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Minutes for ATHEN Annual Meeting 2010

November 17, 2010
Accessing Higher Ground Conference, Westminster Colorado

Treasurer's Report - Heidi Scher

Beginning balance as of 11/1/2009: $3323.28 Received deposits of: $2201.45 Annual expenses: $4127.31 Balance as of 11/1/2010: $1397.42 We do not have membership numbers from Joe. We spent $1000 for the ATIA booth in conjunction with CU-Boulder. This year $500 for the ATIA booth in conjunction with CU-Boulder. $2500 has been spent to support AHG. Additional expenditures include: PO box rental & deposit stamp = $36.31, checking monthly maintenance fees ($13/mo for 7 mo) = $91.00.


Those current as of Sunday should have received an email about how to vote for members. President and Secretary are on one cycle, Vice President and Treasurer on the second cycle. Terms are two years long. Those running for Vice President: Lisa Fiedor and Theresa Haven. Those running for Treasurer: Heidi Scher Organizational members also get a single vote, but the person doing the voting should be the designate organizational representative. If that person is no longer involved then a new representative should be listed. This is the responsibility of the institution or organization. Howard Kramer reports that there are 18 new members paid through AHG, and 18 renewing members. He does not feel that the conference would exist without ATHEN, and that renewing memberships and new membership help support the conference. People that sign up for new memberships get a $65 discount on conference fees. He wants to know if people are comfortable with the current relationship between ATHEN and AHG, and if we want to branch out and do other things that professional organizations do like producing an eJournal and other events besides. AHG. Would an increase in membership fees be acceptable to cover the costs in paying staff or providing more support for what we want to do. Hadi wonders why the costs for the conference have increased, from just over $200 to over $400, and why that is not really covering our costs. Howard indicated that the cost has not gone up a whole lot, from $375 to $450. Speakers/presenters are still getting a percentage off. We do need to break even. Ron believes it is a pretty good value at its current price, compared to other events of its kind. If we cannot raise conference prices, then we have to look at more sponsorships. The majority of our income for the conference is coming from fees. If we lose money on the conference, our biggest supporter, CU-Boulder, would likely no longer continue to support the event. Feedback is encouraged and members can go to their Executive Committee members for assistance.

Educause Collaboration - Terrill Thompson

Educause is an association devoted to higher education. They have multiple conferences and reaches many of the top IT and CEO-types working in education. There is an Accessibility group now in Educause that has support from the organization, and now has a regular spot at annual conferences. They had multiple presentations on accessible content, new technology, and had sessions directly with IT directors and managers from colleges all over the country. Now that they've had good momentum, and have gotten the recognition they needed, we have to think about the next step. It turns out that the larger organization really supported the accessibility push as a pilot, and as a “starter,” but that we are on our own to provide something similar next year. The costs of what was done last year was about $10,000, and that money would have to come from corporate sponsorships. The question was asked why it is so important that we get involved with Educause. Terry reiterated that having pull with the powers that be at the college level that make the decisions on software and hardware can make a huge difference in making sure that the appropriate products are purchased, that accessible products are purchased as a preference. A question was asked about whether we could start to talk to other groups that are being supported by Educause, offering them an “accessibility track” for a cost. Terry is looking for suggestions. We need to find ways to tap into the publication aspect of Educause, not only the discussion lists and conferences.

ATIA Collaboration

Dan Comden, Howard Kramer, and Ron Stewart have been working with ATIA regarding why our group couldn't contribute more to their program. For the last couple of years ATIA has been including the Postsecondary track within and Adult Services Strand which has been confusing for some ATHEN submitters in relation to Adult Education from the post-secondary education materials. Should we, as ATHEN, support a conference that is in direct competition with us, and also that does not offer more than a minimum of session tracks that work on post-secondary education. ATIA has said that if there aren't enough tracks, then why aren't we offering them? Ron would like to know if ATHEN would like to “put up or shut up” when it comes to ATIA. Howard asked if we thought the conference was worth paying for. Ron thinks it is. Suggestion was made to look at your local or state library associations, to make contact with those libraries and librarians who may need your input or presentations at their local conferences.

Scholarships – Gerry Nies

The Scholarship committee has formulated a document, but is not ready to present it to the group. They will be meeting soon and then the document and criteria will be released. Scholarships cost between $2500-$3000, and would be for a student who would most benefit from a trip to a conference.

Publications – Ron Stewart

Our eJournal has not had an issue released in a long time. Theresa Haven is the editor. Theresa is sitting on four decent articles, but it takes 7 or 8 to make a decent eJournal. Perhaps these should go on the website instead of an eJournal. The suggestion was made to have each of the executive committee, or committee chairs, write an article one month a year to be posted on the website. Gaeir Dietrich moved that we abandon the eJournal in favor of peer review articles that appear on the website. The motion was seconded. Motion passed.

ATHEN Website – Terrill Thompson

Sean Keegan works on the website. The ATHEN website just doesn't change much. The content just isn't there to put up. Sean proposed several things that were urgently needed: an upgrade to Drupal to v 6, create a test platform, allow ATHEN to manage the memberships, allow online polls and elections, etc. He initially thought this would have to be contracted out, but he was able to do most of the work himself. It still needs some modules installed for Drupal, skin it for a better look, and get the Wiki up and well-populated. Sean could use some help; it needs to be someone with Drupal experience. Dann Berkowitz told the group that we do have a Facebook page. Anything that is in publication that represents this organization needs to be coordinated with the communication committee (Terry, Sean, Teresa, etc.)

Vendor Collaboration – Hadi Rangin

The committee has been active, and have made contacts with Elluminate and others to get their products here with presentations. He is disappointed in the lack of participation of the members in ATHEN to come forward and do the work that is required to get things done. He understands that we are all busy, but that we all need to dedicate a few hours a month to getting things done for ATHEN. He encourages everyone to engage, to get involved, to support where they can. Ron said that we need to develop some guidelines on how to communicate, what procedures to follow, how to get these people in for the conference.

Product Evaluators – Ron Stewart

We continue to receive requests for testing of products and services. This is to offer an “objective accessibility evaluation” to products and services. Ron is looking for feedback. Some members of the group agree that there needs to be compensation to ATHEN for any work like this.

ATHEN's Future – Howard Kramer

Howard wants to look further ahead, seeing where resources might need to be added to be able to do this kind of work. Should there be a strategic plan to outline how ATHEN as a whole should work, and how it is going to proceed on all of the things that are facing it. He motioned that ATHEN form a committee to look at a strategic/business plan to move ATHEN forward. Heidi seconded the motion. Gaeir asked if there were people with experience to do this type of work. Saroj and Howard are most obvious. Someone else mentioned that this would be interesting to Educause, that they would be very interested in helping to set up the strategic plan. The plan should be based on the five criteria we created ATHEN with in the first place. Motion passed. Gaeir moved that we appoint a committee chair, who can then form a committee that can report back to the group at large within a year. This was seconded. Motion passed. Howard and Saroj will be co-chairs, Hadi and Heidi have offered to be on the committee.

Post-Secondary Curriculum Accessibility Commission – Gaeir Dietrich

Gaeir presented about the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials for Post-Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities. This collaboration pulls together colleges and providers with the purpose of coming up with recommendations for legislation or policy changes. Gaeir represents 2-year colleges. They have had one meeting, the next one will be held at ATIA in Orlando in January. On January 26th of the conference there will be a day of public comment; those attending ATIA should make an effort to comment. Comments need to be submitted in writing, then you get three minutes to make your presentation orally to the Commission. There seems to be a focus on K-12, rather than post-secondary. Some of what is going to happen is a definition of what instructional materials are. They are looking at a broader focus than just textbooks. A member asked if there would be any other venues where there will be public hearings. They will be at AHEAD in Seattle in July. These meetings are public, open to anyone. If you cannot attend in person, there is a listserv set up for electronic comments. It is available on (need the subscribing information from Gaeir). There is information about the Commission on the Federal Department of Education website (under boards and commissions).

New Business

Wink Harner asked if we were still going to consider providing certification to access technologists. Ron said that that effort is underway, he is the chair, people can come to him directly if interested.