Once in a while, an event comes along that we would really love to attend. We consider our weekly family expenses and the medical bills and think that there’s just no way we can participate.

In just this way, many parents throughout the country have read about conferences for families of children with visual impairments, scanned their budgets, and have decided they will never make it without some outside help.

As parents, we should look at a conference as a learning experience that can be of tremendous benefit to us and our communities. We fully believe that those who attend conferences are going to return to their homes with added determination to reach out in support to other parents of visually impaired children.

Possible Funding Sources for Parents

A possible funding source for parents is through your local State Special Education Departments. Every year, an amount of money is set aside in the IDEIA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) budget to support parent involvement. This money is used for parents who have children with disabilities with special needs and can be used as stipends to attend conferences.

Write a letter to your local Director of Special Education (for those school districts that do not have one, write to the Superintendent) asking them to sponsor your attendance to the conference as a parent through IDEIA funds. Explain why attendance at the conference will benefit you and your child. Mention that you are a member of the National Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). Include pages that you print out from the website that describe the conference program. Make sure you save a copy of the letter for your records.

Other possible sources of funding might be:

  • Lions Clubs
  • Elks Clubs
  • Schools for the Blind
  • YMCA
  • YWCA
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Kiwanis
  • Area women’s clubs
  • PTA
  • Teachers’ organizations
  • Business associations
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Business and Professional Women
  • Church groups
  • Urban League
  • University alumni groups

A Sample Proposal

So now that you’ve decided to either approach a local group yourself or have asked a representative of a group to take your cause to that group, what needs to be in your proposal? (The following responses are examples only, not meant to be followed rigidly.)

  1. A summary statement: “I am asking for your financial assistance in providing travel and convention funding necessary so that I may attend the Families Connecting with Families International Conference.”

  2. A statement of the questions to be addressed: Why is it beneficial for me to attend this meeting? How much will it cost? How much can I come up with on my own?

  3. A statement of your goals in attending the conference: “By my attendance at this conference, I hope to gain valuable information in order to enrich my relationship with my visually impaired child and to find ways to help other parents of visually impaired children in my community.”

  4. Procedures of the conference: “The Families Connecting with Families Conference will last three days. Sessions will be geared toward coping skills of parents, educational and medical know-how in parenting visually impaired children, and a technology session.”

  5. An evaluative assessment: “I will be collecting conference materials and taking notes during the sessions. I would be pleased to speak to your group following the conference with a description of that meeting and to share information about visually impaired children in general. I also hope to gather other parents in the community following the convention so that I can share the many things I learned at the conference.”

  6. A detailed budget: “Our plane tickets will cost $_____. Registration for the convention will be $_____, as I plan to pre-register in order to benefit from the lower registration cost. My hotel bill will be $_____ per night. Taxi fare from the airport (round trip) will be $_____.”

One final note: your proposal should have a neat appearance. If you are going to submit it handwritten, make sure you’ve printed legibly. You’re dealing with business and professional persons, and you are asking for a portion of their money, after all.