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Annual Meeting keynote speaker Dr. M. Leona Godin addresses a crowd from a stage decorated with APH branding colors. Annual Meeting 2022 Wrap Up

For the past 154 years, APH has hosted the Annual Meeting of APH Ex Officio Trustees (EOT) with our EOT Census Assistants, Online Ordering Assistants, and other attendees adding to our growing conference. After two years of being virtual, we were able to welcome our friends from across the field back to Louisville for an exciting time full of education, connection, and empowerment this October.

Preconference

Even before Annual Meeting officially began, our host hotel was a flurry of activity with related meetings from our friends across the field, facilitating the CPACC and WAS exams, and hosting the National Prison Braille Forum. It was an honor to host these meetings and hear passionate testimony about the impact of the Prison Braille Program during one of our general sessions.

We also held a series of exciting hands-on Pre-Conference sessions. These sessions included Low Vision Roadmap, which gave attendees an opportunity to test out some of our magnifiers, including the Jupiter; POWERed by Code, which allowed attendees to participate in interactive Code Jumper activities; and emPOWERed Connections, in which the APH ConnectCenter gave several presentations about the services we offer and a presentation from Ellume, the accessible COVID-19 home test provider for Annual Meeting.

An APH employee shows two conference attendees how to use the Jupiter magnifier

Keynote: Doing Things Differently; or Down with Ocularcentrism!

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. M. Leona Godin, a writer, performer, educator, and author of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural history of Blindness. Her riveting speech was filled with wise, impactful statements and personal stories that were both serious and humorous and addressed her experiences with blindness and her desire to increase accessibility by fighting occularcentrism.

“Accessibility isn’t a disability thing, it’s a human thing,” Leona said. “Accessibility and accommodations, they’re what humans do. And it’s not always obvious what points of access will be useful to whom. Doing things different is cool. The end. Just kidding, I have a lot more to say.”

State of the Company

In one of Friday’s general sessions, APH President Craig Meador gave his annual presentation on the State of the Company. Dr. Meador shared information about how our services, including the ConnectCenter and the APH Hive, have grown over the past year. The APH Hive now offers 29 courses and has 3,722 registered users in 50 states, 3 territories, and 39 countries.

Dr. Meador reported that this year, APH has printed 1,036,235 braille pages and 1,035,663 large print pages. He also detailed our increasing international reach and gave an update on our work with the eBRF.

The session concluded with a discussion of the integral role the partnerships between APH, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and HumanWare have played in the current development of the Dynamic Tactile Device (DTD), the first tactile device capable of producing both tactile graphics and standard braille on the same surface. The discussion included remarks from NFB President, Mark Riccobono, and HumanWare CEO, Bruce Miles.

Mr. Riccobono stated, “We do not yet know the extent to which this transformational product will enhance the education, employment, and other training experiences of blind people. We cannot know today because we do not yet know what the limits are for blind people. We simply know this is the next great daring frontier for raising expectations for the blind in society.”

The DTD is the result of a partnership between APH, NFB, and HumanWare, along with HumanWare’s technology supplier DOT, Inc. While we may advocate in different ways, this powerful partnership confirms that when we come together, amazing things will happen.

Photo of a man in a suit on a stage speaking from behind a podium. A woman at a table to the left looks at him and smiles.

Concurrent Sessions and APH emPOWERed Solutions

We empowered attendees through our concurrent sessions! From accessible coding and scholar education to braille file standards, advocacy, and the APH Hive, these sessions included a wide variety of topics presented by prominent leaders and educators in the blindness field.

The highlights from these sessions include emPOWERing Braille Literacy with Polly, which provided a Polly demonstration alongside a chance to get hands-on with the device; emPOWERed Through Policy, which involved an open discussion of the future of The Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students Policy Guidance; and emPOWERed by STEM: Escaping the Accessible Escape Room, which took attendees through a series of timed challenges that used Code Jumper, Geometro, Lego Braille Bricks, and more.

A auditorium style room filled with people. Three presenters stand at the front. An conference attendee at the back speaks into a microphone.

APH emPOWERed Solutions brought all of our products and services into one showcase. Attendees were able to explore solutions for students and clients of all ages and stages of life at two different times during Annual Meeting. Services played a significant role in APH emPOWERed Solutions as our services have experienced a notable increase over the past year.

A person in a blue shirt using a Polly. A woman is standing in the background behind a table with more Pollys and a white laptop

Hall of Fame, Award Winners, APH Scholars

Annual Meeting is the ideal time to recognize many individuals and groups doing vital work in the blindness field. We honored APH Scholars from this year and the two previous years, as we were previously unable to hold Annual Meeting in person, for their continued work in the field.

The Hall of Fame banquet honored the two most recent Hall of Fame inductees: Dr. Kay Ferrell, a teacher, scholar, and mentor to many throughout the blindness community and Trischa Zorn Hudson, a decorated paralympic swimmer.

An awards ceremony was held for the 2022 recipients of the Navigator, Horizon, and Louis Awards. Monique Coleman accepted the Navigator award on behalf of the company she founded, VISTAS Education Partners, for the support their Homework Hotline gave to families during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The DAISY Consortium was honored with the Horizon award for their continued work to break down barriers and empower the field through collaboration. The Louis award was received by Christine Muise for her work on the development of the Mi’kmaw braille code.

A woman speaks from behind a podium in a colorful stage. Two people sit on either side of her.

InSights Art

The last night of Annual Meeting culminated in one of the most anticipated events of the entire conference: the InSights Art exhibit and awards. This year, we honored 39 artists and groups of artists who are blind or low vision of all ages from across the US. The exhibit was open for the duration of Annual Meeting and served as an opportunity for the artists to sell and display their work.

Young girl poses with her hands directly below the artwork she created. Her piece is a self-portrait featuring her looking towards the sky with a pleased expression and purple, pink, blue and dark colored paint on her face and in the background.

Several artists came to Annual Meeting in-person and participated in our Meet the Artists event, which allowed artists to talk with Annual Meeting attendees about their work in an informal setting. Afterwards, the artists attended a banquet in their honor. Artists took to the stage during the banquet to accept their awards from APH’s President after their piece was displayed on a large screen and expertly described by APH staff members.

You can find a full list of this year’s winners and learn more about the competition on the InSights Art webpage.

A boy and a man standing onstage. The boy holds an award ribbon in his hand, and a powerpoint displaying a handmade plush is behind them

We want to thank all of our attendees for making our first in-person Annual Meeting in two years one to remember. We hope to see you again in Louisville next year!

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