On May 20 to 21, NAMA joined the National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) to take part in the 2013 Business Leadership and Superior Training Conference (BLAST) in Indianapolis, Ind. NABM, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, hosts an annual BLAST conference to provide increased networking, educational and training opportunities for blind vendors and state agency personnel.
This year’s BLAST conference included more than 500 blind and visually impaired vendors and merchants during an action-packed week of training, panel seminars and education sessions. Some of the topics included: coffee certification, women’s leadership, commercial contracts, the latest advances in accessible vending technology and development of a ‘Blind Vendor Bill of Rights.’ The BLAST conference also featured a trade show with more than 50 exhibitors promoting a variety of equipment, products and services.
One of the key themes during the conference was nutrition and healthy vending. Sheree Edwards, NAMA’s Southern region legislative director, participated in a well-attended break-out session and industry panel, along with a number of health professionals, to discuss nutrition-related legislation and policies on blind vendors as they relate to the Randolph-Sheppard Act framework.
“Speaking at Super BLAST this year on nutrition is very timely given the uptick in ‘healthy’ related legislation being introduced at the state and local levels,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “The participants were very interested in hearing about NAMA’s recent work in combating harmful health and nutrition policies because of the unique way blind vendors are impacted –especially as operators in government owned locations. We want to ensure that our message is consistent and that we are addressing their concerns as we fight to protect the industry as a whole,” she continued.
Eric Dell, NAMA senior vice president of Government affairs said, “NABM does an incredible job of representing, training, and supporting blind operators – the BLAST conference is a great example of the organization’s commitment to its members’ success in business and in life. It was an honor to be invited to participate in the conference, and to show NAMA’s continued support of blind operators and NABM overall,” he concluded.