by Carla Ruschival

The 49th annual conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind will be one of the best ever. Make plans now to be in Phoenix July 9-17 for all the information, exhibits, fun and friends.

The beautiful Downtown Sheraton Hotel is home to ACB for convention week. General session and exhibits will be side by side on the third floor. Special-interest group meetings, workshops and social events, registration and the ACB Café will be on the second floor, with overflow on 3 and 4. After a busy day in exhibits and meetings, you and your friends may want to walk, grab a taxi, or hop a bus and explore the many restaurants and other attractions in downtown Phoenix.

Follow your treasure map in the Wild West with ACB tours. Arrive in Phoenix on Thursday so you can visit America's most awesome hole in the ground on the all-day tour on Friday, July 9 to the Grand Canyon. Or start your week off with great food and Western fun on Friday evening at Pinnacle Peak. Attend a Diamondbacks baseball game on Sunday afternoon; the stadium is only three blocks from the hotel, and lunch is included with the tour. The city tours are back by popular demand. On Monday, go rock-climbing (indoors of course; instructions for beginners included) or explore the Hall of Flame (perhaps the most fabulous firefighters' museum in America). Other weekday tours already marked on the map are the Stuffington Bear Factory, Herd Museum, Diamondbacks stadium tour, and Candy Company. Strike gold at a casino on Saturday, July 17, and celebrate your fabulous convention week with a great feast and "Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat." More tours to be announced next month.

Just for Kids: This is one convention that your kids and grandkids won't want to miss. The Youth Activity Center will be having their own treasure map and will be exploring all kinds of fun places. Blind, visually impaired and sighted kids are welcome. Light breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided each day. Every day (Monday through Friday) will be packed with activities and field trips; plenty of fun for kids and teens. Watch the Forum and acbconvention e-mail list for YAC schedules.

On the Serious Side: Workshops and seminars organized by ACB committees offer many opportunities for you to gather information you can use throughout the year. Examples include the Information Access seminar and grant-writing workshop on Saturday, July 10; public relations seminar on Monday; transportation seminar and grant-writing workshop on Tuesday; employment seminar on Wednesday; and membership and presidents' seminars on Thursday. Many more workshops and program details will be announced soon.

ACB general sessions are filled with high-interest presentations and topics. Special-interest affiliate break-out meetings will fill the afternoons with an incredible array of programs, speakers, and discussions. Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to [email protected]; we will post program and speaker information there as it becomes available.


Does AirTran fly from your airport? Thanks to ACB member Don Wilson, AirTran Airways is offering 2010 ACB conference and convention attendees a 20 percent discount off the lowest available one-way fare through their Event Savers program. This discount is available from July 6 to July 20 to Phoenix and return. There is no minimum stay or Saturday night requirement. You can confirm seats at time of booking, and will receive a one-time waiver of change fee per reservation for name or itinerary change (any applicable fare increase will apply). To take advantage of this program, call the Event Savers Desk at 1-866-683-8368 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Use the event code PHX070910, and be sure to tell the agent that you are attending the American Council of the Blind conference and convention in Phoenix.


Pre-Registration: It cost ACB nearly $17,000 to print and mail pre-registration forms last year. To cut costs and make the process more efficient and convenient, we are modifying the process beginning this year.

A conference and convention announcement will be mailed around mid-May, giving important reminders and details and letting you know that on-line and telephone registration is open. You will be supplied with a special number to call if you would like to register by phone. You may also choose to complete registration on-line.

You may request a paper form by calling the national office at 1-800-424-8666 NO LATER THAN May 1. Paper forms will be mailed around May 25.

Exhibits, Advertising, and Sponsorships: The 2010 ACB conference and convention gives businesses and agencies a chance to let people from all over the country and around the world know about their products and services. Booth space, advertising, and sponsorships are now available. Look for special discounts on exhibit space for blind entrepreneurs and exhibitor discounts on advertising. Reserve at least one premium booth space and we'll stuff one branded item for you FREE in the registration bags; a $250 value! Early-bird exhibit discounts close on May 15. Convention sponsorships and advertising must also be received by that date in order to appear in the official convention program.

For more information on exhibit, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, visit our website at; or contact Michael Smitherman (exhibits) at (601) 968-4164, or Margarine Beaman (advertising and sponsorships) at (512) 921-1625.

ACB Heroes: Every state, every affiliate has special people who have played significant roles in the lives of blind and visually impaired people. Often these outstanding individuals go unheralded on the national scene.

Now you can share the accomplishments of these special people by participating in the ACB Heroes section of the 2010 convention program. Heroes pages will be printed on high-quality paper; pages can include a color photograph of your special person and a short caption about his or her accomplishments. What a wonderful way to honor or memorialize that special person!

Heroes pages must be reserved by May 15. For more information, contact Margarine Beaman at (512) 921-1625, or visit

Scheduling Events: Special-interest groups, ACB committees, and others wishing to sponsor programs or activities at the convention should submit all information for the pre-registration form by April 1. Program details need to be submitted by May 1. Make all arrangements related to convention events (reserving space, ordering food or A/V equipment, etc.) with Carla Ruschival (phone, (502) 897-1472 or e-mail, [email protected]).

Make hotel reservations at the Phoenix Downtown Sheraton hotel. Room rates are $89 plus tax per night. Call 1-800-325-3535 to make reservations.

Keep up with all the latest convention announcements. Join the acbconvention e-mail list by sending a blank message to [email protected].

For convention questions or special concerns, contact Carla Ruschival, 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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