by Carla Ruschival

January is here with its dreary days, but sunshine and summer can't be far away. And with summer comes the 2008 ACB convention. Official dates are July 5-12; the place, Louisville, Ky., at the beautiful Galt House Hotel on the banks of the mighty Ohio River.

At the 47th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind you'll explore caves, listen to great music by Stephen Foster, visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace and the Muhammad Ali museum and the American Printing House for the Blind, and much, much more. You'll meet old friends and make new ones at the many mixers and socials; dances, a karaoke, comedy night, free described movies, and fast-moving auctions will fill your evenings with fun.

But there's more to convention than just fun. Here is a sampling of some outstanding opportunities that address problems related to education, career, and daily living.

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 a blind person's mall, and you will want to spend hours and hours browsing the aisles. Exhibits open on Saturday, July 5, at 1 p.m.; they are available all day, Sunday through Wednesday, and 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 information access to off-the-shelf technology are some examples. You will find 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 the changeover to digital talking books will be popular. While the 2008 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 and rehabilitation counselors, 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 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 (phone, (502) 897-1472 or e-mail, [email protected]); please DO NOT call the hotel directly to make these arrangements.

The local host committee realizes that planners for special-interest affiliates may not be aware of local resources, and thus it has prepared a list of potential speakers to assist your group in program planning. E-mail Carla Ruschival to receive this list.

Get to the first turn in the race to the 2008 ACB convention by making your hotel reservations at the Galt House. Rates are $85 single/double for standard rooms on the west side (the Rivue tower), and $105 single/double in the east tower (one-bedroom suites). Add $10 for each additional person in a room; limit four people per room. Rates are quoted per night, and do not include tax. For reservations, call (502) 589-5200.

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

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