by Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, Audio Description Project Coordinator and Grant Writer, American Council of the Blind
After two years of meeting virtually, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) celebrated its 61st Annual Conference and Convention with the organization’s first-ever hybrid event. The convention was held virtually and in person in Omaha, Nebraska, and broadcast across ACB Media Network. From June 22 through July 8, 2022, members enjoyed more than 25 hours of audio-described virtual tours, a robust vendor exhibit hall, live tours, daily general sessions with knowledgeable presenters across the full range of issues that impact our community, and more than 100 breakout sessions organized by affiliates, committees, and sponsors.
Speakers during general sessions included Marc Workman, President of the World Blind Union, Day Al-Mohamed, the Director of Disability Policy with the Domestic Policy Council in Washington, D.C., and Talking Book Narrator Ray Foushee from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Many of ACB’s corporate sponsors presented live and interacted with members throughout the event. Meta and Instagram demonstrated accessibility features; Comcast introduced its latest smart television, featuring a screen reader with voice guidance for menus and to access audio description; and Walmart held a “fireside chat” to talk about accessible products.
ACB used a remote voting process, accessible to all members, to elect new officers, board members, and vote on resolutions during the convention. Key resolutions passed included:
– a call for ACB to seek systemic change in order to achieve more permanent settlement in disability rights cases;
– a call for YouTube to establish and publicly announce a date to roll out audio description features for all users;
– a directive for ACB to join with other partners to demand that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) issue updated and more comprehensive education policy guidance by year end, 2024; and
– a call for ACB to strongly urge the U.S. Senate to pass the bipartisan Collins-Shaheen insulin price-capping bill aimed at Improving Needed Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now (INSULIN), to lower the costs for people with diabetes.
As part of ACB’s new Health and Wellness Initiative, numerous breakout sessions focused on health-related topics. Throughout the program, members could “Get Up and Get Moving” at dances, on walks, and in a goalball demonstration. An early advocate for more accessible COVID-19 home test kits, ACB was able to secure the more accessible Ellume COVID-19 test kits for distribution at the convention.
Capping the convention, ACB’s annual banquet featured keynote speaker Judith Heumann, internationally recognized leader in the disability rights community. Heumann and ACB members engaged in a lively dialogue about current advocacy issues and the need to become involved at all levels to effect cultural and institutional change.
To find out more about these events, visit the ACB website link to the 2022 National Conference and Convention Program.