ACB Conference and Convention: World of Learning, World of Fun

by Janet Dickelman

The American Council of the Blind will hold its 52nd annual conference and convention in Columbus, Ohio, July 4-12.  Join us for an incredible week of exploring, learning, fun and friends.
In Columbus you will find the latest new technology; information on education, career, and leisure-time opportunities; and updates on issues facing people with vision loss of all ages and from every walk of life.  You'll discover special programs and events for students, families, senior citizens, braille readers, and people who are just losing vision for the first time.  You'll discover meetings targeting attorneys, teachers, small-business owners, artists, computer programmers, and other professionals, and much, much more!
Below are some answers to questions that I have received about the upcoming conference.


 Speakers and presenters at general sessions and break-out meetings are listed in the conference program, but not in the pre-registration materials. You may pick up your braille or print program with your registration materials when you arrive in Columbus, or you may download it from the ACB web site AFTER June 30. ACB does NOT mail programs prior to the conference.


As of this writing (late January), many events and programs are still being developed.  Below is a sketch of the week; watch future "ACB Braille Forum" articles, the pre-registration form, and the convention list and web pages for updates.

  • Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 12: Tours
  • Friday, July 5 through Wednesday, July 10: Seminars, special-interest affiliate meetings and programs, tech workshops, and tours
  • Saturday, July 6 through Wednesday, July 10: Exhibits
  • Saturday, July 6 through Thursday, July 11: General sessions and Marketplace
  • Sunday, July 7 through Thursday, July 11: Youth Activity Center
  • Sunday, July 7 through Thursday, July 11: Activities for teens (new this year!)
  • Thursday, July 11: Banquet


Pre-registration begins on June 1.  A one-page brochure will be distributed in mid-May announcing that registration is about to begin; the information will also be posted on the acbconvention, leadership, and ACB-L e-mail lists. The announcement will contain an estimated date that registration will be live on-line and a toll-free number for those who wish to register by phone.
Paper forms WILL NOT be sent to the entire mailing list. If you would like a paper pre-registration form, request it from ACB's Minneapolis office by calling (612) 332-3242 before May 1. Forms will be sent via first-class mail when pre-registration opens June 1.


The 2013 ACB conference and 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. Premium, tabletop and affiliate booth spaces are now available.
Look for special discounts on exhibit space for blind entrepreneurs, exhibitor discounts on advertising, and premium booth specials on registration bag stuffers.

Advertising and Sponsorships

Many outstanding opportunities are available to let attendees and folks at home know about your products and services. Color and black-and-white program pages, newspaper advertising, and ACB Radio spots and features are great ways to get the word out to potential customers.
Conference sponsors (our gems) have a unique opportunity to add their logos and names to workshops, seminars, educational and leisure activities, youth and teen programs, and convention services.  These are high visibility opportunities, with lots of extras such as program and newspaper ads, listings on the official convention T-shirt and sponsor board in general session, and features on ACB Radio.  It's great for businesses and affiliates; there are levels from pearl ($1,000) to diamond ($20,000), and all gems in between.
For more information on exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, 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

Every state and special-interest affiliate, every chapter, has 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 ACB Heroes section of the 2013 conference and convention program.  Heroes pages can include a 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!
Heroes pages must be reserved by May 15. For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 921-1625.

Scheduling Events

Breakfasts begin at 7:00, lunches at 12:15. Four afternoon sessions are available; session 1 (1:15 to 2:30) is reserved exclusively for special-interest groups. Sessions 2 (2:45 to 4:00) and 3 (4:15 to 5:30) are open to special-interest affiliates and ACB committees. Session 4 (5:45 to 7:00) is available to affiliates, committees and others not affiliated with ACB.
Anyone wishing to schedule programs or activities in Columbus should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 15.  Program details must be received by May 1.  Make all arrangements related to conference and convention events (reserve meeting rooms, order food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Janet Dickelman (phone (651) 428-5059 or e-mail


The Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio is home to ACB for convention week.  General sessions and exhibits will be on the third floor, registration is on 1, and meetings and events are on 1 and 2.  Hotel restaurants are on 2, and the food court is on 1.
Make hotel reservations by calling 1-888-421-1442. Room rates are $89 per night plus tax.  You can also book online by following the 2013 conference and convention link at
For convention questions or special concerns, contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, at (651) 428-5059 or by e-mail at Or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.