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Celebrate Our 2019 Award Winners!

Join us as we celebrate this year’s award recipients at AFB Leadership Conference.

diverse group of conference attendees

Migel Medal Awards

The Migel Medal is the highest honor in the blindness field. The 2019 Migel Medal recipients are Glinda Foster Hill and Dr. Elton Moore. Glinda Foster Hill is an Education Program Specialist at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Division of Research to Practice. At the OSEP, Glinda is responsible for the development and management of programs designed to improve developmental, educational, and employment outcomes of children with disabilities. She has worked on policies that strengthen educational programs and opportunities and ushered in new and groundbreaking programs. Dr. Elton Moore has been a preeminent leader in the blindness field over the last quarter century. His leadership of the Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center oversaw considerable research, especially relating to the employment of people with vision loss, research that was applied by private and governmental organizations serving blind and visually impaired people throughout the United States. Dr. Moore and Glinda Hill will be honored at a special luncheon on Friday, March 1.

Stephen Garff Marriott Award

The Stephen Garff Marriott Award honors a blind or visually impaired individual who has served as an extraordinary mentor or who has attained remarkable professional success. Anita Shafer Aaron, Executive Director of the World Institute on Disability (WID), is the 2019 recipient. Under Aaron's leadership, WID has worked to strengthen its role in defining and promoting accessible health care, addressing barriers to economic inclusion of people with disabilities, and working internationally to increase access to services, training, and education, and involvement in peace-building and conflict resolution initiatives.

Corinne Kirchner Research Award

The Corinne Kirchner Research Award honors individuals whose leadership and dedication illuminate the most pressing needs of people with vision loss through timely, innovative, and authoritative research. The 2019 recipient is Dr. Michele C. McDonnall, director of the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision and principal investigator of several large grants. In addition to demonstrated excellence in academic writing, grant writing, and research, Dr. McDonnall also translates her findings into plain-language summaries. She has published extensively over the last several years on employer attitudes, transportation issues, and improving delivery systems as they relate to individuals who are blind or have low vision, with the ultimate goal of improving competitive employment outcomes and other indicators of employment success.

Anita Aaron and Dr. McDonnall will be honored during the Friday morning general session.


    AFBLC19 Early Bird Rates End This Week

    An early bird on a branch with a bird in its beak.

    Don't miss out: The early bird rate for conference registrations ends this Friday, so register today! We are also running low on hotel rooms at the group rate, so please book soon. Our group rate for hotel rooms expires on February 4.

    2019 AFB Leadership Conference

    Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA
    February 28-March 1

    Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program Managers Meeting - February 27 (Open to all conference attendees, but seating is limited)

    Early-bird rate until February 1: $399

    Rate after February 1: $449 (includes on-site registrations)

    Register Online

    Book your hotel room (the group rate expires February 4 or when rooms sell out; book early to avoid disappointment): Online reservations or call 888-236-2427 and reference our conference to get the group rate

    Read the 2019 Sponsorship menu to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

    And don't forget—we'll kick things off on February 27 with the 2019 Helen Keller Achievement Awards Gala! This black-tie event was established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge Keller's extraordinary efforts and to promote the notable achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The gala, which will be emceed by athlete, adventurer, and author Erik Weihenmayer, includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, and formal dinner. The 2019 award recipients are Amazon, Northrop Grumman, and Washington State Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Tickets for this special event must be purchased separately. Please visit our website to purchase individual tickets, tables, or event sponsorships.

    A Special Message from JPMorgan Chase

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. is committed to meeting the banking and financial services needs of all our customers. Members of our Digital team will be on site to review our products with you. We have two study opportunities at the conference. You may participate in both if your schedule allows.

    Chase.com study

    We would like your input on Chase.com. For this study, we are looking for desktop and/or laptop screen reader users (NVDA, JAWS, or VO) AND users with low vision who use Zoom to access web content (ZOOMTEXT or Zoom on Mac). In these sessions of one-on-one user testing, we will ask you to complete common banking tasks using test accounts. You do not need to be a Chase customer to participate. If you would like to join us for this study, please email eCAT.Communications@Chase.com with your name and contact number to register.

    Virtual Assistant/Chat Study

    We would like your input on our mobile banking app. For this study, we are looking for iPhone VoiceOver users who also use or have used Siri and/or Google Assistant voice features on their mobile device. In these sessions of 1-1 user testing, we will ask you to engage in several chat conversations via a new voice feature to get your feedback. Please bring your own headphones if you prefer. If you would like to join us for this study, please email Jackie.Say@Chase.com with your name and contact number to register.

    The studies will not require you to log into your personal devices. Your personal information will remain protected. Sessions are expected to last one full hour. Participants will be provided snacks and refreshments.

    Available sessions (2 sessions available for each time window for the Chase.com study)

    Thursday, February 28th

    • 10:15 am – 11:15 am
    • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    • 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
    • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

    Friday, March 1st

    • 10:15 am – 11:15 am
    • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    • 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

    Special Thanks to Our 2019 Sponsors


      Employment Track Highlights from the 2019 AFBLC Program

      Woman sitting at desk working at her computer.

      The National Research and Training Center (NRTC) on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University will hold a State of the Science (SOS) research conference on employment throughout the AFB Leadership Conference. Sessions are sponsored by the NRTC, through funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (grant #90RT5040).

      The SOS Conference is an excellent opportunity for professionals to learn about the latest research and products available to help individuals who are blind or visually impaired obtain employment. Sessions in the SOS Conference begin with the code letters “EM" for employment. The NRTC is offering continuing education credit through ACVREP and CRCC for AFBLC’s aging and vision loss and EM tracks. The full conference program is now available online.

      Thursday

      • EM12: What We Know About Job Retention and Career Advancement; Presenters: Adele Crudden, Anne Steverson, and Ashley Townsend. If you have a significant vision loss, how likely are you to keep working? Learn about the factors and services that influence job retention and career advancement among employed VR applicants and how state agencies are addressing these issues.
      • EM22: An Experiment to Evaluate Approaches to a First Meeting Between a VR Professional and Employer; Presenters: Michele C. McDonnall, Karla Antonelli, Bobby Druesedow, and Rebecca Soto. Can meeting with an employer really help people who are blind or visually impaired become employed? We will present the results of a study that evaluated two different approaches to a meeting with an employer and the impact of vision status on employer attitudes toward, knowledge about, and intent to hire.
      • EM32: A Job Search Intervention for Youth with Visual Impairments: Results and Trainer Perspectives; Presenters: Jennifer L. Cmar and Michele C. McDonnall. Working for pay during high school predicts future employment for youth with visual impairments, especially for youth who find their own jobs. Learn about a job search intervention for youth with visual impairments that aims to enhance knowledge, skills, and confidence in independent job-seeking.
      • EM42: 4to24: Development of an App to Help Parents and Youth Focus on Employment; Presenters: Karla Antonelli, Jennifer L. Cmar, and Anne Steverson. For families of children with visual impairment or dual sensory impairment, information and resources about navigating the path to independence and employment as an adult can be a lifeline. To help fill this need, a new app is being created for parents and youth to help prepare these youth for employment.

      Friday

      • EM52: Employment for Youth Who Are Blind and Deaf-Blind: Key Predictors and Current Status; Presenters: Stephen Lipscomb, Michele C. McDonnall, and Jennifer Cmar. We will discuss predictors of post-high school employment for youth who are blind or visually impaired and for youth who are deaf-blind.
      • EM62: Effectiveness of a Business Development Training for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Blind; Presenters: Michele C. McDonnall, Anne Steverson, Sophie Kershaw, and Timothy Jefferson. Working with employers is an important component of the rehabilitation counselors’ job, yet many counselors are not comfortable or prepared for this activity. We will discuss the results of a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a business development training for rehabilitation counselors who work with individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
      • EM72: New and Emerging Technology to Improve Workplace Accessibility; Presenters: Sassy Outwater-Wright, Daniel Frye, and Paul Schroeder. We will discuss new and emerging technologies that can level the playing field for people who are blind or visually impaired in the workplace.

      2019 AFB Leadership Conference

      Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA
      February 28-March 1
      Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program Managers Meeting - February 27 (Open to all conference attendees, but seating is limited)
      Early-bird rate until February 1: $399
      Rate after February 1: $449 (includes on-site registrations)
      Register online

      To learn about sponsorship opportunities: 2019 Sponsorship menu

      And don't forget—we'll kick things off on February 27 with the 2019 Helen Keller Achievement Awards Gala! This black-tie event was established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge Keller's extraordinary efforts and to promote the notable achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The gala, which will be emceed by athlete, adventurer, and author Erik Weihenmayer, includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, and formal dinner. The 2019 award recipients are Amazon, Northrop Grumman, and Washington State Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Tickets for this special event must be purchased separately. Please visit our site to purchase individual tickets, tables, or event sponsorships.

      Special Thanks to Our 2019 Sponsors!


      2019 AFB Leadership Conference (#AFBLC19): Aging and Vision Loss Highlights

      *Special Note: Have you booked your hotel room yet? Rooms are going fast! Our room block expires on February 4 or whenever rooms sell out, so book soon to avoid disappointment: online reservations or call 888-236-2427 and reference our conference to get the group rate.

      Text reads: Learn, Engage, Advance, Deliver. The first letter from each word spells out the acronym L.E.A.D.

      Experts predict that by 2030, rates of vision loss will double along with the United States' aging population. Join us for the Aging and Vision Loss track to learn more about the unique needs and issues facing the older blind with vision loss.

      Thursday, February 28

      • AG14: Dementia and Vision Loss: The Role of the Rehabilitation Team—Moderator: Audrey Demmitt, RN; Presenters: Teepa Snow, OT, Positive Approach® to Care. Learn about dementia and its impact on teaching and learning new skills.
      • AG24: Transportation for Older Adults with Vision Loss: Transitions, Options & Adaptations to Support Community Living—Presenter: Virginia Dize, M.S., N4A and Co-Director of the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. This session will cover what the Center is doing nationally to promote the availability and accessibility of transportation options for older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, and communities.
      • AG34: Popular Apps and Smart Speakers in the Home: Strategies for Reducing Social Isolation—Presenter: Steve Kelley, CVRT, CVLT, CATIS, IRIS. Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home can bring a great deal of information, practical communication functions, and leisure to older adults, without the need for a computer science degree or even a keyboard. Explore the basics and some features of each to consider during an assessment.
      • AG44: Connecting to the Outside World from Home: Strategies for Reducing Social Isolation—Presenter: Steve Kelley, CVRT, CVLT, CATIS, IRIS. An overview of options will be covered and discussion of these options and how they are working across the country will be facilitated in this interactive session.

      Friday, March 1

      • AG54: Treatment of Chronic Visual Impairment: An Evidence-based Approach—Presenters: Judith Goldstein, OD, Wilmer Eye Institute. This session will cover the relationship between patients seeking outpatient low vision services and the effects of depression, cognitive impairment and loss in physical ability on rehabilitation outcomes.
      • AG64: Peer Support Networks: A Strategy for Addressing Isolation—Presenters: Linda Pogue, MSW; Kay McGill, M.A., CRC and Audrey Demmitt, RN. Project Independence (PI), an Older Individuals Who Are Blind program in Georgia, offers a statewide network of peer support groups. The presenters will cover how this network was started, what training took place and the ongoing support the peer support leaders receive.
      • AG74: Falls Prevention and Health Promotion: Evidence-Based Programs, Partnerships, and Funding—Presenters: Kathleen Zuke, MPH, NCOA and Shannon Skowronski, MPH, ACL. Join us to learn more about evidence-based programs available through the aging services network focused on falls prevention, health promotion, and disease prevention.

      2019 AFB Leadership Conference

      Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA
      February 28-March 1

      Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program Managers Meeting - February 27 (Open to all conference attendees, but seating is limited)

      Early-bird rate until February 1: $399
      Rate after February 1: $449 (includes on-site registrations)

      Register online

      To learn about sponsorship opportunities: 2019 Sponsorship menu

      And don't forget—we'll kick things off on February 27 with the 2019 Helen Keller Achievement Awards Gala! This black-tie event was established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge Keller's extraordinary efforts and to promote the notable achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The gala, which will be emceed by athlete, adventurer, and author Erik Weihenmayer, includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, and formal dinner. The 2019 award recipients are Amazon, Northrop Grumman, and Washington State Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Tickets for this special event must be purchased separately. Please visit our site to purchase individual tickets, tables, or event sponsorships.

      Special Thanks to Our 2019 Sponsors!


      Leadership Track Highlights from the 2019 AFBLC Program

      Text reads: Learn, Engage, Advance, Deliver. The first letter from each word spells out the acronym L.E.A.D.

      Thanks to generous support from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the 2019 AFBLC Leadership Track will provide attendees with fresh perspectives and the opportunity to learn new tactics for successful leadership from top speakers. The full program is now available online.

      Thursday

      LS15: Network Leadership by Jane Wei-Skillern, Senior Fellow, Center for Social Sector Leadership, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. This session introduces a set of four counterintuitive principles that are critical to collaboration success and offers insights for how nonprofit leaders can ensure that their collaborations can have an impact that is dramatically greater than the sum of the individual parts.

      LS25: Leadership Perspectives Across Sectors, moderated by Jane Wei-Skillern; presenters: Kirk Adams, President and CEO, American Foundation for the Blind; Tina Ballard, Executive Director, AbilityOne; Kathleen W-Evans, MPA, CRC, Director of Business Relations, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation. Jane Wei-Skillern will moderate a panel of experienced leaders from across sectors, exploring the ways in which they embody the four principles of network leadership. Motivating and aligning networks, government, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals, proves the most effective way to achieve systemic social change.

      LS35: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Implications for Employment Leaders, moderated by Stephanie Enyart, Chief Public Policy and Research Officer, American Foundation for the Blind; presenters: Rita Martin, Deputy Director, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation; Kathleen West-Evans, MPA, CRC, Director of Business Relations, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation. This presentation by national experts on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will address misperceptions, realities, and outline tactics leaders can use to accomplish employment objectives in the current regulatory environment.

      LS45: Ending Sight-Splaining: Discussing Systemic Barriers to Unemployment in the Blind Community, by Kristin Fleschner, Lawyer, Speaker, Para-Athlete. This session will cover the most commonly reported inclusion barriers of visually impaired and blind persons in the workplace. Kristin will discuss how her experiences working before and after vision loss shaped her approach to her career and advocacy. Ways to better catalyze attitudinal change—like how to better partner with other marginalized groups—and how, in the meantime, to build the needed resilience within our community to overcome the odds, will be addressed.

      Friday

      LS55: The Collaborative Leader, by Jeremy Grandstaff, Collaboration & Strategy Consultant, S&G Endeavors, Ltd. This interactive session focuses on convening conversations, growing capacity, and transforming your organization for success. It helps you discover the power of the collaborative leader and change agent. Learn new tools, explore virtual approaches, discover techniques, and transform your leadership style to take your work to the next level.

      LS65: Team Sea to See, moderator: Jeremy Grandstaff; presenter: Jack Chen. On June 25, 2018, forty individuals made history by becoming the first team of all blind cyclists, along with their pilots and crew, to complete the 3,100-mile Race Across America from California to Maryland. This historical feat would not have been possible without the hard work, coordination and dedication of the award-winning crew. Come to learn what made this team so successful and how lessons learned apply to a broader context. After this session, attendees will be able to discuss the role of problem-solving and flexibility, explain the importance of focus, and describe how working with passionate individuals had an important impact on the success of this endeavor.

      LS75: Building a Blind Leaders Development Program: What Is Needed for Success? Presenters: George Abbott, Chief Knowledge Advancement Officer, American Foundation for the Blind; and Megan Dodd, Director, Center on Vision Loss, American Foundation for the Blind. AFB is building a blind leaders development program to help professionals strengthen their skills and gain experiences that will help them achieve higher levels of influence. A framework for the program will be shared. Help AFB shape the program by giving your input on topics and activities to be included and determine the leadership curriculum to serve as the foundation of the program.

      2019 AFB Leadership Conference

      Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

      February 28-March 1

      Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program Managers Meeting

      February 27 (Open to all conference attendees, but seating is limited)

      Early-bird rate until February 1: $399

      Rate after February 1: $449 (includes on-site registrations)

      To register online: http://www.cvent.com/d/wbq0kn/4W
      To book your hotel room (the group rate expires February 4 or when rooms sell out; book early to avoid disappointment): Online reservations or call 888-236-2427 and reference our conference to get the group rate
      To learn about sponsorship opportunities: 2019 Sponsorship menu.

      And don’t forget—we’ll kick things off on February 27 with the 2019 Helen Keller Achievement Awards Gala! This black-tie event was established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge Keller’s extraordinary efforts and to promote the notable achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. The gala, which will be emceed by athlete, adventurer, and author Erik Weihenmayer, includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, and formal dinner. The 2019 award recipients are Amazon, Northrop Grumman, and Washington State Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Tickets for this special event must be purchased separately. Purchase individual tickets, tables, or event sponsorships for the gala.

      Special Thanks to Our 2019 Sponsors

      Leadership Track Sponsor

      Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

      Platinum

      Amazon

      JPMorgan Chase & Co.

      Gold

      Delta Gamma Foundation

      Google

      Bronze

      American Printing House for the Blind

      Microsoft

      Sprint

      Conference Sponsors

      Albertsons

      Charter Communications

      Facebook

      HumanWare

      T-Mobile

      Gala Sponsors

      CBS

      Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.