by Eric Bridges
In late January 2017, the ACB board, staff and several state and affiliate leaders met in the Washington, D.C. area to develop a new plan for the organization. What came out of those meetings was ACB’s Strategic Action Plan.
What does this plan do? It guides the organization in five critical focus areas: advocacy, policy and legislation; affiliates and membership; convention and meetings; development; and marketing and communications. Each focus area has a set of goals, associated action steps, timeframes, and accountable leaders to help drive change and ensure completion of the objectives. Toward that end, to facilitate accountability and transparency, each team submits periodic updates to me. I have decided to share these updates with you.
Advocacy, Policy and Legislation Team: Tony Stephens
Advocacy rests at the heart of ACB’s mission, and it plays a significant role in ACB’s strategic plan. The strategic planning process allows for ACB to more effectively manage its daily resources, and identify issues that yield the greatest progress toward fulfilling our mission. One of the greatest action items to come out of ACB’s strategic advocacy planning is the creation of a new position dedicated to direct advocacy outreach and engagement. This new position has already helped to significantly expand ACB’s bandwidth and capabilities toward more immediate response to the many issues addressed in the plan that come across ACB’s plate daily.
ACB’s board of directors has set up three primary advocacy platforms for the organization: 1) immediate and ongoing civil rights and equal access issues impacting our community; 2) expanding ACB’s influence within the tech sector, from web accessibility to home appliances; 3) moving ACB’s long-term agenda toward securing accessible currency.
The immediate and ongoing issues take in a host of concerns, from voting rights and full inclusion in our society to rehabilitation, special education, and infrastructure reform. The second goal addresses particular access barriers tied to technology, such as website accessibility, but also includes new and emerging technologies that make up the “Internet of Things,” thanks in part to the rise of smart devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. This area has offered exciting growth for ACB as we continue to build relationships with leading technology and accessibility driven companies. We look forward to continuing to lead the way in advocating for technology that enhances our independence and opportunity for full inclusion in society.
ACB remains committed to seeing the 2008 court case ACB v. Paulson brought to its final implementation. Even though the court ruled in our favor almost a decade ago, the Department of the Treasury continues to delay rolling out the first accessible currency note. While we remain hopeful, we know we still have a long road ahead of us.
Convention and Meetings Team: Janet Dickelman
The convention and meetings team has been hard at work with all things convention-related. Beginning with this year’s convention, ACB, in conjunction with the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), will offer continuing education credits to rehabilitation teachers and counselors, teachers of the visually impaired, low-vision therapists, orientation and mobility instructors, and other professionals. This is a wonderful opportunity for vision professionals to attend the convention and obtain CEUs while enhancing their careers and interacting with convention attendees. For more information, visit www.acb.org, or refer to the article “Continuing Education Opportunities with ACB” in the March issue of the Forum.
To ensure that individuals who are attending the convention as awardees have the best experience possible, we have set up one point of contact for these individuals for convention registration. We are also expanding the number of workshops and seminars ACB will cover for these attendees. This will provide more direction and enhance their convention experience. And the better the experience, the more likely our awardees will be to attend future conventions! Other convention and meeting initiatives are in the formative stage; stay tuned to future issues of the Forum for more information.
Development Team: Tom Tobin
Since I started with ACB in February 2013, ACB’s development program has evolved into a well-run, effective program, starting with an annual development strategy and plan, with improved structure and accountability.
We’ve accomplished much over the years. Our top two accomplishments are:
- The establishment of The Legacy Endowment Fund and accompanying policy around how bequests are handled offers structure and a formula for growth. (For more information, see “ACB Establishes The Legacy Fund” elsewhere in this issue.)
- Adding structure and focus to ACB’s grants program, including the development of a targeted grants pipeline that includes smaller family foundation prospects as well as larger corporate prospects. This produced ACB’s first gift from the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the first gift from the Delta Gamma Foundation, a gift that was doubled in 2018, and ongoing support from the Aid Association for the Blind of Washington, D.C. and the Dreyfus Foundation beyond the typical three-year grant cycle.
Marketing and Communications Team: Katie Frederick
Over the past year, the marketing and communications team has led the development of core organizational values, a new tagline, and new logo for ACB. The tagline “Together for a Bright Future,” core values of integrity, advocacy, collaboration and belief in democratic principles (IACB), and the newly redesigned logo provide clearer, more consistent messaging when communicating, both within the organization and with external stakeholders. The new logo has the letters “ACB” in all caps above braille letters reading ACB. To the right of that is a divider line, straight from the top of the logo to the bottom; to its right it reads “American Council of the Blind” and, below that, “Together for a bright future.”
All of this is just the beginning for the marketing and communications team, however. For ACB to communicate in the most effective manner to targeted audiences, it is necessary to examine the various communication channels within the organization and determine how the channels are used to convey information to members and others interested in ACB. To this end, the members of the marketing and communications group have compiled a list of ACB’s communication channels and assigned staff responsibility for each channel. The next step the group undertook was writing down a list of the programs and services ACB provides and points of contact within the major program and service areas. Examples include the convention, ACB Radio, the Audio Description Project, etc. The purpose of this exercise was to determine, from those responsible for the particular program or service, the communication channel(s) they use when promoting, whether there are more effective ways communication can be delivered about the particular program or service, and how ACB can ensure the most effective channel(s) are used when communication occurs. This process takes significant time, but it is necessary for ACB to look at and understand the strengths and areas for improvement concerning communications and marketing.
The marketing and communication team is also working on developing a marketing and communications plan, a monumental task. We are thrilled to be sailing in unchartered waters to ensure that ACB glides into a bright future.