’s meeting was Better Together. Today we’re going to hear how, regardless of a pandemic, members of our field and community know that whether it’s leading or listening, celebrating or supporting, life’s successes and setbacks are not meant to be carried alone—our joys are greater and our burdens lighter when we face them together. Let’s begin with Dr. Meador summarizing the state of APH and describing our next steps with his three p’s: pandemic proof the practice, product/service balance, and partners.

Dr. Craig Meador:

We need to pandemic proof the practice. Okay, how's that for alliteration? So what I mean by that is we need to make sure our products, when our products launch, there is strong support. There are videos, there's curriculum. There are trainings that are all wrapped around that product. Another thing we need to do is we need to make sure that a lot of our products need to be what I call a plug and play. You need to be able to pull it out of the box and with less than 30 minutes of, or not 30 minutes to get that down 30 seconds, most people would be able to figure out what to do with that device. And I'm talking not just the trained professionals, all of you there in the room, but I'm talking about , uh, parents, I'm talking about , uh, the products we're producing. People should be able to open that box and say, Oh, I get it. This makes sense. So pandemic proof, the practice, developing those products that , uh, anyone can use, you don't need a 300 page manual to get us through there. And then also products that can, we can find replacement parts for real quickly. Uh, we're relying too much. We are in the middle of doing this. Um, what do we call it? It's a risk inventory. And basically it looks at every product that APH does. And it says, how many of those products require a manufacturer that you have no control over? And that's about 80% of products at APH. And so that's kind of scary as an agency. You need to figure out how to fix that situation. So we're going to pandemic proof, the practice, next one, product service balance. We're doing some of this and a lot of this with the hive and , uh, all the online trainings we're doing. Our goal we set this two years ago was we are pretty much APH has always been products first service, second or, you know, 70, 30, we're trying to move to a 50 50. That doesn't mean we're going to , um, do less of one. Basically. We're going to be doing more of service, bringing those up. And , and a lot of that, if we do, if we pandemic proof, a lot of that will naturally follow, but we also are going to be relying on our third P. Um, and that is our partners. We need you all more than ever. This is a , this is a, I won't say it's a big field. It's a small field with big responsibilities. Uh, the reach is enormous and gets bigger all the time and all of it , I'm telling you stuff you already know. So bear with me, but we need partners. We need content. We need trainers. We need the, to be able to grow , um, and strengthen everybody because I believe that's one of our responsibilities at APH too . We've been fortunate. We've we have a stable federal funding. We have , uh , a stable base from which to draw, and we have a historical base from which to draw. Therefore, we have a responsibility to the field to be a helping hand, to help all of you when you need it and to provide the level of support that you need to be successful in your job

Paul Ferrara:

Now, on to a panel discussion with leaders from the field of blindness. During that discussion, Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind provided some important observations about how workplace culture might change positively because of COVID19.

Mark Riccobono:

It has allowed us to think about the culture as we want it to be in the future. Uh, the culture as it's today is relevant, but , uh, how do we want it to evolve? And, you know, the Federation we went through , um, we took a hard look at our brand now seven years ago. And so this timing is kind of good because it fits into our evolution of what do we want our culture to be as , uh , as a membership organization. And how did the staff fit into that? Because at the, of the day, we're driven by thousands of members, the staff just support that they work for the members. So if we have staff working in , uh, Nebraska and Illinois and , uh, Minnesota, wherever, we can still plug them into the core of what we do through our local affiliates. So we're just being more intentional about how we do that. And I would say we're still evolving it in a way that makes sense for us. And , um, the staff are , are a key part of that. Um , the last thing I'd say is you have to continue to have fun with it, right? So , um, you have to allow people the space to have fun, even as we figure out what this new culture is going to be. So at our in-person staff meetings every month, we always , um , acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries and we sing, I don't know if any of you have ever tried to have a group sing on zoom but just try it sometime. You'll you'll know the experience. Uh, so now we're having a lot of fun with trying to figure out, well, what do we do instead? You know?

Paul Ferrara:

We thank Mark for sharing his insights, and of course, it's no surprise that members of our community are undaunted by new challenges in the workplace. As we mentioned in the previous episode, we had the pleasure of inducting two new members into the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. They are Kathleen M. Heubner and Ann MacCuspie. Here is James Deremeik, the Education/Rehabilitation Program Manager at Johns Hopkins, a faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and also the chair of the Board of Governors of the Hall of Fame, telling us about the Hall.

James Deremeik:

Good afternoon. And thank you and welcome to the 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony for leaders and legends to the blindness field. I'd like to begin by one congratulating, Kathy and Ann on an honor well-deserved. But before we get any further special, thanks, go to Craig Meador and American Printing House staff for allowing us one to again, tap onto the annual meeting, to host this event. And more importantly, their technology wisdom, and hopefully good luck will get us through this for the next 45 minutes or so, cause this would not have happened without the creativity and technology that APH has put forward. So Craig, thank you to you and your staff. To help begin, let me read to everyone in the mission statement, which basically personifies the work of the hall. The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring and promoting traditions of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and to the history of our outstanding services provided by people who are blind and visually impaired. We are approaching the 20th year in terms of the Hall of Fame being on a radar screen to our field. It was in July of 20 , uh , 20 of 2000 in Denver, Colorado, that there was a presentation made. That was a carry over from the Wisconsin AER . At that time, it was entitled Here Are Some Pioneers of the Blindness Field, the four individuals that help give us a solid footing and put this in front of the field where Mike Del Povich, Rod Tosic , John Maxson and Dean Tuttle. These individuals went and identified 32 folks that had made a major impact upon the field and education rehab and overall research and delivery service in that they created vignettes of the 32 leaders and presented that in a general session to the membership at the Denver AER meeting. From the Denver meeting, two seeds were planted that October 2001, the American printing house under Tuck Tinsley announced that they would provide a permanent home for the Hall of Fame in the old wing of the 1926 part of the building. This was a tremendous asset and giving the field, the home for the Hall of Fame to up to this point was a concept that just talk, but not an actual museum. I'd like to end with some words that one of the individuals that's done quite a bit in creating some of the biographies for our current inductees has put forth. In It he describes the Hall of Fame as the paths that our heroes have blazed and the legacies that they have provided with the purpose and meaning. So Dean Tuttle , thank you for putting such profound words and describing the folks that are a very select club that both Ann and Kathy will join tonight.

Paul Ferrara:

If you haven't already be sure to listen to our previous podcast to learn more about this year's inductees, Kathleen M Huebner and Ann MacCuspie here's APH museum director, Mike Hudson, introducing Kathleen Huebner.

Mike Hudson:

Our first inductee to the class of 2020 is Dr. Kathleen Mary Huebner known by her friends and colleagues as just Kathy. If we do enough in our long lives to merit it instead of a two page resume, we get a longer document summarizing our accomplishments called a vita, which I know from my long forgotten Latin classes is translates as life or maybe career if you like it. But I wonder if it's possible to summarize all that this amazing woman has done in her time on this earth in such a four letter word, her career has been as varied as it has been long. She has provided direct service to children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. She has served the field of blindness inside influential institutions. So essential to our progress, over the last 60 years, she has taught and led programs preparing the next generation of teachers of the blind and visually impaired. She's widely written about and published the results of her work and research and expanded the body of knowledge we all draw on to grow and improve our service, and she never stopped learning herself, studying and pursuing advanced degrees all while holding down demanding professional positions. And at the height of her academic and professional powers, she drew all those hard won lessons together to help lead two groundbreaking national initiatives that helped ensure the continued growth and vitality of the field.

Paul Ferrara:

And now let's hear from Kathleen herself.

Kathleen Huebner:

Helen Keller said "alone, we can do so little together, we can do so much." With that in mind, I would like to thank all of my past students, their families, my family, their, my friends, teachers, advisors , mentors, and colleagues with whom I have learned and greatly profited their guidance has led me throughout my life and my career. Since this is most likely the very last time I will have the opportunity to share some thoughts with all of you. I would like to put my teacher's hat on, of course, and share five guiding principles, which I have tried to practice. Although I often fell short, I encourage you to try to implement these five principles. As you provide services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. First always, always have the highest expectations possible for your students, your clients, your colleagues, and most of all for yourself. Second, be a strong and knowledgeable advocate for yourself, your colleagues and your students. Remember to follow the advice of Dr. Martin Luther King. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Third, be supportive of your students, colleagues, and again , yourself never hesitate to express positive feedback to all those with whom you work. Keep another Helen Keller quote, mind optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and competence. Fourth, always look for alternative strategies to accomplish your students as well as your own goals. Don't be afraid to be audacious and bodacious. Fifth, believe in the power of collaboration as it is essential to accomplishing the goals you have for your students and your clients. I am truly honored and humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends in the Field of Blindness. I am privileged to have personally known and benefited directly from interactions with and the readings by 37 of those inducted before. I have literally learned at the feet of many of them.

Paul Ferrara:

Next, Mike introduced Ann MacCuspie.

Mike Hudson:

Ann spent most of her career working for the same agency serving and leading it through the dramatic changes that affected the residential schools for the blind in the 20th century. She began her career as itinerant teacher of the visually impaired in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1972, the next year she joined the staff of the Halifax school for the blind teaching fourth grade. The residential schools were deep in transition. Only a few years earlier the number of children with visual impairment , uh, disabilities attending residential schools had slipped below 50% for the first time. That year enrollment in Halifax was 165. In 1975, the school changed from a private to a public institution and was renamed the Atlantic Provinces Resource Center for the Visually Handicapped. The Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority, that I'm going to use APSEA, the acronym, we love our acronyms was formed to oversee both the school for the blind and the school for the deaf. Um, and in 1 994, the residential programs at APSEA ended and all schools were mainstreamed. All students were mainstreamed. And Ann's role, u h, was changing t oo. In 1979. She began coordinating provincial programs f or APSEA and in 1995, she became the director for APSEA programs for students with visual impairments, a position she held until 2005. Ann was there to influence how children would be supported through the new service delivery model. The APSEA model of service delivery was such that students went to the school for limited periods of time to receive intensive assessment and instruction in disability specific skills. And then they returned with those newly acquired skills to their local school districts to continue learning alongside their peers. To this day, the APSEA model is held in high esteem by educators in Canada, as the inclusion of students with disabilities continues to be the focus of our educational s ystem. Ann's employment did not necessitate research a nd publication, but she felt a strong commitment to professional communication, especially sharing data for important d ecision m aking Ann' s writing and her research had a profound impact on the quality of training and professional learning among teachers of students with visual impairments in Canada, her groundbreaking book promoting acceptance of children with disabilities from tolerance to inclusion is widely cited. Her compassion for the social needs of her students and her devotion to making sure that those needs were met, h ave encouraged schools to think beyond mere academic preparation to include a more comprehensive preparation for success i n life. And Ann could always be counted on to join in big efforts, her leadership and work on the Canadian Braille Authority led to large grant awards for special p rojects projects. She was on the UEB implementation committee and played a key role in decisions regarding when and how the new code was to be adopted in Canada. And she became the Canadian voice in organizations, such as the AER and the International Council for People with Visual Impairments.

Paul Ferrara:

Let's listen to a few moments of Ann's remarks

Ann MacCuspie:

During my career, I was both blessed and challenged by the tremendous changes in the field. Things like early intervention for children, a formal program of orientation and mobility for children, adaptive technology change in the braille system, all those things which we had to incorporate in Canada. And we never , we have never had a federal agency in Canada that oversees this. So each province must work to , to develop their own services. And we in Atlantic Canada had the four provinces where we've worked very well together and shared with the other provinces of Canada. In Atlantic Canada our programs and services had to address the needs of approximately 800 children. These , uh, the services had to be provided in two official languages, English and French, and the delivery of , uh , services was over an area of 93,000 square miles. So you can imagine that we had lots of challenges as we moved from the residential school to off-campus services. And then I think one of our , uh , one of the most wonderful things that has happened in Atlantic Canada and a great accomplishment has been a formal connection between public schools, inclusive public schools and the special center where services are provided for those students in the public school systems. Needless to say, I'm very proud of the work we've done in Atlantic Canada and of the dedicated colleagues with whom I've worked. In the process of preparing my acceptance of this honor, I've had an opportunity to reflect on my career and the incredible benefits I have received by virtue of working in this field. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in special projects and committees throughout North America. And I'm pleased to say that even after retirement, many of the friends and colleagues that I met are still in touch and we do connect now and then, so that's a wonderful outcome of this profession. Throughout it all, what more could I ask of my career? But to know that I was an important part of a team that made a positive difference in others.

Paul Ferrara:

What an honor to add these legends into the Hall of Fame. Thank you, Kathleen and Ann, for your work and devotion to the field and to people who are blind and visually impaired. During another session, we discussed the effects COVID has had on services to students who are blind and visually impaired and reviewed the findings of a wide-ranging survey. Ohio State University Associate Professor, Dr. Tiffany Wild, read some of the feedback we received.

Dr. Tiffany Wild:

I think there is greater stress on the family system as well, simply because having a child with special needs is stressful. Even more. So if you're worried about developmental and educational regression and their medical vulnerability fragility, if they were to become infected with the virus.

Paul Ferrara:

We also heard some important words about how services to adults who are blind and visually impaired have been impacted throughout the pandemic. Supervisor of Training Services for the Nebraska Center of the Blind, Greg DeWall, shared this:

Greg DeWall:

Orientation and mobility of course is probably the hardest to adjust to. And I'll get back to that in a moment. But for our , our braille class, for example, that one was fairly simple. Um, you know, our, our braille teacher was able to connect with the students and via phone or via zoom , like many others are doing have the student read to her answer questions. The students would do their writing assignments. I would go to the apartments once a week, pick up the writing assignments and then bring them back to the braille instructor. So that one goes fairly easy. Uh, technology, of course, that was easy because you to do a lot of things remotely, you could sign into the computer , uh, work on things remotely. There was a big increase in technology skills, as Liz mentioned, because so quickly we had to get caught up with zoom and start doing things over zoom or over face time. Um , of course we used the conference lines a little bit as well, but most of what we did was over zoom, or over FaceTime or Skype, those types of , um , programs. Uh, home management, that, that one was a little, that one took a little bit of a working out. Um, one thing we did right away is we bought phone cradles or cell phone stands for all the apartments in our residential center and the home management instructor and I went into all the apartments and we experimented with different areas in the apartment that we could put the phone cradle to get the best view of what the student is doing. So that way we could continue with doing cooking lessons, cleaning lessons , um, you know, all those daily living skills activities. And as I said, we , we did it from finding the best view in the apartment where we could get a view of everything that the student would be doing and so that way home management and daily living skills were able to continue.

Paul Ferrara:

During our first general session, APH Museum’s Mike Hudson spoke about our 2-year journey to receiving AFB’s Helen Keller archives and what those archives and Helen Keller mean to APH and the world.

Mike Hudson:

And make no mistake. The Helen Keller brand is incredibly valuable. Here's a rough way to understand how the Helen Keller brand compares to that of the American Printing House for the Blind. On Facebook, the APH site has 6,291 followers. The official Helen Keller Facebook page that AFB created has 107,000. That's a factor of 17. If you type an internet search in quotes for APH, you get 173,000 results. Type in Helen Keller and you get 9,820,000. That's a factor of 56. Now, often when visitors, especially school kids and their teachers arrive in the museum. They want to see our Helen Keller exhibit because they've been studying her at school. Before we had t wo artifacts. And when we were creating our collecting plan a few years ago, when we did our S WOT analysis, we acknowledged that AFB and in a smaller way, the Perkins School in Boston o wned the Helen Keller brand in such an absolute manner that it would be futile to even try to build our collection i f belonged to them. And that's all there was. And now it sits behind me here in our newly installed storage room, all of i t. So what are we talking about? What is the collection? I t's j ust the world's largest repository of letters, speeches, press clippings, scrapbooks photographs, architectural drawings, artifacts, and audio, visual materials related to Helen Keller numbering to about 41,581 items and held in roughly 310 record boxes. It includes her letters to, and from such notables as Alexander Graham bell, Pearl Buck, Mark Twain will Rogers, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Woodrow Wilson, and many, many others. It includes scripts and screenplays of films, television programs, plays, and radio programs starring or about Helen Keller. I t includes files about things named for her, including a Helen Keller Club, Helen Keller School, H elen Keller coin, Helen Keller day, Helen Keller Memorial fund, Helen Keller Memorial hospital, Helen Keller Memorial week, Helen Keller Rose, Helen Keller quilt, you get the idea. It includes drafts, manuscripts and correspondence resulting from her 11 books and countless articles and 475 speeches that Keller made between 1902 and 1961 on topics such as faith, rehabilitation, blindness prevention, birth control philosophy, and yes, atomic energy. It includes 10 boxes of press clippings. It includes architectural plans of her homes over 2000 separate photographs, 23 photo albums, 25 audio recordings and three films. It includes 250 artifacts, including sculptures of her hands paintings, gifts from dignitaries all over the world and boards. And something that I just found the other day, which I just found amazing. And, u h, u h, in the collection, u h, is a number of books, hundreds of them actually from Helen's personal library. And there a re some s urvivors in there that are quite interesting. This is a copy of a book of poetry called Darkwater. I'm not sure if you can see that or not in the light here, Darkwater, by the, u h, u m, civil rights activist, W. E. B. Du Bois. And when you o pen the book up inscribed carefully on the inside, it says in both print and braille, very sincerely yours, W. E. B. Du Bois. 16, April, 1925. I have known you unknown since 1890. I have known you unknown since 1890. I found that incredibly romantic. U m, here's this very interesting gentlemen, very h istoric figure. U m, u h, who in his mind had known Helen even since she was a little kid, her story had inspired him.

Paul Ferrara:

Did you know you can see the contents of those archives on your computer? AFB has digitized the entire collection. Look for the link in the show notes. We also had the pleasure of honoring artists who are blind and visually impaired during our InSights Art Ceremony. We received 202 pieces of art this year with 56 artists receiving jurried awards. The winners, with some funny stuff mixed in, is available on YouTube. Again, you can find the link in our show notes. It should go without saying that our keynote address provided some great highlights for the event. Our keynote speaker, Paralympian Tyler Merren, encouraged everyone to decide on the possible and find the champion within ourselves.

Tyler Merren:

And that takes us to this next point. You know, my friend taught me that you can't let fear decide for you. And what he did is he took that next step. And , and literally the verb take, okay, taking full ownership of the situation, taking full ownership of your life. So, you know, as I got a little bit older, again, vision was decreasing. We moved from the farm , uh, quote , unquote into town, right? Where into town was that we had one stoplight, literally. Like everybody says, yeah, one stoplight well that's, that's literally what we had. And I moved from a , uh, an area where the houses weren't a mile apart, but they were 300 yards apart. We lived on a street where cars went very fast and , and pretty much I was at my house. Like I was kind of trapped there. I had a friend who came over and visit me. So this is a different friend, another mentor, again, better together. Right. We are sharing our experiences. My friend comes over and he's hanging out and he's like, so what do you want to do? I was like, I don't know. We're kind of stuck in the house. We want to just play some video games. He's like, no, he's like, what are you what's downtown? I was like, well, not much, but we can't really get there. He said, why not? And I was like, well, I don't know. And then he's like, all right, cool. Get your jogging shoes on. Let's go. And we did. We ran , uh , as far away from the street, as we could stayed on the edge, we jog two miles into town and just had a really good time with it. Right? We I'd showed him like, Hey, there's the ice cream shop. And there's the dollar store. There's I guess not much else here, but you know, it was a lot of fun. And what I learned from that is that the second step to seeing that true champion within yourself is taking full ownership. The first look beyond that fear, don't let fear decide for you. And the second is take full ownership. I decided then and there that I wanted to learn how to use a cane and learn to read braille, because that was something I was going to need in life. And here's the, the nutshell , uh, concept of this. Nobody is going to take success for you. You have to take it for yourself. Take full ownership of your situation and own who you are as a person and what happens in your life do not allow your circumstances to dictate and put you in a box, right? And once you are in that position where you're saying, okay, I'm going to take full ownership of my life. I am going to be responsible for who I am and what I become the next step becomes, decide. Okay, well, decide what? The great Henry Ford was quoted to say, "whether you think you can do a thing or whether you think you can not, you're right." And essentially what he's saying is it's up to you, what you're capable of. So that third step to , to seeing the champion within, to , to bringing that champion out is decide that it's possible

Paul Ferrara:

Before we play our final highlight from Dr. Meador, please look out for our next episode of Change Makers on November 5th. We’ll talk about our ongoing series of webinars called Access Academy and about the APH Hive where we will house various educational offerings for the benefit of everyone in the field. Don’t forget to check the show notes for full recordings of the Annual Meeting and until next time, be sure to look for ways you can be a change maker. We will end this episode with Dr. Meador’s call for everyone in our field to remember that our work is important in the struggle for civil rights and justice. Thank you, Craig, for this timely reminder!

Dr. Craig Meador:

All right. I want to , uh, to talk a little bit, I'd be remiss if I didn't about Louisville and , uh, cause many of you , um , have been following the news. And so I have a slide up here that says the ties that bind us together and some closing thoughts. Several of you have asked that have been watching the news as to the events that have , uh, gone on in , in Louisville, these, these many, many days. And some of you are from cities that have been impacted in similar fashions. And so I have two pictures up here right now. One is , uh , fourth street and this was taken a few weeks ago and there's windows are mostly boarded up and there's barricades up. And then to the right, you see a gathering of , uh , protesters during one of the nightly , uh, meetings. Um, we have had over 130 nights of protests , but I am proud to say very few, almost very few of those had been violent. The majority of them have been incredibly peaceful. Um, and I've had the opportunity and have been invited down to several of those events and it is just an amazing thing to be a part of. And , uh , so I want to talk a little bit about what we're going through because at first I was, you know, when we're thinking the annual meeting, we're like, Oh, we'll get everybody here. We'll get things back to normal, be so good to see you. And then when the reality came is that you're not coming. We thought, well, maybe it's for the best because the city is in such uproar right now. And wouldn't it be embarrassing if you came here and everything was boarded up. And then the more I thought about that, the sadder I became, because I thought, you know, there's a, there's a tie with what's happening in Louisville and in , in Wisconsin and in pretty much every major city in the US right now. And it really ties back to our field, ties back to our field. Louisville's like most major cities. Um, I, I would be the first to say, there's systemic racism throughout all the city . That's not saying there's lots of bad people. We do have some of those too, but it flows through all aspects of our community. If we're truly honest with that, we know that to be true. We know that to be true. But like I said, we've had 130 days of , of protests and it's very different than what's portrayed on, on many of the news channels. It's , it's frustrating to participate in some of this stuff and go back and you turn on CNN or any of the other stations? You're like, Oh gosh, you got it wrong. You got it so wrong. That is not what happened. We were right there. That's not what happened, but that happens. You know, the news is basically soundbites and, and uh , quick hits and you're missing the whole story. So I don't want to politicize, this is not my, my idea, but I want to connect you with Louisville at a deeper level. And this ties back to our field. So I'll catch my breath and then we'll go , Um , our field field that , uh, you and I are so privileged to serve in our field was built upon the idea that blind and visually impaired people would have equal access to education, work opportunity. And we've had many giants in our field that stood up and determined that this idea of second class citizenship Would never, ever be. Okay. So you had people like Helen Keller, Robert Irwin , Bob Atkinson , um, who all had a hand in moving legislation forward. Um, we had many later voices. You, you had , uh, Ken Jernigan again , and many others that would make sure that this work would continue for to this day. I mean, this is a lot of what the Kirk Adams does and Mark Riccobono and Eric Bridges, and the many other agencies out there that are continuing to be that voice in Congress and continuing to be that voice , uh, on the streets and in the cities about this idea of equity and rights. And then you have people like us, or I should say people like me, cause not everybody that's watching, this has sight, but I would consider myself , uh , uh, an ally, sighted ally. And we've been a part of this movement from the beginning to , and if you look at the Hall of Fame , uh, we had two great candidates who were introduced to that last night. Um, but if you reach way back, you find Migel, you find Hall, you find Howe , um, you know, there's there . And I count all of you in there too. You're all drawn to this field or you fell into this field and you could not leave. Occasionally. Some of us will leave the field for a while or some will leave the field, but they usually find themselves in another movement , um, that is doing similar work. And there's this connection. And what I want to say is, is this connection is basic civil rights. I think we all know that. So what is going on in our nation right now, as many parallels to the work that you do every day, you are fighting against biases in the system. You're fighting For your students, your clients, your parents , families, you believe they deserve better. And you're working hard to create that you want fairness and you want a level playing field that is very often denied. You are all civil rights advocates. So without getting too political, I want to leave you with one thought. And that is the work you do be it, special education, adult services, rehab, whatever you want to call. It's all about the work of civil rights and civil rights is all about social justice.