by Dan Spoone
Congratulations to our ACB members, staff and colleagues! We did it! Our first ever truly hybrid convention was a huge success. This year’s hybrid convention showcased ACB’s commitment to inclusion for all of our members and blind and low vision colleagues. All members had an opportunity to participate in the ACB candidate elections through the “Vote Now” platform. Congratulations to Gabriel Lopez Kafati, Terry Pacheco and Rachel Schroeder for their election to the ACB Board of Directors for the first time. We welcome back to the board both Jeff Thom and Koni Sims to continue their excellent service. Penny Reeder, Zelda Gebhard, and Cachet Wells were all re-elected to the Board of Publications (BOP) for an additional term. We also considered 20 resolutions and four constitution and bylaws amendments that were all debated and voted on by our members in both an in-person and virtual Zoom environment. There was healthy discussion, and everyone had an opportunity to participate. It was interesting to realize that two of our three newly elected board members participated virtually and one of our re-elected BOP board members also participated virtually.
The convention had amazing tours with a lovely walk across the Senator Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge from Nebraska to Iowa, featuring Omar the troll, and remarks from Megan Lawrence, Nike’s Vice President of Accessibility and Get Up and Get Moving Health Hero. There was a wonderful dinner cruise down the Missouri River, a historic tour of the Malcolm X Museum and a slugfest baseball game between the Omaha Storm Chasers and the Toledo Mud Hens. There were over 80 hybrid workshops with excellent sound quality and over 25 audio-described tours of our national parks and museums.
The virtual portion of the event was kicked off on Thursday night with an outstanding Friends-in-Art Showcase with amazing talent on display. The exhibit hall was back with a slew of vendors demonstrating new products and technology. It was amazing to physically get your hands on the items and have the full shopping experience. There was an audio-described showing of the movie “West Side Story” and a wonderful virtual auction that lifted everyone’s spirits for the convention with over 150 items. We recognized the last three years of JPMorgan Chase Leadership Fellows and DKM First-Timers during opening session. We also recognized three years of ACB scholarship winners and presented 20 video interviews with this year’s fantastic class of students. It was exciting to hear the affiliate roll call in the ballroom on Saturday night and let out a big scream for all we have been through over the past three years.
Unfortunately, we did experience our share of COVID-19 virus transmission, and the ACB board and members will need to discuss the consequences and options for future events. Both Leslie and I tested positive after returning home, and we know we were not alone. We recognize the challenge, and we sincerely hope that everyone is in good health. The reality is that this stubborn virus is becoming inescapable.
We have lots to learn from our first hybrid convention. I hope you had a chance to complete the convention survey. The convention committee has held multiple community calls to gather feedback from our members and friends. There have been meetings with the affiliate presidents, the ACB broadcast team, staff, sponsors and vendors. Janet Dickelman, convention chair, and Rick Morin, ACB Media Manager, will be compiling the results of these efforts for a comprehensive report to the board at the fall meeting in October. We appreciate all the member feedback. Your ACB leaders will be working to improve our 2023 convention in Schaumburg, Ill. Once again, thanks for an amazing 2022 convention in Omaha, Neb. and around the world through our ACB Media Network.