Braille Monitor                                             May 2016

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Transitions: A Conference for Parents and Teachers of Blind Children

by Kim Cunningham

Kim CunninghamFrom the Editor: At the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, one division has so many programs and activities that one could confidently say there is a convention within a convention for parents of blind children. The agenda produced by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children sometimes runs to twenty pages in print, and the breadth and depth of the activities is impressive. Here is what Kim Cunningham, the president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, has to say:

I would like to invite all families, friends, and teachers of blind and low-vision children to join us at the NFB National Convention from Thursday, June 30, 2016, through Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in beautiful, sunny Orlando, Florida. Every year the NOPBC holds our annual national conference during the NFB National Convention. Our board has been working hard to bring relevant, informative sessions and activities for families and teachers of blind and low-vision children. We welcome all families of children who are blind, low vision, with or without additional disabilities to come together for a week full of fun and educational workshops. We believe that all children can learn with the right support and training. Please help us to share the news that blindness is not what holds our children back! Together we can work to change what it means to be blind!

Ten years ago my daughter and I attended our first NFB National Convention. Because my daughter was considered low vision by our school district, I didn’t think the NFB was for us. After all, no one ever called her blind. But we were at a loss about my daughter’s future and how she would grow into an independent person. We were concerned about how she would take her science classes in school. We were concerned about the length of time it took to complete her work. We were concerned about her identity and feeling like a broken person. We were concerned about her struggle to read. We had no one to answer our questions and give us direction.

This all changed when we attended the NFB National Convention along with 2,000 other blind and low-vision people. Everyone was tapping their canes and living their lives just like all the sighted people I knew. It was an energizing atmosphere that I have never felt before. The Federation embraced us and welcomed us into their family! I learned that low-vision kids would benefit from all the tools “blind” kids used. The magic wand ending up being a cane, and the secret word was Braille. I attended workshops while my daughter learned about accessible science from a blind scientist. She also learned about the benefits of the long white cane. The exhibit hall was filled with technology, books, and independent living items to choose from. If I had a question, someone was there to answer it.

This year our theme for the NOPBC Conference is “Transitions.” As parents we are constantly transitioning from one area to another. When our children were born, we transitioned to becoming parents of blind and low-vision babies. Our children transition from toddlers to elementary school, to junior high, and then high school. Some kids transition from reading print to reading Braille. And with each new transition, we find we are at a crossroad of which way to turn. We hope that our workshops will give you the tools to make educated decisions about the road you want to take.

This is what I want for all families to experience. I want you to feel hopeful for a bright future for your child. I want you to learn the skills that blind and low-vision children need to live their lives to the fullest. I want you to know that we all have the same goal – a bright future for our children.

Schedule at a Glance:

Thursday, June 30:               Seminar Day, Opening Day of NOPBC National Conference 

Our day begins early—registration starts at 7:30 a.m., and our opening general session is from 9:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Please make sure you arrive early enough to take advantage of this entire day of learning.

The highlights of our morning general session include a talk for kids and parents by NFB President Mark Riccobono, a report from NOPBC President Kim Cunningham, an address given by a mother who has raised two successful blind daughters, and much more!

Throughout the rest of the morning and afternoon, parents will get to choose to attend three workshops from a list of fifteen offered. Workshop highlights include a look inside a model classroom for students from elementary school through high school, a workshop especially for first-time convention attendees, a session for parents of children with low vision, and much more!

In the evening, relax with other parents of blind children at our annual hospitality event. Great food, great friends, great fun.

Friday, July 1:                       NFB Registration Day, Meetings of Divisions and Committees

Morning                                  NOPBC Cane Walks (two sessions)

Wondering if your child should use a cane? Curious about how a cane works? Learn and experience the Structured Discovery Method of travel at these special workshops. Parents, teachers, blind/VI children, and siblings are welcome.

Afternoon                               NOPBC Style Show

Watch our young blind and low-vision models strut their stuff on the runway. Come enjoy the fashions and music and support NOPBC. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Evening                                   “Laps for Literacy” NOPBC Fundraiser

Swim and walk laps for literacy! Everyone is invited to attend and help raise money and expectations at the same time! Tickets are $5 individual, $10 for family, or raise money at home for free entry!

Saturday, July 2:                   NFB Board Meeting, Meetings of Divisions and Committees

Afternoon                               NOPBC Annual Meeting

Be sure to attend this important meeting featuring the 2016 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children; NFB Writer’s Division Youth Contest Winners, Parent Power, Kid Power; NOPBC business, elections. Special bonus: meeting attendees receive a priority entrance ticket to the Braille Book Fair!

Early Evening                         NOPBC Braille Book Fair

A book lover's dream! Browse tables of Braille and print/Braille books. Volunteers will box your books and deliver them to the post office for Free Matter shipment to your home. Books are free; donations are encouraged to support our Braille programs.

Sunday, July 3:                      NFB Opening Day Session

Evening                                   NOPBC Workshops and Children’s Activities

Join the NOPBC for our popular IEP workshop. Learn how to adapt mainstream board games for family fun. Children from five to eighteen will be kept busy with various game and craft activities.

Monday, July 4:                    NFB Business Session

NOPBC Brainstorming Session
Please come to share your knowledge and ideas with us. What did you like at this convention? What resources would help you stay connected throughout the year? What workshops might you like to see us offer next year? Be a part of this valuable conversation.

Tuesday, July 5:                    NFB Banquet Day and Adjournment

What about the Kids?

While parents are busy learning, so are children. NFB Camp offers childcare for children six weeks through twelve years of age. Children will engage in a variety of activities while in NFB Camp, many of which are run by blind adults. Children must be preregistered for childcare. For more information and to register, visit <>.

Children ages eleven to eighteen are invited to participate in Youth Track activities throughout convention. These activities will include advice on looking great and feeling great, hands-on science activities (led by blind scientists), and more. Sighted siblings are welcome to attend Youth Track.

Conference Registration Fees:

Preregister by June 21, 2016:
$30 for an individual adult
$50 for two or more related adults
Children and youth

After June 21, 2016:
$40 per individual adult
$70 for two or more adults
Children and youth

To register, and for a more detailed schedule of events, please visit: <>.

In addition to registering for the NOPBC annual conference, you will also need to register for the National Federation of the Blind National Convention in order to take advantage of our excellent room rates. Registration information, as well as a variety of other convention information, can be found at <>.

We hope to see many families of blind children in Orlando this year!

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