by Janet Dickelman
“Better Together Wherever We Are” was the theme of the 2021 American Council of the Blind conference and convention. This theme certainly exemplifies our 2021 virtual convention with 166 sessions, 41 exhibitors and 22 tours over the course of eight days! When you think about all the moving parts of putting this together, it is truly amazing! I don’t know where to begin to thank everyone who had a part in making this convention such a huge success.
ACB Media: for all the recordings, editing, streaming, and huge amounts of your time and efforts! I worked most closely with Rick Morin, Debbie Hazelton, and Jeff Bishop, but kudos to everyone on the media team. Boston Rick spent days camped out at his temporary broadcast site with a freezer full of ice cream to keep him company, while Tony Stephens kept things running from the Alexandria office broadcast center.
Then there was Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, who worked behind the scenes to make sure everyone was on time and video and audio ready to go during general sessions and evening programming.
Zoom: Deb Lewis for the herculean task of organizing all the Zoom sessions, creating over 300 personalized panelist Zoom invitations, and troubleshooting along the way. To Cindy Hollis, who ably trained all the Zoom hosts, and to Deb, Cindy and Debbie, who scheduled and kept track of all the broadcasters and Zoom hosts. To all those Zoom hosts who were always there keeping our sessions on track, you were always pleasant, patient and just amazing! I imagine you say “you can unmute now” in your sleep!
Staff: I work most closely with the Minneapolis staff, Nancy Becker, Nancy Christine Feela, Erika Keller and Lane Waters. Although you are ACB staff members, you go above and beyond with your time, dedication, and patience each year to assist with this convention. You make my life so much easier. Of course, everyone in Alexandria is also inundated with convention: Kelly with media, Sharon with the newspaper, Jen with communications and Eric guiding everyone with his humor and calm demeanor.
Sponsors: To our corporate sponsors and to those of you who sponsored at the individual level, thank you for giving to ACB during these difficult financial times. Your support is very much appreciated.
Exhibitors: Thank you for being in our virtual exhibit hall. I hope you found it a rewarding experience, and that the addition of Zoom rooms helped you connect with convention attendees. Thank you to Michael Smitherman, who worked with all the exhibitors to obtain their recordings, compile their Zoom room information, and ensuring that everything ran smoothly. Thanks to Debbie and Jason for putting the exhibitor loops together.
Special-interest affiliates and committees: Thank you for working to ensure all your panelist information was sent in on time, for letting us know about corrections, and holding such outstanding programming. Now that all sessions are available as podcasts, I can start listening!
Convention registration: Those of you who had assistance registering over the telephone had the privilege of speaking to Kim Carmichael, Tracey George, Karen Spry or Paula Wiese. Those ladies spent so much of their time ensuring that everyone who needed registration help received it.
Information and technology desks: Vicky Prahin and Jeff Bishop and their crews took on the role of answering information desk calls and technology emails throughout the convention. I know what a lot of work that was!
Long-time conventioneers: I missed seeing you in the elevator lines, restaurants and stopping by to chat. I look forward to visiting with you next year in Omaha.
New attendees: It was wonderful to have so many first-time attendees join us this year. We now know what a need there is to continue a virtual presence in future conventions. Thank you for sharing your stories and feedback.
Dan Spoone and ACB board: Thank you for your ongoing support and entrusting me with this awesome role as convention coordinator. I love doing this for ACB.
Notes: I really appreciate all the notes I received regarding this convention; I always welcome your feedback and suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to write.
To all of you: If I missed thanking anyone, it was not intentional but inadvertent. There were so many moving parts to this convention. Please know all your efforts were appreciated.
Now our focus moves toward Omaha, Neb. Convention dates are Friday, July 1 through Friday, July 8 at the Omaha Hilton. Room rates are $96 per night, plus tax. Reservation information will be posted later this year.
Staying in Touch
The conference and convention announce list will be filled with information. To subscribe to the list, send a blank e-mail to [email protected]. If you received updates for the 2021 convention, you do not need to subscribe to the list.
For any convention-related questions, please contact Janet Dickelman, convention chair, (651) 428-5059 or via e-mail, [email protected].