ACB's Golden Year, by Carla Ruschival

Fifty years ago, in 1961, 29 people met in a hotel in Kansas City, Mo., and the American Council of the Blind was born. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of people like Durward McDaniel and countless others, and despite the efforts of those who hoped ACB would succumb to a quick and untimely death, the fledgling organization spread its wings and became the proud leader and beacon of democracy we know today.

ACB celebrates its 50th anniversary July 8-16 in Reno, Nev. The 2011 ACB conference and convention is overflowing with informative programs, educational opportunities, and outstanding recreational activities. Here are a few examples of what awaits you in Reno:

ACB General Sessions and Banquet: From the keynote session on Sunday evening, July 10, through the 50th anniversary banquet on Friday, July 15, the 2011 conference and convention programming is absolutely stellar. Renowned national and international presenters bring up-to-the-minute news on the issues and topics of concern to you. The one-of-a-kind banquet will be brimming with fun; we've got the answers, but will you have the questions at the ACB Golden Anniversary Jeopardy!

ACB Workshops and Seminars: Technology, rehabilitation, transportation, employment and careers, legislation and advocacy, education and schools for the blind, women's concerns, public relations, and membership development -- these are just some of the quality programs coordinated by ACB committees and task forces. Something different every day, beginning Saturday, July 9.

Special-Interest Affiliate Programming: Truly a week-long buffet loaded with information, opportunity, and fun. Programming specifically designed around topics such as aging and vision loss, diabetes and other health issues, low vision issues, and the use of braille; special groups for attorneys, entrepreneurs, information technology specialists, Randolph-Sheppard vendors, students, teachers, guide dog users, library users, blind Lions, government employees, lesbians and gays, radio amateurs, artists and musicians, and veterans.

Product Showcase: The conference exhibit area is a mall, just for people who are blind or visually impaired. The latest high- and low-tech solutions for home, work and play; information and resources you can't afford to miss. Open every day from Saturday through Thursday; you'll need several hours to browse the aisles, ask questions, and gather information from knowledgeable company representatives.

Out and About: A smorgasbord of tours awaits you in Reno. Visit the control tower and dine in the Officers' Club at the Fallon Naval Air Station, or take a steamboat cruise on Lake Tahoe (Friday, July 8). Explore the Old West at Virginia City on Saturday, July 9. There are Reno city tours on Saturday and Sunday, and weekday afternoon visits to the phenomenal national automobile museum, the Nevada state museum and mint at Carson City, and the Davidson Tea Company and Chocolate Nugget factory outlet. You can try indoor rock climbing, parasailing at Lake Tahoe, reverse bungee jumping, and a 10-story-high swing. Cap off the week with lunch and wine tasting at the Tahoe Ridge Winery, or a cable car ride and dinner at Squaw Valley, Calif.

Fun at the Casino: At other conventions you need to ride a bus for these events, but in Reno you'll just come to the lobby to find all this fun! Special hands-on casino orientation seminars on Saturday and Sunday, ACB blackjack tourneys on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and an ACB Texas Hold 'em tournament (time to be announced); all with braille cards!

Traditional Fun: Many groups host fantastic events at conventions. There's the Welcome to Reno party sponsored by the local host committee, the RSVA auction and karaoke, the ACB Lions Pin Swap, and lots of mixers. Trade books at the LUA Book Mark-it, enjoy great entertainment at the FIA Showcase and Cabaret, and catch a movie or compete in games.

A Family Affair: Kids enjoy conventions, too. From Monday through Friday, the Youth Activity Center takes the younger set on educational and fun field trips. There's a special video gaming area on the second floor of the hotel, just for kids. While parents go to meetings, kids have a fantastic time in the YAC.

EXHIBITS, ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIPS: Premium and tabletop booths, program and newspaper advertising, ACB Radio spots and features, and conference sponsorships are available to help large and small companies and agencies tell attendees about their products and services. Deadlines are fast approaching; visit www.acb.org for more details, or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 331-7740, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

Special Golden Anniversary Pages: Here's your chance to congratulate ACB on its 50th anniversary and have your name included in the official convention program. Listings now available; call Margarine Beaman for details.

ACB Heroes: There's still time to share the accomplishments of special people in your local chapter or state or special-interest affiliate with the world. 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! For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 921-1625.

Pre-registration: Again this year ACB will mail a reminder card about the conference and convention. Pre-registration on-line and by phone will open near the end of May and remain open until June 30. Paper forms will only be mailed upon request; call the national office at 1-800-424-8666 or (202) 467-5081 if you wish to receive a paper form.

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, free access to the hotel pool and fitness center, and free valet or self-parking. Make reservations by calling 1-800-648-1177.

For the latest conference details, join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org. For 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 1-800-424-8666.