by Carla Ruschival

The 46th annual ACB convention is almost here. From June 29 through July 7, Minneapolis, Minn. will be the site of hundreds of informative programs, exciting exhibits and fun events.

Please read this article carefully. It contains answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive about the convention.

Hotel Reservations: If you are holding a room reservation that you no longer need, please DO NOT cancel that room directly with the hotels. Instead, call Carla Ruschival at (502) 897-1472 or e-mail [email protected] with the arrival and departure dates and the name under which the room was reserved. I will then transfer that room to someone needing a last-minute reservation. This will assist both individual conventioners and ACB, as it will help to insure that we utilize our complete room block and avoid, if at all possible, the need for a third hotel.

Hotel rates at the Hyatt Regency are $81 single/double, $91 triple/quad; at the Millennium rates are $84 single/double, $94 triple/quad. Rates are quoted per night, and do not include tax.

The Hyatt has been sold out since April; please make new reservations with the Millennium by calling 1-800-522-8856.

Welcome Party: Enjoy a wonderful strolling Dixieland band while you meet old friends and make new ones at the Welcome to Minneapolis party (Saturday, June 30 at 8 p.m.). The Minnesota host committee has a great evening in store, complete with door prizes and a warm Minneapolis welcome.

Pre-Registration: The target date for mailing pre-registration forms is May 10, and thanks to the outstanding cooperation from our special-interest affiliates, we should make that target. Remember that the packets are sent bulk mail due to cost considerations, so it may take up to two weeks for them to reach your mailbox.

The pre-registration materials should be on-line by the time the hard copy is ready to mail. You can complete the entire process on the ACB web site (www.acb.org).

In addition to the pre-registration form, you will find a booklet called "The Conventionscope" in your pre-registration packet and on-line. Take some time to review the "Scope" BEFORE you fill out the form; it contains details on how to complete the form, descriptions of tours, information on selected activities, and a mini-calendar with dates of special-interest group meetings.

Everyone can enter the sweepstakes and become a platinum, gold, silver or bronze convention sponsor, even if you aren't coming to Minneapolis. Sponsors receive special ribbons to wear on their badges at convention, and all names will be read during general session and on ACB Radio. Use the sweepstakes and sponsor form in your pre-registration packet to sign up.

Volunteers: There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at ACB conventions. We especially need sighted guides to assist in the hotel lobbies, in exhibits, and on the levels with the break-out rooms. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 206-0157, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Tour Dates: Here is a quick look at the tour schedule; see your Conventionscope for details. Remember that this schedule is unofficial and is still subject to change.

Friday, June 29: Landmark Museum (history of keyboards, etc.); St. Croix dinner cruise

Saturday, June 30: Minneapolis City Tour; Mall of America shuttle

Sunday, July 1: Minneapolis City Tour

Monday, July 2: Blind Services; Metrodome; Gangster Cave

Tuesday, July 3: Fort Snelling; cheese factory

Wednesday, July 4: Mill City Museum; Minnesota History Center

Thursday, July 5: James J. Hill House

Saturday, July 7: Mystic Lake Casino; Guthrie Theater (sensory tour, dinner and the play "1776" with audio description)

Banquet Details: The ACB banquet is always on the last Friday of convention, and this year you can choose your entree. Select from roast sirloin, Minnesota chicken, Minnesota wall-eye fish, or vegetarian; you must make your selection on the pre-registration form.

Paratransit Eligibility: If you wish to use paratransit services while in Minneapolis, call (651) 602-1111 several weeks prior to arrival to obtain an ID number; a temporary card will be mailed to you. To book a ride, call (612) 332-7161 up to 4 days in advance. Windows are 30 minutes; rides cost $3.50 one-way during rush hour (6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays) and $2.50 all other times. Same-day rides may be available; these rides are with taxis, and costs may vary.

Airport Taxis: Much has been said concerning taxi service for guide dog users from the Minneapolis airport to the hotels. Please be assured that the Minneapolis Airport Authority, the local host committee, the taxi companies, ACB and others have been working on this issue since January, and we do not expect to encounter any problems. Watch for further information in the pre-registration packet and on the ACB e-mail lists and web site.

If you have convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival, ACB convention committee chair, at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at [email protected]; or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.

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