November 14, 2012 Accessing Higher Ground conference, Westminster, Colorado Meeting brought to order at 6:30 p.m.
Ron Stewart made introductions. ATHEN was chartered in 2003, started at CSUN.
Heidi Scherr presented the Treasurer's Report. We started with $3472.04, and ended the year with 3447.96. We have a payment of $2500 to make to AHG, but we will receive any memberships that were paid for in conjunction with registration for AHG.
Memberships are due at the time of the AHG Conference. Institutional Membership renew on December 1st. This may need to be clarified with Joe. Membership this year was 72 paid, 11 institutional members, 9 associate members, and 2 honorary members. 21 renewals and 18 new members paid through their conference registration. Based on these numbers, we are over 100 members for the first time.
We need to have a nominating/election committee put together to run future elections. There is a conflict of interest when the President is running the elections. Ron asked for a volunteer. No one offered at the meeting. Ron asked for anyone interested to email him at Ron@AHEAD.org. We need to elect a President and Secretary in this election.
Business Plan Adoption – Ron Stewart
What is the purpose of our group? We support AHG, and we have a voice in the community. But there isn't a lot of value-added. We need to be able to raise dues, but cannot do so unless we have a workable business plan.
EDUCAUSE Update – Terrill Thompson
There is no formal relationship between EDUCAUSE and ATHEN. But being active in EDUCAUSE gives us an opportunity to interact with the people that make the IT and administrative decisions on campuses around the country. Their annual conference has many attendees, and there are also regional conferences. It is a good opportunity to make known needs for Universal Design and accessibility in the decision-making process on campuses. There is an ATHEN contingent that participates in EDUCAUSE and keeps a close relationship with these campus representatives. ATHEN members are encouraged to get involved in some of their discussion lists. See educause.edu/groups/ITACCESS for a good place to start.
Collaboration Project Updates – Greg Kraus
Greg talked about the research done with Google to make their apps and online resources accessible. The bottom line is that Google has not been as forthcoming as they should be and they are mostly recommending that if you want full accessibility you can do it with a Chromebook. A third wave of working with Google this past summer was non-productive. A fourth push needs to be organized. There are new contacts at Google that appear to want to work on getting information about new accessibility out to the public, including through the use of a quarterly blog. He has proposed to Google to set up a public bug-tracker, so that the problems can be prioritized and looked at. Greg is suggesting this be moved to an ATHEN focus group at some point. He wants to continue to interact with Google on accessibility issues. Ron suggested that people check out the ATHENPRO.org website to see what committees and focus groups are already working on things. ATHEN as a group does not work on projects that are under a Non-Disclose agreement. Organizations and vendors have approached ATHEN several times looking for assistance in testing, evaluations of services, etc. This does create liability for ATHEN, but it is something we are presumably talented enough to do and should look again at taking on some of these projects. The work that ATHEN did with Google provides a good template in taking on these projects, and the executive committee should approve all results before they are made public. This is not about compliance projects, but about usability. If a campus wants to take on the work of evaluating a project, process, or product, then there has to be some legal approval for getting that information published without putting the campus at risk. Being able to do this is going to depend on being able to fund outside sources for things like updating the website. We have some evaluation work that has already been done but not presented. We can partner with other organizations to make this stuff happen, as well. None of us have the time to invest the way we'd like to get these things done.
Virtual Computing – Dan Comden
There have been discussions in the community about how campuses are virtualizing both storage and computer labs. This is a good opportunity for ATHEN to produce a position paper regarding some best practices and what works and doesn't work. firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-Journal Update – Norm Coombs
Last year the group decided to merge Norm's papers and resources into the ATHEN eJournal. There was a call for papers and four papers were submitted. These are being edited and will be online shortly, hopefully by the end of the year, or January at the latest. Norm thinks that there's an awful lot of information out there, but no good way to know where to go for what. He still envisions our site being a better resource for people in our industry. The next eJournal may focus on STEM. He is looking for suggestions on how to make it more successful and is open to comments. It was suggested that anyone working on research or evaluations submit this in paper form for publication in the eJournal. You can get to submission information at easi.cc. There is currently no link from the ATHEN site to easi.cc
Howard Kramer asked if there was going to be a business plan adopted any time soon. Ron's response was that we have gotten the bugs in the election process worked out, but that there are still issues because we can't get nominations for office, we can't get volunteers, despite the fact that there are lots of active people and lots of great ideas, but without getting these things resolved we cannot move forward. Once the election is completed, we can implement the business plan. The business plan will not work with our current dues and cost structure. In addition to the business plan, we need to address the scholarship issue. It will be part of the election. The background: we were approached by vendors who wanted to provide a scholarship to allow students a full-ride to attend this conference (approximately $2500). The student would have to be sponsored by an ATHEN member. Meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m. Minutes submitted by Susan Kelmer, Secretary, ATHEN.