Call to Order and Welcome
BOP chair Katie Frederick called the meeting of the ACB Board of Publications to order shortly after 9 p.m. Eastern on the evening of September 7, 2021.
All BOP members, except for president Dan Spoone, who is an ex officio member of the board, were present, and several guests joined the meeting as the evening progressed. David explained that, as ACB treasurer, he attends the BOP meetings as an ex officio member.
Approval of August Minutes
Cheryl moved the approval of minutes from the August meeting, Zelda seconded the motion, and the minutes were unanimously adopted.
No guests contributed to the discussion at this point in the meeting.
Editors’ Workshop Update
Zelda updated the board on the August 20 editors’ workshop. She said that the meeting was not as well attended as we had expected it to be (considering how well the first workshop was attended and the excitement expressed by many at that meeting and on-list regarding the scheduled August workshop.
After discussion, the BOP voted to change the time of the September workshop to 8 p.m. Eastern.
The September workshop was scheduled to be presented by David Kingsbury from Massachusetts on the topic of Screen Reader Tips and Tricks for Formatting in Word. Jeff wondered if we should turn it into a podcast, so that ACB members who are not editors can have access to the presentation. Zelda responded that she envisions the workshop as the first in a multi-part series. The MarkDown series that the BOP is planning to offer in the coming year will be a logical extension of this series that deals with formatting. Rick said that he will be happy to set up the podcast.
Zelda said she would announce the new time on the editors’ list, and Cachet suggested that she ask editors for their suggestions regarding additional topics, on that list as well.
ACB Media Updates
Rick told the board that he was looking forward to an ACB Media Towne Hall meeting which was scheduled for the following evening. He said that this would be the first ACB media staff meeting where Jennifer Flatt would be participating. He said that priorities right now include recruiting and training streamers, identifying standards for hardware, and setting up clearly defined processes. Tyson will be managing training for streamers, and Rick anticipates that Tyson’s role will expand, as well.
Jeff said that, at that point (eight weeks after launch), ACB media had over 60,000 impressions.
Braille Forum Report
Sharon had distributed the editor’s report in advance of the meeting, and had separately shared the October Table of Contents on the BOP e-mail list. The report is below.
Editor’s Report September 2021
Issue type: electronic
Page count: 96
Email distributed: 5,046
Email bounces: 51
Email unsubscribes: 1
Spam notices: 0
Email return rate: 1%
Email received: 4,995
* Data as of August 27th. Most bounces were “mailbox full,” “undeliverable/bad email address,” “vacation/auto-reply,” or “suspended.”
Issue type: hard-copy
Page count: 80
Large print distributed: 2,204
Braille distributed: 657
Cartridge distributed: TBA
Deadlines for the Next Issues
November 2021 (hard-copy): Fall free-for-all, September 24th
December 2021 (electronic): ACB and holiday traditions, October 25th
January 2022 (hard-copy): Affiliate Roundup - special-interest affiliates (and maybe some state ones too), November 22nd
February 2022 (electronic): “Touching Blindness,” focusing on the importance of the sense of touch, especially to people who are blind, December 20th
I am currently working on the October issue, and aim to have it out the door Friday.
I continue to record the information about ACB’s community calls into our phone system.
I am also continuing 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 have finished the year 2002, and am going back and double checking the braille files. Some I’ve had to redo entirely; others I’ve had to create a table of contents and add the page numbers.
I have updated the Job Connection for late August/early September.
I also updated the Washington Connection before I headed out for vacation.
Sharon Lovering, Editor
American Council of the Blind
Sharon said that she had checked with Clovernook and found that they do produce embossed braille in Spanish. She did not get a price quote yet and will also be checking with other braille producers.
Katie said that we, as an organization, need to develop a plan for producing materials in Spanish, considering all of our communications media, and determining when and how various media will be made available in Spanish.
At Katie’s request, Penny moved and Zelda seconded a motion to renew our contracts with producers of the Braille Forum for the coming year. Clovernook produces the Forum in braille, Perkins produces the magazine on cartridge, and Ironmark, formerly called United Book Press, provides the large print. We currently have two-year contracts with each, we are at the close of the second year, and all of the contracts can be extended for one more year. The extension will lock in our costs and conditions for one more year, and we will send out requests for bids, once again, next July. Sharon said that she will send our current contracts to the BOP list for board members’ information. The motion carried unanimously.
Katie introduced the topic of possibly increasing the length of the Braille Forum and what budgetary impact that expansion would have. Deb noted that the page count of the E-Forum is already about 20 percent more than that of the braille/print editions. It is possible for us to make the digital magazine somewhat larger because there is no additional cost for producing a larger page count. (If we were to make the digital edition significantly larger, then distributing the magazine on cartridge could become too costly, but we do have some flexibility with the E-Forum. If we were to publish the digital magazine in hard-copy large print and braille, however, we would probably have to limit the page count of the digital publication to match that of the current print and braille editions.)
We have promoted distributing the magazine via e-mail, since this represents a lower production cost for ACB. E-mail makes the magazine available to a large percentage of our members, but, as membership chair for CCLVI, Zelda pointed out that there are still a significant number of ACB members who do not have the skills or the equipment to access the magazine in this medium, even though e-mail distribution is more cost-effective for ACB. BOP members pointed out that there are additional ways to read the magazine, as well, including telephonically, and via podcasts (which do not require computer access for Victor Reader Stream users).
We currently circulate about 5,000 copies of the e-Forum and fewer than 3,000 copies of the print and braille editions, combined. It would be difficult to expand the length of the magazine this year since we are extending the existing contracts, but, each year, we hear from members that they want to receive all 12 issues of the Forum in braille and large print. Deb suggested that the BOP may want to conduct some research to determine whether there are a significant number of people who are unable to access the E-Forum in the formats that we currently provide., or is this stated desire for more diverse hard-copy formats more a matter of wishing than it is due to lack of access.
Deb also noted that, when the BOP inaugurated the process of creating themes for each monthly issue of the Forum, it was necessary to expand the length of the magazine from 48 pages to 80 pages, which is the current page count.
The discussion of page count and its associated cost morphed into a discussion of whether people are happy with the amount of visually available content in the magazine, i.e., taking into account ACB’s expanded focus on disseminating visual information in media like Facebook Live, YouTube, and on Zoom calls, do members want us to include more photographs or graphical content in the ACB Braille Forum? Consensus among BOP members at the meeting was, probably not, but e-mail Forum readers wouldn’t be seeing photos or graphics anyway, and so we don’t really know.
Deb suggested that, for Forum content that would benefit from including photographs, we could post photographs in other ACB media (such as the blog), where the size of photographs wouldn’t be prohibitively large.
Cheryl suggested that hosting focus groups, perhaps at conventions, would be a good way for us to find answers to questions about the length, formats and other readers’ preferences regarding the Braille Forum.
Donna Pomerantz, who was a guest, expressed gratitude for ACB’s recently expanded emphasis on providing photos and videos on media such as YouTube and in Zoom meetings. She said that the stills and the videos really help people who can see them to maintain focus and interest, especially in Zoom meetings. At the same time, she noted, we have to be a lot more cognizant of producing content that shows people who are blind (and cannot see how they may look on camera) in the best possible light. She expressed hope that the BOP will develop a process through which people who can see can assist presenters who cannot with lighting, visual presentation, and camera position. Terry Pacheco brought this concern to the BOP in an earlier meeting. The BOP agreed that this is a topic we should re-visit during coming months, leading up to convention.
Katie wondered aloud whether we still need to include a convention summary in the September Braille Forum. Deb said that, when she posed this same question several years ago, Kim Charlson responded that the summary is important because the ACB Braille Forum provides the organization’s only complete written record of events. During discussion that followed, members suggested that, since virtually anyone can now attend the convention and podcasts are readily available, the summary could be less detailed. Deb thinks we are constitutionally required to provide the convention summary in the Braille Forum, but the constitution doesn’t say anything about the summary’s level of detail. Katie will check to learn exactly what the constitution says.
Sharon reported that the annual bound compilation of each year’s Braille Forum has not been done since 2013 (around the time when we introduced the e-Forum). This is a concern from a historical and record-keeping perspective. David said that this is a special concern of the history committee, and he added that producing the bound compilations should be included in each year’s budget. Sharon said that Ironmark might be able to produce these bound books, and she will check with them regarding price and to learn if there are other book binders we might be able to use. Sharon produces an Adobe Design PDF copy of each E-Forum, and including the digital magazines within bound volumes would, therefore, be entirely possible. Penny moved and Cachet seconded the motion to ask Sharon to identify costs and producers for annually binding issues of the ACB Braille Forum in one or two bound volumes for each year, and to recommend proceeding with the production of annual volumes, beginning with the 2013 issues and continuing to produce annual bound volumes going forward, pending approval of the cost by the ACB Budget Committee. The motion was adopted unanimously.
Cheryl told the BOP that the Multicultural Affairs Committee will be preparing content for the April ACB Braille Forum. The deadline for submissions will be at the end of February.
Items for Approval from the Pedestrian Safety Handbook
The Environmental Access Committee is updating the Pedestrian Safety Handbook with some new material, and they have asked the BOP to take a look at the new chapters and approve their inclusion in the online publication. Katie will be sending us the new material for our approval.
Discuss Managing ACB Voices
The Public Affairs Steering Committee has asked the Board of Publications to help manage our blog, which is called, “ACB Voices.” If anyone has not already subscribed to the blog, Katie encouraged us to do so.
In discussing the blog, the BOP expressed these perceptions: Our members don’t yet understand why we have a blog, and they don’t think first about contributing to it. They don’t know how to contribute to it.
Deb said that Tony Stephens and Kelly Gasque did prepare a podcast that talks about how to subscribe to the blog. We could review that podcast and see if it might need updating or expanding. Katie will share a link to that podcast with us on the BOP list.
BOP members can also grab content from other sources, e.g., Facebook or one of the e-mail lists, and ask authors if we can submit it to the blog.
We can also promote it on the editors’ list since the blog is a resource that special interest affiliates might make good use of.
Zelda suggested that the presidents’ Wednesday afternoon meetings would be a good place to advertise the blog and also possibly a place where we can mine material for the blog.
Both Zelda and Penny offered to help with editing blog entries.
We will all be thinking about what kind of process we need to develop for populating the blog and assuring that blog items are appropriate, well written, and that the arrival of new blog content is predictable. ACB Voices will remain on our agenda for BOP meetings this year.
Zelda moved and Penny seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting, and the meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m. The next meeting of the ACB Board of Publications will take place on October 5.