Sign up to our new distribution list!

Hello ACB members of Virginia,

This is a friendly reminder that our Yahoo Groups distribution list has shut down sometime ago. How does this impact you or what does this mean to you?   This means our previous distribution group list nova-acb and odcbvi lists are no longer active.  ACB has migrated the lists over to and we have migrated there too.

We encourage you to join our new distribution group if you have not already done so.  We have combined the two lists together to facilitate discussion throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

How can I be added to this new group?  There  are two options in joining our new ACB of Virginia list, the first is via email and the second is through the website.  Here are the instructions below:

Option 1:  To Join via Email.        

Step one: Open a new email. 

Step two: type in this email address in the To field:  

Step three: Some mail servers may require you to fill in the Subject field.  For example you can enter your first and last name.

Step four:  Click or select  the send button.

Step five:  You should receive a confirmation email from “”.  If you don’t see it in your inbox, check your junk or spam mailboxes.

Step six:  Open the confirmation email and read the instructions.

Step seven:  Reply and click or select  the send button.

option 2: Website.

Step one: open a new browser page.

Step two: type in the following URL address: and press enter.

Step three: Scroll down to the bottom until you reach ‘Join This Group’ and click or select the button.

Step four: in the Email Address field, enter your email.

Step five:  Scroll down until you find or hear ‘Confirm Email Address’ and click or select the button.

Step six: You should receive a confirmation email from “”.  If you don’t see it in your inbox, check your junk or spam mailboxes.

Step seven:  Open the confirmation email and read the instructions.

Step eight:  Reply and click the send button.

If you need any assistance in signing up, feel free to contact either Sam Johel or  Donna Browning at

American Council of the Blind Virginia – Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 14 from 10 AM to 3 PM

The ACB of Virginia cordially welcomes you to its annual membership meeting. To protect the health and safety of our membership while increasing involvement among the membership, this year’s meeting will be conducted on the Zoom platform. You can dial into the meeting using your computer or a phone. See below for details.

We are putting together some exciting and informative programming that is sure to educate and entertain. The ACB of Virginia annual meeting will take place from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Saturday, November 14, 2020. Per the organization bylaws, any amendments to the bylaws or resolutions to be proposed at the annual meeting must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the meeting. Please send any proposed amendments or resolutions to me by Wednesday, October 14 for distribution to the membership.

Here is the information for joining the meeting. If joining over the Internet, you should be able to click the link which will take you into the meeting. If joining by phone, you must dial the conference number and enter the meeting id and passcode. If the link doesn’t take you into the meeting, you will need to type the id or passcode manually.

Topic: ACB of Virginia 2020 annual meeting

Time: Nov 14, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 843 2010 8841

Passcode: 287848

One tap mobile< /o>

+13017158592,,84320108841#,,,,,,0#,,287848# US (Germantown)

+13126266799,,84320108841#,,,,,,0#,,287848# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 843 2010 8841

Passcode: 287848

Find your local number:

I look forward to speaking with you at the meeting and working to continue moving ACB of Virginia forward.


Sam Joehl,

President, ACB of Virginia

Virginia electronic voting

Everyone who needs an accessible absentee ballot should complete the absentee request form online and check the box that says you need assistance and provide your email or phone number.  The registrar is supposed to contact you to ask if you need an accessible electronic ballot. Alternatively, if you’ve already filled out the absentee application, you can call your local election official and tell them you want an accessible electronic ballot.  You will still get the paper absentee ballot packet with the return envelopes, so you can print your ballot and return it by mail.  I believe there will be 2 envelopes enclosed – you put your ballot in the privacy envelope and sign it anywhere. Then you put that in the outer envelope, which will have a tactile marking on it (like a hole punch, corner cut, or tactile sticker) so you can recognize it. And mail it back.

The guidance the state sent to local election officials is attached.

Please let us know if you experience any problems.

1)  Definitely keep sharing what you are experiencing when you try to get your ballot, and of course let us know if you get one and are able to vote.    The problems seem to be at the local registrar level, but let us know if there are problems beyond that

2)  You can also call or email disAbility Law Center VA to report the issue and get an advocate to join you on the call as a witness/advocate.  1-800-552-3962 (toll-free) or

3)  Tell everyone you know who needs to vote electronically to start the process and feel free to share the disAbility Law Center VA number with them for troubleshooting.  We aren’t sure if the state is doing effective outreach and we want to make sure everyone knows to request this, and to do it early so we have time to sort out these problems.

4)  We encourage you to submit written feedback to your registrar and the State about the process, and to send us that feedback as well.  VA is required to report on complaints and feedback as part of the consent decree.

For clarity, if you have a complaint or concern that you have direct knowledge of, or if a person who contacts you can provide details, please note the locality, the date of any calls or correspondence, and as much specificity as to the content of the conversation, and the names of the people with whom you speak.

Reach out if you have questions or need help.

accessible absentee voting in Virginia

Virginia Agrees to Provide Accessible Absentee Voting Option for Voters with Print Disabilities

The Commonwealth Agrees to Consent Decree for November 3rd Election that will Include Electronic Ballot Marking

August 31, 2020Alexandria, VA – The Commonwealth of Virginia committed to making the November 2020 election accessible and safe for voters who cannot mark a paper ballot privately and independently due to disabilities such as blindness. As a result of the lawsuit and preliminary injunction filed by several voters with disabilities, the American Council of the Blind of Virginia, and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, Virginia has agreed to provide an absentee ballot option that is accessible and can be marked electronically in time for the November election. Without Friday’s consent decree, these voters would be forced to either vote absentee with assistance, revealing their choices to another person and hoping that person correctly records their vote, or risk COVID-19 infection by travelling to the polls to vote in person. No voter should be faced with this untenable choice in order to exercise their right to vote.

On July 27, 2020, several voters with disabilities, the American Council of the Blind of Virginia, and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against the Commonwealth for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Virginia Disabilities Act. Today, Judge Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia accepted the consent decree agreed upon by the parties, which requires that the Commonwealth provide a remote access vote by mail tool that will allow voters with print disabilities to receive and mark their ballot electronically for the election on November 3rd. The consent decree also includes measures that the Commonwealth will take to ensure that the electronic ballot option is implemented across the state and that voters receive information about how to receive an accessible ballot.

Lori Scharff, a plaintiff in this case who was not able to vote privately and independently with Virginia’s current ballot options, stated “I am so thrilled with this outcome. There are so many hurdles to voting that people don’t realize exist. I am hopeful that this agreement will demonstrate to other states that all of your citizens should be able to participate privately and independently in our elections.”

Sam Joehl, President of the American Council of the Blind of Virginia stated: “We applaud the Commonwealth for quickly recognizing that the right to vote privately and independently is essential for voters with disabilities, especially in such a consequential election during a global pandemic. We hope the state will work with the local jurisdictions to make the option for remote electronic ballot marking available to all voters with print disabilities who require this option, and promote the availability of the system to these communities. ACB stands ready to work with the state to help blind voters in Virginia exercise their right to a private and independent vote.”

“As we continue our national fight for accessible absentee and mail-in ballots, we are pleased that Virginia will now be among the growing list of states where the right of blind voters to mark our absentee ballots safely, privately and independently is secure,” said Tracy Soforenko, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. “We urge all blind Virginians to exercise this fundamental right.”

 “Now people with disabilities in Virginia will be able to vote as if their lives depend on it – without risking their lives to do so,” said Eve Hill of Brown Goldstein & Levy..

Colleen Miller, the Executive Director of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, stated: “”All Virginians have the right to vote privately and safely. We look forward to working with the board of elections to make that right a reality.”

“My clients are courageous individuals with print disabilities who should be able to engage in activities many of us take for granted.” said Steven Hollman, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP. “That’s why it is especially gratifying to help ensure that they will be able to exercise the most cherished right offered in a democracy – the right to vote privately and independently — on equal terms with other voters.”

“The Washington Lawyers’ Committee is proud to represent a coalition of such strong advocates. We applaud the Commonwealth of Virginia for their efforts to work with our coalition,” said Maggie Hart, Counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee “Access to a private ballot is the foundation of our democracy and this consent decree reaffirms that our Constitution applies to everyone.”

The lawsuit was filed by the American Council of the Blind of Virginia and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, and individual plaintiffs including Carshena Gary, Lori Scharff, Regina Root, Ph.D., Naim Muawia Abu-El Hawa, and John Halverson, Ph.D.

Link to the press release here.

Link to the Joint Motion & Proposed Order for Consent Judgment & Decree (Final Order Pending) here.

Link to filed complaint here.

Counsel for this case include Eve L. Hill of Brown Goldstein & Levy, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.


About American Council of the Blind (ACB): The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Learn more by visiting

About Brown Goldstein and Levy: BGL provides the highest quality legal services to a broad range of clients, without sacrificing our sense of community and social responsibility. By elevating our clients’ voices and fighting for their rights, we seek to bring about a more just world – sometimes one dispute at a time, sometimes through systemic change.

About the disAbility Law Center of Virginia: disAbility Law Center of Virginia is the protection and advocacy agency charged by the state and federal governments, on behalf of people with disabilities, to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.

About National Federation of the Blind (NFB): The National Federation of the Blind, headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at

About Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP: Sheppard Mullin is a full-service Global 100 firm with more than 900 attorneys in 15 offices located in the United States, Europe and Asia. Since 1927, industry-leading companies have turned to Sheppard Mullin to handle corporate and technology matters, high-stakes litigation and complex financial transactions. In the U.S., the firm’s clients include almost half of the Fortune 100. For more information, please visit

About the Washington Lawyers’ Committee: Founded in 1968, The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. While we fight discrimination against all people, we recognize the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity and recognize the critical importance of identifying, exposing, combatting and dismantling the systems that sustain racial oppression. For more information, please visit or call 202.319.1000. Follow us on Twitter at @WashLaw4CR.

AIRA and ACB partnership!

Aira and ACB Partner with New Pricing for ACB Members

Link to Announcement:

Aira is proud to partner with the American Council of the Blind to make visual interpreting services available to more people. To encourage ACB members to try our service, we are extending special ACB Membership pricing from June 1 through December 31, 2020

ACB Member Intro Plan

  • Minutes: 30 per month
  • Price: $20.00 per month
  • Plan Share: no additional users 

ACB Member Enhanced Plan

  • Minutes: 140 per month
  • Price: $99.99 per month 
  • Plan Share: up to two additional users 

Plans are only available through our Customer Care Team. To qualify for these plans, one must be a member in good standing of the American Council of the Blind or its affiliates or chapters for the current membership year. Membership will be verified through our Customer Care Team.  

Aira provides visual information through our smartphone app and trained agents, 24/7, 365 days per year. Agents are screened and adhere to strict security protocols. Our app uses the camera of your smartphone plus GPS and other powerful tools to give you the visual information you need, on your terms. To learn more about Aira, visit our web site at or call our Customer Care Team at 1.800.835.1934.

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