From the President

Dear Conference/Convention Attendees:

For the last time as your president, let me welcome everyone to the annual national conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind.  At the close of the banquet on Thursday evening I will conclude my sixth and final year in that capacity.

While we are gathering for the 52nd time in our history, this is ACB's first visit to Columbus, Ohio.  My initial visit to the state capital of Ohio was in the summer of 1968, when I attended Pilot Dogs, Inc.  My life-long fondness for White Castle burgers was born during that month.

Our conference and convention is being held at the modern and spacious Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus.  Among the amenities you will truly enjoy at our hotel is the most interesting and diverse food court I've ever seen.  It should entice both the budget-conscious, as well as the adventuresome "foodies" attending the convention.

The theme of the 2013 conference and convention is "ACB: Discovering New Worlds," and while we now know that the famous Spanish explorer wasn't even the first European to set foot in the Americas, there will definitely be much to discover in Columbus and at the conference and convention.  For those still wishing to see how Christopher Columbus traveled to the New World, a tour of a replica of his flagship, the Santa Maria, has been arranged.  Many more entertaining and educational tours are scheduled for the week.

This will be a very special conference and convention as we have the honor of hosting two guests from Spain: Miguel Carballeda, President of the Spanish National Organization of the Blind (ONCE), and Enrique Perez, recently elected Second Vice President of the World Blind Union.  It is ONCE's 75th anniversary so quite a feather in ACB's cap to have these very important leaders with us during this special year.

ACB continues to attract key Federal officials with responsibility for overseeing programs and services of importance to blind and visually impaired people.  This year we will again hear from the chief of the National Library Service, Karen Keninger, along with the newly appointed Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Janet LaBreck.  We will also be joined by Justin Hughes, chief negotiator for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the crafting of a treaty for the exchange of copyrighted materials across international borders.

Additionally, there will be a panel comprised of several of us who participated on the working group established to draft best practices for accessible prescription drug labels under the auspices of the U.S. Access Board.  No less than three presentations related to various aspects of accessible technology and much, much more is in store for you.

The ACB Board of Directors again wishes to recognize and thank our hard-working staff in the D.C. and Minneapolis area offices, as well as the scores of volunteers who make a convention of this size and scope possible.  We also want to acknowledge the efforts of the members of ACB's convention committee, chaired by Janet Dickelman, and our convention program committee, which I am chairing for the final time.  A very special "thank you" goes out to the Ohio host committee, led by Vicky Prahin, for their commitment and dedication over this past year.

I want to welcome those of you attending the ACB conference and convention for the first time, and those of you who are joining us after an absence of a few years.  I hope to meet as many rookies and returnees as possible this week.  Donna and I always look forward to meeting members of our ACB family.  If you can, catch us on the run and say "hi!"