by Carla Ruschival

The 2009 ACB convention is teeming with magic, and the convention committee and local host committee are hard at work creating a grand event that is sure to please young and old alike. We're inviting speakers, selecting menus, organizing tours, assigning meeting rooms, and registering exhibitors and sponsors. We're planning the 2009 ACB convention!

Convention dates are July 3 to 11; the place, the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Often people ask if there are activities that can help them in their careers. They want to know about information available on important issues, and how they can learn more about new adaptive technology. Here's a sampling of these outstanding opportunities. Let your employer know about these programs, and explore the possibility of receiving professional days while attending part or all of the convention.

Exhibits: Compare and contrast 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, 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. You will want to spend hours and hours browsing the exhibit hall; it opens on Saturday, July 4, at 1 p.m. and closes on Thursday, July 9, 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 are some examples. There's 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 to Thursday mornings, and all day Friday) address major issues such as education, rehabilitation, employment, accessibility, health-related issues and much more. The presentation by a Talking Book narrator and update on library services are always popular. While the 2009 program is not yet complete, you can be assured that it will be exciting and packed with useful information.

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, and information technology specialists. Students can explore careers and meet people working in their areas of interest. Special programming targets issues related to low vision, guide dogs, deaf-blind concerns, braille, 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.

Convention Reminders

Commemorative Program: Every state and every affiliate have special people who have played significant roles in the lives of blind and visually impaired people. Often these outstanding individuals go unheralded on the national scene.

Share the accomplishments of these special people by participating in the commemorative section of the 2009 ACB convention program. Commemorative pages will be printed on high-quality paper; pages can include a color photograph of your special person and a short caption about his or her accomplishments. What a wonderful way to honor or memorialize that special person! Reserve your commemorative page by May 15.

Color Pages: Attention, program advertisers! You've been asking for it, and here it is! Full-page ads and program covers are now available in color. See your exhibit and sponsorship packets for details, or visit

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 décor, 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. For more information, contact Michael Smitherman at (601) 968-4164, or visit

Planning Group Functions: Menus, audio-visual price lists, and instructions for planning group events are now available. All special-interest affiliates, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the convention should have one representative subscribed to the convention-planning e-mail list; contact Carla Ruschival if you have any questions about this list. Groups planning to host events during convention week must 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 A/V equipment, etc.) with Carla Ruschival (phone (502) 897-1472, or e-mail [email protected]). Details for Everyone

Make your hotel reservations at the luxurious Rosen Centre hotel by calling (407) 996-9840. Rooms are $83 per night, single/double, plus tax. Add $10 per night for each additional person in the room. Please note that the Rosen Centre is 100 percent non-smoking; the hotel can and will impose major additional charges on anyone found to be smoking in any sleeping room.

Keep up with all the latest convention announcements. Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to [email protected]

Have more questions? 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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