2017-Kim Charlson

Kim Charlson

57 Grandview Avenue

Watertown, MA 02472

617-926-9198 (home)

617-972-7249 (work)

617-501-5853 (cell)

kim.charlson@perkins.org or kimcharlson@acb.org

Library Director, Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library

Employer: Perkins School for the Blind


Question 1. Introduce yourself and list the office for which you are planning to run. Explain why you wish to serve as an officer of the ACB.


I am seeking nomination for reelection for a third term as president of the American Council of the Blind. I have been an active member of ACB for over 40 years, serving in a wide variety of capacities. These include, but are not limited to, co-chair of the Membership Committee in the late 1990's; elected member (1992-98) and chair (1999-2001) of the Board of Publications; from 2007-2013 served as ACB first vice-president, and until 2013, I chaired ACB's Audio Description Project. I also serve as one of ACB's two delegates to the World Blind Union, and I represent North America on the WBU World Braille Council.


I have served in many leadership positions within ACB's special interest affiliates including the Braille Revival League, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and Library Users of America. I have held several officer positions, including president of both the ACB of Oregon and the Bay State Council of the Blind.



My process for the past two years has been to utilize my board to serve in a variety of roles. Effective leadership involves teamwork, and I have advocacy and professional experience in team-building and strategic planning that I believe have helped to guide ACB in several areas over the past two years. In addition, I have experience in policy administration, budgeting, personnel management, planning, outreach, and I follow-up. All of these skills are necessary in the operation and oversight of an organization with employees, a complex financial structure, and members from across the country needing to stay informed and connected to the organization. I believe that I have the knowledge, skills and experience needed in order to continue to serve as president of ACB, and I have the drive, dedication and commitment to serve ACB in completing a third and final term as president.


Question 2. Summarize any experience, knowledge, skills and/or abilities you have which qualify you to serve in the office for which you are seeking election.


Over the past four years, I have worked with the Board of Publications, staff, ACB’s Public Relations Committee, and our strategic planning communications team to continue to grow and expand our efforts to strengthen our organization. Such successes as those with the ACB Braille Forum and the E-Forum are being utilized more effectively to keep affiliates and members informed on key issues, to mobilize advocacy efforts when needed on critical issues, and to disseminate news and information about victories and accomplishments of ACB. We are doing much better at proclaiming our sense of pride in ACB and the work we do, and our growing sense of community and fellowship within our organization. The members of the ACB board are working very well together to move the objectives of the organization forward in a truly collaborative manner. New and old ideas have been instituted for enhancing communication to help ACB grow its member base and to stay better connected with its heart and soul – the membership.


ACB’s new strategic plan is forward-thinking, bold, and aspirational – with goals and action items that will strengthen the organization, benefit the membership and affiliates, and help all people who are blind in the long run. It will require much work from many people, but the goals and the direction are very positive for moving ACB toward a strong future.


I want to continue to bring tried-and-true decision-making abilities, as well as the capacity to think outside the box when needed to help the organization to continue to move forward in my final term as president.


Question 3. What do you consider to be your strongest contribution to ACB at either the national, state, special-interest affiliate or local chapter level and why?


Advocacy is a passion and some of the issues I will continue to work on include audio description, education for students with visual impairments, expanded services for seniors, and Section 508 compliance.


Regarding audio description (AD), we have made tremendous progress in the past two years through the AD Project -- with benchmarks for the amount of description, the expanded requirement into the top 60 metropolitan areas being required to provide description, and the industry requirement for accessibility to the hardware for television.


ACB has a tremendous opportunity to shape the education of children who are blind through our support of the Cogswell-Macy Act. By strengthening the continuum of services (both itinerant and residential school services) this issue will continue to be a legislative priority in the coming years.


ACB is also working hard to expand low vision device access for seniors through Medicare. What other service impacts elders with vision loss more than the Medicare system. ACB’s legislation will create a demonstration project to show decision-makers that by covering low vision devices under Medicare, seniors with vision loss will be better prepared to remain independent and age in place.


ACB has also worked for many years to assure that the government complies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. ACB’s excellent comments to the Access Board on Section 508 and website access guidelines helped set the stage for the release of the “Refresh” of Section 508 due to go into effect in January 2018.


As president, one advocacy role I have been able to fill is an administrative one. I have experience moving projects and initiatives through to completion. I look forward to continuing to work with ACB's staff and the dozens of hard-working committees on a very diverse list of initiatives for the betterment of the organization.


Question 4. What do you consider to be the most important challenge facing ACB? How will you work to address it?


Long-term financial stability has been a difficult issue that the ACB board has tackled over the past several years. Through implementation of previous strategic plan goals and focused attention and hard work on a new strategic plan for the organization, we are continuing to make some true progress in this area. We are not 100% there as of yet, but we are moving in a very positive direction. Financial stability does involve appropriate budget planning and diversification of income sources, and ACB is doing this in several areas through the work of the Resource Development Committee, ACBES (American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services), the work of our Executive Director Eric Bridges, the stewardship of our treasurer Carla Ruschival, and the work of several member-based committees such as the ACB Auction, the ACB Walk, and the Monthly Monetary Support Program. We also rely on the work of the ACB Development Director, Tom Tobin, and grant writing efforts from Jo Lynn Bailey-Page. I will continue to work to support ongoing initiatives for financial stability within ACB, and lend my experience in budget and financial program management to those who are already working hard on these issues. ACB utilizes direct mail appeal-based fund-raising letters, and I hope that I can continue to help our team to grow our overall results from appeal-based campaigns in the future. My work as director of a regional braille and talking book library in Massachusetts has provided me with some unique skills and opportunities, which I believe I can pull from to help ACB grow and prosper.