by Winifred Downing

The meeting began with a roll call of board members, all of whom were present, as well as many staff members. Foremost in everyone's mind was the convention. A few of the most interesting items follow:

1. Stuart Benjamin, the producer of the movie "Ray," would be present to accept the Media Access Award on Sunday and would also introduce "Ray," the audio-described movie to be shown on Monday evening, returning when it ended to answer questions and hear comments.

2. Because the group using the room scheduled for the Communications Center did not vacate the premises for several hours beyond their allotted time and because they left the area very dirty, it was impossible to set up the machinery for printing the Saturday issue of "The Las Vegas Pair-a- Dice," the convention newspaper. Everyone concerned was working diligently to produce a Sunday paper.

3. Each person's convention bag contained a package of three bottles of shower gel and shampoo sent by a company called "philosophy" in Phoenix, Ariz., in response to a request by Bernice Kandarian for cosmetics to be distributed to the women's concerns committee. The company sent 1,600 of these packs, each priced at $30; thus the company sent gifts valued at $48,000.

4. A Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament was planned for July 5 from 2-6 p.m. The Gaming Control Board met and okayed the use of braille and large- print cards. Entrants would pay $30, of which $5 would go to the dealer. Each table would have a supervisor; these Riviera Hotel employees would take no pay for their services, and the house took no cut either. Table winners would compete in the finals, and prizes would come from the money collected. At 1 p.m. that day, a training session would be scheduled for people who hadn't played poker before. Also, general casino orientation would be available for those having no previous acquaintance with playing the games, and $3 minimum blackjack tables would be available in the afternoons from Sunday through Thursday. (The usual cost is $10.)

Treasurer's Report: Ardis Bazyn reported that total revenue for the year was $1,082,982.22; total expenses, $1,015,338.57; and the positive net at the end of the year, $67,643.65. In the discussion following the motion to approve the report, Brian Charlson explained that these numbers are preliminary since no audit has yet been completed.

Executive Director, Melanie Brunson: The Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF) had requested ACB to become a plaintiff in a suit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) because of its failure to communicate in an accessible manner with blind and visually impaired people whose benefits were being questioned. According to an arrangement made concerning such people, the SSA is to telephone them to inform them of any action being considered. Not having received notification that they could hear or read, some of these individuals lost their benefits because they did not respond to notices sent to them. DREDF wants information about individual plaintiffs and assistance from this organization in preparing the suit. Paul Edwards' motion to join in this action passed.

Having reviewed their constitution and bylaws, Brunson proposed awarding a charter to the ACB Diabetics in Action, and the motion to do so carried.

Acting Editor: Sharon Lovering furnished the following interesting statistics concerning "The Braille Forum." For the July-August issue: 2,240 braille readers, a 3.24 percent decrease from last year; 7,835 cassette readers, a 1.5 percent decrease; 13,490 large-print readers, an increase of 0.7 percent; 798 disk readers, a decrease of 0.5 percent; and 1,389 e-mail readers, an increase of 35 percent.

Parliamentarian's Recommendations: Don Stevens presented standing rules for the operation of the convention which would be submitted at a general session for vote by the membership. The following rules were adopted: that debate on any matter be held to 20 minutes, with 3 minutes allowed for each speaker and speakers alternating between opposing and approving arguments with the parliamentarian as the time keeper; that anyone wishing to speak must be at a microphone, ask for the floor, and give his or her name; that members wishing to vote must wear their badges marked with an orange dot; that changes in the convention program could be made when necessary but with the proviso that a member could oppose the change; that nominees for office be allowed five minutes which they could allot to their speakers as they desired; that affiliate votes be expressed in whole and half numbers; that, in a run-off election of more than two candidates, only the top two be retained. These rules were adopted in toto by the board and would be published in the convention newspaper and read from the floor. Determining just what a quorum is in ACB was referred to the Constitution and Bylaws Committee for definition.

Executive Session: In executive session, it was decided that the Connecticut affiliate will be retained but not seated and that individual members from that state will be encouraged to participate and vote at the convention. A second decision established a three-person committee to conduct an investigation and bring a recommendation to the board before the distribution of packets to exhibitors for the 2006 convention to determine the continued participation of a vendor wishing to attend that convention.

Convention Site Selection, Carla Ruschival: Encouraging developments are coming together regarding sites for 2008, 2010, and 2011. Having the numbers from this convention is a powerful stimulus to hotels and will benefit the selection process greatly. The 2006 convention will be in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Hyatt Hotel, July 8-15. Because of the scheduling error made by the hotel in booking two conventions for the Fourth of July week, we are being given significant concessions that will greatly assist ACB.

Resource Development Committee, David Trott: Increased effort had to be made to have the $50 tickets sold to benefit "The Braille Forum," and care was necessary to refer to this effort as a benefit and to restrict sales to meeting rooms and private rooms, so that no selling would occur in public areas. By the fall board meeting, guidelines will be developed concerning raffles to protect against situations in which we are raising essentially only the money to pay for the prizes. Future fund-raising must be predicated on firm estimates. The time share auction was at $1,100 with several days yet to go.

ACBES, Michael Garrett: In the first quarter of the year sales were down because of stormy weather that caused closure of stores in some areas and substantially reduced foot traffic, but the stores have been repainted and spruced up to make merchandise and buying more attractive. Improvements in cost management have resulted in increased profits this spring. Closer ties between the stores and ACB chapters in the area are being promoted, and a planned reception for store managers to meet with officers and board members will be another step in strengthening the relationship between the stores and the rest of the organization.

The meeting adjourned at noon.

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