Interview with American Council of the Blind of Indiana’s President John Huffman

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Today we would like to introduce John Huffman, the current president of the American Council of the Blind of Indiana.  After earning his degree in Political Science at Indiana University and obtaining his Master’s in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois, John worked for over 33 years in human resources or equal employment opportunity.  Besides Indiana, John has also lived in Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.  He is married with one son.

INDATA: Are you an Indianapolis native?

John: I’m originally from nearby Lebanon, Indiana, but attended 12 years’ schooling in Indianapolis and have lived here approximately 16 years as an adult.

INDATA: How did you become involved with the American Council of the Blind?

John: I was invited to join ACB of Indiana at its formation in 1972.  Frequent relocations limited involvement; however, I was active with the Cleveland, Ohio ACB chapter (1987-91) before rejoining ACBI in 2000.

INDATA: What type of work does the ACB do?

John: The ACB, nationally and through state, local and special interest affiliates works in various ways to benefit the community of people who are blind or visually-impaired.  We advocate for both federal and state legislation to improve services for blind and visually impaired, protect civil rights of all persons with disabilities and improve access to our environment and to information technology.  We strive to educate the general public to both the capabilities and accommodation needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.  We work with service providers to improve rehabilitation and other services to blind consumers.  When necessary, we advocate on behalf of individuals to ensure that they receive goods and services needed to improve their productivity or access to goods that will increase their ability to participate in the larger society on terms of equality.

INDATA: What kinds of assistive technology devices do you use to read, travel, use the computer, etc?

John: I am a white cane user and generally feel comfortable when needing to work with sighted guides.  I use screen reading software and a Braille display for computer access.  I am a longtime Optacon user for direct access to printed/typed materials.  I also make extensive use of Braille or recorded materials when these are available.

INDATA: What activities do you enjoy in your free time?

John: I read extensively in a number of fiction and non-fiction genres.  I like music and have sung in choirs in every church of which I have been a member.  I keep and enjoy a large collection of music on LPs and compact discs.  I enjoy walking and swimming.

INDATA: What are some ways people can support the blind community?

John: Drivers could become more knowledgeable of “rules of the road,” especially as they relate to the safety of pedestrians.  Members of the general public could work to increase their use of public transportation and join in advocating for better-funded and expanded mass transit systems.  Employers could undertake to learn more about the potential of blind and visually-impaired people in their enterprises.  All people could strive for better understanding that those of us who are blind, like the rest of society, are people first, who happen to be blind.  We come in all shapes, sizes and colors, every faith and political stripe—including none at all, and we vary enormously in our interests and abilities.

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