Kim Charlson for ACB President

Kim Charlson
57 Grandview Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472
617-926-9198 (home)
617-972-7249 (work)
617-501-5853 (cell) or
Library Director, Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library
Employer: Perkins School for the Blind

  • Question  1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?
    I am seeking nomination for the office of president of the American Council of the Blind. I have been an active member of ACB for over 30 years. I have served in a wide variety of capacities for the organization. These include, but are not limited to: co-chair of the Membership Committee in the late 1990's; elected member (1992-98) and chair (1999-2001) of the Board of Publications; and more recently I have chaired ACB's Audio Description Project. I also have had the honor to serve as one of ACB's two delegates to the World Blind Union.
    I have served in many leadership positions within ACB's special interest affiliates including the Braille Revival League, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and Library Users of America. I have held several officer positions, including president of both the American Council of the Blind of Oregon and the Bay State Council of the Blind.
    Effective leadership involves teamwork, and I have advocacy and professional experience in team-building and strategic planning that I believe can guide ACB into the future. In addition, I have knowledge and experience in policy administration, budget management and planning, and marketing and outreach. All of these skills are needed in the operation and oversight of an organization with employees, a complex financial structure, and members from all across the country needing to be kept informed and connected to the organization. I believe that I have the knowledge, skills and experience needed in order to serve as president of ACB, and I have the drive, dedication and commitment to serve ACB well.
  • Question 2. What would you do to strengthen the relationship between the ACB national leadership and state and special-interest affiliates?
    Communication is a pivotal part of strengthening an organization. All types of communication channels (both low tech and high tech) should be more effectively utilized to keep affiliates and members informed on key issues, to mobilize advocacy efforts when needed on critical issues, and to disseminate news and information about victories and accomplishments of ACB. We should celebrate our accomplishments within the organization as well as publicly. We must strengthen the sense of pride in ACB and grow and develop a sense of community and fellowship within our organization. Members of the ACB board should work to develop connections with affiliate leadership. It isn't always practical for board members to talk to every affiliate leader, but genuine efforts to grow these types of relationships should be encouraged. Having served as an affiliate president, in both special interest and state affiliates of ACB, I understand how important good communication is to affiliate leaders and subsequently to their members. New and old ideas for enhancing communication should be examined to get ACB to be better connected with its heart and soul – the membership. I would urge affiliate leaders to feel free to communicate with me on issues of concern to them. Calls and emails will be returned, as quickly as possible. I hope to bring tried-and-true decision-making abilities, as well as the capacity to think outside the box when needed to help the organization to continue to move forward.
  • Question 3. In light of the current national economic crisis, how can long-term financial stability be achieved for ACB?
    If long-term financial stability were an easy answer to come by, others serving this organization long before me would have come up with the best answer. However, financial stability does involve appropriate budget planning and diversification of income sources. ACB is attempting to do this in several areas through the work of the Resource Development Committee, ACBES (American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services), the treasurer's stewardship, and the work of several member-based committees such as the ACB Auction and the ACB Walk. We also rely on work of the executive director and ACB's development efforts in grant writing and private fund raising; which must unquestioningly increase to serve the organization. I will work to support ongoing initiatives for financial stability within ACB, and lend my experience in budget and financial program management to those who are already working hard on these issues. I understand how important a solid program of grant writing is to an organization, and can assist in this area having written and obtained many grants for both professional and advocacy activities over the past ten years. ACB continues to utilize direct mail appeal-based fund-raising letters, and I hope that I can help to improve overall results from appeal-based campaigns in the future. My work as director of a regional braille and talking book library in the United States has provided me with some unique skills and opportunities, which I can pull from to help ACB grow and prosper.
  • Question 4. List three issues you plan to work on should you be elected and how you plan to effect change in those three areas.
    Advocacy is a passion and the issues I will continue to work on include, but are not limited to, audio description, education for students with visual impairments, and Section 508 compliance.
    Regarding audio description, the next 2-4 years are pivotal to its implementation by the FCC for television viewers who are blind. ACB is actively commenting on regulations for emergency access information on television, and we are presently preparing comments on access to the user interface which relates to the accessibility of hardware and accessing description on television. ACB, through its Audio Description Project, has been supporting various aspects of description, and will continue to be the strongest voice advocating for all aspects of description for blind viewers.
    ACB has a tremendous opportunity to shape the education of children who are blind through our support of the Anne Sullivan Macy Act. By strengthening the continuum of services (both public school itinerant services and residential schools) this issue must be a legislative priority for ACB in the coming years.
    ACB has also worked for many years to assure that the Federal government complies with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act -- not always an easy assignment. With the recent statements from the Department of Justice and the White House acknowledging that Section 508 should be fully implemented, ACB needs to take full advantage and press forward to ensure that we all have access to the websites of government agencies, and the ability to conduct business and use information available online to the general public.
    As president, one advocacy role I would anticipate filling is an administrative one. I have considerable experience moving projects and initiatives through to completion. I look forward to working with ACB's staff and the dozens of committees and task forces on a very diverse list of initiatives.

This web page was last updated June 4, 2013.