by Ron Brooks
For the past several years, the ACB has been publishing two slightly different magazines. Each January, March, May, July, September and November, we publish “The ACB Braille Forum.” In each of the other months, we publish “The ACB E-Forum.” As the name suggests, “The ACB Braille Forum” is produced in braille as well as in large print and a number of recorded and electronic formats. And the E-Forum is produced as a digital magazine and made available in all the same recorded and electronic formats — just not on paper. In all other respects, the magazines have been virtually the same. They have been about the same length, have followed the same format, have included similar content, and have covered all the same ground. In fact, these magazines have been so similar, the Board of Publications has had a running debate on whether they are, in fact, the same magazine — just with two slightly different names
Earlier this year, the Board of Publications engaged in a soul-searching discussion on how we can use the different advantages of paper and digital formats to create some separation between the two magazines while improving the quality of each.
First, we concluded that as our flagship publication, and as the one that will be archived in paper formats, “The ACB Braille Forum” should be used for a larger share of historically significant material. Articles that tell ACB’s story, that convey ACB’s philosophy, and that will stand the test of time should be preserved in the print and braille pages of “The ACB Braille Forum” — just as they have been for the past 57 years.
Next, we concluded that the digital format of the E-Forum offers some tremendous and untapped opportunities of its own. The digital format will allow us to try some things that the space constraints of a paper magazine simply cannot support. Examples might include longer articles, articles that can link to related content — something which cannot be done in a magazine produced on paper. And then there is the idea of themes. With more space, those of us on the BOP concluded that we can dig deeper into topics that we have never been able to thoroughly cover within the space constraints of “The ACB Braille Forum.”
After working our way through this discussion, we decided to embark on an experiment. During the upcoming year, and beginning with this edition of “The ACB E-Forum,” we are going to provide some expanded content which is organized around a pre-determined theme. It is our hope that a deeper discussion of a specific topic will engage you, our reader, and that this deeper engagement will help to generate more thoughts and more conversations about the things that impact all our lives.
In addition to the introduction of theme-based editions of “The ACB E-Forum,” we will be running some new regular features within the E-Forum. You will be meeting some of our leaders, and you will be learning about some of the committees and task forces that are doing the work of ACB each and every day. You will also get to know some of our state and special-interest affiliates and the contributions they are making to our movement. Each edition of “The ACB E-Forum” will be a door that you can enter to connect with more of your colleagues around the country on a wide array of issues that are important to you.
As with any experiment, there is a chance of success and a chance of failure. Those of us on the Board of Publications recognize that some of our ideas will resonate, and others might not. Therefore, you will probably see the format of both “The ACB Braille Forum” and “The ACB E-Forum” evolve over time. As always, we invite your comments and suggestions, and we welcome your submittals. You can send any article, essay, poem, story or any other written item to the editor, Sharon Lovering, at [email protected].