The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Pre-Convention Board Meeting. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, Marlaina Lieberg, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Berl Colley, Sara Conrad, Janet Dickelman, Michael Garret, George Holliday, John McCann, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone and David Trott. Board of Publications Representative Denise Colley was present. Staff present: Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director, Eric Bridges, ACB Director of External Relations and Policy, and Lane Waters, ACB Controller. After roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda. Lieberg moved and Trott seconded adoption of the agenda, the motion carried.
The minutes of the June 9, 2014 Board of Directors teleconference meeting were presented by ACB Secretary Ray Campbell. McCann moved and Dickelman seconded adoption of these minutes, the motion carried.
President Charlson next presented her report. She informed the board that three members of the ACB Advisory Board had joined us for this meeting. The three gentlemen present were given an opportunity to introduce themselves. They are: Dr. David Stuchiner, Dr. Lloyd Bowser and Mr. Roger Bridges.
Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the President’s Report, the motion carried.
Melanie Brunson gave the DC Area Office Report. She reported that negotiations have been ongoing with the Holiday Inn Crystal City and other venues in Arlington, Virginia for the 2015 ACB Mid Year President’s Meeting and Legislative Seminar. Melanie indicated we are close on terms with the Holiday Inn, which will include a slight room rate increase. Also, ACB is currently being offered a one year contract. Ruschival moved and McCann seconded that, pending ACB receiving a written contract which reflects the terms as negotiated, we hold the Mid Year Meetings at the Holiday Inn Crystal city from February 21-24, 2015. A friendly amendment was offered that ACB seek a multi-year contract with this hotel for these meetings. The motion carried.
Eric Bridges gave the External relations and Policy Report. Highlights include:
- Resolution 2013-15, adopted at the 2013 ACB Conference and Convention which deals with safe paths of travel for pedestrians in parking lots, has been submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A-117 standards setting committee thanks to our representative on that body, Chris Bell. Mr. Bell has chosen not to continue serving on this committee, and President Charlson will be working to find an individual to serve. We thank Chris for his service to ACB on this committee.
- H.R.4040, the Cogswell-Macy Act, has 20 co-sponsors, of which, ACB has been responsible for probably 14.
- H.R.3749, Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, currently has four co-sponsors. We need to generate more interest and advocacy on this issue with members of Congress.
- The Vehicle Donation legislation which ACB has been working to pass for several years has been re-introduced. When introduced, it had 21 original sponsors, all of whom sit on the House Ways and Means committee, 12 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
- Thanks to ACB’s efforts to engage mostly technology companies on accessibility, we have three new convention sponsors: Comcast, Facebook, and JP Morgan Chase. Also, while not a sponsor, Microsoft is at the convention and will be discussing Windows Phone accessibility.
- International Association of Audio Information Services, in addition to exhibiting, is also a sponsor.
- Salus University in Pennsylvania, which has a graduate program for students wanting to go into Special Education, has convened a group to discuss the future of the Teacher of the Visually Impaired profession, as there are concerns being raised regarding training of teachers. This group met in April and there will be ongoing discussions.
- ACB is watching as there has been discussions of opening up the Chaffee Amendment language of the U.S. Copyright Act, which allows producers of materials in specialized format to make material available to people who are blind or visually impaired without having to seek permission from the copyright holder to do so. This could happen either in the fall of 2014 or early in the 114th Congress. Feeling is Chafey needs to be updated to reflect changes in reading and technology such as the EBook.
- In the area of litigation/advocacy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is evaluating the efforts of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to implement the order requiring that paper currency be made accessible
- Activities are ongoing regarding litigation against the General Services Administration over the inaccessibility of sam.gov which must be used by Federal contractors for registration with this agency.
As the Editor’s reports had not yet arrived at convention, Sharon Lovering, ACB Braille Forum Editor, did not fully discuss this report with the board at this time. However, she reported that the statistics for the May, 2014 issue of the ACB Braille Forum are: 3,860 large print readers, down 1.31% from the 3,992 in 2013. Cassette readers accounted for 1,740 issues, down 10.31% from the 1,940 in 2013. Braille readers accounted for 875 issues, down 11.17% from 985 in 2013. CD readers accounted for 181 issues, up 8.38% from 167 in 2013. Finally, email readers accounted for 3,580 issues, up 5.6% from 3,390 in 2013. Total issues sent were 10,236, down 2.27% from 10,474 in 2013. Sharon indicated she will distribute the Editor’s Reports to the board when they arrive, for discussion during the post-convention board meeting.
Lane Waters, ACB Controller, gave the Minneapolis Area office report. He indicated that he and his staff have been very hard at work on things like completing ACB’s audit and 990 form, as well as work on convention. Both Lane and Melanie publicly expressed thanks and appreciation to the staff in both ACB offices for stepping up and taking on extra work.
The Treasurer’s Report was presented by ACB Treasurer Carla Ruschival. She reported that total support and revenue year to date as of 5/31/2014 is $715,677. Total year to date expenses are $424,633. Campbell moved and Conrad seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Returning to staff reports, Tom Tobin, ACB Director of Development, presented the development report. He discussed and answered questions on his written development report which had been submitted to the board prior to this meeting. In particular, he highlighted comparisons between the 2014 and 2013 spring direct mail appeals, saying while the spring 2014 appeal has raised quite a bit less than the spring, 2013 appeal, the 2014 packets were sent on May 24 so there’s probably some additional revenue to be realized. Also, comparing the 2013 year end appeal to 2012, we sent out quite a few more packets in 2013 and have raised more in revenue. He also indicated that our next direct mail piece will go out September 5, featuring one of ACB’s scholarship winners. Our year end appeal will feature Jesse Accosta, who is an Iraqi war veteran who was blinded and has a good story to tell. In the area of foundations, ACB has received two grants totaling $45,000, and 9 denials. We have 11 grants pending and 3 being written.
Holliday moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
The Strategic Plan Goal Group reports were presented. Carla Ruschival gave the Goal 1 report. All of the items this group is responsible for, which include the ACB Mini Mall, ACB Radio, ACB Website and ACB’s Social Media presence are working well. All ACB Website content is expected to be rolled over to the new Drupal platform by the end of 2014. As of this meeting, ACB has 730 Twitter followers and 545 Likes on Facebook.
Dan Spoone presented the Goal 2 report. He stressed based on what we’ve heard about the advisory board, corporate sponsorships and other things that fundraising is all about relationships. Goal group 2 has committees set up for the 12 key fundraising programs we identified at our fundraising planning meeting in September, 2013.
Dan discussed the proposed ACB Angels Memorial Tribute. This fundraising program will allow anyone to pay tribute to someone special by honoring that person with a donation of $500 or more to ACB. There will be an opportunity to provide a photo and an up to 500 word personalized biography of that person. The tribute can also be for a dog guide. Not only will this be posted on the ACB website, but the group is also proposing a wall of angels be put together which can be displayed at each annual conference and convention for attendees to enjoy.
Spoone moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the proposal to implement the ACB Angels Memorial Tribute, the motion carried.
Mitch reminded us of the wall we have set up in the ACB office to honor individuals contributing over $100,000 to ACB. Melanie will send the board a list of those honorees, once the two most recent additions are made.
Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded the board recessing into Executive Session for the purposes as discussed on the agenda, the motion carried, and the board recessed into Executive Session at 12:38 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 2:45 p.m. President Charlson reported that during Executive Session, the board approved a motion ratifying a loan of $48,000 to ACBES for payment of a legal judgment.
The Conference and Convention report was presented by Janet Dickelman. As part of discussing what is happening with the current conference and convention, she indicated we had a lot of room changes. There is a good reason for this as many events are growing larger than expected and needed to be moved. Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded acceptance of the Conference and convention report, the motion carried.
Jeff Thom presented the goal 3 report. The group is looking at changes to the employee handbook, and beginning discussion of whether or not there are real staff training needs we need to plan for. Also looking at new board orientation and updating of board handbook.
John McCann presented the goal 4 report. He indicated the group has nothing new to report outside of the affiliate relations Constitutional amendment which has been circulated via the ACB Leadership List.
Campbell moved and Lieberg seconded acceptance of the Strategic Plan Goal Group Reports, the motion carried.
The Audio Description Project report was presented by committee chairperson Dan Spoone. Dan indicated the committee is working well and pledged to keep the ADP reports coming to the board every two months. Peterson moved and Holliday seconded acceptance of the Audio Description Project report, the motion carried.
Denise Colley, Chairperson, presented the Board of Publications report. She discussed the ACB Braille Forum survey and also indicated that the BOP will hold two town hall meetings during this ACB Conference and Convention to gather input on the ACB Braille Forum and EForum. The BOP will also have individuals available during this convention to assist those who need help filling out the survey. The BOP will be discussing two items over the next year, political campaigning on ACB’s leadership list and advertising in the conference and convention newspaper.
Berl Colley presented a report on the leadership training conducted prior to this conference and convention on July 11. While the attendance was small, he and others felt the group of people that were there wanted to learn about and interact on the issues presented.
Thom moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the Board of Publications report, the motion carried.
Dan Spoone discussed the Audio Description conference taking place during this Conference and Convention. There will be 24 panelists, 36 attendees, and 25 ACB mentors who will work with the attendees to help them better understand what it’s like to be a person who is blind to help them as they begin providing audio description.
There being no further business, Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded that the pre-convention board meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 3:34 p.m.
Date submitted: 9/08/2014
Date approved: 10/18/2014