Back at the start of the year, we were busy promoting UKAAF’s upcoming Annual General Meeting but ‘you know what’ rendered that impossible so we decided in the end to go ahead and do this on Zoom, which was certainly the first time I’d been at an AGM this way.
We had about 30 people successfully connect on the day a mix of sighted, partially sighted and blind people, MC-ed by then UKAAF Chair Richard West (his swansong as he stepped down as Chair after the meeting). This was new for all of us, and there was much laughter at the whole thing, and once we all got the gist of the ‘raise hand’ tool on Zoom, which became our way of agreeing and passing motions, we settled down quite quickly.
It was a great success and also quite thought-provoking to think back to last year’s AGM and conference, which was all on Accessibility and Web standards, and Richard pointed out that where we find ourselves now is a very different place, but that we’ll get back to a real-world face-to-face one as soon as we can.
Board changes were covered first – Mike Lewington stepping down as Secretary and being replaced by David Scott, but the probably bigger news being that Roger Firman, who was only appointed Vice Chair last year, is now stepping up to succeed Richard. Roger’s Vice Chair will be Alison Long from the RNIB who’s been a Board member for a few years. Richard who has served for many, many years and who everybody was hugely complimentary about, a lovely man, stays on the Board as an ordinary member for a year. Two other new appointees to the Board were also confirmed including Richard Orme, the CEO of the DAISY consortium, and Matthew Horspool.
UKAAF is an organisation constantly refreshing its Board, adding new members to it, knowing that what they collectively bring as a group is huge. Another big focus for UKAAF and the Virtual AGM was progress in the various UKAAF specialist subject area groups, e.g. Braille, Large Print, Audio, Images and documents.
Always looking for more members!
Actually, several thousand hours of time are given every year pro bono to UKAAF, to make it the standards body it is and Richard gave thanks to each and every one of those key contributors.
We mentioned the much anticipated and then cancelled ICEB event that was due to take place in London with the AGM; a big highlight in the calendar for UKAAF. It’s been rescheduled to take place in October but in what format—who knows?
Richard then handed over to Sharon Williams our Treasurer, who confirmed that we’ve had a much improved year of subscriptions at UKAAF, and that our more ‘corporate’ style of subscription model has worked very well. UKAAF is always looking for more members, but generally things have financially much improved on the year before.
Here it was back to the virtual hands, as we had to vote to pass the Accounts, and there was a lot of chuckling as we all did that. We finished on a major new initiative for UKAAF – Webinars – something very new for us, but luckily, they’re something that Richard Orme and the DAISY consortium has a lot of experience doing. In fact, Richard and fellow UKAAF board member, Matthew Horspool, have been working in the background putting together a new webinar series for UKAAF members and organisations who want to know about everything from accessible information and what it means, relevant standards and industries and the specialist subject areas like Braille and PDF. More on that in the next issue.
Summing up, all in all our first Zoom AGM went pretty well. But we do also hope they’re not always going to be just on-screen!