Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt 0000-00-00 00:00:00
No Lion Left Behind Tap Into an Often Overlooked Population At Tri-Village Lions Club meetings in Ohio, it’s OK to talk during a presentation. During a recent guest program, Lion Jane Jarrow relayed what was appearing on PowerPoint slides to the club’s six blind members. “A speaker was not making his slideshow presentation inclusive, so I sat at a table with the blind members present and did a running commentary, describing all of the slides for them,” Jarrow says. The Tri-Village Lions do a lot to ensure their visually impaired members are included. They help in cafeteria lines, offer rides to meetings and provide club mailings in a readable format, and they continue to learn how to become more accessible. Perhaps most importantly, the Lions welcome new members with disabilities who may normally be thought of as solely service recipients. The truth is, there are many potential Lions out there ready to be active, contributing members. They may just need to be invited and properly accommodated. Jarrow, who is a disability services consultant and the District 13 F Accessibility Committee chair, thinks part of the answer to why more people with disabilities aren’t invited to join the Lions lies in stereotypes: “They may think of people with disabilities as needing to be taken care of. It may be hard to imagine someone with a disability taking care of someone else. As Lions we can combat that stereotype and take every opportunity to highlight the disabled as the productive, contributing citizens they are. They have the same desire to give back to the community as do Lions everywhere.” After receiving help as a child from the Lions including a gift of a Braille typewriter, Gayle Adams knew she wanted to be a part of the organization. When she joined the Tri-Village Lions, within no time she was given a special job. “When they found out I have a good singing voice, they gave me the job of song leader right away,” Adams recalls. Even so, when it came to service projects, Adams was hesitant. “When I found out about a yard cleanup project I was thinking how cool it would be, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But, I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it. Jane picked me up and in the yard she directed me where to pull weeds and where not to. It was great, but we were worn out afterward,” Adams says with a laugh. Adams stresses that when those with disabilities are encouraged to serve and find their talents, they will gain confidence to do more. “Encourage them to speak up and voice their needs and ideas; help them get out of their shells,” she adds. It takes some thinking ahead and will require changes, both large and small, to be effectively inclusive. “All it really takes is thinking about how everyone will access an opportunity. Someone has to take responsibility for making sure that no one is left out,” Jarrow says. For instance, most Tri-Village Lions receive their club newsletter as a PDF, but the visually impaired Lions cannot read that format. So Jarrow emails them a version that is compatible with their screen readers. Accommodations like this mean a lot to Adams, and they help her to look toward her long-term future as a Lion—she hopes to develop her leadership skills and become a club officer. Did you know the LION is available in audio format? Visit www.lionsclubs.org and search for “LION audio recordings.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Recruiting+Members/1116643/118591/article.html.