Live From the ACB Convention

Hello everyone. As a Minnesotan, I am definitely happy with the response of all of the ACB convention attendees to Minneapolis, and on the way Minneapolis
has responded and prepared for them. All except the incredibly ditsy chick manning the front desk yesterday afternoon. The weather has been hot and sunny, except for some rain last night, which has made the tours and walking around outside
much more pleasant. 
The two convention hotels are located on a downtown street, called Nicollet Mall. Nicollet is a great place for the convention, as it is closed to private
forms of transport (only buses and taxis are allowed on it). The hotels are near Orchestra Hall (there was some live music on Sunday evening), Brit’s Pub
(an excellent local pub), the Music Box Theater (where I saw Triple Espresso last fall (fabulous if you get the chance)), and various restaurants (including
a Starbucks, which I, of course, had to seek out). On
Thursday morning, the whole area will turn into a multi-block farmers’ market, so I’m excited about the opportunity to have fresh fruit and bread for breakfast
that day.  

On Sunday afternoon, we arrived and checked in. We’re staying at the hotel, because I live about 45 minutes outside of Minneapolis (without traffic).
Before coming to the hotel, we walked my guide in the Mall of America for awhile, and I was actually able to find white shoes! Thank you Nordstrom.  
We then attended the orientation session at the GDUI suite. The suite featured some great merchandise–including a very compact doggy first-aid kit and
stuffed dogs wearing little guide dog harnesses. An instructor, named Doug, from the Guide Dog Foundation was our guide. For those who have never been
to convention, orientation is great. We are divided into groups, assigned to instructors from various schools, and walked around the hotel and surrounding

After orientation, we grabbed dinner, and I came up to my room to get my schedule mapped out for the next few days. One of the things about this convention
is that there are so many things going on at once, that scheduling can be somewhat challenging. The schedules are arranged by special interest afiliate, so just when you think you’ve got the whole thing nailed down, you read events for another afiliate (like Friends in Art or Guide Dog Users), and you have
to try to squeeze something else in. 

Yesterday morning was an early one. We walked over to Starbucks, and came back to wait in line for registration. After getting our event tickets, I came
back up to the room to work on some stuff for Wednesday evening’s ACB auction, and for my small business expo booth. For those who are actually here, the
auction will be amazing. It will feature over 120 items–including trips, home-made arts and crafts, food items, gift cards, etc. Some of the highlights
are a trip to St. Martin, an m-Power, and a bunch of talking watches, thermostats, etc. There are also gift cards to buy and purchase a tun of things–definitely
something for everyone.  

The booth I referred to is related to a little side business I started. I decided to sell spa products from a company, called Beauticontrol. If nothing
else, I can feed my own addiction to yummy-smelling products at a discount, but if I can sell some in the process…then great. So we’re having a booth
at the small business expo, and a relaxation station at the auction, where people can sample products and get neck and shoulder massages. My sister, a
massage therapy student from Canada, will be helping out. If you’re here, come by and relax for a few minutes and say “hi.” If you’re not here, and you
want to know more about the products, just drop me an email (look at the bottom of the entry for it). They make great gifts for yourself and others. 

One of the things about the convention program I noticed that kind of put me off was the ads area. There is a local store that sells various low vision
products–including Freedom Scientific ones. This comment isn’t a slam on the store itself, but at the end of the ad, they actually had a whole “such and
such and so and so are copyrights and trademarks of Freedom Scientific” blurb. I’m sorry, but lighten up FS, it’s a fucking conference program. 

Most of my day yesterday was spent working on auction related items. I wasn’t important enough to receive one, but many of the convention organizers received
Nextel walky talkies. Those things are cool, they even have talking menu prompts. 
Last night, we went over to the Millennium for a round of Power Showdown. For those who have never played, it’s kind of like ping-pong for blind people.
You receive a paddle and padded glove, as well as a blindfold and a ping-pong ball that rattles. You then bat the ball back and forth across the table,
while trying to defend your own net. It is so much fun! I hope to also try the audio darts demo tonight. 

That pretty much catches people up for now. I’ll write more tomorrow. Sorry if anyone was bored, but I wanted to paint a picture for those who couldn’t
be here, but wanted to. 
My email is
if you want to drop me a line.    

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

One thought on “Live From the ACB Convention”

  1. I have never been to an ACB convention, but I’ve listened to all the broadcasts including this one. These convention broadcasts are always so well done! One thing that caught my attention last night was the discussion about government agencies who refuse to provide their material in accessible formats. My roommate and I were both clients of our state VR agency, and we never received anything in an accessible format. Actually I did receive something about the Client Assistance Program in Braille, but somehow the lines were on top of one another and I had difficulty reading it. But I find this very problematic and I think ACB needs to do whatever is humanly possible to change it.

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