By Jonathan Craig

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Welcome to the first edition of Blind Citizens News for 2019. The first of four. It has been nearly 12 years since this magazine was last published quarterly, and though it was one of my goals when I took on this role, I wasn’t at all sure we could manage it. So though I’ve already discussed this on New Horizons, I am going to take a few moments here to explain why I think this is such an important milestone.

When, just over a year ago, Emma Bennison first offered me this role, I was as terrified as I was tempted. I didn’t feel I had the leadership skills of the Editors I’d known, and worried that my age and comparative lack of experience would raise very reasonable questions for some members. Should a 27-year-old be put in charge of BCA’s flagship publication? Can someone so new to BCA appreciate the importance of its work?

Of course, I soon found that my misgivings were misguided. As Emma had likely predicted, many of you felt that new blood was exactly what the magazine needed. My barrage of ideas has been met with respect and enthusiasm, and staff and members have worked as hard as I have to bring some of them about. I’ve also been gratified by the support I’ve received from some of our community’s most accomplished leaders. But the most rewarding part of my job thus far, which I could never have imagined a year ago, has been the incredible support I’ve received from all of you.

We’re resuming quarterly publication thanks to your renewed engagement and enthusiasm. You answered my calls for submissions with so much brave, thoughtful and intriguing work that one of my greatest challenges has been finding space to publish it all. Feedback around my first two issues has been overwhelmingly positive, and shows that all of you share my belief in what Blind Citizens News can achieve.

Reaching this goal isn’t my victory, and I can take very little credit for it. All my education and skill would have had no impact if there weren’t a proactive and vibrant community for me to work with. In these loud and complex times, cynicism and apathy can feel like self-preservation. As a group, we resisted those temptations, even after a period of internal strife, and started talking about what to do next.  I believe that’s a victory for all of us.

So whether you’re a reader or writer, thank you for everything you’ve done to revitalise this magazine. It has been a privilege to work with all of you, and I intend to honour that privilege by striving to be a better editor. As part of that commitment, I’ve enrolled in the peer mentoring and leadership programs BCA is conducting this year. I will doubtless speak to some of you there, and I hope to meet more of you at our National Convention. I’m looking forward to both these opportunities to be part of new stories and conversations.

After a busy few months for BCA, this issue is a chance to take stock of recent events. We take a look back at our very successful AGM and State Conventions, and our ongoing TV4All social media campaign to raise awareness of Audio Description, which seems to be gaining momentum. In our campaign against touch screen EFTPOS terminals, the news is not as good, and our much-needed explainer of My Aged Care reveals the extent of on-going problems in that sector as well.

We also travel somewhat further into the past, with Vaughn Bennison’s subjective but thorough look at the history of communication methods for people who are blind or vision impaired. And after a day stranded in Dallas, Rikki Chaplin offers some advice on keeping calm when travel goes wrong.

While you’re enjoying this issue, I’ll already be working on the next one, which will arrive in May. As always, I’m eager for your contributions, from stories about your personal experience to suggestions about what you’d like us to cover in future. Submissions close on Friday, March 15. For more info, please see the guidelines at the end of this edition.

I’m confident this year will see us celebrating more victories, and grappling with new challenges in these pages. I hope you’re as excited as I am.

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