American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Convention 2021 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
by Deborah Kent Stein
When I think of the annual NFB Convention, what comes to mind are crowds in the Exhibit Hall, standing ovations in General Sessions, packed elevators, late-night talks with friends, and everywhere the energetic tapping of long white canes. In the spring of 2020, however, it became clear that a face-to-face convention was impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With only a few weeks’ notice, Federation leaders organized our first-ever virtual convention. Connected on the Zoom platform, more than ten thousand blind people from all over the world listened to dynamic speakers and gathered for workshops and discussions. Convention 2020 proved to be the largest gathering of blind people in history.
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 swept the country in 2021, plans for a face-to-face convention had to be set aside for the second year in a row. Once again Federationists rallied to meet the challenge. Held virtually over Zoom, the 2021 NFB National Convention was packed with information and inspiration. For parents and teachers of blind children, this convention brought a wealth of presentations, workshops, and chances for families to meet and have fun together.
The annual National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) Division Conference interspersed talks by parent leaders with interactive workshops on education, travel, and opportunities for the rising generation. Families discovered new technologies and other products in the virtual Exhibit Hall, and tweens and teens enjoyed games and conversation in a series of Youth Track activities. General sessions at this year's convention included information about promising new technologies, presentations by allies in our national government, and stories of personal triumph. At the annual banquet NFB President Mark Riccobono delivered a stirring address that highlighted some little-known aspects of our collective history. You can read his speech, "Reflection, Revolution, and Race: A Growing Understanding within the Organized Blind Movement," at https://nfb.org//images/nfb/publications/bm/bm21/bm2108/bm210808.htm. This issue of Future Reflections offers a selection of articles that give some idea of the scope of Convention 2021.
"Stronger Together" was the theme of the 2021 convention. Despite the pandemic, Federationists rallied our forces and created another jam-packed convention with something for everyone. Convention 2021 is proof positive of the strength and power of our movement. There is no stopping us when we pool our resources and work side by side, even if we have to meet in cyberspace.
Already plans are afoot for our 2022 NFB National Convention. We will meet face-to-face in New Orleans. At last we will be together in person. At long last we will hear the tapping of the canes of thousands of Federationists on the move together.