Call to Order and Introductions
BOP Chair Deb Cook Lewis called the meeting of the BOP to order at 9:02 p.m. Eastern. Board members Deb, Penny, Zelda, Susan, and Paul were present, as well as ACB President, Dan Spoone, Sharon, Jeff, Debbie, Jason, and Katie. There were a number of guests, many of whom had been alerted to the meeting by the community calls notice distributed by Cindy Hollis.
Adoption of the Agenda for the September 1, 2020, ACB Board of Publications Meeting
Paul moved adoption of the meeting agenda, and Zelda seconded the motion. Approval was unanimous.
Approval of the Minutes for the August 4, 2020 meeting of the ACB Board of Publications
The board thanked Susan for preparing excellent minutes from our August meeting. Paul moved, and Penny seconded the motion to approve the minutes with no additions or corrections. The motion carried unanimously.
Open Forum – Opportunity for guests to comment on non-agendized items
No issues were introduced for discussion.
Recommendations from the ACB Public Awareness Steering Committee on Email list reorganization
Katie presented the Public Awareness Steering Committee’s recommendations regarding re-organization of ACB’s e-mail discussion lists. The committee’s goals are to consolidate our various lists, to reduce so many duplications of messages and announcements, and to provide a more uniform communications experience for our members across the organization.
At an early August steering committee meeting, Deb volunteered to monitor communications on our lists to collect data concerning list traffic, to discover how lists are being used, and to identify trends. Deb found that discussion on ACB-Chat is political in nature, not necessarily related to blindness or to ACB’s mission or goals, and that many messages appear to be forwarded from other lists outside the blindness community. There are about 100 members, but only about ten are posting messages regularly. The steering committee, recognizing that there are many other venues on the internet where topics like those that seem to dominate our chat list are welcomed, recommends that the ACB-Chat list be closed.
Paul pointed out that the chat list was originally created for exactly the kinds of discussions that seem to be taking place there now.
Deb and Katie indicated that the steering committee has no quarrel with political discussions taking place among ACB members, but that the committee is reluctant to associate our ACB name with these kinds of sometimes controversial postings.
Paul said that, with some reluctance, he would move to approve the steering committee’s recommendation to close ACB-Chat. Penny said that, with the same reluctance, she would second the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Deb told the BOP that she would post an announcement that ACB-Chat is closing immediately after the BOP meeting concluded and to leave that up for an hour, after which she expected to ask Jason to close the list.
Deb and Katie discussed the ACB-L list and ACB-Leadership. There are around 150 members on ACB-L and approximately 100 postings per month. Many messages from Leadership appear and reappear, often several times, on ACB-L.
The steering committee envisions ACB-L becoming a list for conversation. With the re-branding of ACB-L, the committee believes the list can be an appropriate place for posting announcements, sharing information, and encouraging on-list discussions of both.
Right now, Deb said, about 90 percent of the information that is posted on Leadership is information that any member of ACB might want to see, i.e., it is not information that would be specifically interesting to ACB affiliate leaders. Some leaders who are subscribed to that list do a great job of forwarding messages from Leadership to their members; others do not. As a consequence, members who belong to several affiliates may find lots of message duplication, and, on the other hand, members of some affiliates may see very few messages from Leadership. We want to tackle both situations by encouraging all of our members to join ACB-L, and by utilizing the re-branded ACB-L list for disseminating announcements and ACB-shared information and many of the other kinds of items that are currently shared on Leadership.
Jeff expressed concern that many of the people who may be interested only in receiving announcements will not want to subscribe to the busier and more time-consuming ACB-L list and will then lose an opportunity to hear our announcements.
Deb said that, although she didn’t track ACB-Announce as part of her research for this investigation, she knows that very few announcements are currently being posted to ACB-Announce. Further, she said, that we are still utilizing our Constant Contact service for disseminating announcements (even though we are aware of the problems associated with Constant Contact’s inability to convey html headings in those announcements and we are still looking for a solution to that issue, we anticipate continuing to utilize Constant Contact for disseminating announcements (assuming that the html issue can be solved).
The disadvantage of the ACB-Announce list is that, as an e-mail distribution list, we cannot categorize list members or sync contact information for list subscribers with the ACB database. So, if we can resolve the problems with Constant Contact’s inability to include headings in the announcements that are disseminated by them, we plan to discontinue ACB-Announce and rely exclusively on Constant Contact for disseminating announcements.
Deb said that there is an easy way for JAWS users to go through gmail messages quickly, and she can provide training for our members who use gmail to access lists like ACB-L to help them cope with expected increased message volume on that list as it grows in membership and postings increase.
Paul made a motion that ACB-Conversation replace ACB-L, with appropriate marketing/fanfare, and appropriate guidelines that the BOP would have an opportunity to approve, before the change occurs. Zelda seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
When the discussion moved to the ACB Leadership list, Katie and Dan explained that, during Kim’s administration, the board approved a change in membership guidelines for that list that allows an affiliate president to appoint more than three members as Leadership list participants. Therefore, any changes that are proposed for Leadership will need to be brought to the ACB Board for approval. Another factor in the make-up of Leadership is that, once they are subscribed, members tend to remain on the list indefinitely.
The steering committee is considering changing guidelines that would restrict membership on Leadership to up-to just three affiliate representatives. In addition, that designation could take place annually to prevent out-of-control growth in list membership and to reflect current status of affiliate leadership. In addition, topics would be more relevant to typical leadership concerns.
Deb said that the suggested topics that were included in the original guidelines for ACB-Leadership remain relevant and appropriate. Dan said that the list of original leadership subscribers included ACB board and BOP members, committee chairs, affiliate leaders, and ACB staff members. Terry Pacheco, who was a guest at the meeting, described the history of how the original Leadership list came into existence and the make-up of the list as it existed in 2001.
Debb and Katie pointed out that that description of Leadership in 2001 is exactly what the steering committee would like ACB-Leadership to return to.
Paul wondered to what degree the effectiveness of the leadership list may be compromised by the existence of the presidents’ list. Deb replied that Zelda had asked her exactly the same question earlier that day. She said that it could be that we may not need them both. Her recommendation is that we leave them both alone (once Leadership has returned to its original membership composition and purpose) and revisit this question after a few months to find out what the presidents think.
Zelda said that the presidents’ list fosters peer-to-peer communications, and she and Dan agreed that lots of mentoring happens on that list, but the topics associated with what we want Leadership to become are not often topics discussed on the presidents’ list.
Paul suggested that moderation of the Leadership list should really come under the purview of the Board of Publications. Deb reported that, although the BOP signed off on guidelines for Leadership which were revised in 2013, the BOP has not actually provided any moderation for the list. Paul and Deb both expressed the opinion that the BOP should be involved in this way. Dan agreed.
Paul moved that the Board of Publications support the recommendations of the steering committee that Leadership be returned to a smaller number of individuals whose membership will probably include no more than three representatives from each affiliate and that a set of guidelines be developed focusing the list toward leadership-related topics, and that a system be developed whereby the Board of Publications undertakes to assume some form of moderation of that list.
Penny seconded the motion.
Paul accepted Jeff’s friendly amendment adding this language: As a component of the annual membership process (where affiliate leaders submit their membership lists to ACB), the leadership list will be reconstituted to reflect each affiliate president’s designation of three people to participate on ACB-Leadership.
The motion carried unanimously.
Deb said that the hope is to get these recommendations for making changes in ACB-L and Leadership onto the board meeting agenda for the November 13 and 14 ACB Board meetings, and pending the board’s approval, we can anticipate making these changes shortly after that.
BOP Chair’s Report
David had brought concerns to Deb about uneven formatting that sometimes characterizes various ACB documents. Deb and Penny, who share this concern brought the issue to this morning’s steering committee discussion. To address this issue Kelly plans to provide some training for staff. In addition, the BOP can host a community call or a series of calls on the topic of formatting documents, particularly documents where various elements are cut and pasted from other sources. The training could also include providing some diversity training as it applies to writing, e.g., how to communicate appropriately to our diverse audience.
Penny said that we could decide to adopt a style manual that is used relatively universally, such as the AP Style Manual, or the New York Times Style Manual. Deb said that we can look at doing that, but she doesn’t think our organization is yet at a point where a style manual would be readily accepted.
These trainings could become topics for our BOP training sessions for the year: Format Training, Diversity Training, and Gmail Training. Deb said we will add this discussion to next month’s agenda. We can plan to provide these trainings ourselves or to designate trainers whom we sponsor.
Jeff suggested that other training topics might include Mark Down or the Writage plug-in.
BOP Editor’s Report: Update on ACB Braille Forum and E-Forum Themes
Sharon submitted the following report via BOP list e-mail:
Editor’s Report September 2020
Issue type: electronic
Page count: 81
Email distributed: 4,875
Email bounces: 269
* Many due to vacation/auto reply, account suspended or does not exist, etc.
Email return rate: 5.5%
Issue type: Hard copy
Page count: 80
Large print to be distributed: 2,316
Braille to be distributed: 656
Email distributed: 4,898
Cartridge to be distributed: 559
* There are:
846 active subscribers
197 have zero copies out
236 have 1 copy out
126 have 2 copies out
287 have 3 copies out
As of right now, it looks like 559 will go out in September. Perkins is planning to send out another reminder letter to subscribers with more than two issues out during the month of September.
I am currently working on the October E-Forum, and aiming to have it out the door to Perkins on Friday. I have also been working on identifying people in photos from the 2011 convention in Reno, and am about halfway through the four CDs/DVDs of photos.
One project I continue to work on is recording, in a box on our telephone system, a couple days’ worth of community calls [announcements]. I record from home on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. On Mondays I record the information for the calls for Tuesday and Wednesday; on Wednesday, the calls for Thursday and Friday; and on Friday, I record Saturday, Sunday and Monday’s calls. Sometimes I have to cut down the descriptions of the calls to get them all to fit in the 15-minute time period. Though it isn’t currently listed on the staff directory, the box is 1017, and you can dial that extension when the menu finishes saying, “For the Washington Connection, press 9.” At present, the calls come to my extension during business hours; I just transfer the callers who request it right to the box. After hours, it goes right to the box (unless I am recording it at that moment).
Last week, Nancy Becker and I came up with another method. We borrowed two voicemail boxes that weren’t being used – the one for scholarships and the one usually used for the national convention – and I recorded a day in each box. (For the weekend days, Friday and Saturday fit in one box; Sunday in the second, and Monday in the third box.) It is working better for me than trying to cram everything at Road Runner speed into one box – and our callers are liking it, too. After I record the new information Monday night, Tuesday will be in box 1006, Wednesday in 1007, and Thursday in 1017.
Sharon Lovering, Editor
American Council of the Blind
Sharon added that the October E-Forum is done. Articles are about 25 percent convention-related, about 25 percent ADA-related, and about 50 percent related to sports.
She said that she still has a small backlog of articles that could not fit into August or September. November’s theme is ACB’s core values. We need to share upcoming themes with members again.
At our next meeting, we need to begin working on identifying themes for coming months.
Jeff suggested the theme of “new horizons,” which would cover evolving ways to connect with ACB. Podcasts will be up on the new framework, and reorganized e-mail lists will be coming online, so this is an excellent theme for the first issue of the new year. The deadline for submitting articles will be around Thanksgiving, and Jeff will write the article that covers podcasts. Paul can contribute an article that summarizes the presentation that he and Susan did at convention. Katie suggested including some new ACB member profiles, and Paul suggested doing a profile of the Next-Gen affiliate. Deb suggested beginning a feature series that highlights the different types of community calls.
Debbie reported that ACB Radio is forming teams to interview new broadcasters, to plan convention streaming and to handle community calls. There are 13 affiliate conventions on the ACB Radio schedule for streaming between now and February.
Jeff said that over the next weeks, ACB Radio will be moving their podcasts to the new framework. They are about to submit their podcasts to Spotify, as well, and investigating the parameters for possibly submitting to Amazon.
ACB Email Lists
Deb told the group that, at the time of the meeting, she had no update on Bob Hachey’s health status, except for noting again that he had entered hospice care. Bob has managed our e-mail lists for many years, and we have appreciated his hard work and how easy he was to work with.
The BOP members agreed that they would like to send something to help Bob and Donna and to let them know that we are thinking of him. Katie will follow up with Kim Charlson to find out what will be most appropriate and let us know via the BOP e-mail list.
We have no current stats for August traffic on the lists that Bob had been moderating.
Deb had submitted the following report to the BOP e-mail list:
From: Kelly Gasque
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2020 8:48 AM
Subject: Social Media Stats for August
Lego Braille Bricks Launched for Students
783 people reached
60 likes and loves
Blind musician can feel conductor’s movement thanks to high tech baton
642 people reached
43 likes, loves, and wows
Apple TV+ show see looking for blind musicians
657 people reached
26 likes and loves
ACB Extended Hours on Be My Eyes
Apple TV+ show SEE looking for blind musicians
Blind woman offers perspective on setting boundaries during COVID-19
Website Users: 11,293
Website Page Views: 25,224
920 total video views
19 new subscribers
557 unique viewers
92.4 hours watch time
Katie had no public relations committee news, other than the extensive e-mail list discussion covered earlier in this report.
The Board decided to move our November meeting to the second Tuesday of the month since we will likely be preoccupied with election results on the first Tuesday, November 3, which is election day.
The next BOP meeting will take place on October 6. The October meeting of the ACB Board of Publications adjourned at 11:20 PM, ET.