Call to Order/Introductions
The July meeting was called to order by Chairman Ron Brooks at 10:32 a.m. on July 6, 2019 at the Riverside Hotel in Rochester, NY.
Members present: Ron Brooks, Chair; Deb Lewis; Penny Reeder; Paul Edwards; Susan Glass.
ACB employees and contractors present: Sharon Lovering.
Ex officio members present: Katie Frederick, Public Relations.
Guests: Fred Scheigert; Phil Jones; Adam Ruschival; Jeff Bishop; Doug Hunsinger.
Since this was an in-person meeting, public comments were taken first. There were no comments.
Adoption of Agenda:
Ron reviewed the agenda and requested that other business be moved to the top of the agenda because there were two important items to consider.
Motion: Paul moved adoption of the amended agenda; Deb seconded. Motion passed.
Motion: Deb moved to ratify the email vote taken by the Board of Publications to allow Denise Colley and any other ACB candidates to participate in the online Candidates Forum; Paul seconded. Katie asked how candidates would have known of this opportunity. Ron said an announcement was published after the decision was voted by email.
Discussion of ACB Radio Proposed Changes: Jeff Bishop
Jeff explained about the licensing for ACB Radio Interactive and ACB Radio Café, which play commercially licensed music. The provider used by most “small broadcasters” went out of business suddenly and without warning. ACB Radio is reviewing options, but the costs will be significantly greater than in the past regardless of which is chosen. Jeff proposes to merge ACB Radio Interactive into ACB Radio Café with combined content. He would like to make the licensing decision by August 1. Deb explained that this proposal is endorsed by the ACB Radio Management Team and has been discussed with the board prior to bringing it to the BOP.
Ron asked why the streams would not be merged into Interactive, and Jeff explained that ACB owns the rights to the name ACB Radio Café but not for Interactive. Paul inquired about listener counts for both streams. Jeff said that accurate data was not available, but it is much lower than it should be on both streams due to lack of focused content. Jeff explained that in the bigger picture, his vision is that Mainstream would primarily focus on ACB affiliates rather than rerunning content from radio reading services, and he would create a volunteer position with responsibility for Mainstream programming. The music stream combining Interactive and Café would have live programming and the Café mix. Treasure Trove would get refreshed content. Live Event and Special Event would still run affiliate conventions and similar content. World News and Information could be eliminated, since it reruns content from other sources that are not blindness-related. He proposes to rebrand and restructure the content by January 1, but now his only proposal is about the music streams.
Paul said that a founding pillar of Café was to be a unique place where blind musicians were heard. He proposed that live shows featuring the work of blind musicians should be encouraged as well as the automated content. He also encouraged redoing the curated material that provided background about the artist or song. Paul also expressed concern that ACBLink is underutilized and efforts should be made to showcase its usefulness. Jeff said that several projects were being initiated to improve ACBLink along with the web resources in general.
Motion: Deb moved that the BOP endorse the proposal to merge the ACB Radio Café and ACB Radio Interactive streams, with a recommendation to the ACB Radio management team that they emphasize content by blind musicians and blind broadcasters; Paul seconded. Motion passed.
Jeff will attend future BOP meetings to provide updates and discuss various aspects of ACB Radio.
Approval of June 4 Minutes:
Motion: Penny moved adoption of the June 4, 2019 minutes; Paul seconded the motion. Motion passed.
2018-2019 Chairman’s Report: Ron Brooks
Ron reviewed the highlights of the year. Following is his written report.
This report serves as an annual report for the period July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. It also serves as my final report as BOP Chairman. With that in mind, I want to begin by acknowledging ACB President Kim Charlson for appointing me to the Board of Publications in 2013 and for her unwavering support of the Board of Publications and of me over the course of the past six years. I also want to acknowledge the rest of the members of the ACB Board of Directors, ACB’s staff, contractors and volunteers who have assisted with everything from producing and editing the ACB Braille and E-Forum magazines to managing the ACB website, our social media presence, email lists, ACB Radio, ACB Link and all of the other channels through which we communicate with members and the public. I want to give a special acknowledgement to ACB Editor Sharon Lovering. Sharon completed her 25th year of service to the ACB during my tenure, and she has been an amazing supporter and hard worker for all of the time I have been affiliated with the Board of Publications. Put simply, she is the glue that has held us together, and we would not be where we are without her. Sharon, thank you! Finally, I want to acknowledge each member (past and present) of the ACB Board of Publications. Each member has contributed in unique and valuable ways to our work and to our success, and I am grateful for having worked with each of them.
Achievements During 2018-19
The past year has been one of hard work and success. What follows is a brief overview of the achievements we have accomplished by working together and through our collaborations with the ACB staff, the Board, the Public Relations Committee, the Communication and Marketing Action Planning Committee, the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, and a host of ACB members and friends.
- Cartridge Production – We began offering the ACB Braille and E-Forum magazines on National Library Service compatible cartridge in 2018, and the success of the cartridge format has continued to grow during 2019. At the beginning of the year, we began including ACB Reports and the ACB Mini Mall Catalog on cartridges, thereby further expanding the amount of information available to members without any increase in cost. Over the past 18 months, cartridges have become one of our most popular format preferences, and we have received numerous positive comments about this new format.
- Large Print Production – In 2018, the BOP adopted a style guide for large print editions of the ACB Braille Forum and other publications. This style guide represented the culmination of a survey of large print readers and significant collaboration between the BOP and the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI). To date, we have received generally positive comments about the large print ACB Braille Forum, although production costs have been higher than expected. We have also found that some documents are difficult to produce in the new standard, so we are continuing to work on refining our approach to large print. In 2019, we chose to modify the standard slightly for the ACB Conference and Convention Program. We will be evaluating feedback received from conference attendees on the format being used for the program, and we will make adjustments based on this feedback. Clearly, the production of large print will continue to be an area of focus during 2019-20.
- Updated policy manual – Thanks to hard work by BOP members Deb Cook Lewis and Paul Edwards, with feedback from several others, we have revised the ACB Board of Publications Editorial Policy Manual. The manual now reflects current practice as well as the myriad of communication channels ACB now has at its disposal.
- Themed issues – One of the most significant changes the BOP made in 2018-19 was the introduction of themed issues for the ACB E-Forum, a practice which was extended to editions of the ACB Braille Forum in January of 2019. Although the general focus of the ACB Braille and E-Forum magazines has not changed, themes allow us to narrow our focus for each edition in order to highlight a specific aspect of living life as a person who is blind or visually impaired. Themes have included going back to school, rehabilitation and employment, traditions, relationships, diversity and inclusion, and health related topics, and we have planned issues focusing on “the dog days of summer” and transportation. Themed issues have proven popular with members, and the BOP fully supports their continuation into the future.
- Candidates Coverage – In 2018, the BOP, upon the request of the ACB Board of Directors, moved the ACB Candidates Forum to an online teleconference format, and we conducted it two weeks prior to the 2018 conference. To ensure that candidate information was still available during the conference, we added a new Town Hall Meeting where members could meet and interact with candidates. This approach proved successful, so we repeated it for 2019. So far, this approach has increased engagement, and we have received generally positive feedback about the new approach.
There is much more that can be said about the preceding year, but ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. According to BOP KPIs, we are reaching more people through the myriad of paper-based, cartridge, phone and online communication channels now in place, and in general, our members are liking what they are seeing. In fact, the ACB Board of Directors expressed its support for the BOP’s work by increasing our 2019 budget in order to empower us to increase content for both the ACB Braille and E-Forum magazines.
Planning for the Future
During our July 6 meeting, the BOP discussed the future, and two initiatives were mentioned. First, the BOP was established within the ACB Constitution as a means of ensuring an independent and unfettered editorial voice for the ACB that is not tied to the specific whims of any leader, and that role must be maintained. Beyond that, it will be essential for the BOP to work with the ACB President, Board of Directors, relevant committees and staff to clarify its authority and responsibilities in light of the ever-changing communication landscape. Second, the BOP needs to improve its approach for communicating with and hearing from rank and file ACB members. After all, the BOP is a partially elected Board, so it needs to maintain a representative character as it goes about its work.
The future is bright for the ACB Board of Publications, and while I am proud of the work we have completed over the past several years, I am excited about what the future holds as the BOP continues to move forward in its service to the ACB and its members.
Respectfully Submitted, Ron L. Brooks, Chairman, ACB Board of Publications
BOP members commented on Ron’s leadership and contribution.
Motion: Paul moved adoption of the chairman’s report; Penny seconded. Motion passed.
Editor’s Report Convention 2019: Sharon Lovering
Sharon reviewed her written report pasted below and provided an update on Communications Center activities during convention. She explained that the copier rented for convention does not staple, it is hard to staple the newspaper by hand because it is large, and she will run out of toner and paper at this rate of printing. Sharon requested to reduce the typeface by one point which should result in easier stapling as well as solving the paper and toner challenge. Members stressed that paper and toner could easily be purchased but the problem of hand stapling was significant, and it was agreed that this variance would be OK. Sharon was asked to collect any feedback and send any concerned individuals to Deb.
This year has been a very busy one so far! I signed up 8 new people for the online database; two affiliates requested Word, one wanted large print, one wanted a braille copy of the list to compare with AMMS, and 64 used the AMMS system. Some affiliates used the AMMS system but wanted a braille, Word or Excel list for comparison.
I continue to work with the public relations and credentials committees, as well as the board of publications and the awards committee, and the marketing and communications strategic plan group. The BOP awards had 75 candidates for the Freeman, 2 for the Henley, and one for the Liggett. This year’s Freeman competition was neck and neck – one point separated the winner from the runner-up.
I have also been working with the history committee. I am continuing my work on identifying people in ACB’s photos and videos. I have completed captions for 2001 through 2005’s photos, and am working on 2008’s photos.
As of this writing, the August E-Forum has been sent to Perkins for recording.
Numbers below are in the following order: 2019 numbers, followed by the 2018 numbers and percentage of increase or decrease in parentheses.
By the time you read this, the July issue will be going out to:
2,488 large print readers (2,580, down 3.565 percent)
691 braille readers (681, up 1.47 percent)
689 cartridge readers (970, down 28.97 percent) **
and 6,761 e-mail readers (6,369, up 6.15 percent)
Grand total: 10,629 (10,598, up 0.29 percent)
* Most data is as of June 12, 2019, except for cartridge and email.
** As of June 17th. That number could increase as more issues are returned between June 17th and 30th. There are 210 subscribers with three issues still checked out. Perkins sent out a letter to subscribers with two or three issues out on May 15; they will hold sending at three issues.
Since January, I have received: 17 pieces for Affiliate and Committee News, 46 pieces for Here and There, 7 pieces for High Tech Swap Shop, 4 pieces for Passings, 2 memorial articles, 0 letters to the editor, and 62 separate articles as of June 12, 2019
In May, I received back in the mail: 7 braille copies, 29 large print copies, and 5 email copies.
In June, I have received: 5 braille copies, 16 large print copies, and 2 email copies as of June 28, 2019
So far this year, we have lost 80 members and friends. (as of June 12, 2019)
Deadlines for the Rest of the Year
September 2019 (hard copy): July 24, 2019
October 2019 (electronic): August 23, 2019
November 2019 (hard copy): September 23, 2019
December 2019 (electronic): October 25, 2019
Motion: Deb moved to accept the editor’s report; Penny seconded. Motion passed with applause.
None of the usual other reports were available. There was discussion that this meeting was in conflict with the committee chairs meeting and we should negotiate a different time next year.
Review of the 2018-2019 BOP Work Plan
2019 BOP Budget:
Develop, submit and address Board questions regarding 2019 BOP budget. Board increased budget to permit expanded capacity within Braille and E-Forum magazines.
2019 BOP Writers Workshop
Develop content for and conduct BOP Writers Workshop
ACB Braille Forum and E-Forum Vendor Selection
Develop RFP for next round of vendor contracts. Not complete This responsibility is under direction of staff. BOP should be involved to provide input and oversight.
ACB Candidates Page, Forum and Town Hall Meeting
Develop language for page, advertise page in ACB Braille Forum, post questions, run ACB Candidates Forum and Town Hall Meeting. Need to evaluate technical effectiveness of Candidates Forum. Technical issues were distracting from overall quality of the online Candidates Forum.
ACB Digitization Project
Support digitization of hard copy issues and photographs. Ongoing. Primarily a staff function.
Present BOP awards during general sessions.
BOP Editorial Policy — Update and rewrite
Need to get the updated manual posted.
Enter KPI data into tracking tool and distribute results. Ongoing. Sharon Lovering has been entering KPI data.
BOP Meeting Minutes
Provide meeting minutes, lists of to-dos and other meeting correspondence. Ongoing. Deb Cook-Lewis has served as secretary. This responsibility may need to be reassigned in the year to come.
Conduct meeting, receive reports, take actions as appropriate and approve meeting summaries. Ongoing.
Braille Forum and E-Forum Format and Content
Provide feedback and guidance on ACB Braille Forum and E-Forum and assist with developing themed issues of the E-Forum. Ongoing. Huge success but need to identify themes earlier and build system for keeping progress moving.
Large Print Style Guide
Evaluate and refine large print style guide based on experience during 2018. Ongoing. Braille Forum is working; need to work on other documents. Convention program is a test for this year.
Provide Editorial Guidance
Provide editorial guidance to ACB Editor - Ongoing. Need to retain this function.
Track Volunteer Hours
Track and document hours spent by BOP members and other non-compensated individuals working on BOP-related items. Ongoing. Deb Cook-Lewis has updated volunteer hours, but it needs to be handled in a more consistent and ongoing fashion.
New Ideas for 2019-20
These were summarized in Ron’s chairman’s report above.
The next meeting is scheduled for August 13, 2019 at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Deb moved and Penny seconded adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 12 p.m.
Deb Lewis, Secretary