Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Annual Meeting Preview

September 24, 2020 American Printing House Episode 15
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Annual Meeting Preview
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Annual Meeting Preview
Sep 24, 2020 Episode 15
American Printing House

APH’s Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests is almost upon us. It takes place from October 7-9 and will be virtual.

On this episode, APH President Craig Meador and Leanne Grillot, APH’s Director of Outreach Services discuss Annual Meeting. They talk about the decision to make the meeting virtual, its theme “Better Together,” as well as several meeting highlights, including our keynote speaker, sessions and events that will take place, and a surprise ending session.

Another important part of Annual Meeting is the ceremony to induct new members into the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. Mike Hudson from the APH Museum tells us more about the Hall and about some of its current and its new inductees.

Guests:

  • Craig Meador - President, APH
  • Leanne Grillot - Director of National Outreach Services, APH
  • Mike Hudson - Director of the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind


Links:

Show Notes Transcript

APH’s Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests is almost upon us. It takes place from October 7-9 and will be virtual.

On this episode, APH President Craig Meador and Leanne Grillot, APH’s Director of Outreach Services discuss Annual Meeting. They talk about the decision to make the meeting virtual, its theme “Better Together,” as well as several meeting highlights, including our keynote speaker, sessions and events that will take place, and a surprise ending session.

Another important part of Annual Meeting is the ceremony to induct new members into the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. Mike Hudson from the APH Museum tells us more about the Hall and about some of its current and its new inductees.

Guests:

  • Craig Meador - President, APH
  • Leanne Grillot - Director of National Outreach Services, APH
  • Mike Hudson - Director of the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind


Links:

Jack Fox:

Welcome to Change Makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Paul Ferarra:

Welcome back to Change Makers, a podcast from American printing house. I'm Paul Ferrara , part of the communications team at APH. Did you know that more than 60 of the most prolific contributors to our field are honored as part of the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field? Today, we'll learn more about the hall from Mike Hudson from the APH museum, but first it's almost time for APH's Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and special guests. It will take place from October 7th through ninth, and it will be virtual. Joining us to talk about this year's event are Craig Meador, APH President and Leanne Grillot Director of Outreach Services. Craig, Leanne , thanks for joining us today.

Craig Meador:

Good morning, Paul.

Leanne Grillot:

Good morning .

Paul Ferarra:

Craig, APH made the difficult decision to make Annual Meeting virtual this year. Can you tell us why you made that decision?

Craig Meador:

Well, I mean, other than the obvious , uh, COVID , uh, with this, I drug my feet on this, to be honest, I think the rest of the team was saying back in May, there's no way we're going to be able to pull this off. And I'm like, nah, it's going to get, hopefully it's going to get better. And you know, and , uh, I am by no means a science denier , uh, but I was hopeful that something would happen that, but it came to a point, I think it was June , um, where, when we saw every other conference, not just conferences for the summer begin to fold, but all the fall conferences beginning to pull the plug. And when we started seeing national conferences scheduled for January and February begin to pull the plug it , uh , and the world wasn't getting better numbers were just going up, up, up, up, up. And at that time we decided it was in everyone's best interest to , um, to not do Annual Meeting and , uh , in the ways that we've always done it, which was heartbreaking for us. Um , Annual Meeting is , is probably for the field one of the most special times because it's a homecoming. Um, I often refer to it as , as grandma's house and I've told our staff here several times, we're grandma's house coming to Louisville is coming to grandma's house. People come to see us, but in essence, they're also coming to see their extended family, their friends, and their family. And so it's our job to put on, to be an incredible host and facilitate relationships and opportunity for people to connect with each other. And that's a big part in the field that comes together every year at Annual Meeting. That's probably richest thing. It's , it's not just the sessions, it's all the stuff that happens before and after and in passing and during lunchtime . And you have the Council of Schools for the Blind that takes a few days on the front end and the National Prison Braille Network. Um, and , uh , the Keystone Library Association and the STEM meetings, there's all these groups that use the front end of annual meeting to come together and can reconnect and not just reconnect and , but also strategically plan their activities, their next steps for the next, for the upcoming year. So it was more than just canceling Annual Meeting. It's basically pulling the rug out from underneath all these other agencies saying, hey folks, you're going to have to do something different. So I think that was a sad thing, but it's the right thing to do. Those were the decisions. Those are, which all seem pretty textbook, I guess now looking back at it. But at the time it was wrapped up in a lot of emotion. Um , um, so the new challenges , how do you, how do you still create that a wonderful inviting , uh , fun environment that is virtual and lucky for us? Again, there's a lot of people who stepped into the space already. We saw AFB do this last spring. We saw NFB and ACB do it this summer. And they have, we've learned a lot from them. Uh, we've seen how to do things, right, which we really appreciate that there were some pioneers before us. So we feel confident that we can , uh , create a fun virtual environment where as if you're not careful, you might learn something before it's done.

Paul Ferarra:

So what, if anything is going to be different this year, then about the meeting now that it's virtual?

Craig Meador:

Well, no, one's going to need to bring stretchy pants. So , uh, you know, cause the other rule is when you come to APH, usually put on five pounds by the end of the week. So , um, unless people choose to do that, that's on them. Um, so we won't overfeed people and we won't, over-serve people , um, you know, so that's going to be up to them. But as far as structure, I'll let Leanne address the structure of annual meeting, how that is going to look a little different this year with, with the virtual environment.

Leanne Grillot:

So what we've done is we've structured the three days to help break up your space. The first day is Wednesday, which is really a pre-meeting day, longer stretches of time to really get deep into a topic or a subject. And then that evening we're kicking it off with , um , a tour of APH, a , the hall of fame, induction ceremony, and just kind of a welcome reception, a more fun time to kind of talk to individuals. When we get into Thursday, we're really heading into the meat of the conference. And those are hour long concurrent sessions, which are probably a similar feel to what you would have, even in a traditional setting face to face where you're going into different groups for a period of time in the middle of the Thursday, we're going to have our keynote speaker and our report from Craig on the state of the company. Some of these things are required also because of federal law and holding this meeting. And then that afternoon we will continue with concurrent sessions. Late afternoon, we are required to have our ex-officio trustees meeting. And so there is a time specifically for them on Thursday evening. Again, that's the requirement, but then if you're not wanting to go to any of those meetings, you have a storytelling tour, which is really giving you an opportunity to hear more about APH itself. Friday is the probably shortest session time feel. So remember Wednesday was that long time Thursday it's a little bit shorter. Friday is more of an information fair allowing you to learn about all of the products and services available through APH, almost like walking through tables. So there are little half hour sessions where you can pick and choose a few of them and get a real good understanding of what is available out there. It should really kind of wet your whistle and give you an idea, but your brain is probably already starting to get full from Wednesday and Thursday. So this is a way to help break that up. Also on Friday are our large general sessions, which are going to have quite a few panel discussions to be able to hear how things are going out there and how people are doing things. And I do want to make sure that you know, that there is also a, we are still doing our insights art ceremony at the end of that day on Friday. And at the very end, after the ceremony, we have a special closing ceremony and I'm just going to let you know that it's going to be pretty special. So it's something to work , uh , grabbing your beverage of choice and sitting down and watching our closing ceremony.

Paul Ferarra:

Leanne , can you discuss the theme for this year better together, especially in light of all the things going on in the world.

Leanne Grillot:

So better together is a way for us to really think about how we come together and think about, and problem solve how we work with our students and our clients to serve them. And we have found through COVID that even though things have drastically changed on what you are doing in some ways, our world has actually opened to have better communication, actually reaching out to one another sharing information, getting people together who might have never gotten together before having Alaska join in Puerto Rico join in, all at the same time and share information. And so this is also giving us the opportunity to be better together with Annual Meeting. There are quite a few people who have really never been able to travel to Kentucky, to join us for our Annual Meeting, whether that's financial or time constraint, where this year being virtual, we have the opportunity to invite the world, to join us, have more international guests, join us as well as boots on the ground. People in the field who are usually working with students, and could not spend those entire days in Kentucky. Now that could come to Annual Meeting to the sessions that can fit within their schedule. So we are definitely going to be better together for the first time really ever for our Annual Meeting.

Paul Ferarra:

Can you tell us a little bit about our keynote speaker this year?

Leanne Grillot:

Sure. Our keynote speaker is Tyler Merren and he is a three time Paralympian athlete. He also , uh, for his business as a personal trainer. So he also does personal physical fitness training. And you can definitely find some of his videos on YouTube. He was born in Michigan. He has , uh, retinitis pigmentosa. And even though he has that, he has really worked hard to gain all of those knowledge and become an elite athlete. And his , uh , Paralympic sport is global. So we have many people who are very familiar with Goalball, but it is a sport played, no matter how much sight you have, you wear a blindfold. And that again makes it a very equal ground, but he is also a husband and a father. So I'm really looking forward to listening to his story.

Paul Ferarra:

Can you highlight a few of the other sessions?

Leanne Grillot:

Other sessions. Wow . We have quite a bunch out there for you, everything from really thinking about braille literacy and how we get braille into the hands of our students , uh , low vision devices and how people can use their low vision devices to access information. We have babies count session and on the information that's coming through with a baby's count, if you were part of the survey about access for our students, we have a session about what we've learned through that access and engagement survey that went out throughout the United States and Canada. We have at home activities for students with cortical visual impairments. If you're interested in our APH Press books, we have sessions where you can learn about which Press books have been released, which ones are coming up. The tours are going to be very unique. So even though you might not be walking through our building physically, you will get some deep in depth, look at the different areas inside APH. So if you have always wanted to know how that product was made, you might actually get a chance to see it being made. There's also a large session about how we can be better together utilizing our professional organizations of AER and DVIDB. There will be a group session together. Them really thinking about How we work together as a field with our professional organizations.

Paul Ferarra:

Craig, we know you're going to have your state of the company presentation. So are there any previews you'd like to give us from that presentation right now?

Craig Meador:

Um, well there's always the usual, Hey, we, we made products, we got rid of some products, we got some new products. We made some money, we lost some money. Uh, so there'll be that , uh, and kind of what our reach and scope is, but probably what I want to do focus. Um, we started a shift about two years ago at APH and , and we talked a little bit about that shift, but I want to flesh that out a little more. One of the goals I've told the staff here is APH is , has for the last probably 40, 50 years been, well, let me go back probably about the last definitely the last 30 years , uh, um, has been about products, but it's also been about service and, you know, I would say 80, it would probably, it's been about an 80, 20, 80% product base , 20% service space. But as COVID is really , um, shown us this year that in our field, the service, especially this year is probably more important than the product. So, and what I mean by that, I'll break that down a little bit. So we, our number one product that is most people know is braille paper, a boxed up braille paper that gets out to folks, okay. And that may not be our biggest number 1 dollar product, but that's definitely our quantity, quantity product. So we have all these wonderful products and kits and tools, which people love and they use all the time. But when you get right down to it, what people needed during this COVID time was someone to talk to , uh , they had hours to fill within their day or suddenly they were faced with new technology that , uh, because of pre COVID, there were so busy running around. They didn't have time to really understand how to use a particular APH assessment kit or a piece of technology. Now they have time on their hands and they're thinking I really need to use this time to hone my skills to better inform and train , uh , my student or you had families joining us in on training sessions saying, teach me how to use the technology so I can make sure my child has quality education. And we had students who basically said, I need to know this technology. So what was highlighted was we went from like being 80, 20, 80% products , 20% service this past year, it's been 50 50. So yes, we're still selling a lot of products and products are moving out the doors due to , uh, because of , uh, our quota numbers. Um, but because of COVID, we've seen the demand and the need for service increase. Um , and so this is a lot of the work we're doing in the Hive, where we are developing this online platform that will help develop , uh , develop and deliver already existing content that's out there and how tos and lessons and, and just being a point of connection for the field to get them the services they need in real time, because someday COVID will be, it's not going to go away, but at some point COVID, we'll, we'll get a handle through vaccine or whatever. We can create a safer world and we expect people to be back in the classrooms and we expect , uh , it'll be a new normal, but uh, more of a more familiar, normal we'll return to our world. And so we're using this time at APH, to really position ourselves to better meet the world that's coming , um, better meet the needs of a , you know, it's, I think the world has shifted and some things are not going to go back to being the way they are. Universities are seeing this schools are seeing this , um, you know, and it's impacting , um, the needs of the field as well. Our field has always been a field that has been quick to , uh, to adapt and quick to be , uh , proactive when they, when they see challenge coming. And so we've been able to do the same. So we're going to spend probably half that time in a state of company talking about our new steps. But our goal is within five years is, is that we will have our , our product offerings will be huge and wonderful and great, like they've been, but our service offerings will be equally as great and huge. Um, and the way we're going to do that is we are going to rely on, is it goes back to this concept of better together. We're building the platform. We're going to be reaching out to all the organizations and individuals that know how to do it , um, to get their content on this platform, because we want this to be a resource , uh, for the entire field for generations to come.

Paul Ferarra:

Alright, so Leanne, what are we doing for social events?

Leanne Grillot:

So we have a few different social events available. One of the first really is the special tours that we have in place. So that's a unique , um, uh , time at that point to be able to learn a little bit more and socialize . We also have , uh , the social aspect of our different ceremonies that we have with the InSights Art and the Hall of Fame induction. Those are more of a social event where you get to interact and have , um , an understanding from our field, but there is also going to be meet and greet reception time, as well as an open hall time where you have the ability to interact with people. And so that is, is something to drop into when there's a session that doesn't quite meet your needs out of the pick that you have. And you have another place that you can go to, to interact on Friday. The information fair is built in a way that people can interact, not only with the APH staff that is there, but with each other, those are more of a meeting room setting, where there is more interaction with one another about the topic at hand. So realize that some of those, some of our sessions are really built to be more interactive and be able to communicate with the person virtually sitting next to you, as well as the person who is from APH presenting.

Paul Ferarra:

Will sessions be available later on YouTube?

Leanne Grillot:

They will, we are recording our sessions so that people have the opportunity to catch the one that maybe didn't hit their time zone. We've had many people who are international who have been joining in on our other webinars that we've held. And so we want to make sure they have the opportunity as well to join in . So yes, these are being recorded and will be placed on YouTube. Hopefully people have a little bit of patience because that's quite a few videos going up at one time. It does take a little bit of time to get them all posted.

Paul Ferarra:

And finally we've always have the InSights, Art banquet, and Hall of Fame ceremony to look forward to. So how will attendees participate in those events this year?

Leanne Grillot:

So those are a registrated event , uh , to be able to sign up for APH. And then you go in again, everything's free. So you can definitely join and tell your friends to join in, but the InSights Art ceremony, and the... lost my brain...

Paul Ferarra:

Hall of Fame...

Leanne Grillot:

The Hall of Fame, thank you, and the Hall of Fame will both also be livestreamed so that people have the opportunity to catch it that way as well.

Paul Ferarra:

This has been really great information. I hope, everybody's looking forward to Annual Meeting just as much as they normally would. We want to thank you both for being on the podcast today. Really appreciate it.

Craig Meador:

Thanks, Paul.

Leanne Grillot:

Thank you, thank you. Looking forward to it.

Paul Ferarra:

Thank you, Craig and Leanne for that information, and don't forget to check out the URL provided in the show description for more details about Annual Meeting. Another important part of Annual Meeting is the ceremony to induct new members into the hall of fame. Mike Hudson, Director of the APH Museum, is here to talk to us about the Hall and the new inductees. Welcome in, Mike.

Mike Hudson:

Thanks, Paul.

Paul Ferarra:

So let's talk a little bit about the Hall of Fame. Tell us, first of all, what is the Hall of Fame?

Mike Hudson:

So the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is the field of blindness gathered together in one very special place , uh , in a very historic part of the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky, and the , the hall consists of 64 of the most well known, the most significant, the most influential people in the, in the field of blindness who , um, have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. And , uh, it started , uh, in 2002 were the first inductions and every year, since then there have been several inductions. And , uh , each one of the inductees , um, gets a original relief plaque of their face that is , uh , crafted by one of the model makers at APH, a very talented young man named Andrew Dakin . Um , and that goes on the plaque. Um, and then in the hall of fame, we also have a lot of , uh, graphics artifacts , uh, videos that kind of tell the story of each one of these significant people.

Paul Ferarra:

How did the Hall of Fame end up at APH?

Mike Hudson:

Yeah, so the Hall of Fame is, is, it is a collaboration of the entire field of blindness. Um, it is not owned by the American Printing House for the Blind, but , uh, in , uh, 2001, the Printing House volunteered , uh , to host the Hall of Fame and , uh , it's installed on the second floor of our , um, 1924 annex , um, a place that used to be filled with , uh, stereographs machines and , and printing presses and the machine shop at APH, which are all now in different parts of the building. But so it's a very, very special historic place for the field of blindness.

Paul Ferarra:

What does it take to be considered for induction?

Mike Hudson:

Well, I guess it starts right out there in the name of the Hall of Fame, right? Leaders and Legends. These are the people who broke the ground for everybody else in the field. These are the mentors, the teachers, the teachers of teachers, the people who founded the institutions that , uh, that shaped the work of blindness. And so there is a nomination process. Uh, you can go online to our website at aph.org and find the Hall of Fame's website. And the nomination process is there on that website, but basically you submitted a nomination along with a couple of letters of , uh, of recommendation and then the , the board of governors evaluates , uh, uh, numerous nominations each year. And they vote on whether or not you get to get into the Hall of Fame. And the, the , uh, uh, the laundry list of the people who've served on our board of governors are filled with people who are in the Hall of Fame themselves. So these are, these are also people who are significant leaders in blindness.

Paul Ferarra:

Can you give us an example of some of the 64 names that we have in the Hall today?

Mike Hudson:

Sure, sure. So of course, everybody knows, you know, the most famous teacher of the blind, right. Annie Sullivan, right. And her famous pupil, Helen Keller, who goes on to be an advocate for women's rights and civil rights and all travels all over the world. Then it's also people like people who became famous , uh, printers , uh , embossers like a fighting Bob Atkinson out at the braille Institute, famous leaders inside the blindness field, like , uh , Dr. Jernigan or , uh, um, also , uh, people who became teachers of teachers, like , uh , one of our , uh, inductees term last year, dr. Lou Alonso , um, also people who wrote the books that , uh , we teach our students with those famous seminal books. Those, those people in there , people like Dr. Thomas Carroll who , uh , introduced the idea of geriatric rehabilitation , uh , rehabilitation for people who lost their vision late, late in life , um, and on and on and on, you know, another, a good example would be somebody like , uh, uh, um, Arnall Patz. Arnall Patz is the, is the physician who figures out that it's too much oxygen in the , uh, and the incubator that's caught that caused this big , uh, epidemic of retrolental fibroplasia in the middle 20th century, 20th century. So all kinds of different people who, who made, who made it possible for the field to exist as it does today and influence the lives of so many people who are blind and visually impaired.

Paul Ferarra:

I understand that also another part of the Hall is something called a Wall of Tribute. Can you tell us about that?

Mike Hudson:

Sure. So the Hall of Fame is the 64 giants, right? But everybody in their life in their career has been influenced by so many teachers and mentors and leaders and supervisors and friends. And so the Wall of Tribute is a place for you to honor the people in your life that made a difference. It might not have been one of these 64 people, but in your life have been very special people. So the Wall of Tribute is a series of columns with a stones engraved with a message that you select. And that Wall of Tribute is important in a couple of ways that it helps people to honor all of these other often perhaps forgotten heroes in their lives. But , uh , the, a Wall of Tribute is actually what pays for the activities of the Hall of Fame. It pays for the kiosks, the creation of the , uh, of the , uh, the plaques that are awarded to the , the , the inductees. And it pays for the operations of the Hall of Fame.

Paul Ferarra:

Can you tell us about the 2020 inductees?

Mike Hudson:

Sure. We have a couple of really outstanding ladies in our class of 2020 , uh, Dr. Kathleen Huebner , uh, started her career working for 10 years for the American Foundation for the Blind, where she was involved with a lot of different national initiatives there from , uh, for the next 20 years, from 93 to 2012, she prepared TVIs and O&M specialists at Salus University in Elkins park, Pennsylvania, and then her career culminated in two groundbreaking collaborative national consortia, the National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment and the National Leadership Center for Sensory Disabilities, and Dr. Huebner is the recipient of the Migel Medal from AFB , the Josephine Taylor Award, and the Ambrose Shotwell Award from , uh, uh, AER the Mary K. Bauman Award, and the Warren C. Bledsoe Award, just multiple award winner. And then the second is a Canadian. Dr. Ann MacCuspie , uh, Dr. MacCuspie began her teacher career just as a teacher at the Halifax School for the Blind. Eventually worked there for many years, became director of programs and services, and her research focused on the social interaction of children with visual impairments, which eventually resulted in her publishing her groundbreaking book, which was Promoting Acceptance of Children with Disabilities: From Tolerance to Inclusion. And in 2008, Dr. MacCuspie received the prestigious Order of Canada, the highest award for civilians in Canada. So two very influential, very well known ladies in the field of blindness and we're really honored to add them to the Hall of Fame this year.

Paul Ferarra:

That's going to be exciting. We'll have 66 members in the Hall of Fame once this happens. So , uh , we look forward to that ceremony and thank you very much for coming on today. Mike,

Mike Hudson:

Thank you very much.

Paul Ferarra:

For more about the hall of fame. Check out the URL in the show description. While we prepare for and host Annual Meeting, the podcast will take a hiatus with the next episode coming to you on October the 22nd. On that episode, we'll recap, annual meeting and play highlights from several of the sessions. That wraps up today's episode. Until next time. be sure to look for ways you can be a Change Maker.