Texas treated NFB 2010 attendees to hot, humid, Texas-like weather, but the weather couldn’t hold a candle to the infectious human warmth inside the conference hall, in spite of the air conditioning. From this conference, I am redoubled in my conviction that coping with challenges in life makes people better people, and knowing people who live with challenges of any variety makes all of us better people. The NFB 2010 convention reminded me of this principle. Nowhere has there been a gathering that exuded goodness and warmth and caring than the group gathered at NFB.
It wasn’t just the outpouring of enthusiasm for Bookshare which was evident in every elevator, hallway, and meeting. Not to mention the many “Bookies” who attended our Member party. We asked the party-goers if they were “Booksharers” or “Booksharians.” One enthusiastic member suggested “Bookies” and the party began with a group laugh.
The goodness extended from person to person. Where else can you go and be greeted with a friendly hello in the elevator? Usually elevator companions stare straight ahead avoiding eye contact. The NFB elevator companions greeted each other and helped each other find the right direction and floor. Hotel staff, volunteers, and all guests were equally wonderful to each other and helped each other find their way. This doesn’t happen anywhere else.
While in Dallas, two of my colleagues and I had the pleasure of visiting AFB’S Center for Independent Living. The Center provides many invaluable examples of successful living with vision loss. Their suggestions for people with vision loss and low vision can be quite simple, yet powerful in their benefits. Key ingredients inherent in the assistance they provide, that can’t be documented on a website or brochure, are warmth, kindness, caring and courage. I encourage every individual or family adjusting to vision loss in a loved one to visit the Center if possible, or at least to visit their website.
I speak for the team when I say that every day we’re thinking of everyone we met. We eagerly look forward to NFB 2011 to be with our many friends again. It was great to see you all! We’re already planning more fun for next year. I hope everyone attending the convention came home a better person, as I know I did.