by Penny Reeder
The ACB Board of Directors met on April 25. ACB president Deb Cook Lewis presided. All board members were present, as well as interim executive director Dan Spoone and communications manager Kelly Gasque. To listen to the podcast, visit https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1310-acb-business-112482640/episode/20230425-acb-board-meeting-113988831/.
Kelly Gasque summarized the results of the recent ACB Leadership Conference attendees’ survey. She reported that, overall, survey respondents shared positive evaluations of both the legislative seminar and presidents’ meeting events. The fireside chat received mixed reviews. Most respondents reviewed pre-recorded events favorably, and feedback from the currency rally has been very favorable. The tours and the dine-around event received rave reviews. After discussion, the board approved a motion to schedule the 2024 ACB Leadership Conference as a hybrid event during the first weekend in March, beginning with a board meeting on Friday, and concluding with Hill visits on Tuesday. The motion carried, with one abstention and one vote in opposition.
Janet Dickelman highlighted several convention-related issues which required the board’s attention. The first of these concerned adopting a COVID policy which involves adding language to the waiver that each person who registers for convention is required to sign. The language, which is based upon the COVID policy that VisionServe Alliance adopted for their conference, says that ACB cannot prevent you from being exposed to, contracting, or spreading COVID-19 while attending the event. By signing the waiver, which the board voted unanimously to endorse, convention attendees acknowledge and accept these risks. ACB will make masks and tests available to all convention attendees, advertise their availability, and encourage anyone who develops symptoms to test and self-isolate when appropriate.
Registration will open on May 18 for ACB members, and May 25 for non-members. The fee for members is $35; for non-members, the fee is $50. The committee has confirmed a remote presentation from BeMyEyes, and they have chosen a banquet speaker. General session seating will be open again this year. And because so few people had notified her of their intention to attend convention with young children, ACB will not be hosting a Kids’ Club this year.
April’s Mission Moment celebrated the important achievement by staff and affiliates of having completed membership certification for 2023. Both Deb and Dan remarked upon the Herculean effort that is required during all phases of the membership certification process – by affiliate membership chairs who enter the information into the AMMS database, by Sharon Lovering, who inputs that information, and by Nancy Becker and her staff, who complete the process in order to calculate votes and assure the accuracy of the results.
Koni Sims and Kim Charlson described the process they have been using to identify policies which ACB’s boards of directors have adopted since 2010 and to make the information easily available on a comprehensive spreadsheet. They recommend formation of a work group to address the policies, guidelines, and recommended procedures that have been identified, to verify where related documentation can be found, what needs to be approved or updated, and where and how policies should be stored and retrieved. For example, which policies should be made available on the web site? In the board’s Dropbox folder? Which need updating? Which are no longer relevant?
Koni and Kim said that the board needs to identify a protocol for going forward. There needs to be agreement on a process for following up after each board meeting. Deb encouraged any board members who are interested in joining this working group to let her know.
In her president’s report, Deb reminded members that the board will meet on Friday, June 30, beginning at 9 a.m. Central time, and that the fall board meeting will take place in Jacksonville Sept. 29-30. She is scheduling a telephonic board meeting on August 15.
Deb is meeting with all of the steering committees and will schedule separate meetings with ACB committees over the coming weeks. She encourages committees to make their meetings open, and is evaluating the process for recruiting and selecting committee members.
Deb continues to be very involved handling logistics for the coming convention. Acknowledging that her role as co-chair of the resolutions committee is outside the norm for ACB, Deb said that she will be handling logistics for the committee.
Dan reported that the ACB staff has begun to plan for the Audio Description Gala, and is continuing to plan for the coming convention. Staff attended CSUN and the VisionServe Alliance conferences, and AFB’s Leadership Conference. They have also packed up the office in preparation for the move, and welcomed Natalie Couch as ACB’s new membership services administrative assistant.
Dan said that the visibility ACB achieved as a result of our successful currency rally continues to reap benefits. Meetings with Bureau of Engraving and Printing administrators have resulted in a set of defined milestones for meeting the goal of producing an accessible $10 bill in 2026, and ACB was recently invited to attend a meeting with the United States Treasurer Lynn Malerba, who encouraged Dan to keep her informed regarding the agency’s progress toward making U.S. currency tactually accessible.
Nancy reported a net loss of $5,000 associated with the D.C. Leadership Conference. There were many aspects of the 2023 event which were different from all the conferences that preceded it. The rally was a unique event, and making tours available for in-person attendees represented a new direction for the conference. This year’s event was essentially a new and different experience for ACB.
Penny Reeder focused her report on the process for individuals to declare their candidacy for the officer positions that are up for election this year. Responses to questions posed on the candidates’ pages in “The ACB Braille Forum” should be submitted by May 15. Members can expect the content of those pages to be posted on June 1. The candidates’ forum is scheduled for June 14. Candidates can also prepare and submit short recorded promotional statements, which ACB Media will stream between scheduled programs during June. The convention newspaper will be called “The Schaumburg Standard.” The BOP is hosting a “Mix and Mingle” event on Sunday afternoon of convention week, and the group encourages all writers and potential writers and bloggers to come and share ideas and perspectives.
The board meeting adjourned briefly so that directors could assume their responsibilities to oversee ACB Enterprises and Services (ACBES). Terry Pacheco was elected as a new member of the ACBES board of directors.
When the board returned to ACB business, Donna Brown encouraged members and affiliates to register for this year’s Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk. Discussion ensued regarding persistent difficulties with online registration. Deb suggested developing a set of instructions to help registrants. Penny noted that the Foundation Fighting Blindness uses a form which appears to be more accessible; Donna and Nancy will investigate.
Deb encouraged board members to attend events at convention which have the specific goal of honoring members, such as the DKM Reception, scholarship winners’ events, the afternoon tea to honor mentors and mentees who have participated in the pilot program, the life members’ and Annual Giving Society receptions. Ray asked members to support leadership training activities as well.
The board went into executive session at 11:16 p.m. The session ended at 11:55 p.m., with no actions having been taken. The board meeting adjourned at 11:58 p.m. Eastern.