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ATHEN Bylaws

Table of Contents

Approved by ATHEN membership, November 13, 2008
Amended December, 2020

  1. Name
  2. Purpose
  3. Membership
  4. Voting and Elections
  5. Executive Officers
  6. Meetings
  7. Committees
  8. Dues
  9. Duties of the Past President
  10. Amendments


The organization name shall be Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN).


ATHEN shall be an international nonprofit organization based in the United States. ATHEN's goals include the following:

  • Collect, disseminate, and advocate best practices in access technology (AT) in higher education. Access technology is defined as any assistive technology, accessible information technology, or alternate media that can be used to facilitate the success of individuals with disabilities. Higher education is defined as post-K-12, post-secondary, further education, college, university, or equivalent.
  • Establish a professional identity for those who practice AT in higher education.
  • Present a collective voice for the professional practice of AT in higher education.


3.1. Any person or organization serving access technology needs in the higher education environment shall be eligible to become a member of ATHEN upon complying with the provisions hereafter contained.

3.2. Membership Classification—Membership categories shall be Professional, Institutional, Associate, Student, Emeritus, and Honorary.

3.2.1. Professional--Professional members shall consist of individuals who are responsible for AT at an institution of higher education.Professional members have voting rights.

3.2.2. Institutional--Higher education institutions. Institutional memberships shall designate one (1) primary point of contact for the membership who shall also serve as the identified voting member.

3.2.3. Associate--Associate members may consist of individuals who are not affiliated with a higher educational institution but have an interest and/or investment in access technology. Associate members do not have voting rights unless they are serving as a member on the Executive Council.

3.2.4. Student--Undergraduate or graduate students with a strong interest in the AT field who are sponsored by an institutional or professional member. Students do not have voting rights unless they are serving as a member on the Executive Council.

3.2.5. Emeritus - Emeritus membership is open to individuals who have been a member in good standing of ATHEN for at least two (2) cumulative years and, while retired from active service, maintain an interest in the field and wish to remain an active ATHEN member. This membership carries all benefits associated with Professional and Institutional membership with the exception of voting rights.

3.2.6. Honorary--Individuals of distinction who are elected unanimously by the Executive Council and approved by a two-thirds vote of a quorum because of outstanding and noteworthy service in the field of AT in higher education. Dues for this classification are waived. Honorary members do not have voting rights.

3.3. Resignation and Expulsion

3.3.1. Resignation--Any member may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Executive Council. Such resignation shall take effect at the time specified therein or, if no time is specified, upon receipt. Resignation shall not entitle a member to a return of any dues paid.

3.3.2. Expulsion--At a meeting duly called in accordance with the bylaws, a member may be expelled for cause by a two-thirds vote of a quorum of all voting members. An expelled member may be reinstated by a vote of a majority of a quorum of voting members at a meeting duly called in accordance with bylaws.


4.1. Only professional members, designated institutional members, and executive officers shall have voting rights. Every voting member shall cast only one vote.

4.1.1. No proxy voting will be allowed.

4.2. Upon the payment of membership dues, hereafter established, an institutional member shall be eligible to appoint or elect one voting member as the designee of such an institution.

4.2.1. If the designated institutional member serves on the Executive Council, then a different institutional member should be designated as the voting member for the institution.

4.3. Voting at meetings will follow Robert's Rules of Order. Voting in an online format will be in accordance with procedures outlined by the Executive Council.

4.4. All nominations for Executive Officers shall be distributed to the membership by the Elections Committee at least two weeks prior to elections.

4.5. Officers shall be elected annually by the membership. Elections will be held within the month prior to the annual meeting. Election results will be announced at the annual meeting, with terms to commence at the end of the meeting. Terms are for two years, with elections for President and Secretary occurring in even-numbered years. Elections for Vice President and Treasurer will be held in odd-numbered years. Terms are for two years for Member at Large representatives, with elections occurring in alternating years.

4.5.1. Officers may be elected through special elections as needed.


5.1. The officers of ATHEN shall be an Executive Council and be comprised of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and up-to-two Member at Large representatives. The immediate past President shall serve as an ex-officio member, attending meetings and providing support as needed, only at the behest of the current president.

5.2. The term of office of each officer shall commence at the end of the meeting in which the officer is elected, and the term of office will run until the next election. Officers may be re-elected.

5.2.1. The term of office for officers elected in a special election shall commence immediately upon being elected and run until the next annual election.

5.2.2. All materials relevant to the position shall be turned over to the new officer or the President of ATHEN within one month of the change of officers.

5.3. Duties of Officers

5.3.1. The President shall preside at meetings of ATHEN. The President shall sign all written contracts and obligations of ATHEN, nominate the chairs of committees, and shall provide for the appointment of other committee members. The President shall perform such other duties as not provided in other officer categories.

5.3.2. The Vice President shall assume the duties of the President in their absence and shall have such powers and duties as prescribed by the President. The Vice President shall work with the Program Committee.

5.3.3. The Secretary shall be responsible for keeping the minutes of ATHEN and the Executive Council; notifying members of the affairs of ATHEN, as determined by the Executive Council; coordinating the correspondence, keeping the records, preparing necessary reports, and archiving the collateral materials of ATHEN; and compiling and distributing the list of the Executive Council, committee chairs of ATHEN, the bylaws, the roster of members, and other items. The Secretary shall work with the Web Development Committee and the Membership Committee.

5.3.4. The Treasurer shall be the custodian of the funds of ATHEN and shall be responsible for collecting dues, disbursing the funds to defray expenses authorized by ATHEN or the Executive Council, reporting the status of the funds at each meeting of the Executive Council and general membership, and having ATHEN accounts audited under the direction of the Executive Council. The Treasurer shall work with the Finance and Budget Committee and the Membership Committee.

5.3.5. The Member at Large representatives shall be responsible for participating in Executive Council meetings; assisting the President and Vice-President in achieving the goals of the organization; supporting ATHEN committees as needed; and effecting the policies and/or decisions made by the Executive Council.

5.4. In the absence of an Executive Council member at a meeting, the President may appoint an ATHEN member to serve temporarily in that position.

5.5. If an Executive Officer resigns as an officer prior to the general election, then the individual must notify the Executive Council in written communication.

5.5.1. In the event of a resignation, all ATHEN materials must be turned over to the Executive Council within fourteen days.

5.6. Any Executive Officer who misses two consecutive meetings of ATHEN without prior notice and does not respond by email or phone within two weeks of the second missed meeting, may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the remaining Executive Council members.

5.6.1. Any Executive Officer who fails to perform required duties of office for six consecutive months may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the remaining Executive Council members.

5.6.2. Any Executive Officer removed from office is required to surrender all ATHEN materials immediately upon demand to a representative designated by the ATHEN President. If materials must be sent by mail, then they must be returned within no more than ten days.


6.1. The annual meeting of ATHEN, as identified in the standing rules, shall be held on such date as determined by the Executive Council.

6.2. Additional meetings and/or online meetings of ATHEN may be called by the President or upon the written request of ten percent of voting members. At least thirty-days notice of the date and agenda for meeting shall be given to the membership.

6.3. A quorum at any meeting of ATHEN shall consist of 20 percent of the voting membership in good standing and at least three members of the Executive Council. Members may participate by electronic means when such means are available. If a meeting of ATHEN does not reach a quorum, business requiring membership votes shall be deferred to the next meeting.

6.4. Business may be transacted at the annual meeting, or at any special meeting, but such business shall be limited to that specified in the call for the special meeting.

6.5. The order of business at the annual meeting of ATHEN shall be as follows:

6.5.1. Ascertain the presence of a quorum.

6.5.2. Financial Report.

6.5.3. Reading of the minutes of the previous meeting.

6.5.4. Annual report of the preceding year's activities.

6.5.5. Unfinished business and committee reports.

6.5.6. Announcement of election results of the Executive Council.

6.5.7. New business.

6.5.8. Adjournment.

6.6 All meetings will have an agenda and will be conducted under Robert's Rules of Order.


7.1. The President with advisement from the Executive Council may appoint the following committee chairs:

7.1.1. Finance and Budget Committee.

7.1.2. Membership Committee.

7.1.3. Program Committee.

7.1.4. Bylaws Committee.

7.1.5. Elections Committee.

7.1.6. Information and Public Relations Committee.

7.1.7. Professional Development Committee.

7.1.8. Publications Committee.

7.1.9. Web Development Committee.

7.1.10. Other committees as deemed necessary.

7.2. Duties of the committees shall include the following:

7.2.1. The Finance and Budget Committee shall prepare financial reports for ATHEN as directed, including an annual audit, and work with the Treasurer as directed by the Executive Council.

7.2.2. The Membership Committee shall promote membership in ATHEN and attendance at meetings. Each year, before the annual meeting, the committee will prepare and distribute a directory of the members.

7.2.3. The Program Committee will prepare and recommend to the Executive Council a program of activities for the coming year to include dates and places for these activities. It will serve as the organizing committee for the annual meeting.

7.2.4. The Bylaws Committee shall review and recommend revision of the bylaws as indicated in Article X. The current version of the bylaws shall be available on the official ATHEN Web site.

7.2.5. The Elections Committee shall oversee nominations of candidates for each vacancy on the Executive Council. The Elections Committee shall oversee regular, special, and online elections.

7.2.6. The Information and Public Relations Committee shall promote a better understanding of ATHEN and be in charge of conducting outreach and negotiating partnerships as directed by the Executive Council.

7.2.7. The Professional Development Committee shall explore and work toward establishing a professional identity for those who practice AT in higher education, developing professional standards of practice for AT in higher education, and developing a credentialing process for AT in higher education.

7.2.8. The Publications Committee shall coordinate the publication of the E-journal, including recruiting and working with the guest editor to solicit and edit articles for the E-journal. The committee shall also work with other committees as needed to edit and publish collateral materials.

7.2.9. The Web Development Committee shall develop and maintain the Web site, establish policies and administer the Web resources, including wikis, blogs, style sheets, and discussion lists. The committee will include the Web Master and at least one Executive Officer.

7.3 Under direction of the Executive Council, each committee is responsible for creating standing rules for that committee.


8.1. Under the direction of the Executive Council, dues shall be used to defray the expenses of the affairs of ATHEN.

8.1.1 Dues are non-refundable

8.2. Dues shall be determined by the Executive Council and approved by a two-thirds vote of a quorum of voting members.

8.2.1. Current dues shall be posted on the ATHEN website.

8.2.2. Annual membership term begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.

8.3. Dues collected in the last quarter of the calendar year will apply for the last quarter of the current year and the full following year. Dues collected as part of the Accessing Higher Ground Conference registration will apply for the membership term in the last quarter of the current year and the full following year.

8.3.1. Dues collected at other times will apply to the current membership year.


Upon election of a successor, the immediate past President of ATHEN shall become an ex-officio member of the Executive Council with full voting rights for a term of one year, unless such past President is already a duly elected officer. An ex-officio officer with voting rights shall be counted for the purposes of a quorum of the Executive Council. In order to vote in the Executive Council, the immediate past President must be a member in good standing of ATHEN.


Amendments to or changes in bylaws may be made by a two-thirds vote of all voting members, with at least a majority of the membership participating. At least thirty days prior to the vote, proposed amendments and changes shall be posted to the ATHEN website, and members shall be notified thereof through the ATHEN email list.