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(Individual Office Manuals are available by e-mail)

Table of Contents



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This manual was written to assist state and special interest affiliate presidents. This document is meant to assist the affiliate presidents with procedures that would be beneficial for the organization. It should help make transition from one president to another easier.

All affiliates operate in different ways but these guidelines should pertain to all. Obviously, not all presidents have the same capabilities and these are not meant to discourage any current presidents. However, this manual is meant to provide some guidelines that should benefit the affiliate.

This manual contains the normal president's duties. It gives procedures to follow when conducting meetings. There is a section briefly describing the most important "Robertsí Rules of Order". Information about appointing committees and outlines of duties for these committees are also discussed. It also explains how the president and the treasurer work together to open, maintain, and balance checking accounts. Secretary's reports, treasurer's reports, and requirements for those positions at meetings are covered since the president works with these two officers much of the time.

Maintaining the membership and mailing lists are covered thoroughly since each affiliate has different people in charge of these lists. Finally, tax filings, incorporation filings, and other information about possible documents are discussed.

Prodcedures During Board Meetings

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NOTE: These guidelines can be followed for regular meetings, conference calls, and pre convention or post-convention board meetings. (See section on "SIMPLIFIED ROBERT'S RULES")

  1. The president should make sure the secretary has a tape recorder ready to tape all board meetings. Notes can be taken in whatever form is preferred by the secretary: Braille, computer, or handwriting. If the secretary is using both the tapes and the notes, it will make certain that all wordings can be verified for the motions and other actions taken by consensus.
  2. The secretary should list the official time any meeting starts, the date, and the place of the meeting.
  3. After the president calls the meeting to order, the secretary should be asked to call the roll. The secretary must be prepared to call the names of all the board members and record who is or is not present. This is important when votes are taken. Also, the president must know if a quorum is present before starting the meeting. A quorum must be present for any major action to be taken.
  4. The president should next ask if anyone has anything to add to the agenda that had been prepared and sent to board members prior to the meeting. The president should have these sent in advance and also have them available at the meeting itself. If this meeting is a conference call, the president should have the agenda sent at least ten days before the call. The president should read the agenda on the call or have the secretary read the agenda. If additions are requested, the president should suggest a time on the agenda to add these items. The president should then ask for a motion to approve the agenda. After the motion is made, seconded, and passed, the president presents the next topic on the agenda (usually the minutes of the prior meeting).
  5. The president should ask the secretary to read the previous meeting's minutes. For many affiliates, the reading is waived and the president may just ask for additions or corrections. A motion accomplishes this waiver only if all board members have had the opportunity to read the minutes. Sometimes it is waived even when all have not read the minutes if they are no longer considered to be relevant.
  6. The president should ask for a motion to approve the minutes if no one has already made the motion. When someone moves the approval, the president asks for a second. After the second, the president asks for approval from the board. After asking for an aye or nay, the president determines the fate of the motion. If a motion seems to be a tie vote, a roll call vote must be taken. (This is the procedure for all motions made.) If the president or a board member asks for a roll call, the secretary reads the role and asks each board member for their vote. When all have been recorded, the totals are presented. In the case of a tie vote, the president may break the tie.
  7. During the rest of the meeting, the secretary must be prepared to record any motions (in a chronological order) that are made, to call the roll for a roll call vote, and to record any actions that are taken by consensus. When motions are made, the name of the person making the motion is usually noted. Any policy decisions made by consensus must be recorded. Minutes should be as brief as possible. When discussion occurs, it is not necessary for the secretary to explain the details. A comment stating that a "discussion followed" is generally sufficient. Events and dates decided upon would be considered actions by consensus.
  8. Everyone must understand all motions voted on. The president or secretary should ask for them to be repeated if necessary. The records need to be clear and accurate for future reference.
  9. The president should instruct the secretary to record only the main essentials of the treasurer's report. Also, the president should request the treasurer to give a copy of the report to the secretary for the permanent record. These may be needed in the future if questions develop. For example, if the treasurer's next report is disputed. Amounts may be checked against previous closing balances.
  10. At the end of the meeting, the time the meeting was adjourned should be recorded.
  11. An important guest should be noted if this would be useful in the future.

Between Meetings

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  1. Following each board meeting, the president should ask the secretary to read the notes carefully to see if they are clear. The tape recordings can be helpful if there are any questions. If questions arise soon, it is easier to get a consensus among board members present at the meeting about any discrepancy.
  2. The president may ask for a copy of the minutes in order to respond to any necessary business. Most presidents make notes themselves but some do not.
  3. A copy of the minutes may be printed in the organization newsletter. Since most of these are in alternative format, it may be easier for a small affiliate to get information out this way. Some affiliates prefer this way of communicating minutes because there is less chance of members getting incorrect information about what transpired at board meetings. This is also a way for all members to know what is happening in the affiliate since they may not have the opportunity to attend many board meetings. This may not be possible for larger affiliates who cover more business, but a summary could be provided to the newsletter.
  4. The president must instruct the secretary to send notices to board members about the upcoming board meetings. Some presidents take care of this themselves.
  5. The president should remind the secretary a month before the next meeting, copies of the minutes should be sent to all board members in alternative formats (i.e. Braille or tape and large print).
  6. The president needs to communicate with officers, board members, and committee chairs in between meetings to make sure the on-going activities are proceeding as they should. The president should request reports on committees as necessary and should require important information to be sent to the newsletter for publication.
  7. The president should also keep in contact with chapter presidents. If the president has e-mail, a message can be sent periodically to each local president to keep a connection between the affiliate and local members. If the president does not have e-mail, contact can be made by phone or letter. The president can delegate this communication link to the vice president(s) or other board members.
  8. The president needs to write a message for the affiliate newsletter each time it goes to print. Regular deadlines are established by most newsletter editors. This is another connection between local members and the affiliate.
  9. 9. Periodically, at least once a year, a fund-raising letter should be written to members and friends. This can be a communication mechanism as well as a fund-raising letter that informs the mailing list of current activities as well as requesting funds. 10. The president should request the secretary to send information in a timely manner to local presidents regarding special days celebrated or recognized. Examples include "Braille Literacy Week" and "White Cane Safety Day". Local chapters should be encouraged to have special activities for these special days. The state affiliate presidents should also try to have the governor in the state sign a proclamation for these two special times. Contact the governor's office in plenty of time in order to get important publicity this activity can generate.
  10. The president should recommend seminars for leadership or membership development from time to time.
  11. The president will encounter difficult people occasionally and receive many complaints. A president should listen carefully to all complaints and suggestions and use tact and good judgment when handling them. Often, the person bringing the concern to the president will simply want a sympathetic response. If further follow-up is necessary, a president may consult with the vice president(s) or other officers or board members for further input.

Appointing Committees

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  1. The president needs to appoint all committee chairpersons. Sometimes presidents appoint the whole committee and sometimes presidents ask the chair to appoint the rest of the committee withthe approval of the president. Usually, the chair has some input as to who the members of the committee should be. Sometimes, a president may delegate this committee responsibility to a vice president.
  2. When appointing members to committees, the president should choose people from a variety of backgrounds and geographical locations. In this way, the president will be seen as trying to be fair. Of course, the ability of the members to accomplish a given responsibility is important. Often committees are a way to link local chapters with the state or special interest affiliate.
  3. Standing committees are the committees that regularly function. These are sometimes listed in the constitution and bylaws of the organization. Some examples are: Membership, Fund-raising, Credentials, Budget, Constitution and Bylaws, Resolutions, Publications, etc. It is important for the president to know what committees are required. Some standing committees are required by motion of the board of directors or by the convention.
  4. The president appoints ad hoc committees after a request has been expressed by the board of directors, a motion at a convention, or a resolution passed by the convention.
  5. Standing committees are on-going committees while most ad hoc committees have a limited term. Sometimes the term is specified in the original board motion, convention motion, or resolution. Other times the committee simply continues until the specific tasks identified are finished.
  6. The president needs to instruct the chairs of committees on the duties of the committee and what is expected of the members of each committee.
  7. The following suggestions to the chairs would be appropriate. The chair should tell all committee members to give feedback and not expect the chair to have all the ideas. Each committee should write a list of specific goals and objectives for the year. A list of proposed strategies to use to attain the goals written should be decided. If any funding is necessary to complete committee tasks, the chair should present these requests to the President or the Budget Committee. Each committee member should be assigned a specific task or responsibility for some aspect of the committee work. Their should be a specific time frame given for each task so that the progress of activities can be checked. The chair should be prepared to ask if any problem or concern developed which caused a particular task not to be achieved and if they need a different assignment for some reason. Committee members should be encouraged to come to the chair so the chair need not ask over and over again. The chair must prepare any necessary reports for the president or the board. The chair must check with members of the committee to make sure the committee goals are completed on time.
  8. The president is an ex-official member of all committees and may be as involved in them as is suitable for that committee. The president can assign this duty to a vice president or board member as appropriate.

Planning Conventions

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  1. The president needs to appoint committees to plan the annual or biannual convention. Here again, using a variety of people to serve on committees is the best way to encourage more participation from members. The president also needs to either visit prospective future hotels or ask a committee to do this.
  2. When participating in sight selection, varied cities should be considered. Obviously, transportation in that area as well as the prices involved for each hotel need to be considered. After the president or a committee has located a few hotels with decent rates and amenities, the board of directors should decide which one is most feasible. If the president does not have time to research several hotels, a committee should be recommended. Members get dissatisfied if choices are not presented. Also, rates are usually higher if there is no obvious competition. After a board decision is made, a contract should be signed as soon as possible with the chosen hotel. Most hotels give a time-line for that particular rate.
  3. Typical convention committees include: program committee, resolutions committee, constitution and by-laws committee, awards committee (if your affiliate has awards), scholarship committee (if one), decorating committee (if there is a luncheon or banquet), and people to handle registration, microphones and taping of programs, and other services.
  4. The president needs to keep in touch with the convention hotel as time passes to make sure no problems have arisen. Also, meal functions will need to be planned in time to let members know prices early enough.
  5. Once committees have been appointed, the president needs to check on their progress from time to time.
  6. Pre-registration forms make it easier to plan ahead for convention space and meal functions. Some affiliates offer a discount to members who register in advance of the convention. Pre-registration also makes it easier for those handling the registration table.

Duties During Special Interest Conventions

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  1. Special interest affiliates have different practices concerning who opens the convention. In many, the president presides and introduces different program presenters. In others, the program chair will open the session. If banquets or luncheons are part of the activities, an M.C. often leads this part. In most cases, however, the president does welcome the membership and guests present at the sessions.
  2. In a few special interest affiliates, the roll call of states is recorded at the annual convention. The president should remind the secretary to register the delegate, alternate delegate, and the delegate for the nominating committee for the affiliate elections. Of course, the president needs to choose the chair of the nominating committee.
  3. For these same affiliates the president should make sure the secretary will be present at the nominating committee just long enough to make sure that the correct people are present. After that, the nominating committee chair is in charge of this meeting.
  4. The Resolutions Committee chair will present the resolutions and the chair of the Constitution and By-laws Committee will present the possible changes to those documents.
  5. The president should make sure the secretary takes convention minutes which usually consist only of motions made on the floor and resolutions brought forward.
  6. A copy of the convention program will usually suffice for the other parts of the convention.
  7. For the affiliates that do have state chapters, a roll call vote may be taken at any time during the convention.
  8. During the business meeting, the president may have the previous year's minutes read. This depends on the affiliate and if the membership wants this information. The members present may also waive with a motion.
  9. During the pre-board meeting or business meeting, an A.C.B. delegate and a delegate to the nominating committee for A.C.B. needs to be assigned. Since the decision needs to be made before the first session of A.C.B., the board of directors of the affiliate may need to make the recommendation rather than the membership at large. Of course, when voting at the A.C.B. convention occurs, any member can help the delegate make decisions on how the affiliate should vote unless a decision was previously discussed during the business meeting.

Duties During State Conventions

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  1. The president usually presides at all program sessions for the convention. If a banquet or luncheon is planned, sometimes an M.C will introduce guests.
  2. The president must appoint an auditing committee unless the affiliate has a company audit the books yearly. A chair for the nominating committee must also be appointed. Some presidents also choose the members of the nominating committee and other affiliates vote on the other members of the committee after the president has assigned this responsibility. In affiliates where there are chapters, the nominating committee may consist of a member from each chapter. The president should read the current Constitution and By-laws to understand the procedure followed in that state.
  3. The membership must vote on the delegate to the A.C.B. convention. Usually, the president is the one voted to go but if that person is unable to attend, another choice may be made by the membership. Usually, the alternate delegate is chosen by the delegate but sometimes the affiliate chooses this person also.
  4. When elections are to take place, the president will ask the chair of that committee to read the nominations voted on in that committee. After the names are presented, the president will preside. If the president is up for re-election, he will step aside for that position vote and the vice president will take over for that vote. When the president reads the position and the name from the nominating committee, the membership will be asked for any nominations they wish to present. He will say, (Are there any nominations from the floor?" After each request for nominations, this question will be repeated until the request has been made three times without any response. At this time, someone must make a motion to close nominations and a vote can take place. This motion must have a second and a vote taken. If there are no nominations from the floor, someone may make a motion to move that nominations cease and the person be accepted by acclamation. This motion must be seconded and a vote taken.
  5. The president must be sure the secretary or designee is prepared to record any motions made at the convention.
  6. The resolutions chair presents resolutions. All resolutions must be recorded (usually by the secretary) for use later.
  7. The Constitution and By-laws chair presents the possible changes in the Constitution and By-laws.
  8. The president should ask if the secretary is prepared to read the previous year's minutes if required to do so during the business session. Some affiliates do not do this at all. Others make a motion to waive it.
  9. A copy of the program should be kept which will serve as minutes of the rest of the convention.


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  1. Letterhead stationery should be used for all correspondence. This shows more credibility especially when writing fund-raising letters. An affiliate may choose to order a signature disk that a secretary could use to sign letters with the president's signature. Of course, any time a secretary uses it, prior permission must be granted by the president.
  2. Correspondence is handled differently in each affiliate. It is important to determine who handles what correspondence as soon as an officer takes over a new position.
  3. If your affiliate has a corresponding secretary the correspondence is usually handled by that person.
  4. Some affiliates have the secretary do most of the correspondence unless the president chooses to take care of it. This may be determined by the amount of time each person has available or it may depend on what writing skills each person has.
  5. Even though the secretary usually handles sending resolutions to the proper parties noted on the resolution, the president should ask the secretary when this will be finished. If no specifics are written on the resolution the president should direct the secretary what to do in each case.
  6. Many affiliates designate chairs of different committees to do their own correspondence. The president should make sure the correspondence is handled in a timely manner. due to the broad range of limitations or capabilities correspondence assignments may change depending on the chairs of committees.

Permanent Records

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  1. The president should know whether the secretary keeps on file the copies of the Constitution and Bylaws.
  2. If your affiliate has a special seal the secretary needs to keep this unless someone else handles most of the correspondence.
  3. The president should make sure all official minutes are kept for a minimum of 5 years. It is helpful if these are kept permanently for the history of the organization.
  4. All motions should be kept on file for reference in the future. It is easier if your affiliate has a separate file of motions by date rather than having to look through all your minutes to find a prior motion.
  5. A file of resolutions is necessary for future reference. It is helpful to retain these in a separate file. Categorizing can be helpful. However keep the categories broad or future officers may have trouble finding the right ones. You could have an index but that takes time to create.
  6. Resolutions and motions are often used for forming policy decisions so it is very important to retain these longer than five years.
  7. A list of current chapters in a state affiliate or state affiliates in a special interest affiliate should be recorded. The secretary should also maintain a current list of officers. The president should also have copies of these.

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