by Marcia Dresser
The ACB board of directors fall meeting was held at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Phoenix on Sept. 12-13. All board members were present except for Chris Gray and Cammie Vloedman, who were absent due to work commitments. Several members of the Arizona host committee were also in attendance.
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 Saturday morning. The board voted unanimously to adopt the agenda and to approve the minutes of the pre- and post-convention meetings.
President Mitch Pomerantz has put together a task force, chaired by Jim Shaw, to determine how we can provide Social Security training for our members. All committee appointments have been made. Jean Mann will chair the credentials committee, and Lori Scharff will chair the women's concerns committee. After considerable discussion, an earlier motion, tabled since the May meeting, to transfer $50,000 from the general fund into board-designated reserves was unanimously defeated.
In her executive director's report, Melanie Brunson stated that the study on ways of making currency accessible contained erroneous statistics on blindness; there is also concern about the cost analysis. The Kindle case is going well. Melanie and Billie Jean Keith are testifying in ACB's Social Security case in San Francisco federal court. With regard to internal matters, Brunson reported that the phone system is now working properly; the greetings and the Washington Connection are now available in Spanish. Beginning Oct. 5, Barbara LeMoine will be employed full-time as a receptionist and as an assistant to Eric Bridges. There is a plaque in the national office to honor patrons, those who donate $100,000 or more to ACB. This plaque will be unveiled at the mid-year meeting. With regard to health care legislation, ACB is lobbying for accessible prescription drug labels, durable medical equipment for the blind, and Medicare reimbursement for the services of rehabilitation teachers and vision therapists. She concluded by reminding everyone to urge their Congressmen to sign on to H.R. 734 (the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act) and H.R. 3101 (the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act). Brunson's report was unanimously adopted.
Lane Waters, head of the Minnesota office, stated that Paul & Partners is the new agency handling ACB's direct mail campaign, which is going well. Mitch thanked the direct mail task force, consisting of Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, and Marsha Farrow.
In his treasurer's report, Mike Godino stated that although donations are down, revenue from fund-raising has increased. He added that it would be very helpful if affiliates could increase their donations to ACB. After going over each item in detail, Godino's report was unanimously adopted.
There was a brief recess at 11:45 in order to conduct the ACBES corporate meeting. When the meeting resumed at 12:20, Carla Ruschival gave the convention coordinator report. Due to the troubled economy, Orlando was not one of our biggest conventions, but it was not the smallest either. Carla pointed out that when too many events are scheduled simultaneously, none of them do well. The new BRL breakfast was very successful. All of the bills pertaining to Orlando have been paid. The board broke for lunch at 12:35.
When the meeting resumed at 2:05, Carla said Margarine Beaman believes that she can obtain many more sponsors for the convention if we advertise it as a conference. Conventions are often seen as frivolous, whereas conferences are expected to have more serious programming. Also, since the word "conference" implies educational content, employers are more apt to provide assistance to attend. Carla moved that in all materials pertaining to the convention, we refer to it as the American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention. (If we billed it as the ACB Conference, amendments to the constitution and bylaws would be required.) The motion carried unanimously.
Next, Marcia Dresser gave the board of publications report. Ron Milliman plans to expand the mentoring program of the public relations committee to include all affiliates; he also hopes to complete some ACB talking points and the handbook on writing and producing public service announcements. The ACB Radio streams are being moved to the new server; once this is done, the sound quality will be greatly improved. A monthly program spotlighting ACB affiliates is in the works. Paul Edwards has been encountering problems with the software he uses to produce "Tuesday Topics"; he is investigating other options. In discussion, it was suggested that ACB Radio air PSAs requesting donations to ACB and ACB Radio. (There is a PayPal link on the ACB Radio web site.) A student from South Carolina has put up a Facebook page that is not under the auspices of ACB. The BOP will need to come up with policies regarding Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.
Berl Colley has joined the web site task force as liaison from the Internet resource management committee. Five interviews have been completed for the oral history project. To be eligible, a person must have been an ACB president or active in ACB before 1980. The cost of producing "The Braille Forum" did not change this year. If we can produce it in DAISY format to be downloaded to the Victor Reader Stream and other digital players, this would reduce the number of cassette subscribers, which would lower production costs. This report was unanimously adopted.
Kim Charlson reported that there are currently 28 affiliates with representatives to the audio description project; Joel Snyder hopes to increase that number. The ADP has a Facebook page with 105 friends. Articles will appear in the Forum to help people understand the impact of the analog-to-digital conversion. Snyder spoke to Kareem Dale about producing an audio-described tour of the White House; Dale responded favorably. Snyder is also working on adding description to the videos shown at national parks; this would be done for a fee. This report was adopted unanimously.
Brenda Dillon, Mike Godino, Ray Campbell, and Marsha Farrow were elected to the 2010 executive committee. The following committee representatives were elected: credentials, Marsha Farrow; Internet oversight, Pat Sheehan; and public relations, Michael Garrett.
A motion was made, seconded, and adopted to revoke the Idaho charter in order to clear the way for any new effort to develop an affiliate in that state. The Idaho Commission for the Blind has agreed to send out a mailing, and PSAs will run on Boise stations from Christmas through April. A membership team will go to Idaho one weekend in May to establish a core group of people they can work with. The goal is that a new Idaho affiliate can be chartered at the 2011 convention in Reno.
Of the $4,842 available in funds from life memberships, it was recommended that $250 be allotted to pay dues to the International Association of Audio Information Services so that ACB Radio can become a member in good standing. The remaining funds should be used to make improvements to the ACB web site. We also discussed putting more pictures in "The Braille Forum" and on the web site as "eye candy" appealing to prospective donors. Any unused funds would be rolled over to 2011. These recommendations were unanimously approved.
The board unanimously approved the proposed policies pertaining to conflict of interest and confidentiality. (The conflict of interest policy will apply to the board of publications as well as the board of directors.) Kim Charlson announced that the revised handbook for the board of directors should be available at the end of the year.
A motion was made by Mike Godino, and seconded by Ray Campbell, that the proceeds of the resource development committee 2010 raffle be used for funding "The Braille Forum." The motion carried.
To close out the afternoon, Jeff Thom recommended that the vehicle donation task force be disbanded, since this program is going well; the board approved. From now on, Lane Waters will monitor the reports of vehicle donations.
The meeting recessed at 5 p.m. and resumed at 9:00 Sunday morning. The board started the morning by discussing strategies to assist affiliates in working with schools for the blind and legislators to prevent additional closings. The task force to study this issue, chaired by Ray Campbell, will meet again in October.
Regional training for affiliates is still under discussion. Melanie Brunson knows of some sources for grants we might be able to tap into.
We need to examine our current long-range plan before we can develop a new one for ACB. A committee was created to plan the first steps, consisting of Kim Charlson (chair), Melanie Brunson, Jeff Thom, and Dena Wilson. The current long-range plan will be sent to the board shortly. Pomerantz asked that we read it in time for the mid-year meeting in February so we can decide what we want to retain in the new long-range plan.
Suggested topics for the mid-year presidents' meeting include: training in database management; the new IRS rules (Form 990); disseminating press releases; how affiliates can participate in the oral history project; outreach to the deaf-blind community; putting newsletters into DAISY format; tips for states planning conventions; and questions and answers regarding the upcoming convention in Phoenix.
Each ACB officer serves as a liaison to one or more national committees and, at this meeting, they were asked to report on the work that these committees are doing. Many committees have not yet met, but those that have are working well together and well with their liaisons. These reports were received and accepted. A task force created by Pomerantz is working to determine whether all ACB committees should be included in the constitution and bylaws.
The ACB store is looking into affiliating with ILA and Maxi-Aids. We would post links to them on our web site, and ACB would receive a percentage of anything purchased through those links.
With no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.