Dear NBASLH Members,

As you well know, Texas has recently passed the most historically restrictive laws concerning women’s rights and the most restrictive voting rights law in the nation that will marginalize voters of color. The NBASLH Board of Directors has received calls on leadership to move the location of the 2022 NBASLH Convention scheduled March 17-19 in Houston to take action in support of our mission and values of social responsibilities, racial and social justice, and democracy.

In response to your feedback the board has completed a thorough review of our contractual agreement with the Omni Houston Hotel for the upcoming convention. To review, Houston TX was initially selected in 2018 as the convention location for the 2020 NBASLH Convention with a finalized contractual agreement signed by NBASLH in 2019. NBASLH was successfully able to cancel the 2020 Omni Hotel contract without any financial penalty as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and an Executive Order issued by the Texas Governor legally prohibiting any social gatherings with minimal contact with people who were not in the same household.

  • In 2020, as a result of that cancellation, the Omni Hotel extended NBASLH significant discounts to recontract the annual convention for 2022.
  • In 2021, the NBASLH Board of Directors agreed to sign the 2022 contract due to the amicable agreement between the two organizations, and before Houston’s current political environment.
As of today, the Texas Governor has not issued an Executive Order limiting social events. Therefore, NBASLH is unable to cancel the 2022 Omni Hotel contractual agreement without incurring a $40,000 cancellation penalty, a significant financial impact for our organization, and because of the penalty the board voted unanimously not to cancel the Houston Convention.

In lieu of cancellation, the board has decided to cancel the January in-person board meeting that would normally take place in Houston, TX in 2022. In addition, the board has committed to taking the following actions to express our members dissatisfaction with the recent legislation in the state of Texas:
  • The NBASLH Chair will write a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott communicating the association’s strong disapproval of voter suppression legislation impacting the voting rights of those in Texas, and our commitment to strongly encourage attendees of the upcoming NBASLH convention to combat voter suppression laws by financially supporting efforts to counter voter suppression in Texas, voicing our concerns to elected federal officials, our commitment to supporting Black-owned business during our time in Houston, and our promise to hold no additional association events in the state of Texas until voter suppression efforts are terminated in Texas.
  • The board is adding a new legislation clause to future hotel contracts that will allow NBASLH to terminate without penalty if there is legislation enacted by state or local government that has the effect of abridging individuals’ civil rights.
  • The board is planning a virtual letter writing campaign for NBASLH members to federally elected officials in Texas as well as other states with concerns of voter suppression. We will send more information on how members can participate and make your voices heard through letter writing.
  • At the 2022 Convention, we are planning to host an advocacy event and invite local elected officials to speak to members on what you can do to help defeat voter suppression. We will also have dedicated on-site space at the upcoming convention for attendees to submit letters of advocacy to state elected officials.
  • NBASLH will plan an advocacy event at the US Capitol Hill during the 2023 Convention to be held in Washington DC. To help you prepare, we will host a Virtual Advocacy Briefing ahead of the convention to learn more about important advocacy issues and how to setup meetings to speak to lawmakers.
The NBASLH Board of Directors want you to know that we are in full support of this plan that sends a clear message to the state of Texas that voting rights do matter. This plan also takes into consideration those who will directly suffer from the cancellation or move of a convention – hotel staff (e.g., cleaning staff, wait staff) and other small businesses NBASLH would support during a convention which traditionally are Black or minority owned.

The NBASLH Leaders have also heard your concerns regarding safeguarding the health and safety of our members, attendees, and staff at the convention due to the changing climate of the Covid-19 pandemic. While we are aware of changing COVID state regulations, NBASLH is not an entity of Texas. Thus, in addition to requiring masks, the Board recently voted unanimously to require proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of check in at the NBASLH Convention registration desk.
Convention attendees will receive instructions from the NBASLH offices for uploading your vaccine or test result details using technology that will guarantee your privacy while meeting the NBASLH COVID compliance management policies. The NBASLH Board of Directors also voted to impose a $4 COVID Management fee with the 2021 NBASLH Convention Registration to assist the association with managing and providing the protection required to keep us all safe at the convention. All registrants - including the Board of Directors - will pay the $4 fee with the exception of those that have already registered for the convention as of October 6, 2021. The board is adding these parameters due to the current environment and retains the right to add or revise policies as they continue to monitor the effects of Covid-19 on the environment between now and the convention. Members can learn more about the Covid-19 Safety Protocols established by NBASLH and followed by the Omni Hotel on the NBASLH Website at https://www.nbaslh.org/covid-19-safety-protocols

The board wants you to know that we hear our members and always welcome your feedback. Please contact the NBASLH Office if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you and take care,

Kia Noelle Johnson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
NBASLH Board of Directors, Chair