ACB Conference 2012: What's in it for You?

by Janet Dickelman
(Author's Note: Some of this article is taken from articles Carla Ruschival has written in the past. She did such an excellent job of explaining the educational benefits and exhibits, sponsorship and advertising I didn't feel it was necessary to improve on her hard work.)

Are you thinking of attending the 2012 ACB conference and convention in Louisville this July but just not sure if it will meet your needs?  Here are some things to consider.

Educational Opportunity

Share the following information with your employer and discuss the possibility that part of your time could be considered as professional development.  Our exhibit hall opens at 11:00 Saturday morning, July 7th, and remains open daily through Thursday, July 12th at 1 p.m. There will be approximately 85 exhibit tables, many of which will showcase the latest technology for blind and visually impaired people. You can gather materials and see all the latest innovations. Network with providers and learn about items that could meet your agency or client needs.

Learn new skills at one of the many workshops and seminars at the convention. Seminars on diabetes, employment issues, rehabilitation, transportation, and access to off-the-shelf technology are some examples.  ACB general sessions (Sunday evening, Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-noon, and all day Friday) address education, rehabilitation, employment, access, health-related issues and much more. The presentation by a talking book narrator and update on library services are always popular. ACB committees, special-interest affiliates and others sponsor an endless variety of break-out sessions and small-group discussions. Look for informative programming for teachers, government employees, blind vendors and entrepreneurs, attorneys, human service professionals, and information technology specialists.

Students can explore careers and meet people working in their areas of interest. Parents of children with visual impairments can gather tips on how to advocate for their children and learn what to expect in the years ahead. Special programming targets issues related to low vision, guide dogs, deaf-blind concerns, braille, etc. It is often said that networking with others with similar interests is as important as education and training, and that it greatly enhances the job-seeking process and long-term success in any career path. Whether you are a teacher or student, rehabilitation counselor or administrator, parent or caregiver, employer or job-seeker, you will be able to network with others in your field.


The 2012 ACB conference and convention gives businesses and agencies a chance to let people from all over the country and around the world know about their products and services. Booth space, advertising, and sponsorships are now available. Discounts are available for exhibitors who register early and who purchase advertising.

Back by popular demand: Reserve at least one premium booth in the exhibit hall and grab our registration bag special. We'll stuff one brochure or other item of your choice FREE in our registration bags (a $250 value)! This is your chance to reach every attendee and drive traffic to your booth.

Color Pages: Make your products and services stand out from the rest! Full-page program ads and covers are once again available in color.  For information regarding advertising and sponsorships, contact Margarine Beaman,

Exhibit Special for Blind Entrepreneurs: Are you a blind small-business owner? Do you have products such as CDs, books, crafts, or computer games to sell? Are you a representative for a company that sells jewelry, toys, home decor, etc.? Would your products be a popular addition to the ACB exhibit area? If you have always wanted to give the exhibit area a try, but haven't been sure that the hours and cost were right for you, now is your chance. Discounts on tabletop booths are available to blind small-business owners during their first, second and third years of participation in the exhibit hall.

ACB Marketplace

New this year at the convention! If you are an affiliate or special-interest group with items to sell such as T-shirts, raffle tickets, etc., consider ACB's newest addition!  Marketplace is also open to individuals who have items they would like to sell. Are you an entertainer who would like to sell your CDs? Do you have handmade craft items? Do you sell cosmetics, memorabilia or jewelry? Would you like a place to give out information? If so, consider reserving a table at Marketplace. Sorry, no food items may be sold.

Display tables will be set up near the entrance to the general session hall, and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  This is one of the highest traffic areas in the convention center. To allow the greatest number of groups to participate, these tables are sold only on a per-day rate of $25.  If you would like to have a table for more than one day at Marketplace, you will be placed on a waiting list so that groups who have not had an opportunity to participate will first get a chance. 

Marketplace schedule is as follows:

Sunday, July 8: 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13: 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
For more information regarding exhibits and Marketplace, contact Michael Smitherman at (601) 331-7740 or e-mail
Attention blind entrepreneurs, in addition to Marketplace, don't forget the IVIE Expo. For details regarding IVIE, contact Carla Hayes at (724) 941-8184     

Convention Details

Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the conference should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 15. Program details need to be submitted by May 1. Make all arrangements related to conference events (reserving meeting and event space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Janet Dickelman (phone, (651) 428-5059; e-mail,

The 2012 ACB conference and convention begins with pre-registration pick-up on Thursday, July 5th. Our first tours will be on Friday, July 6th. General sessions begin on Sunday, July 8th and culminate on Friday, July 13th, which is also the day of our banquet. Final tours will be on Saturday, July 14th. Exhibits open at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 7th and run through 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 12th.


Unfortunately there is no NASCAR race while we are in Louisville; I apologize to all of you racing fans.  Tour information should be available in the next issue of "The Braille Forum."  It will also be posted on the ACB convention list. If you have not yet subscribed to this list, send an e-mail to  The tours we have scheduled are listed below.  Other tours will be offered, but they are still being worked on.

** Friday, July 6, 2012

1. Churchill Downs Breakfast and Tour
2. Kentucky Bourbon Trail -- Visit Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace. Enjoy samplings from both venues and enjoy the hard hat, behind-the-scenes tour at Buffalo Trace. Lunch is included with this tour.
3. Waverly Hills Ghost Tour -- Visit the former sanatorium and see who still might be lurking around!

** Saturday, July 7, 2012

1. Kentucky Horse Park & Ride for Hope
2. My Old Kentucky Lunch Train
3. City Bus Tour

** Saturday, July 14, 2012

1. Amish Country Tour with lunch

** Hotel and Shuttle Information

Reservations for the Galt House in Louisville can be made via phone or online. To make your reservations via phone call 1-800-843-4258. Make sure to mention you are with the ACB convention. To make your reservations online, go to Room rates are $85 for a standard room in the west tower, and $105 for a suite in the east tower. Rooms in the east tower are equipped with a refrigerator. When you make your reservations, your credit card will be charged for one night's stay.

Sandollar shuttle has agreed to provide ACB with a round-trip fare of $20 from the airport to the hotel. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance at their web site, You may also call them at (502) 561-4022. It is only necessary to make your inbound flight reservation. Sandollar has assured me that they have vehicles that can transport individuals with wheelchairs, including lift-equipped buses. When making a reservation, indicate that you are with ACB. If you use a wheelchair, indicate that on the reservation and let me know directly.

If you have any questions, contact me via e-mail or phone, or (651) 428-5059. You can also receive updated convention information by subscribing to the ACB convention e-mail list.