Sunday, June 29, 2003

Alive and Well

Conventions offer a variety of disability education

Debra Kendrick

Whether disability is new in your life or a familiar characteristic, opportunities to learn about new products, techniques, and legislation directly related to that specific disability can be an excellent way to recharge batteries and expand horizons. Summer months are filled with conventions, conferences, and workshops of particular interest to people with disabilities and their families. Here are just a few that are coming up.

• National Federation of the Blind 2003 convention, Galt House Hotel, Louisville, now-July 4. Whether you drive down for a day or camp out for the entire week, this annual convention will offer something for everyone experiencing vision loss. Workshops for parents, students, and every profession from law to education to social work and more are offered throughout the week. Daily plenary sessions, resembling a political convention, feature representatives from government, education, technology, and others addressing issues of relevance to people who are blind. Wandering the exhibit hall will give you an overview of products available for work and play of particular interest to those with impaired vision.

For more information, visit or call (410) 659-9314.

• American Council of the Blind 42nd National Convention, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, July 5-12.

Another national gathering of blind and visually impaired people, this convention offers workshops for visually impaired artists, teachers, lawyers, and more, as well as a variety of social events. Daily general sessions feature speakers on civil rights, technology, and employment, and a large exhibit hall offers a closer look at assistive technology and other products designed for people who are blind or visually impaired.

For more information, visit or call (202) 467-5081.

• National Down Syndrome Society 2003 Conference, Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis, July 10-13.

Titled "Making a Difference Together," this event will focus on education, socialization, independent living and advocacy for acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The three conference tracks are designed to offer workshops for parents and professionals, as well as for teens and adults with Down syndrome.

For more information, visit or call (800) 221-4602.

• Autism Society of America National Conference, Pittsburgh Westin Center Hotel, Pittsburgh, July 16-20. For both families and professionals, this event features workshops and speakers on the many, varied disabilities occurring in the autism spectrum.

For more information, call the Autism Society at (301) 657-0881 or (800) 328-8476 or send e-mail to Cathy Thoren at or visit

• Abilities Expo 2003, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Chicago, Aug. 15-17. This large commercial show gathers a wide range of vendors whose products are designed to facilitate work productivity, recreation and daily living activities for people with disabilities, senior citizens, care givers and health care professionals. Products featured run the gamut from computers to athletic equipment to mobility aids to devices for daily living. Educational workshops on learning to drive with controls adapted for a person with a physical disability, acquiring accessible housing, playing adaptive sports and more are also available.

For information, visit

Contact Deborah Kendrick by phone: 673-4474; fax: 321-6430; e-mail:

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