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NFB:AE Meets in New Orleans June 29 to July 5, 1997

The NFB:AE is committed to broadening opportunities for blind people through networking, exposure to new technology, connecting parents of blind children with other parents and with blind adult role models. We do a great deal of work through our local chapters, by mail, and by telephone. Nothing we do is more effective than getting together and spending time sharing our ideas, our dreams, our problems, and the solutions we have found.

Canada is a vast country with a relatively small population. Blind people are a tiny minority of that small population. Fortunately, we live next door to a country which has a powerful, well-organized, organization of the blind--the National Federation of the Blind. It seems only reasonable that blind Canadians should take the opportunity to get to know blind people within the NFB in the U.S. in order to broaden our base of information and strengthen our ties with the blind community in North America.

The annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in the United States is the largest gathering of blind people in the world.

It has something for everyone. There are meetings for blind people with diabetes, parents of blind children, blind computer users, blind computer phobics, teachers, students, secretaries, engineers, bakers, and more. In one week at an NFB convention, a blind person can check out the latest computer technology, talk to other blind parents about their challenges of raising sighted children in a society which still finds blind parents remarkable, talk directly to the people who are attempting to develop a new unified Braille code, and sharpen independent travel skills while exploring a new city. NFB conventions are a time for learning and laughing, discussing and dreaming, and for making friendships that will last a lifetime.

The NFB:AE has chosen to hold one of its two annual meetings at the NFB Convention in New Orleans. We will also be meeting in Vancouver in February, 1998.

Blind Canadians will be participating fully in NFB convention activities. We will also be holding several Canadian gatherings. We plan to meet all day on Monday, June 30, 1997, and again on the evening of Wednesday, July 2, 1997. Other social events for Canadians are also planned.

The convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, at 500 Poydras Plaza, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70140. It ranks among the best hotels in the world.

Hotel reservations are being taken through the national office of the NFB. To reserve a room call the National Centre for the Blind at (410) 659-9314 or write to National Convention, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21230. Reservations will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis, and no reservation will be valid unless it has been made through the National Centre for the Blind. When reserving a room, ask to speak with Mr.Cobb. The Hyatt Regency New Orleans cannot confirm reservations for this convention. Do NOT call the Hyatt directly.

At this writing, the original block of rooms set aside for the convention has been reserved. Negotiations are under way for additional space in the Hyatt or for space in nearby hotels at comparable rates. It is likely that free shuttle bus service will be provided between the Hyatt and overflow hotels.

In order to confirm a reservation, you will need either to send a cheque or money order for $40 U.S. as a deposit or give Mr. Cobb a credit card number. The credit card account will be charged immediately. If a reservation is cancelled prior to June 1, 1997, half of the deposit will be refunded. After that date deposits will not be refunded. Exceptions may be made in certain demonstrated emergency situations.

As is always the case, Federation hotel rates for 1997 will be the envy of all who attend conventions. Here they are as follows: one person in a room--$40 per night; two people in a room--$42; three in a room--$44; four in a room--$46. As you can see, these rates are better than the ones we had in 1996 in Anaheim. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax. At the time arrangements were made with the hotel it was 11 percent plus $3 per night. There will be no charge for children under twelve with parents as long as no extra bed is required. If you want to come a few days early, or stay a few days late, convention rates will apply. Here are the convention dates and schedule:

Sunday, June 29--Seminars for parents of blind children, blind job-seekers, vendors, and merchants; several other workshops and meetings.

Monday, June 30--Canadian seminar and meetings; convention registration; first meeting of the resolutions committee, other committees, and some of the divisions.

Tuesday, July 1--Meeting of the NFB U.S. Board of Directors, open to all; division meetings (generally dealing with careers); other seminars; continuing registration.

Wednesday, July 2--Opening general session; Canadian meeting; evening gala.

Thursday, July 3--General sessions; tours throughout the New Orleans area.

Friday, July 4--General sessions; banquet.

Saturday, July 5--General sessions; adjournment.

The elegant Hyatt Regency New Orleans is located just eight blocks from the French Quarter. The Hyatt features two towers--Poydras, with twenty-seven floors, and Lenai, with eleven floors. In addition to a swimming pool on the seventh floor, the Hyatt also features several restaurants, cocktail lounges, and a large shopping mall.

This shopping mall includes a Walden books store, jewelry store, souvenir store, Cafe du Monde--wonderful square doughnuts, Frank and Stein--hot dogs and beer, and many other fast food meals. In addition, Macy's Department Store is adjacent to the Hyatt and is easily accessible. Passing through Macy's will lead to the Superdome, a colossal structure that is home to the New Orleans Saints as well as many other gala festivities. A shuttle service to and from the French Quarter will be provided to hotel guests during the national convention.

Registration fee for the convention will likely be $10. The banquet, which is the highlight of the convention, will probably cost $25 to $30 per ticket.

A wide variety of door prizes will be given throughout convention sessions. Prizes will be relatively small in size and large in value.

Cash is always popular. The grand prize at the banquet will be spectacular--worthy of the occasion. The 1996 grand prize in Anaheim was $1000 in cash. The 1997 grand prize will be equally good.

The displays of new technology; the meetings of special interest groups, committees, divisions; the exciting tours; the hospitality and renewed friendships; the solid program items; and the exhilaration of being where the action is and where the decisions are being made--all of these join together to call the blind to the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hotel in July 1997.

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