Curtain To Rise In City of Festivals


The Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel, site of the 71st National Convention, is a 1927 art deco style hotel connected to the Wisconsin Center convention facility via skywalk. The hotel features 30,000 square feet of meeting space and a 24/7 exercise room and business center. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.

The Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel, site of the 71st National Convention, is a 1927 art deco style hotel connected to the Wisconsin Center convention facility via skywalk. The hotel features 30,000 square feet of meeting space and a 24/7 exercise room and business center. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.

With regional group delegates chosen, trip itineraries finalized, and at least some plans detailed for free time, BVA’s 71st National Convention attendees can now focus on the exhibitors and the new-this-year educational session presenters who will highlight the week in Milwaukee.

The goal of the Exhibit Hall and special sessions is to provide BVA members with the appropriate tools to embrace technology, engaging them to positively impact the independence and well-being of all blinded veterans.

Education sessions on Monday will emphasize devices that can be controlled by speech and voice. Phil Farris, Spokane Inland Empire Regional Group, will present “Windows 10 Tips and Tricks.” James Hogan, Southern California Regional Group, is scheduled to lead a discussion on paratransit and travel. A session in the afternoon by Doris Jones of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Group will be devoted to higher education tips and employment for the blind and visually impaired.

Tuesday begins with a session on how to host a regional group event with a focus on white cane awareness. Packages will be provided for each attendee to take home and replicate for a White Cane Day table or event in their area. Collectively, BVA can increase public knowledge and awareness of the white cane and the capabilities and needs of those who are blind or visually impaired. Afternoon sessions on Tuesday, courtesy of Past National President and current Minnesota Regional Group Treasurer Bob Smith, will focus on grassroots national and local legislation that affects both veterans and the blind and visually impaired communities at large.

Exhibitor demonstrations will be scattered throughout the overall program schedule. Included will be nine product enterprises that have never before attended a convention: Adaptive Technology Resources, Inc.; BITA Low Vision Enhancer; Boundless Assistive Technology; Designs for Vision; E.M. Vitu Inc.; National Beep Baseball Association; NuEyes; Randolph Sheppard; and Wicab, Inc. Official convention sponsors are Vanda Non-24, NuEyes, America’s VetDogs, National Industries for the Blind, En-Vision America, LS&S, and Discover Technologies.

William Boules, Associate Director of Rehabilitation and Reintegration at the Vision Center of Excellence, will also address an educational session. Having earned Master of Science degrees from Western Michigan University in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy and Orientation and Mobility, Boules is also the former Director of Assistive Technology for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation. He is certified in three areas of vision rehabilitation: vision rehabilitation therapy, low-vision therapy, and assistive technology. He also serves on the board of the Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists.

On Wednesday morning, The Honorable Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will speak to the convention body. Thursday’s BVA Forum will feature The Honorable Dr. David J. Shulkin, VA Under Secretary for Health. Dr. Shulkin will be followed by a presentation by Tony Camilli of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a presentation on eye research.

The opportunities at the BVA 71st National Convention are numerous, due in large part to the feedback and requests received from Association members. The goal is to reach the interests of each attendee.

If Bulletin readers are not able to attend the convention, BVA National Headquarters encourages them to reach out to regional group officers and delegates for all of the information that was provided. Talk with fellow blinded veterans and empower one another to become more independent. Get the tools needed to host the group’s own White Cane Day event, to pursue a new degree, or to learn about a new device to make everyday life more meaningful.