The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met for its pre-convention meeting on Saturday, July 2, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota. President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:01 a.m. At the call of the roll, the following board members were present: Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, John McCann, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Jeff Bishop, Sara Conrad, Berl Colley, Katie Frederick, Michael Garrett, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone, and David Trott. Board Member George Holliday was absent for medical reasons. Board of Publications Representative Doug Powell was also present. Staff present: Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, Kelly Gasque, ACB Administrative Assistant, Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Sharon Lovering, ACB Braille Forum Editor, Lane Waters, ACB Controller, Tom Tobin, ACB Director of Development, and Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, ACB Grant Writer. Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda. Peterson moved and Bishop seconded adoption of the agenda as circulated, the motion carried.
ACB Secretary Ray Campbell presented the minutes of the ACB Board Meeting held February 27, 2016. McCann moved and Spoone seconded adoption of the minutes as circulated, the motion carried.
There were two email votes taken by the board which required ratification. Ruschival moved and Garrett seconded ratification of the email vote concerning a legal matter, the motion carried. Bishop moved and Trott seconded ratification of the email vote to appoint Director Pat Sheehan as Board Representative to the ACB Credentials Committee, the motion carried.
The ACB President’s Report was given by Kim Charlson. Items discussed included:
- Kim asked Mitch Pomerantz to talk about the World Blind Union (WBU) Quadrennial General Assembly which will take place from Thursday, August 18 to Thursday, August 25 at the Rosen Center Hotel, Orlando Florida. ACB will broadcast the general assembly sessions on ACB Radio, the fourth time we’ve done this. Among the items WBU is working on is to get the United Nations Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities ratified. Dr. Fred Schroeder from the National Federation of the Blind is the only declared candidate for President of WBU. Diane Burgeron from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Canada is one of five declared candidates for the position of WBU Second Vice President.
- Kim reported that 20 countries have ratified the Marrakesh treaty. They are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), El Salvadore, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Israel, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Uraguay.
- Jeff Thom reported that NELDS is taking the steps necessary to turn over their remaining assets to ACB, per the resolution adopted by both its Board of Directors and the ACB Board of Directors. It is their goal to have everything turned over before the Fall ACB Board meeting.
- President Charlson asked the board to address two issues of concern raised by ACB’s Special Interest affiliates. The first was the policy on recording of special Interest affiliate meetings which had been adopted by the ACB Conference and Convention Committee earlier in 2016. Affiliates are concerned that the proposed charges for these recordings would be cost prohibitive and that affiliates may resort to making their own recordings which would not be of the quality of those made by ACB Radio. Trott moved and Sheehan seconded that the ACB Board of Directors suspend the policy for recording of special interest affiliate programs adopted by the ACB Conference and Convention Committee earlier in 2016, and that the board establish a group to craft an audio visual policy for presentation at the Fall Board of Directors Meeting with input from ACB’s Special Interest Affiliates. The motion carried.
- Prior to discussing the second issue brought by ACB’s Special Interest Affiliates, Spoone moved and McCann Seconded that the ACB Conference and Convention Committee bring an itemized budget to the ACB Budget Committee each year for review during the budget process, and that significant policy changes regarding the Conference and Convention be brought before the board for review and approval. The motion carried.
- The second issue brought by ACBs Special Interest Affiliates was a request for reconsideration of the proposed schedule for shortening of the ACB Conference and Convention to take affect in 2017. Affiliates are concerned about logistical issues presented by the proposed schedule splitting the ACB General Session into morning and afternoon segments, and that attendance both at their programs and the ACB Afternoon General session would be hurt. McCann moved and Peterson seconded that the afternoon general session component of the ACB Conference and Convention be rescinded for 2017, that the 2017 ACB Conference and Convention General Sessions begin on Saturday July 1 and run through Thursday, July 6, 2017 following the current format, and that all parties including special interest affiliates, the ACB Conference and Convention Committee, representatives from the ACB Radio Management Team and the audio visual team meet to craft a workable Conference and Convention schedule change for consideration by the ACB Board for presentation at the mid year ACB Board meeting in 2017. The motion carried on a 10-4 roll call vote. Board members voting in favor were Thom, McCann, Pomerantz, Bishop, Colley, Garrett, Peterson, Sheehan, Spoone and Trott. Board members voting in opposition were Campbell, Ruschival, Conrad and Frederick.
McCann moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges asked that Sharon Lovering begin presentation of the staff reports by presenting the Editor’s report. While Sharon didn’t have any highlights of her written report to the board to share, she discussed the goings on in the ACB Conference and Convention Communications Center.
The ACB Development Report was presented by Development Director Tom Tobin. After asking for questions or comments on his previously circulated written report, Tom presented an analysis of ACB’s Direct Mail efforts. Looking at the results of the Spring, 2015, year-end, 2015 and Spring, 2016 appeals, revenue from direct mail continues to increase steadily. Tom reported that the ACB Angels Memorial has 20 angels submitted, bringing in over $14,000 in revenue with more in the cue. Tom reported that about 80 individuals have RSVP’ed for the annual giving society reception to be held during the conference and convention on July 3. And finally, Tom indicated that ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges is very engaged in the development work both he and Jo Lynn are doing, and that Eric will be visiting the Dr. Scholl foundation during the month of July.
Jo Lynn Bailey-Page presented her grants report. After asking for questions on her previously circulated written report, she provided the board some updates on grant funding. So far in 2016, ACB has received $32,000 in grant funding including $2,000 in new funding from the Delta Gamma foundation. The other $5,000 is a third year grant from the Dreyfus foundation which is a strong show of support for ACB’s work. The Aid Association of the Blind for the District of Columbia has again funded ACB at the $25,000 level. We have 14 grants pending in the amount of $87,000. Several grants in the amount of $69,500 were denied, and there are 15 grants still to be written for a total of $160,000.
Work continues rebuilding our grant pipeline. We need to think about more ambitious projects that will require major grant funding. Jo Lynn is working to learn more about philanthropy on the west coast.
Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs Tony Stephens presented his report. Highlights included:
- Tony said it’s pretty clear we won’t get a final rule from the Department of Justice on Web Accessibility and Title III of the ADA. DOJ’s position is they will litigate these issues.
- ACB will be submitting comments on the department’s Supplemental Announcement of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding web accessibility for state and local Governments under Title II of the ADA.
- We will also submit comments on the FCC’s NPRM regarding expansion of Audio Description. Both the SANPRM on web accessibility and Title II of the ADA and the Audio Description NPRM will be the subject of a conference call jointly hosted by ACB and AFB on Wednesday, July 13.
- Final rules implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) were released just prior to this meeting. It does appear the homemaker outcome for rehabilitation will be eliminated, however, the time for its phase out has been extended to June 30, 2017. More to come on these rules as the details become clear.
- Greyhound has entered into a settlement agreement with DOJ on web accessibility. It does appear the site is better.
- Social Security will be testing a 2 for 1 benefit offset.
- ACB is participating in the Tech Forum run by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) through a grant from Google. Dealing with the internet of things, how to make smart devices accessible.
- Work continues on the Cogswell-Macy Act and Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act. Congress isn’t moving on much of anything, so we’re not expecting these to pass this year.
- Tony and Eric have met with the FCC concerning third-party devices such as cable boxes. We want to make sure they are accessible and don’t undo all the work we’ve done through the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).
- ACB is involved with negotiating rulemaking with the Department of Transportation regarding service animals and airlines, and in-flight communications and entertainment.
Prior to the board recessing into Executive Session, Oral Miller announced that the Eunice Fiorito foundation is in the process of dissolution and will be gifting a sum of money to ACB.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded that the board recess into Executive Session for discussion of legal issues. The motion carried, and the board went into Executive Session at 12:37 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 1:58 p.m. President Charlson reported that the board discussed legal matters and that no motions were passed during the Executive Session.
Eric Bridges presented the Executive Director’s report. Highlights included:
- Eric reported that ACB has $240,000 in convention sponsorships as of May 31, 2016, up significantly from the same time in 2015. This comes from a mix of first time sponsors that came in at a high level and returning sponsors that have increased their sponsorships.
- ACB’s Blind Abilities video has been edited and is available as part of the “Spotlight On” segment available to over 300 PBS affiliates.
- ACB is growing the ways we share information, getting the word out to the wider community about the good work we’re doing. This through growing social media presence and other means.
- A motion has been filed by ACB asking to have the time frame for roll out of accessible currency rolled back to 2020, not 2026 as is being proposed by the Government.
- Efforts continue moving forward to reimagine and redesign the ACB Website, www.acb.org.
- ACB and Microsoft continue moving forward through our partnership making more Microsoft products accessible. Microsoft is working with us on updating ACB’s IT infrastructure to the point where we will have enterprise quality equipment and software. Staff will be trained on how to use these new tools.
- There are lots of things happening with ACB, lots of projects that need to be done plus our everyday, important work. Eric believes ACB needs to engage in a strategic planning process with outside entities to help us move forward as an organization. In order to do strategic planning right, there will be a significant cost that will need to be funded. By consensus, the board expressed its support to Eric to begin doing what is necessary to pull things together for a strategic planning process for ACB.
ACB Controller Lane Waters gave the Minneapolis area office report. Highlights included:
- From the perspective of the Minneapolis area office staff, the pilot project to change the way affiliates submitted their information through AMMS went much more efficiently. There are still education and other issues to work through, but things were better.
- The switch in auditing firms went well, we were able to get the audit report and 990 out much faster.
- Lane and others will be looking at a demo of potential new accounting software.
- With Lane’s impending retirement, transition will be taking place over time in the office.
Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
ACB treasurer Carla Ruschival gave the Treasurer’s report. AS of May 31, 2016, total support and revenue year to date is $501,819, with total expenses of $503,968.
McCann moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Board of Publications Representative Doug Powell presented the BOP report, discussing their activities with candidates page and forum. Also, Doug asked us to help find candidates for seats on the BOP. Peterson moved and Bishop seconded acceptance of the BOP report, the motion carried.
The Strategic Plan Goal Group reports were presented. We have 1,413 followers on Twitter, and 2,264 likes on FaceBook. Goal Group 1 is very interested in ACB’s state and special interest affiliates making maximum use of their affiliate pages on the ACB Website. Goal Group 3 is looking at the employment handbook, and Goal Group 4 will be looking at potential Constitution and Bylaws changes. The Goal Group reports were accepted by consensus.
Under new business, Colley moved and Campbell seconded that a history committee be established to add onto “People of Vision.” The motion carried. President Charlson asked that all board members plan to arrive in Reno by 2 p.m. on Friday, October 21 for the Fall Board meeting.
There being no further business, Campbell moved and Frederick seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried, and the meeting adjourned at 4:14 p.m.
Date submitted: 8/23/2016
Date approved: 10/22/2016