This past fall, I had the wonderful honor and opportunity to attend American Printing House’s (APH) 142nd Annual Meeting. I was nominated as an APH Scholar by Cheryl Misialek, Coordinator of APH products at NDVS/SB. I was accepted as one of five scholars in the country to be awarded an all expenses paid trip to Louisville, KY. The other scholars were from California, Nebraska (2) and Missouri. The event took place October 13-16, and this year the theme was “Working Together to Build Tools for Learning and Living.” What an exhilarating experience it turned out to be!
My trip started out with attending the Council of Schools for the Blind banquet where numerous awards were presented to individuals in the field, ranging from the William H. English Leadership Award presented to Dr. Ralph Bartley to the Outstanding Paraprofessional Award presented to Scott Kelly at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It was a moving experience to listen to the speeches of all the individuals who earned awards and how their work in the field has improved the education and life of individuals who are visually impaired.
A highlight of my trip was touring the APH plant. While on tour, I observed many APH products being created, including braille books being embossed and bound, a recording studio with readers and proofreaders creating auditory tapes, and APH kits being assembled. It was amazing to tour the plant and learn about the process that goes into creating these wonderful products that allow me to assist individuals I have the pleasure of working with.
The opening keynote speaker was Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International, Inc. I was moved as I listened to this individual who happens to be blind tell his life’s journey and how he attained what he had by having parents and educators who set high expectations for him. I was intrigued by his statement, “In every job, there is somebody else depending on you so they can do their job.” How true that is, no matter what you do!
Hosting the event was Dr. Tuck Tinsley, President of APH. Numerous award ceremonies commended many in the field of visual impairments, including Morris Frank, the first person in North America to use a dog guide; M.C. Migel, founder of the American Foundation for the Blind, and the Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company created by students and teachers at the California School for the Blind for their “Creative Use of Braille.” Many individuals of all ages who are blind and visually impaired were recognized for their artistic talents through the APH InSights Art Competition.
An Information Fair/Poster Session provided attendees the opportunity to learn about new products from APH. We also had the opportunity to receive product training and input on various products for technology, math, reading, assessments, and others. This included meeting project managers, researchs and authors such as Christine Roman.
Attending APH’s 142nd Annual Meeting was a truly moving experience for me. In a postcard I sent home, I wrote “I am among the greats of the greats in the field of visual impairments.” At times I couldn’t believe I was actually there! Everyone was so welcoming, and it was an inspiring way to learn more about APH, their products and network with others in the field. I am grateful to APH and NDVS/SB for providing me this opportunity which has and will continue to have a positive impact on me and the individuals I serve.
North Dakota School for the Blind - Reaching Out Newsletter, #71, January 2011