American Council of the Blind Board of Directors Meeting Minutes June 29, 2018

Call to Order, Roll Call, Review and Approval of Agenda

 

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Friday, June 29, 2018 at the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri for its pre-conference and convention meeting. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:06 a.m. At the call of the roll, all board members were present: Kim Charlson, Dan Spoone, John McCann, Ray Campbell, David Trott, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Sara Conrad, Dan Dillon, Katie Frederick, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Doug Powell, Pat Sheehan and Jeff Thom. Board of Publications representative Deb Cook Lewis was present representing that body. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Kelly Gasque, ACB Executive Assistant and Media Design Specialist, Tom Tobin, ACB Director of Development, Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, ACB Grant Writer, Claire Stanley, ACB Advocacy Assistant, Sharon Lovering, ACB Braille Forum Editor and Nancy Marks-Becker, ACB Chief Financial Officer. Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.

 

President Charlson reviewed the agenda. McCann moved and Colley seconded adoption of the agenda as circulated; the motion carried.

 

Approval of Minutes

 

Powell moved and Bishop seconded ratification of the email vote adopting the February 24, 2018 Board of Directors Meeting minutes; the motion carried. Pomerantz moved and Powell seconded ratification of the following motion: “to refer Ray Campbell’s motion on board expense reimbursement to the Budget Committee for their review of cost projections, recommendations and feedback for reporting at the fall board meeting where, at such time, the board can devote significant discussion to this important issue.” The motion carried.

 

President’s Report

 

Kim and Mitch discussed the World Braille Council and World Blind Union meetings held from Memorial Day weekend to June 1, 2018 in Ottawa, Canada. Other regions of the world are moving toward braille unification, including the French and Spanish. Discussions also took place around making some of the punctuation marks more universal in braille, and there was lots covered regarding refreshable braille display products.

 

Mitch covered the WBU Exco and North American-Caribbean region meeting. Among the issues discussed were the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Marrakesh treaty. WBU has four strategic priorities: representation and human rights, capacity building including employment initiatives, regional sustainability, development and diversity, accessibility including access to information, technology and the environment, and resource sharing and partnerships including communication and collaboration. The board got to see the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Century of Change Award which ACB received. WBU will hold its 2020 quadrennial assembly in Madrid, Spain.

 

Dan Spoone discussed ACB’s advisory board. He discussed a report which had been prepared with assistance from FMP Consulting regarding the advisory board.  Powell moved and Pomerantz seconded adoption of the advisory board report as submitted. The motion carried. A copy of the report is attached to these minutes.

 

Trott moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the president’s report; the motion carried.

 

Staff Reports

 

Executive Director Eric Bridges began presentation of the staff reports.  Highlights included:

  • Marrakesh treaty, the United States Senate has ratified the treaty by unanimous consent, along with passing S. 2559, a bill that makes technical changes in U.S. copyright law to implement it.  The House now needs to pass S. 2559 to fully implement the terms of the treaty.
  • ACB has an intern from the American Association of People with Disabilities who has been working closely with Tony and Claire.
  • The new acb.org website has been launched.
  • For our Conference and Convention, we have about $348,000 in corporate sponsorships.
  • ACB and Cisco jointly announced at CSUN that the 8800 series Cisco phones have been made accessible.  There was also an announcement about this which appeared on the Cisco website, and a blog post written by Tony Stephens.
  • Eric discussed Apple’s efforts to put together emoji depicting people with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired.  The proposal for these emoji was sent to the Unicode council and was picked up by various publications in March, and all through the various articles, ACB was mentioned because of our consultation with Apple on the proposal.
  • Eric was part of a video put together by Microsoft for its Build developer conference where they announced a 5-year, $25 million grant program for non-governmental organizations working on Artificial Intelligence and its intersection with accessibility.
  • Eric and Tony attended the CSUN conference where they held many meetings with everyone from Microsoft, to representatives of the cable tv industry, to companies in the adaptive technology space.

 

Chief Financial Officer Nancy Marks-Becker gave her report.  Highlights included:

  • ACB once again received an unqualified, clean audit for 2017.  We had to recognize donations ACB was made aware of in 2017 that will be received in 2018.  Also, our audit was done at a higher cost due to changes we made in our general ledger after changing to Dynamic GP.
  • Nancy believed that the behind the scenes changes that were made in the Affiliate Member Management System (AMMS) made updating membership records much smoother.
  • Nancy discussed the Board Effectiveness Policy report which had been shared with the board previously that will be sent to BBB Wise Giving. Thom moved and Powell seconded approval of the Board Effectiveness Policy report; the motion carried.  The report will be attached to these minutes.
  • Finally, Nancy announced that our newest staff member in the Minneapolis area office is Nancy Christine Feela.

 

ACB Enterprises and Services (ACBES) Chair Michael Garrett presented a brief report to the board.  While we had to close the Milwaukee, Wisconsin thrift store, the remaining two stores we have are doing well and ACBES is in a good place.

 

ACB Braille Forum Editor Sharon Lovering presented her report.  She indicated that the communications center is running smoothly and offered the board an opportunity to ask questions about her previously sent written report. Regarding making “The ACB Braille Forum” available on NLS cartridge, it is going well so far. There are some individuals who will be getting a letter reminding them they need to return the cartridge before receiving additional Forum issues. Eric also commended Sharon for her assistance professionalizing ACB’s communications.

 

ACB Development Director Tom Tobin presented his report. After entertaining questions on his previously sent written report, Tom discussed:

  • Direct mail spring appeal, we sent out 8,413 packets in mid-March, gross revenue of $7,983 from 200 gifts, averaging almost $40 per gift. Only 2.3% return on that appeal.  Expenses were $6,263 leaving net revenue of $1,718. Tom believes the direct mail is starting to flounder a bit; he believes it’s due to ACB’s limited data file. We need to look into other avenues to acquire additional donors. Donor acquisition is about acquiring additional names and not generating revenue.
  • Tom reported we’ve added seven new ACB Angels in 2018, totaling revenue of $3,360.  Since inception the angel program has raised about $28,000.
  • Due to the unfortunate passing of one of our most faithful donors, ACB’s annual giving society program took a $12,500 hit this year.
  • Ross Pangere has increased his gift to the ACB Scholarship Fund to $22,500, allowing ACB to award three Pangere scholarships of $7,500 each.

 

Thom moved and Powell seconded that the board get a report from ACB staff of recommendations for changing our direct mail program for discussion at the fall board meeting. The motion carried.

 

ACB Grant Writer Jo Lynn Bailey-Page presented her report.  After entertaining questions on her previously sent written report, she discussed:

  • Two organizations have renewed their support for ACB for this year, the Aid Association of the Blind of the District of Columbia at $35,000 and the Dreyfus Foundation at $5,000.
  • Last year, we had about $222,000 in grant requests; this year, we’ve increased this amount to $383,000.  Jo Lynn plans to add another $10,00 to $20,000 to this total as we’re exploring opportunities with another foundation.
  • Jo Lynn and Tom have been looking for other ways to recognize our funders.  There will be two members of Delta Gamma in attendance at the Annual Giving Society reception on Saturday, June 30.

 

ACB Radio Managing Director Larry Turnbull presented his report.  Highlights included:

  • ACB Radio has steadily been increasing in listenership since last year, with the coverage of the Solar eclipse putting us on the map.  That event alone, including those listening by phone easily reached 20,000 people.
  • The same color scheme which is being used on the new acb.org website will also be used on the acbradio.org site.
  • ACB Radio hosted a candidates’ forum for the first time using the Zoom Cloud client, which Larry believes worked out well.
  • Larry will be working not only to get the new color scheme onto the ACB Radio website, but also rearranging some content so it’s easier to find.
  • Larry is trying to address the unannounced phone number changes we’ve had thanks to Audio Now.

 

Jeff Bishop gave an update on ACB Link.  The Android version is in the Google Play Store in beta form, so we’re looking for feedback on it.  It includes all of the features of the iOS version with an enhanced audio player.  The color scheme matches the new acb.org website.

 

Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Tony Stephens presented his report.  He reiterated the positive news we had gotten on ratification of the Marrakesh treaty. He also indicated ACB is still engaged with the Department of Transportation on service animal issues.  Regarding web accessibility, ACB and NFB will be advocating with several congressional offices raising concerns about whether it’s a good time to push for web accessibility requirements under ADA.  We are still engaged with work around autonomous vehicles

 

Executive Assistant and Media Design Specialist Kelly Gasque presented her report. Regarding acb.org, she indicated that the website is much easier to navigate and that pages are easier to find. Testing has been in progress since August 2017.  Videos and photos have been incorporated to enhance visual appeal. Regarding social media, Kelly reported we have 3,478 likes on Facebook and 2,367 Twitter followers. We are starting to use Facebook Live to engage more with our followers.

 

Campbell moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the staff reports; the motion carried.

 

Executive Session

 

Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board go into executive session to discuss personnel, legal and advocacy issues. The motion carried, and the board went into executive session at 12:12 p.m.

 

The board returned to open session at 1:43 p.m. President Charlson announced that the board had received personnel, legal and advocacy updates and that no motions were adopted.

 

Treasurer’s Report

 

Treasurer David Trott presented the treasurer’s report.  Total revenue year to date is $397,524, with total expenses of $412,823.  Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the treasurer’s report; the motion carried.

 

Strategic Plan Action Team Reports

 

The strategic plan action team reports were presented. 

 

Development

 

Development Action Plan team leader Tom Tobin reported that the development team continues meeting on a regular basis, receiving updates on ACB’s development activities.  They have started meeting quarterly with the subcommittee chairs updating the whole team on both successes and areas where they are having challenges.  All of the chairs feel it’s quite beneficial having goals, action plans and deliverables written down.  Based on all the subcommittee chairs feeling they need help with marketing and communications, it’s clear there needs to be cross-pollination of the goal groups.

 

Marketing and Communications

 

Marketing and Communications Action Planning team leader Katie Frederick presented her report.  They are working on several items including ACB’s style guide which has information on accessibility of communications, colors to be used and when and when not to use ACB’s new logo.  The team has worked recently on conference and convention related communications.

 

Affiliates and Membership

 

Affiliate and Membership Action Team leader George Holliday presented his report.  The team continues to collect data on what might encourage members and potential members to actively contribute to ACB.  They are also looking to find out affiliates’ strengths and weaknesses concerning membership development and retention.  Seven potential areas have been identified.  The team is going to address three now and others in the future.  Establishment of membership benefits, what do we give members when they join.  Establish a membership card.  Members could take advantage of membership specials or discounts.  The team also wants to find ways to reach out to affiliates needing help with retaining members.  They want to both see what we can learn from affiliates who have increased membership and learn from other organizations on how to retain members.  Finally, the team wants to recruit members from demographic groups such as families, underserved populations and younger people.  We need to personally contact members who are not rejoining, ask what we can do to get them back.  They want to work with state and special interest affiliates to identify a demographic group to target for recruitment.

 

Advocacy, Legislation and Policy

 

Advocacy, Legislation and Policy Action Plan team leader Tony Stephens presented his report.  While the team has not met as often as they had been, they continue to provide regular updates on their three primary goals:  access and independence for people who are blind or visually impaired, technology accessibility and accessible currency.  Based on the 2018 resolutions, the team will examine the issues it’s engaged on to see if changes are needed.

 

Convention and Meetings

 

Convention and Meetings Action Team leader Janet Dickelman presented her report.  During the 2018 conference and convention, 52 sessions qualified to offer continuing education credits.  We will be recording a lot of these to potentially offers for credit from ACB’s website.

 

Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the strategic plan action team reports; the motion carried. 

 

Convention Report

 

Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman presented her convention report. Highlights included:

  • We have 865 people registered so far for the 2018 conference and convention and have been able to accommodate most of them in the Union Station Hotel. About 200 hotel staff have been trained.
  • The fall 2018 board meeting will take place Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6 in Rochester, N.Y.  We will discuss 2021 conference and convention possibilities at this meeting.

 

Campbell moved and Powell seconded acceptance of the Conference and Convention report; the motion carried.

 

Board of Publications Report

 

Board of Publications (BOP) representative Deb Cook Lewis presented her report.  The BOP will meet Saturday, June 30 at 10:30 a.m.  They will discuss extensively where the BOP fits in ACB’s universe in lite of such things as the strategic plan and the action teams.  The BOP is working to allocate pages of the forum to discuss all aspects of ACB.  For example, the August E-Forum will discuss education.  Spoone moved and Powell seconded acceptance of the BOP report; the motion carried.

 

Committee Liaison Reports

 

Committee liaison reports were presented.  First vice president Dan Spoone indicated that during this convention, the Audio Description Project (ADP) will hold both its bi-annual conference and describer training.  He also indicated that ACVREP is working on describer certification with the ADP.

 

Other Business

 

McCann reiterated the issue he put forth on the board list, that we need to work on finding quality leaders to run for board and BOP positions.  Bishop indicated the amendment to change the numbers of officers and directors who can serve on the board from any one state will come to the floor once again.  Much discussion ensued around this proposal, with no consensus from the board as to their position on it.

Adjournment

 

There being no further business, Campbell moved and Powell seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 4 p.m.

 

Ray Campbell

Secretary

 

Date submitted: 9/22/2018

Date approved: 10/05/2018

 

Atts: Advisory Board Report, BBB Board Effectiveness Policy, Board Effectiveness Report.

Proposal from May 23rd Brainstorming Session on ACB’s Advisory Board

Reimagining ACB’s Advisory Board — Putting Commitment into Action

 

Table of Contents

 

1. Introduction

    1A. Background and Lessons Learned

    1B. Milestones and Accomplishments

2. Direction and Vision

3. Goals and Objectives

4. Membership

5. Proposed Pilot

    5A. Pilot Structure

    5B. Pilot Meetings

    5C. Pilot Reporting

6. Next Steps

7. Conclusion

 

Section 1: Introduction

 

This document is intended to present a clear path forward to re-invigorate and transform ACB’s Advisory Board. It outlines background and critical lessons learned from past efforts; defines a strong direction and overall vision going forward; establishes a set of enhanced goals and objectives; proposes high-level recommendations regarding the members we seek; lays out a solid foundation for establishing a small scale pilot in order to gain a better understanding of time, cost, and feasibility prior to implementing the full Advisory Board as outlined in our Constitution; and clearly defines a set of next steps to move forward in establishing this important resource for ACB.

 

Most importantly, this refined approach aligns with ACB’s strategic plan and allows ACB to focus its limited resources on crucial initiatives that will enable the organization to more effectively meet its mission of increasing the independence, security, equality of opportunity and quality of life, for all blind and visually impaired people.

 

Section 1A: Background and Lessons Learned

 

The ACB journey to establish an Advisory Board began in July 2013, when ACB President Mitch Pomerantz, proposed and the ACB membership adopted an amendment to the ACB Constitution to form an Advisory Board.  This effort launched the membership’s realization that the long-term sustainability of the organization will depend on its ability to recruit resources outside of ACB’s core membership.

 

This visionary approach focused on reaching out to individuals with financial resources and backgrounds.  Mitch encouraged ACB board members to identify potential candidates and the team prepared introductory packets with the latest ACB financial statements, Braille Forums, annual reports and ACB brochures. These recruiting efforts generated four Advisory Board members, but fell short of the goal of a minimum of 10 members. The ACB Leadership attempted to integrate these new Advisory Board members into our existing fundraising committees with only limited results.

 

This experience was a valuable first step on ACB’s journey to extend its resource capacity.  The timing was not right. The organization needed to stabilize its financial position, develop a strategic plan and create relationships with corporate entities that could recommend additional Advisory Board members.  The initial Advisory Board efforts are an excellent stepping stone for all future opportunities.

 

Without this past experience, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Missing, though, was the fact that at the time, ACB did not have a current strategic plan and we realized that we needed to have some of these crucial building blocks in place in order for an Advisory Board to be effective. This past experience taught the organization valuable lessons and we realized that in order for members to volunteer their time, remain committed and effective, they wanted to be part of something broader than fundraising. This underscored the need to more clearly define the purpose of the Advisory Board to align with ACB’s strategic plan and it would also allow us to more effectively recruit and retain committed members.

 

Section 1B: Milestones and Accomplishments to Date

 

Building on the work done by the original Advisory Board, on May 23rd, Kim Charlson, President; Eric Bridges, Executive Director; Dan Spoone, First Vice President; Katie Frederick, ACB Board Member/Marketing & Communications Action Team Chair; Roger Bridges, Former Advisory Board Member; Nancy Marks-Becker, Chief Financial Officer; and Kelly Gasque, Executive Assistant & Multimedia Design Specialist, met for an all-day session facilitated by Erin Pitera, President of FMP Consulting. The purpose of the session was to refocus the group on a concrete path forward and develop a high-level roadmap for re-invigorating the ACB Advisory Board. The results of this meeting are summarized below.

 

Section Two: Direction and Vision

 

Our overall vision for a re-invigorated version of ACB’s Advisory Board is to establish a voluntary collection of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences that enable the organization to be more effective by: 1) bringing in specialized expertise to professionalize ACB’s efforts; 2) filling in critical knowledge gaps that may be missing within the organization; and 3) bringing additional capacity to move forward on critical initiatives that are central to our strategic plan.

 

We see the Advisory Board as an opportunity to look outside of our own organization and gain a broader perspective. It would allow ACB to move  beyond our historical boundaries, enhance our knowledge, increase our culture of accountability, and improve our business focus. By forming a cohesive and diverse group from varying backgrounds, we can bring a fresh set of eyes to process critical business challenges – individuals that have “been there and done that. The Advisory Board will also provide an important avenue to build relationships with key advisors that can help us recruit new members through improved outreach, communication, fundraising and donations.

 

We further envision that this additional capacity will bring best practices in key areas central to our strategic plan, including, but not limited to: Fundraising, Marketing and Communications, Media and Public Relations, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Organization Design and Development.

 

Finally, if well organized and given a clear sense of its goals, we envision that a successful Advisory Board will provide a considerable benefit to ACB and will greatly assist the organization in fulfilling its important mission.

 

Section Three: Goals and Objectives

 

Through our past efforts, we recognized that in order to be successful, an Advisory Board must be formed in such a way that it is flexible enough to allow the group to cover a range of activities, but with enough specificity that it won’t deteriorate into ambiguity. Therefore, in alignment with the re-imagined vision for the ACB Advisory Board, the group brainstormed specific goals and objectives to give it a greater sense of purpose and direction. These proposed goals and objectives include:

 

  1. Develop financial management plans and recommendations for ACB, to include financial stability, revenue growth, and donor management.
  2. Develop plans and sharing best practices that enable ACB to increase recruitment and retention of members through outreach, brand awareness, improved use of technology and media campaigns to reach a broader audience.
  3. Develop information technology plans and recommendations for resources, equipment, structure, training, systems integration and systems management.
  4. Provide recommendations and best practices in organization design, to include governance and structure; roles and responsibilities; staffing and resourcing; and workflows and decision authority.

 

Section Four: Membership

 

In order to accomplish the goals set out above, we envision that ACB’s re-imagined Advisory Board will be comprised of a diverse set of individuals that bring significant experiences from a variety of different types of organizations and disciplines. We are seeking individuals that have worked at different levels within organizations and can bring diversity of opinions, best practices, and perspectives.

 

ACB has made tremendous progress in the last few years. Armed with longstanding relationships we have established with key business sectors, we feel confident we can attract an outstanding group of diverse Advisory Board members that will have a lasting impact on ACB. The following list provides examples of the types of organizations from which we envision seeking potential members:

  • Large Corporations
  • Consulting Firms
  • Financial Organizations
  • Marketing and Communications Organizations
  • Philanthropic Organizations
  • Academic Institutions
  • Specific Industry Backgrounds

 

Section Five: Proposed Pilot

 

In order to gain momentum on the vision, goals, objectives and types of members we have outlined for the Advisory Board, we propose conducting a phased approach starting with a pilot group that includes approximately 5 to 7 members over the course of 6 to 8 months. By conducting a pilot, we can gain a better understanding of time, cost, and feasibility of our approach prior to implementing the full Advisory Board as outlined in our Constitution.  

 

Section 5A: Pilot Structure

 

To begin, we propose recruiting subject matter experts that are aligned to a targeted set of our strategic planning initiatives. These individuals will have the opportunity to participate in the various strategic planning teams and within relevant ACB committees. By starting with a core group of 5 to7 members, focused on key priorities, we can gain solid momentum and work out issues prior to expanding to a full Advisory Board. The initial pilot will include a few members from the Executive Leadership team, as well as a staff member to assist with administration and logistics. During this initial pilot we propose seeking members that are willing to commit to a term of 2 to 3 years. However, ACB will retain any re-appointment authority after one year.

 

Section 5B: Pilot Meetings

 

Once members have been recruited, we propose having a dedicated initial retreat to onboard and orient the group. From there, we propose having quarterly meetings, along with an annual retreat focused on setting the agenda and priorities for each year.

 

Section 5C. Pilot Communication and Reporting

 

During this initial phase, we propose that one member of the pilot group attend each Board Meeting and provide progress updates.

 

Section Six: Next Steps

 

Given our current commitments and priorities and the steps that need to be taken to recruit members, we believe that a reasonable timeframe for the kick-off meeting is February, 2019. This gives us time to recruit members, provide orientation, and establish meeting and travel schedules. Once the Board approves the approach, our high-level next steps include:

 

  • Establish an overall recruitment plan – August 15, 2018
  • Develop orientation materials – August 31, 2018
  • Recruit members – September 1 to October 31, 2018
  • Pilot members in place – November 1, 2018
  • Logistics for kick-off meeting – November 15, 2018
  • Plan agenda – January 15, 2019
  • Kick-off meeting – February 22, 2019
  • Establish high-level meeting agendas, conduct quarterly meetings, and report and evaluate progress at scheduled board meetings – February 2019

 

Section Seven: Conclusion

 

The offsite meeting on May 23rd, 2018 gave us an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and develop a fresh perspective on how to create a dynamic, useful, and sustainable Advisory Board for ACB. We were able to define a strong direction and overall vision, along with set of specific goals to increase the likelihood of success.

 

With the approval of ACB’s board, we will move forward with the outlined proposed pilot, allowing us to adhere to our constitution, and execute our strategic plan.

American Council of the Blind

Effectiveness Policy

 

WHEREAS, the American Council of the Blind Board of Directors seeks to establish a policy on effectiveness assessment to help ensure that the organization has defined, measurable goals and objectives in place to evaluate the success and impact of its program(s) in fulfilling these goals and objectives;

 

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the American Council of the Blind’s board of directors adopts the following policy:

  1. At least once every two years, the American Council of the Blind will review its goals and objectives toward achieving its mission and will complete a performance and effectiveness assessment of its programs based on that review.
  2. Such an assessment will be conducted under the authority of the Board of Directors.
  3. The American Council of the Blind’s Board will receive a written report of this assessment:
    1. Describing the activities that the American Council of the Blind undertook in the prior two years to achieve its goals and objectives;
    2. Identifying the measures used to assess the American Council of the Blind’s effectiveness in achieving its goals and objectives; and
    3. Analyzing the effectiveness of the American Council of the Blind’s programs in achieving the goals and objectives.
  4. At the conclusion of this process, the American Council of the Blind, Inc. will revise the goals and objectives, as needed, for the upcoming term and will suggest means of measuring them.

 

Adopted June 29, 2018

 

 

American Council of the Blind

Effectiveness Report

 

The American Council of the Blind is committed to continuous improvement in its efforts to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life, for all blind and visually impaired people.  ACB’s programs and services are Advocacy and Government Affairs; Public Awareness; Telephone Hotline Convention; Audio Description Project; ACB Radio; Program Consultation; Membership Services; Scholarships and Liaison with External Organizations.

 

In late 2016 and early 2017, the Board of Directors and various stakeholders met to identify strategic areas of focus, prioritize these needs and then develop individuals action plans.  These areas were: Advocacy, legislation and Policy; Affiliate and membership; Convention and Meetings; Development; and Marketing and Communications.

 

Advocacy, Legislation and Policy

 

The goals of the advocacy, legislation and policy action team are to work collectively across congressional, regulatory and corporate networks to further ACB’s mission.  They have developed short and long-term strategies on a variety of civil and equal rights policies, to increase information accessibility and usability of products and services, and to work with the Federal Courts and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to gain accessible currency.

 

ACB continues to be on track toward achieving its advocacy goals and objectives.  ACB has received co-sponsors on various bills which have made significant gains; is working with the FCC on automatic descriptions of video images; the Department of Transportation on autonomous vehicles and on action impacting the use of services and emotional support animals; and with the Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services administration on employment concerns.

 

ACB has been working closely with corporations in an advisory and/or consulting role to make their products accessible.  Many of these collaborations have improved the quality of life for those who are blind and visually impaired.   

 

The advocacy action team seems to be on track on many issues important to ACB’s membership; however, because of the time it takes for legislation to move through both houses and the turnover of legislators that support our cause, it can be difficult to pass laws which support our initiatives.

 

Affiliates and Membership

 

The goals of affiliates and membership action team are to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of robust and well managed affiliates; to facilitate development of a more knowledgeable and engaged membership and increase membership.

 

Focus groups were conducted with affiliates and members to help identify areas most important to ACB’s growth.  The three focus areas of most importance are: establishing and communicating membership benefits; membership recruitment and outreach (specifically to populations such as families, underserved populations, and younger); and membership retention support for affiliates.  

 

To increase the value of becoming an ACB member, we would like to identify some benefits we could offer that are similar to other organizations, but also specific to the blind and visually impaired community.  We are in the process of identifying what benefits would be of most value to our members.

 

The Spanish-speaking population has been identified as an underserved community, so a committee has been formed which is working on establishing Spanish language resources.  This committee will need to determine the resources needed to offer information on ACB’s hotline in Spanish and to produce the Braille Forum magazine in Spanish.

 

To date, the affiliate and membership action committee is in the beginning stages of determining membership benefits and reaching out to the Spanish speaking population, but they still need to begin working on membership retention for affiliates.

 

Convention and Meetings

 

The goals of convention and meetings team are to provide virtual attendance so more people actively participate in ACB’s conventions; to implement a continuing education credits (CEC) program to attract professionals who seek to fulfill their continuing education requirements; and to better accommodate the needs of convention attendees who may need reasonable accommodations.

 

First ACB applied and was approved by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP) as an Registered Provider of Professional Learning and Education (RPPLE) category 1 provider of continuing education opportunities in the field of blindness and visual impairment.   Continuing education classes that met ACVREP criteria were designed and offered for ACB’s 2018 Conference and Convention. 

 

There are individuals who attend ACB’s conventions who need more personal assistance than a volunteer should be providing.  We would like to work with a contractor so attendees can find a personal assistant to meet their needs.  We are determining if it would be possible for ACB to be the facilitator who can provide names to attendees who would then hire their own assistant.  The signed contract would be between the attendee and the personal assistant only.  This goal is still in process.

 

Development
 

The goals of the Development action team was to develop a business plan to meet the needs of the organization.  Through the initial strategic planning process, it was identified that for ACB to grow, additional staff was needed to support ACB’s future needs.   A budget forecast was made to identify revenue areas which have growth potential and to understand how expenditures are allocated to our programs. 

 

ACB’s committees, which has appointed chairs, are developing a timeline so the committee members know what steps they need to complete, help identify where other action teams can provide assistance and to help them understand how their program/fundraiser fits into ACB’s budget.  The development team will have the committees report at periodic meetings to review progress and the action team will provide assistance in helping them meet their goals.  

 

ACB established a Legacy Endowment Fund and the accompanying policy around how bequests are handled offers structure and a formula for growth. These funds will generate income and, in the future, a small portion of these funds will be a source of revenue in the operating budget. 

 

A first quarter review has been completed of ACB’s projected revenue to budget and to forecast and fundraising committees have reviewed their processes with the development action team.

 

Previously, an Advisory Board was set up, but wasn’t successful so there was a planning meeting to understand why the advisory board was originally set up and how a revitalized board could help ACB by providing expertise which would help professionalize our efforts and fill in needed gaps.

 

Marketing and Communications

 

The goals of the marketing and communication action team are to publish an integrated ACB Communications Plan and recurring communication campaigns.

 

The initial step of the communication team was to create an updated logo and tagline.  This was completed in 2017 and is in the process of being trademarked.  The tagline “Together for a Bright Future,” and the newly redesigned logo provide clearer, more consistent messaging when communicating, both within the organization and with external stakeholders. The new logo has the letters “ACB” in all caps above braille letters reading ACB.

 

A key communication tool in providing information is to have an informative and easy to use website. ACB just launched a new website in June 2018, where the website has an updated look, is accessible for all users whether they are sighted, visually impaired or blind.  It is also easier to navigate and find information.

 

ACB is developing a communication plan so our audience is receiving a consistent message.  The members of the marketing and communications group have compiled a list of ACB’s communication channels and assigned staff responsible for each channel. The next step the group undertook was writing down a list of the programs and services ACB provides and points of contact within the major program and service areas.  This process takes significant time, but it is necessary for ACB to look at and understand the strengths and areas for improvement concerning communications and marketing.

 

Adopted June 29, 2018