AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING MINUTES

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met for its fall meeting on Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, 2016 at the Nugget Hotel and Casino Resort, Sparks, Nevada.  President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 2:05 p.m. on Friday, October 21.  At the call of the roll, the following board members were present:  Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, John McCann, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Dan Dillon, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott.  Board Members Denise Colley, Sara Conrad and Katie Frederick were not present due to excused absences.  Board of Publications Representative Ron Brooks was also present.  Staff present:  Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Nancy Becker, ACB Chief Accountant and Lane Waters, ACB Accounting Consultant.  There were several guests present as well.

 

President Charlson turned the meeting over to Eric Bridges who introduced our guest facilitator, Liana Grassi, Vice President of FMP Consulting, Arlington Virginia to lead the board and other stakeholders in the first part of ACB Strategic Planning discussions.  During his introduction of Ms. Grassi, Eric disclosed that while his wife, Rebecca, is employed by FMP, she is in no way involved in FMP’s work with ACB and would not participate in any of the afternoon discussions.

 

Ms. Grassi took the board through an initial strategic planning discussion.  After recapping the results of board questionnaires that had been sent out to all board members prior to the meeting, the board went through a discussion and identified five key focus areas for ACB going forward:  Affiliates and Membership, Marketing and Communications, conventions and meetings, development and advocacy legislation and policy.

 

After a break, the board and other stakeholders divided into working groups to brainstorm priorities in each focus area.  Following these discussions, each group had the opportunity to report out their priorities.

 

There being no further business for the afternoon, the board meeting recessed at 6:25 p.m.

 

The board meeting reconvened at 9:06 a.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2016.  At the call of the roll, the following board members were present:  Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, John McCann, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Denise Colley, Dan Dillon, George Holliday, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott.  Board Members Sara Conrad and Katie Frederick were not present due to excused absences.  Board of Publications Representative Ron Brooks was also present.  Staff present:  Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Nancy Becker, ACB Chief Accountant and Lane Waters, ACB Accounting Consultant.  Following the roll call, several guests introduced themselves.

 

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

 

The minutes of the July 2, 2016 ACB Board of Directors meeting were presented by ACB Secretary Ray Campbell.  Trott moved and Pomerantz seconded adoption of the minutes as circulated, the motion carried.

 

Pomerantz moved and Bishop seconded ratification of the following four Email votes taken since the July 2, 2016 board meeting:

  • Approval for the ACB Mini Mall to engage in a partnership with ACB Affiliates for affiliate fundraising and other purposes;
  • Approval of the purchase of Dynamic GP Accounting software with related training and services for ACB;
  • Authorizing the ACB Executive Director to engage with a consulting company to begin strategic planning discussions for ACB; and
  • Appointment of David Trott to the ACB Budget Committee.

The motion carried.

 

The ACB Conference and Convention Report was given by Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman.  Highlights included:

  • Janet went over a comparison of revenue and expenses for the 2013-2016 conventions.  The take-aways from this are that convention revenue continues to go up thanks in large part to both obtaining new conference and convention sponsors and working with existing sponsors to increase their sponsorships.  We’ve realized over a 50% increase in conference and convention income from 2013 to 2016, while expenses have only gone up about 25% from 2013 to 2016.  This means we’ve seen about a 150% increase in net profit.
  • For the 2017 Conference and Convention, June 30-July 7 in Reno, Nevada:
  1.  Rooms will mostly be in the Nugget Resort and Casino West Tower which will be newly renovated.
  2. The ACB Conference and Convention Board meeting will take place on Friday, June 30, which is the same day as the first tours.  Tour details are being worked out, but there promise to be some good tour opportunities.
  3. Exhibits will open on Saturday, July 1.  aCB’s opening general session will take place Saturday evening, July 1.  Programming will take place from July 1 to July 5, with the all-day ACB Business session and banquet on Thursday, July 6.  Final tours will take place Friday, July 7.
  • Future convention dates, 2018, June 29-July 6, 2018, Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.  For 2019, July 5-12, 2019, Rochester, NY.
  • The board next discussed the proposed 2017 Convention budget.  Janet explained that while the proposal is conservative when compared to the success we’ve enjoyed over the past few years with the conference and convention, it’s necessary to take that approach as we don’t know how much, for example, in sponsorship we’ll get from year to year.
  • Janet read through the proposed ACB Affiliate Recording policy.  The board recommended the following additions:
  1.  Add language that indicates for recordings that are not monitored, if there’s a problem such as equipment failure, affiliates would receive a full or partial refund, with refund requests to be considered on a case by case basis.
  2. Add language to the policy which says that ACB is only charging to make sure recording services are available and to recoup estimated costs.
  3. Apply the recording policy to programs presented by ACB Committees as well as affiliates.  Committees will have to plan for this in their budgets.
  4. Add language requiring that should a sponsor be obtained to help underwrite the cost of Audio/Visual equipment and services, those requesting recording of programs acknowledge that sponsorship.

 

Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded adoption of the recording policy with the board-recommended changes incorporated.  The motion carried. The revised policy is attached to these minutes.

 

  • Finally, Janet announced one change being proposed to ACB’s pricing of microphone equipment.  That is, entities would be able to get a package including a podium microphone, a wireless microphone and assistive listening devices for $150.

 

Thom moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the Conference and convention report, the motion carried.

 

The President’s report was given by ACB President Kim Charlson.  Highlights included:

  • Kim asked Jeff Thom to provide an update on implementation of plans for dissolution of the National Education and Legal Defense Service (NELDS) organization.  Jeff reported that NELDS hasn’t met yet to finalize things, however, he and Lane let the board know that the funds from NELDS  have been transferred to ACB and are being invested.
  • Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded that ACB make a $250 retirement tribute gift in honor of Fr. John Sheehan to the Xavier Society for the Blind.  The motion carried.
  • Kim and Mitch reported on the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of the Visually Impaired (ICEVI) General assembly, held August 18-25 in Orlando, Florida hosted by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).  The program featured very relevant topics on such issues as the plight of refugees, transportation and employment.  Dr. Fred Schroeder was elected from the United States as the new WBU President, the first American to hold that position.  No plans have been made for where the next WBU/ICEVI Quadrennial meeting in 2020 will be held; Mitch indicated it’s very expensive to put this event together for all but organizations with large treasuries.  Dan Spoone spoke highly of the number of audio-described videos which were presented during the time he was present.
  • Jeff Thom gave a voting task force update.  There will be two articles published in upcoming issues of the ACB Braille Forum discussing the reasons why ACB needs to seriously consider remote voting, and addressing the issues and concerns which have been raised about it.  In March, a mock election and mock vote on a resolution or something similar will be conducted using the same organization GDUI has been using to conduct its elections.
  • The board discussed expanding who can be on the ACB Leadership List.  Pomerantz moved and Holliday seconded expanding the Leadership list to include officers and board members from ACB’s State and Special Interest affiliates.  The motion carried.

 

AS no formal vote was taken to accept the President’s report, it was accepted by consensus.

 

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

  • Through our nearly 1 year partnership with Microsoft, ACB has made good progress in updating our IT infrastructure and helping Microsoft to make more things accessible.  Both Eric and Jeff Bishop will attend Microsoft’s World Wide Accessibility summit.  Staff from both ACB offices have received Microsoft Surface Pro 4 devices and have been trained in their use.  ACB is working with a Microsoft vendor on migrating to Office 365, which will take time but is absolutely necessary.
  • ACB has engaged Louisville Web Group to handle website administration and other things to bring acb.org into 2016, to help make our site more usable both by people who are blind and sighted individuals.  The first thing they will work on is correcting implementation issues with the responsive theme on our site.
  • The ACB Parenting video which was released on October 7 has reached 26,000 people and has been viewed 13,785 times.  This and the other video work ACB has done has increased aCB’s visibility.  Eric believes we need to continue doing more video content.
  • Eric indicated that ACB received just under 500 responses from the recent Audio Description survey.  The data from this survey is already helping ACB in our advocacy work.  The data shows that there is not nearly enough audio description available.
  • Eric discussed the survey we conducted in collaboration with the National council of U.S. Guide Dog Schools and GDUI.  The 620 responses received show there is still much work to be done to address discrimination by taxis and other transportation providers against people who use guide dogs.  We are engaging with the Departments of Justice and Transportation to try to address these issues.  We will be taking these concerns to Congress and the new administration in January.
  • Eric indicated ACB will be working with wayfinder.org.  They have worked with the Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB) to help address wayfinding issues in the London Underground system as well as in Australia.  We will be providing advice and technical assistance to them, they’re wanting to work with us because of our reputation for advocacy work in the built environment.  Eric will share specifics of the technology they have deployed very soon.

 

ACB Development Director Tom Tobin joined the meeting by phone.  After asking for questions on his written report to the board, he presented the following:

  • ACB’s year-end direct mail appeal will drop on November 14.
  • For our most recent back to school appeal, we sent out 8,961 packets, so far have grossed $6,960, with an average gift of $33.62, and a 2.31% return.  We had $6,613 in expenses.
  • We are continuing to reach out to foundations such as Dr. Scholl and Hellen Brock for grants.  We have several foundations rotating out of the grants pipeline.
  • We are continuing to contact estate planning attorneys and bar associations to encourage folks to plan to leave a gift to ACB in their last will in Testament.

 

Campbell moved and Bishop seconded that the ACB Board Meeting be recessed to convene an ACB Enterprises and Services (ACBES) membership meeting.  The motion carried, and the board meeting recessed at 12:37 p.m.

 

The board meeting reconvened at 12:40 p.m.  McCann moved and Bishop seconded that the board recess into executive session to discuss legal, affiliate and financial issues, the motion carried, and the board went into Executive Session at 1:04 p.m.

 

The board returned to open session at 2:18 p.m.  President Charlson reported that the following two motions were passed during Executive Session:  Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the ACB Board of Directors authorize the ACB Executive Director to continue pursuing legal action against a major medical provider regarding accessibility issues up to and including

Possible litigation.  The motion carried.

Ruschival moved and Pomerantz seconded that ACB join with the Randolph-Shepard Vendors of America in litigation against the Department of Defense challenging proposed regulations regarding the Randolph-Shepard Priority, and that ACB allocate up to $5,000 toward this effort.  The motion carried.

 

Nancy Becker and Lane Waters presented the Minneapolis area office report.  Highlights included:

  • The office is working through the transition of staff responsibilities now that Lane is working under contract as an Accounting Consultant.  The office has moved to a new system for handling payroll.
  • Nancy proposed that we use the same Affiliate Membership Certification schedule in 2017 as we did in 2016, and if it goes well, we adopt the necessary changes to make it permanent in the Constitution and Bylaws in 2017.
  • The board formed a working team to map out what needs to be done to get all affiliates using the AMMS system.  This AMMS Transition team consists of Kim Charlson, Lane Waters, Sharon Lovering and Nancy Becker.  They will put information together to help our affiliate liaisons to reach out and work with affiliates.
  • Pomerantz moved and Thom seconded that the ACB Board AMMS Transition team develop a strategy to get all affiliates using the AMMS system by 2018, the motion carried.

McCann moved and Trott seconded that the Visual Status field in AMMS be reduced to two values, “Blind/Low Vision” and “Sighted.”  The motion carried.

  • There was discussion about incorporating an effective date for membership certification into AMMS.  This issue was referred to the Goal 4 Strategic Planning Group.
  • Finally, Nancy presented proposals for updating who the signatories are on ACB’s various bank and investment accounts, with resolutions prepared to implement them.  McCann moved and Thom seconded that the resolutions making these changes be executed, the motion carried.

The board agreed to schedule two conference calls to adopt the 2017 ACB Budget on November 17 and 21, 2016, with each call to begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

 

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.

 

ACB Treasurer Carla Ruschival presented the Treasurer’s report.  Total year to date support and revenue: $655,856.

Total year to date expenses: $874,796.  Carla also gave a brief update on the ACB mini mall, discussing the affiliate partnership and describing and showing some of the items that will be available to affiliates through it.

 

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.

 

By consensus, the board agreed to defer discussion of the Board Self-assessment tool until the mid-year meeting in February, 2017.

 

The Resource Development Committee report was presented by committee co-chair Dan Dillon.  RDC has set a goal of $65,000 for the 2017 ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk.  The committee feels that the Braille Forum drawing can be more successful if we can find individuals to sell tickets during the Conference and Convention.  The ACB Angels Memorial Tribute has been very successful thus far, raising over $16,000.  Other RDC activities have done well such as the roll call at opening conference and convention session and the annual giving societies.  Carla indicated things are moving along for the ACB Radio Holiday Auction on Sunday, December 4, 7-11 p.m. Eastern Time on ACB Radio.

 

The report was accepted by consensus.  Jeff Bishop reported that we have 1,800 to 1,900 downloads of ACB Link.  There are some must-do upgrades needed to the app, primarily dealing with push notification issues, followed by a User Interface (UI) overhaul.  Working to see if we can accept donations via ACB Link.  Jeff also reported that ACB Radio continues to do very well with all of its programming.

 

By consensus, the board deferred adoption of the ACB Radio Affiliate Fundraising policy to the November budget meetings.

 

The ACB Board of Publications report was given by BOP Representative Ron Brooks.  BOP has implemented a work plan to pull together all of the items they need to work on.  Besides all of their regular responsibilities, the BOP will be working with the conference and convention committee and other appropriate parties to provide feedback on the conference and convention program, both how it looks and how it’s produced.  They will be also looking at how best to utilize both the ACB Braille Forum and ACB EForum, and looking at the ACB Constitution and Bylaws to provide feedback on those items that affect BOP and their work.  They also want to work with CCLVI to conduct a large print reader preference survey.  The BOP report was accepted by consensus.

 

The board conducted elections for the following positions:

  • Jeff Bishop was elected as board representative to the ACB Public Relations Committee.
  • Pat Sheehan was elected as board representative to the ACB Credentials Committee.
  • George Holliday was elected by acclamation as board representative to the ACB Membership Committee.
  • McCann moved and Thom seconded that the 2017 ACB Budget committee consist of Carla Ruschival, Dan Spoone and David Trott, the motion carried.
  • The ACB Executive Committee was elected as Kim Charlson, John McCann, Ray Campbell, George Holliday and Allan Peterson.

 

The strategic plan goal group reports were presented.  For goal 1, Chair Carla Ruschival indicated that tAAVIA has submitted an affiliate page, with other affiliates in the pipeline.  We have 1,556 followers on Twitter, and close to 2,600 likes on Facebook. 

Goal group 2 Chair Dan Spoone indicated their biggest project is to collect all of the committee volunteer hours which they will be working on.  Goal Group 3 Chair Jeff Thom indicated they are working to formalize the process for mentoring new ACB Board members.  Goal group 4 Chair John McCann indicated they will be working on Constitution and Bylaws issues and issues related to AMMS.

 

President Charlson asked that board members with ideas for programming at the 2017 Affiliate President’s meeting share those on the ACB Board list.  She will also set some time aside during one of our November budget conference calls to hear ideas anyone might have.

 

Under committee reports, Kim announced that the current chair of the Environmental Access Committee has resigned, though he will remain a member of the committee.  She will be looking for a new Chair.

 

Secretary Ray Campbell announced that the Special Education Task Force is working both to get recordings from their last webinar up on ACB Radio, and planning another webinar on parental rights issues with special education.

ACB Scholarship Committee Chair Michael Garrett indicated the deadlines for scholarship applications will be moving up this year, and they will be working with the ACB PR committee to better publicize scholarships.

 

Jeff Thom mentioned there is a Multicultural Concerns Committee focus call on Thursday, October 27, 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, discussing overcoming obstacles to healthy living.

 

There being no further business, McCann moved and Thom seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 5:22 p.m.

 

Ray Campbell,

Secretary

 

Date submitted: 11/15/2016

Date approved: 11/21/2016

 

Attachment: Revised recording policy

 

Revised Recording policy for ACB Affiliates and committees requesting Convention Sessions to be recorded

Approved 10/22/16   

 The ACB Board of

Directors and Convention Committee acknowledge that there is great value to ACB Radio, ACB and its members, and to its special interest affiliate organizations and members, to capture as much convention programming as possible via audio recording. ACB general session content is already broadcast on ACB Radio and is recorded automatically for replay, archival storage and for other purposes. This policy pertains to the recording of other content by entities other than ACB Committees during the period of the ACB Convention.

The ACB conference and convention is structured by session.

7:00 AM 8:15 AM (breakfasts)

12:15 PM 2:30 PM (lunch)

1:15 PM 2:30 PM (afternoon session 1)

2:45 PM 4:00 PM (afternoon session II)

4:15 PM 5:30 PM (afternoon session III)

5:45 PM  7:00 PM (evening session 1)

7:15 PM 8:30 PM (evening session II)

  

 The recording policy recommendation is as follows:

 

 1.       All recordings are exclusively produced by the AV/ACB Radio Team.

 No unauthorized person may directly access any audio equipment in any meeting space, whether the equipment is owned by ACB, the hotel/convention space or a third party.  A limited amount of recording equipment is available on a first-come/first-served basis with ACB Committees having priority.

 2.       The nominal fee for recording is $50 per session there is an additional charge of $15 for each consecutive session.

For example if an affiliate or committee holds a program from 1:15 PM to 4:00 PM (2 sessions) they would be charged $65. If an affiliate or committee holds multiple programs in the same day but they are not consecutive sessions there is a $50 charge for each program. For example an affiliate holds a session from 1:15 PM to 5:30 PM they would incur an $80 fee, ($50 plus $15 for each of the two additional sessions). If they also hold a session at 7:15 PM there would be an additional $50 charge.

3.       The AV team will not connect personal devices of individuals.

 4.       The AV team will ensure that the recorders are properly connected directly to the sound mixers and start the recording process. The recordings will not be monitored full time. It is not guaranteed that the recordings will be error free. A member of the AV team will periodically check the status of the recording throughout the session.  If an unmonitored recording fails due to equipment failure a full or partial refund will be considered on a case by case basis.

 

 a.        Any entity wishing their sessions to be monitored full-time can request such support for the fee of $200 plus $50 for each consecutive session.

5.       All recording requests must be made to the Convention Coordinator by the program submission deadline. In 2017 this date will be April 17th.

6.       All recordings will be provided to the entity who commissioned the recording. ACB maintains its right, at its sole discretion, to use this recorded content, be it for broadcast on ACB Radio, or any other purpose.

 7.       The organization commissioning the recording is solely responsible for having secured permission to record the speaker and to announce to program attendees that the session is being recorded.  If there is a sponsorship to assist with audio visual costs the committee or affiliate will be expected to acknowledge this sponsor at the beginning and end of their session and if appropriate at other times during the session.

8. ACB committees should factor recording costs in to their budget.