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“Why should I join Beyond Sight Toastmasters?”

That is the key question everyone asks before joining this international communication and leadership organization. For John W. Smith (Smitty), the answer is another question – “Do you want to invest in yourself and your future?” If the answer is yes, then Toastmasters is an excellent opportunity to gain important skills that will help in all areas of life.

John W. Smith (Smitty) speaks at CVI’s
50th Anniversary Event

Smitty knows this from personal experience. He became a CVI client when he lost his sight in 2005. At CVI he regained confidence in being independent and living his best life. He is an active leader as President of the CVI Alumni Group, a member of the CVI Board of Trustees, and joined Beyond Sight Toastmaster Club in 2009.

“We support each other in learning how to enhance communication,” says Smitty. “When you lose sight, you lose a critical part of communicating like picking up on visual cues from others and seeing the context of information. It was very hard for me and like many people who are blind or visually impaired, there is a great temptation to withdraw and not communicate at all. In Toastmasters you can overcome that fear.”

The goals are to practice speaking in a safe, supportive environment and to participate in club management to improve leadership skills. Beyond Sight is the only club in Georgia who membership is primarily blind or visually. In each meeting, one member presents a prepared 5 to 7-minute speech. Topics range from humorous, such as the adventures of owning a dog, to serious, such as what the sighted community can learn about being visually impaired. An evaluator summarizes what the speaker did well and how they can be better in their next speech.

A favorite part of the meeting is Table Topics in which members are randomly chosen to give a 2 to 3-minute response to a question. Table Topics is a chance to practice impromptu speaking which is something most of us engage in every day.

Club members meet the first and third Thursday each month for an hour. Due to the pandemic, Beyond Sight is meeting by conference call. Everyone is welcome – sighted and non-sighted. Please email the club secretary, Judy Anderson, at janderson@cviga.org for the club meeting information. The next meeting is September 17th at 12:15 pm to 1:15 pm.