2019 ACBNY Convention!






Dear ACBNY Members and Friends,

You are cordially invited to attend the 2019 Convention of the American Council of the Blind of New York (ACBNY), which will be held from Friday, October 25 thru Sunday October 27, at the Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Albany, 25 Chapel Street, Albany, New York, 12210; 518-432-7000. Room rates are $101 per night. This room rate is available from October 24-27 and must be made as part of your convention registration; please see the 2019 ACBNY Convention Registration Form for more information. A single room list will be submitted to the hotel by the convention committee. If your name does not appear on the list submitted by ACBNY, you will be subject to the market rate plus all appropriate sales and room taxes. Please note that ACBNY will NOT be responsible for any incidentals charged to your room.

MEALS—The Hampton Inn and Suites provides a continental breakfast for its guests every morning. There are two gourmet restaurants independent of the hotel on the premises; you do not need to go outside to get to them. Food for both of these restaurants, and all catered events at the hotel, comes out of the same kitchen. For everyone’s convenience we are offering plated meals for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday. Each meal will feature one meat and one vegetarian entree.

The menu is as follows:

Friday Lunch: ($22, $25 if paid after September 16)

Wraps (turkey, tuna or grilled veggie), tossed salad, Pasta salad and Potato Chips 

Warm Cookies on each table.

Friday Scholarship Dinner:  $50, $60 after September 16)

Caesar Salad with Crispy Garlic Croutons and Reggiano Parmesan

Chicken Piccata: Lemon, Butter, Wine Sauce or

Vegetable Stir Fry over Rice

Warm Cinnamon Bread pudding with Caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Saturday Lunch: ($22 $25 after September 16)

Vegetable soup

Monte Kristo sandwich or

Poached Pear and Pecan salad; Crumbled Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans, Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette

 Brownies/Raspberry Crumble minis on each table.

Saturday Banquet: ($40 $50 after September 16)  

Seasonal Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Bakmi Goreng: (Indonesian Vegetarian noodle dish: Shallots, Asian Cabbage Trio, Celery, Onion, Sweet Soy) or

Hangar Steak, Mashed potatoes, Chef’s inspiration Vegetable

Triple Chocolate Layer cake, Chocolate Ganache filling, Chocolate mousse icing. 

We are offering a slight discount if you order all four meals. The price for this package before September 16 is $125, after that date, $145. If you prefer to attend the entertainment portion of the scholarship event, but not the dinner, the price is 25 dollars.

AGENDA–Our convention will begin on Friday morning, October 25 at 10 a.m. with our annual New York State Commission for the Blind Town Hall meeting. Lunch will be served around 12:15 and will be followed by our annual business meeting. This is an important meeting as it is an election year. Consider running for an officer position yourself or nominating someone you think would be a great leader for our organization. Our Scholarship Dinner followed by entertainment and Silent Auction will take place Friday evening.

Saturday morning is being reserved for our special interest chapters; NYSCCLV, GDUES, and possibly a new one, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of New York (RSVNY). After lunch, Ann Chiappetta will speak about her work as an author. She has had three books published so far:  Upwelling: Poems; Follow Your Dog, A Story of Love and Trust; and Words of Life: Poems and Essays.  Satauna Howery will talk about the work she does with voice-overs (she’s the voice at the Tampa Airport); and we will watch a documentary produced by Day Al-Mohammed, a former national ACB staff member, about people with disabilities who served in the Civil War. Day will also be Skyped in as our banquet speaker.

Our convention will end with a board meeting on Sunday morning, which all are invited to attend. And, as always, we will have a Hospitality Room open where you can visit with old friends and make some new ones during your free time.

Fundraisers–ACBNY is selling red, blue and black “I (heart for love) ACB” hoodies, sizes medium through 4X, convention price one for 30 dollars, two for 50. If you would like any, please order them on your registration form so we will know how many to have on hand. We’ll also be raffling off a mini iPad at the banquet. Tickets are five dollars apiece or a book of five for 20 dollars.  Contact Kathy Casey for more information about those or be prepared to purchase them at the convention.

REGISTRATION–To register for the convention go to our website, www.acbny.info. Payment for the weekend may be made thru PayPal or by sending a check made out to ACBNY 2019 Convention to:

ACBNY C/O Kathy Casey

1 Twiller Street

Albany, New York, 12209-2127.

Kathy’s phone number is 518-462-9487, and her email address is kathycasey623@gmail.com  Please call or email her with any questions.

Registration forms and payments MUST be received by Monday, September 16.  Registrations received after that date will be subject to late fees. Registrations will not be confirmed until full payment is received.

Refund Policy–The registration fee is non-refundable. Refunds for all events are subject to the reselling of the ticket(s) for each event. If you need to cancel your room reservation, you MUST do so more than 48 hours in advance of the canceled date(s) through the hotel. Any and all refunds will be addressed after the conclusion of the convention.

We saw many of you in Rochester, and we hope to see all of you and many of you who were unable to attend our national convention at our state convention here in Albany October 25-27. 


ACBNY Convention Committee

2019 Scholarship Application





RE: 2019 Scholarship Announcement and Application
To: All Eligible Students

The American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc. (ACBNY) is proud to
award a one thousand-dollar ($1000) scholarship to a deserving

The winner will be expected to attend the annual ACBNY State
Convention in Albany, NY the weekend of October 25-27, at the Hampon Inn Suites 25 Chapel Street, 12210
Expenses for travel, lodging and meals will be covered by ACBNY.
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must:
· Be legally blind in accordance with the New York State
Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) criteria see NYSCB website:
· Be enrolled and in good standing (passing grades) in college, tech
or trade school or other training program following high school
· Present three (3) letters of recommendation (cannot be a family
· Show proof of community involvement. This may be documented
via one of your recommendation letters. Said letter or document
must be clearly marked as such.
· Applications and all documentation may be submitted by web-
form, email or by regular mail in print or braille by July 1, 2018.
*ACBNY will not accept handwritten documents.

All applicants must provide:
Ø Name (first and last)
Ø Address
Ø City, State and Postal Code
Ø Phone number
Ø Email address
Ø Date of Birth
Ø Best way to contact you
Ø Visual Status

Applicants must write a standard format essay of no more than one
thousand (1000) words encompassing two (2) of the following three (3)
1. Why did you choose your major or program of study? What future
goals do you have and how do you plan to accomplish these
2. Explain what methods you use for doing class work (reading and
writing assignments, taking notes, etc.) and why you use the
methods you do.
3. What does advocacy mean to you?
· ACBNY will not accept handwritten documents.
· ACBNY reserves the right to publish, post and / or share the
submitted essay in whole or in part.
All applicants should be aware that the top three (3) submissions will be
followed with a telephone interview by three (3) scholarship committee

Application Submission
Applications can be mailed, United States Postal Service (USPS),
e‐mailed to scholarship@acbny.info or submitted on the ACBNY
website form.

The mailing address for USPS submissions is:
Karen Blachowicz
29 Meridian St
Depew NY 14043.

All applications must be received by or postmarked no later than August 15, 2019

If you have any questions or comments regarding the ACBNY
Scholarship application or submission process, please contact the
scholarship committee chairpersons, Karen Blachowicz at 716-510- 4560
or by e-mail at scholarship@acbny.info.
Thank you for your interest in the American Council of the Blind of New
York (ACBNY); we look forward to reviewing your application and
reading your essay.

Good luck,
Karen Blachowicz
ACBNY Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs

Legislative Weekend 2018

Register here with Paypal!

Register here with Check!




March 5, 2018
Re: Legislative Weekend

Dear ACBNY Members and Friends:
It’s once again time to get registered for the annual ACBNY Legislative Weekend.
You are all invited to join us at the Albany Ramada Plaza, 3 Watervliet Ave. Ext.
Albany, NY, 12206, 518-438- 8431. The dates for this event are April 28, 29 and
30, 2018. Please join us and register today!

The annual Legislative Weekend will again be at the Albany Ramada Plaza. The
Agenda is:
 Saturday April 28, 2pm board meeting. Dinner will follow on your own.
 Sunday April 29, 9am training on the issues, organized group lunch,
followed by afternoon speakers on various topics. Dinner is again on your
 Monday April 30, 8am transport to the Legislative Office Building.

As in the past, the hotel offers a free shuttle service from the Albany Airport and
Amtrak station; please call the hotel when you arrive. There is a free full
breakfast with each night’s stay at the hotel. The room rate is $84 per night
payable to ACBNY when you register. The Sunday lunch is $22, the choices are:
Monty Crisco, Turkey BLT, Tuna Croissant, Chicken Caesar Salad, Grilled Veggie
Wrap. All lunches come with vegetable soup, Saratoga chips and dessert. Please
register and make your lunch selection today.

You can register online here by Paypal, or here by check, you can email a completed registration form to mikeg125@optonline.net, make your check payable to ACBNY and send it to Mike Godino c/o ACBNY, 104 Tilrose Ave. Malverne, NY 11565-2024. Click here for the registration form. Please get your registration in as soon as possible to ensure your place on the roster of attendees.

The ACBNY Board and Legislative Co-Chairs look forward to seeing you in Albany. Finally, the ACBNY Scholarship Chair, Karen Blachowicz, reminds all chapters to prepare and send baskets to be awarded in a drawing on Sunday of the Legislative Weekend. Thank you.

Thanks again,
Ian Foley and Mike Godino
ACBNY Legislative Co-Chairs

The M.J. Schmitt First-timer’s Award

The MJ Schmitt First Timers Award was created in March of 2008 to honor one of the founding members of the American Council of the Blind for her grass roots advocacy, lifetime commitment and inspirational leadership. MJ Schmitt, originally from Rochester, New York, has dedicated a lifetime of work toward improving the lives of blind and visually impaired Americans. For over forty years, MJ Schmitt has held numerous board positions and served on various ACB committees on a state and national level.

The purpose of this award is to enable members from across New York State to attend the annual ACBNY legislative seminar or state convention for the first time. The intent of this award is to provide members with an opportunity to gain the knowledge and inspiration to continue the work of the organization demonstrated by the ACBNY leadership.


Application criteria and guidelines



  • Applicants must not have previously attended the ACBNY annual Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention, depending upon which award is sought, in any capacity.
  • Applicants must be a blind, vision impaired or deaf-blind member of an affiliate of ACBNY or a member at large for at least six months.
  • Applicants must be a New York state resident for at least six months.
  • Applicants must have a strong interest in advocacy and becoming a more involved, active member of the ACBNY state affiliate and local chapter or community. The applicant’s desire and explanation of this criteria will be highly considered for the award.


Applicants must submit a letter of interest, no less than 2 pages and no more than 5 pages, including:

  • Name, address, phone number and email address (if available)
  • A short autobiography including life experience with blindness, hobbies, school and/or work. Include involvement with ACBNY activities on a state or local level.
  • The reason for applying for the ACBNY M.J. Schmitt First-timer’s award for the Legislative Seminar or State Convention and expectations of the event in question.


Applicants must obtain a letter of recommendation based on membership status:

Affiliated members must obtain a letter of recommendation from their local affiliate President.

At-large members must contact the ACBNY delegate at-large and obtain a letter of recommendation from one of the following:

    • CBVH counselor
    • Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) or Orientation & Mobility Instructor (O&M)
    • Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Itinerant Teacher
    • High School teacher or College Professor
    • Community leader
    • Boss or supervisor
    • friend or ACBNY member


ACBNY Legislative SeminarApplications will be accepted until February 1 of the year in which the seminar is held. ACBNY State Convention applications will be accepted until July 1 of the year in which the convention is held.

Application material will only be accepted in electronic format via email. If the applicant is unable, then another person is permitted to submit on the applicant’s behalf.

In the Subject line of email submissions, write the following: ACBNY MJ Schmitt First Timers Award application

Attach letter of interest and letter of recommendation and email to the ACBNY Awards Committee Chairperson, whose email address is: awards@acbny.org.


All awardees will be assigned a mentor to provide guidance and support before, during and after the ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention. The mentor will contact the awardee within one week of award notification.


      • Maintain ongoing communication with mentor prior, during and after the event.
      • Obtain ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention information and preregistration instructions.
      • Obtain, read and understand the Legislative Agenda or State Convention Program and any informational documentation provided before the event (to the best of the awardees’ ability).
      • Obtain, read and understand meeting Minutes from the immediate past ACBNY Board meeting.
      • Obtain, read and understand the ACBNY Board meeting agenda.
      • Plan to attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at legislative seminars) and contact its chairperson about time and place of the meeting prior to the event.
      • Inquire about any expenses that are not included in the award. Plan to bring extra spending money.


        • Travel to the event and transportation reservations are the responsibility of the awardee
        • Awardees will not be reimbursed for door to door car service, or for trips otherwise accessible via public transportation

      li>Receipts must be submitted for transportation reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event


      • Awardees are responsible for completing preregistration.
      • Complete the pre-regisration form including all meals and hotel room. Expect a roommate to be assigned whose name will be provided prior to the event.
      • Include the total cost and note MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Awardee. Do not pay.
      • Check in at the ACBNY registration table upon arrival to the hotel.

Expectations OF AWARDEE

      • Arrive to the hotel by 12pm of the first day of the event, check in and register.
      • Meet with mentor as previously planned.
      • Attend all scheduled meetings, training and activities.
      • Attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at Legislative Seminars).
      • Attend the ACBNY banquet and accept the award certificate during a brief introduction.
      • Participate in all seminar advocacy activities, which may or may not include visits to legislators at the Legislative Office Building (at Legislative Seminars).
      • Write an article for Insight, the ACBNY newsletter about the Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention experience as the awardee. Submit within one month of the event’s conclusion.
      • Continue advocacy efforts with local affiliate/community including visits to local legislators.


      • This award includes registration fees, hotel sleeping rooms, meals and travel to and from the event, excluding noted restrictions
      • Meal expenses are eligible for reimbursement
      • Total expenses that exceed $500.00 are the awardees’ responsibility
      • This award does not include expenses for alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, room service, or any extra amenities in the hotel or outside of the hotel.
      • Receipts must be submitted for transportation and meal reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event
      • Awardees unable to fulfill the above award obligations, or who leave the event early for any reason are not guaranteed reimbursement. Each situation will be considered on an individual basis.
      • Preregistration is not permitted until a signed agreement is received.

The MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Award Committee
American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc.

The Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award

Guidelines and Procedures

The Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award is a memorial honor bestowed annually upon a member of ACBNY or a person of national prominence who is a Braille student or a student training to become a professional braille instructor or a professional residing or working in New York State whose career or volunteer endeavors has significantly promoted the cause of braille literacy amongst the public or within the educational or blindness rehabilitation systems. The recipient of this prestigious award has learned Braille or improved the lives of persons who are blind or visually impaired within New York State or nationally through effort or example by encouraging non-braille-readers to learn and use braille, or through administration of or direct instruction in the skills of reading and/or writing braille, or through transcription of braille reading material or through the development of the braille code itself or of technology used to read, write, transcribe, produce or distribute Braille, or is actively enrolled in an educational program which will lead to becoming a professional who will provide Braille instruction.

Nominations of candidates for the Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award may be made by ACBNY members in good standing, members of the committee administering the award, administrators or professionals in the field of education or rehabilitation, parents or guardians of students who are learning braille, or recent students of braille instruction professionals. Nominations will not be accepted from parents or students for their current braille teachers, nor from braille teachers for their current students. Parents and students are encouraged to nominate their former braille teachers and vice versa. This award is a once-in-a-lifetime honor. It may be awarded post-humously. Nominees may be submitted for consideration more than once, but only one time per annual award cycle per nominator. Nominators may make more than one nomination. Multiple nominations for the same nominee are acceptable from multiple nominators during a single award cycle, but will not improve the nominee’s likelihood to receive the award. Nominees for the Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award will be considered by the members of the ACBNY committee charged with its administration, who will select no more than one student nominee and/or no more than one professional nominee annually to receive the award. All decisions of the committee are final. The award will be presented to its honoree(s) at the ACBNY Annual Convention during the convention Banquet. Nominees who are not selected to receive the award may receive Certificates of Honorable Mention.

The Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award consists of a plaque or certificate accompanied by a braille slate and stylus and a modest honorarium to be determined by the committee charged with its administration.

Nominations for the Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award shall be submitted electronically or in writing and include the name, address and phone number and email address of the nominator, along with a description of his or her standing to make the nomination, i.e. ACBNY member or braille instructor or education /rehabilitation professional/administrator and his or her relationship to the nominee, i.e. former student, administrator, parent or guardian. Each nomination shall also include the name, address, telephone number and email address of the nominee, along with his or her title and the name of the organization under whose auspices he or she has advanced the cause of braille literacy as a professional or volunteer, or the age of the student nominee and the name of the school or agency or college which he or she attends or has recently graduated. Each nomination shall furthermore contain a description of not less than the length of one nor more than five standard typewritten pages detailing the nominee’s achievements in learning to read and write Braille or learning how to teach others to read and write Braille or his or her career or volunteer efforts and contribution to furthering the cause of braille literacy. This is the most important element of the nomination. Braille or electronic submissions via email are welcome and should be sent to the awards committee chair or the ACBNY Secretary. Nominations must be received by the awards committee chair no later than July 1 prior to the start of the convention at which the award will be presented. All nominating materials become the property of ACBNY and will not be returned. Nominations received by the committee will be acknowledged to the nominator.

The Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award is funded by the proceeds of the Paul J. Sauerland Braille Literacy Award Endowment held by the American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc. It was established by ACBNY at its 2008 annual convention to honor the memory of our long-time member, Paul J. Sauerland, who was a lifelong champion of myriad causes promoting the health, welfare, education, vocational training, employment and rights of people who are blind or visually impaired throughout New York State and the United States. Paul was an avid and highly skilled braille reader who used braille in all aspects of his daily personal and professional life.

This award is intended to promote braille literacy through public awareness of braille and the chain of professionals and volunteers involved in its instruction, production, and distribution and most importantly, use. It is furthermore intended to encourage the mastery of braille by students and a high quality of braille instruction through recognition of braille students and their instructors.