Blind People, Little People Both Have Conventions in Dallas This Week. (We Thought You Should Know?)

It just so happens that this week, both the Little People of America, which provides support to people with dwarfism, and the National Federation for the Blind, which advocates for people who can't see, are hosting their annual conferences in Dallas.

A coincidence, no doubt, but it got me thinking about logistics, or how exactly a hotel or convention center accommodates hundreds or thousands of people who have the same physical limitation. MSNBC reported on the steps Dallas hotels are taking to welcome the short-statured attendees of the LNA conference, which is happening at the Sheraton on Olive Street. This includes stools at registration desks and beside beds as well as dowel rods to reach buttons on the elevator. And DFW Airport is permanently installing retractable steps in all of its bathrooms to make reaching the sink easier.

For the 3,000-plus blind people who will converge on the Hilton Anatole, there will be equivalent measures. Hotel staff are instructed on how to be "both helpful and not to be overly helpful," and UPS volunteers are recruited to help direct and guide attendees, said NFB spokesman Chris Danielson.

The restaurant's hotel menus are reproduced in Braille by a special printer at NFB's Baltimore headquarters. Otherwise, Danielson said the biggest factor in choosing a convention site is finding a hotel with food that doesn't suck, since conventioneers, being mostly car-less, spend most of the time in the hotel.

Danielson encourages visually impaired people in the Dallas area to drop by. It'll be their last chance to attend a local convention for a while. While NFB's convention has been held in Dallas for four of the past six years, it's moving to Orlando for the next six.

"It tends to change the lives of people who have not visited it before in terms of really revolutionizing their attitudes as they're adjusting" to blindness.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson