American Council of the Blind

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The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is a nationwide organization in the United States. It is an organization mainly made up of blind and visually impaired people who want to achieve independence and equality (although there are many sighted members with common aims).


The American Council of the Blind was formed out of the dissolution of the Braille Free Press Association in 1961. Braille Free Press had been set up in 1959 and had probably been the widest-read publication for the blind. It was highly critical of the American Foundation for the Blind, and the ACB was formed as an alternative to it.

The ACB was also very critical of the National Federation of the Blind which many of its first members had also originally belonged to. Relations between the two organizations have been strained ever since—to the extent that they tend to schedule their conventions at the same time, to deter people from being active in both organizations.[1]

In 2013 the ACB elected Kim Charlson as its first female president, making her the first female president of a major national blindness consumer advocacy organization in the United States.[2][3]


The ACB counts its membership in the tens of thousands—including that of its 71 affiliate organizations. Membership is open to any citizen or resident of the USA as well as interested persons in other countries. The ACB says it "welcomes diversity" in its membership and that it "is not restricted in any way."

Each year, many of its members gather in a major American city for a convention. (In 2006 it was held in Jacksonville, Florida and in 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

State affiliates[edit]



The ACB has worked towards full civil rights for the blind. It prefers to act through negotiations, but its members have taken part in demonstrations, marches, and other public acts to draw attention. Representatives from p ACB took part in the Solidarity March for labor and the national march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment for women. They marched with other disability rights groups down Pennsylvania Avenue in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The organization gives out scholarships to college students each year.

Lawsuit to make U.S. currency accessible[edit]

One example of the differences between the ACB and NFB concerns the question of making U.S. currency more accessible to blind persons. In 2002 the ACB filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury alleging it to be in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act on account of the Treasury's "repeated and continuing failures to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people."[5]

The National Federation of the Blind opposed the lawsuit, asserting in its Resolution 2002-25 that "blind people are apt to suffer great harm from the attendant publicity surrounding this suit, fostering and reinforcing the notion that the blind cannot easily handle currency as it now exists and, for example, needlessly creating an albatross around the neck of any blind person seeking employment in any position involving handling money."[6]

On November 28, 2006, Judge James Robertson, trying the suit in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in the ACB's favor. Robertson directed that a status conference be held in which the Treasury and the ACB would work together to devise a remedy. The Treasury appealed the decision.

On December 12, 2006, the NFB responded to the ruling with a press release asserting that "United States currency does not discriminate against blind people" and calling Judge Robertson's decision "dangerous and wrong."[7]

On May 20, 2008, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld Judge Robertson's decision,[8] that the United States does discriminate against blind people because its paper money consists of bills that are all the same size regardless of denomination.[9]


External links[edit]