I was attending a professional conference in California last month and had a nice surprise by meeting the legendary Stevie Wonder as he was perusing the exhibit hall, just like our friends and kids who are visually impaired. It reminded me of how important the vision community of professionals, parents, and individuals who are blind is, who all work so diligently and passionately to coordinate conferences gathering in the same place to provide a buffet of resources, knowledge, and networking with others where otherwise there would be none. Even for Stevie Wonder, who is famous and probably has the resources for mostly whatever he needs, but was able to be a regular blind guy enjoying and learning and networking with others at this conference. Where else would he have this opportunity in the Mecca of Hollywood entertainment?
I remember my first experience as a parent when my son was newly diagnosed child with a rare infant eye cancer. I desperately needed to connect with other parents and was hungry to learn how my son’s visual impairment would impact his development and what I needed to know as a parent to raise him. Thankfully, I met a parent of a child who was deaf-blind in the waiting room of the hospital where my son was undergoing eye surgery, and she told me about how she gained support and information from other experienced parents and experts in the field by attending NAPVI National Conferences. Soon thereafter she accompanied me to venture off to my first NAPVI conference held back in 1989 in Dearborn, Michigan, and guess what? Stevie Wonder’s mom was there too! Meeting with Stevie recently reminded me of meeting his mom, and how she too looked to NAPVI for support.
By the way, the conference I attended was the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH). Each year, CAPVI, NAPVI’s California affiliate, and NAPVI parents collaborate in our outreach efforts by participating in the most largely attended CA statewide vision conference, the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH). NAPVI and CAPVI parents actively contribute to the conference by presenting parent educational and supportive workshops, representing parents at related professional meetings and by networking with new parents and sharing resources at our exhibit area.