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Fall 2006 Table of Contents
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National Federation of the Blind National Convention: A Parent's Perspective

By Sally Thomas, Parent, Pearland, TX

Abstract: A parent shares her family's experiences while attending the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Convention this summer in Dallas, Texas.

Keywords: blind, blind children, blind adults, blind technology, blind simulation, NFB

Editor's Note: Sally, whose son David is a fourth grader at Challenger Elementary in Pearland, first shared her comments on the Texas Visually Impaired Family Network.. Learn more about this listserv for families at <http://lists.topica.com/lists/txvifamily>. We appreciate her sharing them here as well.

We went to the National NFB Convention in Dallas this summer. It was GREAT! We were able to reconnect with people we met in Atlanta two years ago, participate in some fun activities, and hear great speakers. It is so empowering to hear the parents and blind adults talk about their successes in making the world accessible. To see close to 3000 blind people together in one place really helps my son know that he is not alone. It is such a positive experience that at one point my sighted daughter looked at me and said, "sometimes I wish that I was blind too!"

We especially love the cane walk. Everyone who wants to participate (sighted or blind) gets a sleepshade and a cane and travels around the hotel with an O&M instructor. This year we were with a blind instructor. It really makes an impression on my son that using his cane is important and that he can be successful in travel, even under sleepshade. He really wants to get a guide dog some day, so excellent independent travel skills are a must.

I especially enjoyed a talk on Braille literacy. "Can't" is not in the vocabulary of these people. Learning about the possibilities and resources available for Braille readers provides me with great tools for my son and will help at our next ARD. There is so much information available at this conference especially geared to school-aged kids.

My husband was very excited about a talk he heard on tools for teaching math to blind kids. The speaker was Susan Osterhaus from TSBVI. She really knows her stuff. It's so helpful to know that there are people out there who have the knowledge to teach our kids anything they want to know. We hope our son can go to the math program at TSBVI this fall. It's great that we have this resource so close at hand.

One of the really great things about NFB is the opportunity to talk with other blind people. Everyone says that if you wonder how your child can participate in an activity, ask another blind person how (s)he did it. There is a network of people who have faced the challenges our kids will face and they have insight on how the challenge can be met.

Another fun part is the technology displays. It's an opportunity to see what is out there and to ask questions of the vendors. I was able to meet one of the people who designed the braille notetaker my son uses and ask him questions about things the notetaker can do. It's a lot easier than asking local professionals who may or may not know! My son loves to try out all the gadgets. He was born at the right time to embrace all the technology that is out there.

Next year the convention will be in Atlanta. We're planning to spend a longer time there than we did in Dallas. It's really worth it.


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