The December 6, 2022, meeting of the ACB Board of Publications was called to order shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern by BOP Chair, Katie Frederick. Katie read the agenda aloud, and with minor shuffling of event sequence, the board approved the proposed agenda.
Penny called the roll, and those who were present included: Katie, Penny, Zelda, Cheryl, Cachet, Deb, Dan, David, Sharon, and Rick. Several guests, including Meryl Shecter, Michael Babcock, Sharon Strzalkowski, and Terry Pacheco also attended.
Zelda reported one error in the November minutes. That item – the date for the next editors’ meeting – has been corrected, and as of this posting, corrected minutes from the November BOP meeting have been posted to the BOP list. With the corrections, November’s minutes were approved following a motion from Penny and a second from Zelda.
Public’s Point of View
Meryl Shecter, who chairs the ACB International Relations Committee, congratulated committee members on the number and excellence of articles which they had contributed to the December ACB Braille Forum.
ACB Media updates
ACB Media and IT Manager Rick Morin shared the following report with the BOP in advance of the meeting. Please note: Rick shared a number of spread sheets along with this report, and those are not included with these meeting minutes.
Hi Katie and members of the BOP,
- ACB Media Auction brought in over $40,000. Special thanks to Leslie Spoone and her incredible team for an absolutely terrific event.
- All Convention recordings have been edited and uploaded as podcasts and files delivered to Perkins to prepare for the cartridges. Special thanks to Joyce
- Feinberg and Larry Gassman who managed the work, and to the professional editing team.
- All 8 hours of Friendsgiving streamed
- ADP Gala reached 200+ listeners via the streams. Currently in replay for month of December on Media 9. Another 150+ have downloaded the podcast and the
- ACB Media Support Group has met twice and is functioning extremely well. Affiliate engagement guidelines are imminent
- Technical Infrastructure Team formed under guidance and direction of Jeff Bishop
- Work has begun to learn how to use Live365 scheduling in preparation for the new Community Channel
- Analysis to determine the remaining ACB Radio content that must be retained or migrated
- Planning underway for the D.C. Leadership Conference
- Compiled 6 months of statistics for the Media Streams and Podcasts
- ACB Media 4 is fully licensed
Attached are spreadsheets that show summary statistics for the 10 ACB Media Streams and a subset of podcasts that include Community, Events, Convention and ACB. The statistics cover the period of June through November, 2022. All spreadsheets are sorted largest to smallest in the totals column.
ACB Media Streams
The first spreadsheet is Total Listener Hours by month beginning June 1, 2022 for all 10 ACB Media Streams. The Community Channel (Media 5) leads the way with 24417 TLH (Total Listener hours) with Mainstream close behind with 23286. Media 1 beats out Community during the convention and other periods where ACB events occur. Across all streams during this 6 month period, ACB Media generated 93,070 Listener Hours with 30,933 unique users.
Now switching to podcasts. Podcast feeds related to ACB are grouped together (ACB Reports, Advocacy Update and Braille Forum). Podcast feeds related to the Convention are grouped together. Certain feeds were singled out and analyzed separately. This report does not summarize all podcasts, just those that typically see the most traffic. The reporting period is the last 6 months beginning in June. Note that shows that have their own podcast feed are not included in this report. They will be the subject of a specific analysis related to ACB Media Programming.
The metric reported is number of Listens. Listens are the same as explicit downloads of the podcasts.
Looking at the ACB grouping (see second spreadsheet), ACB Reports leads with 6016 total listens, the Braille and E-Forum with 5280 Listens and ACB Advocacy Update with 4,167 Listens. All aggregates over the 6 month period beginning June 1.
Looking at all convention feeds (see third spreadsheet) in this 6-month period, there have been 28857 total listens with the general sessions and convention-wide content like the newspaper, Standing Rules, etc. representing 43 percent. Technology, Exhibits, Audio Described Tours are the next most listened to in that order.
The fourth spreadsheet shows the top episodes with the feed where the General Sessions are located. Note that any given episode has fewer than 300 listeners on average. The newspaper is one of the most highly downloaded podcasts.
The fifth spreadsheet shows the Community episodes in order of listens. The total number of Community Podcast listens over the 6-month period is a whopping 39,063. As you would expect technology-related podcasts are among the most popular, with Lively Latin being as strong as the tech podcasts. Community has the largest number of episodes over the six-month period with the largest number of listens for a given podcast at 266 drop quickly from there into the low 100’s and lower.
And finally, the last spreadsheet is the Events feed where Board meetings and Committee calls are posted as well as affiliate conventions. Note that a podcast about Membership was the most listened to podcast over the 6-month period.
You are encouraged to review the data in the attached spreadsheets. More granular data is available upon request such as stream listeners per hour per day.
ACB Media and IT Manager
Rick reviewed the contents of the report reprinted above and responded to questions. He said that the data he can collect can be very specific, e.g., for determining which specific shows have the most listeners, or which would benefit from extra promotion to enlarge their audience.
Sometimes the data tells a surprising picture, e.g., the podcast that has the most listeners is ACB Reports, not the ACB Braille Forum (as Rick and others might have suspected).
Rick said that the larger audience for ACB Reports may be related to the number of radio reading services that subscribe to and rebroadcast the podcast. Perhaps we should look at other podcasts that we can promote for radio reading services’ rebroadcast, which would boost our numbers and promote ACB to a wider audience.
Guest Sharon Strzalkowski asked if Rick can determine which device or app a listener uses to access specific podcasts, and he replied that the data does reveal this information.
She asked if convention podcasts had migrated to ACB Link, and Rick said he wasn’t sure but would check. ACB Link, especially the user interface, is a high priority for ACB Media’s Technology Team, he added.
Another priority for the team is to make searching for podcasts according to various topics of interest more intuitive for users.
Sharon has sent Katie a couple of articles from the December ACB Braille Forum, and she will post a short summary for each article with a link to the actual article which is posted on the December 2022 Braille Forum web page.
This process would require there to be a link for each separate article, and Sharon said she would check the next day and let the BOP know if there are working separate links to individual articles, so that this approach would be successful.
Cachet said that she likes creating synopses for longer items and she will create a synopsis for each of the December Braille Forum/blog postings.
We will post the Member at the Mic pieces in a similar way, publishing a short printed synopsis and then linking to the entire interview with accompanying photos, sounds, music, etc.
Beginning in the new year, we will look for some “Throwback Thursdays” items to post, possibly making a connection with contemporary issues and allowing the blog to highlight how those issues were treated in years past.
The Tom Kaufman Member at the Mic blog posting is ready to go, and Katie said she would be putting that up. We will also use the BOP e-mail discussion list to decide if we need to add anything to the guidelines we have developed for Member at the Mic.
Anthony has shared that Lisa Brooks is pleased to provide transcripts for the Member at the Mic blog, but we don’t want to burn Lisa out, and so, if needed, Penny and Zelda said they can provide transcripts as well.
Cheryl suggested that we encourage affiliate newsletter editors to share articles with us for the blog. Cheryl and Zelda both highly praised the Washington state affiliate’s Readers’ Choice award, which would be another great source for blog-appropriate content. Zelda said that a representative from the Washington state affiliate will be a speaker at the Friday-evening Editors’ quarterly meeting scheduled for December 9.
Editors’ Quarterly Meeting
Zelda said she will spend some time describing the BOP awards and our revised criteria for many of them (which will be included in the February ACB Braille Forum), and encourage editors and affiliates to submit candidates for our awards. She said she would also be reminding them to remind their own readers about the importance of returning audio cartridges.
She will also poll members about their preferred time for holding meetings and regarding proposed topics for next year’s quarterly editors’ meetings.
ACB Braille Forum Discussion and Editor’s Report
Penny asked for a reminder about how many articles an affiliate or committee would be expected to submit for the magazine during a month they choose to adopt. The response was four-to-six articles.
She said she was worried about the diversity of the content in a single monthly issue. For example, readers who may not be interested in a topic like diabetes might not find an issue where the majority of articles focus on diabetes particularly appealing.
Others agreed. We are having a harder and harder time finding room for increased content – not necessarily a bad problem to have, but still something worth considering when thinking about themes and affiliates and committees taking on responsibility for single monthly issues.
Cachet suggested that, when a committee or affiliate volunteers to submit articles for a particular month, we should make them aware that their submissions don’t all have to conform to a narrow theme. For example, Zelda said, a member of Diabetics in Action who might love to fish could be encouraged to write an article about fishing as a person who is blind during a month that their affiliate has adopted.
Sharon submitted the following editor’s report:
Editor’s Report, December 2022
Issue type: Hard-copy
Page count: 48
Braille distributed: 487
Braille returned: 1
Braille return rate: 0.2%
Braille received: 486
Cartridge distributed: 436
Cartridge returned: unknown
Cartridge return rate: unknown
Cartridge received: unknown
Large print distributed: 2,128
Large print returned: 22
Large print return rate: 1%
Large print received: 2,106
Email distributed: 5,160
Email bounces: 98
Email return rate: 1.9%
Email received: 5,062
Issue type: Electronic
Page count: 48
Email distributed: 5,058
Issue type: Hard-copy
Page count: 48
Braille to be distributed: 483
Cartridge distributed: TBA
Large print distributed: 2,114
Email distributed: TBA
Deadlines for the Next Issues
February 2023: ACB Diabetics in Action, Part 2 (mostly full already); deadline: January 3, 2023
March 2023: ACB Women; deadline: January 25, 2023
I have received the bound versions of the Braille and E-Forums from 2013-2021 from Grimm Book Bindery, and they look good. I have sent them the 2022 issues for binding.
I continue to put together the Dots and Dashes newsletter; it’s going out December 5th. The next issue will go out on December 19th.
I continue to work with the history and oral archives committee on preserving and digitizing old recordings and documents from ACB events, and identifying people in photos. As part of that work, I am working on cleaning up and modernizing old issues of the Forum to the large print standards and organizing them on our Sharepoint drive (at the moment, from the 1990s through today, plus a few from the 1980s that I had loose copies of). I’m including Word, text, and BRF file formats in the Forum folders on Sharepoint. I found a complete set of 1982 issues, and am scanning and cleaning them up in between deadlines.
I am also working my way through minutes of ACB board meetings, looking for motions that led to policies/policy changes, and documenting them in a Word file.
I have found the resolutions index that Steve Speicher created; unfortunately, the last time it was updated was 1997. So I am working on updating that, too; I’ve added 2010 through 2022 so far, and will work my way backwards to 1998 until the whole thing is updated.
Another part of that work is creating an awards landing page, with links to the list of award winners, DKM First-Timers, JPMorgan Chase Leadership Fellows, ADP Awards, BADIE Awards, Barry Awards, plus information about the awards themselves (criteria, etc.), the people for whom the awards were named, and so forth. Our goal is to have it up online, with a link from the front page, in the first quarter of 2023. I have the awards list (current to 2022), the informational document, the people the awards are named for, and the list of First-Timers and Leadership Fellows (also current).
Sharon Lovering, Editor
American Council of the Blind
Sharon added that she has recovered approximately 75% of all of the resolutions that ACB has adopted since their founding. She is storing them on the Sharepoint drive for safe-keeping.
She needs hard copies of the 2001, 2004, and 2006 resolutions. For some years, she does have the summaries, but she needs hard-copy documentation for the actual resolutions that were adopted in those years.
Dan suggested that she reach out to Chris Gray, since those years coincide with his administration.
We have themes for January (braille and year in review), February (diabetics in action, already about ¾ full; and awards), March (ACB Women), and Cheryl said that MCAC will adopt April. We will also need to include the candidates’ forum articles in April
Guest Terry Pacheco, wondered about the advisability of continuing to include “High Tech Swap Shop” in each issue and suggested that a “high tech swap shop” monthly community call might be a very popular alternative. Dan suggested that high tech swap shop items could also be included as part of “Dots and Dashes.”
Katie suggested that the BOP could explore this topic at the presidents’ meeting.
E-Mail Lists Discussion
Leadership membership is up-to-date, with presidents’ appointing three representative from each affiliate and people who no longer qualify for leadership subscriptions having been removed. For the most part, Leadership subscribers are following the revised rules for posting on-topic.
Deb will spend time reviewing and perhaps updating rules for ACB-Conversation, and we will address those rules at our next meeting.
Deb plans to talk with Sheila to see if she can submit her weekly (ACB Digest) announcements to the affiliate presidents and the ACB-Conversation and Leadership lists, as well.
Some ACB Media Announce content should be included on Sheila’s list, as well.
Deb encouraged the BOP to post interesting topics to Leadership and Conversation to diversify and expand discussions on list.
Our next meeting will take place on January 3. Penny, who will be traveling, will try to attend via her phone and rely on the recording for providing minutes.
Dan alerted the BOP that the presidents’ meeting will be scheduled for March 4 and 5. The BOP often presents various topics to affiliate presidents at those meetings.
ACB Treasurer, David Trott, and Dan brought the topic of the BOP’s tentative plans for publishing 12 monthly hard-copy braille issues in the coming year (as suggested by a resolution which was adopted at last summer’s convention). Because of the difficult economic climate in which ACB is currently operating, the ACB Budget Committee is recommending that ACB delay implementing that plan, while spending coming months investigating ways to afford increased braille production without adding to the estimated ACB budgetary deficit, which is already predicted to be significant (possibly between $200,000 and $215,000, according to David’s estimate). Dan said that the Budget Committee was planning to bring this issue to the attention of the ACB Board of Directors at their December 12 telephonic meeting, and he and David wanted to make sure that the BOP was informed about the issue in advance of the meeting, so that the BOP representatives would be adequately prepared to participate in discussion and to make recommendations.
With respect to the bid that has been accepted from the braille producer, Deb said that ACB contracts are flexible enough so that she doesn’t anticipate the decreased number of braille issues will cause a legal problem. Dan said that he would clarify this in conversations with CFO Nancy Becker.
David said that, when Ron Brooks chaired the BOP, we undertook a campaign to persuade Braille Forum subscribers to convert their large print and braille subscriptions to e-mail. Many did, and that saved us a significant amount of money. David suggested that we conduct a similar campaign in coming months.
Penny said that, now that many people are receiving the NLS e-Reader machine, many more braille readers might also be persuaded to switch to the e-mail format of the magazine. Perhaps we can provide some e-reader training via a community call to further persuade them.
We actually spend more to produce large print issues than we do to produce braille, but any amount of savings could permit us to expand hard-copy braille production in another year.
One more recommendation that the budget committee planned to bring before the board, Dan said, was to delay hiring a Communications Manager (to replace Jennifer Flatt) until 2024.
This meeting of the ACB Board of Publications adjourned shortly before 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Submitted by Penny Reeder