Future Reflections Convention Report 2012
by Deborah Kent Stein
Each convention of the National Federation of the Blind is unique, with its own set of speakers, workshops, and exhibits. Yet every NFB convention has the same sound, a symphony of tapping canes. It is the sound of thousands of blind people on the move.
The people tapping long white canes are the blind women and men who chair meetings, set up displays, sell merchandise, and still find time for fun when the work of the day is over. They are the children who play around the fountain, explore the lobby, and scamper down the halls with their friends. They are the teens who head for the pool or cruise the Exhibit Hall, examining the latest technological wonders. Some of the tapping canes are in the hands of seniors who are taking their first steps toward independence after vision loss.
The seventy-second annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind took place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas, between June 30 and July 5, 2012. Convention began with "Life in the Mainstream," an all-day conference for parents and teachers sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Other activities of specific interest to parents and teachers were spread throughout the week. Children from infants to age ten kept busy in NFB Childcare, while tweens and teens enjoyed fun and fellowship in a series of Youth Track activities.
Dozens of groups and committees held meetings during the opening days of convention. These included blind parents, blind lawyers, blind students, blind educators, blind people in health and human services, blind musicians, blind writers, blind equestrians, and blind people in communities of faith. Anyone was welcome to attend these meetings, to listen, ask questions, and share ideas. Convention is all about networking!
During the general sessions, more than twenty-five hundred blind people and their families gathered to hear speakers from the fields of education, industry, and the law discuss issues of importance to the blind community. NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer inspired his audience with his annual presidential report, summarizing the Federation's triumphs and challenges of the past year. The week closed on a high note with the Convention Banquet. Dr. Maurer gave a stirring banquet address entitled "The Intersection of Law and Love," and the 2012 NFB Scholarship winners received their awards.
The articles and photos in this issue of Future Reflections attempt to convey something of the substance and spirit of the NFB convention. Some articles are drawn from presentations given at the NOPBC conference or during the general sessions. In others, convention participants relate their personal experiences and explain what convention has meant to them and to their families. The photos capture moments of fun and excitement typical of convention week for all who take part.
If you attended Convention 2012, this issue may bring back fond memories and remind you of moments of discovery. If you haven't yet been to an NFB convention, perhaps you will be inspired to join us in 2013. We hope to see you in Orlando!