Braille Monitor                                                 December 2010

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Planning to Make History in Daytona

by Anil Lewis

NFB board member John Fritz sits in the Ford Escape that will be fitted with technology allowing it to be driven by a blind person.From the Editor: Anil Lewis is the past president of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia and recently resigned from the NFB board of directors to become its director of strategic communications. One of his major projects is the publicity for the Blind Driver Challenge. Here is what he has to say about the debut of the first vehicle equipped with prototype technology to put blind people behind the wheel:

Where will you be when we demonstrate the most exciting technology ever to affect the lives of the blind? If you start planning now, you can be in Daytona Beach, Florida, with hundreds of other Federationists who will be on site to witness this truly momentous event. On January 29, 2011, the National Federation of the Blind's Blind Driver Challenge will be featured as part of the pre-race activities of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.  In front of tens of thousands of fans, we will debut our prototype nonvisual interface that will empower a blind person to drive a car without sighted assistance. Who will be the driver? How does the interface work? What driving functions will be performed? Members of the National Federation of the Blind will be present in a big way to find out.

In Federation fashion, we have planned a fun-filled weekend of activity to celebrate this historic event. We are encouraging members to arrive in Daytona on Friday, January 28, and stay through Sunday, January 30. We have secured room and ticket prices that will make it possible for our members to attend. The following is a summary of event activities along with travel, lodging, transportation, and ticket information.

On Friday evening before the race, members are invited to gather in the ballroom of the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel for an update on organizational matters. Topics will be the logistics for the Blind Driver Challenge demonstration, the Imagination Fund campaign, and the Text2Give program. The race environment will be quite thrilling, and we encourage all race attendees to come to this session.

We will have Blind Driver Challenge polo shirts to commemorate the event. Members should wear the BDC shirts on Saturday to demonstrate their support. A limited number of BDC shirts will be available for sale in Daytona, but members are urged to purchase shirts from the NFB Independence Market before the event.

Round-trip transportation between the hotel and Daytona International Speedway will be available for our members to attend the demonstration only on the day of the event. Pick-up for attendees wanting transportation to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, January 29, will be at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel. Buses will arrive at the track two hours before the yet-to-be-determined time of the demonstration. Buses will return to the hotel after the conclusion of the demonstration. Some buses will leave the track two hours after the event, and others will leave four hours after.

In addition to witnessing the actual Blind Driver Challenge demonstration, members are encouraged to visit the NFB Blind Driver Challenge at the Sprint FANZONE area of the Daytona International Speedway, which will be open on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The second Blind Driver Challenge vehicle will be on display in this area, as well as information on Text2Give, bumper stickers and other surprises.

We will conduct a press conference immediately after the track demonstration of the Blind Driver Challenge vehicle, and we hope all members will plan to attend. Finally, on Saturday night we will gather in the ballroom of the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel to celebrate the events of the day.

For the race weekend we have negotiated discounted lodging at three hotel properties adjacent to each other. A minimum stay of two nights during January 28 to 30, 2011, is required. You can take advantage of the prices listed below as long as rooms are available under our block:

If you are planning to attend this exciting event but have not emailed to let us know, please email <[email protected]> with a message letting us know you will be there. For more information about the NFB Blind Driver Challenge, visit our Website at <>. For more information on logistics for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, contact Kristian Kuhnke at (410) 659-9314, extension 2219, or email <[email protected]>.

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