Strengthening Community through Unity: A Conference Start

By Sue Lichtenfels, PCB Conference Coordinator


It’s difficult to right an information-packed article about the 2021 PCB Conference and Convention when it is so early in our planning process. While we do have our dates, the “location,” and the theme, many of the details are still in the works. So, to make sure I give you your money’s worth, I’ve included a conference-related word challenge for your enjoyment within the article.


The centerpiece of this year’s conference is community. For PCB, community is the culmination of all we strive to accomplish through our offerings and advocacy. Providing people who are blind or visually impaired with a sense of belonging that gives them hope and validation is the ultimate purpose of our collective efforts. Appropriately, this year’s conference theme is “Strengthening Community through Unity.”


The 2021 PCB Conference and Convention will be held Thursday, September 16 through Sunday, September 19. Once again, we will be utilizing the Zoom platform to host our virtual event. If you recall, Zoom can be accessed by landline phones, smartphones, tablets, computers, and even Amazon Echo devices. Toll-free calling will be available for anyone who needs it. For peers who don’t wish to interactively participate, but want to still listen in, the weekend line-up will be broadcast on ACB Radio’s many listening outlets.


The Conference Program and Planning Team (CPPT) wants to develop conference activities, presentations, and exhibits that will be informative and interactive. The team is seeking proposals from individuals, chapters, teams, and community organizations to provide attendees with seminars and workshop sessions relevant to our theme. Details for potential presenters are posted at Proposals are due April 1, 2021. And if you are not keen on being a presenter, we welcome your ideas for subjects or speakers you would like us to actively pursue in our presentation planning. Email us at


Exhibitor and sponsor opportunities will be coming soon. We are seeking a special sponsor to underwrite a conference podcast so we can provide you fun and informative monthly updates like the Blast that Thomas Reid produced. Please get in touch with a member of our team if you work for or have a contact with a company who might generously underwrite our conference podcast or another aspect of our conference. Like last year, many of our exhibits will be prerecorded and played during presentation downtime. However, we are researching ways to offer some live exhibit time where attendees could drop by a virtual booth to speak directly with company representatives.


If you have been to a PCB conference, you know the weekend is an organization-wide effort to provide learning, fellowship, support, and inspiration to all who are impacted by vision loss. Our chapters, teams, and peer volunteers play an important role in the conference’s success. Each year, chapters both small and large, provide vital support by financially sponsoring events, subsidizing and encouraging peer registration, providing generous door prizes, and donating interesting items to the annual auction. PCB teams design presentations and workshops organize auxiliary activities like the auction, and manage logistical aspects such as awards, scholarships, and mentors. And then there are dozens of individual peer volunteers who take care of our audio and technical needs, line up presenters and exhibitors, promote the conference, organize registration materials, and on and on. There are so many within our organization who go the extra mile to ensure conference success. To all of you, thank you! We welcome your on-going support in 2021.


This year we have an impressive team of organizers on the CPPT. Our conference ambassadors are: Tom Burgunder, Gigi Beatty, Melissa Carney, Suzanne Erb, Mary Ann Grignon, Chris Hunsinger, Bob Lichtenfels, Sue Lichtenfels (Coordinator), Rose Martin, Kelsey Nicolay, Irene Rehman, Pam Shaw, Tony Swartz, and Jackie Wissinger. Once again, Doug Hunsinger will be our audio guru. We all welcome your questions and suggestions. And we will release more conference details as they become available through the PCB-L, the PCB Information Line, the page, and our social media accounts. If at any time you would like to reach me, Sue Lichtenfels, PCB Conference Coordinator, please call 412-480-9696 or email


Now, for your money’s worth, the word challenge. Since our marquis word is community, I wrote my ideal description of the PCB community by using anagrams from the word community. For example, the word tommy is an anagram from the letters in community. I made a specific effort to use words that were at least four letters long. How many of my anagrams can you find in the below paragraph?


We come together as one unit, our shared experiences as people with vision loss a tonic in our on-going adjustment process. When tensions mount or we sink into despair, we need only reach out to our community for comfort. In comity and unity, we strive to do for and unto others as we expect of them were the circumstances reversed. Together, we commit to improving life for all who are impacted by vision loss. Our mission: a metaphorical mutiny against naysayers of ontic independence; they who question our ability to launder a tunic or safely fill a tummy. We count everyone’s voice and wish to omit no one. Whether you hail from a large city, a tiny town, or a rural county, we invite you into our circle. You need not be an American icon or Tony award-winner. Just step right up and take one coin or more from our treasure chest of support. And when you are ready, mint your token of appreciation by paying it forward for the next person with vision loss.


Does this sound like a community to which you want to belong? Me too. Striving together, all of us can make this ideal community into an on-going reality within PCB. Join us for the 2021 PCB Conference and Convention where we will learn about “Strengthening Community through Unity.” Anagram count: 21.

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