49th Annual Convention of the American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc.

Download the Program in PDF format here

October 25 through 27, 2019

Hampton Inn Albany Downtown
25 Chapel Street
Albany, NY 12210


The 2019 Convention Committee welcomes you to our 49th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind of New York (ACBNY). We hope you find the weekend informative and fun. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable.

2019 Convention Committee

Kathy Casey, Chair

Nancy Murray

Jean Mann

Mike Godino

Lori Scharff


Dear ACBNY Members and Friends:

Fall is upon us and it’s time for our annual ACBNY convention. It is hard to believe that it has been just over a year since we were in Rochester.

This year, we are at a “new” hotel for us. Please let us know what you think of the Hampton Inn for a convention in the future. Unfortunately, this location is not available during the legislative session at a rate within our budget!

We have a nice schedule planned out this year. Thursday evening, the nominating and finance committees will be meeting to conduct their business to present at Friday afternoon’s business meeting.

Friday morning, the New York State Commission for the Blind will be holding their town hall. Please come and express your thoughts on services in NY. Remember, this input is then used in the plan for the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Friday evening, our fantastic scholarship committee is hosting a talent show. So, come and support the growth of the scholarship fund, have a laugh and a good time.

On Saturday we have several presentations and also special interest chapter meetings. We will end on Saturday with the annual banquet.

Sunday the ACBNY Board of Directors will be meeting. As always, the board meeting is open to everyone.

Enjoy your time in Albany and have a good convention. See you around the hotel!

Lori Scharff

President ACBNY


The New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)

is Proud to Be Part of the

 American Council of the Blind of New York’s

 Annual Convention

The NYSCB congratulates the American Council of the Blind of New York on its annual convention.

NYSCB provides vocational rehabilitation and other direct services to legally blind or deaf-blind New York State residents including children, adults, and older adults. The commission works closely with not-for-profit agencies for the blind throughout New York State to provide technical, educational and resource assistance to our participants. One of NYSCB’s primary services is assisting participants in achieving economic self-sufficiency and full integration into society. NYSCB offers these services through seven district offices across New York State.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program – provides guidance and counseling to assist participants who are legally blind, find or retain employment.

Business Enterprise Program – provides training for blind vendors in operating food service facilities in federal and state buildings. Any New York State resident who is legally blind or deaf-blind and is a United States citizen may be eligible for this program.

Children’s Program – rehabilitation services to legally blind children between the ages of birth and 21. Early intervention, empowering parents, arranging services to supplement educational activities and ensuring a smooth transition to adult services

Transition Program – pre-employment transition services to students ages 14 to 21 and vocational rehabilitation services for all youth who are legally blind, including those with additional disabilities.

Summer Socialization Skills Program – summer camp and recreational opportunities for youth who are legally blind.

Equipment Loan Fund -helps to purchase equipment that will improve the quality of daily life.

Independent Living Program – helps individuals with low vision carry out day-to-day activities and assists them in living at home and in the community.     

     Contact us at:



The members and friends of the American Council of the Blind of New York Inc. (ACBNY) deeply thank and greatly appreciate the generosity of all the sponsors of the 2019 ACBNY Convention.

Diamond New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)

Individual Sponsors

Platinum:  Fred Scheigert

Gold:  Sal Moscato

Silver:  Bob Cronin, Mary Ellen Cronin

Bronze:   Lori Scharff, Mike Godino, Ian Foley, Karlene Fiorello, Maureen Moscato

2019 Convention Agenda

Hospitality Suite, Room 1001, will be open daily; come visit us.

Thursday, October 24

2 to 6pm Registration, Hotel Lobby

8:30 p.m.  Nominating Committee Meeting, check with Mike Golfo upon arrival for room location; closed meeting.

Friday, October 25

10-12 Noon, Registration outside Ballroom.  

10 a.m. to 12 Noon NYSCB Town Hall Meeting, Ballroom B.

12:30 p.m.  Lunch, Ballroom A.

        Brian Daniels, Executive Director, New York State Commission for the Blind

        Carrie Laney, Executive Director, New York State Preferred Source Program

   1:45 to 2pm Break

2 p.m. ACBNY Business Meeting, Ballroom B.

6 to 10 p.m. ACBNY Scholarship fundraiser; Cash Bar, Plated Dinner, Silent Auction,

Entertainment; Comedian Steve Sabo from Comedy Company, ACBNY talent, Ballroom B.

Saturday, October 26

8:30-11:30  a.m. Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of New York Organization Meeting, Ballroom B.

9:00-11:45 a.m. Guide Dog Users of New York, Guide Dog Trivia and Guest Seaker TBA, Ballroom A.

9:00-11:30 a.m. NYSCCLV Meeting, Capital Board Room

12:30 p.m. Lunch, Ballroom B.

1:45-2:00 p.m. Break

Afternoon Speakers, Ballroom A.

2 p.m. Annie Chiappetta, author; Annie will talk about the process of having books published and will read some of her poetry.

2:45 p.m. Satauna Howery; Satauna will talk about her job doing professional voiceovers and will play demos of her work.

3:15 p.m. Break

3:30 p.m. We will show the documentary  The Invalid Corps. Everyone thinks they know the story of the Civil War – Four years of America’s bloodiest history. Over 600,000 men killed and more than 40,000 men with amputated limbs and even more with other injuries and illnesses. What no one ever asked is “What happened to those disabled men afterwards?”

6 p.m. Banquet, Ballroom B.

           Guest Speaker:  Day Al-Mohammed, producer of Invalid Corps

          ACB of New York Life Membership Presentations

           Door Prizes.

Sunday, October 27

8:30-12 Noon, Board Meeting, Ballroom A., First Vice President Mike Golfo

12 Noon, Close of Convention.

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.