ACB Conference 2011: Golden Past, Diamond Future

by Carla Ruschival

Come to Reno, Nev., and celebrate gold at the 50th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind. 

Our fantastic week of programs, exhibits, tours, and fun gets under way on Friday, July 8. Choose a narrated cruise on a paddlewheeler of Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay with its crystal blue waters and towering peaks. As Mark Twain said in 1862 upon seeing Lake Tahoe for the first time, "It must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords." Or visit the Fallon Naval Air Station (yes, it's in the middle of the desert) for a hands-on tour of great naval aircraft, lunch at the Officers' Club, and a visit to the observation deck in the control tower where you'll hear radio communications between the tower and incoming and outgoing aircraft.

On Saturday, July 9, step back 160 years to wild gold rush days on our hands-on Virginia City tour. Board a restored steam train to Gold Hill; ride down a dusty road in a stagecoach drawn by four painted horses. Learn about the Suicide Table while you have lunch at the Delta Saloon. Tour the Pipers Opera House where William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody once performed. Visit The Way It Was Museum and the Virginia City Radio Museum.

If you live in the Eastern or Central time zone, you can really s-t-r-e-t-c-h time and save money. Since Reno is three hours behind East Coast time, you can hop a flight early in the day and still arrive at the hotel in time for afternoon tours and seminars.

The serious side of the 2011 ACB conference and convention is packed with outstanding workshops, seminars, exhibits, and programs. If you are a teacher or rehabilitation counselor, if you are looking for a new job, if you use technology or can use new tips and ideas to improve your professional or everyday life, the 2011 ACB conference and convention is where you want to be.

Begin planning your week with ACB. Below is a sketch of the week's schedule; there's much, much more to come. Pre-registration and the acbconvention e-mail list will include many more events and details. Please note: events listed here are subject to change. To save space, most groups are mentioned only on the first day of their programming; additional days are shown in parentheses.

Saturday, July 9

* Exhibits open (through Thursday, July 14)

* ACB pre-convention board meeting

* ACB Information Access seminar

* Reno city tour (repeated on Sunday)

* Casino how-to's (designed especially for ACB; repeated on Sunday)

* Keys to the Convention seminar (repeated on Sunday)

* Welcome to Reno Party

* Student welcome party (more student activities throughout the week)

* Milly's Place Pin Swap (blind Lions)

Sunday, July 10

* ACB Walk

* NABT breakfast and meeting (teachers)

* Special meetings and activities for attorneys (through Tuesday), vendors (also Monday and Tuesday), information technology specialists (through Wednesday), and people with low vision (through Wednesday)

* ACB board of publications meeting

* Diabetics lunch and workshop

* ACB environmental access and public relations seminars

* Government employees, CCLVI, FIA, and Blind LGBT Pride mixers

* ACB opening keynote general session

Monday, July 11

* IVIE breakfast meeting (entrepreneurs; business expo on Tuesday and lunch on Wednesday)

* General session (every morning all week)

* ACB Youth Activity Center (all-day fun for kids and teens -- through Friday)

* Multicultural lunch and program (Mid-week Jam on Wednesday)

* Special meetings and activities for library users (also Wednesday), guide dog users (through Wednesday), musicians (through Wednesday), and lesbians and gays (all week)

* Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss lunch and program (also Wednesday session)

* ACB Women's Concerns (through Wednesday)

* ACB seminars (TBA)

* ACB Texas Hold 'em Tournament

* ACB Recreation Zone (through Thursday; healthy and fun options)

* ACB afternoon tours (different venues every day)

* Tech user groups and product spotlights (through Wednesday)

* Evening activities (CCLVI game night, RSVA auction and karaoke, FIA prose and poetry reading, etc.)

Tuesday, July 12

* Meetings and activities for people with hearing loss

* Special programming for braille users and supporters of braille (also on Thursday) and blind veterans

* ACB transportation, schools for the blind, and legislative workshops

* International relations workshop and reception

* FIA Performing Arts Showcase

Wednesday, July 13

* ACB employment seminar

* ACB auction

* ACB blackjack tournament

Thursday, July 14

* ACB membership seminar and other workshops

* Government employees lunch and business meeting

* Affiliate presidents' meeting

* ACB Audio Description Project training (through Saturday)

Friday, July 15

* ACB all-day business session

* ACB banquet

Saturday, July 16

* ACB post-convention board meeting

* ACB tours

EXHIBITS, ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIPS: The ACB conference and convention is a great chance to tell people from all over the country and around the world about your company's products and services. Let us help you customize a package that fits your budget and reaches your audience. You might select advertising in the official program, placing information or promotional items in our registration bags, targeting specific groups with conference newspaper ads, meeting your audience face to face in the exhibit hall, or sponsoring a special service or event.

Premium, tabletop and affiliate booth spaces are now available. New this year are rebates for exhibitors who stay all six days (Saturday through Thursday). Also new are a limited number of half-week specials (Saturday through Monday OR Tuesday through Thursday); perfect for the small business or agency that just cannot stay the entire time.

Visit our web site for more exhibitor, advertising and sponsorship specials.

Convention sponsorships, advertising and booth reservations must be received by May 15 in order to appear in the official program. For more information, visit our web site at, or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

ACB HEROES: Share the accomplishments of special people in your local chapter or state or special-interest affiliate by participating in the ACB Heroes section of the 2011 conference and convention program. Heroes pages will be printed on high-quality paper; pages can include a photograph of your special person and details about his or her accomplishments. What a wonderful way to recognize that special person!

Heroes pages must be reserved by May 15. For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 921-1625.

SCHEDULING EVENTS: Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the conference and convention should submit all information for the pre-registration form IMMEDIATELY. Program details need to be submitted by May 15. Make all arrangements related to events (reserving space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Carla Ruschival.

CONVENTION E-MAIL LIST: Keep up with all the latest announcements. Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to

HOTEL RESERVATIONS: Room rates at the John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel Resort Casino are $87 single/double plus tax per night; add $10 per night for each additional person in the room. The ACB room block is in the West Tower. Your room rate includes free shuttle transportation from airport or bus or train station. Make reservations by calling 1-800-648-1177.

For convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival, ACB convention committee chair, at (502) 303-7042 or by e-mail at; or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.