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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Thank You to Everyone Who Came Out to Oakland for the 2018 AFB Leadership Conference

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Thank you to everyone who came out to Oakland for the 2018 AFB Leadership Conference. From the knowledgeable presenters, panelists, moderators, and attendees to our wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, your participation is what makes our conference a success year after year.

Haben Girma, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, and Jeff Wieland stand in front of a blue background with the AFB Logo.

This year was the first time we held the Helen Keller Achievement Awards on the eve of the conference, and it was wonderful to kick things off with a celebration of diversity and inclusion.

That theme continued the next morning with a terrific panel with representatives from leading tech companies like LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, and Apple to discuss how their organizations are improving technology, training, and opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision.

From there, attendees had hard choices to make: from the AccessWorld tech summit, to a fantastic Leadership Track (made possible by the generous sponsorship of Hewlett Packard Enterprise), updates on the aging and vision loss agenda, technology demonstrations, education research, and more.

Friday morning saw the Envision Research Institute receive the esteemed 2018 Corinne Kirchner Research Award, which honors individuals or organizations whose leadership and dedication illuminate the most pressing needs of people with vision loss through timely, innovative, and authoritative research. On hand to accept the award was Mike May, Envision's executive director of the William L. Hudson BVI Workforce Innovation Center.

From left to right, Russell Shaffer, Jennison Asuncion, Engineering Manager, Accessibility, LinkedIn; Megan Mauney, Senior Manager, Customer Experience, Florida Blue; Jen Guadagno, Senior Program Manager, Inclusive Hiring, Microsoft; and Dina Grilo, Program Manager, Office of Disability Inclusion, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Friday morning, everyone reconvened in the Grand Ballroom for the presentation of the Stephen Garff Marriott Award to Jennison Asuncion, engineer manager, accessibility, at LinkedIn—and then another lively panel discussion on employment, moderated by AFB’s board chair, Russell Shaffer.

Bryan Bashin, CEO of Light House for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco

Bryan Bashin, CEO of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco, gave a riveting keynote speech Saturday morning on the way blind people are beginning to manage their daily needs through their use of mainstream technologies, reliance on technology network companies, transportation, and consumption of new media tools—and how these trends are fundamentally changing the paradigm of rehabilitation services.

Every year, the AFBLC concludes with the Migel Medal Award luncheon. The AFB Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. This year's recipients were Larry Campbell and Ted Henter. Larry Campbell is the immediate past president of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), a global professional organization that promotes access to inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all people with visual impairment. Ted Henter was the principle developer of Job Access With Speech (JAWS), the pre-eminent and most powerful software that enables personal computers and note-taking devices to "talk" so people who are blind or visually impaired can use these devices in school, at home, and at work. As Kirk Adams stated, "In dedicating their professional lives to advancements in education, rehabilitation, and technology, this year’s awardees have enabled and empowered people with vision loss to thrive in the classroom, the workplace, and in their daily lives."

Larry Campbell, Kirk Adams, Ted Henter

Check out the AFB twitter feed  and the hashtag #AFBLC18 for a recap of the conference events, including sessions.

What were your favorite takeaways from the conference? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. We look forward to seeing you all in Crystal City, Arlington, VA, in 2019!

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