American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Convention Issue 2015 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
by Deborah Kent Stein
Orlando, Florida, can be unpleasantly hot and humid in July, even early in the morning. Nevertheless, thousands of Federationists filed into the parking lot of the Rosen Centre Hotel on the morning of July 8, 2015, each of us wearing a numbered wristband and carrying a folded umbrella. A dedicated team of marshals directed each person to the precise spot where she or he needed to stand for the creation of a vast umbrella mosaic which, we hoped, would break a Guinness World Record. For well over an hour we waited in the sun, resisting the temptation to open our umbrellas for shade, while Federationists Kevan Worley and Gabe Cazares provided commentary and encouragement from the podium in English and Spanish.
Finally, we heard the signal we had been waiting for: the shouted letters "N F B!" With a tremendous “whoosh!” more than two thousand umbrellas swept aloft. Together they formed the logo of the National Federation of the Blind and our tagline: “LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT.”
With 2,480 people taking part, the NFB's umbrella mosaic broke the previous Guinness World Record of 2,100 participants. More importantly, it symbolized the spirit of the Federation and what we can achieve when we work together to change what it means to be blind.
The 2015 convention of the National Federation of the Blind was a celebration of the organization's founding in 1940 and of its seventy-five-year history of advocacy and empowerment for blind people. The umbrella mosaic was only one element of the celebration of the Federation's diamond anniversary. The convention also featured a Fourties-themed anniversary ball and a multimedia display with 3D panels depicting historic Federation figures and events. During the general sessions, longtime Federationists shared their memories and looked ahead to the future that the NFB has helped to make possible. In addition, our partners from the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) presented a host of speakers and activities for parents and teachers, sharing information about cane travel, technology, play, social skills, careers, and more. During the general sessions, Federation leaders and our allies in government, law, and the corporate world spoke about growing concerns and exciting new developments.
At every NFB convention, some of the best moments are those that happen spontaneously. While lounging beside the pool, standing in the registration line, or waiting for an elevator, strangers introduce themselves, and discover how much they have in common. Suddenly they are exchanging ideas, sharing resources, and building connections that may last for a lifetime.
If you attended the 2015 national convention of the NFB, the articles and photos in this issue of Future Reflections will bring back memories of this historic gathering. If you were not able to join in the fun, learning, and excitement in Orlando, we hope you will be inspired to join us in 2016.