Designing Our Future

By Thomas Reid, PCB Conference Coordinator

Give yourself a pat on the back if you recognized that the title of this article is also the theme of this year’s conference.
Designing our future to me says action. The phrase implies both cerebral and physical activity. Either way, something is in motion; brainwaves or the body. Our refers to us both as a collective group, or each of us as individuals taking ownership.
Let’s begin with some really urgent matters that we shouldn’t delay for the future as they require our immediate attention and possibly some creative problem solving.
Over the past few years, the Conference Program & Planning Team has been working to change what seemed to be two misbeliefs about attending a PCB conference.

Making Hotel Reservations:
First, you don’t need to wait for the conference registration process to begin in order to
make your hotel reservation. In fact, it is crucial you make your reservation now because your ability to reserve a room at the PCB room rate of $99 will expire on September 16, 2017. After that, room reservations will cost you much more than $99 per night for our conference weekend, October 26-29, 2017.

As a reminder, PCB members in good standing are eligible for a $10 per night (per room) subsidy brought to you by the PCB 50/50 raffle room rate fund. PCB will work directly with the hotel to compare our membership roster with room reservations to insure members are only charged $89 plus appropriate taxes and fees. Again, the $10 per night assistance is only paid per room. Members sharing a room will need to make arrangements among themselves.

Transportation to Pittsburgh:
Too often we let transportation dictate our lives! Yes, it’s true we have to work with certain boundaries like schedules, but we have options.
Being our state’s second-largest city, transportation to and from Pittsburgh is available through Amtrak, Greyhound and Mega Bus. While some offer multiple schedule choices per day, based on where you are traveling from, there may only be one option per day. Fortunately, the conference overnight rate of $99 plus tax will be available for three days pre and three days post conference. The special member room rate of $89 plus tax will be available for up to four nights so that members needing to arrive a day early or leave a day later too attend the entire conference can be accommodated. It’s very important to check your transportation schedules and book your trip so that you will know the length of your overnight stay when you call for your hotel reservation.
Don’t forget the other available option. The Conference Program & Planning Team encourages chapters and regions to travel together via chartered bus or van if possible. Such efforts in the past have been very successful.
The design of this year’s program is still in motion. Therefore what I present now is just a sample of what your future has in store, beginning on October 26, 2017 through October 29, 2017 in Pittsburgh.

The usual suspects:
The weekend begins as soon as you arrive at the hotel… Officially, the conference begins with the general session, but the Board Meeting on Thursday afternoon is really a great way to learn more about both the current issues affecting the organization and the plans for its future.
I am happy to report that we will be offering a Friday tour this year. I’m sad to say I can’t share the details but will encourage you to listen for the upcoming Blasts where we will share more information.
Friday, our resident dart throwers will have another chance to dethrone Bonnie Newland and Michael Zaken, the back-to-back champions of the PCB Audio Darts Tournament!
This year, we are making sure the tournament is an opportunity for new dart players to not only learn but also compete. So if you wanted to play in the past but felt you didn’t have a shot because some of these folks take their darts pretty seriously, please make sure you sign up and enjoy this fun and accessible activity.

After trying to hit the bullseye, you can help PCB hit that financial target by helping yourself to a variety of items at the always-entertaining live auction.
It’s not just a help to the organization, it’s a way to get an early jump on holiday shopping!
Plus, have you heard… “Everyone who brings in an auction donation will get a free PCB Mug” – so get started today on lining up those items!

Of course Saturday will include PCB Board elections and other business and our Saturday night cocktail hour and banquet. Remember, the Washington County Chapter is looking for your participation in this year’s banquet entertainment… The PCB Comedy Club – which I am happy to announce is a go! (See April’s Blast for more information or contact Carla Hayes directly)

Here’s a sample of some presentations you will experience during the weekend:

Sally Jo Snyder, a Pittsburgh advocate with the Consumer Health Coalition is sure to get you fired up!
Brandon Taylor will talk all about 3 D printed maps and how this technology can help improve our access to physical spaces and wayfinding.
Professor Taylor will also offer a hands-on workshop where a limited number of participants can use his website to create their own 3D maps!
We will hear from Alisa Grishman of Access Mob, on how cross disability collaboration can work to improve access for all.
Marsha Drenth, manager of Pennsylvania’s Deaf Blind Living Well Services (DBLWS) program for the Center for Independent Living will discuss “Living an Independent Life with a Dual Sensory Loss”.
We’ll hear from Kathleen George, a Pittsburgh author of several crime fictions & Don Ciccone from the Carnegie Library on what’s ahead for NLS patrons. (Check out the June Blast for more!)

The CPPT will set off the weekend on Thursday evening following the opening general session with some fun, laughs, and prizes…we’re bringing you Family Feud, PCB style. There will be more information about this soon and of course you will have the chance to sign up when you register for the conference.

Now, don’t let any more time pass you by, take your future into your own hands…
Act now to schedule your transportation arrangements and to make your hotel reservation at the Doubletree by Hilton Pittsburgh Green Tree, 500 Mansfield Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Call 1-800-222-8733 before September 16 and make sure you let them know you are with the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in Pittsburgh!

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