ACB in the Silver State: 2011 Conference and Convention

by Carla Ruschival

We're making plans. Excitement is building. The 2011 conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind is happening in Reno, Nevada, July 8-16. Plan now to be there to celebrate ACB's 50th birthday -- our golden past, our diamond future. 

It is the end of January as I write this article. Already the national office and I are receiving lots of conference-related calls. Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions from individuals, agencies and others. 

** PROGRAM: Speakers and presenters at general sessions and break-out meetings are published in the conference program. As has been true in the past, you may pick up your program with your registration materials when you arrive in Reno, or you may download it from the ACB web site AFTER June 25. ACB DOES NOT mail programs prior to the conference. 

Here is a sketch of the week; more details will be included in the April "Braille Forum" and on the pre-registration form. 

Friday, July 8 and Saturday, July 16: tours 

Saturday, July 9 through Thursday, July 14: Exhibits, ACB seminars, special-interest affiliate meetings and programs, tech workshops, tours 

Sunday, July 10 through Friday, July 15: ACB general sessions 

Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15: Youth Activity Center 

Friday, July 15: ACB Golden Anniversary banquet 

** REGISTRATION: Pre-registration begins in late May. A card will be sent in mid-May to the "Braille Forum" list, 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. 

We WILL NOT send paper forms to the entire mailing list. If you would like a paper form, request it from Sharon Lovering at the ACB national office before May 1. Forms will be sent via first-class mail when pre-registration opens at the end of May. 

** EXHIBITS: The 2011 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. 

New this year are rebates for exhibitors who stay all six days (Saturday through Thursday). Also new are a limited number of half-week specials (Saturday through Monday OR Tuesday through Thursday); perfect for the small business or agency that just cannot stay the entire time. 

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 programs, and convention services. High visibility; 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. Great for businesses and affiliates; pearls ($1,000) to diamonds ($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 affiliate have 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. 

Now you can share the accomplishments of these special people by participating in the ACB Heroes section of the 2011 conference and convention program. Heroes pages will be printed on high-quality paper; 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: The ACB board has approved new session schedules for this year. 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. Evening schedules remain the same as previous years. 

Anyone wishing to schedule programs or activities in Reno 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 Carla Ruschival (phone (502) 303-7042 or e-mail 

** HOTEL: The John Ascuaga Nugget Hotel Resort Casino is home to ACB for convention week. General session, exhibits, registration, the ACB Café, and many special-interest affiliate meetings will be on the second floor. Other seminars and programs will be on 3; no need to go through the casino to get to conference meetings and events. Most restaurants are on the first floor. 

Make hotel reservations by calling 1-800-648-1177. Room rates 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 the airport, or the bus or train station. 

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