ACB Applauds House on Final Passage of Marrakesh Treaty

For Immediate Release Contact: Anthony Stephens, Director of Advocacy & Governmental Affairs (202) 467-5081 WASHINGTON (Sept. 26, 2018) — The American Council of the Blind applauds the U.S. House of representatives after passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559) late Tuesday evening. The House vote moves the implementing legislation to the President’s desk for signage, and the treaty to the State Department for final preparation of the diplomatic papers allowing the U.S. to become one of the official Marrakesh countries committed to the expanded availability of accessible published works from around the world. “We’re excited that Congress was able to move Marrakesh over the legislative finish line during its final days of business before leaving for the October recess,” said ACB President Kim Charlson. “But what is most exciting is that U.S. citizens who are blind or have other print disabilities will soon be able to have access to special format materials available in other countries in English and other languages, as well as people with all types of print disabilities around the world who will soon be able to gain access to American published works for the first time in an accessible format.” The Marrakesh Treaty was the product of years of deliberations between the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), publishers, libraries, and disability rights advocates. The treaty was a response to the grave concerns over the cumbersome international copyright laws that make it difficult to gain access to published works in accessible formats like braille or audio format. The act, which was brought to the House floor by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, amends U.S. copyright law necessary for full implementation of the treaty. Hearing no objection, the legislation passed with unanimous consent. “We’ve had countless numbers of advocates who have helped make this treaty a reality in the United States,” said ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges. “We wish to thank the U.S. Congress, particularly House Chairman Goodlatte and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker for showing true leadership by shepherding this treaty through the legislative channels.” 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. Together, we make a bright future. Learn more by visiting

Wegmans Becomes the First Aira-Enabled Supermarket Chain in the United States

Link to Article: Link to Video: Rebecca Bridges, an ACB member and wife of ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges, is featured in this video. SAN DIEGO August 28, 2018 – Aira is pleased to announce that Wegmans Food Markets is the first Aira-enabled supermarket chain in the United States. As the first partner in the Aira Supermarket Network, all Wegmans stores are now Aira Access Locations, giving any member of the blind and low-vision community free access to Aira’s service while in Wegmans stores. Aira, powered by AT&T, is a San Diego-based startup that makes use of wearable technology, artificial intelligence, and live, human assistance to deliver real-time visual description for people who are blind or have low vision. Using a smartphone or a pair of smart glasses, an Aira “Explorer” can connect to a remote, trained professional who can provide assistance on-demand using a live camera stream, GPS, maps, and information sourced from the web. Wegmans has a well-established reputation of providing incredible customer service, and in 2018 ranked no. 1 on the Temkin Experience Ratings for providing the best customer experience of any supermarket in the country, and they were also on PEOPLE magazine’s list of “50 Companies That Care.” “I’m excited to have Wegmans as our first partner in the Aira Supermarket Network,” said Suman Kanuganti, Founder and CEO of Aira. “Their commitment to ensuring all customers have the same great Wegmans shopping experience is inspiring and I’m proud to call them a partner.” “At Wegmans, we are committed to providing incredible customer service to all our shoppers,” said Linda Lovejoy, community relations manager for Wegmans. “Our partnership with Aira helps us deliver on this commitment, giving our blind and low-vision customers access to this innovative service and the ability to navigate our stores easily and efficiently.” Blind and low vision shoppers can download the Aira app on their smartphone and use it to connect to a remote, sighted agent to access information on-demand. On request, Aira agents can help shoppers navigate the store, find specific items, and identify the shortest checkout lines all at just the touch of a button. You can download the app at, register as a guest, and use Aira for free in any Wegmans store.   About Wegmans Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 97-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, recognized as an industry leader and innovator, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 21 consecutive years, ranking #2 in 2018.   About Aira AI stands for Artificial Intelligence; RA stands for Remote Access. When you put them together you get Aira. Aira is a service that uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to connect people to highly trained, remotely-located agents. At the touch of a button, Aira delivers instant access to information, enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence. Visit or call 800-835-1934 to learn more.  

2019 ACB Conference & Convention

The 2019 American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention will be held in Rochester, N.Y. from Friday July 5th through Friday, July 12th. Opening general session will be Saturday evening, July 6th. Daily general sessions will be held Sunday through Wednesday mornings, and our final general session, which will include officer elections, will be Thursday the 11th. The exhibit hall is open Saturday through Wednesday. We will have all-day tours on Friday the 5th and Friday the 12th, with many other tours throughout the convention. Special-interest affiliates, ACB committees and our business partners will hold sessions beginning Saturday, July 6th. Hotels We will be utilizing two hotels, the Hyatt Regency Rochester and the Rochester Riverside Hotel. We will have about the same number of rooms at both hotels, and room rates are the same at each property.  We will have guide dog relief areas at each hotel. If your dog prefers grass, the Riverside has a large grassy area just outside the front door. The two hotels are across the street from each other. For safe and easy crossing, there is an audible pedestrian signal at the corner. You can also go between hotels via a walkway through the convention center where general sessions and exhibits will be held. Other activities will be held in both hotels. The Riverside has a grab-and-go counter, and their restaurant is Rocburger, featuring build your own burgers, wings and decadent milkshakes! At the Hyatt you will find Starbucks, Morton’s The Steakhouse (fine dining), and the Hyatt’s restaurant, The Street Craft Kitchen and Bar, that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Although we will be using two hotels and the convention center, walking will not be an issue since the spaces are compact, with no historical stairways. Hotel Reservations Room rates at the Hyatt and the Riverside are $89 per night (single or double occupancy, with an additional $10 per person for up to four people). This room rate does not include tax, which is currently 14%. For telephone reservations, call the Riverside at (585) 546-6400 or the Hyatt at 1-800-233-1234. Make sure to mention you are with the American Council of the Blind 2019; rooms must be booked by June 7, 2019 to guarantee the convention rate. To make reservations online for the Hyatt hotel, visit the ACB Hyatt Reservation page. To make reservations online for the Riverside hotel, visit the Rochester Riverside Hotel – American Council of the Blind Convention 2019 page. Traveling to Rochester The Rochester airport (code ROC) is 10 minutes from the hotels; there is complimentary shuttle service to both hotels. The Amtrak station is six blocks away, as is the Greyhound bus station. The shuttle will pick up at both these locations. The Megabus stop is 10 blocks from the hotels. For anyone driving to Rochester, parking is $4 per night. Staying in Touch Once again this year, the conference and convention announce list will be filled with information! To subscribe to the list, send a blank email to If you received updates for the 2018 convention, you do not need to re-subscribe. Convention Contacts 2019 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, 2019 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, For any other convention-related questions, please contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or via email,