The Big Country Chapter works to improve the lives of blind people in the counties surrounding the city of Abilene, which Forbes rated to be among the top 25 best places to retire.
Despite this ranking, even Forbes noted the lack of walkable neighborhoods, which has posed a barrier for blind residents. Over the past 30 years, neither city crews nor private construction companies built sidewalks. In 2008, Mary Kindrick, the chapter’s founding president, successfully led the chapter’s advocacy efforts with the Abilene City Council to create an ordinance that mandated the creation of sidewalks in front of new construction. In 2015, the voters approved a 5-year, $3.8 million campaign to expand the number of sidewalks. The chapter has celebrated these accomplishments at the annual White Cane Day celebration and has thanked city officials for involving its members (and others with disabilities) in the South First Street Redevelopment Project. The group will continue to push for increased transportation options for all residents—including the blind, those with other disabilities, and seniors—in the area.
In light of the upcoming transition of independent living services from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, the chapter regularly features updates and hosts conversations with staff from the local Center for Independent Living. Members will continue to advocate for one another, for the needs of other blind Texans, and for higher qualifications of CIL staff.
In the coming months, the chapter hopes to continue its outreach efforts with local medical providers, groups and societies to demonstrate that blind people can live active, productive lives.
The chapter serves several towns in West Texas, including: Anson, Baird, Buffalo Gap, Cisco, Sweetwater, Tuscola, Tye, and Winters
Meeting Location: Mezamiz Coffee House (3909 South 7th Suite C, Abilene, TX 79605)
Time: 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month
Chapter President: Mary Kindrick, , (325) 513–9550
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