Dear Randolph-Sheppard Stakeholder: The National Association of Blind Merchants Board of Directors has been closely monitoring developments in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last week has seen a major escalation in the number of COVID-19 cases and a new focus on our nation’s response to combatting the virus. In an effort to do our part to help prevent further spread of the virus, the Board has made the decision to reschedule our BLAST (Business Leadership and Superior Training) Conference, which was scheduled for April 14-17 in Chicago. We were very excited about the conference we had planned; however, the health and safety of our members, SLA friends, and others in attendance is and always will be our highest priority. We determined the risk of bringing several hundred people into a small space where “social distancing” would be impossible was simply too great.
We remain committed to trying to bring you a BLAST Conference in 2020 if at all possible. We are already at work exploring our options. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts as literally thousands of meetings are being rescheduled. As soon as we are able to finalize plans, we will let you know so you can plan accordingly.
If you have booked your room fro BLAST at the Hyatt, you will need to cancel your own reservation. Since rooms were guaranteed with individual credit cards, we cannot cancel the entire block. The Hyatt indicated that they are open for business and if you have a reservation and still want to visit, then you are more than welcome to still visit the Windy City.
Although BLAST has been put on hold, our work on behalf of our nation’s blind entrepreneurs continues in earnest. NABM and its parent organization the National Federation of the Blind, remain vigilant in our advocacy and support for the Randolph-Sheppard Program and its hard-working blind entrepreneurs. There is much work to be done and those efforts will not be slowed.
We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support as we work through this process and go to work to plan what we believe will be the best BLAST Conference ever.
Nicky Gacos, President
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.