Touring Texas, by Janet Dickelman

Now that the holidays are over and winter is in full swing, it is time to think about all the excitement the 2015 American Council of the Blind conference and convention has in store for you. Convention dates are Friday, July 3 through Saturday, July 11.
 
Get ready to shop the exhibit hall (open Saturday through Wednesday), for the latest and greatest in technology and items for home, work, and play!
 
ACB affiliates and committees are beginning to plan their programs, seminars and mixers, which will begin Saturday, July 4 and run through Thursday, July 9. The program committee is working on presenters for general sessions. The opening general session is Sunday evening; morning sessions run Monday through Thursday, and the all-day Friday session will feature elections and ACB business.
 
Visiting local attractions is always very popular during the convention. This year we have a great variety of fun, educational, inspirational and thrilling tours. Please keep in mind that due to unforeseen circumstances, dates and tour venues may be changed.

Friday, July 3, Cowboys and Rodeos

AT&T Stadium

Regardless of your status as a football fan, AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is a fabulous venue well worth seeing. Visit the locker rooms of the team and the cheerleaders. Take a peek into what it would be like to watch a game from a luxury suite. Visit the press box where so many great interviews have taken place.
 
Learn about the history of the stadium and the teams and big games that have been played there.  Walk onto the playing field and stand on the star at the 50-yard line. Don’t miss out on this VIP tour and lunch!

Mesquite Rodeo

When you think of Texas, one of the first things to come to mind are horses, cattle, and barbecue! Friday evening join ACB at the Mesquite Rodeo.  Of course, this being Texas, we’ll begin the evening with a Texas barbecue. We are working on having audio description for the rodeo, too.

Saturday, July 4, Thrill Seekers and Cowboy Hats

Calling all thrill seekers! Zero Gravity Dallas is the world's only "Thrill Amusement Park" featuring 5 different extreme thrill rides, including the Bungee Jump, the Nothin' But Net, Texas Blastoff, the Skycoaster and the Skyscraper.
 
Not up for an adrenaline rush? Our other Saturday tour will be to the Stetson factory outlet store, where you’ll learn all about the history and production of cowboy hats and have a chance to bring one home. This tour will also include a visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards for food, shopping and a cattle drive.
 
Both Saturday and Sunday will feature our always popular city tours; ride in comfort while traveling the city of Dallas learning about its history and unique areas.

Saturday, July 11th, ‘Dallas’ and Horseback Riding

South Fork Ranch

If you ever watched the TV show “Dallas,” this tour is for you. Visit South Fork Ranch, where scenes from the famous TV show were filmed. The house is set up with various rooms where you can touch and learn about the show. Walk out by the famous swimming pool where many scenes were filmed. The tour guides are informative and enthusiastic, and the gift shops amazing!

Horses and a Cookout

Our final tour is to Riding Unlimited. Take a horseback ride; enjoy a hayride and cookout. Bring your guitar; it will be perfect for a sing-along under the stars.

Weekday Tours

During the week we plan to visit numerous sites:

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

This tour will include a customized hands-on experience with artifacts from the museum classroom.
 
During the tour, touch the World Trade Center steel from the 9/11 portion of the exhibit.  Pretend you are the president while in the replica Oval Office. There are also sculptures of the dogs (Barney, Miss Beazley and Spot) and the cat (India), and in the courtyard there are statues of both Presidents Bush. Exhibits have audio description.

The Dallas Holocaust Museum

This tour will include a very special white-glove tour where our convention attendees can touch artifacts from the Holocaust. There will also be a presentation from a Holocaust survivor.

Heritage Village and Old Red Courthouse

These Dallas historical sites depict life in the 1800s, with many hands-on exhibits and docents who will discuss what life was like in Dallas.

Art Lovers Tour

Meadows Museum of Art features tactile versions of paintings, Biblical art bronze sculptures, and specialized galleries have been created for Biblical archeology, Jewish art, religious architecture, Israeli art, African American art, and Hispanic art.

Sweet Tooth Candy Tour

Since everything is bigger in Texas, our Sweet Tooth candy tour will include not one but two candy retail shops.

Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch

Experience rare and endangered exotic wildlife in a unique and personal setting. What better way to learn about different species than by seeing them up close and hands-on? You’ll be able to pet a kangaroo, camel, lemur and more on this private tour (including lunch), designed for ACB!

Esther's Place (at American Foundation for the Blind

Esther’s Place is an 1,800-square-foot fully furnished model apartment with over 500 adaptive products which are available for hands-on demonstrations. This tour includes lunch.

Frontiers of Flight Museum 

This museum features over 30 aircraft and space vehicles.  See a full-size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer, military aircrafts, Apollo 7 and a Boeing 737-300. Learn the stories of Charles Lindbergh, Bessie Coleman, Richard Byrd, Amelia Earhart, “Jimmy” Doolittle, and many other famous flyers. There are numerous artifacts from air and space travel, many of which will be made available to tour attendees.

Texas Rangers Game

We’re waiting for the baseball schedule to be finalized. If it works out, we’ll take in a game and get a tour of the park.
 
The dates and full tour descriptions will be available on the conference and convention registration form. This year I will also post tour descriptions along with links to web sites on the convention-announce list.

Reservation Details

Room rates at the Sheraton Dallas are $89 (single, double, triple or quad) plus applicable state and local taxes (currently 13%) and tourism district fees (2%). For reservations by telephone, call 1-888-627-8191 and mention that you are attending the ACB convention in order to obtain our room rate.  To make reservations online, visit www.acb.org and follow the 2015 conference and convention link.
 
Stay in Touch!
 
Receive convention updates and information by joining the ACB convention e-mail list. Send a blank e-mail to acbconvention-subscribe@acb.org.
 
Convention Contacts
 
2015 exhibit information: Michael Smitherman, (601) 331-7740, amduo@bellsouth.net
2015 advertising and sponsorships: Margarine Beaman, (512) 921-1625, oleo50@hotmail.com
 
For any other convention-related questions, contact Janet Dickelman at (651) 428-5059, or via e-mail, janet.dickelman@gmail.com.