Blind Director Promotes Member Accessibility
When Michigan State University Federal Credit Union became one of the first in the nation to offer ATM voice output for visually impaired people and those with print-related disabilities, Michael Hudson was in a key position to back the idea.
Hudson, who is blind, has served on the supervisory committee of the $2.6 billion credit union since 2011 and was named chairman in 2013. In June this year he was named to the MSUFCU board of directors. He joined Michigan State in East Lansing in 1992, and currently serves as director of the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.
Actually, Hudson said, he has long-standing experience with credit unions.
“My earliest banking accounts were with a credit union as a child,” he recalled. “So I’ve always had that awareness. I saw something nice in the membership ownership of a credit union.
“When I came to work at Michigan State University, I had a different credit union I was working with. Then it became apparent there were some real strategic advantages to moving to this one. I’ve been with this credit union as a member since 1993.”
Hudson started wondering if there were ways the credit union could be even more leading edge, including accessibility for members with disabilities. He had a chance to talk to the president/CEO, initially through email. He received a positive response to the idea of making ATMs more accessible, and began a working partnership.
“All that led me to believe this was an organization that was willing to invest in its members,” Hudson said.
After becoming a member of the supervisory committee, he learned the powerful role internal controls play in assuring a financially stable organization, and how precise the internal audit process needs to be.
Hudson indicated he will also bring to the board, through a lifetime of working with credit unions, an awareness of how they affect people's ability to gain financial health and manage their financial resources.
He's also alert to the fact that as MSUFCU's membership has grown to some 184,000 members, 10 to 20% of them will experience some kind of disability.
“We know that only about a quarter of the disabilities out there are visible. Three-quarters are things you wouldn't see. Some of the things we do as a credit union will make a big difference in the quality of services we provide to those members,” Hudson said.
As a director of a credit union serving many students, Hudson also is concerned that young people today are not as savvy about handling money as financial institutions might like. Without guidance, they can make some pretty bad choices, for example taking on too much credit card debt.
“A college setting is a great place to help influence, for example, the 50,000 students here at MSU,” Hudson said.
He also said he believes the United States has been a leader in legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such laws have made it imperative to work on disabilities issues.
“There are also people who have gone out and said, ‘I have a disability, but it is not going to stop me from being successful,’” Hudson observed. “Disabilities don't seem to cast people in the same light they did 30 or 40 years ago. They’re less stigmatized.”
Attending his first board meeting as a director, he discovered so much was happening he decided he had a lot to learn. But he's confident that within a fairly short time he’ll be up and running and start to contribute new ideas.