Future Reflections Winter 1993, Vol. 12 No. 1

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NATIONAL PARENTS SEMINAR AND 1993 NFB CONVENTION: TEXAS BECKONS

     It is once more time to begin planning to attend the most exciting, stimulating, and informative Federation event of the year--the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. For parents and educators of blind children, this is an unparalleled opportunity to see and meet more blind people in one week (up to 2,500) than most parents, children, or teachers would ever be able to meet otherwise in a lifetime.

     At convention you will have the chance to hear from national experts in the education and rehabilitation of the blind; meet other active, knowledgeable parents (and teachers) of blind children; browse for hours in one of the year's largest exhibits of technology and aids for the blind; sit in on deliberations about issues which will affect the education, employment, and civil rights of the blind for generations to come; meet the top blind college students from around the country; and socialize with blind persons of every age and from every segment of our society.  It is a unique opportunity to learn about blindness from the real experts on blindness--the blind themselves.

     In 1993 we will return to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hyatt Regency, where our spectacular fiftieth anniversary convention was held in 1990. Those who attended the 1990 convention will remember the lively 1950's atmosphere of Sullivan O'Shaughnessy's Restaurant, the tasty barbecue at Bear Creek, and the memorable Texas hospitality. NFB of Texas president Glenn Crosby promises that 1990 was only an opener for the 1993 extravaganza.

     As usual, our hotel rates are the envy of all who know about them. For the 1993 convention they are: singles, $31; doubles and twins, $35; triples, $38; and quads, $40. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is twelve percent. There will be no charge for children in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested.

     In recent years we have sometimes taken hotel reservations through the National Office, but for the 1993 convention you should write directly to: Hyatt-Regency DFW, Post Office Box 619014, International Parkway, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Texas 75261, or call (214) 453-1234. Hyatt has a national toll-free number, but do not (we emphasize not) use it. Reservations made through this national number will not be valid. They must be made directly with the hotel. The hotel will want a deposit of $40 or a credit card number. If a credit card is used, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $40 check. If a reservation is canceled prior to June 20, 1993, $20 of the $40 deposit will be returned. Otherwise, refunds will not be made.

     The Hyatt Regency DFW is actually located on the property of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and the airport people-mover train makes a stop at the hotel. The facility's 1,300 rooms are divided between two towers connected by a quarter-mile-long corridor. Many of us found that walking between the two towers provided welcome exercise, but if walking is a problem, electric carts are always available to carry guests back and forth. There are four excellent and very different restaurants within the hotel: Il Nonno's, an Italian trattoria, which specializes in northern Italian cuisine and has servers who sing to diners; Sullivan O'Shaughnessy's, which has already been mentioned; and two other fine restaurants. In addition, the bar in the East Tower serves sandwiches and snacks during most of the day.

     Convention activities this year begin on Saturday, July 3, with an all-day seminar for parents of blind children. The theme of this year's seminar is: Meeting the Needs of the Blind Youngster. Registration for the seminar will begin at 8:00 a.m.; and the seminar will start at 9:00 a.m. A general session with speakers and panels will be scheduled in the morning, and small group workshops will be conducted in the afternoon after a two-hour lunch break. The afternoon workshops will adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

     The afternoon workshop topics will include: Developing an Appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP); Networking Support for Parents and Professionals of the Blind Multiple Handicapped Child; The Needs of the Deaf-Blind Child; Promoting Good Travel Skills (Mobility); Integrating Braille into the Classroom and Everyday Life; Teaching Daily Living Skills: Who, When, and How?; Alternative Techniques for the Junior, Middle, and High School Blind Student; Teaching Responsibility: When and How Should Blind Children Take Charge of Their Own Education and Daily Living Needs?

     Another workshop option in the afternoon is the Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) workshop. The JOB workshop is designed to inform, educate, and encourage blind job seekers and blind students in transition from school to work. The JOB workshop can help answer general questions about jobs and careers, as well as specific blindness-related concerns, such as how you handle telling a prospective employer that you are blind or how one gets the adaptive equipment needed for a particular job. Blind teenagers and their parents should seriously consider attending the JOB workshop Saturday afternoon.

     There is no registration fee this year for the Parents Seminar. A packet of literature and materials will be available for those who want it for a fee of $5.00.

     Also on the day of the Parent Seminar (Saturday, July 3) the Parents of Blind Children Division will sponsor a program of organized fun and learning experiences for children ages 5 to 12. (We encourage older youth to attend the seminar with their parents or other NFB workshops on that day--such as the half-day Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) Seminar.) This year the children's program will be organized and led by Mrs. Carla McQuillan. President of the Oregon affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, Carla is an experienced educator with extensive experience as a teacher, administrator, and independent day care provider.

     This year's program will be a day trip to a nearby dude ranch which features, among other things, a huge petting zoo, a playground, hiking areas, and, for the older children, opportunities for horseback riding and learning about how to groom and care for horses. The grooming portion of the program will be conducted by volunteer members of the NFB Agriculture/Equestrian Group who work with horses either professionally or as a hobby. Since the number of children who can be accommodated for this trip is limited by space available on the bus, and by the ratio of volunteer workers to children, we urge you to use the form at the end of this article and pre-register your children for the Saturday, July 3, day-trip. Children will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Carla McQuillan if you have any questions about the day-trip, or if you have a child with special needs. The fee for the trip is $12 for the 5 - 8 age group and $16 for the 9 - 12 age group. This fee includes the cost of transportation, fees for the dude ranch activities, and lunch.

     Child care for infants, toddlers, and those who choose not to participate in the Saturday, July 3, children's day-trip activity, will also be available. The volunteer director of child care services is Mary Willows. Mrs. Willows is an experienced educator, the mother of two children, and a long-time blind leader in the Federation in her home state of California. This volunteer job is a major undertaking! It takes a tremendous amount of volunteer time from many Federation parents who care deeply about making the NFB Convention an enjoyable and enriching experience for every member of the family who attends.

     Child care is not only provided during the parent seminar on Saturday, July 3, 1993, but during the convention sessions, the banquet, and other special meeting times as resources will allow. Parents are asked to make these donations for child care: $50 for the week (including the banquet) for the first child and $25 for each additional child; or $10 per child per day, and $10 per child for the banquet night if you do not need the full week of day care.

(Parents who cannot contribute the suggested donation should contact Mary Willows to discuss what donation they wish to make. Mary will be available in the child care room before and after sessions, or you may contact her in advance at: 3934 Kern Court, Pleasanton, California 94588; (510) 462-8575. Since the suggested donation does not cover all expenses, other donations from individuals and groups are much appreciated.)

     But the Parent seminar on Saturday is not the only activity of interest to parents or the only chance to meet other parents. Saturday evening, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., the NFB Parent and Student Divisions will co-sponsor a Hospitality Night for parents. Everyone is invited, including children, to this informal event. Toys will be available for the young children to play with, and older youth will have a chance to mingle with each other and with slightly older college students who are members of the NFB Student Division.

     The NFB Parents of Blind Children Division Annual Meeting is held on Monday afternoon of the convention (July 5). At this meeting we get an opportunity to meet and hear from our parent groups from all over the country. We discuss local and national projects (such as our annual Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest), elect officers, listen to a presentation from the 1993 Educator of Blind Children award winner, accept committee reports, and discuss activities of our state and regional parent divisions and chapters.

     The following day, Tuesday, July 6, Claudell Stocker will once again conduct a special three-hour Introductory Braille Workshop for parents who want to learn Braille. She conducted this workshop at our convention last year, and it was one of the most sought-after, successful seminars of the convention! If you have been considering learning Braille or struggling to learn it on your own but not making much progress, you will not want to miss this workshop! It will be an intensive hands-on learning experience. The goal is for everyone to leave the workshop able to read and write some Braille. Space will be limited to 25 persons, so be sure to send in your registration form (see page 5 in this issue) right away!

     In regard to other activities, there are so many special interest committees and divisions that you are bound to find something up your alley. Here is a partial list: Parental Concerns Committee, Committee on Concerns of the Deaf-Blind, Music Division, National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, Diabetic Division, Writers Division, National Association of Blind Lawyers, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, and the Student Division.

     The general convention sessions, which begin Tuesday morning, always feature speakers of interest to parents--from blind adults talking about their interesting or unique careers (one year we had a blind horse trader, another year a blind pharmacist) to people of power and influence in the political and governmental arena as well as in the field of education and rehabilitation for the blind.

     Other events and meetings parents are invited--and encouraged --to attend are the Monday morning National Board meeting (the scholarship winners are introduced at this meeting, and other exciting announcements and reports are made at this time as well); the resolutions committee meetings, and the Thursday evening banquet--considered by many to be the highlight of the convention.

     To wrap up this convention article, here are some answers to questions parents often have about convention. If you have other questions or concerns about the convention, please contact: Barbara Cheadle, President, Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; POBC number: (410) 747-3358; or NFB National Office: (410) 659-9314.

     Q.: You mentioned an exhibit hall. Where and when will that be available at the convention?

     A.: The exhibit hall will be open all day on Sunday, July 4, and at various other times throughout the convention. Location of the exhibits and a complete schedule of hours will be listed in your convention agenda, which you will get when you register for the convention.

     Q.: Speaking of registration, when and how do I register for the National Federation of the Blind convention, how much will it cost, and what do I get for my registration fee?

     A.: Registration for the NFB convention will begin the morning of Sunday, July 4. The fee is $5.00 per person. You may also purchase banquet tickets at the same time. (The banquet is an exciting and lively affair at NFB conventions, and is considered by many to be the highlight of the convention.) The banquet is on Friday evening, July 3. The cost of a banquet ticket will be in the neighborhood of $22 to $24. The convention agenda (in print or Braille) is given out at the time of registration.
     Those who register are eligible for hundreds of great door prizes which are given away throughout the convention general sessions and the banquet. All door prizes are worth at least $25, and many are straight cash. But, most importantly, registration entitles you to receive our unbelievably low convention room rates. Those who attend but do not register for the convention will be asked to pay the considerably higher regular room rates.

     Q.: Our family would like to meet some compatible blind adults and students. How can we do that at the convention?

     A.: About the only way you can avoid meeting blind people at the convention is if you come and hole up in your hotel room for the week. Step onto the elevator and say "hello." Chat with your neighbor in the convention or hotel registration line. Talk to the blind parents you see as you drop off or pick up your child from child care (child care, by the way, is a great place for your children to meet other children and adults--both sighted and blind). Attend division and committee meetings, ask a question or introduce yourself to the group or to the person next to you. There are so many different types of divisions and committees to choose between that you are bound to find at least one that interests you. Attend the general convention sessions and sit with your NFB state affiliate (each state has a seating section clearly marked with a large state sign). Blind people from your state will be particularly pleased to meet you, answer your questions, and introduce you to others. There are also many social functions at the convention where you can meet others. For example, at our New Orleans Convention we had a concert by Pete Fountain, a dance, a fashion show, a music contest sponsored by the Music Division, a reception for NFB scholarship winners, a casino night fund raiser sponsored by the Student Division, and numerous tours on the half-day set aside for this activity. There will be numerous similar social activities at the 1993 convention!

     So, whether it be in the elevator, in a meeting room, in child care, in a line, over a meal, or over a beer, there is no lack of opportunity for meeting interesting, cordial, and compatible blind people at an NFB National Convention.

     The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is truly an educational experience in blindness. Nowhere else will you see so many blind people from so many different walks of life. Nowhere else will you hear the same kind of debates and discussions regarding crucial issues affecting the blind. And nowhere else will you find the same mix of knowledge about blindness, an upbeat spirit, a warm camaraderie, and a fierce dedication to achieving the goal of equality and equal opportunity for the blind. Come join us in Dallas for our 1993 National Convention!

PRE-REGISTRATION: CHILDREN'S DAY TRIP
Saturday, July 3, 1993    

Parent(s) Name(s):                                          

Address:                                                          

City:                        State:        Zip:                  

Home/Work Phone:                                         

     As you fill out the following information, please include the child's last name if it is different from parents' last name. Also include a description of any characteristics which may require medical or other considerations on the trip. Please note that although we will keep the ratio of volunteer adult workers to children low, we do not have the capacity to assign one adult to one child. The fees for the day trip are: $12 for children ages 5--8; $16 for children ages 9--12.

CHILDREN:   

1. Name                          Age               Grade                  

Blind or sighted                                                

 

2.Name                           Age    Grade                        

Blind or sighted                                                

 

3. Name                          Age    Grade                        

Blind or sighted                                                

    

Total Fee Enclosed: $_________

Please make checks payable to: NFB Parents of Blind Children.
Mail by June 1, 1993, to: Carla McQuillan, P.O. Box 020, Thurston, OR 97482
For more information call Mrs. McQuillan at: NFB of Oregon: (503) 726-6924

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