by Carla Ruschival

The 48th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind will be one of the biggest and best ever. Make plans now to be in Orlando July 3-11 for all the information, exhibits, fun and friends.

The beautiful Rosen Centre Hotel on Orlando's famous International Drive is home to ACB for convention week. Registration, the information and volunteer desk, general sessions and exhibits will be located on the first floor. Between the lobby and the meeting areas are two restaurants and a 24-hour deli. Special-interest group meetings, workshops and social events will generally be on the second floor. After a busy day in exhibits and meetings, you and your friends may want to walk, grab a taxi, or hop a trolley or bus and explore the many restaurants and other attractions along International Drive.

Explore central Florida with ACB tours. Visit the Kennedy Space Center on Friday, July 3 and the Daytona race track on Saturday, July 11. Check out the world's largest library of braille books in Daytona on Monday. Lie on a bed of nails, pet an alligator, ride an airboat, and have a Holy Land Experience.

Many more tours and activities, as well as details about workshops, seminars and informational programs, will be announced in next month's "Braille Forum" and in the pre-registration packet.

Just For Kids: This is one convention that your kids and grandkids won't want to miss. The Youth Activity Center will be mousing around at all kinds of fun places. Blind, visually impaired and sighted kids are welcome. Light breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided each day.

Convention Details

Exhibits, Advertising and Sponsorships: For the past three years, Brenda Dillon has done a magnificent job of obtaining sponsors for the ACB convention. Her efforts, and the efforts of others, have helped to keep costs to convention-goers down and have made it possible for ACB to purchase equipment such as wireless microphones and assistive listening devices. We owe her a huge thank-you for an outstanding job.

Due to personal reasons, Brenda has found it necessary to devote her undivided attention to the ACB auction. In an effort to streamline ACB convention functions and to take advantage of the many talents of existing committee members, we have asked Margarine Beaman of Austin, Tex., to assume the role of advertising and sponsorship coordinator. Margarine will continue to work with the hotel on reasonable accommodations, and she will also oversee expanded volunteer services at the airport and act as special assistant to the president and executive director.

The 2009 ACB 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. Early-bird exhibit discounts close on May 15. Convention sponsorships and advertising must also be received by that date in order to appear in the official convention program.

For more information on exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, visit our web site at; or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 968-4164, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

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.

Now you can 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!

Commemorative pages must be reserved by May 15. For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 912-1625, or visit

Color Pages: Attention, program advertisers! Full-page ads and program covers are once again 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

Program Details, Hotel Reservations and More

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]).

Make your hotel reservations at the Rosen Centre Hotel. Room rates are $83 plus tax per night, single/double; add $10 per night for each additional person in the room. Call (407) 996-9840 to make reservations.

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

For convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival 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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