BVA will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and hosting the 2020 National Convention in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned on their website, Bulletin, and Newsletter for more information in the coming months.

August 17 – 21

Washington, DC

The National Federation of the Blind National Convention is the largest gathering of blind people in the world.

Mom, two daughters, and dad of the Awa family pose for a photo during the carnival celebration at the 2019 National Convention in Las Vegas.

It is the premier event for training, support, and information for the blind community. It also serves as a governing body, democratically electing their leadership and establishing each year’s organizational priorities.

Although the convention is open to all, our constitution states that only members of the NFB have the right to participate in decision making when it comes to organizational policy.

July 14 – 19

Houston, TX

https://www.nfb.org/get-involved/national-convention

At the Washington Seminar, members of the National Federation of the Blind convene to learn about and advocate for legislative initiatives that will improve the lives of blind Americans.

NFB members give a standing ovation during the 2018 Washington Seminar.

Approximately three legislative initiatives are chosen for priority attention each year. These initiatives, which form the NFB’s legislative agenda, are based on the official positions of the NFB adopted at the national convention and can address concerns related to civil rights, educational programs and services, rehabilitation of the blind for competitive employment, the operation of vending facilities by blind persons on public property, specialized library services for the blind, the organization and funding of federal programs, Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs, and other timely topics.

February 10-13

Washington, DC

https://www.nfb.org/programs-services/advocacy/washington-seminar

Planning for the 2020 ACB Conference and Convention is already well underway and will be held in Schaumburg, IL, at the Renaissance Hotel, from Friday July 3rd through Friday July 10th. Schaumburg is a northwest suburb of Chicago; O’Hare International Airport is 17 miles east and Midway International Airport is 37 miles southeast of Schaumburg.

July 3-10

Schaumburg, IL

https://acbconvention.org/

Gateway to Community”

Join the community of VRTs, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, TVIs, LVTs, advocates, scholars, policymakers, and other  professionals for the AER International Conference 2020. The conference will feature dynamic keynote speakers, global leaders and world class presenters covering a range of topics of critical importance to the field. Earn CE hours and make career changing connections! It is continuing education at its best. Whether you need CE hours for ACVREP, CEUs for CRC, professional development hours for other certifications or simply want to expand your contacts and knowledge base, this is a great conference for you. 

July 22-26

St. Louis, MO

November 3 – 6, 2019 at the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta, GA 

St. Louis, Missouri – September, 2019 – Over 220 national leaders will convene in Atlanta, Georgia this fall for discussions on the future of providing services to people who are blind or have low vision. With more than 26.9 million[1] American adults in the US and 226 million[2] more around the world living with blindness and low vision, and  thousands more projected to join these ranks, this is an important national issue.

Event organizer VisionServe Alliance, an association for leaders of nonprofit agencies across the country and Canada, holds its conferences in various U.S. cities twice a year. This year’s Executive Leadership Conference in Atlanta will use some pretty amazing technological adaptions as part of its meeting to ensure the content is accessible to ALL attendees, regardless of their level of sight.

With an average of 15 percent of its meeting attendees themselves being blind or having low vision, VisionServe Alliance is used to employing standard accommodations to make its meetings accessible, like offering its materials digitally or in Braille, and offering tips and training on-site hospitality staff and featured speakers. But this year’s conference presents additional accessibility challenges because the meeting will employ a format called Open Space Technology, which allows participants to set their own discussion topics and attend multiple break out sessions throughout the day. While it’s exciting for the attendees to have control over the agenda, a flexible format presents challenges for visually impaired attendees to fully participate in the activities.

“Open Space creates the possibility for amazing deep dive conversations about the challenges that face our field and the opportunities to innovate our practice,” says David Morgan, President & CEO Future In Sight in Concord, N.H., who is co-facilitating the event.

VSA plans to provide conference attendees access to additional resources from companies on the forefront of vision technology: OrCam’s MyEye, a tiny camera device that fits on the of a pair of eyeglasses and can read aloud any printed material; Aira’s  Horizon Kit including their Smart Glasses that transmit the wearer’s images to a representative who then offers assistance in real time to navigate buildings, streets, airports, stores, etc.; and Vispero’s popular screen reading software called JAWS that allows blind and visually impaired users to navigate the world wide web using audible descriptions of menus and images. Many other companies will be on hand exhibiting and demonstrating the latest tools for accessibility to people who are blind and visually impaired. Volunteers from local vision rehabilitation agency, the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta will also be on-site to provide assistance.

“We want this year’s conference to provide learning exchanges to engage a wider array of current and emerging leaders across sectors, disciplines, demographics, and industry segments including education, rehabilitation, employment, medical, technology and social services for people of all ages,” says President and CEO of VisionServe Alliance, Lee Nasehi. “We are also proud to have the support of other national organizations in the field behind this year’s event.” Co-Hosts of the VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference include ACB (American Council of the Blind)ACVREP (Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals), AER (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired), AFB (American Foundation for the Blind), APH (American Printing House f/t Blind), BVA (Blinded Veterans Association), COSB (Council of Schools and Services for the Blind) CVI Atlanta (Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired – Atlanta), NAEPB (National Association for the Employment of People Who Are Blind)NIB (National Industries for the Blind)NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) , NRTC (National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision), Prevent Blindness, and USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes).

Kathleen Zeider, President/CEO of ACVREP notes that, “VisionServe Alliance is uniquely positioned to convene this important summit in our field. We are excited that it will refine the collective focus and strengthen the collaboration in our field resulting in a greater impact for those we serve.”

Mike McGowan, Executive Director of NOAH, said his organization, “enthusiastically supports the efforts of VisionServe Alliance to gather the field together to discover ways to build a better world for people who are blind or have low vision. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Participants at the VSA Executive Leadership Conference will ask, discuss, and suggest solutions to the biggest challenges in the field of blindness & low vision such as:

  • What can be done to assure access to all digital information including government websites, applications and voting processes?
  • Are public and private education resources meeting the needs of students?
  • What are the emerging challenges and solutions in employment?
  • How can we significantly enhance the resources for training and support for seniors?
  • How can we improve care for our veterans through partnerships with the private sector?

Co-facilitators include David Morgan, President & CEO of Future In Sight, Lee Nasehi, President & CEO of VisionServe Alliance, and John Mitchell, President/CEO of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Board Chair of VisionServe Alliance.

For more information and to register, go to www.visionserveallinace.org/conferences/

About VisionServe Alliance:

VisionServe Alliance is a consortium of Executive Directors/CEOs of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the United States that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or with severe vision loss. We bring together the full diversity of services for one conversation with the ultimate goal of unifying the many issues and organizations operating independently of one another in the field. Members include organizations focusing on national advocacy and/or service issues, employment and manufacturing, adult vision rehabilitation, K-12 residential and on-line schools, early intervention and pre-school, dog guides, low vision clinics, and Braille production. Collaborative projects, national trends, stronger management and leadership, and advocacy issues have been born from these conversations and activities including the formation of the Aging and Vision Loss National Coalition, a consortium of leaders comprised from 19 national, state, local, private and public agencies with the goal of advocating for equal access and quality of life for older Americans with vision loss.

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[1] According to the American Foundation for the Blind. See https://www.afb.org/research-and-initiatives/statistics/adults

[2] According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. See https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/

St. Louis, Missouri – August 7, 2019 – VisionServe Alliance announces it is spearheading the new Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition to tackle critical issues related to older people experiencing impaired sight as the result of age-related eye diseases. The coalition is comprised of 15 national, state, local, private and public agencies representing broad constituencies who will advocate for equal access and quality of life for older Americans with vision loss.

Age-related vision loss is reaching epidemic proportions as baby boomers attain advanced age. Currently, there are 25.5 million adults experiencing age-related diseases impairing vision (National Health Interview Survey, 2016). From 2015 to 2050, the number of adults ages 40+ who are blind is expected to double (Varma, et al, 2016).

Informed by nationwide structured conversations with older people with vision loss and the expertise of the Coalition members, many with over 40 years of experience in the field, the Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition will begin their work by focusing on three key priorities:

  1. Awareness: Increasing awareness among the general public, professionals and especially seniors themselves and their families of the issues faced by older people with vision loss and the significant impact of professional vision rehabilitation services on sustaining their independence and dignity. 
  2. Funding: Enhancing funding for vision rehabilitation services including education, training, assistive devices, and technologies for older people with vision loss.
  3. Expanding Personnel: Expanding the pool of qualified professional vision impairment specialists, through support for university programs and incentives for healthcare students to consider this specialtyand providing broad training for allied health personnel.

The Coalition believes that improving public understanding of low vision and blindness is crucial, starting with older individuals themselves and including policy makers, family members, and service providers. Only through taking this fundamental step can we ensure equal access and promote the highest possible quality of life for older people with vision loss.

Among the Coalition members is the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), which is handing off the 21st Century Agenda on Aging and Vision Loss to the Coalition. The Coalition will steward this important work initiated by AFB, created to raise awareness, facilitate increased and improved services, and protect and promote the rights of seniors with vision loss to lives of enjoyment, inclusion, and independence.

With appropriate vision rehabilitation services and specific supports, older people with vision loss can age in place in their communities rather than moving into an institution. Vision rehabilitation reduces the hours needed of in-home care; reduces or prevents falls, accidents, and burns; improves communication reducing social isolation; and teaches safe navigation, increasing physical movement and mobility. Yet, less than 3% of older people with vision loss are receiving the services that promote independent living in their home or living option, community and family engagement, and improved quality of life.

The Coalition is issuing a Call to Action and invites interested individuals and organizations to join the work. Make the year 2020 the turning point for access to services older Americans with vision loss require to live independently and be active members of their community and families.

VisionServe Alliance is an association of chief executives (and their leadership teams) of 501(c)(3) nonprofits throughout the United States that provide unique and specialized services to people who are blind or have low vision. We bring together the full diversity of services for one conversation with the ultimate goal of unifying the many issues and organizations operating independently of one another in the field. Members include organizations focusing on national advocacy and/or service issues, employment and manufacturing, adult vision rehabilitation, K-12 residential and on-line schools, early intervention and pre-school, dog guides, low vision clinics, and Braille production. We focus on collaborative projects, national trends, stronger management and leadership, and advocacy issues important to the field. For information visit our website at: www.visionservealliance.org or email us at info@visionservealliance.org

AVLNC Represented Organizations:

  • Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP)
  • American Council of the Blind (ACB)
  • American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
  • Florida Agencies Serving the Blind
  • Helen Keller National Center
  • The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
  • Mississippi State University OIB-TAC
  • National Council of State Agencies for the Blind
  • National Council on Aging (NCOA)
  • NewView Oklahoma
  • Prevent Blindness
  • VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • VisionServe Alliance
  • Independent Advocates

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#MemberSpotlightMonday features the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, who was recently featured in a news story by KENS 5 on a new art exhibit at the Witte Museum called, “My Heart is Not Blind” by Michael Nye, comprised of 47 photos and associated 3-5 minute audio clips of blind individuals from across the U.S.

#MemberSpotlightMonday features Society for the Blind in Sacramento, who was selected to receive the 2018 Medical Community Service Award. Congrats Society for the Blind Sacramento! Read more about their banner year: https://societyfortheblind.org/2019-building-for-the-future/

Today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday is IFB Solutions in Winston Salem, NC, who won the 2018 Employment Growth Award for hiring 63 new employees who are blind. Watch this video featuring the story of one great employee, Anastasia:

Today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday is the Valley Center for the Blind, serving folks who are blind and visually impaired in Fresno, California. We’re also thrilled to have their Executive Director, Ken Warkentin, join VisionServe’s board of directors this year. Welcome Ken!

https://www.valleycenterfortheblind.org/

Celebrating 14 years as the premiere low vision rehabilitation and research conference in America.

Pomona, CA

Oct. 5-6, 2019

Each year since 1879, Ex Officio Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind have journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky for the APH Annual Meeting. At first by steam locomotive, steamboat, and buggy, later by car and airplane, Trustees have traveled to Louisville to share their knowledge and experience with APH and with each other.

Louisville, KY

Oct 10-12, 2019

Contact APH: (502) 895-2405

VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference

Atlanta, GA

Nov. 3-6, 2019

Crossword PuzzleIn today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday we’d like to thank our member American Printing House for the Blind for supporting our #VSAFallConf in Portland, OR. Known as “the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired,” check out their new free online crossword game:

https://crossword.aphtech.org/

Colorful Mural in Boward County FloridaIn today’s #MemberSpotlightMonday post, we showcase Lighthouse of Broward County who has created a multi-sensory mural honoring Florida’s state bird, the mockingbird, utilizing boxy sensors installed above the art that produce sounds of the singing mockingbirds, and scents of orange citrus groves and fresh pine trees. The artwork also includes raised textures for touching.

Man walking with a white cane across the street.October 15th is National White Cane Safety Day, so we thought we’d share the White Cane Law: “A totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a predominately white cane (with or without a red tip), or using a guide dog, shall have the right-of-way. The driver of any vehicle approaching this pedestrian, who fails to yield the right-of-way, or to take all responsibility necessary precautions to avoid injury to this blind pedestrian, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other applicable provision of law.” – Vehicle Code #21963 #NationalWhiteCaneSafetyDay

Orcams MyEye productToday’s #MemberSpotlightMonday features our member Blinded Veterans Association and our corporate partner OrCam who were both spotlighted on today’s episode of Dr. Phil. US Veteran Scotty Smiley, blinded in Iraq in 2005, demonstrates how the OrCam MyEye 2 has changed his life, allowing him to read text, recognize faces, identify products and more. OrCam is offering a discount on their MyEye device through Wednesday. Click to learn more at: http://bit.ly/2IISwNT

LightHosue workers sitting around a table in discussionToday’s #MemberSportlightMonday is about Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss in Duluth, Minnesota. They offer many great programs serving clients across the state, including a Transition Program open to youth 14 to 21 years of age who have visual impairment or blindness and are still in school. The photos below show some of the many activities participants enjoy: free use of a computer and technology training, cooking class, rock climbing and a city-wide scavenger hunt.
https://www.lcfvl.org/transition

Joe Bogart with his sonThis #MemberSpotlightMonday we’d like to spotlight Joe Bogart, Executive Director of the Blinded Veterans Association. Joe retired from the U.S. Army as a Major after serving 28 years as a Combat Engineer. While serving in Iraq in 2006, he was wounded and left legally blind. In 2008, he again deployed to Iraq as the first Blind Service member to return to ground combat since the Civil War. After his retirement in 2018, he took over as the Executive Director for the Blinded Veterans Association. Joe also serves on the Board of Directors for the Missouri based Veteran Support Organization called Camp Hope. [photo below is Joe with his son] Find out more at their website, www.bva.org