Cancellation FAQ for the 2020 AFB Leadership Conference, Helen Keller Achievement Awards, and Blind Leaders Development Program Kickoff Events

Over the last few weeks, we have been closely monitoring the evolving situation with the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure we are taking every precaution to look after our community. After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to:

  • Cancel the in-person elements of the AFB Leadership Conference scheduled for March 25-27, 2020
  • Postpone the Helen Keller Achievement Awards Gala until 2021
  • Reschedule the Blind Leaders Development Program kickoff to take place within 6 months

Q1. Why are these events being canceled?

AFB staff and board leadership have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. Based on the latest guidance from public health officials, the travel bans implemented by different institutions, and the states of emergency declared in several of the states from which attendees would be traveling, it became clear to us that canceling was the right course of action. The health and well-being of our attendees and staff was our primary consideration.

This action was further informed by concerns received from some AFBLC registrants, cancellations of similarly sized conferences in the U.S. and globally, and the increased volume of confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout the country. Furthermore, many institutions are enacting travel restrictions and quarantines, which would greatly affect travel to the conference—as well as potentially affecting travel home.

Q2. Will AFBLC and HKAA 2020 be rescheduled?

Planning for an event of our size and complexity takes more than a year and finding a suitable venue that will be available at a future date is unlikely.

We are, however, exploring ways to offer elements of the 2020 Leadership Conference virtually and will honor the 2020 HKAA award recipients at the 2021 gala.

AFB will celebrate its 100th birthday next year, and will hold our annual events at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, from April 14-16, 2021. We hope you will join us there.

Q3. Will paid attendee and exhibitor registrations be refunded?

Everyone who has registered for AFBLC is eligible for a full refund within the next 45 days. However, we would also be grateful if you decide to make your registration fee a tax-deductible donation to AFB, to help us offset the cost of canceling the event. We can also apply your fee to next year’s conference. Please let us know which option you prefer by reaching out to Kevin Dougherty at by April 24.

For help with Helen Keller Achievement Award refunds or donations, please contact Suzette Williams at

Q4. Will registrants be refunded for airline tickets or other transportation expenses?

Registrants should remember to cancel any personal arrangements they’ve made, such as airline and hotel reservations. If you booked your hotel reservation with the Crystal Gateway Marriott, there is a link to cancel in your confirmation email. Many airlines are waiving change or cancellation fees at this time. Unfortunately, we are not able to reimburse registrants for these travel expenses.

Q5. Will any of the AFB Leadership Conference sessions be made available virtually?

While we are looking into the possibility of hosting some sessions virtually, at this time, AFB is prioritizing the health and safety of attendees, speakers, and exhibitors, and focusing efforts on ensuring the timely refund of registration fees.