Future Reflections         Convention Report 2010

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EDUCATION: TOP DOWN AND BOTTOM UP

Carol CastellanoFrom the Editor: The 2010 convention of the National Federation of the Blind opened with a day-long conference for parents, teachers, rehabilitation counselors, and orientation and mobility instructors. The Joint Conference for Families and Rehabilitation Professionals sprang from the combined efforts of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB), the National Association of Blind Rehabilitation Professionals (NABRP), and the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB) at Louisiana Tech University. The conference coordinators were NOPBC President Carol Castellano and PDRIB director Dr. Edward Bell. Here are their introductory remarks.

Carol Castellano: Our theme this year is "Education: Top Down and Bottom Up." Parents worry and sometimes experience real fear about the future of their blind children. What we imagine when we look down the road truly depends on what we come to believe about blindness. I'm happy to say that here in this organization we see that blind children can look forward to a future of independence, competence, confidence, and empowerment.

The ability of blind children and blind adults to achieve independence and full lives depends to a great extent on the foundation that their education and rehabilitation provides. The quality of that education and rehabilitation depends upon the training and expectations of those who are teaching. Education, both from the top down and the bottom up, is of great interest to us here today.

We are fortunate to have in the room with us, both as speakers and as members of the audience, teachers and rehab professionals who share our progressive views, our positive thinking, our high expectations, and our high hopes for the future. I welcome all of you and look forward to a great convention.

Dr. Eddie Bell: Thank you, Carol. It is my pleasure to welcome you all here today. This is our ninth annual rehabilitation and orientation and mobility conference, and this is the second year that we've hosted the morning session in cooperation with the NOPBC. In years past we used to look across the hallway at the parents of the children we were hired to teach, and we realized that they were discussing independence, Braille access, and many other topics that were a focus for us. It only made sense for us to hold a conference together. We all want the same things. We need to put our collective wills together to create a better education for blind children and adults across the country.

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce Dr. David Gullatt, who is the dean of the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University. The Institute on Blindness is part of the College of Education. Dr. Gullatt has been a real champion of our cause and is a strong force in helping keep the institute headed down the right path. This is his first convention, so as you see him around, please give him a warm welcome!

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