Future Reflections Winter/Spring, Vol. 14 No. 1
"You know, it really is okay to be blind." This unexpected pronouncement from a seven-year-old blind girl startled her family at their dinner meal last July. This new level of confidence in herself as a blind person was further demonstrated in the weeks and months to come as the little girl willingly began to use her white cane full-time-not just to school and for mobility lessons. What made the difference? Her father, who has been a Future Reflections reader for several years, took his daughter to the 1994 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Her dad recounted the benefit of this experience in our Pennsylvania parent support group magazine this past Fall. "[She]," he wrote, "learned at the Convention that the cane provides independence and thereby makes her the same as everyone else and not different."
Of course, as all children, Laura must have new concepts reinforced again and again. Mom and dad, Sheila and Michael Wolk of Pennsylvania, will be taking her to many more NFB activities-including state and national conventions-in the years to come.
If you are among our many readers who have been putting off coming to NFB National Convention, consider the potential value it has to your family and don't put it off any longer! Join us in Chicago July 1 to July 7-or as many days as you can-and discover "The Benefits of Growing Up in the National Federation of the Blind" for your family.
Here are some of the many exciting events planned especially for parents and children:
Saturday, July 1, 1995
The Benefits Of Growing Up In The National Federation Of The Blind
National Seminar for Parents of Blind Children
Sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Saturday, July 1, 1995
Hilton and Towers Hotel
720 South Michigan Avenue
8:00 a.m. Registration. Fee: $5.00. (This fee will also cover the cost of all of the special workshopsþsuch as the Beginning Braille for Parents workshopþsponsored by the NOPBC during the convention.)
9:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. General Session. Keynote Address: Blindness: What Does it Mean in the Mind of a Child? by Ramona Walhof, former preschool teacher, a blind businesswoman, and mother of two sighted children. Other speakers will zero in on the subjects of low-vision children, sighted siblings, other relatives of the blind child, and sighted children of blind parents. Also on the agenda is a panel of blind and sighted children, youth, and adults discussing the impact of the NFB in their lives.
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. LUNCH (on your own)
1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Concurrent Workshops
SHOW TIME!: A continuous showing of new and classic videos. Among those to be viewed will be: That the Blind May Read, the new NFB documentary about Braille literacy; Here I Come, Ready or Not a video depicting blind first-grader Alex Lesser going through a typical school day; Kids With Canes, a classic video depicting cane travel instruction for young children; and It's Not So Different, a short video portraying the normal life led by a blind couple and their young child.
BEGINNING BRAILLE FOR PARENTS: A three-hour beginning Braille course for sighted parents of blind children or teachers who want to learn Braille and/or observe the techniques of teaching Braille to sighted parents. The workshop is limited to 25 participants. The fee is covered by the $5 registration fee for the parents seminar. Pre-registration is encouraged. Please see the pre-registration form at the end of this article.
PARENT POWER: How are parents of blind children making a difference in their states and communities? This workshop, inspired by our popular new featureþalso called þParent Powerþþin Future Reflections, will show you how to organize and conduct effective seminars, projects, and programs; how to raise funds for your activities; how to work with and within your local NFB affiliates; how to organize a parent division in your area; how to prevent parent burn-out; and so forth. The workshop will be broken down into four 45-minute sessions. This will allow parents to circulate to other concurrent workshops.
SPECIAL TOPICS: A very exciting session for parents of deaf-blind children will be offered as one of three topics in this workshop. Sally Ruemmler, the mother of a deaf-blind teen-age daughter and co-chair of our Parents of Deaf-Blind Children Partnership Committee is putting together an excellent program of support and information for parents of deaf-blind infants and children. The other two topics will be announced later. Before we establish the other two Special Topics workshops we want to hear from you. Please send your ideas and suggestions for the other two topics to: Barbara Cheadle, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (work) 410-659-9314 and (home) (410) 747-3472. Some of the current suggestions under consideration are: Developmental Delays and Multiple Handicaps in Blind Children; Low Vision and Alternative Techniques of Blindness; and Social Skills and the Blind Adolescent.
MOVE IT!: The foundation for independence is mobility. This workshop will explore ways in which parents of blind and visually impaired children of all ages can facilitate movement and independence. Discussion and demonstrations will also focus on the ways in which the long white cane promotes greater confidence and independent movement.
TO BE ANNOUNCED: Several exciting initiatives regarding the creative use of toys and play activities for children are being developed. We hope to kick these off at convention with some special demonstrations. Stay tuned! We will announce any developments as time allows through our state and local parent divisions and chapters.
Convention Orientation Session
3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (Saturday, July 1) This session provides blind youth (grades 6 through 12) a chance to get together early in the convention. This allows them time to begin forming friendships. It is also a structured opportunity to meet interesting and competent blind adults. The adult counselors will take the youth out in groups to familiarize them with the layout of the hotel and convention site. The counselors will also lead discussion groups, organize get-acquainted activities, and familiarize youth with the NFB and the convention schedule.
Kiddie Land Field Trip
Saturday, July 1: Kiddie Land is a scaled-down, kid-size amusement park. It is especially designed for younger children. The fee, which includes admission to Kiddie Land, unlimited rides at the park, transportation, and lunch, is $15.00 per child. Once again, Carla McQuillan, President of the NFB of Oregon, has volunteered to organize and lead the field trip. Carla owns and operates a Montessori preschool program. She has extensive experience as a teacher and an administrator, and she is also a parent. Since the number of children who can be accommodated for this trip is limited by space available on the bus and by the ratio of volunteer workers to children, we urge you to use the form at the end of this article and pre-register your children for the Saturday, July 1, day-trip. The volunteer workers, by the way, are mostly blind parents, teachers, and students who are willing to donate some of their convention time to helping your children enjoy convention, too. Children under the age of five and older children who choose not to register for the Kiddie Land trip are invited to register for NFB
Camp for the day.
8:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m. $15 per child. Registration or check-in time.
9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. Field trip. Lunch will be purchased at Kiddie Land.
3:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. Return to hotel. Special activities, games, crafts, movies, etc. in the NFB Camp room in the hotel.
5:00 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. Parents collect children.
Family Hospitality Night
6:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. (Saturday, July 1). Family Hospitality Night is sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association of Blind Students. Bring the kids, relax, and meet other parents. We will be using the NFB Camp room, so there will be plenty of toys and space to keep the kids occupied! Teachers of blind children and blind teachers will be there, too, to talk informally with parents about educational concerns.
Saturday, July 1, through Friday, July 7, 1995
The following schedule is subject to change according to changes in the convention schedule, availability of workers, funds, etc. A schedule will be available at convention when you register your children for NFB Camp. Remember also to check daily for any changes to the schedule.
Saturday, July 1: 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. On this day and this day alone, lunch will be provided to the children on site.
Sunday, July 2: Open in the evening only during the Parental Concerns Committee meeting. See convention agenda for time.
Monday, July 3: Open in the morning and afternoon for those who are attending the Board meeting in the morning and special division meetings in the afternoon. Parents MUST pick up children during the lunch break.
Tuesday, July 4: Open during morning and afternoon convention general sessions. (Check your agenda for times. You will receive an agenda when you register for the convention on Sunday.) Camp IS NOT open during the lunch break. Children MUST be picked up promptly after adjournment at noon and at the end of the day.
Wednesday, July 5: Camp is open only in the morning. There is no afternoon convention session and therefore no camp session. Children must be picked up promptly after the session adjourns.
Thursday, July 6: Open during morning and afternoon sessions. Closed during the lunch break. Open during the evening banquet. See agenda for time. Again, children must be picked up promptly after the banquet adjourns.
Friday, July 7: Open during morning and afternoon sessions. Closed during the lunch break.
NFB Camp is NOT an ordinary child care service. It is a special opportunity for children who are blind or who have a blind member in their family to interact with each other and with blind adults. Mrs. Willows, the volunteer director of NFB Camp, organizes activities to maximize this interaction. At the 1994 NFB Camp, for example, Mrs. Willows arranged for blind artists to come in and conduct craft and art activities with the children. Other blind persons, such as a blind horticulturist, also came and did special projects with the children.
Mary Willows (who is an experienced educator and the blind mother of two children) and many other members of the Federation put in many volunteer hours to the NFB Camp so that the convention can be enjoyable and an enriching experience for every member of the family.
Parents are asked to make these donations for NFB Camp activities: $50 for the week (including the banquet) for the first child and $25 for each additional child; or $10 per child per day and $10 per child for the banquet night if you do not want to register for the full week. Parents will also be asked to pay a fine for late pick-ups. There may also be additional fees for optional day-trips. Trips and fees will be announced when you register or check-in your children at the NFB Camp room at the convention.
Parents who cannot contribute the suggested donation should contact Mary Willows to discuss the contribution they can make. Mrs. Willows will also take pre-registration for NFB Camp. Contact Mrs. Willows at 3934 Kern Court, Pleasanton, California 94566; (510) 462-8575. She will need your name, address, and phone number; the names and ages of your child(ren); and a brief description of any special characteristics or needs of your child(ren).
Regarding teens who want baby-sitting jobs at convention, Mrs. Willows will not locate or solicit such jobs but she will pass prepared information on to parents who use the NFB Camp. Contact Mrs. Willows for more information.
Sunday, July 2, 1995
CONVENTION REGISTRATION: In order to get the fabulous room rates you must register for the convention. Registration opens on Sunday, July 2, and the fee is only $10 per person. Thursday night banquet tickets may be purchased at registration, too. Banquet tickets usually cost in the neighborhood of $20 to $25. You will get your convention agendas (print or Braille) when you register. Pre-convention agendas which cover the activities on Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July 1, will be available free at the Federation Information Desk. This desk will be located near the hotel registration and lobby area.
EXHIBIT HALL: Nearly every type of old and new computer technology and other aids, appliances, toys, games, books, and so forth for the blind and visually impaired will be on display at the NFB Convention exhibit hall. The hall is open all day on Sunday, July 2, and various other times throughout the convention. See your convention agenda for exhibit hall hours.
Monday, July 3, 1995
Annual Meeting of the
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF PARENTS OF BLIND CHILDREN
1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
At this meeting we have the exciting opportunity to meet and hear from parents from all over the country. We discuss local and national projects (such as our Braille Readers are Leaders contest), elect officers, listen to a presentation from the 1995 Educator of Blind Children award winner, accept committee reports, and discuss activities of our state and regional parent divisions and chapters. This year we also have Mr. Christopher Craig as a special guest speaker. Mr. Craig, a former NFB scholarship winner and a doctoral student in special education, has been investigating how blind and visually impaired children"emergeþ into literacy and how the family impacts upon that process. Readers may remember the announcement in Future Reflections about his research and about how the NOPBC assisted Mr. Craig in locating parents for his survey.
Tuesday, July 4, 1995
IEP Workshop: HOW TO BE AN IEP ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS:
7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) process continues to be the key element in planning a good education for a blind or visually impaired child. That is why, year after year, we conduct this workshop at convention. And, year after year, we have a consistently high attendance. This year we are adding a different twist to the workshop. We will be discussing specific strategies for Federationists who go to IEP meetings as advocates for others. Although pre-registration for the workshop is not required, we are urging you to pre-register this year so we can plan for the number of handouts we will need in print, large print, Braille, and recorded formats. Those who pre-register will have first shot at the prepared handouts in the media of their choice. Please see the pre-registration form at the end of this article.
OTHER CONVENTION ACTIVITIES
In regard to other activates, there are so many special interest committees and divisions that you are bound to find something up your alley. Here is a partial list: Parental Concerns Committee, Music Division, National Association to Promote the Use of Braille, Diabetics Division, Writers Division, National Association of Blind Lawyers, National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, and the National Association of Blind Students.
The general convention sessions, which begin Tuesday morning, always feature speakers of interest to parents. One year we had a blind sculptor, another year a blind auto mechanic. Other speakers are people of power and influence in the political, governmental, special education, and rehabilitation arenas. These people come to speak and inform, but they also come to listen and learn from the collective voice of the blind.
Other events and meetings parents are encouraged to attend are the Monday morning National Board meeting, the Resolutions Committee meetings, the Thursday evening banquet, and the Friday business session. The scholarship winners are introduced and asked to say a few words at the Board meeting on Monday. They are all introduced again at the banquet when the scholarship amounts they won are announced.
The Resolutions Committee meeting and the Friday business session is the Federation in action. Through these forums of democratic discussion and debate the NFB formulates policies about the critical issues facing the blind of the nation. More than any other convention activities these sessions demonstrate that this is þwhere the action isþ when it comes to blindness. Come, join us in Chicago in 1995 and discover for yourselves the excitement and personal satisfaction that comes from participating in a process that is creating a better and brighter future for our blind children.