NFB: “Independence Means Choices”
I just returned home from my first National Federation of the Blind Convention two days ago. I am still high from the adrenaline rush. There were about 3000 people there of all shapes, colors, sizes, faiths, educational backgrounds, sexual orientations, ages, sighted, totally blind, low vision, varying degrees of deafness, and on and on. There were people from different countries. There were super athletes and those who have never exercised. There were people with wheel chairs, canes, guide dogs, and personal assistants. It has become clear to me that the commonality among all the different people is that all of us are seeking independence.
The first day we had a booth at The Healthy Fair which is held the day before the actual convention begins. people stopped by our booth to find out what choices there were and then they moved to the next booth. At first, I was concerned but a more experienced person told me not to worry. The strategy is to run through the exhibit hall and then go back to what is most interesting. It felt like a whole lot of kids running through a huge toy store.
At first, I felt overwhelmed by so many people asking me questions at the same time. I like to connect with each person as an individual so I felt like I was being impolite to people when I couldn’t give them as much time as I wanted. I learned fairly quickly that the best way was to gather a group around me and speak to all of them at the same time. The questions were usually the same. “What do you have at this table?” “What workout is best for me?” “How do I play the workouts?” I became very good at talking and helping people find out what they wanted to know quickly. I had to trust that they would come back when they learned all the choices the giant hall held for them.
Of course, I took a spin around the hall myself. The choices for independence have come such a long way in just a few years. Computers, braille displays, smart glasses, dog accessories, telescoping canes, and the list goes on and on. It is truly a giddy feeling to know that innovation is moving so fast.
By the last three days, most people had seen it all and they began what felt like a stampede back to our table. I was so thrilled. My husband Stu was helping along with Peggy Fleischer and Wayne King. Miss Jingles stayed contentedly in her crate chewing on her favorite bone. When I needed a break, I went to give her a rub so I could calm down. I am so grateful for their help.
Now that I am home, I look back and feel gratified that BlindAlive contributed uniquely to the vast array of choices. My biggest desire is to give all different types of people fitness choices. If choices exist, more people can become more of who they want to be.