On Your Mark, Get Set, Zoom!

By Sue Lichtenfels, Conference Coordinator


The PCB Conference Team is getting ready to produce another awesome virtual conference, full of information, entertainment, and fellowship. Are you ready to participate? Let’s get your engine warmed up so you’re ready to make your move when the conference registration materials hit your mailbox later this summer. Believe me, you don’t want to be left in the dust when all your peers are zooming to the main event.


It all takes place Thursday, September 16 through Sunday, September 19 on the Zoom platform. With options to participate from a landline phone, cell phone, or computer, we hope no one who wants to join will be left behind. We are also offering toll-free calling so friends without an unlimited long-distance calling plan can be a part of the action. Of course, those who just want to kick back and listen will be able to tune in on the many ACB Radio options.


As you traverse the virtual conference universe, here are some attractions you’ll want to enjoy. Our Director of Outreach and Engagement, Melissa Carney, brings us a fresh perspective as she leads a Friday morning self-advocacy workshop. Other presentation topics include forming a Low Vision Support Group, low-tech shopping options, enhancing outreach among people of color, exploring handler/guide dog bonding, connecting with pop culture through podcasts, volunteering outside of the blind sphere, and sharing artisanry and craft ability with the world. We are currently seeking panelists for the volunteer and artisan presentations which Mary Ann Grignon writes about in “Calling All…” in this magazine issue. And the Peer Engagement Team is seeking informal testimonials about helpful gadgets and gizmos to produce a community share. A special Saturday presentation by Joseph Koury, author of “Seeing Without Eyes, One Man’s Journey Out of Darkness,” will address his journey across America as a blind driver and his incredibly unique perspective of blindness. This summer, the AccessiDocs team led by Tony Swartz will make the book available to everyone for free.


We can’t make a trip to virtual conference land without partaking of some entertainment. First-time attendees to the conference are invited to drop into Friday’s lunch lounge to meet, mingle, and maybe win a prize. For those of us common folk without an IQ off the chart, Tony Swartz is preparing a Jeopardy! game. Warm up your lie detectors for a game of Truth-Truth-Lie where you guess which statement is the person’s lie and then you try to fool the other players with your own Truth-Truth-Lie statement trio. On Sunday we will get a double shot of entertainment with a described movie in the morning and our top-notch live auction beginning at 3 PM Eastern. And don’t forget to stop by the always-entertaining PCB business meeting on Saturday afternoon with reports, discussions, and elections!


Access to this amazing weekend extravaganza can be yours for the low, low price of $0. That’s right, we are “Strengthening Community Through Unity” by removing all economic barriers to participation in this year’s PCB Conference. We’ll still need you to register so we can send out your conference program in your preferred format, include you in the door prize drawing, register you as an auction bidder, and sign you up for entertainment options. Free registration is available to everyone, not just paid PCB peers, so spread the word throughout your friends and networks. If ever there was a time to try a PCB Conference, this is it!


How about we put a little extra fuel in your tank? Our advocacy and impact are stronger when our unified community is larger. This year, we are running a Refer a Friend Sweepstakes. When a paid PCB member who is registered for the conference refers a non-member who also registers and attends the conference, the paid PCB member will be given one chance in the sweepstakes drawing to win a $50 VISA card. Refer two or three non-member registrants and get more chances to win! Just make sure your friends include your name when they complete the “Referred By” section on the registration form.


Another new feature of this year’s virtual conference is a very real addition to our conference program. The Community Shout Out Section will offer individuals the opportunity to share a positive message with others. For example, “Proud to be a part of the PCB community. Rock on PCB! (Ricky Rah-rah) or “Going blind opened my eyes to the real beauty in people. Thanks for supporting me.” (Justin Thyme). Contribute as little as $5 to this year’s conference during registration, and get a free Community Shout Out opportunity! Compose your unique message in 15 words or less for inclusion in the program.


Now that you’ve had a glimpse into the 2021 virtual conference universe, you know it’s not to be missed. Get the dates marked on your calendar (September 16-19). Connect with Conference Coordinator, Sue Lichtenfels at 412-480-9696 or sueperlative73@gmail.com to express interest in being on one of our panels. Set yourself up to continue getting conference planning updates by joining the PCB-L listserv, following PCB on social media, and checking the PCB Information Line monthly. Beginning in June, we’ll be putting out a conference podcast through those channels to keep peers informed. Finally, zoom, zoom, zoom, to your friends and colleagues to tell them about our awesome conference.

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