2020 ACB Midyear Meetings

The American Council of the Blind’s DC Leadership meetings were held February 22-24 at the Holiday Inn and Suites Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia, between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM, with evening hours filled with social networking.

The fourth day, Tuesday, February 25, American Council of the Blind state leaders went to Capitol Hill,
visiting the Washington DC offices of their U.S. Congress persons. Every Individual or State affiliate was responsible for setting up meetings with their U.S. Senators and U.S. House Representatives and/or their Legislative aides which handle the topic the constituent wishes to discuss. The Indiana ACB visited all nine of their U.S. House of Representatives offices with two, Rep. Susan Brooks and Rep. Andre Carson being pre-arranged meetings while at other offices we had the opportunity to present the imperatives to Legislative Aids or front office staff. The members of the Indiana affiliate of ACB – Dee Ann Hart, Don Koors and Barbara Salisbury — had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Senator Mike Braun and U.S. Senator Todd Young in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at the Hoosier Huddle a constituent coffee, meet and greet, they hold together at 9 AM every Tuesday and Wednesday when the U.S. Senate is in session.
Click here for Indiana congressional contacts.

Saturday was the mid-year ACB Board of Directors meeting the Agenda was packed and the meeting room held a sizable crowd of people. Along with board members, office staff, volunteers and ACB radio technicians… there was more than thirty-two seated in the public gallery. All three days of meetings held at the hotel were broadcast live over ACB radio .

Saturday’s National Board of Director meeting agenda included the presentation of reports and actions taken on actionable items; committee and staff descriptions of past and future projects; intense board member discussion of freshly introduced ideas. The Executive team responding to the boards concerns over operations and administration. The Board reacted with constructive comments.

Sunday, February 23, was the affiliate President’s meeting reports included: positive vision and collaboration from the Development/Fundraising Steering Committee; enthusiastic teamwork and resourcefulness from the Board Of Publications – overview of 2020 Key Initiatives; and passionate involvement and electrifying information from the Scholarship and Awards Steering Committee. The Convention Committee offered details on convention sites for future years.

A total of four breakout sessions were conducted to learn about
(1) the six sub-committees of the Audio Description Project;
(2) Information Referral Peer Support – the difference we can make when sharing resources and supporting one another;
(3) Membership Service – Engage, Embrace Empower: an active approach for caring for our membership;
(4) Public Awareness – Connecting with ACB: Getting the Message Your Way.

Lunch was served with a presentation – Moving Toward Inclusion for Blind and Visually Impaired Actor by Joe Strechay, Co-Producer of “See” on Apple TV+.
Other presentations included: Collaboration between ACB and VisionServe Alliance by Lee Nasehi, President and CEO VisionServe Alliance. A Zoom Primer – Strategies for Strengthening Your Affiliate’s Virtual Meetings. Audio Description Project Update and More by Joel Snyder, Director, ACB Audio Description Project together Mina Lamarra, BADIE Contest Winner, Whittier, CA.

Monday, February 24, day of the Legislative Seminar, Dan Spoone, President; Eric Bridges, Executive Director; and Clark Rachfal, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs; Claire Stanley, Advocacy and Outreach Specialist; and others engaged us throughout the day on many ACB legislative imperatives for 2020.

What’s the Deal with W.I.O.A?: From Mark Schultz, Acting Administrator, Rehabilitation Services Administration, how WIOA has altered the focus of RSA concerning Pre-ETS, employment, non-vocational outcomes and OIB.

Ten Years of the CVAA: From Diane Burstein, Director, Constmer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office, Federal Communications Commission, what’s new at the FCC.

Accessible Air Travel and Flying Dogs! from Livaughn Chapman, Chief, Aviation Civil Rights Compliance Branch, and Alex Taday, Supervisory Analyst, U.S. Department of Transportation.

Yes, I’m Only a Bill…: From Maggie Hart, Counsel, Washington Lawyer’s Committee, ACB’s work to create legislation in West Virginia to allow blind and visually impaired residents to independently and privately vote absentee.

Keynote: Charles Cooper, Managing Director, Chair of Advocacy, Signal Group, informed us with his 2020 election insights from a political insider who is neck deep in the swamp.

Back to School: From Barbara Raimondo, Executive Director, Conference of Education Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, the Cogswell-Macy Act that will ensure blind and visually impaired students will receive a fair and appropriate education.

The Legislative Seminar Day was brought to a conclusion with a session titled Tell Claire Everything!: where the participants educated Claire Stanley, ACB’s Advocacy and Outreach Specialist, on other issues the blindness community currently faces. Followed by Claire Stanley and Clark Rachfal revealing what to expect on Capitol Hill.