BVA's 73rd National Convention A Success


Alexandria, Va. - The 2018 National Convention concluded 17 August on a positive note. The Convention focused on technology for the visually impaired with remarkable presentations and panels and 50 exhibits of the latest in technology. The Blinded Veterans Association’s National Convention wrapped up with the election of National Officers.

“We appreciate the opportunity to provide a forum for our members and veteran affairs leaders. It’s great to bring so many important topics and experts together in one Conference,” said Joe Parker, President of BVA. “The BVA National Convention is a welcome chance for networking and seeing the latest in technology, and a unique opportunity to hear directly from some knowledgeable and entertaining speakers.”

A record number of vendors were present to bring blind veterans closer to the prosthetic devices that can improve the quality of their daily lives. Two of the largest convention supporters, Aira and ORCAM, were present and displayed their latest head mount devices for mobility (Aira) and reading and identification eye wear (ORCAM).

Thursday started with some more informational seminars, followed by the “Father Carroll Luncheon.” The guest speaker, Sharon Givannazzo, President and CEO, World Blind Services, spoke about overcoming obstacles in a sighted world. The following were elected or reelected as National Officers: President Joe Parker.Vice President Tom Zampieri. Secretary Joe McNeil and Treasurer Danny Wallace.

Delegates voted to reduce membership dues to $25, establish a council of highly experienced corporate leaders to mentor and advise the National Board of Directors and updated the bylaws by replacing the word “Comptroller” with “Executive Director” since the Comptroller position has been eliminated.

The convention closed with the Installation Banquet where the winners of the Melvin J. Maas, Irving Diener, and David L. Schnair awards were announced. John Linder from Honolulu, Hawaii received BVA’s highest honor for 2018, the Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement. The Irving Diener Award, which recognizes individual contribution to a BVA regional group or the national organization went to Floyd Everett of the Georgia Regional Group. The Irving Diener Award is the second most prestigious award which BVA presents. The award seeks to honor those who have made an outstanding commitment to their BVA regional group and the organization as a whole rather than for his/her personal achievement in rehabilitation or employment. Anthony Ricci, from N. Providence, Rhode Island, received the David L. Schair Award for outstanding services as a BVA volunteer.

The Regional Gold Gavel Award went to the Massachusetts Regional Group. The gold gavel recognizes the group with the greatest numerical increase. The Silver gavel Award recipient was the White River Regional Group. The silver gavel goes to the Group with the largest percentile increase. The Florida Regional Group received the Bronze Gavel Award for the highest percent of individuals moved from Non-member status to life membership status. Also, of note, the BVA National Auxiliary presented a new Charter to the Emerald Coast Regional Group Auxiliary.

BVA looks forward to seeing everyone at the 2019 National Convention will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 12-16 August.