ACB's Golden Anniversary, by Carla Ruschival

Explore ACB's golden past and diamond future at the 50th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind. It's happening July 8-16 at the fantastic 29-story, twin-tower John Ascuaga Hotel Resort Casino in Reno, Nev.

The 2011 conference and convention is packed with an incredible array of 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; 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 in the Youth Activity Center. They'll love the daily 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: Pre-registration will be open throughout June. Pre-register by telephone or on-line at www.acb.org 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.

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 undivided attention.

Request interpreters and other reasonable accommodations NO LATER THAN June 15. You may call the national office at (800) 424-8666, fill in the appropriate spaces on the pre-registration form, or e-mail Carla Ruschival at adamcarla@bellsouth.net. 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 advertising packages for ACB Radio 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 www.acb.org, or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

CONVENTION ON A BUDGET: Money is tight this year for many folks, so here are some tips for coming to ACB's 50th birthday party on a budget.

Start saving the minute you arrive in Reno. Take the free shuttle from the airport to the hotel. If you arrive late at night, or if you are coming via bus or train, call the hotel when you arrive and they will send the shuttle. If you are driving to Reno, you can park free at the hotel - a tremendous savings.

Choose free and low-cost events. Every day offers free activities, tech sessions and/or programs; many are listed on the pre-registration form for your information, and the program will include many more, plus times and details. Sign up for low-cost workshops and seminars; tickets are $5 to $10, and the topics are timely and the presentations are excellent. Many social events are priced between $10 and $20. Of the 20 different tours and related events, 13 are priced under $50, and 7 of those 13 are $15 to $30.

Use the conference and convention for professional development. Even if your employer doesn't pay for travel, he might give you some days if you attend job-related events such as seminars, workshops and program sessions. If you are self-employed, or if you participate in work-related events for which your expenses are not reimbursed, you might be able to use the expenses when you itemize your taxes. Remember to include hotel room, per diem, etc., when figuring those expenses.

You can eat for less this year. Nearly all of the special breakfasts and lunches are sporting reduced prices (see the pre-registration form). Plan your meals around restaurant specials; Rosie's Café on the first floor of the hotel offers an extensive menu and very reasonable prices.

HOTEL RESERVATIONS: The ACB room block is in the West Tower. The room rate is $87 single/double, plus tax. Add $10 per person per night for additional people in your room. Make reservations by calling the John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel Resort Casino at 1-800-648-1177. Use group code "gblind" to insure that you receive the ACB rate.

Make hotel reservations on-line. Visit www.januggetsecure.com/jump/1308 to check it out. Be sure to give us feedback concerning your online reservation experience.

CONVENTION INFORMATION: Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org. Posts on the list will include information such as local transit information, hotel menus, lists of area businesses and important phone numbers etc.

For convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival, ACB convention committee chair, at (502) 303-7042 or by e-mail at adamcarla@bellsouth.net; or call the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081 or 1-800-424-8666.