Summary of the Winter Board Meetings

by Doug Powell

On Dec. 3, 2015, the board met by phone to consider the recommendations of the budget committee for the revenue side of the 2016 ACB budget.  After a line item reading, discussion, and one change, the revenue side of the budget passed as $1,004,585.  On Dec. 10, the board reconvened to consider the expense side and approved total projected expenses of $1,214,316.
 
On Feb. 27, 2016, the board of directors met in Alexandria, Va., at the site of the affiliate presidents’ meeting and legislative seminar.  Some items of note in president Kim Charlson’s report:

  • The Bureau of Printing and Engraving had to look for new anti-counterfeiting processes, which will delay the 2020 delivery date for the new $10 bill. Kim encouraged everyone to make sure we all have the currency readers distributed by NLS in the meantime.  Testing by ACB members continues, but suitable tactile features have not yet been found either.
  • Kim met with Karen Keninger, head of the NLS. Legislation has been introduced to allow NLS to distribute braille displays, and there is testing currently going on for a new braille display that will cost less than $400.
  • Mitch and Kim were on a call with the Government Accounting Office concerning a follow-up report on the best practices for pharmacies supplying accessible drug labels and information. The GAO did not have a good idea of what ACB is and their role in advocating for useful and usable labeling.  Mitch felt the conversation was fruitful.
  • The World Blind Union will be having its quadrennial meeting this August in Orlando, Fla. ACB will be supporting the planning of these meetings, and ACB Radio will be broadcasting the activities and sessions.

Eric Bridges gave his staff report.  In his first four months, the ACB headquarters offices moved, the midyear meetings moved to a new hotel, he hired Tony Stephens as the director of advocacy and governmental affairs, and he is starting to look at how we capture all the behind-the-scenes things Lane Waters does, since Lane will be retiring this July.
 
Tom Tobin talked about the fundraising initiatives, which are all increasing. Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, our new grant writer, updated the board on the status of current grants and outstanding requests.  She is also meeting with some of the people in the program areas that could always use more money, such as ACB Radio and the board of publications, so she could better understand what they do and how she could help them.  Tony Stephens then reviewed the legislative imperatives for this year and fielded some questions about other issues in Congress.
 
Lane Waters gave a report from the Minnesota office.  An area of increasing participation by committees and task forces is capturing volunteer hours contributed by members of these groups.  The dollar value of these hours is useful in showing our commitment to the organization and viewed favorably by potential donors. 
 
Joel Snyder gave an update on the Audio Description Project.  There is a new sub-committee exploring certification for describers to enhance the quality of description.  Another new sub-committee will deal with 508 compliance (description) of government-produced videos.  Several questions from the board about accessibility of cable set-top boxes emerged. Eric stressed that people who experience problems with this should document the problem and e-mail it to him at ebridges@acb.org.
 
The board then moved into executive session.  After executive session, secretary Ray Campbell read a motion that was passed which authorized the IT Infrastructure Committee and ACB leadership to move forward with the digital redesign of acb.org.
 
Treasurer Carla Ruschival gave her report.  The budget committee recommended five minor changes to the 2016 budget, which the board accepted.
 
Dan Spoone gave the resource development committee report.  He thanked Carla Ruschival and Brian Charlson for their work on the holiday auction, which raised over $13,000.  Jeff Thom presented a resolution for the board’s approval to dissolve the National Education and Legal Defense Service (NELDS) and for their assets to be used by ACB to help fund the same kinds of litigation expenses that NELDS would have used them for.  The resolution passed.
 
Jeff Bishop gave the ACB Radio report. They are excited about the Affiliates in Action show highlighting a national representative, a state affiliate, and a special-interest affiliate in each show, talking about what and how they are doing things.  Making shows available on demand has been very successful, with January phone listeners at 4,417.  For the holiday auction, there were 1,800 phone calls.  One month on the web site, there were 8,600 on-demand show listeners. ACB Link continues to become more sophisticated.
 
Janet Dickelman reported that the 2017 convention is in Reno, Nev.  We have a signed contract for 2018 in St. Louis, Mo., and she is in final negotiations for 2019.
 
President Kim Charlson called for goal group reports and reports from the board liaison about the committees and task forces they work with, after which the meeting adjourned.