A FIRST-TIMER'S 'REMEMBER WHEN?'
by Carol Ann Ewing

"Yes, I do have it!" was my comment as I placed my hands on the ACB '92 Phoenix convention program. Now, 18 years later, we are traveling again to that southwest community. I wonder how many first-timers will recognize the opportunity to grow and gain from the association of the attendees. I'm sure you can guess what an adventure that convention was for me! During the previous year, at age 50, I received a "blind status" in the second eye. This status granted me a medical retirement and placed me as a client for the Bureau of Services to the Blind. The many adjustments were packaged with laughter and tears. A friend took me under her wing and assisted my education, learning and experience in this new world. After a bit of investigation, we joined the Nevada Council of the Blind because the meetings were filled with information on blindness issues at the state and national levels. Then the spring of 1992 brought the ACB convention registration into our mail boxes. She phoned saying, "The ACB is having a seven-day convention in Phoenix. What do you think blind folk do during a seven-day convention? How about we go for four days?" So we did and we were amazed at the "sunup to midnight" schedule and all that was packed in between. What an adventure to be among such courageous, dynamic folk! The officers were LeRoy Saunders, Paul Edwards, Charles Hodge, Patricia Price and Brian Charlson.

My life was given new direction on Tuesday, July 7, 1992, as Paul Edwards, then first vice president, conducted a panel discussion titled "Education of Blind Students Today and Tomorrow." During Dr. Anne Korn's presentation, I tingled from head to toe and could hardly sit in my chair as she spoke of a blind 4-year-old child who had been born without eyes where the family and friends did not know whether to send congratulations or sympathy cards at the birth, nor had the child been out of the playpen or baby bed, since the parents did not know what to do. I realized I was a babe in my new environment of limited vision. Just before the travel to Phoenix and after a few buckets of tears, I decided to change my personal philosophy to "Carol, blindness is the best thing that ever happened to you Ö so be grateful and make the best of it." Yes, I have repeated this affirmation more than once. I returned home a different person. I went to the convention knowing it was OK to be blind, but I came home knowing it was OK to be blind because of your examples. The bureau training became exciting as I learned braille, home management skills, orientation and mobility, travel with a white cane, etc. In August 1994, 2 years and 8 weeks after ACB's 1992 convention, a phone call came from my counselor, asking, "Carol, they are mainstreaming a blind child in the Clark County School District and need someone with a working knowledge of braille. Do you want to go to work?" "Yes!" was my immediate response. Years later, I learned I was the first blind person the school district hired to support a blind child. Yes, others have been hired since my 1994 placement. Interesting is the fact this child was 4 years old when I heard Dr. Korn's talk and I was assigned to this child for 7 years. At that time his parents moved from the area. He graduated in 2006 number 101 out of a class of 482. The Nevada Council of the Blindís keynote speaker at the 1992 or 1993 convention was Durward K. McDaniel. I remember feeling his dedication and determination for the blind community. Then I read "People of Vision," the history of ACB. I also listen attentively when his name is mentioned and enjoy all the stories. I stand all amazed at his leadership, courage and dedication to support the blind community.

I am excited about returning to Phoenix and as always I shall be energized from the excitement of the business, gatherings, exhibits, etc. See you there for an exciting 8 days!


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