Agenda for March 2012 meeting

Final Agenda for March 2012 board meeting - part 1

Meeting to be held on Sunday 4th March at 2pm at



1.      Proposals

1.1.   Proposals voting

1.2.   The chair proposes that the board delegate the task of scheduling the
programme (Volunteers: Kalen, Stephen?)

1.3.   The fundraising coordinator proposes that the board authorise her to
apply to Trefoil ( for a grant to fund financial
support for up to 10 under 25s attending Autscape subject to final checking
of the application by either the company secretary or chair.

1.4.   The company secretary proposes that the company purchase the domain from its current owner (Larry), assuming that he is
willing to sell it, and redirect it to our main site. (Volunteer needed)

1.5.   The company secretary proposes that the board consider whether to
apply to the Charity Commission to delete article 3(b) from the articles of
association. [see Appendix B for briefing paper]

1.6.   The company secretary proposes that the company adopt the policy on
directors' privacy [see Appendix A]

1.7.   The company secretary proposes that the company adopt the
accessibility policy [see Appendix C]

2.      Follow ups

2.1.   Chair of research subcommittee

2.2.   Domain transfers (Martijn)

3.      Subcommittee progress reports (suggested topics in brackets)

3.1.   Sc-prog-form (proposal voting, invitations, other issues) Chair:

3.2.   Sc-prog-alt (call for leisure activities, budget, alternative
programme intentions) Chair: Trish

3.3.   Sc-fund (funding strategy) Chair: Elaine

3.4.   Sc-research (sc membership, childcare research progress, transport
research progress) In lieu of chair: Kalen

3.5.   Sc-pub (website wording inc. venue, advertisement deadlines,
publicity planning, generic description) Chair: Martijn

3.6.   Working group reports (if any) (Echo - Kalen, Newsletter - Stephen,
Purchasing - Stephen, Tech - Stephen)

4.      Key position progress reports (matters not covered earlier)

4.1.   Webmaster (updating website, certificate issues, registration system)

4.2.   Venue coordinator 2012 (planned venue visits, venue information for

4.3.   Treasurer (actions taken under delegated authority,
virginmoneygiving, bank account, HMRC, accounts and accounting advice)

4.4.    Company Secretary (actions taken under delegated authority, annual
report, info@ guidance, policies and job descriptions, files)

4.5.    Chair (actions taken under delegated authority, general progress,
any other matters)

5.      Any other business


Policy on directors' privacy

As an autistic-run organisation, Autscape recognises that being identified as a
director of Autscape may cause an individual to be (correctly or incorrectly)
identified as autistic. While Autscape promotes a positive view of autism, we
recognise that disability discrimination is widespread and consequently that
directors may prefer at times not to be publicly identified as such. 

As a charitable company, Autscape directors are required by law to provide full
identity information in some circumstances and will abide by these
requirements. However, in all other contexts it is Autscape’s policy to refer
to directors by a name of their choosing which may not be their full legal
name. Where a director chooses to use such a name, the same name will be used
consistently and will be a name by which they are generally known to Autscape


Briefing paper on the educational objective

When Autscape registered as a charity, the charity commission made two
comments. This paper deals with the issue raised by one of those comments.

One of our objects (the charitable aims of Autscape) is "to advance the 
education and awareness of the public in all matters relating to autism and 
in particular to increase public awareness of the problems faced by, and the 
general circumstances of, autistic people and their families, thus 
encouraging increased acceptance and support of autistic people in the 
community;". (Article 3(b))

At the time of registration we did not provide the Charity Commission with much
detail as to how Autscape educates the public because it is not Autscape's
primary focus (which is Article 3(a) - organising the conference as respite).

The commission stated that board will need to monitor whether Autscape is in
fact educating the public and if (say) by the time the board provide their
first annual report to the Charity Commission there is no real education of
the public taking place the board may need to consider seeking Charity
Commission consent to deleting this object. This point has now arrived.

Having researched the Charity Commission guidance on this issue, my advice to
the board is that there is no need for Autscape to delete this object (unless
the board particularly wishes to do so). This is because this object is being
fulfilled through Autscape’s current activities and I do not believe it will be
difficult to demonstrate this to the Charity Commission in the Annual Report
(and the current draft of the Annual Report seeks to do just that). The board
may wish to consider whether it is in Autscape’s interests to retain article
3(b) (the educational object) in order to make clear that the provision of the
Autscape conference is intended to meet educational objectives in addition to
the respite objectives provided for in article 3(a).

CC's guidance states "In general, to 'advance' education means to promote,
sustain and increase individual and collective knowledge and understanding of
specific areas of study, skills and expertise." Autscape does this by adding to
collective knowledge and understanding and transmission of knowledge about
autism by soliciting presentations for the Autscape conference (which would not
exist without Autscape), providing access to those presentations to our
participants and to a broader section of the public by placing material from
presentations on our website. CC's guidance refers to:
 "making materials, or objects capable of educating, available to the public,
  such as in libraries or on databases."
 "providing services … conferences"
 "promoting knowledge [through]‘research which is made generally available,
  including publishing the useful results of that research"
Autscape currently does all of these.

The 'public' in this context, does not need to be the entire general
public. CC's guidance states "A section of the public defined by social
circumstances or charitable need might be a sufficient section of the public
for advancing education." The fact that Autscape primarily educates autistics
is, thus, acceptable. However, given that the education of autistics
specifically is provided for by article 3(c), the board may wish to consider
the fact that Autscape does currently make materials available to the general
public via our website and welcomes non-autistic people to the Autscape

Full information about what constitutes advancement of education of the public
is available here:

For reference, the whole of article 3 (Autscape's objects) is provided below:

The objects for which the company is formed shall be: 

(a) to provide respite and support for autistic people by (i) organising
retreat-style conferences at which autistic people can learn, engage in
activities, socialize and relax in an autistic-orientated environment and 
(ii) generally provide them and their families and carers with information,
advice and other forms of assistance;

(b) to advance the education and awareness of the public in all matters
relating to autism and in particular to increase public awareness of the
problems faced by, and the general circumstances of, autistic people and their
families, thus encouraging increased acceptance and support of autistic people
in the community;

(c) to advance and promote the education of autistic people in self-advocacy
and in those issues which are of particular interest and/or relevance to
autistic people; and

(d) to do such other charitable things for the benefit and/or support of
autistic people as the directors in their discretion shall decide

and for the avoidance of doubt the phrase 'autistic people' shall include all
people who consider themselves to be autistic or to be close to the autistic
spectrum whether or not they have been formally diagnosed as such.


Rationale (not part of the policy)

The purposes of adopting this policy are:
- to write down and formalise existing Autscape practise
- to showcase for funders, the Charity Commission, other outsiders and those
of our own members who are prone to complaining a lot on this issue just how
hard we work to make Autscape accessible to autistics in ways that wouldn't
even occur to most organisations
- to demonstrate for the Charity Commission and others why Autscape venues
aren't always physically accessible, what we do to try to make them
physically accessible (and how that sometimes causes the fees to go up) and
how we try to balance physical accessibility with other (less obvious) kinds
of accessibility which are particularly relevant for us (such as financial

The main issues we will need to consider in adopting a formal policy on this
(1) Whether to prioritise autistic needs over other needs (see first para)
[Incidentally it is completely legal for us to do so because we are an
autism-specific charity]
(2) What exactly we do intend to do about balancing conflicting needs and
whether the 'alternate year' idea (which has been vaguely talked about
informally for a while) is the way to go (see last para)

Autscape accessibility policy (revised draft)

Autscape tries to make our events as accessible as we can to everyone. Our
purpose is to run events to benefit autistic people. So we will prioritise the
needs of autistic people when we make decisions about accessibility. 

We know that lots of things can affect whether autistic people can access our
events. Here are some examples:
Access needAdjustment made
Difficulty getting things done on time because of inertia try to avoid 'first come' first served
prompt people several times to do things give information all together to make tasks easier
Difficulty responding to open questions give menus of choices or a clear structure for responding to questions
Obsessive compulsive issues around cleanliness choose venues with some ensuite bathrooms
Social or sensory difficulties making sharing a room impossible choose venues with some single rooms
Visual sensory/processing difficulties choose more accessible fonts and colours for our documents
Need for detailed information give people very detailed information about our events
Sensitivity to smell have a rule banning use of scented products at our events
Difficulties initiating/engaging in verbal communication give people ways of communicating without speaking (such as initiation control badges, access to pen and paper)
Sensory issues with noise choose venue in quiet location away from busy road or other noise
ask venue to stop other noisy activities
Need for extra personal space and interaction free space no interaction table and red badge.
choose a venue with lots of open space (indoor and out)
We realise that autistic people are just as likely to have other disabilities
as non-autistic people. We also have a moral duty to promote disability rights
in general, not just those which affect autistic people. So Autscape will try
to make our events physically accessible.

We realise that autistic people are likely to have less money than
non-autistic people.  This is because many autistics experience difficulties
accessing employment and social and family stresses. Some cannot get jobs at
all. Others find it difficult to get or keep higher paying jobs, even when
they have the skills and qualifications for those jobs. So Autscape will try
to make our events accessible to people who struggle to pay for them.

Sometimes, making an event more accessible to one group means doing something
which makes it less accessible to another group. We realise that choosing a
venue which is physically accessible and has ensuite and single rooms usually
means higher costs. And choosing a cheaper venue often means that it isn’t
very accessible for those with mobility needs and may not have ensuite or
single rooms. We try to balance everyone’s needs by giving priority to
different needs each year.

Autscape will try to make sure that anyone who wants to come to an Autscape
event can reasonably access one at least once every two or three years.