by Carla Ruschival

The 2009 ACB convention was nothing short of terrific! Every convention has its special qualities and unique characteristics, and we all returned home from Orlando with a whole new set of great convention memories.

I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the staff of the Rosen Center Hotel for its unparalleled work and volunteer effort on this convention. From catering and convention services to audio/visual to accounting and beyond, the staff's work was nearly flawless. Staff spent countless hours as volunteers after their shifts ended, and some were even seen waiting at elevators and in the lobby at the end of the week to say good-bye to their new ACB friends.

The Florida host committee played a major role in the success of the convention. Despite some unforeseen circumstances beyond anyone's control, we were warmly welcomed to Orlando by the Florida Council and the local host committee. No task was left undone, no stone left unturned as we worked together prior to and during convention week. Thank you, Florida, for your tremendous work and for your special ACB spirit.

A huge thanks also goes to the ACB convention committee, staff and volunteers who pitched in to make this convention possible. Without each and every one of you, the week would not have been successful.

Now we turn from the southeastern corner of the country to the sunny southwest. The 2010 convention will be in Phoenix the week of July 9-17. The Arizona local host committee is up and running, and plans are starting to take shape for another super convention next summer.

With every convention comes change, and 2010 will be no exception. Several years ago ACB began pre-registering convention attendees online. At first only the form could be completed; payment was either mailed in or made by credit card on the telephone. Then it became possible to make payments online, and at that point paperless pre-registration became extremely popular. Now over two-thirds of all pre-registrations are received online.

The cost of printing and mailing the 2009 pre-registration packet was approximately $15,000, and costs are projected to increase again this year. Individuals who pre-register using the paper form often tell us that they have to wait to have someone read the form to them and then help fill it out.

In an effort to cut costs as well as to provide better service to all of our members, we are making plans to make some major changes to the pre-registration process. A convention brochure will be mailed in May, in place of the pre-registration packet. The entire form and other convention information will be placed online. Complete paper packets will be available upon request. Pre-registrations will be accepted online, on the paper form, and by telephone. Anyone not wishing to register online will be able to do so by phone, thus eliminating the need to wait for the paper form to arrive in the mail, the sometimes frustrating task of obtaining a reader, and the time needed for the completed form to return to Minneapolis through the mail. Watch for more details on this new telephone pre-registration option.

You may now begin making reservations for the 2010 convention. The brand-new Phoenix Downtown Sheraton is our convention home, and rates are $89 a night, single/double, plus tax. Make reservations by calling 1-800-325-3535, and be sure to tell them you are with the American Council of the Blind.

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