Summaries of the 2013 Pre-Convention and Post-Convention Board Meetings

by Denise Colley

One of the responsibilities of the representative of the board of publications to ACB's board meetings is to provide our membership with a timely report of what our board is doing in "The ACB Braille Forum."  Included here are summaries of the 2013 pre-convention and post-convention board meetings.  I apologize for their lateness and pledge to do better in the future.

ACB Pre-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB pre-convention board meeting, held in Columbus, Ohio, on July 5 was called to order at 9 a.m.  The first item of business was the roll call. Brenda Dillon and George Holliday were absent. The minutes of the mid-year board meeting were approved.
President Pomerantz began his report by informing everyone that the ONCE president, Miguel Carballeda, was unable to attend the convention due to an injury he sustained from a fall.  He then reported that work has been concluded on the accessible prescription drug labeling committee; a report will be sent to the Access Board on July 10, 2013.  ACB will be further involved in the upcoming public relations effort regarding this matter in conjunction with the National Council on Disability.  A new member to the advisory board, approved via a constitutional change in 2012, was named earlier in the week. His name is Dr. David Stuchiner.  He is a medical doctor who is blind.
A motion was passed that a meeting of the advisory board be convened this summer

Staff Reports

Melanie Brunson began the Arlington office report by informing the board that ACB has received a grant from the Aid Association of the Blind of the District of Columbia, in the amount of $30,000 to fund audio description in the D.C. area, and to fund advocacy efforts regarding monitoring of Section 508 compliance and requirements.  Kim Charlson asked for clarification on the division of grant funding; Melanie stated and Lane Waters corroborated that the grant was a 50/50 disbursement.  Eric Bridges, who now serves on the Aid Association's board, clarified that the association has cleared ACB to use more than 50 percent for advocacy, if necessary.
Melanie touched on her recent WIPO-related work in Marrakech.  She indicated that the World Blind Union will be involved in next steps regarding the treaty to improve access to books for people who are blind or visually impaired, particularly in places in the world where there are not authorizing agencies such as the NLS.  The U.S. must sign and ratify this treaty, which will take effect only after it has been signed and ratified by a total of 20 countries.
Eric Bridges reported on various activities, including ACB's testimony to Congress concerning access to media. ACB participated in an undercover story regarding discrimination by taxi drivers against guide dogs.  A local TV channel recruited Melanie and Eric to participate.  While the story was local, it went viral, and calls came in from all over the country. Both Melanie and Eric will be filing complaints against the cabs that passed them in the video.
CMS coverage of low-vision devices will be an ongoing effort; it is moving slowly. Eric believes that this coverage will eventually occur, but more advocacy work will be needed.
Brian Charlson represented ACB to the Senate where he testified on video description.
All priority 1 resolutions have been addressed; some are still ongoing.  AFB and ACB have held meetings with Senate staff regarding the Anne Sullivan Macy Act.  Many pieces of legislation are being held up and the parent legislation, IDEA, is scheduled to be updated. However, there is no clear idea when this legislation will in fact be brought forward. It is hoped that the ideas involved in the Macy Act will find their way into the reauthorization of IDEA even if the act itself is not introduced.  This makes the Anne Sullivan Macy Act negotiations even more important, as these will help raise awareness of the needs of students with visual impairments.
The resolution regarding UEB has resulted in the creation of a UEB implementation planning group. On Oct. 16th, there will be a planning meeting held in Louisville, Ky., to which ACB has been invited by BANA. After that, more detailed plans will be developed where the role of all braille readers and stakeholders will be more fully designed and implemented.
Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities fell short by 6 votes. Sen. John Kerry is interested in continuing to carry this effort forward.
In her editor's report, Sharon Lovering provided an overview of her activities since January.  All information from affiliate lists that had come in were entered into the new AMMS database by the end of May.  She said she enjoys using the new system. She especially likes being able to export to an Excel file; many more of our affiliates are using Excel.  She provided a statistical comparison of "ACB Braille Forum" and "E-Forum" issues sent out, by format, for January-July of 2013 and 2012.
Lane Waters reported for the Minneapolis office.  The audit is complete and will be distributed to the finance committee. A meeting was to take place after convention with the auditors for finalization of the audit report.
Lane said the Donor Perfect database is working well, and he will work with Implex to streamline the synchronization of data to the Donor Perfect database system.
The thrift stores are still an issue. He needs to make a trip to Texas to look at new management in Amarillo.
Carla Ruschival did not present a detailed treasurer's report, though the figures through May 2013 were distributed. Instead she highlighted some of the most significant current trends. Our investments have been down over the past few months, but we are actually a little better off in terms of net difference between what we need and what we have.  Another reason that we are not taking a detailed look at the treasury for this meeting is that much of our financial activity now surrounds the convention, so we will gain more knowledge of where we are after it is over.
The next element of the meeting was reports from the strategic plan goal groups.  Carla Ruschival, group one, reported that our social networking presence has improved; a description of duties for administrators in these ventures has been developed and disseminated.  ACB now has a Facebook page, and they expected to send posts from convention. ACB Radio has updated its web site.  This group plans to be involved with the database improvements over the next year. The group will be submitting a marketing plan for ACB to the board for its review.
Dan Spoone, group two, reported that it is working to fill positions on the advisory board.  Groundwork has been laid to improve the functionality of the ACB Radio and donor databases.  Thought is being given on how to conduct e-appeals; e-mail addresses are being linked to individuals and as of July, we had linked 3,300 names and addresses.
Kim Charlson, group three, reported that this group is responsible for dealing with staff and volunteer support for the organization.  Issues which have been identified include staff benefits and compensation, ensuring that policies and procedures are consistent between the Arlington and Minnesota offices, and regular performance appraisals.
Janet Dickelman gave the convention report.  She reported that staff was working really well with convention-goers, and things were going well thus far. Many afternoon sessions would either be streamed live or recorded for later airing on ACB Radio.  The 2015 convention will be held at the Sheraton in Dallas.
The board then moved into executive session, where no action was taken.
The meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.

ACB Post-Convention Board Meeting

The ACB post-convention board meeting, held July 12, was called to order at 10:03 a.m.  The first item of business was the roll call. All board members were present.  After the roll call, the news was shared that immediate past second vice president Brenda Dillon had passed away after a long illness.  A moment of silence was observed in Brenda's honor.
Larry Turnbull, ACB radio managing director, next gave the ACB Radio report.  He provided listener counts broken down by convention session or workshops.  Overall, listenership was up from 2012, except for the opening session, where we were down.  95 listeners tuned in to the Candidates' Forum. We received some nice feedback from listeners. He indicated that all of the convention sessions and workshops which were either streamed live or recorded would be available on the ACB Radio Archives, which can be accessed at; click on the 2013 link, then access general sessions under one heading, workshops under a second heading.  The ACB Radio web site has been converted into Drupal and has undergone a makeover, with Live Events and World News streams added.  Larry acknowledged the team which helped him with ACB Radio coverage this year.
Jeff Thom and Mark Richert next presented the resolutions prioritization report.  This process is used to determine which resolutions need to be worked on, in priority order, by staff.  This year there are more of priority-one resolutions than usual.
President Kim Charlson began her report by repeating the appointments she has made to the board of publications.  They are Denise Colley, Lacey, Wash., as chair, and Ron Brooks, Phoenix, Ariz., as the other appointed member.  She indicated that she will be taking immediate past president Pomerantz's list of current committee chairs and his recommendations as she works to appoint ACB committees for 2014.  She also indicated she wants to expand the role of officer liaison to include directors as well.  She reminded the board that the fall board meeting will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.  The dates of the 2014 midyear board meeting, presidents' meeting and legislative seminar in Washington, D.C. are Feb. 21-25, 2014.  A suggestion was made that the board contact affiliates who have not had representation at recent midyear meetings to do what we can to encourage and help them to get people to those events.
Tom Tobin, development director, joined by phone.  He, Melanie Brunson and Jo Steigerwald, whom Tom has engaged to assist with grant writing, will be meeting to review grant opportunities, some of which have Aug. 1 due dates.  Tom has developed a five-page plan to generate additional revenue.  He reported that the last direct mail appeal, sent out in April to 3,600 donors, has generated $5,864.55 in donations thus far with a 4.78 percent return rate, at a total cost of $6,000.  He recommends that our next appeal go out in late August, focusing on back to school, with an end-of-year appeal after that.  Tom indicated if we wish to increase our mailing database to 10,800 which would be a threefold increase over the April appeal, we'd need to increase our budget, and he, Melanie and Lane would be meeting in the next 10 days to develop budget numbers.
Motions were made and passed that the board conduct a planning session either on the Friday before the fall board meeting or on Saturday before that meeting to develop a strategic fundraising plan for ACB, and that the board hold a teleconference meeting within the next month with Tobin.
Dan Spoone gave the resource development committee report.  He discussed the proceeds we'd received from the walk, the ACB auction, "ACB Braille Forum" raffle and appeal for donations during convention roll call.  As of convention time, ACB had received $60,000 in donations and pledges, with additional dollars still coming in from the walk.  A motion was made and passed to rename the ACB walkathon the Brenda Dillon Memorial ACB Walkathon.
Carla reported that the ACB Mini Mall had done well during the conference and convention, bringing in between $6,000 and $7,000.  She thanked everyone for their support and all of the people who helped in the booth.
Don Stevens, ACB parliamentarian, addressed the board.  He indicated he will be unable to work with ACB in 2014 after 10 years for personal reasons.  He thanked ACB for giving him the opportunity to learn about the organization and help ACB with parliamentary issues, helping us to do business in a more efficient manner.  The board thanked Don for his work and wished him well.
Jeff Thom reported that the voting task force intends to conduct a mock telephonic vote as they work through the issue of remote voting for ACB.  This will happen after a number of logistical issues are addressed.
Janet Dickelman gave a final convention report and indicated she would be taking suggestions on the 2013 conference and convention.  Several suggestions and questions were offered by the board.  Janet will begin working on the 2014 conference and convention, which will take place from July 11-19, 2014 at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nev. Finally, she will begin working with Dallas for 2015, dates of July 3-11, 2015.
Berl Colley indicated plans are under way for a second national leadership training to be held on Friday, July 11, 2014 in Las Vegas.  It will be a similar format to the 2012 training in Louisville.  He stressed we need to let our affiliates know about this soon so those interested in attending can plan on being there.
A motion was made and passed by acclamation to elect Berl Colley, Carla Ruschival and Dan Spoone to the 2013-14 ACB budget committee.
Following caucuses by both the ACB officers and directors, those elected to the 2013-14 executive committee include: president Kim Charlson, first vice president Jeff Thom, immediate past president Mitch Pomerantz, and directors Sara Conrad and Dan Spoone.
Dan Spoone asked that the board have a discussion of officers and board members adopting affiliates to help strengthen their relationships with them, and that such discussion take place during the fall board meeting.
The post-convention board meeting adjourned at 2:27 p.m.