National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey 43rd ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION
November 7th through 10th, 2019
Theme: Live The Life You Want; We Got This
The 43rd Annual State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey will be held at the:
DELTA Hotel by Marriott (formerly Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel)
515 US Highway 1 South
Iselin, New Jersey 08830
Access Link accessible
Cross street: Gill Lane
For those arriving via Access Link, please reserve your trip with the hotel located in Woodbridge. Access Link won’t be able to find the hotel if you use Iselin.
If traveling via train, the station nearest the hotel is the Metro Park Station. The hotel provides a shuttle from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.
The address to use for those driving is 4 Gill Lane. It is a bank that is across the street from the hotel.
The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey is proud to have its Northern Chapter, Seniors Division, and Technology Division as hosts of this year’s convention.
We are proud to announce that national board member and President of the Washington D.C. affiliate, Shawn Callaway, has been assigned as the national representative. His biography is provided below.
Mark your calendars and make every effort to attend the 43rd annual state convention of the NFBNJ. Get Involved. Make a Difference!
The DELTA Hotel by Marriott, formerly Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, is now accepting room reservations for the state convention. To make your reservation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please dial 732-634-3600 and use the group code of National Federation of the Blind/NFB 2019. The best time to call is during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The 2019 room rates is $115 a night. Hotel room rates are subject to applicable state and local taxes, which at present is 14.625% and will be in effect at the time of check-out. Breakfast Buffet included in rate for up to two guests per room for each night of lodging.
For early arrivals, there are a number of rooms reserved for Wednesday, November 6th. Don’t hesitate, please make your room reservations as soon as possible. Currently 186 rooms in our block have been reserved! Our block of rooms are available until October 18th, then they are released to the general public. In years past, the block sells out prior to the deadline, so please don’t hesitate!
When making hotel room reservations,you need to secure via credit card. There will be no charge to your card until you arrive at the hotel. Refrigerators will be available in all sleeping rooms this year. In addition, there are a limited number of wheelchair accessible rooms and if needed, don’t hesitate, make it known when you are making your room reservation.
With this said, if you are thinking about attending, if you are somewhat positive that you will attend, not quite sure you will attend and to those that know that they will attend, PLEASE make your hotel reservations as soon as possible.
Note: if you can not attend and you have made hotel reservations, don’t call the hotel to cancel. Please call Joe Ruffalo at 973-743-0075. Joe usually has a waiting list to review as many learn about the state convention after the date of October 18th. if the block is not sold out, the remainder of rooms will be released to the public. In years past, the block sells out prior to the deadline and therefore, Please, don’t hesitate!
Pre-registration is now closed. Please register at the walk-up registration table when you arrive on Friday or Saturday. Prices for each registration item is now $30 for registration, $45 for Friday’s dinner, and $45 for Saturday’s banquet. We will accept cash, checks, and money orders. Please make checks and money orders payable to NFBNJ and write state convention 2019 in the memo.
Food Pantry, Personal Items, & Cane Donations
Please drop off your items in the receptacles in the registration area. Food items—Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, Inc.; personal items will be donated to a local nonprofit to assist those in need. Canes—donate unneeded canes and cane parts for Kustom Canes to refurbish and deliver to blind people around the world—Friday in registration area and Saturday at the Door Prize Table in the main ballroom.
Aira Hotel Navigation
Aira is proud to participate in the 2019 NFBNJ State Convention. As part of our partnership, we are offering free Aira Access at the hotel for this event. Through live video and a mobile app, Aira connects the blind individual to a trained agent who provides real-time visual information or assistance, for example, for finding a hotel room or conference room, reading a restaurant menu, or describing exhibit hall tables.
For those new to Aira: Before or at convention, download the free Aira app from your phone’s App Store, and create a guest account. Make sure your phone GPS feature is enabled. When you enter the convention Access location, your phone will receive a notification letting you know that the space you are in is part of the Aira Network. When you connect, the agent will confirm that you are now covered by the network, and for Aira subscribers, that no minutes will be deducted from your account. When you leave or enter convention areas that are covered by the Access network, you will be informed by the Aira agent. To learn more about Aira visit www.aira.io or call Customer Care at 1-800-835-1934.
NFB convention attendees who are registered with the hotel will receive coupons upon check in, two per room, for a free the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant for each morning of the convention. Breakfast begins at 6:30 am. The hotel is full, so arrive early for breakfast in order to be on time for sessions.
Banquet Ticket Exchange
for a smooth seating process, we use a Banquet Ticket Exchange. After you purchase your banquet ticket, bring it to the ticket exchange, where you will trade it in for a ticket with a table number. If you would like to sit with friends, gather ALL tickets and exchange them together (you must have everyone???s ticket when you go to the exchange). Ten people can sit at a table. Exchange hours: Friday 5:10 5:25 pm, and Saturday 8:00 8:45 am, 12:00 12:45 pm, and 5:10 5:25 pm. If you do not exchange your ticket, you will be seated where there is space available.
Vendor Room Hours
The Exhibit Hall will be open in the Ruby Room at the following times:
- Thursday, 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- Friday, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Guide Dog Relief Area
From the elevators turn left and walk toward the lobby. Continue walking until you get past the lobby, bar, and hotel restaurant area and you reach the Modern Asian Cuisine Restaurant. From the front door of the Modern Asian Cuisine Restaurant walk approximately 42 feet. When you feel the mat turn right and with the restaurant to your back, there are two push doors in front of you.
After going through the doors walk approximately 75 feet and turn left. Walk approximately 25 feet. When you feel the crack in the sidewalk you are approaching the grassy area on your left. This grassy area is a very long rectangular shape.
You can also access this same grassy area from the exhibit room exit. Walk straight toward the outside doors; there is a square sitting area between you and the doors. After the square sitting area there is a revolving door with push doors on both sides. Go through the doors. Walk approximately 45 feet and turn right. Walk approximately 15 feet and the grassy area will be on your right side after several bushes.
There will be garbage pails on each end of the grassy area. For additional concerns, contact Dan Facchini at 201-906-8655.
So, you just can’t make it in person to this year’s NFBNJ state convention? Then do the next best thing: tune in to our live stream of Saturday’s jam-packed program.
The first streaming session starts at 8:45 a.m. Eastern Time and runs until noon. Streaming resumes at 1:45 p.m. and continues until 5 p.m. Finally, share the excitement of our scholarship awards and keynote speaker from 8 p.m. until completion; approximately 10:30 pm.
Follow the instructions below to join the 43rd annual NFBNJ state convention virtually during the times listed above.
- Connect online: https://zoom.us/j/976909535
- Connect using iPhone one-tap by dialing 929-205-6099,,976909535# or 669-900-6833,,976909535#
- Connect using a standard telephone by dialing 929-205-6099 or 669-900-6833, then enter the access code of 976909535
- Connect online: https://zoom.us/j/343648824
- Connect using iPhone one-tap by dialing 929-205-6099,,343648824# or 669-900-6833,,343648824#
- Connect using a standard telephone by dialing 929-205-6099 or 669-900-6833, then enter the access code of 343648824
- Connect online: https://zoom.us/j/676332821
- Connect using iPhone one-tap by dialing 929-205-6099,,676332821# or 669-900-6833,,676332821#
- Connect using a standard telephone by dialing 929-205-6099 or 669-900-6833, then enter the access code of 676332821
Posting to Facebook
Whether you’re a first-timer or a regular participant, it’s fun to share NFBNJ 43rd annual state convention happenings on your Facebook, Instagram or other social media.
To ensure that it will be easy to find your NFBNJ 2019 convention posts, use the hash tag:
You can post selfies and videos with friends; share new resources you have just learned about or just tell your cyberworld about the great time you’re having. See you later this week at the Delta by Marriot in Woodbridge!
Aim High Level:
We Got This! Level:
Raising Expectations Level:
Live The Life You Want Level:
- C TECH
- Family Resource Network EDGE Program
- Heightened Independence & Progress (HIP)
- Independence Science
- Mariposa Essence LLC
- New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Vision Impaired (NJ CBVI)
- New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (NJSL TBBC)
- Support Service Providers of New Jersey (SSPNJ)
- SW Unlimited
- The Seeing Eye Institute, Inc.
- Vision Loss Alliance
NFB Code of ConductAs an attendee at our convention, you not only represent yourself but also represent our greater organization. We want you to enjoy our time together and to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. Although we encourage members to socialize and have fun, the convention also provides a valuable opportunity to come together to continue the work of our organization, to learn about the important initiatives that we are involved with on local and national levels, and to plan our work for the future.
The National Federation of the Blind seeks to provide a convention environment in which diverse participants, including members, speakers, exhibitors, staff, and volunteers, may learn, network, and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues in an environment of mutual respect and professionalism. We recognize a shared responsibility to create and uphold that atmosphere for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are therefore specifically prohibited:
- harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, physical appearance, or other group identity
- sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact
- public drunkenness and associated behaviors (e.g., belligerence, yelling, hostility, destruction of property)
Participants are expected to abide by these rules and behaviors in all convention venues, including online arenas, social media, and social events. Participants who are asked to stop a behavior that the recipient considers hostile or harassing are expected to comply immediately. We are committed to diversity, equity, and the free expression of ideas. Please visit https://nfb.org/code-conduct for more information.
National Rep Biography
Shawn Callaway was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. When he was a sophomore at South Carolina State University, a classmate was playing with a gun and accidentally shot Shawn in the temple. The accident resulted in the detachment of his optic nerves, which caused total blindness. Shawn returned to the DC area and received blindness training at the Workforce Technology Center in Baltimore. He credits a blind man named Lou Smith with providing his training and being an early mentor. He also credits his parents for encouraging him throughout his transition to life as a successful blind person.
After his rehabilitation training, Shawn earned his associate’s degree in psychology from Essex Community College in 1995, his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1997, and then his master’s in social work from Catholic University of America in 2000. He began his professional career working with the homeless at Catholic Charities, and then went on to counsel children in the Washington, DC public schools system for the city’s Department of Behavioral Health. He now works as a program specialist for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, specifically in programs of the Administration on Community Living and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In 2005, he married Latonya Rollins of Cleveland, Ohio.
Shawn had heard of the National Federation of the Blind in the mid-1990s but was initially convinced by a friend that the organization was too radical for him. In retrospect, he believes he was given bad information and wishes that he had become a Federationist earlier. After being invited to a chapter meeting by Linda Black-White, Shawn finally joined in the spring of 2009. He found himself leading the Washington, DC affiliate when longtime leader Don Galloway died in 2011.
Shawn already had confidence in most of his blindness skills when he joined the National Federation of the Blind, but he says that he was still apprehensive about becoming a parent. The opportunity to observe and talk to blind parents like Mark and Melissa Riccobono and Tracy Soforenco, as well as a DC Federationist named Vicky Smith, gave him confidence that he could be a successful blind parent. He is now the proud father of his daughter Camille who was born in 2014.
Shawn also credits participation in the NFB with opening up other leadership and community involvement opportunities for him. He has served on the boards of the DC Center for Independent Living and the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind and has chaired the DC rehabilitation council. He currently co-hosts a community radio program called Open Our Eyes on two local stations. In addition, Shawn serves as the President of the DC Friends of the Talking Book and Braille Library and is a member of the DC Blind Bowlers Association. Shawn says, “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the NFB Board of Directors, both to give back to the organization as a whole and because so many past and present board members like Fred Schroeder, Anil Lewis, Dr. Joanne Wilson, Sam Gleese, Pam Allen, and Ever Lee Hairston have inspired and mentored me.”
Videos from Previous State Convention
Videos from a previous year’s state convention can be viewed on our YouTube channel, NFBNJTransformDreams.
Here are the direct links to the playlist for previous state conventions.
- NFBNJ 42nd State Convention (2018)
- Morning General Session – Saturday, November 3rd
- Afternoon General Session Part 1 – Saturday, November 3rd
- Afternoon General Session Part 2 – Saturday, November 3rd
- Banquet – Saturday, November 3rd
- NFBNJ 40th State Convention (2016)
- NFBNJ 39th State Convention (2015)
NFBNJ Presidential Reports
Here are the NFBNJ Presidential Reports given by affiliate president Joe Ruffalo during our state conventions.
If you have questions and need additional information, please contact:
Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003