by Carla Ruschival

It's snowing outside as I write this article, but can summer be far away? And with summer comes the ACB convention. Official dates are June 30 to July 7; the place, Minneapolis, Minn.

You know that you can explore Minneapolis with ACB tours. You know that you will meet old friends and make new ones at the many mixers and socials. You know about the dances, the karaoke, the comedy night, and the free described movies.

This month I want to tell you about the serious side of convention. Often people ask if there are activities that can be helpful to them in their careers. They want to know about the information available on important issues, and if they can learn more about new adaptive technology. Here is a sampling of these outstanding opportunities.

Exhibits: What a fabulous chance to contrast and compare the latest products for blind and visually impaired people! Discover which video magnifier, braille device or speech program best meets your needs. Examine tutorials, print/braille books, canes, watches, and an endless variety of products for work, school and daily living. Collect materials to take home to others in your office or organization. The ACB exhibit area is literally a blind person's mall, and you will want to spend hours and hours browsing the aisles. Exhibits open on Saturday, June 30, at 1 p.m.; they are available eight hours each day, Sunday through Wednesday, and they close Thursday at 1 p.m.

Workshops and Focus Groups: Every convention features unique opportunities to learn new skills, tips and techniques on a wide range of topics. Seminars on diabetes, employment issues, and access to off-the-shelf technology we use every day are some examples. Focus groups offer instruction on high-tech products such as screen readers, braille notetakers, low-vision products, and much more.

Programs and Discussions: ACB general sessions (Sunday evening, Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-noon, and all day Friday) address major issues such as education, rehabilitation, employment, Social Security, voter access, health-related issues and much more. The presentation by a talking book narrator and an update on library services are always popular. While the 2007 program is not complete at this time, you can be assured that it will be exciting and information-packed.

ACB committees, special-interest affiliates and others sponsor a seemingly endless variety of break-out sessions and small-group discussions. Look for informative programming for teachers, government employees, blind vendors and private entrepreneurs, attorneys, and information technology specialists. Students can explore careers and perhaps network with others working in their area of interest. Special programming targets individuals with low vision, guide dog users, deaf-blind issues, braille readers, etc.

Networking: 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. 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.

Details, Details!

Exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more information, visit our web site at www.acb.org. For exhibit questions, call Michael Smitherman at (601) 968-4164; for advertising and sponsorship questions, contact Brenda Dillon at (615) 874-1223.

Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the convention should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 1. Program details need to be submitted by May 1. Make all arrangements related to convention events (reserving space, ordering food or AV equipment, etc.) with Carla Ruschival at (502) 897-1472 or via e-mail, [email protected]

Get on the road to Minneapolis by making your hotel reservations at the Hyatt Regency ($81 single/double, $91 triple/quad; 1-800-233-1234), or at the Millennium ($84 single/double, $94 triple/quad; 1-800-522-8856). Rates are quoted per night, and do not include tax.

If you have convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival, ACB convention committee chair, at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at [email protected]; or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.

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