Call to Order and Introductions
Deb called the meeting to order at 9 p.m. Eastern time. All Board of Publications members, including ex officio members, were present, as well as ACB-Conversation list moderator Lisha Pottackal, and several guests. Once again, the meeting was streamed live on ACB Radio Mainstream.
At our next meeting, the board will have an opportunity to appoint Lisha to the BOP as an ex officio member, after which she can attend BOP meetings and provide e-mail statistics and reports, as Bob used to do.
Adoption of the Agenda for the April 6, 2021 ACB Board of Publications Meeting
Penny had suggested adding two items to the agenda, the first having to do with the religious focus of two ACB Braille Forum recent articles, and the second having to do with a resolution which BPI is expected to submit regarding using non-gender-specific pronouns in ACB’s written communications. Following a motion from Penny and a second from Zelda, the board approved the meeting agenda as amended.
Approval of the Minutes for the March 2, 2021 meeting of the ACB Board of Publications
Penny moved and Zelda seconded the motion to approve the meeting minutes from March. The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Jeff asked the board’s opinion regarding how to handle the ACB Braille Forum on the now under construction ACB Media web site. For example, how to present current and back issues of the magazine, how far back should they go, for how many issues should we provide easily followed links and how many should be archived, how easily should visitors to the site be able to access archived issues, should we provide only links or should links to each issued be accompanied by a description or summary, etc. Deb and Penny will meet with Jeff to discuss these issues and develop recommendations which we will then share with the BOP at a future meeting.
No additional items were submitted.
Email list transition and introduction of Lisha Pottackal
Consensus among BOP members was that the transition from ACB-L to ACB-Conversation was not nearly as smooth as we had hoped. Deb said that, if we had to do it again, we would transition all ACB-L members first, and then, after a few days, subscribe all other ACB members. One issue for many members, new and long-time, was that, despite a notification which had been sent to all members the day before, many were unprepared for — and shocked by — the relatively large influx of messages that arrived in their in-boxes. In addition, back-and-forth of initial list conversations was contentious at best.
There is still confusion for many members about the differences in purpose between ACB-Leadership and ACB-Conversation, and Katie and Deb will be sending out a message to help clarify the differences for members of both lists.
Paul invited Deb, Katie, Lisha and others to come on to Tuesday Topics the following week to talk about the lists and the transition. Deb and Katie eagerly agreed.
Deb also offered to describe how easy it is to manage e-mail using the basic HTML view in Gmail, during the Tuesday Topics program. And Rick will talk about approaches to dealing with e-mail that Groups.io can facilitate.
Katie and Jeff talked about how members’ response to the new list improved when list administrators changed the list so that, when one responds to a message, that response goes only to the original sender of the message that evokes a response. Jeff suggested that we change all of our lists in this way, and the group agreed that we should take this action for all of our lists.
While discussing some ACB leaders’ reluctance to embrace change, Dan and Zelda suggested that it could be helpful to discuss coming transitions with leaders at the Presidents’ Hump Day meetings on Wednesdays and on the presidents’ list.
Discussion followed regarding the internal tension that inevitably arises as the organization grows, things change, and people can feel either excluded or overwhelmed or both. And, Dan pointed out, the anxiety that comes from the pandemic functions as a backdrop to all of this additional anxiety.
Katie and Deb said that their next BOP/Public Awareness Steering Committee goal will be to create a list whose purpose is distribution of announcements only.
All Things Editors –recap of March 29 event
Everyone at the meeting complimented Zelda on the success of the event.
Deb suggested that one of us should go through the recording and create a matrix of the various strengths and challenges that the editors who were present talked about. Zelda said that she started creating just such a spreadsheet the day after the event, and she’s about halfway through.
Zelda has heard from 37 editors, many of whom participated on the call, and there are also presidents who serve as editors or choose to communicate with affiliate members in some other way. Rick said he will be glad to set up an editors’ e-mail list as a new ACB list, where the discussions initiated on the call can continue and expand. A list will allow editors to share information and strategies with one another, and to share articles as well.
Rather than holding an event for affiliate editors at this summer’s convention, Zelda will check with the group to see when they would like to participate in quarterly calls, and individual topic-centered workshops may follow.
Candidates’ Page and Candidates’ Forums
Deb wrote and has submitted the article that describes the candidates’ page, as well as the candidates’ forums, and our timeline for submissions, and, as soon as the May ACB Braille Forum comes out, she will distribute all of that information to other forums and communications streams. In addition, Deb will send the article, which contains all of the details, to every incumbent whom she personally knows about.
We won’t decide right now who will lead the candidates’ forums because we don’t know yet who is running. Deb asks anyone who is eligible to run who has decided not to run to let her know. If we don’t have enough people from the BOP who can help with running the forums, Deb will check with past members of the BOP to recruit guest moderators.
The BOP agreed to limit candidates’ forums to only the two that are planned for pre-convention, i.e., there will be no candidates’ forum or town hall meeting at this summer’s convention.
Our election timeline is as follows:
May Forum: The article inviting candidates to participate in the web page and forum is published.
May 31: Submissions for the web page close.
June 15: Pages are posted and announced. Candidates are invited to submit radio promos, etc.
June 29: (this is a 5th Tuesday) we hold our first forum.
June 30: (fifth Wednesday we hold our second Forum.
BOP Awards: recap of community event and request from Awards Steering committee
Sharon will tell us on the BOP e-mail list by what date we need to share our nominations for the Freeman and Liggett Awards. Deb has received one nomination for Henley and is still willing to accept additional nominations.
BOP Chair’s Report
Deb wrote the article for the May ACB Braille Forum, and she participated in an ACB Radio program that was presented by the Awards Committee, to describe our BOP awards.
The Awards Committee would like to add information to our web site about past award winners – we could dedicate part of an issue of the Forum to this topic, perhaps around the time of year when we first invite nominations for that year’s awards. The Public Awareness Steering Committee will be helping with collecting this information.
BOP Editor’s Report
Sharon submitted the following report via the BOP e-mail list:
Editor’s Report, April 2021
Issue type: hard-copy
Page count: 80
Large print distributed: 2,281
Large print returned: 33
Return rate: 1.4%
Large print received: 2,247
Braille distributed: 648
Braille returned: 8
Return rate: 1.2%
Braille received: 640
Cartridge distributed: 545
Cartridge returned: unknown
Email distributed: 5,016
Electronic return rate: 5.4%
Email received: 4,743
* Still getting lots of “vacation/auto-reply” and “mailbox full” notifications, along with “suspended” email addresses.
Issue type: electronic
Page count: 96
Issue type: hard-copy
Page count: 80
Large print to be distributed: 2,241
Braille to be distributed: 657
Cartridge to be distributed: TBA
Email to be distributed: TBA
Deadlines for the Next Issues
June 2021 (E-Forum): focuses on ACB’s fitness campaign, Get Up & Get Moving. Deadline: April 22nd, 2021.
July 2021 (hard copy): theme TBA; deadline, May 25th
August 2021 (E-Forum): International Relations Committee, The World Turned Inside Out. Deadline: June 25th
I continue to record the information about ACB’s community calls into our phone system. Each day has its own separate box on the phone system. Due to the number of calls it usually has (19 to 20, sometimes more), Wednesday now has two boxes, one for before 7 p.m. Eastern, one for after 7 p.m. Eastern. That makes it much easier for the listeners. When it was only one box, I had to read it at Road Runner speed to be able to fit it all in.
I continue to work on cleaning up and modernizing old issues of the Forum to current large print standards, and organizing them on our Sharepoint drive (at the moment, from the 1990s through today). I’m including Word, text and BRF file formats in the Forum folders on Sharepoint. I’m nearly halfway through 2000, and have 1990 through 1999 yet to work on.
I recently updated the ACB Job Connection, and will be updating it again this month. I receive job listings from a variety of sources – the Department of Justice, various states’ Lighthouses for the Blind (South Texas is prolific), Industries for the Blind, and other departments and organizations.
I also recently updated the Washington Connection.
Sharon Lovering, Editor
American Council of the Blind
Sharon added that, on that day, ACB had distributed a news release on the “For the People Act,” and that she had been working with Tony on a grant application.
We already have a theme for the August Forum (International Relations), but we still needed themes for July and September. And, we also want to sync our themes, as much as possible, with the themes on our publications calendar.
We chose the theme of “Independence and Interdependence” for July, and “Contemplating September” for September.
Debbie told the BOP that the ACB Radio team and the ACB Community team are working together to define which kinds of programs are appropriate for ACB Radio streaming and which others may be appropriate only for community calls, and which might be appropriate for distribution via both venues (as podcasts, for example). She said that discussions have been cordial and productive.
She is developing expertise in scheduling and finds that Excel is tremendously helpful.
ACB Radio is streaming less as they find that some things are better not streamed live, and some things are better not streamed at all.
We will start collecting e-mail list statistics again this month, and it will be interesting to compare those current statistics with the reports that Bob shared last year.
Public Relations – Public Awareness Steering Committee
Katie reported that the e-mail lists topic has been all-consuming during recent weeks.
Should we endorse including articles with a decidedly religious focus in the ACB Braille Forum? And is it the role of the BOP to mandate the use of non-gender-specific pronouns in written ACB communications?
ACB Braille Forum articles with a Religious Focus
Penny and Deb voiced concern about whether it is appropriate to include articles with a religious focus in the Braille Forum, such as the two “Chaplain’s Corner” articles, written by Timothy Burdick. Penny said that she feels they are too didactic and too specifically focused on Christianity.
Deb pointed out that we have a somewhat parallel issue with respect to our community calls, where we do allow specific calls to focus on specifically religious topics and to promote religious themes.
As discussion continued, Paul said and others agreed that the Braille Forum is fundamentally different from our community calls. The group shared the opinion that there is a difference between describing a religious experience and promoting a particular religion.
Paul made the following motion, and Penny seconded it:
The ACB Braille Forum should, henceforward, exclude articles that give the appearance of creating an advantage for any particular religion. In particular, articles should not be accepted if they include a large amount of quoted scripture or if they are not narrative in a way that describes personal experiences, i.e., if they appear to promote one religion over others.
The motion was adopted unanimously.
Non-Discriminatory Language in ACB Written Communications
The Blind LGBT Pride, International (BPI) affiliate will introduce a resolution that urges writers of ACB publications to utilize non-gender-specific pronouns, like their and theirs, rather than gender-specific pronouns, like his, her, his/her, in conformance with more current style guidance that seeks to prohibit language that discriminates against people who do not wish to be identified by gender. Penny suggested that the BOP should express support of mandating such a rule, perhaps by mandating use of a specific style guide (e.g., The New York Times Style Guide, or the Associated Press Style Guide).
After considerable discussion, the BOP decided that it is best for us to simply see whether BPI’s resolution is adopted by the board. We hope that the board will endorse the use of non-discriminatory language, and if the resolution fails, then we can still address the issue by recommending, via the public awareness steering committee or our own BOP Style Manual, ACB’s adoption of a style manual that promotes non-discriminatory styles in ACB’s written communications.
Sharon said she would check with the AP Style Guide, which ACB already follows, to see how the AP handles this issue and share that information with the BOP on our e-mail list.
The meeting adjourned at 11:07 p.m. Eastern. The next meeting of the ACB Board of Publications will convene at 9 p.m. Eastern on May 4.
Submitted by Penny Reeder, Member of the BOP