Call to Order and Introductions
The December 3rd meeting of the American Council of the Blind Board of Publications was called to order by Chairperson, Deb Lewis, at 9:02 PM, ET.
Penny called the roll as follows: Deb, Penny, Zelda, Paul, Susan, Sharon, Jeff, Debbie Hazelton (also representing ACB Radio), Bob, and Dan were all present. Katie and David were absent.
Ray Campbell attended as a guest. Cynthia Hawkins attended, as well.
Adoption of the Agenda for the December 3, 2019, ACB Board of Publications Meeting
Jeff asked to move the ACB Radio report up on the agenda, and the agenda with that alteration was approved unanimously, following a motion made by Paul and seconded by Penny.
Approval of the Minutes for the November 5, 2019, meeting of the ACB Board of Publications
Paul moved and Zelda seconded approval of the minutes from the November 2019 meeting of the BOP, as submitted, and the motion carried unanimously.
ACB Radio Report
Jeff reported that ACB Radio staff continues to do their due diligence with respect to moving the ACB Radio server to the cloud with anticipation of a much more robust and secure infrastructure. In addition, they are planning and testing for the ACB Radio Holiday Auction and writing and editing new program promotions.
Working with BITS, they have reached a mutual agreement to allow BITS to retain the content of and copyright for their programming which has been and can continue to be streamed on ACB Radio, while designating that content an in-kind donation from BITS to ACB. GDUI already does this – under a “handshake agreement.” Jeff asked the BOP to consider whether this arrangement can be approved as a policy regarding the content of all ACB affiliates who stream their programming on ACB Radio, and Deb indicated that she has already initiated discussion with Dan and Eric regarding this approach.
Deb suggested, and Paul and others expressed agreement, that the Board of Publications is an appropriate body to clarify and extend this policy to other ACB affiliates and committees who stream programs on ACB Radio. Paul said that the policy should apply, across the board, to all ACB special-interest affiliates and committees.
The policy would not apply to ACB state affiliates or other entities that pay ACB Radio to stream (or record) their programs, because they already own that content by virtue of the fact that they are paying ACB Radio to stream or record it.
Further, we should develop a draft policy statement and then submit it to all ACB special interest affiliates for their ratification. (This approach will serve to honor the autonomy of our special interest affiliates and committees.) We can utilize Janet’s committee of convention coordinator chairs as a vehicle for presenting the policy at a convention committee meeting, launching discussion, and seeking ratification of the policy. Dan expressed agreement with this approach, saying that anything we can do to improve communication with our special interest affiliates is a good thing.
Deb suggested that ACB Radio should be the body for developing the written policy. Then, Jeff will bring that policy to the January BOP meeting for our discussion and approval.
Ray said that he can get minutes of the BITS board meeting where the policy was first approved, which were expected to be approved on December 4, to Jeff. ACB Radio will draft a written policy document based on that agreement (which was spelled out and agreed to by BITS and ACB Radio), it will be shared with the BOP at our January meeting. The policy will be shared with ACB special interest affiliates and committees for their consideration and ratification, and then Deb will bring it to the ACB Board of Directors at their February mid-year meeting.
Paul moved and Zelda seconded a motion that the BOP accept in principle the development and implementation of a new policy concerning copyright ownership of documents and ACB’s ability to distribute those documents through its channels after a date certain. The motion carried unanimously.
Debbie said that ACB Radio continues to work on firming up their new schedule, which will be launched in January. They are adding programming, including a new cooking program called “Chewing the Fat,” and adding the recent Advocacy Report on Special Events and as a podcast. They are continuing to identify what will be happening with the Café and Interactive, so that they can announce the expected changes soon.
They are also planning a meeting with Carla concerning a pricing structure for affiliates and small businesses who want ACB Radio to produce promotions and PSAs.
Paul moved and Penny seconded the motion to accept the ACB Radio report. The motion carried unanimously.
Open Forum – Opportunity for guests to comment on non-agendized items
There were no comments from guests on non-agendized items at this meeting.
Update on ACB Braille Forum and E-Forum Themes
Deb said that we may need to make people aware of upcoming themes with a little more lead time than has often been the case. Sharon said that articles are already coming in for the leadership-themed February Forum.
Penny asked Sharon to send the BOP a list of upcoming themes, and Sharon agreed to do so. Below is the list which Sharon subsequently shared with the BOP:
“February’s theme is leaders and leadership. This theme honors ACB’s leadership meetings and legislative advocacy. Who are the leaders in your state and special-interest affiliates? What are their qualities of character and their accomplishments? What makes leadership work? When and how does it thrive, and when does it flounder? The deadline is Dec. 16th.
March’s Braille Forum will focus on blindness and related topics, such as SSDI, ABLE accounts, the Real ID and how to acquire one. The deadline for March is Jan. 24th.
April showers bring May flowers; the April E-Forum will focus on weathering weather as blind people, such as:
- Traveling in snow with a cane or guide dog;
- Preparing for weather emergencies;
- Stories about weather and being stranded;
- Funny stories about weather; and
- Weather and long-distance travel.
April’s deadline is Feb. 17th, due to the leadership and legislative meetings.
May’s theme is on gardening and other spring activities. For example, you could focus on:
- Specialized gardens: water gardens, scented gardens, bird/butterfly garden;
- Gardening blind: adaptations; or
- Spring fix-it chores and how you do them as a blind person.
NLS and BARD have substantial collections of gardening books, and I plan to write a review of what you can find there. The deadline for May is March 25th.
The June E-Forum will focus on the upcoming convention (of course), but also look at weddings. For example:
- Participating in weddings as a blind person;
- Attending weddings as a blind person;
- Planning your wedding as a blind person;
- Unusual weddings; and
- Weddings and sexual orientation.
June’s deadline is April 22nd.”
Recommendation for Editor of Here and There column
Sharon reported that we received two applications for editor of “Here and There,” one from Kim Charlson and one from Cynthia Hawkins. Sharon recommended that we approve Cynthia Hawkins as the new editor for “Here and There.”
Paul moved and Susan seconded a motion to do just that. Cynthia was on the call and so was available to respond to any questions from the board.
Cynthia introduced herself by saying that she works as a law professor and writes for a living. She is used to meeting deadlines and to being well organized. She looks at editing “Here and There” as an opportunity to diversify her writing skills and to become more acquainted with what’s going on within the blindness and blindness services communities.
The motion carried unanimously.
Update from Paul’s work group on seminar planning
Paul reported that their group met and held a lively discussion. They decided to add another topic concerning e-mail and ACB’s various e-mail lists. An issue we have all confronted from time to time is a general lack of understanding about the purposes of ACB’s various e-mail discussion lists and confusion about what exactly differentiates one list from another. He added that it might be a good idea to discuss the rules of conduct and to let affiliates know that we are happy to share ACB’s list rules with them.
He said that the committee feels that the other six topics that they have identified are worth pursuit.
They are willing to make a commitment that at least two programs will be produced and one forum conducted between now and the ACB Conference and Convention.
Debbie Hazelton said that ACB Radio anticipates that BOP programs would be streamed on Special Events, rather than other ACB Radio streams like Live Event or Mainstream.
Paul said that they will decide at their December 18 meeting when and what their first presentation will involve, but their current thinking is that it will be a reiteration of what the BOP presented at the 2019 convention BOP workshop, perhaps featuring recordings from various people on specific topics, maybe beginning by encouraging people to listen to the podcast from the convention recording of that BOP workshop.
They anticipate holding at least one Zoom conference call, possibly featuring a discussion of the ACB Braille Forum.
They developed a meeting schedule, and their next meeting will occur on December 18 at 9:00 p.m., ET.
BOP Chair’s Report
Deb said that Sharon has included the typical article that the BOP usually writes about our awards in the January issue. The Freeman award will allow nominations of articles that have appeared between April of 2019 and March of 2020.We already have a proven process in place for handling that award.
However, we have struggled with getting nominations for the other two awards, and so Deb wants us to begin earlier, promoting the awards and figuring out how we would like to advertise the Henley (media) award and the Liggett award, which honors an outstanding ACB affiliate publication.
She wondered if members of the BOP may want to become better acquainted with affiliate publications, and “coach” the affiliates through the process of nominating their outstanding publications. (In four years, we have had only one nomination for the Liggett award.)
Last year, we actually had two nominations for the Henley award, but that is not always the case.
Susan suggested making an announcement about the awards on ACB Radio, perhaps hosting an interview where a BOP member could describe the awards and create some enthusiasm for submitting nominations. She said that she likes the idea of coaching affiliates on submitting their publications for the Liggett award because there are lots of steps – it’s not that hard to do, you just have to follow the process. We could advertise our availability to provide coaching to affiliates on improving their publications and also on nominating publications for the award.
Deb said that Paul’s committee might want to consider promoting our awards and possibly offering some kind of coaching to affiliates as part of their ACB membership outreach. She also said that we should consult with Debbie Hazelton to see where this topic might fit well on a particular ACB Radio program or stream, e.g., perhaps a Mainstream host is looking for someone to interview, and one of us could step up to talk about our awards and promote our availability for coaching affiliate editors.
Deb said that we do always include information about the BOP awards during our presentation at the mid-winter Affiliate Presidents’ Meeting.
We could also reach out to every affiliate president with information and encourage them to share it with their editors.
Ray Campbell noted that the ACB board’s affiliate liaisons could also share information about our awards with the affiliates with whom they interact.
Debbie Hazelton said that Cindy Van Winkle’s upcoming program called “ACB in Action” presents another good opportunity for us to get the word out.
Penny said that because many of us don’t really know anything about the people whom the awards memorialize, another thing we need to do is talk about the people for whom the awards are named. Sharon said that she would send that information to the BOP, and the summary which she subsequently provided via e-mail, is pasted below:
“You’ve probably heard the names Ned E. Freeman, Vernon Henley, and Hollis Liggett before. You may even recognize them as being the names of awards presented by ACB’s board of publications. But who were these men? What did they do for ACB?
“Ned Freeman was the first president of the American Council of the Blind. Born in 1902 in Nebraska, he went on to become a chemist for the Food and Drug Administration. In 1927, he married Loretta Tutwiler, and they made their home in New Orleans. By 1930, Ned had been diagnosed with deterioration of the optic nerve, which ultimately rendered him completely blind. He taught himself braille, corresponded with many people (including George Card), read widely, and joined what was then the Georgia Federation of the Blind, which he served as president for two terms. Ned drafted a statement of beliefs for the provisional committee to read over and react to before the Kansas City convention that led to the walkout – and the split from the NFB. He was elected president in Kansas City, and served one five-year term. His articles in ‘The Braille Forum’ were called ‘ACB President’s Fireside Chat.’ He also stepped in and edited an issue of the Forum in January 1966, following the resignation of Marie Boring, who had been the editor. He died of lung cancer on March 30, 1969 – his and Loretta’s 42nd anniversary.
“Vernon Henley was the creator and producer of “ACB Reports,” the monthly radio show that airs on radio reading services nationwide as well as on ACB Radio. He was also the chairman of the board of publications during the 1980s. He died in a house fire on May 7, 1986. The board of directors approved the creation of the Vernon Henley Media Award at the 1988 convention.
“Hollis Liggett was the editor of the first six issues of ‘The Braille Free Press,’ the Forum’s predecessor. The Memphis chapter underwrote the cost of the first issue. A graduate of the Tennessee School for the Blind, he went on to become a Methodist minister for five churches in Henry County, Tennessee. After a time, he decided he wasn’t outgoing enough to enjoy being a pastor. Hollis returned to Memphis and made his living as a salesman for several years before becoming a vending stand operator, eventually running a hospital cafeteria. He attended the 2000 ACB convention in Louisville, Ky. – his first ever – and received an Exceptional Achievement Award for his service. Accompanied by his wife, Margaret, he expressed gratitude and pride in the organization that he helped found. He passed away June 7, 2011. The board of publications set up the Hollis Liggett Braille Free Press Award in 2007, and awarded it for the first time in 2008.”
Deb said that BOP members can share this “cheat sheet” with board liaisons and rely on its content for presentations on other communications channels that we elect to use for promoting our awards.
Paul volunteered to put together a promotional summary and get it to Deb within the next few days.
Public Awareness Steering Committee update
Deb appointed Penny to serve as a representative from the BOP on the Public Awareness Steering Committee.
She said that many of the presumed functions of the steering committee appear to already fall under the purview of the ACB Board of Publications. The Public Awareness Steering Committee will presumably be working on over-arching kinds of issues, at least for the foreseeable future. The committee currently includes these members from the Board of Publications: Deb, Katie, Sharon, Penny, Jeff, and Bob, and there are steering committee members who are not associated with the Board of Publications as well.
Kelly has identified all of the communications channels that ACB currently utilizes. The committee plans to work their way through them and determine whether they are doing what ACB needs and if they are as effective as they should be or, if not, what to do differently. The committee is beginning with e-mail, because that is the channel that has come to our attention first.
Some of the steering committee’s findings will impact the BOP, and Deb – and others – will keep the BOP informed.
Other ACB steering committees’ responsibilities also overlap with those of the BOP, and Deb asked us to consider how our designated convention responsibilities might intersect and in some cases conflict with the convention activities of other committees and affiliates. The BOP has three identified responsibilities during convention week: The Board of Publications convention meeting, which typically occurs on the first Saturday of convention week and has conflicted with the committee chairs’ meeting, which occurs at roughly the same time; the Town Hall Meeting (formerly the convention Candidates’ Forum), which has typically occurred on the night before the election; and the BOP in-person workshop.
Penny said that, considering that many special interest affiliates and the BOP, as well, hold pre-convention telephonic caucuses and candidates’ forums, she thinks the Town Hall meeting feels redundant.
On the other hand, Deb pointed out that the Town Hall Meeting provides the only opportunity for voters to see all of the candidates standing in one place and answering questions at one time.
Paul said that he questions whether we get the “bang for the buck” from the convention Board of Publications meeting, especially considering that BOP monthly meetings are now open for anyone in ACB to attend and participate.
A plus for holding the BOP meeting at convention, Deb said, is that it gives us a chance to be together in person – and that’s the only opportunity for in-person communication that occurs for BOP members all year.
Ray Campbell said that he is in favor of the BOP settling on one candidates’ activity or another, i.e., the Candidates’ Forums or the Town Hall Meeting. An advantage of the Town Hall Meeting is that voters have an opportunity to hear from candidates at convention. On the other hand, not a lot of people have taken advantage of that opportunity.
With respect to the BOP in-person writers’ workshop, Deb said that every year, we have around 20 participants. This coming year, we will not be charging for our event, and that might boost attendance.
Susan noted that we have not held a BOP workshop specifically for editors in a long time, and that could be worth considering for next year.
Dan suggested that we might want to create an interactive discussion list for affiliate newsletter editors as a way of facilitating communication and passing along information and wisdom.
General consensus of the group is that the convention in-person BOP workshop is well worth hosting.
BOP members will think about these possibilities and alternatives and come back to further discussion at our January meeting.
BOP Editor’s Report
Sharon distributed her December Editor’s Report, via e-mail, as follows:
Nutshell Report, December 2019
Issue type: Hard copy
Page count: 80
Braille distributed: 682
Braille returned: 5
Braille return rate: 0.7%
Braille received: 677
Cartridge distributed: 692
Cartridge returned: 3
Cartridge return rate: 0.4%
Cartridge received: 689
Large print to be distributed: 2,444
Large print returned: 12
Large print return rate: 0.5%
Large print received: 2,433
Electronic distributed: 6,794
Electronic returned: 1
Electronic return rate: 0.0%
Electronic received: 6,793
Issue type: Electronic
Page count: 96
Issue type: Hard copy
Page count: 80
Braille to be distributed: 673
Cartridge to be distributed: TBA
Large print to be distributed: 2,434
I am currently working on the January issue of the Forum and catching up on work that built up over the Thanksgiving long weekend. I have also been working on updating our resource lists and hope to have those completed by December 20th. In my spare time I will work on identifying people in the 2011 photos, and once those are done, any other convention photos that I find.
Sharon Lovering, Editor
American Council of the Blind
ACB Email Lists: discussion of Announce and Leadership list purposes and protocols for recommendation to the steering committee
Bob distributed his report to the BOP in advance of the meeting, as follows:
Email List Statistics for November, 2019
Deb said that we did not receive November ACB-Leadership list statistics from Kim this month.
Deb indicated that it would be a good idea for the BOP to reconsider configurations and rules for our various e-mail discussion lists, since there’s confusion regarding purposes and appropriate membership on the lists. She complimented Bob on management of ACB-L and ACB-Chat, indicating that both lists are going very well.
There is confusion, however, regarding the purposes of Leadership and Announce. Only about 300 people are subscribed to ACB-Announce, and the management team is considering subscribing all members to “Announce,” in the same way all members are subscribed to BrailleForum-L, allowing recipients to opt out of the subscription if they don’t want to receive e-mail from that list.
A guiding principle for this change can be stated as follows: A privilege of ACB membership is the ability to receive announcements, and announcements can come only from designated senders.,
The Announce list is a one-way list.
Many announcements that are currently distributed on ACB-Leadership, and via Facebook would move exclusively to the Announce list.
In recent years, Leadership has become an announce list, and a personal problem solving list, and announcements need to move to ACB-Announce, and personal problems need to move to ACB-L.
Leadership is also going to require a commitment from list members to feed that list with appropriate topics and then to respond to one another appropriately.
We should periodically send out list guidance parameters and assume that people will be able to figure out which lists are for which purposes.
Deb said that this redefinition and reorganization can be expected to work, not immediately, but over time.
This approach will help to resolve the frustrations our members feel with respect to our lists, i.e., seeing the same announcements over and over again posted on every communications medium, and not seeing announcements they should see because their leaders don’t forward them on after reading them on Leadership.
Bob added that we have “anarchy” – unintended though it may be – on the Leadership list.
Zelda welcomed these efforts, saying that the purposes for our lists have always been somewhat confusing for her.
Deb anticipates that Announce will move to Constant Contact and won’t even need to operate in the current list management system.
Dan applauded this new approach. He told the board that when he sent out the announcement encouraging members to become involved on ACB committees, he received only about 15 responses, but when he distributed the same announcement via Constant Contact, he got over a hundred responses.
Deb said that BrailleForum-L is also moving to Constant Contact. The message will include an online link to the entire issue of the Forum, as well as text that includes the entire issue.
Deb forwarded social media statistics compiled by Kelly, as follows:
Accessible Products Hotline
2,792 people reached
82 likes and loves
2020 Scholarship Application Open (boosted post)
2,693 people reached
42 likes and loves
Access Acting Academy announces 5-week training program
2,210 people reached
38 likes and loves
Joe Strechay shout out from Tim Cook (retweet) and link to ACB Advocacy Update podcast
Disability: In Next Gen initiative
1,144 people reached
Access Acting Academy 5-week training program
Executive Assistant & Multimedia Design Specialist
American Council of the Blind
Public Relations: Update on ACB Wikipedia page
Deb said that Public Relations has not met, but Katie did participate in setting up the Public Outreach Steering Committee.
Our next meeting is scheduled for January 7, 2020.
The meeting adjourned at 10:58 p.m. Eastern time.