by Carla Ruschival

Kentucky is famous for its horses and the Kentucky Derby, and the national convention committee and the local host committee are off and running in the 2008 ACB convention race.

July 5 through 12 are the official dates, and Louisville, Ky. is the place. The 2008 convention of the American Council of the Blind will be held at the spacious Galt House hotel, on the banks of the mighty Ohio River in the heart of downtown Louisville.

The national convention committee has just completed its four-day fall meeting in Louisville. Here are some of the things we have accomplished:

Michael Smitherman, exhibits coordinator, interviewed potential decorators, and serious work is under way on the floor plan for the exhibit area. Exhibit packets should be ready for mailing and posting on the ACB web site earlier than ever this year.

Sharon Lovering and Patti Cox interviewed several photographers, and that individual will be selected before the end of the year.

Robert Spangler (our new tour coordinator) and Carla Ruschival began developing the bus contract for the tours and Youth Activity Center; this contract should also be complete by January.

Margarine Beaman concentrated heavily on accessibility details at the airport and hotel. She spent an entire day plus another afternoon scouring signage on every sleeping and meeting room at the Galt House, noting needed corrections in braille and/or large print. As she does each fall, Margarine is completing a list of details that the hotel will need to address by the time ACB comes to town.

Donna Seliger has graciously agreed to assist other convention committee members with mailing and paperwork, whether it be with exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers etc. Jerry Annunzio will work with Jay Doudna and Mike Duke again on audiovisual duty, but Jerry will also oversee the use of suites at the convention by special-interest groups and ACB committees; no more wondering where to find a key or when to set up your social! Mike Duke (public relations) and Brenda Dillon (advertising and sponsorships) are also hard at work in their respective areas.

One of the major duties of the committee at this meeting was to assist Robert Spangler (tours) and Patti Cox (Youth Activity Center) in the selection of sites to visit next July. We began with about 50 potential tour sites, and we will soon have the list narrowed down to about 20. Those 20 activities will be combined into events that are sure to please; watch the next issue of "The Braille Forum" for details.

Committee members enjoyed some delicious chili at the Louisville East Lions Club fall fundraiser. Following the great chili and homemade desserts, the committee held a get-acquainted meeting with many enthusiastic Kentuckians. Chair of the Kentucky local host committee is Darrell Buford; the vice chair is Jim Shaw.

Also on the national committee but not at the fall meeting is Pam Shaw. Pam will be in her familiar spot at the information desk for one more year, and she will be assisted ably by Jim Shaw (who is rumored to have tried every restaurant in Louisville at least once).

For those of you interested in guide dog issues, you will be pleased to know that Sheila Styron, president of GDUI, is serving as a consultant to the convention committee; long before the convention, Sheila will be meeting with Christopher DiIorio from Doodle Scoopers and with the Galt House to address relief area issues.

Sandy Isaac, who has worked with Kentucky deaf-blind consumers and professionals in the field for many years, will serve as a consultant to the national committee on reasonable accommodation issues. Sandy is very knowledgeable about resources for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in Louisville and throughout Kentucky.

You may now make individual reservations at the Galt House, but we ask that you reserve a room only IF you truly have plans to attend. The practice of reserving rooms just in case you decide to spend a week with ACB causes problems such as those experienced by many of you in obtaining rooms in Jacksonville and Minneapolis, and can result in unnecessary costs and inconvenience to both you and ACB.

To make individual reservations at the Galt House, call (502) 589-5200. Standard rooms (in the Galt House West) are $85/night. One-bedroom suites, which include a small parlor, are located in the Galt House East and are $105/night. All rates are single/double and are plus tax. Add $10/night for each additional person in the room; limit four people to a room, please.

To begin planning for convention events or reserve meeting rooms, contact Carla Ruschival by phone at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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