By Thomas Reid, PCB Conference Coordinator

Communicating information about the conference isn’t always a straight forward process. There are often several things that need to be considered.
• Are we effectively getting our message across to the reader?
• Are we capturing the attention of those who may otherwise not be interested?
• Is the timing right?

One consideration that applies this time of year; Do we have anything to say?

The Conference Program & Planning Team (CPPT) is in the early stage of putting together the program for this year’s conference. Therefore, specific details are not yet available. The challenge; How do we provide you with preliminary details about the conference?

I considered a straight forward approach listing all the details here… ZZZZZZ! Boring!

I considered encapsulating the details in an article that relates the conference to something within current events. No way Jose! I’m not trying to scale that wall! Let’s just put a ban on that right now right here! “Orange you glad I didn’t go there!”

I could tell you all about the prior conferences and maybe even give you some quotes from past attendees like, “OMG! – – said while chewing gum. Before I attended a conference my life was awful. I was broke with no money, no friends and I could hardly move off the couch. Now, after my first conference I started a six figure job in the entertainment business. I travel all across the globe and can be seen at all of the hottest parties and social events in the world. And I owe it all to you PCB!” said Donna Doolittle. Or maybe Dudely Likeman expressed it better, “Dude, like the conference, like, dude! Like oh man, Dude, like, the conference Dude it’s like woo!” Well, maybe these testimonials aren’t exactly factual.

Ok, I’m done… these are just jokes folks! If there’s one thing that brings us all together it’s a good time at the PCB Conference! Or maybe it’s the alcohol? Either way, just work with me here! Then it struck me, like a blast from well, like a PCB Conference!

The process of designing a program for the conference is similar to that of “Designing our Future”. That’s the theme of the 2017 PCB Conference taking place in Pittsburgh from October 26 through 29, 2017. Producing a conference is not like science. There’s no one formula where you can plug in specific values and you are guaranteed a successful outcome. In life, when we think about our future both individually and as an organization, we have no template to follow. We have to find that combination of good sound practice with instinct and emotion. It has to feel right!

The CPPT is responsible for doing the best we can to make everyone happy – an impossible task. Our selection process for presentations and entertainment should keep all members in mind. We want to appeal to all ages, degrees of vision loss, level of adjustment to blindness, varying blindness skills including technical proficiency. The end result should be a collage of topics, ideas and events… something for everyone.

As we continue in our artistic endeavor, we will continue to reveal more of what we hope will be a master piece. For now, if you have been to prior conferences you already know what that means. You have experienced the warm welcoming environment where you are free to learn, work and play in a fully accessible atmosphere designed with you in mind. If you have not previously attended a conference, there’s no need to take my word. I am extremely confident that if you contact just about anyone who has been to a PCB Conference they will re-affirm the value of the experience.
The best way though, is to experience it for yourself. In order to do this I recommend you:
1. Mark your calendar with the dates above
2. Visit the PCB Conference page on pcb1.org/conference and check out the audio archives of past conferences.
3. Decide yes, and make your reservations at the Doubletree by Hilton Pittsburgh Green Tree at 500 Mansfield Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Call 1-800-222-8733 and make sure you let them know you are with the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.

It is very important that you make your reservation early this year. Please note that the room rate is only guaranteed through September 16, 2017. Any reservations made after this date are not entitled to receive the PCB rate of $99 per night plus tax. As a reminder, your PCB Board of Directors has voted to use the 50/50 PCB raffle room rate fund to offset the costs for PCB members who are in need of the subsidy. All PCB members in good standing are eligible for a $10 per night subsidy, effectively reducing the room rate to $89 per night plus tax. More information on how to claim this benefit of membership will be posted as we approach the conference.

For any attending the conference impacted by limited public transportation schedules, the PCB room rate is available 3 days pre and 3 days post conference. Therefore if it is easier to either come out to the conference earlier or leave later, you will only be charged the PCB room rate.

Now, enough of the details, the CPPT needs to throw on our smocks, get out our brushes and get back to the art! That means you: Tom Burgunder, CPPT Co-Chair, Cathy Long, CPPT Secretary, Christine Hunsinger, GTCB Host Committee Chair, George Holliday, Rose Martin, Jeanette Schmoyer, and Bobbie Simmons. See you in the Pitt!

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