ACB Debrief

Well, I have now returned home from the ACB Convention, and it was wonderful to have such a short and uncomplicated trip back. I was grateful not to be flying–what with all the brochures, purchases, merchandise for my booth, etc.

Tuesday was mostly taken up with preparations for the Independent Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs’ (IVIE) Small Business Expo. My spa products seemed to be a hit, and it was encouraging and exciting to see so many blind people with such cool business ideas. My sister spent the time giving non-stop massages as well. Conventions can be so stressful. Speaking of massages. My guide, Kaylor, got a massage of his own on Tuesday afternoon. A certified canine massage therapist, named Carla Campbell, attends the show each year, and she does amazing work on our over-stimulated convention doggies. Kaylor was in heaven–I didn’t think I’d be able to get him off the floor.

We also played another round of Power Showdown on Tuesday evening, and went through the exhibit hall on Tuesday morning. There were some great exhibits–some of the usual CSUN attendees (like HumanWare, GW Micro, Serotek, etc.). There were also some less technical, but equally relevant booths (like Talking Thermostats, a bunch of guide dog schools, a man who made beautifully detailed piano music boxes, National Braille Press, etc.) I do appreciate the exhibits at ACB, because they seem a bit more holistic in nature–focussing on all aspects of our lives, instead of just the computer-based portions. Thumbs up to the Seeing Eye for giving away the Godiva chocolates.

Wednesday was filled with GDUI events. We had the GDB breakfast on Wednesday morning, and it was great to see so many staff members there from both campuses. For those who don’t know, the schools breakfasts are open to their grads, or prospective grads. They are a way for us to meet other handlers from our schools, and get all the latest updates on our school’s training, admitions, and in-class policies.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the incredible fortune to hear Patricia McConnell speak at the GDUI luncheon. If you are a dog user, and you have not yet read her materials, she is one of the best there is. Her talk was informative (she spoke about the differences in the emotional capacities of our brains versus those of our dogs’). The two really aren’t all that different, and it really opened my eyes about the best ways to interact with Kaylor. She was incredibly funny,and kept the crowd in stitches. Until she made us all cry at the end, that is, as she recounted the amazing life and death of one of her beloved herding dogs. I can’t recommend her highly enough. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, pay for it…it’s worth it. Or check out her show on the Wisconsin Public Radio web site.

Wednesday evening was the ACB Auction. There was a huge turn-out. I didn’t stay for the whole thing, but am looking forward to hearing how much money was raised.

That’s all I have for this year. Next year’s convention is in Louisville, so we’ll see if I get there.

If any of you has a convention story from either convention, please send it along. I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences and opinions.

Have a great day and weekend. Happy belated Fourth to you all.

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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.

2 thoughts on “ACB Debrief”

  1. I have never gone to an ACB convention, but I’ve listened to the broadcasts ever since they started. All were quite good, and this year’s was no exception. My brother won a scholarship as a member of the National Alliance of Blind Students, and he attended the 2001 convention in Iowa. It was cool hearing his acceptance speech. Kudos to the staff of ACB Radio for a job well done.

  2. Howdy Comrades!
    For family reasons, I was unable to attend the NFB Convention in Atlanta this year. I hear a fine time was had by all and much was accomplished. My feeling remains that NFB will continue to be hegemonic in terms of true consumer action, but I also foresee the day when NFB and ACB have a kind of joint convention or a �co-convention.� Ridiculous you say? That�s also what my social studies teacher wrote on my paper predicting a joint space mission between the United States and Soviet Union. The short sighted bitch actually gave me a B on my paper! Well, it happened and the space cooperation continues sans the Soviet Union. I will leave it up to individual readers to think which consumer group best represents them, but I point out that both ACB and NFB worked together to save the digital talking book funding, and we find ways to help each other in many other areas as well. That reminds me I have calls to Washington to make. Onward through the fog!
    Chairman Mal
    Power to the Peeps!

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