Broadcasting Accessibility Fund 2014 Annual Report

Table of Contents - Annual Report 2014

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2014

4. Looking Ahead to 2015

5. Financial Statements of the Fund

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our second Annual Report, highlighting the achievements of the Fund over the past year and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting 2015.

The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Our mandate states that the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund:

 (a)  Acts as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada;

(b)  Funds only projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada;

(c)  Funds projects which provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting and which, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada; and

(d) Provides efficient and accessible service in English and French, and provides documentation for grant applicants in the official language of their choice.

2014 represented the first year of full operations for the Fund. The Board of Directors met on eight occasions; retained the Fund’s first CEO/Funding Officer, Richard Cavanagh in May 2014; and proceeded to build the infrastructure necessary to fulfil our mandate.

The Fund is fortunate to have in place a group of nine experienced, dedicated Directors and a CEO/Funding Officer with an exceptional expertise in the worlds of accessibility and broadcasting. Reporting to and working closely with the Board of Directors and especially with our Grant Committee, Richard has the demonstrated leadership skills to take the Fund forward into 2015 as we begin the real work of funding projects that fully meet our mandate.

We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of the first projects funded through our grants, and the on second round of applications to the Fund in our next Annual Report.

2. Board of Directors

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is responsible to a The Board of Directors governs and oversees the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and approves all key decisions. The CRTC mandated that the Fund have nine Directors:

  • Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of Sight, Hearing, Mobility and Cognitive accessibility groups);

 

  • Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,

 

  • Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward, as accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Fund’s Board of Directors.

The Board met on eight occasions in 2014: February 19; April 3; June 5 (AGM); July 17; August 28; October 6; November 28; and December 18. The frequency of meetings was designed to guide the Fund through a critical infrastructure process, and ultimately launch the first round of applications to the Fund before the end of the calendar year.

Directors and Officers of the Fund are:

Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent

Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility

Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight

Gary Malkowski, Accessibility Director – Hearing

Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive

Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent

Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

William (Bill) Abbott, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

Richard Cavanagh – CEO/ Funding Officer

3. Highlights from 2014

  • We retained Richard Cavanagh as our CEO/Funding Officer. With a background that combines broadcasting and accessibility, he has quickly demonstrated the unique set of skills in leadership, stakeholder relations and project management needed to move the Fund through its next phases.
  • We developed a new website, which was methodically designed with exceptional accessibility features; www.baf-far.ca. As an example of its leading edge accessible design, a number of trials were conducted to determine the best features for blind and low vision consumers, and most pages were translated into both ASL and LSQ. The website was launched in December 2014, concurrent with the Fund’s first Call for Letters of Intent.
  • The Board met frequently and, with the CEO’s guidance moved into the first phase of the inaugural grant application process: a Call for Letters of Intent, a funding model designed to ensure that proposals are received and evaluated in advance of the work required to complete a full application to the Fund.
  • With respect to the Committees of the Board, the Governance Committee meets monthly with the CEO to discuss progress and overall direction of the Fund. The Grant Committee also meets frequently to design the overall grant application process.
  • Throughout the design of the website and the development of the grant application process, stakeholders were contacted for advice on key accessibility features, the business dimensions of grant programs and legal issues such as intellectual property.
  • All of the Fund’s internal policies - Board Expenses and Per Diems, Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower and Investment – were developed. A new policy on Inclusion – Accessibility, Accommodation and Anti-ableism – was drafted and will be approved in early 2015. It will serve as a model policy on accessibility for other organizations, nationally and internationally.
  • The CRTC was updated on the progress of the Fund.

4. Looking ahead to 2015

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2015 will be a year that will mark a number of milestone achievements.

The first set of Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the Grant Committee, and those that meet the mandate of the Fund will be invited to submit a full application to the Fund. The Grant Committee will oversee the application process, and upon approval by the Board, the first cheques will be issued to successful applicants in the third quarter of 2015 – and first projects will be underway.

A subsequent Call for Letters of Intent will be issued in early 2016, kick starting the next round of applications to the Fund.

To guide the overall grants program of the Fund, a comprehensive Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Grant Policy and Procedures Handbook will be developed for use by the Board and members of the Grant Committee in evaluating and adjudicating applications to the Fund.

The Fund’s website will be reviewed and updated by its design architects.

The Fund’s new Policy on Inclusion – Accessibility, Accommodation and Anti-ableism will be approved in early 2015. All other existing policies will be reviewed throughout the course of the year.

The Board of Directors will continue to meet bi-monthly to continue its oversight of the Fund’s direction and fulfilment of its mandate. The Governance Committee will meeting with the CEO/Funding Officer each month to discuss the needs and direction of his office.

The Nominating Committee will oversee the process of nominations and elections of Directors to the Board where member’s terms are expiring. The Audit Committee will continue to guide the financial health of the Fund, and oversee the development of a plan to seek further capitalization for the Fund.

The Grant Committee will remain busy in working through the challenges of a first round of full applications to the Fund, and the Communications Committee will review and advise on the promotional aspects of the Fund, exploring ways to leverage our state-of-the-art website and expand our social media presence.

5. Financial Statements

To be appended

6. Contact Information

Richard Cavanagh

CEO/Funding Officer

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund/Fonds pour

  l'accessibilité

(613) 729-1891

richard@baf-far.ca

 

Table of Contents - Annual Report 2013

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2013

4. Looking Ahead to 2014

5. Financial Statements

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our inaugural Annual Report that sets out the achievements of the Fund over the past year and sets the stage for the road ahead in 2014.
 
As an independent and impartial funding body, and the first of its kind anywhere, the Fund is uniquely positioned to support innovative projects focused on solutions to accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada. Moreover, in seeking to increase accessibility to broadcasting content, the Fund encourages practical solutions, in English and/or French that make use of inclusive design principles, in order to promote accessibility at its earliest stages, and in the most cost-effective manner possible.

The past year was our first, and therefore represented a number of start-up initiatives, including the formation of an Interim Board; the drafting of by-laws; setting the process for the selection of Stakeholders who then voted on the permanent Board of Directors; the search for our first CEO/Funding Officer; and significant planning for what will become the Term of Reference for funding applications.
The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M. While we anticipate that the Fund will be operation in mid-2014 and that the first round of funding applications will be announced in the fall of 2014, a number of governance matters were successfully addressed in our first year.
First, it is important to reiterate that the Fund is an independent and separate, not-for-profit corporate body, and it is in turn responsible to a Board of Directors that governs the Fund and finalizes all key decisions. The CRTC mandate the Fund would have nine Directors:
Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of sight, hearing, mobility and cognitive accessibility groups);
Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,
Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

The initial Directors will generally serve a term of either two or three years, to ensure continuity.

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward; accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Directors – and the permanent Board then undertook the task of searching for the Fund’s first CEO/Funding Officer. This process was well underway by the end of 2013.

The Fund now has in place a group of Directors with deep experience in accessibility and broadcasting, and the new, permanent Board met twice in the latter part of the year. With much of the work on governance completed, we now turn our attention to the core task of our mandate: to develop the criteria for funding new and innovative projects that will advance accessibility to broadcasting content. We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of Fund operations and the initial funding of new projects, in our next Annual Report.

2. Board of Directors

The first meeting of the permanent Board of Directors took place on July 30, 2013. Officers were elected and Audit, Governance, and Nominating committees were struck and are already at work. A subsequent meeting was held on November 6, 2013.
Officers and Directors are:
Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent
Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility
Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight
Gary Malkowski, Accessibility Director – Hearing
Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive
Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent
Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
William (Bill) Abbott, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

3. Highlights from 2013

The Interim Board of Directors established a stakeholder-based process for nominating and electing the permanent Board.
The nominations and election process took place, and successfully brought nine Directors to the first permanent Board of Directors of the BAF.
Key committees were immediately struck, including Audit, Governance and Nominating.
Two meetings of the Board of Directors were held, in July and November.
The Board established a number of core policies, including:

Board Expenses and Per Diems
Code of Conduct
Conflict of Interest
Whistleblower
Investment

A search firm was retained to begin the process of hiring the Fund’s first CEO/ Funding Officer. A list of excellent candidates was finalized in December 2013.

 

4. Looking ahead to 2014

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2014 will be a year of tremendous strides. A CEO/Funding Officer will be in place by the spring; the Fund will be operational by the end of June; and the terms of reference for funding applications will be developed and implemented, with the first call for funding applications anticipated by the fall of 2014.

We anticipate that the first projects will have funding in place before the end of the 2014 calendar year.

In order to ensure the broadest possible range of eligible applications, the Fund will be widely promoted among key stakeholders in the disability community, the research community, the broadcasting industry and government agencies including the CRTC.

Given the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is a unique and independent funding organization, we are truly excited about the calibre of project ideas we will attract, and the measurable success we will have in advancing accessibility to broadcasting content in Canada.

5. Financial Statements

To be appended