ACB ENJOYS 'GALAXY OF POSSIBILITIES' IN ORLANDO
by Jenine Stanley, Paul Edwards, Judy Jackson, Sharon Lovering and Marcia Dresser

SUNDAY, JULY 5

The opening ceremonies of the 48th annual convention of the American Council of the Blind began with welcomes to the Orlando area from Orange County Commissioner Lindsay Swindle, and Commissioner Robert Stewart, City of Orlando. The Naval Operations Center of Orlando presented ACB with a folded national ensign in honor of our convention. Sally Benjamin of Tallahassee, co-chair of the host committee, completed the welcomes and introduction of her fellow committee members.

Mitch Pomerantz noted that there are three aspects to his job. The president oversees the work of the executive director and national office staff. He also addresses internal organizational matters including committee staffing, projects, affiliate relations and communication with members. Finally, he facilitates working relationships with entities outside of ACB, including agencies and organizations of and for the blind. (For the complete text of his report, see the September and October issues, as well as this issue.)

The national office staff has admirably handled several challenges over the past year, with both national offices relocating. ACB’s advocacy on national legislative issues continues in such areas as quiet cars, video description and accessible currency. Legal action against the Social Security Administration continues regarding material in accessible formats. In addition, ACB has contracted with Joel Snyder to administer the ACB Audio Description Project, which is holding its first conference during the 2009 national convention. All of these initiatives that represent the independence of blind and visually impaired people are a result of the hard work of our national staff along with our membership.

Regarding internal organization, Pomerantz reported that he has appointed people to 25 committees and task forces. A number of these groups held educational sessions throughout the year and plan workshops at the convention. Pomerantz announced the formation of a task force to assist state affiliates facing closure or consolidation of state schools for the blind.

This year the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program continued to grow slowly but steadily. Total contributions stand at approximately $56,000, with approximately $44,000 going directly to ACB. Individual contributors have increased from 144 to 161.

Spanish-language publications now include the Washington Connection, available through the national toll-free number. Other communication efforts over the past year included Pomerantz’s attendance at eight state conventions, and his monthly “Office Hours” open conference calls.

Finally, Pomerantz noted ACB’s increasing presence within national coalitions. From access to Amazon’s Kindle digital book reader to the Randolph-Sheppard program and policies of rehabilitation agencies, ACB continued to make the views of its membership recognized. ACB also had a significant presence at the World Blind Union meetings. Pomerantz thanked the board of directors and board of publications for their support of these many efforts over the past year.

Next, Carol Ann Ewing-Ragsdale presented the winners of the Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers Awards: Mandy Holly from South Carolina and Janice Moran from Texas. There was also a reunion of first-timers, during which each received a certificate for his or her participation in the program.

Jerry Annunzio gave the first report of the credentials committee. He noted that two affiliates were in question this year. The Wyoming affiliate sent its membership roster and dues in after the deadline. All attempts to contact its leadership had gone unanswered. The committee decided to reduce this affiliate’s vote from 1 to one-half vote. The National Alliance of Blind Students also was late in getting its membership dues and roster in, but because the affiliate president readily communicated with the committee and apologized for her mistake with plans to correct it in the future, no penalty beyond a letter was assessed.

Following the credentials report was a much anticipated part of the opening ceremonies, the introduction of new life members. This year's life members were:

Bobby Cowan, Tennessee

Malinda Delbridge, North Carolina

Ron Eller, North Carolina

Joe Bishop, Mississippi

Mary Montgomery, Alaska

Donald Koors, Indiana

Jim and Becky Barnes, New York

The evening finished with the roll call of state and special-interest affiliates.

MONDAY, JULY 6

Monday’s session featured the spoken word, both in the reading of books and describing of everything from plays to theme park experiences. Awards and committee reports began the day.

Margarine Beaman lent the sparkle of gemstones to the 2009 convention sponsors. She noted that Ruby sponsorship helped defray costs of transportation for tours. Opal sponsorship provided the Youth Activity Center (YAC). Onyx sponsorships helped fund the ACB Café, convention newspaper, ACB Radio coverage and additional YAC activities. Additional sponsorships totaled $52,200. A full list of sponsors can be found in the ACB convention program at www.acb.org. On-site donations also came in from the Florida Council of the Blind and the Hawaii Association of the Blind.

Jerry Annunzio presented the final credentials report, which was approved by the membership. Standing rules were also approved unanimously, as was the convention program. Otis Stephens, chair of the constitution and bylaws committee, gave a first reading of proposed constitutional amendments.

ACB’s first vice president, Kim Charlson, presided over the remainder of the program, starting with awards. Cindy Van Winkle, chair of the awards committee, presented the Affiliate Growth Award to the Mountain State Council of the Blind. The Middle Tennessee Council of the Blind won the Affiliate Outreach Award.

Paul Edwards, chair of the board of publications, presented the Ned E. Freeman Award to Rebecca Kragnes for her article “An Open Letter to Adult Blind Children and Their Parents” (published in the August 2008 issue of "The Braille Forum"). Eight affiliates submitted entries for the 2009 Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award for excellence in affiliate newsletter writing. The Council of Citizens with Low Vision International was this year’s winner.

The convention traveled to Africa with remarks from Dr. Shakila Maharaj, an organizational psychologist from Durban, South Africa. There are approximately 49 million people populating South Africa, with nearly 80 percent being African “blacks.” Approximately 9 percent Caucasians, 8 percent people of mixed race, and 2 percent Asians make up the rest of the population.

Though disability statistics are not readily available, it is believed that approximately 10 percent of the population has a disability, with 32 percent being visually impaired. Five percent of the South African Parliament is also made up of people with disabilities. The South African National Council for the Blind is the umbrella organization, and can be found at www.sancb.org.za. SANCB is composed of nearly 95 member organizations, 15 of which are at the national level. There are also 24 schools for the blind.

Legally, the system of apartheid affected services rendered to everyone living in South Africa for 50 years. This system divided people by race, and provision of services to people with disabilities was not exempt. Two citations specifically mentioning people with disabilities appear in the current South African constitution and Bill of Rights ensuring the right to dignity and the right to be free from discrimination. Currently the National Integrated Disability Strategy is a white paper being considered for incorporation into legislation similar to the ADA.

Maharaj noted that a variety of laws enacted since 1997 assure equal access to people with disabilities, including an affirmative action program under the Employment Equity Act. Employers set target hiring levels from 1 to 4 percent within their organizations. There are also tax incentives for employers for training and development. She cautioned that though legally there have been many advancements, there are still significant challenges, mostly attitudinal, among employers and society in general. People with disabilities also face the challenge of accepting responsibility for their own destiny.

Frank Kurt Cylke, Director, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, began his presentation with the news that the Perkins School for the Blind had been named Library of the Year. He also noted the 10th anniversary of Web Braille and the newly opened BARD web site for downloading digital books. Delivery of the new NLS machines, both basic and advanced models, was set to begin in August 2009. Cartridges and containers are being produced on schedule. Unfortunately, the American Foundation for the Blind will no longer be producing audio books for the NLS program.

Mary Beth Wise, NLS quality assurance specialist, described the process of making an audio book. Each year the United States alone produces 150,000 books, with NLS producing 2,000 audio books. Each audio book must first be analyzed as to how it can be marked for digital recording and easy navigation to chapters, sections, etc.

The next step involves assigning the book to a studio for recording. Studios are chosen based on the type of narration each book requires, foreign languages being one characteristic. The studio director then chooses the narrator who will best fit the material, based on vocal quality, expertise and interest.

Becoming a narrator is a rigorous process. Narrators must possess the ability to turn the written word into credible audio through interpretation of the author’s work. They must be skilled in dramatic reading, understand how to convey humor and irony and be free of any regionalisms or dialects. Overall, narrators must be good storytellers to convey that sense of intimacy with the listener.

Wise did note that though the system of monitoring and checking recordings is good, some mistakes do happen, usually involving pronunciation errors. Narrators skim each book, noting specific words or phrases, then researching their correct pronunciation. Each narrator has a monitor when reading and each studio checks the book for accuracy of the audio against the print before it goes to NLS.

Consultant Rick Morin and Disney’s Worldwide Safety and Accessibility Manager, Jay Cardinali, brought the convention news about audio description at Disney properties. Attraction Description allows a person to carry a hand-held device and get information through headphones about various attractions around the park in real time. The service is available in all Disney parks in the U.S.; ask for it at Guest Relations.

Cardinali noted that although Disney has patented some of the technology, produced in conjunction with Softeq, they have allowed that company to use it in other venues such as the Coca-Cola museum.

The morning session’s look at audio closed with a report from Joel Snyder, director of ACB Audio Description Project. He reminded everyone that the first audio description conference was taking place during convention, and it would cover such issues as national guidelines and certification. A number of awards would be presented, including the Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description.

One of the project's highlights is the audio-described inauguration of President Barack Obama. The 1979 television production of “The Miracle Worker” is now available with description on DVD, with a portion of the proceeds going to ACB. For more information on the Audio Description Project's activities, visit www.adinternational.org.

Lastly, Oral Miller left the crowd with some news to help them shed those convention pounds and get in shape in the Recreation Zone. Activities this year included rowing, Pilates and water aerobics.

TUESDAY, JULY 7

John Fleming, president of the Visually Impaired Veterans of America, and a number of other veterans led the Pledge of Allegiance. After announcements, a couple of resolutions, and the nominating committee report, Pomerantz turned the gavel over to Brenda Dillon, second vice president. The nominating committee recommended all of the current officers as the slate to be voted on later in the week. Margarine Beaman announced the names of the 64 bronze sponsors.

Patty Slaby, chair of the scholarship committee, presented the 2009-10 scholarships winners. They are: Sara Conrad, Alexandra Krauth, Daniel Guenther, Miranda Hitzemann, Samuel Muwanguzi, Rebekah Balmer, Dawn Lloyd, Laura Palmaro, Lisa Drzewucki, Casey Burkhardt, Justin Hodge, Katherine Moss, Christina Tran, Jennifer Emery, Nichole Peters, Justin Salisbury, Patricia Kepler, and Barry Hyde. Richard Rueda then presented three scholarships on behalf of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision (CCLVI).

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8

The children and teens of the Youth Activity Center, led by Marcia Neilson, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Pomerantz honored Kathey Wheeler with a certificate of life membership. Wheeler read a resolution expressing her acceptance, appreciation, and thanks to the Missouri Council for making this life membership possible. Cindy Van Winkle made announcements regarding the silent auction and the live auction. She encouraged everyone to come, eat, and buy lots of stuff. M.J. Schmitt made an announcement regarding the first annual job fair that the employment committee is hosting.

After the announcements, Pomerantz introduced Susan Mazrui, an employee of AT&T. She encouraged ACB members to thank Eric Bridges and Mark Richert for their work in advocating for accessibility in telecommunications. She mentioned H.R. 3101 and encouraged everyone to get involved in getting their legislators to support that legislation. She indicated that AT&T does support that legislation. She ended her comments by saying that AT&T does believe in accessibility.

Pomerantz recognized Cindy Van Winkle to present the Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award. Van Winkle presented this award to Kathy Nimmer.

Following the presentation, Judy Jackson read a resolution dealing with H.R. 3101. The resolution passed.

Ron Milliman talked a bit about the public relations committee and its work. Then he mentioned the committee's mentoring program, and that it has been very successful. He introduced Sharon Lovering to read the mentorees' certificates, announce the names of the people receiving the certificates, and to present them to the participants.

Pomerantz then turned the program and the gavel over to Marlaina Lieberg. She greeted the assembly and quickly introduced Steven Rothstein, the president of the Perkins School for the Blind. Rothstein gave a tribute to Louis Braille and to braille literacy.

Lieberg next introduced a panel to discuss schools for the blind. Rothstein was reintroduced to moderate the panel. He introduced three gentlemen who participated on this panel. The members of the panel were Dr. Phil Hatlen, Bob Beadles, and Carl Jacobson. Each panelist took a few moments to speak about the importance of schools for the blind and what they can provide for children who are blind or visually impaired. Rothstein wrapped up the discussion with a few comments reiterating the importance of diversity that is needed in schools for the blind.

Next, Lieberg introduced Kim Charlson to announce some festivities planned for the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. Charlson played a song that gave tribute to Louis Braille. The Braille Revival League sponsored a birthday party in Louis Braille's honor, purchasing cookies for convention attendees. The cookies had the letters "BRL" on them.

Next, Lieberg expressed her appreciation to LUA for its assistance in getting L.J. Ganser to the convention. Ganser talked about his experiences as a book narrator. He discussed how far recording books has come. He stressed the importance of pronouncing words correctly. He talked about the influences that his parents had on him, leading him to become a narrator. In addition to his parents, he was also influenced by comic books. He requested that everyone contact their legislators about encouraging the Library of Congress to assist AFB with the Talking Book Program.

The convention moved from the familiar voice of Ganser to the topic of identity theft. Two speakers, Holly Salmons and Theresa Ronenbaum, told listeners how to protect themselves from identity theft. Salmons works with the Better Business Bureau and Ronenbaum works with the state of Florida's Attorney General's Office. Ronenbaum asked those in the audience to raise their hands if they had been victims of identity theft. Identity theft is a crime, and all of us must have a system of privacy to protect identifying information about ourselves. They gave convention attendees a number of ways to protect themselves against identity theft. After a few brief announcements, the session recessed.

THURSDAY, JULY 9

"Good morning, everyone!" stated Pomerantz, who then reminded everyone that the session was on a strict time schedule. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation, Margarine Beaman commended the gold and platinum convention sponsors. She reminded everyone that "it's never too late to contribute!"

Jeff Thom, chairman of the voting task force, presented the group's report. He thanked his committee members: Brenda Dillon, Pat Sheehan, and Ken Stewart. "It was our goal to hold a mock secret ballot last year," Thom said. "We were unable to do that due to time and other constraints. We will be doing it this time … in preparation for a potential decision by this organization as to whether to adopt secret balloting in replacement of the standing vote in future years. That decision won't occur today … but it could occur next year." The task force will hold more meetings to talk about potential technology for secret balloting as well as remote balloting, and obtain more information about such technology.

Otis Stephens then gave the first readings of several proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws. One amendment dealt with removal of an officer from office; another spelled out the number of people and affiliates to request an evidentiary hearing. A third amendment also dealt with removal of an officer from office, and the votes needed to do so. Another amendment would have counted the members of the board of publications as elected officers. Another dealt with the composition of the Internet oversight committee.

Pomerantz then announced a change in schedule, which the convention approved, before turning the microphone over to Mike Godino, the presiding officer of the day. Pomerantz asked the telephone crew to dial Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, in Washington, D.C. While waiting for the call to go through, Godino asked his listeners to sign up for the Monthly Monetary Support program.

Dale said he wished he could have been at convention in person. "I think that the president has demonstrated his commitment to people with disabilities and people who are blind, and that starts … with putting in place people at senior levels … focused on disability issues," he stated. "He goes beyond the commitments he made and does the right thing."

Dale describes his position as two-fold. He sits in the Office of Public Engagement, the "front door or outreach arm" of the White House, which reaches out to people with disabilities and communicates the president's agenda to them. He also takes in complaints and concerns that people want the president to know about. Additionally, he is involved in making sure that people with disabilities are included and integrated into events that happen at the White House. "For example, when we have health care discussions, we make sure that ACB is represented. Eric Bridges has been to the White House a number of different times … We've made sure to include the disability community and ACB in all of the events that we're doing."

The other part of his job is in the Domestic Policy Council, where he works on policies for people with disabilities. Responsibilities include looking at policies, implementing policies, and working with the Hill and other members of the Domestic Policy Council. He focuses on education and technology, "key areas for ACB."

One thing that Dale and his co-workers have tried to do is work with different communities and figure out what things would really make a difference for that community, and how to start implementing those changes. "One of the things we talked about during the campaign was education," he said. "We talked about enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, we talked about full funding of that act, and we have made great strides, I believe, toward that. This year in the budget, with the recovery plan dollars that were put toward IDEA -- $12.2 billion – has doubled the funding for IDEA compared to last year's budget."

He also discussed technology, stating that he had met with ACB and with COAT and different members of COAT about legislation, including the Twenty-first Century Communication Act. "We have not done a comprehensive analysis and made the decision where, if anywhere, we fit into that particular scheme of things," he stated. "This administration generally is a supporter of technology accessibility for people with disabilities …"

Dale also discussed accessibility of books, mentioning the Reading Rights Coalition. "One of the things that I'm trying to do is to lead by example and say that we here at the White House are committed to accessibility, we're committed to technology accessibility, we're committed to people with disabilities, making sure that they have access to support services and materials that are needed to be successful," he noted.

Dale closed by telling his listeners, "In the president, you have a friend in the White House. You have a president that is committed to improving the lives of people who are blind, to improving the lives of people with disabilities, you have a president who is committed to listening … to full interaction with the community and ensuring that we have our seat at the table." He then took a few questions from the audience.

Pomerantz made a few announcements before calling Cathie Skivers in California to apologize for the "heroes" pages (which were labeled as the "In Memoriam" pages in the convention program). "It's very nice to see your own memorial," Skivers said. "As I told you, you could just save the page and when that time comes – and I hope it's a ways off because I'm not through with the California history yet – [then] all you've got to do is put that page up there, and I think I'll be looking pretty good!"

Following Skivers' remarks, Melanie Brunson presented her report. "I want to give you all a bit of an update on some of the things that have happened since our last convention," she said. "Kareem Dale stole some of my thunder, but I can elaborate a little bit on some of the things that he told you. The White House has kept us busy since January. Both Eric and I have been back and forth to a number of meetings on a variety of topics, from the RSA commissioner and the qualifications for that position and our thoughts on it to health care reform issues … to disability policy in general. And in fact, we turned the tables and had Mr. Dale visit our office for a meeting with us and some of the other folks from the blind community in the D.C. area, had a very nice chat with him on the subject, and it was a very productive meeting, a very frank meeting …"

Brunson reminded her listeners that both ACB offices have moved, and the process of getting settled has taken longer than she expected. "One of the things that we in ACB have been working on for a while, and we had hoped to bring it to you at this convention … we've been looking for ways to honor individuals whose contributions … have been extraordinary … The board and some of the folks in the resource development committee and I, and the new development director, kicked around some ideas and what we came up with was a plaque that we are going to display in the ACB national office that honors ACB patrons. Patrons are those individuals whose contributions to ACB have exceeded six figures, and there are a number of them." The plaque has been designed and put together, but when she lifted it, she decided against bringing it to convention, "because it might cost six figures to ship it! So we're going to unveil it at the midyear meetings." It will be displayed in the reception area in the office.

Other things that are new in the ACB office include the phone system, "which is at the current time the bane of our existence, but we're hoping to do something about that," she said. Thanks to voice-over-Internet technology, both offices are linked to the same system, and neither needs to make long-distance calls to reach the other. She asked the audience to bear with the office while the telephone problems in Arlington got fixed. She mentioned ACB's outreach to Spanish-speaking populations in the U.S., and her hope that the phone system would help with that.

She discussed the Reading Rights Coalition. "ACB has taken a stand in support of the right of blind and visually impaired people to read books in all formats, including e-books," Brunson stated. "It is our intent to see that Amazon.com follows through on its promise to make the Kindle book readers fully accessible, and it is our intent to see that e-books are accessible not just through the Kindle but through other DAISY-reading devices that blind people have access to." She mentioned the suit against Arizona State and the complaint to the Department of Education about five other colleges which are using the inaccessible Kindle readers. "If that continues, it's discriminatory because students can't fully participate at the same level as their peers in those classes where those materials and that equipment are being used. We believe that 'separate but equal' hasn't been and will never be good enough."

ACB is also working on another issue concerning books. "The World Intellectual Property Organization has not been forthcoming in terms of wanting to let people in other countries have the same kind of access, particularly to digital books, that [is] available here on sites like Bookshare," Brunson said. "Folks can't get those books if they live outside the United States, and books that are available in other countries aren't available to us."

Another issue of concern is Section 508 compliance. "ACB has been aware for some time that there are a lot of blind people who have lost jobs, or who have failed to receive promotions, because of barriers, particularly when government agencies switch to new software or upgrade IT equipment. We are working on changing that trend." She talked briefly about the suit against the Social Security Administration, regarding information in accessible formats for benefit recipients.

Eric Bridges has been very busy with the Federal Communications Commission, serving on the Consumer Advisory Committee, she stated. "One of the things they've been really involved in is the transition to digital television. … Eric was instrumental in getting them to establish a subcommittee specifically working on issues related to audio or video description during the transition to digital television. We're anticipating some further comments and information from the Federal Communications Commission about how audio description is going to be handled as the digital age moves forward."

The 2010 midyear meetings and legislative seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn National Airport in Arlington, Va., Feb. 19-23. Brunson would like everyone who plans to come to register at least two weeks in advance, so that we may give accurate meal counts to the hotel and the caterer on Capitol Hill.

Godino thanked his committees and the committee chairs he has worked with for their hard work. The audit is complete, he stated, and copies of the financial statement should be available later on this year. "Last year we budgeted a net income of $1,176,096; we ended up with a revenue of $1,531,550," he said. "To that, we had a net expense budgeted of $1,142,703; we ended up with a net expense of $1,150,866, giving us a net excess for 2008 of $380,684. That puts us well into the black, I'm very happy to report!"

Carla Ruschival gave her report on the national convention. She thanked the members of the Florida local host committee for their excellent work. "They were so far ahead of the game that they had many tasks completed by January that normally we don't think about until March or April!" she stated. She also thanked the national convention committee members for their work. The Youth Activity Center registered 40 kids, double last year's total. She thanked Mississippi Council of the Blind for its sponsorship of the YAC, and Regal Entertainment Group for its sponsorship of transportation for the youth trips.

"Every convention has its highlights," Ruschival said. "This year, we have a few things that – some are not going to happen again, but others are – and one of those things that isn't going to happen again because we're not in Orlando next year is going to be the Epcot focus group." She thanked Rick Morin from Massachusetts for his assistance in getting ACB involved.

Future conventions will be: 2010, Phoenix, Ariz., the second week of July; 2011, Reno, Nev.; and 2012, Louisville, Ky. In Reno, the hotel has free 24-hour shuttle service to and from the airport. 2013 and 2014 are open for bids.

Following Ruschival's report, Chris Gray gave a report from the American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment board. "We began this work as a provisional committee and moved forward working closely with the board of directors of ACB and others, and ultimately created the actual board of directors of the American Center," he said. "If an American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment is going to succeed, it's got to reach out throughout the entire community of and for the blind in this country, and that's one of the overriding goals of our group."

Board members include Gray, Mitch Pomerantz, Melanie Brunson, Marlaina Lieberg, Donna Seliger, Otis Stephens, John Vaughn, Jim Halliday, Pam Shaw and Carla Ruschival. "The overall purpose of the American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment is to create a welcoming and productive environment, a place where small to large meetings can be held, where conferences can occur in the D.C. area, … a museum on blindness … a blindness hall of fame … [and] a place where ACB can have office space and where office space can be made available to others," Gray stated. "It's a long-term project; it's not going to happen overnight."

He reviewed how the bylaws were put together, talking about all the discussions that went into its creation, and mentioned the incorporation process. "Those things will be coming along in the next few months," he said.

Godino thanked Gray for putting the session back on schedule before turning the microphone over to Larry Turnbull, acting manager of ACB Radio. Turnbull thanked Debbie Hazelton, Steven Matzura, Kevin Minor, Rick and Debbie Lewis, Jim O'Sullivan, Geoff Shang, the development team (Mitch Pomerantz, Marlaina Lieberg, Paul Edwards and Chris Gray), and the Interactive and Mainstream teams for all their hard work on convention and in the months leading up to it. He also thanked the listeners. "Over the last couple of months I've been adding some new content; added two new shows to Mainstream," he said. "The first one is called Hear and There; it's hosted by Dave Alman. He goes to a lot of places and talks about what's around him. …"

There are also a few new programmers on Interactive, Turnbull added. "If any of you have an idea for a show, feel free to contact me!" He and the ACB Radio crew have been working on moving ACB Radio to the new server, which should make things smoother. Another of his goals: getting ACB and ACB Radio closer together. He invited affiliates to announce their conventions and stream them on the radio. Any affiliate or individual wishing to do a show on ACB Radio should contact Larry via e-mail, [email protected]

Michael Garrett, chair of the ACB Enterprises and Services board, spoke next. He thanked the ACBES board members for their hard work and for allowing him to serve as chairman. "ACBES is our thrift store division," Garrett said. "We operate six thrift stores across the country. We are currently located in Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas; in the greater Milwaukee area; Knoxville, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; and Dearborn Heights in the greater Detroit area." He pleaded with his listeners in those areas to make donations of household items, furniture, small and large appliances in good working order, clothing, and other such items to the stores. "Donate things that you would buy, not something you're trying to get rid of, because the ultimate goal is to sell the items," he said. "Our long-term goal … it's all about expansion. We are looking at areas throughout the U.S. to expand our stores, expand our reach, and ultimately expand our profits so that we can contribute more to ACB."

Following a few brief announcements, Dan Dillon stepped up to the microphone to discuss ACB's participation in the Watermelon 5K walk/run. "We had a walk for the first time, and we … did pretty well," he said. "We had some obstacles to overcome, some glitches … but we did." He thanked the committee members for all their hard work and support, as well as the Track Shack, all participants and all donors. He gave special thanks to Regal Entertainment Group, which donated $2,500, and Iams, which donated 3,000 8-ounce boxes of dog treats. "Those people that did participate in the walk and you want to get pictures of you crossing the finish line, you can go to www.yourpictures.biz …" Photos were organized by finish time.

Trophies went to platinum-level fundraisers, those who raised $1,000 or more. They were: Michael and Peggy Garrett, Sharon Lovering, Cindy Van Winkle, Ron Milliman, and Brenda and Dan Dillon. Trophies for most money raised by an individual went to Ron Milliman, who raised more than $2,300; the affiliate that raised the most was the Tennessee Council of the Blind, which raised over $5,000. The team bringing in the most money was the Dillon team, with over $4,000. Trophies also went to the oldest participant, Patricia Beattie; the youngest participant, Sara Conrad; and first across the finish line, Doug Powell (runner) and Juan Carlos Gill (wheelchair runner).

Dillon stated that it wasn't too late to donate toward the walk. "We don't have a final tally … but at this time we have raised just shy of $23,000." He said the plan was to keep the donation form for the walk on the web site for a while after convention.

Judy Jackson came up to present resolution 2009-05 on accessible insulin pumps, which passed. After a few announcements and a few door prizes, the session recessed.

FRIDAY, JULY 10

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation, Doug Powell of Virginia urged everyone to participate in the MMS program. He challenged ACB to have base contributions of $70,000 by September 2010. Next, Brenda Dillon announced that the ACB auction brought in $24,734.

Business began with the unanimous adoption of three resolutions: 2009-13 on accessibility of national parks; 2009-04 on iPhones; and 2009-11 on Native Instruments music software. Then there was the election of ACB officers. The nominating committee presented the slate of officers: president, Mitch Pomerantz; first vice president, Kim Charlson; second vice president, Brenda Dillon; secretary, Marlaina Lieberg; treasurer, Mike Godino. All officers were elected by acclamation. Following the elections, resolution 2009-12 regarding the Duxbury braille translation software was defeated.

Otis Stephens presented constitution and bylaw changes for consideration. The body voted unanimously to substitute the word "advancement" for the word "betterment" in Article II. After some discussion, 13 non-substantive changes in wording to the constitution and bylaws were also adopted unanimously. A change to the first sentence of Section P in Article IV was recommended to reflect what is required of ACB to maintain 501(c)(3) status; this was adopted. A proposed change to the ending of the second sentence in Section P of Article IV would add the following wording: "or a minimum of 100 members representing a minimum of seven ACB affiliates requesting such an evidentiary hearing." After some discussion, this was adopted by a 2/3 majority. An amendment to add additional language to this section was defeated. The committee recommended that proposed additional wording to Article V, Section A, not be approved; the body unanimously upheld the committee's recommendation. After considerable discussion of Bylaw 6, which deals with ACB standing committees, the body unanimously agreed that Pomerantz would appoint a task force consisting of two members of the ACB board of directors and the chair of the constitution and bylaws committee to examine Bylaw 6 and recommend streamlining language at the 2010 convention in Phoenix.

The rest of the day was devoted to resolutions.


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