Call to Order/Introductions
Chair Denise Colley called the meeting to order at 9:02 p.m. EST.
Board members present: Denise Colley Chair, Ron Brooks, Tom Mitchell, Doug Powell, Judy Wilkinson and Sharon Lovering.
Ex Officio members: Kim Charlson, Carla Ruschival and Bob Hachey were present. Denise introduced new Public Relations Chair Katie Frederick.
Contractors: Annette Carter and Larry Turnbull were present.
Guests: Ken Stewart.
Adoption of Agenda:
Denise read the agenda. Adoption of the agenda; Adoption of the corrected February 8, 2016 minutes; Concerns from non-committee members; Possible grant discussion with Jo Lynn Bailey-Page; Further discussion of ideas for convention workshop.
Judy suggested discussing how to deal with open BOP board positions. Ron suggested putting it under Other Business.
Motion: Ron moved and Tom seconded adoption of the agenda. Motion carried.
Adoption of February 8, 2016 minutes:
Motion: Ron moved and Tom seconded a motion to table the minutes until the next meeting. The motion passed.
Comments from Guests:
Ken wondered, given that the issue had come up in the state of Connecticut and elsewhere, about the disability symbol of a person in a wheelchair as an appropriate universal symbol. He asked if the BOP should play a role in any discussion. Denise responded that since this is a general issue, BOP wouldn’t be involved. Doug suggested Ken consider a resolution. Annette pointed out while this is the universal symbol, there are 12 disability symbols in all, including one representing blind people.
Ron pointed out this particular wheelchair symbol is in fact the universal access symbol, not a disability symbol. He indicated many municipalities, including his, have changed to the disability symbol showing a wheelchair in motion rather than at rest. He joined Denise in the opinion we needn’t get involved. Tom added Ken could write an article or indeed, pursue a resolution.
Sharon Lovering: Editor’s Report
Denise asked for questions to Sharon about her report. Judy asked that since we had no information about cassettes, was there a problem? Sharon said there wasn’t. Denise also noticed this and checked earlier reports; she noted that because of the process, the cassette version does go out later.
Sharon reported that in mail forwarded from the old address, a number of January Forums had been returned. Denise asked about the process when those are returned. Sharon tries to verify the address and forward the publication; she notifies the affiliate. But sometimes she must trash or recycle.
Doug asked about the “sync” problem. Sharon says she’s making many changes; Lane is working on the problem and hopes to solve it by tomorrow. Doug is having input problems as are (Sharon assured us) many others.
Bob Hachey: Internet Oversight
Bob mentioned an incident with a couple of somewhat racial comments. Also he is monitoring discussion about which presidential candidates would be good for blind people to make sure it doesn’t go over the line.
Larry Turnbull: ACB Radio
Things are going well with the new server. He mentioned a new show Eclectic Eighties with Kevin Miner Wednesdays, nine to midnight. Affiliates In Action is going well; they are getting lots of positive feedback. California and GDUI are featured this month.
Gate Wave Radio Reading Service in New York is shutting down, and other services are inquiring about some of our programming. Larry is still tabulating results from Audio Now. For the Presidents meeting we had 55 listeners and for the legislative seminar 45 listeners on the server side; on the phone side the numbers were 80 and 65 respectively.
Judy mentioned she listened on ACB Link and asked how those numbers are calculated; Larry said they come under the server side. Annette used Link as well.
Larry has added the podcast Sound Prints and will be adding another, Council Connection. He indicated that if affiliates are paying to store their podcasts, they could use our server. As for streaming projects, Bay State Council had 25 listeners on the server side; (no phone information as yet). The GDUI auction will happen on April 3, and the California convention, (occurs April 7-10) though they haven’t sent their request form yet.
Judy assumed we get nothing beyond good publicity when we share programs with NPR-based reading services; Larry confirmed this. Carla asked about whether we get proper credit through announcements, and Larry confirmed announcements are made at the beginning or end of programming. It’s the same standard as IAIS uses when programming gets distributed through them.
Katie Frederick: Public Relations
Katie reported the first meeting she chaired was on February 21 where they discussed promoting the upcoming convention. They hope to have Janet Dickelman on their March 20, call to discuss outreach in Minneapolis. They want to get information into library newsletters. They also want to publicize specific convention events more widely to local media. The PR Committee will not have a workshop at convention in order to focus on these outreach efforts. Katie said their calls are at 9 PM.
Carla Ruschival: Social Media
We have 1,289 Twitter followers and 1,871 FaceBook followers. Carla indicated that Kim’s post about Stevie Wonder at the Grammys just before the Presidents meeting got nine thousand reaches, the most ever for a single post. Annette shared how effective that post was by telling us she read about it on an email list and then because of the time difference, was able to tune in the broadcast. Kim shared she has gotten permission to reprint the article as her president’s message in the next Forum.
The Responses Team has finished; she is in the process of setting up a Go To Meeting call with site testers, both low vision and screen readers.
Possible grant discussion with Jo Lynn Bailey-Page.
Denise and Doug met with Jo Lynn (our newest grant writer) and Dan Spoone. They brought her up to speed about the BOP and what it does; they discussed areas where they saw possibilities for securing additional funding. They talked about the upcoming transition to cartridge as one area where we might need funding. Denise expressed her ongoing concern that by issuing the E-Forum on the cartridge along with the regular Braille Forum, we are leaving braille readers out. Perhaps in the future, we can create a more even playing field for braille readers.
Carla stated that since we run a deficit for the entire production of The Forum, any grant should be for that purpose.
Ron commented that when we started discussion of adding the E-Forum to the cartridges, we decided we could easily do this and with no additional cost. Now we are possibly boxing ourselves back into the corner of “We would rather see you not provide access for anybody than not provide it for everybody.” If that’s the way the organization wants it, then we should look at pricing the Forum by issue; so we we fully fund our budget to produce the hardcopy issues, and until or unless we’re able to do that, we don’t do anything else except what we can do for free, which is basically electronic or telephone. So if we want to add an E-Forum issue, we add it in all formats when we have the budget to do so. We try to do something that benefits the membership, and then that part of the membership which isn’t benefited basically says that we’re not taking care of them too. It’s a no-win situation.
Denise agreed we can’t box ourselves in. She reiterated her point in their meeting was that we have a simple way of making material available to audio users. Ron stated we have to decide which way we want to go. Do we want to provide the maximum amount of access and information: recognizing that will create some unevenness for people who rely on hard copy? Or do we want to take the hard-line position that we will only provide access when we can provide equal access? We need to make that decision; there are winners and losers for both.
Tom pointed out we’ve begun this discussion before, and we may or may not want to continue it now. Ron asked what are the decision points; what are we working toward; is there something we need to do? To Tom’s point, the time to have the discussion is when there’s a reason to have it.
Denise said there is no urgency for a discussion as they were just getting some things on the table. Ron asked because he reminded us our survey showed some are willing to pay for the Forum. What are we doing to maximize our own revenue? Judy reiterated our first obligation is to fund the Forum in general; so if any grants are sought, they should be to support that endeavor.
Denise stated we’re all correct in that we need to have this discussion and make some decisions once-and-for-all about what direction we want to go and then look at what resources we already have to increase what we’re doing. She would like to establish some agenda time for that discussion.
Doug added that until the situation changes, he thinks we’ve made the decisions that need to be made. If additional funds come in, then we can discuss how to allocate them. But we have moved ahead with the cartridges through the Chase grant. We probably can’t ever totally finalize decisions since things change and consequently so do decisions.
Denise stated that she felt she was being asked for something specific. So if we do want to seek general funding for the Forum, we need to make that appeal attractive. She has given Jo Lynn numbers.
Doug Powell: Board Update
After the Fall board meeting, a committee was put together to develop an RFP about the appearance of, and our presence on our website. That RFP has ben distributed; they’re looking at avenues to improve how we present ourselves. He further reported the Board voted to fold NELDS (National Education and Legal Defense Services) into ACB. It is being dissolved as a separate entity, but its money will still be used for the purposes NELDS represents.
Further discussion of ideas for convention workshop.
Denise opened discussion about further workshop ideas. Judy asked about Doug’s radio reporter contact Bob Fuss; she thought that was a great idea. Doug said he would proceed if the group wished. Before proceeding with that, Ron threw out another idea. He proposed a workshop on business writing: not the mechanics but tips and tricks: appropriate applications; how it can be used; how it can be made impactful. This means finding a presenter. First we need a topic, then we can deal with finding a speaker.
Tom asked why business writing? Ron responded because he reads so much bad writing. Business writing applies in so many situations: it’s how you write letters, grants, press releases, media advisories, resolutions. It’s knowing how to put your sentences together; how to formulate clear, concise ideas in few words.
Tom wondered if we want to do that or attempt another workshop, as we’ve done in the past, on journalistic writing. Tom worries the topic will be a turn-off. Ron agreed, adding it’s frustrating because the thing people could probably most benefit from is perhaps the least interesting.
Ron then suggested something like, “Saying More With Less”; saying more with fewer words. Tom thought that might work.
Judy thought that if we had a good speaker, that would get lots more folks in the room. But we don’t have anyone in mind. Denise added if we had a good instructor or speaker, we could market that. Ron thought perhaps an NPR type could deliver the message: saying more with less. Ron offered to reach out to Janet Dickelman. Tom’s suggestion of waiting until the PR meeting to talk with her was discarded because of time constraints. Denise reminded us the key issue is whether we can find someone; then we can think about descriptors. Tom wondered if Deborah Kendrick might be of use. Katie says she is from Ohio and active in NFB so timing might be an issue. We decided not to pursue this option. Doug suggested we ask someone from Hadley; they have business writing courses. Ron reiterated it depends on how good a speaker we could get. He urged us to reconsider a local media person. We still have some time, and such a person would have flair and be a good draw. Katie suggested perhaps a local college professor. Judy came back to suggesting Ron contact Janet. Denise asked if we all agreed on the topic “Saying More With Less” which Ron pointed out goes beyond writing to communications: social media, talking, whatever. She asked Ron to contact Janet and urged us to watch the email so we can stay on top of this.
Annette reminded us to keep titles short, and when Tom stated this title is four words, she explained she meant the entire description.
Doug stated he has decided not to run for an ACB Board position but to run again for the BOP. Denise suggested that we don’t need to say anything about open seats; it’s enough to state there are three elected positions on the Board of Publications, and all three are up for election. She reminded us of her remarks at the Presidents meeting about planning to run for the ACB board or BOP in time to make candidate statements or appear at the Candidates Forum.
Judy asked us to review how we are going to deal with questions for the Candidates Forum. Ron, in charge of questions, reminded us that those not running for the Board will deal with those questions, and Ron will work with Denise for the BOP candidate questions. Tom clarified he will not be running. Because Denise is running for a Board position, Ron is working on the Forum article. Since Judy won’t know if she can run until after the California election, she will not serve on the question group for either category.
Denise said we need to encourage people to run for the BOP and defuse the notion that one has to be a good writer or that serving is difficult. Katie added there are misconceptions about what the BOP is and does. We agreed probably the person should be a good writer, but Denise pointed out we need other skills too. Katie suggested better marketing of the BOP; Ron added the position doesn’t sound sexy, but it is exciting. It’s not so much about writing but rather about messaging. Waiting to appeal for BOP candidates until convention is too late. We need to work year-round. We need to better convey what we want. We haven’t found the right way to do that. Doug suggested putting something about this matter in the upcoming article which Ron is working on. Annette pointed out our web page is under utilized, that we should use that more. All agreed this is a good idea.
Doug voiced a concern raised by Mitch Pomerantz about the “Here And There” column. He asserts it contains too many submissions that look like direct advertising which might jeopardize our free matter status. Mitch suggests creating guidelines. Doug said Tony Stephens who has taken some business type courses would help. Denise suggested forming a committee to work on guidelines. Tom and Doug agreed to form such a committee.
Motion: Tom moved and Ron and Doug seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion passed, and the meeting was adjourned at 10:26 PM EST, just in time for Rob Hill to announce his presence on the call.