A Look into the ACB Pre-Convention and Post-Convention Board Meetings

by Denise Colley

One of the responsibilities of the representative of the board of publications to ACB’s board meetings is to provide our membership with a timely report of what our board is doing in "The Braille Forum."  Included here are summaries of the 2014 pre-convention and post-convention board meetings.

ACB Pre-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB pre-convention board meeting, held in Las Vegas, Nev., on July 12 was called to order at 9:08 a.m.  All board members were present.  The minutes of the June 9 board teleconference meeting were approved.
In her presidential report, Kim Charlson introduced to the board the three members of the advisory board who had joined us for this meeting.  They were Dr. David Stuchiner, Dr. Lloyd Bowser and Mr. Roger Bridges.  Each was given an opportunity to say a few words.

Staff Reports

Melanie Brunson began the D.C. area office report by informing the board that negotiations have been ongoing with the Holiday Inn National Airport and other venues in Arlington, Va. for the 2015 midyear meeting and legislative seminar.  She indicated we are close on terms with the Holiday Inn, which will include a slight room rate increase.  Also, ACB is currently being offered a one-year contract.
A motion was made that, pending ACB receiving a written contract which reflects the terms as negotiated, we hold the midyear meetings at the Holiday Inn National Airport from Feb. 21-24, 2015.  A friendly amendment was offered that ACB seek a multi-year contract with this hotel for these meetings.  The amended motion passed.
Eric Bridges gave the external relations and policy report.  Highlights include:

  • Resolution 2013-15, which deals with safe paths of travel for pedestrians in parking lots, has been submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A-117 standards setting committee thanks to our representative on that body, Chris Bell.  Chris has chosen not to continue serving on this committee, and Charlson will be working to find an individual to serve.
  • H.R. 4040, the Cogswell-Macy Act, had 20 co-sponsors at the time of the report, of which ACB has been responsible for probably 14.
  • H.R. 3749, Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, had four co-sponsors at the time of the report.  We need to generate more interest and advocacy on this issue with members of Congress.
  • The vehicle donation legislation which ACB has been working to pass for several years has been re-introduced.
  • Thanks to ACB’s efforts to engage technology companies on accessibility, we had three new convention sponsors: Comcast, Facebook, and JPMorgan Chase.  Also, while not a sponsor, Microsoft was at the convention and would be discussing Windows Phone accessibility.
  • The International Association of Audio Information Services, in addition to exhibiting, is also a sponsor.
  • Salus University in Pennsylvania, which has a graduate program for students wanting to go into special education, has convened a group to discuss the future of the teacher of the visually impaired profession.  This group met in April, and there will be ongoing discussions.
  • ACB is watching as there have been discussions of opening up the Chaffee Amendment of the U.S. Copyright Act, which allows producers of materials in specialized format to make material available to people who are blind or visually impaired without having to seek permission from the copyright holder to do so.  This could happen either in the fall of 2014 or early in 2015.  The feeling is that the Chaffee Amendment needs to be updated to reflect changes in reading and technology such as the e-book.
  • In the area of litigation/advocacy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is evaluating the efforts of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to implement the order requiring that paper currency be made accessible.
  • Activities are ongoing regarding litigation against the General Services Administration over the inaccessibility of sam.gov, which must be used by federal contractors for registration with this agency.

Sharon Lovering gave the editor’s report. She reported that the statistics for the May 2014 issue of “The ACB Braille Forum” were: 3,860 large print readers, down 1.31% from 2013.  Cassette readers accounted for 1,740 issues, down 10.31% from 2013.  Braille readers accounted for 875 issues, down 11.17% from 2013.  CD readers accounted for 181 issues, up 8.38% from 2013.  E-mail readers accounted for 3,580 issues, up 5.6% from 2013.
Lane Waters, ACB controller, gave the Minneapolis area office report.  He indicated that he and his staff had been very hard at work on completing ACB’s audit and IRS Form 990, as well as work on convention.  Both Lane and Melanie publicly expressed thanks and appreciation to the staff in both ACB offices for stepping up and taking on extra work.
Tom Tobin, ACB director of development, answered questions on his written development report.  He highlighted comparisons between the 2014 and 2013 spring direct mail appeals, saying while the spring 2014 appeal has raised far less than the spring 2013 appeal, the 2014 packets were sent on May 24, so there’s probably some additional revenue to be realized.  Also, comparing the 2013 year-end appeal to 2012, we sent out many more packets in 2013 and have raised more in revenue.  The next direct mail piece will go out Sept. 5.  ACB’s year-end appeal will feature Jesse Acosta, a veteran blinded in the Iraqi war who has a good story to tell.  In the area of foundations, ACB has received two grants totaling $45,000, and 9 denials.  There are 11 grants pending and 3 being written.
Carla Ruschival presented the treasurer’s report.  She reported that total support and revenue year-to-date as of May 31 was $715,677; total year-to-date expenses were $424,633.
The board next heard reports from the strategic plan goal groups.  Carla Ruschival, group one, reported that all of the items this group is responsible for, which include the ACB Mini Mall, ACB Radio, ACB web site and ACB’s social media presence, are working well.  All ACB web site content is expected to be rolled over to the new Drupal platform by the end of 2014.  As of this meeting, ACB had 730 Twitter followers and 545 likes on Facebook.
Dan Spoone of group two stressed that fundraising is all about relationships.  This group has set up committees for the 12 key fundraising programs the board identified at its fundraising planning meeting in September 2013.
Spoone also discussed the proposed ACB Angels Memorial Tribute.  This fundraising program would allow anyone to pay tribute to someone special by honoring that person with a donation of $500 or more to ACB.  There will be an opportunity to provide a photo and an up-to-500-word personalized biography of that person.  The tribute can also be for a guide dog. Tributes will be posted on the ACB web site as well as on a wall of angels which can be displayed at each annual convention.  The board voted to implement the Angels Memorial Tribute program.
Mitch Pomerantz reminded the board of the wall that is set up in the ACB office to honor individuals contributing over $100,000 to ACB.  Melanie will send the board a list of those honorees.
The board moved into executive session at 12:38 p.m., and returned to open session at 2:45 p.m.  Charlson reported that during executive session, the board passed a motion ratifying a loan of $48,000 to ACBES for payment of a legal judgment.
Janet Dickelman gave the convention report.  She indicated that there were a lot of room changes because many events grew larger than expected and needed to be moved.  Many afternoon sessions would either be streamed live or recorded for later airing on ACB Radio.
Jeff Thom informed the board that the goal 3 group is looking at changes to the employee handbook, and beginning discussion of whether there are real staff training needs we need to plan for, as well as looking at new board member orientation and updating of the board handbook.
John McCann, who reported on the work of the goal 4 group, indicated that the group had nothing new to report outside of the affiliate relations constitutional amendment which had been circulated via the leadership list.
Dan Spoone gave the Audio Description Project report. He indicated the committee is working well and pledged to keep the ADP reports coming to the board every two months.
Denise Colley discussed “The ACB Braille Forum” survey and indicated that the BOP would hold two town hall meetings during this convention to gather input on the Forum and E-Forum, and have individuals available to assist those who need help filling out the survey.  The BOP will be discussing two items over the next year, political campaigning on ACB’s leadership list and advertising in the conference and convention newspaper.
Berl Colley presented a report on the leadership training conducted on July 11.  While attendance was small, he and others felt the people who were there wanted to learn about and interact on the issues presented.
Dan Spoone discussed the Audio Description Conference taking place at the convention.  There would be 24 panelists, 36 attendees, and 25 ACB mentors who would be working with the attendees to help them better understand what it’s like to be a blind person as they learn how to be audio describers.
The meeting adjourned at 3:34 p.m.

ACB Post-Convention Board Meeting

The post-convention board meeting, held July 19, was called to order at 10:11 a.m. by president Kim Charlson.  All officers and board members were present.
Charlson informed the board that Dr. Ron Milliman had tendered his resignation as chairperson of both the public relations and the Monthly Monetary Support committees, and that she would be looking for new people to chair them.  She then asked the board for ideas and thoughts on conference and convention voting procedures, which came up under new business in convention and will be taken up by the voting issues task force.  Board members discussed several ideas.
Mark Richert, resolutions committee chairman, gave the resolutions prioritization report.  There were 20 resolutions adopted by the convention.  There were seven priority-one resolutions, including the three thank-you resolutions; 11 priority-two resolutions, and two priority-three resolutions.  The resolutions prioritization report was accepted.
Larry Turnbull, ACB Radio’s managing director, gave the ACB Radio report.  Highlights included:

  • We ran into issues with the Icecast server due to a software update.  The issues we found did not surface until larger numbers of listeners were accessing content during convention.
  • We averaged 130 to 140 listeners during convention week on the server side, with 130 during the Sunday night opening session.
  • We had 625 listening by phone during the Sunday night opening session, with an average of 610 to 620 during the remainder of convention week.  For the candidates’ forum, we had 65 listeners on the server, 450 on the phone.
  • The workshop recordings will be archived soon.
  • The ACB Radio management team will discuss how to use exhibit hall interview content.

Convention coordinator Janet Dickelman reported that overall we had a good conference and convention.  There were a few audio-visual issues, but we had a plethora of volunteers.  The board brought forward several issues and questions.
Charlson discussed logistics for the fall board meeting, which will be held Oct. 17-18 in Dallas, Tex.  Following this discussion came the selection of members for the 2014-15 budget committee: Carla Ruschival, Berl Colley and Dan Spoone.
Carla Ruschival presented the ACB Mini Mall report.  She stated that during the conference and convention, we had $9,000 in gross sales, up about 50 percent from last year.  The online mini mall has a working shopping cart which is almost ready for use.
Under new business, Melanie Brunson indicated that ACB needs to take a look at and possibly revise its positions on the issue of accessible voting.
Officer and board liaisons reported on the convention activities of the committees and task forces they work with.
The meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.