by Charles S.P. Hodge

President Chris Gray called the pre-convention board meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. Central time on Saturday, June 30, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn. Secretary Donna Seliger called the roll, and all board members were present. In addition, staff members Melanie Brunson and Phil Strong were present as well as Don Stevens, ACB's parliamentarian. A number of guests were also in attendance.

Gray reviewed the proposed meeting agenda with the board, and he agreed to add a number of items suggested by board members. Paul Edwards moved to adopt the meeting agenda as amended. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Mitch Pomerantz asked Gray about the status of ACB's direct mail campaign, and was told that a mailing had recently been sent out along with an e-mail campaign to prior contributors with no report of results available at this time. Oral Miller inquired about ACB's involvement with the World Blind Union (WBU). Gray replied that ACB continues to be deeply involved with the WBU, especially with the North America-Caribbean regional group.

Treasurer Mike Godino made a joint budget committee report and treasurer's report to the board, setting forth ACB's year-to-date financial situation which, after the first five months of 2007, is promising for the rest of the 2007 fiscal year.

Seliger then presented the draft minutes of the May 23, 2007 telephone conference call for approval. Edwards moved to approve those minutes. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Melanie Brunson then reported to the board on the results of the survey on identifying currency which had been published earlier in "The Braille Forum." She indicated that of the 55 responses thus far reviewed, 18 use money identifiers and one uses the Optacon. Of these 19 respondents, 11 indicated that the devices used were not effective. Several respondents reported that foreign currency of different sizes and colors were sufficient for identification purposes. She stated that some recently received responses had not yet been reviewed and thus were not included in her report. She suggested that the results of the survey should be published in "The Braille Forum."

MJ Schmitt suggested that the currency survey be made available to attendees at this convention; however, obtaining board volunteers to man a table to distribute and complete survey forms proved to be a problem. Carla Ruschival suggested that beginning on Monday, the currency survey could be made available to convention attendees. The survey results should be available at the fall board meeting.

David Trott, chairman of the resource development committee (RDC), stated that "The Braille Forum" raffle was going well, and that the winning tickets would be drawn at the banquet on Friday evening.

Convention coordinator Carla Ruschival stated that she had a bid for the 2010 national convention from the downtown Phoenix, Ariz., Sheraton Hotel. Two representatives from the Downtown Phoenix Sheraton Hotel then spoke about their hotel and the greater Phoenix area. They indicated that their hotel was in the final phases of construction, and would be open to the public early in 2008. They indicated that the hotel was planning on a 6,500-square-foot guide dog relief area. The hotel will have a full-service restaurant as well as a Starbucks in the lobby. There are several eateries across the street from the hotel, and audible pedestrian signals are already in operation throughout the downtown area. Ruschival then asked Jim Halliday of HumanWare Inc. to share his views with the board on corporate partnershipping and seeking corporate sponsorships for ACB projects.

Halliday began by suggesting that one project which HumanWare would be interested in helping to sponsor is promoting braille literacy through programming on ACB Radio. Another project which has limitless opportunities and possibilities for corporate partnershipping agreements and corporate sponsorships is the American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment project which ACB members are being encouraged to support. He emphasized that partnershipping is the best path toward achieving successful project completion. Because HumanWare Inc. had contributed so much to the 2007 convention, Ruschival presented to Halliday and his company their "Ruby" sponsorship certificate, which equates to a $10,000 contribution.

Ruschival continued her report by indicating that the Phoenix Sheraton was proposing a firm room rate of $89 per night for 2010. Bradley then moved to authorize the convention coordinator to go forward with the bid for 2010 from the Phoenix Sheraton Hotel provided that the on-site inspection, to be conducted after the facility is open to the public in 2008, proves to be satisfactory. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ruschival indicated that while the Hyatt Regency Hotel has been most accommodating in resolving problems, convention attendees were unable to connect to the Internet from their guest rooms. Ray Campbell volunteered to follow up with the hotel in order to work out the bugs in the hotel's computer access system. Ruschival concluded her report by informing the board that the Convention Ear has successfully been resurrected and will be operational during this convention.

Brunson reported that all category one 2006 resolutions have been capably handled by our new legislative and governmental affairs director, Eric Bridges. She added that the category two 2006 convention resolutions are currently being worked on. She then made a brief report on the lawsuit filed by Independent Living Aids (ILA) against the American Council of the Blind and its president, Christopher Gray, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The article which appeared in the April 2007 edition of "The Braille Forum" written by President Gray will in all likelihood be taken down from the ACB web site until further notice. (That decision would be made by the board of publications at its meeting July 1, 2007.) Paul Edwards moved that the board recommend to the board of publications that the article in question be removed from the web site until the conclusion of the litigation. Edwards noted that a statement will be prepared in consultation with our attorneys to appear in the place of the article in question on the web site. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Ray Campbell then moved to recess the board meeting and to convene a corporate membership meeting of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services, Inc. (ACBES). The motion carried on a voice vote. Michael Garrett, chairman of the ACBES board, opened the meeting by informing the members that a member of the ACBES board of directors has resigned. He recommended that David Trott be elected to fill this vacant position. By consensus, the members decided to leave that seat empty until the next corporate membership meeting, which is being planned for September. Garrett reported that the store managers were brought to Minneapolis for a two-day meeting in March, and that he felt that they were given useful information which they could bring back to their respective stores and use effectively in their daily operations. He anticipated that ACBES would meet its financial goal of support for ACB for fiscal 2007. Ray Campbell moved to adjourn the ACBES corporate membership meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

As the ACB board meeting reconvened, Schmitt moved to accept the ACBES report. On a voice vote, the motion carried. Gray then asked Chrissie Cochrane of ACB Radio to address the board. She discussed ACB Radio World, which is envisioned to be a combination of Mainstream and the interactive stream, which will be heard in several languages.

The secretary of the American Council of the Blind of Wisconsin (ACBW) indicated that Nona Graves would be in attendance at the post-convention board meeting to accept a charter of affiliation with ACB on behalf of ACBW.

Charlie Hodge made a brief report to the board on behalf of the BOP. He announced that the biannual revision of the BOP's editorial policy manual will be presented to the BOP tomorrow. He also indicated that his successor as ex officio member of the board from the BOP would be selected at the BOP meeting tomorrow.

Lori Scharff then brought to the board a request for funding to meet accessibility needs, such as interpreters for individuals who are hearing impaired. She observed that this year, ACB has been very lucky to have had donated funds from AOL to fund interpreters for the deaf-blind members who are attending this convention. Mitch Pomerantz moved to refer this matter to the convention coordinating committee. On a voice vote, the motion carried with one dissenting vote.

Gray recognized M.J. Schmitt for her years of dedicated service to ACB in her capacity as a member of the board. He also singled out Paul Edwards for having been a valuable and contributing board member. With no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 1:30 p.m. Central time.

Printer-Friendly Version

Previous Article

Next Article

Return to Table of Contents

Return to the Braille Forum Index