Future Reflections Convention Report 2011
by Deborah Kent Stein
The work of the National Federation of the Blind goes on year round, but our annual convention is the capstone of our effort and achievements. Convention brings together thousands of blind people, along with our friends and families, for a week of learning, strategizing, celebration, and fun. In the atmosphere of convention, no one is truly a stranger. People strike up conversations in restaurants, at the pool, in the exhibit hall, and even as they wait for the elevators. They share tips on technology and cane travel as well as good places to eat and interesting attractions to visit.
The seventy-first convention of the National Federation of the Blind met from July 3 through July 8, 2011, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Convention began with "When I Grow Up," a day-long conference for parents of blind children. While the adults listened to presentations and took part in animated discussions, kids had the chance to learn tricks and jokes from a professional clown in NFB Child Care. A variety of activities for kids and teens were available throughout the convention.
During convention dozens of NFB groups, committees, and divisions held their annual meetings. Some of these meetings focused on the concerns of blind people in a particular field or profession--blind lawyers, blind educators, blind musicians, blind people in health and human services, blind entrepreneurs, and blind scientists and engineers. There were sessions for blind seniors, blind students, blind parents, blind craftspeople, blind equestrians, and blind people in communities of faith. Anyone was welcome to attend any session, to ask questions, and to offer ideas. It was all about networking!
The general sessions, held on July 6, 7, and 8, included presentations on the education of and technology for blind children, the future of Braille and audiobooks, and challenges and opportunities for the blind community in the years ahead. President Marc Maurer reported on Federation activities during the past year, and the assembled members voted on resolutions that determine the organization's policies for the years ahead.
Convention closed on a high note with the annual Convention Banquet on the evening of July 8. Thirty outstanding blind students received NFB scholarships, and President Maurer delivered a stirring banquet address.
If you attended the 2011 national convention, the following pages may bring back fond memories and spark your anticipation of the convention to come. If you have not yet had the chance to attend an NFB convention, perhaps this sampling of conference presentations, accounts of convention events, and personal reflections will convince you to join us in Dallas for Convention 2012. We look forward to meeting you!