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No Limits
The 2013 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) Conference for Families and Teachers

by Carlton Cook Walker

Shortly after my daughter, Anna Catherine, turned three, an ophthalmologist told me that she was "legally blind" and had central vision loss. I was surprised, but I was not particularly worried. At that point, I had not noticed any evidence of her visual impairment. Besides, blindness was nothing compared to what she had already faced.

Anna Catherine's first year of life had been filled with multiple hospitalizations, endless painful procedures, and tube feeding through a port in her stomach. Just before her first Christmas, her doctors warned us that our nine-month-old daughter might not live another year. They said we would be lucky if she lived to be five or six years old.

Thankfully they were wrong about her diagnosis, but Anna still had much to overcome. When she was one year old, she was finally strong enough to begin the physical milestones of infancy such as rolling over and sitting up. Shortly after her second birthday, a month-long stay at a feeding clinic taught her how to swallow. She spent the next year trying new foods and liquids, and we went a whole twelve months without a visit to a hospital emergency room!

Thus, even though I was not expecting the "legal blindness," I was not really worried. Anna acted just like most three-year-olds. Nevertheless, I began to research what this term "legally blind" meant. I found out that central vision loss can significantly impair one's ability to read print. I wondered whether she should start learning Braille. I wondered what her future would hold.

I soon found, however, that many people thought my ideas about Braille were simply wrong. Anna's ophthalmologists and optometrists downplayed my thoughts of Braille. "She should be able to read print, so she WON'T need Braille." Anna's educators conveyed a certainty that she would NOT be a candidate for Braille. They told me that she would need large print (36-48 point font) and, as a result, would be a slow reader. I wondered why these people who said she didn't need Braille were telling me about what she couldn't do because of her limited vision. Wouldn't Braille help?
 
Even in our own family, no one seemed eager to admit that Anna's life would be impacted in any way by "her eye issues." My husband retreated from any talk about Braille or canes, while other family members expressed great sadness "about her vision." One close family member was downright hostile and even forbade me from saying the "B" word--blind--in front of Anna.
 
Despite all this, I eventually knew that my little girl needed more than she was getting. I noticed that Anna was not as independent as her peers. My fearless toddler was becoming a fearful preschooler. One day while walking home from the library, I made Anna let go of her fierce grip on my hand. None of the other children at the library story hour held their parent's hand so tightly. Two steps later, Anna walked right into a telephone pole and ended up with a walnut-sized lump in the middle of her forehead. Immediately, I felt terrible and went back to holding her hand all the time. It seemed that her limited vision was truly going to limit her.

Fortunately, through a series of coincidences, I found out about the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and a conference being held in just a few weeks. Somehow, my husband agreed to take off work to go to this conference for parents and blind kids--even though he knew that Anna wasn't one.
 
In May 2005, at that conference in Baltimore, Maryland, everything changed. We met successful blind adults who showed us that blindness was not the tragedy we had been led to believe. We heard that blindness skills could "reduce blindness to the level of a physical nuisance." We learned that our little girl need not be defined by her visual acuity or her visual field. Before the conference, we had believed that the amount of vision Anna had would determine how far she would go in life. Instead, we began to understand that having the skills to do the task at hand, not level of vision, would be the most accurate predictor of future success for our young daughter.
 
At that 2005 conference, I also came to know the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). In addition to successful blind adults, we had the support of parents from all over the nation! While each family has its own story, we remain together on the same page of believing that our children can be as successful and as independent as they would be with full sight. With the help of successful blind adults, our children ARE reducing blindness to the level of a physical nuisance and tearing down the artificial vision-focused barriers erected by others.

Now, as NOPBC president, I have the great honor and pleasure of welcoming you to our NO LIMITS conference. NO LIMITS means sharing information, ideas, and dreams. NO LIMITS means mastering the skills needed for independence and self-determination. NO LIMITS means the amount of eyesight our children have will not be the determining factor in how far they go in life. NO LIMITS!

The 30th annual NOPBC Conference: NO LIMITS will take place from Monday, July 1 to Saturday, July 6, 2013, at the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Centre Hotel. We look forward to seeing you at our full-day seminar on Monday and at our many activities, listed below, which continue all week. Preregister (forms below) or register on-site in Orlando. Hope to see you there!

NO LIMITS!
2013 NOPBC CONFERENCE
Schedule of Activities for Parents, Teachers, Children, & Youth

MONDAY, JULY 1
Full-Day Seminar for Parents & Teachers 

7:30 - 8:45 a.m.—REGISTRATION

9:00 - 10:45 a.m.—GENERAL SESSION

Welcome—Carlton WalkerPresident, NOPBC 

Kid Talk with Dr. Marc MaurerKids get a chance to speak to the president of the National Federation of the Blind about anything on their minds

No Limits!—Anil LewisDirector of Advocacy and Policy, National Federation of the Blind 

Braille Readers Are Leaders Recognition

Life without Limits—Dr. Jessica Ewell, Opera Singer; Lindsay Yazzolino, MIT Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher

No Limits for These Kids!—The Students Speak

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
          Music and Movement with Conchita Hernandez, Special Educator
                                               
NOTE: NOPBC children’s activities will take place in NFB Child Care throughout the week.  Be sure to register your child with child care!  (NFB Child Care has separate registration and fees—see article elsewhere in this issue.)
  
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.—NFB YOUTH TRACK SESSION (ages 11-18)
Sponsored by NFB Jernigan Institute. 

PLEASE NOTE:

11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.—NOPBC CONCURRENT SESSIONS—PARENTS & TEACHERS

Access Tech: Apple Products
Come see how the accessibility of iPhone, iPad, iPod products, accessories, and apps could work for your child/student.  Instructor: Dan Wenzel, Manager, Youth Services, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).  NOTE: This workshop repeats at 2 p.m.

Early Childhood Language and Play
Learn how to create a stimulating environment for the development of language and play in the young blind/visually impaired child.  Instructor: Heather Field, Special Educator.

The Inclusive Classroom
How to set up the classroom and what the classroom teacher needs to know for the student’s full participation throughout the day. Instructors: Denise Mackenstadt, NOMC; Kristen Sims, Teacher of Blind Students.

Making and Understanding Raised Line Drawings
Participants will use Raised-Line Drawing (RLD) boards to create, erase, and revise images through free-hand sketching and more formal manual drawing methods needed for STEM curriculum content. Staff will share tips for improving student ability to read RLDs by touch and understand their content.  Instructors: E.A.S.Y. LLC Staff.

Social Skills for the Teen Years
Looking good, making friends, dating, and other concerns of the teen years.  Instructors: Deja Powell, Cane Travel Instructor, Fashionista; Garrick Scott, President, NFB of GA, Youth Mentor.

12:15 - 2:00 p.m.— LUNCH on your own.
          Pick up children ASAP from NFB Child Care at 12:15.  

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.—NFB YOUTH TRACK SESSIONS (ages 11-18)

2:00 p.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
                                               
          Hands-On Art with Ann Cunningham, Tactile Artist

NOTE: NOPBC children’s activities take place in NFB Child Care throughout the week.  Be sure to register your child with child care!  (Separate registration & fees)

2:00 - 3:15 p.m.—NOPBC CONCURRENT SESSIONS—PARENTS & TEACHERS

Access Tech: Apple Products
Come see how the accessibility of iPhone, iPad, iPod products, accessories, and apps could work for your child/student.  Instructor: Dan Wenzel, Manager, Youth Services, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). (Repeat of morning session.)

What’s Available?
What tools and materials are available for my child to use for access to a full education?  Where can my school get them?  Instructor: Eric Guillory, Director of Youth Services, LA Center for the Blind.

Movement & Exploration for the Young Blind Child
How can you get your child moving and exploring the world?  What if your child has delays?  Would a cane be good for your child?  The session will be appropriate for families with children with or without additional disabilities. Instructor: Mary Jo Hartle, NOMC, Teacher of Blind Students.

Aiming for Independence
Independent living skills for home, school, and community. Instructor: Melissa Riccobono, President, NFB of MD, School Counselor.

The ABCs of Braille
A hands-on workshop for adults that will teach the beginning of Braille reading and writing.   Instructor: TBA.

3:30 - 4:45 p.m.—NOPBC CONCURRENT SESSIONS—PARENTS & TEACHERS

Technology: Where Do I Start?
This session will explore the basics of access technology for blind/VI children.  Instructor: Jack Mendez, Director of Technology, LA Center for the Blind.

Social Skills for the Younger Years: Interaction and Play
How parents and teachers can facilitate the development of age-appropriate social skills in the younger blind/VI child.  Instructor: TBA.

Out & About: Independent Mobility for Your School-Aged Child 
High expectations, real-life goals, and how to achieve them in the area of independent travel.  Instructor: Denise Mackenstadt, NOMC.

Self-Advocacy: A Critical Life Skill 
We want our children to be able to take charge of their own lives as adults.  This workshop will explore the importance of self-advocacy and provide suggestions for teaching children to effectively speak up for themselves.  Instructor: Arielle Silverman, Doctoral Student, University of CO.

Persuade, Negotiate, Collaborate
Choosing your battles and resolving conflict at IEP meetings so that your child can benefit and make the most progress. Instructor: Sharon Maneki, NFB of MD, Advocate.

7:00 - 9:00 p.m.—NOPBC FAMILY HOSPITALITY
Relax, chat, meet new families, and connect with old friends. “Veteran” parents will be on hand to welcome you and provide information.  

TUESDAY, JULY 2
No NFB Child Care on this day

7:00 – 8:45 a.m.—NOPBC Board Meeting

8:45 - 10:30 a.m.—CANE WALK Session I

11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.—CANE WALK Session II
Learn and experience the Discovery Method of travel at these special workshops.  Parents, teachers, blind children, siblings welcome.  Instructors: Jeff Altman, NOMC, and cane travel instructors.

2:45 – 4:00 p.m.—NOPBC YOUTH STYLE SHOW
This is an opportunity for your aspiring model to take a walk down the runway in a favorite outfit from his or her closet.  Contact Kim Cunningham at 713-501-9659 or kim@gulfimagesphoto.com to sign up and for further information.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.—NFB YOUTH TRACK SESSION (ages 11-18) 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 3
10:00 a.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 6-12, in NFB Child Care)
                                               
          Astronaut Activities with Noreen Grice, Accessible Astronomy Educator

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.—NFB YOUTH TRACK SESSION (ages 11-18) 

12:45 p.m.—You may drop off your child early at child care on this afternoon so that you can attend the NOPBC Annual Meeting. 
          NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
                                               
          Beep Kickball with Judy Byrd, Beep Kickball Association

1:00 - 4:00 p.m.—NOPBC ANNUAL MEETING: OPTIONS & OPPORTUNITIES
Keynote address by the 2013 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children award winner, special guest speakers, news from NASA, cutting-edge information on products and services, summer programs for our kids, Parent Power, business meeting, elections, and much more!

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.—BRAILLE BOOK FAIR 
A book lover's dream!  Browse tables of new and used Braille and print/Braille books.  Volunteers will box your books and the post office will deliver them to your home as Free Matter.  Books are free; donations are encouraged to help support our Braille programs. Cosponsored by NOPBC & NAPUB. Coordinator: Krystal Guillory, Teacher of Blind Students, NFBL BELL Coordinator.

7:00 - 9:00 p.m.—NFB YOUTH TRACK ACTIVITY (ages 11-18)

7:30 - 9:00 p.m.—DADS’ NIGHT OUT
All dads, sighted and blind, are welcome.  Call Jim Beyer at (406) 239-2057 for location.  

9:00 - 10:00 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
Facilitated convention experience for tweens & teens.  Facilitator: Carlton Walker, President, NOPBC.

THURSDAY, JULY 4
7:00 - 9:00 a.m.—NOPBC BOARD MEETING  
8:45 – 9:20 a.m.—CONVENTION 101
                                               
Facilitated convention experience for tweens & teens.  Facilitator: Carlton Walker, President, NOPBC.

10:00 a.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 6-12, in NFB Child Care)
                                               
          Making Raised-Line Drawings with Staff of E.A.S.Y. LLC

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
2:00 p.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 5-12, in NFB Child Care)
                                               
          NASA at Your Fingertips with David Hurd, NASA Scientist

5:10 - 5:35 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
                                               
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.—NOPBC CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY (ages 5-12) Crafts & Games—For children whose parents are attending NOPBC evening workshops.
7:00 - 9:45 p.m.—NOPBC CONCURRENT SESSIONS—PARENTS & TEACHERS

7:00 - 8:15 p.m.
Homeschooling a Blind/Visually Impaired Child
Come network with other homeschoolers to share information and tips and discuss the challenges and satisfactions of homeschooling. Instructor: Heather Field, Special Educator.

7:00 - 8:15 p.m.
IEP Basics for Parents of Blind/VI Students 
The sections of the IEP, essential assessments, how assessment information is used, how to be an active and effective participant. Instructor: Carlton Walker, Attorney, Teacher of Blind Students.

8:30 - 9:45 p.m.                                                           
IEP Development and Legal Process Overview
Dos & Don’ts for the IEP meeting; preparing for possible mediation, due process, appeal, etc.; overview of the legal process; how to prepare for a due process hearing so you don’t have to have one! Instructor: Carlton Walker, Attorney, Teacher of Blind Students.
NFB YOUTH TRACK ACTIVITY (ages 11-18)—Time TBA

FRIDAY, JULY 5
8:15 – 8:50 a.m.—CONVENTION 101
Facilitated convention experience for tweens & teens. Facilitator: Carlton Walker, President, NOPBC.
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
5:10 – 5:35 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
                                                         
SATURDAY, JULY 6
8:15 – 8:50 a.m.—CONVENTION 101
Facilitated convention experience for tweens & teens. Facilitator: Carlton Walker, President, NOPBC.
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
5:10 – 5:35 p.m.—CONVENTION 101
                                               

NOPBC INSIDER INFORMATION

National convention is a complicated week of events.  Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and take advantage of the many opportunities that will be available. 
Registration Information:

 Activities for Children & Youth; Child Care Information:

Seminar Day Information

Other Activities Going on All Week Long

In addition to the special NOPBC activities for parents, children, and youth listed in this document, other activities that you and your child may be interested in attending will be going on all week.  Often many activities are going on at the same time and you and your child will have to make choices!  Here is a sampling:

NOPBC Family Outing to Gatorland

Gatorland has made it possible for NOPBC families to visit the park on Sunday, June 30 at a discounted rate.  Please note, this is the day BEFORE our full-day seminar.  We will meet in the lobby of the Rosen Centre Hotel at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday and then carpool or cab-pool to Gatorland, which is a short distance from the hotel.  We can then enjoy the park from 1:30 to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., depending on their closing time that day. 

Cost of the discounted tickets will be $17.49 for adults and $10.75 for children 3-12 years.  Children under 3 are free.  Visit the Gatorland website at <www.gatorland.com/index.shtml> to see all the fun-filled activities they offer. 


REGISTRATION
NOPBC 2013 CONFERENCE—NO LIMITS! 

Make check payable to NOPBC and mail with forms to:
Pat Renfranz, NOPBC Treasurer
397 Middle Oak Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Save money by preregistering! Preregistration must be postmarked by June 15.
After June 15, please register on-site in Orlando.    


FEES

By June 15

On-site in Orlando

Adult

$30

$35

Child/Youth  (up to 18 years)

FREE
Children are free, but please list names & ages below

FREE

Adult Name ____________________________________________________
     [ ] parent                [ ] professional            [ ] other____________________
Adult Name ____________________________________________________
     [ ] parent    [ ] professional            [ ] other____________________

Please list additional adults on a separate sheet.

Address ______________________________ City _____________________
State _______        Zip _____________            Phone ___________________
Email _______________________________ Alt. phone ________________

Child/Youth 1—Name (first and last), age, brief description of vision and any additional disabilities: _____________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Child/Youth 2:  ___________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

Please list additional children/youth on a separate sheet.

How many?                             Prereg. by June 15                           On-site reg.
Adults  _____                          @ $30    =  $______        or             @ $35   =  $______   
                                                                                   
Child/Youth  _____                 FREE                                                   FREE  =  $__00__   
                                                                                                               
                                                                                                     Total enclosed: $_________


___ I receive Future Reflections.   
___ I am a member of my state NFB/POBC.

___ This is my first national convention. 
___ If not the first, how many have you attended? 


PLEASE NOTE: Preregistrations postmarked after June 15 will be returned.
Also, remember that registrations for the NOPBC Conference and NFB child care are separate and must be mailed to different places.


WORKSHOP & ACTIVITY SIGN-UP

SUNDAY, JUNE 30 (Day before conference begins)
1:00 p.m.—Trip to Gatorland (Please list how many will attend)
           _____ Adults    _____ Children 4-12 years    _____ Children 3 & under
                    ($17.49)                ($10.75)                               (Free)
(Payment is due the day of the trip.)

MONDAY, JULY 1
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. (Please mark how many will attend each session)

_____ Access Tech: Apple Products 
_____ Early Childhood
_____ Inclusive Classroom 
_____ Raised Line Drawings
_____ Social Skills—Teens

2:00 - 3:15 p.m. (Please mark how many will attend each session)

_____ Access Tech: Apple Products
_____ What’s Available?
_____ Movement & Exploration for the Young Blind Child
_____ Aiming for Independence
_____ ABCs of Braille

3:30 - 4:45 p.m.  (Please mark how many will attend each session)

_____ Technology: Where Do I Start?
_____ Social Skills—Younger Children
_____ Out & About: Independent Mobility for Your School-aged Child 
_____ Self-Advocacy 
_____ Persuade, Negotiate, Collaborate

CHILDREN—You must register your child for NFB child care for the day for child to participate.  Child care has separate registration and fees. (See article elsewhere in this issue.)

Please mark how many children will attend each session
                    
            _____ 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.: Music & Movement (ages 5 – 12)
                   Name _____________________          Age_______
                                        _____________________         Age_______

            _____ 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.: Hands-On Art (ages 5 – 12)          
                    
                      Name _____________________       Age_______
                                _____________________       Age_______
TUESDAY, JULY 2       
8:45 - 10:30 a.m.:  Cane Walk Session I  
          _____ Adults    _____ Children            _____ Youth
                                _________ Ages          _________ Ages

11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.:  Cane Walk Session II                                                       
          _____ Adults    _____ Children            _____ Youth
                                _________ Ages          _________ Ages

2:45 – 4:00 p.m.—Youth Style Show
      Name _____________________    Age_______
                _____________________    Age_______     
                   
WEDNESDAY, JULY 3 

CHILDREN—You must register your child for NFB Child Care for the day for child to participate (separate registration and fees)

Please mark how many children will attend each session
                                                            
            _____ 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.—Astronaut Activities (ages 6-12;
                                                                   mature 5-year-olds may attend)
                        Name _____________________ Age_______
                                   _____________________ Age_______

            _____ 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.—Beep Kickball (ages 5-12)
                        Name _____________________ Age_______
                                   _____________________ Age_______

THURSDAY, JULY 4 

CHILDREN—You must register your child for NFB Child Care for the day for child to participate (separate registration and fees)

Please mark how many will attend each session
                                                            
            _____ 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.—Making Raised-Line Drawings (ages 6-12)
                        Name _____________________ Age_______
                                   _____________________ Age_______
          _____ 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.—Space Exploration (ages 5-12)
                        Name _____________________ Age_______
                                   _____________________ Age_______

ADULTS
            
7:00 - 8:15 p.m.  (Please mark how many will attend each session) 

         _____ Homeschooling

         _____ IEP Basics for Parents of Blind/VI Students

8:30 - 9:45 p.m.  (Please mark how many will attend)
          _____ IEP Development and Legal Process Overview

CHILDREN (ages 5-12 years)

Please Note: Sign your child up for this activity only if you will be attending NOPBC workshops on Thursday evening.

           _____7 - 10 p.m.  Crafts & Games (Please mark how many will attend)

                   Name _____________________ Age_______
                             _____________________ Age_______


NOPBC 2013 CONFERENCE OVERVIEW

Gatorland trip is Sun., June 30.  Teen Room & Tween Room schedules to come.

Monday, July 1
9:00 - 10:45 a.m.                     No Limits Seminar (Adults, Children, Youth)
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.         NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.         Youth Track
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.         NOPBC Concurrent Workshop Sessions
1:30 - 4:30 p.m.                      Youth Track
2:00 p.m.                                 NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
2:00 - 3:15 p.m.                      NOPBC Concurrent Workshop Sessions
3:30 - 4:45 p.m.                      NOPBC Concurrent Workshop Sessions
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.                      Family Hospitality

Tuesday, July 2
7:00 – 8:45 a.m.                    NOPBC Board Meeting
8:45 - 10:30 a.m.                   Cane Walk Session I (Adults, Children, Youth) 
11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.       Cane Walk Session II (Adults, Children, Youth)
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.                    Youth Style Show
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.                     Youth Track

Wednesday, July 3       
9:00 a.m.                              NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.     Youth Track
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.                  NOPBC Annual Meeting—Drop kids in child care early
2:00 p.m.                              NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.                   Braille Book Fair
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.                  Youth Track
7:30 - 9:00 p.m.                  Dad’s Night Out
9:00 – 10:00 p.m.               Convention 101

Thursday, July 4           
7:00 – 9:00 a.m.                 NOPBC Board Meeting
8:45 – 9:20 a.m.                 Convention 101 meets
10:00 a.m.                           NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
12:15 – 1:15 p.m.               Convention 101 meets
2:00 p.m.                              NOPBC Children’s Activity in Child Care
5:10 – 5:35 p.m.                 Convention 101 meets
7:00 - 9:45 p.m.                  NOPBC Concurrent Workshops
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.              Children’s Activity for children whose parents are in the NOPBC workshops
Time TBA                              Youth Track

Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6
8:15 – 8:50 a.m.              Convention 101 meets
12:15 – 1:15 p.m.            Convention 101 meets
5:10 – 5:35 p.m.              Convention 101 meets

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