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#FollowFriday: American Foundation for the Blind (@AFB1921)

Posted in General

There’s a trend happening each Friday on Twitter—and it’s called Follow Friday (or #FF to frequent “tweeters”). Since we love to share cool people and brands serving the blindness community (and we happen to have a pretty happening Twitter feed of our own), we want to bring this phenomenon to the Delivering Access blog each Friday.

As I thought about who we’d feature on our first #FollowFriday post, I couldn’t think of anyone else besides the American Foundation for the Blind (tweeting as @AFB1921), whose tweets are powered by savvy media guy and social media manager, John Mackin. Take a second to go beyond the 140 character limit with us as I talk with John about AFB’s tweets and his involvement with the social media account.

Why You Should Follow @AFB1921

For many organizations, it’s tough to find the real purpose of a “tweet” (and I know this because I work with many of them firsthand). The AFB Twitter account goes above and beyond being another catalyst for press releases and newsletter distribution. John and the team behind the @AFB1921 handle are sharing blindness-related news, accessibility information and engaging followers in a meaningful way.

Recently, I noticed a series of live tweets from AFB’s Leadership Conference (which you can read by searching #AFBLC on Twitter). I loved the concept and the information John was sharing through these tweets, and it really helped pull me (as an outsider) into the event and experience.

1. How long have you been tweeting–and what got you started?

AFB already had its own Twitter account when I arrived in 2011, but it was not very active – just the occasional tweet of a press release or blog post. Since then, I’ve really tried to ramp up our activity and get involved with any and all conversations involving blindness and visual impairments. So while the account was probably created in 2009 or 2010, it really “came to life” in 2011.

2. Which Twitter client do you use–and why?

I prefer TweetDeck. I like being able to create columns on the fly if and when I need them, and a have a few permanent ones already in place, like mentions and friends, as well as certain hashtags, like #blindness or #a11y. For Twitter users with vision loss, I recommend Easy Chirp (@EasyChirp), which is basically “Accessible Twitter.”

3. How would you describe the content of your tweets? What do you like to tweet about?

We love to share success stories – and we see them more frequently than you might think. A lot of what we share is really anything blindness-related in the news, with the exception of content that’s more medical-based.

We recently held our flagship conference in Chicago and while I was mainly busy doing administrative and support work, I was able to live tweet a couple of the sessions and had a blast.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by a very talented staff – we have quite a stable of gifted bloggers – people like Joe Strechay (@jstrechay) and Mark Richert (@MDRinDC) – who keep our house-made content fresh and interesting.

4. Do you follow anyone in particular that tends to make your Twitter feed interesting?

My friend and sort-of colleague Maureen Duffy of VisionAware (@VisionAware) is a bit of a Twitter rockstar – she’s prolific, has as many followers as anyone in the blindness field, and she always has interesting things to say. I became friends with Daniel Aronoff (@blindblog) through Twitter – he’s a food blogger who’s blind, and we started having conversations about our favorite New York steakhouses! (Spoiler alert: it’s @DylanPrime.)
Also, Tommy Edison (
@BlindFilmCritic), the “Blind Film Critic,” is a lot of fun to follow – his tweets are quite funny.

Editor’s Note: Tommy is slated as our guest for #AccessChat on June 4th. To learn more about #AccessChat and get alerts about future guests, visit the #AccessChat page and use the form to sign up for email alerts.5. What can people expect to see if they were to follow you on Twitter?

They’d be getting the latest news and notes from AFB as well as our partner sites, such as FamilyConnect. We’re very lucky in that regard – there’s always something interesting going on, therefore something worthwhile to share. Sometimes people use Twitter to ask us questions, which we love responding to and is a great way to connect. As aforementioned, I also like to monitor the news and share personal success stories of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It’s nice to know inspiration is all around us!