by Carla Ruschival

Florida is famous for its sunshine, and whether it comes from the sky or from a tall chilled glass of orange juice, it's sure to make you feel extra special. The 2009 ACB convention will be full of sunshine, energy and excitement, and we hope you are planning to be there to soak up all the rays of information and fun that will come your way throughout the week.

July 4-11 are the official dates, and Orlando, Fla. is the place. The 2009 convention will be held at the spacious Rosen Centre hotel on world-famous International Drive.

The national convention committee has held its fall meeting in Orlando. Here are some of the things we have addressed.

Exhibits are a huge part of every convention. What a great way to let blind and visually impaired people know about your business or service! Michael Smitherman has interviewed potential decorators and has begun serious work on the floor plan for the exhibit hall. Packets should be ready shortly after the new year. Donna Seliger is cleaning up the mailing list and will once again handle at least three mass mailings; Earlene Hughes will post the information on the web site.

Margarine Beaman checked the braille and large print signage on every sleeping and meeting room at the hotel. She is developing a list of signage and accessibility details that the hotel will need to address by the time ACB comes to town. Margarine is also working with the airport to identify accessibility issues and volunteer needs; the Orlando airport is no small place, so she has much to do.

Mike Duke (public relations) and Brenda Dillon (advertising and sponsorships) are hard at work in their respective areas, and Janet Dickelman is settling in to the operation of the Information Desk. Debbie Grubb, 2009 consultant on guide dog issues, and Christopher DiIorio of Doodle Scoopers are working with the hotel on placement of the relief areas.

One way conventioners get out to see the community is with ACB tours, and Jerry Annunzio is creating a lineup of fun activities that will have you petting an alligator, visiting the largest library for the blind in the world, lying on a bed of nails, and learning about the space program. Look for lots of details in the next "Braille Forum."

The local host committee is off to an outstanding start. Co-chairs Sally Benjamin and Debbie Drylie are great leaders, and the entire committee is proving to be a phenomenal team. The host committee receives a list of 20-plus tasks that they need to accomplish both before and during the convention. This committee already has completed work on several of those tasks.

You may now make individual reservations at the Rosen Centre, 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 Rosen Centre, call (407) 996-9840. Rooms are $83 per night single/double, plus tax. Add $10 per night for each additional person in the room.

To plan 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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