by Carla Ruschival

Discover the treasures of ACB at the 49th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind. It's happening July 9-17 at the beautiful brand-new Downtown Sheraton Hotel in sunny Phoenix, Ariz.

At the Hotel: The convention treasure map (the program) is packed with workshops, seminars and programs on a seemingly endless variety of topics. Whether you are a student or a teacher, a parent or a professional, in business or retired, your days will be filled with information and new ideas. Explore new products in the exhibit hall; find a new career at the job fair. Get tips on adaptive technology; discuss issues related to rehabilitation, transportation, education, health, and much more.

Just for Kids: While the adults go to meetings, the kids will have a great time following their own treasure maps to a week of fun, fun, fun! Stops along the way include trips, crafts, swimming, games and contests; breakfast, lunch and snacks included each day, Monday through Friday. Save money by pre-registering your child and purchasing YAC passes ahead of time.

Pre-Register and Save: Pre-registration opened in late May. Pre-register by telephone or on-line at by June 30. If you requested a paper form from the national office, be sure to mail it on or before June 25; forms that reach us after June 30 will not be accepted. You save money by pre-registering; the basic fee is $20 in advance, $30 at the convention. Your badge is also good for discounts at many local businesses near the hotel.

Pre-registration information does not include all speakers and programming. Look for a complete agenda for ACB general sessions, special-interest groups, and others in the official convention program. Pick up your braille or large print program at the registration desk, or download a copy for your notetaker or computer from the ACB web site after June 30.

Reserve assistive listening devices (ALD's) by paying a $20 deposit when you pre-register. Receive your refund when you return the ALD to registration as you leave the convention. The ALD will come with a fresh battery; you are responsible for supplying additional batteries during the week.

Notify us of your need for a lift-equipped bus on ACB tours when you pre-register. Remember that tour volunteers cannot act as personal assistants on tours. If you need someone to push your wheelchair or you want a personal guide, plan to take the tour with a friend who is willing to give you his or her undivided attention.

Request interpreters and other reasonable accommodations NO LATER THAN June 15. You may call the national office at 1-800-424-8666, fill in the appropriate spaces on the pre-registration form, or e-mail Carla Ruschival at [email protected] Be sure to give us the details we need to fill your request, and remember to include a valid phone number and/or e-mail address.

Exhibits, Advertising and Sponsorships: Some last-minute exhibit and sponsorship opportunities may still be available. Check out our new advertising packages for ACB Radio, sign up for the job fair, and purchase newspaper advertising. Don't miss this chance to target your products and services to blind and visually impaired people from across the country and around the world. For more information, visit our web site at, or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 968-4164, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

Transportation Details: If you wish to use paratransit services while you are in Phoenix and you are already ADA-certified, call Dial-a-Ride at (602) 253-4000 up to 14 days in advance to schedule your trips. Fares are $3.50 per ride, and services are available between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. If your destination is in Mesa, Glendale or another nearby city, you may need to arrange a transfer. You do not need to fax copies of your certification to Dial-a-Ride, but you should call ahead of time to be added to the system and you will be asked to show your card proving your eligibility to use paratransit services when you board your ride.

Fixed-route trips are $1.75. Light rail is also available in Phoenix. For more information on these services, call (602) 253-5000.

Hotel Reservations: To make a reservation at the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton, call 1-800-325-3535. Rooms are $89 per night plus tax.

Convention Information: Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to [email protected] For 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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