Announcing the 2018 Professional Development Conference

We are very excited to announce that registration for the 2018 NBA Professional Development Conference is live!!!

For this year’s annual conference, we’ll be hosted by the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 25, and 26.

The Conference

For those unfamiliar with our annual conferences, we pack three days with a wide selection of workshops specifically tailored to braille transcribers and teachers of the visually impaired. Our lineup of experts is well underway in their preparation of creating workshop materials intended to help you gain a better understanding of the latest transcription codes, and how best to apply them in your daily work.

On each day, there will be a workshop session in the morning and in the afternoon. Attendees may select one option from a list of five offerings during each session to sit in on. Our planning committee is always sure to include options from each discipline of braille transcription. If you focus on Music Braille, or textbooks, or need to know more about Nemeth and Unified English braille, there’s a workshop designed just for you. In addition to our usual wide ranging topics, this year we’ve expanded the lineup to include a workshop to help those of you working with assistive technology!

Detroit, Michigan

We haven’t hosted a conference in Detroit in quite some time and we’re looking forward to returning! Our hotel is right downtown with easy access to a vibrant list of restaurants, cultural museums, and activities. Though the Westin Book Cadillac is considered a luxury hotel, we’re sensitive to the plight of our attendees who we know often work with strict budgets. We’ve arranged for a room block at the hotel at a special rate, which you can access by contacting the hotel directly to book your accommodations.

For more on the room rates, you can visit the registration page here.


Registrants will have a chance to select the Partial Conference or Full Conference package. The difference between the two options primarily lies with the selection of a meal package.

The Full Conference package will include a lunch on Wednesday, a banquet dinner on Thursday evening, and then a closing lunch on Friday. The meal functions at an NBA conference certainly include food, but they also include the handling of important business by our membership, installation and voting of new directors to our board, and awards. Attendees find that our meal functions are a great opportunity to network with other industry professionals. Regardless of the package selection you choose, all are invited to our President’s Reception on Wednesday evening.

For those selecting the Partial Conference package, and for all other meal times, the hotel has a few options in-house, and there are easily accessible eateries in the surrounding areas to the hotel.


One of the biggest changes to our conference this year is in response to our most frequent request! For this conference, all attendees will receive digital access to all workshop materials!!! This is a change that people have been requesting for years, and we’re responding by making it happen.

Though attendees will still be choosing what workshops to sit in on, as part of your paid registration, you’ll receive digital access to the materials used in the other workshops. We’ll be sure you have access to these in advance of the conference, so if you’re the type of person who prefers paper-copies of materials, you can print the materials at home for the workshops you’ll be sitting in on. Or, if you’d prefer, for a fee selected at registration, we’ll print the materials for the workshops you’ve selected and put them together in a binder for you. As always, our braille reading attendees can select to have hard-copy braille materials prepared at no additional cost.  Participants choosing a hard copy option will still have access to all of the digital print and digital braille files that everyone else will receive.

Silent Auction and Exhibit Hall

One of the features of our conference is an Exhibit Hall, where vendors set up booths to interface directly with our conference attendees to share information about their products and services. The Exhibit Hall will be open on Wednesday afternoon, and all day Thursday. If you’re looking to register as an exhibitor and would like more information, feel free to contact our office directly. You can also find information regarding the vendor booths here.

During the same time that the Exhibit Hall is open, we’ll once again have our Silent Auction. The money raised during the auction goes directly to supporting the programs and services provided by the National Braille Association. While we are grateful for the financial support generated by the auction, we also look forward to how much fun it always is! We are already beginning to collect items for this year’s auction. If you’d like to contribute an item(s) for this year’s auction, feel free to send it along in advance with a note about who it is from, and an estimated value. You can ship to: NBA Silent Auction, 28244 Aspen Blvd, Flat Rock, MI 48134.

Mary Archer Scholarship Awards

Available only to members and first-time attendees to the conference, there are two available scholarship awards made available by the generosity of our late, past president Mary Archer. She knew the importance of getting first hand instruction from an expert, and she knew that not all transcribers have the financial ability to attend professional development conferences. Mary set up a financial account specifically to be used to help new attendees get to our conference. Two winners will be selected, and the cost of registering for the Full Conference package will be covered by Mary’s generous legacy. If you are a current NBA member, and would like to attend our conference for the first time, you can find a scholarship application form in one of our Bulletins.

Shawn Greiner was a recipient of last year’s Mary Archer Scholarship Award and attended our conference in Orlando, Florida. He said,

“I worked in a prison braille program for 12 years, where I learned about the business of doing braille from NBA Bulletins. At the Orlando NBA Conference last year, I was finally able to meet many of these great leaders in the braille transcribing community and to thank them for their dedication. I was amazed at the quality of the presentations and walked away with a greater respect for NBA and the wonderful transcribers who take the time to prepare workshops and teach us how to improve our skills.”

We really are excited about this year’s conference, and we hope you are, too! If you have questions or need  to discuss a detail about attending, please feel free to contact us here in the office. We hope you’ll consider joining us in October. For information about the conference and to register today, use this link.