July 2012 – June 2017
Table of Contents
Sun Sounds of Arizona is part of the division of Public Service at Rio Salado College, one of the Maricopa County Community Colleges. As such, the Strategic Plan for Sun Sounds aligns with the strategic plans for both the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) and Rio Salado College.
The following five year Strategic Plan commences as of July 1, 2012, and runs through June 30, 2017. In preparation, all stakeholders were solicited for input so that the management of Sun Sounds could avail itself of diverse perspectives accounting for any blind spots or lack of knowledge within management, as well as differing views on the most propitious course forward. These stakeholders include: Sun Sounds volunteers, paid staff, members and other audiences, sponsors and financial supporters, the Sun Sounds Foundation, and colleagues within the division, college and district.
Sun Sounds of Arizona is divided into operational areas, and geographic sub-units or affiliates. Past strategic planning instruments have confined themselves to these natural divisions of labor. In practice the organization has learned that the evolving information access environment cannot, going forward, be appropriately addressed using the traditional model. It was decided, therefore, to reorganize the planning structure, if not the base organization structure, to permit a team management approach. It is believed this approach will ensure that appropriate talent is brought to bear on the objectives of the organization, and will help reduce the negative effects of turf protection and silos throughout the organization. A planning matrix was developed with the conventional operational areas on one axis, and a listing of project or services on the other axis. Using this methodology every project becomes an organization wide project rather than a departmental project, and management can easily understand how the elements of these projects fit together.
Sun Sounds of Arizona currently has four affiliate locations including Flagstaff, Tempe / Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. These affiliates are responsible for providing the local information and support necessary to a robust community service. The Flagstaff affiliate handles northern Arizona including Prescott. Tempe / Phoenix is responsible for the entire central valley plus regional support for the other affiliates. Tucson is responsible for southern Arizona including Green Valley. Yuma, the newest affiliate, is responsible for southwestern Arizona and southeastern California. In addition, Sun Sounds of Arizona now embraces technologies, which permit the provision of basic information access services to print-disabled people throughout the United States. This has become an important additional outreach as economic pressures have drastically reduced the availability of locally based reading and information services in many parts of the country leaving blind and print-disabled people with no audio information services at all.
Sun Sounds of Arizona is divided into the following operational areas:
- Fund Raising
- Programming / Content
- Operations / Engineering
- Marketing / Outreach
The above functional areas for Sun Sounds must work together to develop, enhance, and maintain the following initiatives:
- Staffing (both paid and volunteer)
- SCA Radio Broadcasts
- HD FM Radio Broadcasts
- DTV (Digital Television) Broadcasts
- Cable TV Broadcasts
- Internet Radio Broadcasts
- Sun Dial II (telephone services)
- On Demand Audio Web Content
- Group Sites (hospitals & Nursing Homes)
- Mobile Apps (iBlink for iPhone, iPod, and Droid)
- Text Based Web Content and Services
- Resource Development
- Paid Sales and Services
- Research in New Technologies
One can see by examining the above lists that Sun Sounds has grown far beyond the original “radio reading service.” Sun Sounds and other like organizations began using the term “Audio Information Access Services” some years ago in recognition that, though still extremely important, reading is not the only means of obtaining critical information. Now, it has been additionally recognized that “radio,” in the purest sense, is no longer adequate to meet the needs of an ever changing and evolving community of print-disabled people. Audio content can and must increasingly be provided through newer, more portable, and more user controllable platforms such as mobile phones, iPods and other portable devices, computers (laptops, netbooks, and iPads) etc. Therefore, though conventional radio broadcasting is still a major part of the service delivery model, it will be only one of a number of strategies employed to provide critical reading and information services to people who cannot access paper or digital print due to a disability. Sun Sounds of Arizona will grow to meet this need. (Back to table of contents)
Sun Sounds of Arizona provides audio access to information to people who cannot read print because they have a disability.
Sun Sounds of Arizona will make creative use of technology and talent to ensure that every disabled person has the opportunity to access the current and local information necessary to a self-directed, productive life. As a result, the inability to read print will no longer be considered a disabling condition. Sun Sounds of Arizona will continue to be a leader in the field of information access services and a willing partner to organizations with like goals. Sun Sounds of Arizona is innovative, committed to quality and to customer satisfaction. (Back to table of contents)
We are committed to demonstrating, assessing and being accountable for the following core organizational values:
We are stewards of the written word, and we honor the trust that members place in us to faithfully deliver access to print information without editorializing or censoring.
Inclusiveness and Diversity
We respect and value each individual for the unique perspectives, experiences, and strengths that he or she possesses.
We believe in being fully disability accessible to every staff person, volunteer, and member in every aspect of our organization.
Spirit of service
We value the spirit of service, which permeates the staff, and volunteer culture of Sun Sounds thereby creating a friendly and caring environment.
We value learning as a life-long endeavor, unrestricted by disability.
Freedom of Choice
We believe that our customers and members have the right to choose their information access solutions, and that their available choices should be comparable to the array of choices available to the general public. No single technology or information access solution will be considered the only solution to be made available to people with print-disabilities. (Back to table of contents)
To ensure relevance to all possible print-disabled constituencies, programs and services should account for those who are: old, young, active, homebound, having varied print-disabilities, and ethnic diversity.
To demonstrate and promote maximum convenience and effectiveness, Increase the audience size and usage of all delivery platforms.
To assure usability, provide reading and information access services of the highest possible quality including: vocal performance, audio fidelity, service reliability, information comprehensiveness, creative innovation, and customer focus.
To foster achievement of the above goals, develop the management, paid staff, and volunteer staff such that all objectives become team objectives with training, communications, and human resources sufficient to support all goals. (Back to table of contents)
Just as is possible for the average person within the general public, Sun Sounds of Arizona strives to provide choice to its listening audience to meet individual needs for information, for portability, or timeliness, for localness, and for life style. With this in mind, the content (programming) Sun Sounds produces and/or presents will take advantage of all available delivery platforms used by print-disabled people.
In recognition that different target demographic groups will tend to use certain platforms more readily than others, content will be adjusted to reach the appropriate target group through the most appropriate technology platform.
Objective: To Remain Relevant with Younger Listeners
- Have Sun Sounds programming and sound reflect younger listeners’ interests and tastes.
- Market specifically to younger listeners.
- Promote the availability of the various platforms so listeners can choose the service delivery vehicle most suitable for their needs.
Objective: Analyze Source Materials and Adjust Content
Identify the changing landscape of print journalism and its delivery mechanisms and adjust programs accordingly.
Review current program offerings for relevance and adjust, expand, or discontinue
Within the next 3 years, identify new content that is popular and should be added to Sun Sounds. Be aware of pop culture changes and program accordingly.
Objective: Enhance Core Programming
- Broaden the available programming on each delivery platform.
- Create procedures for keeping programs current at all affiliates.
- Include the use of DAISY encoding standards for Web Audio On-Demand programs to enhance the usability of that content by listeners.
- The Yuma affiliate will begin to record and upload local programming to expand the important local content for that audience.
- Develop the ability and implement on location program production at all affiliates to enhance the wealth of information which is not reading based but is still generally unavailable to people with print-disabilities.
- Continue to create and enhance programming on the subjects of accessibility, technology and other topics that would appeal to the interests and needs of people with disabilities but which are not available from other sources.
- Identify presentations, which could be packaged to generate an after-market revenue stream.
Objective: Develop Updated and Robust Web Content
- Form review team to reimagine, redesign, and overhaul sunsounds.org, creating a modern, content-rich accessible site that encourages member loyalty, volunteer engagement, and provides resources to the public, etc. Coordinate Marketing to more fully promote regular content updates to boost website usage.
- Create a volunteer support area allowing better inter-staff communications and permitting volunteers themselves to handle scheduling and other program production tasks.
- Extend and expand the use of social networking to more fully engage volunteers, partners, and the audience.
- Provide 90% of our current broadcast productions, and create original on-demand programming that will be available via the web. This will supplant the current limited podcasting offerings, but should still be distributed to services such as iTunes and iBlink.
Objective: Engage Audience and Communicate with Members
- Create feedback mechanisms so that various audience demographics and components can provide guidance for program development, scheduling, and adjustment.
- Review and revise current audience communication methods and practices to promote maximum effectiveness from Sun Sounds to the audience, and from the audience to Sun Sounds.
- Introduce live focus group discussions with picked groups of listeners for more in-depth discussion and understanding.
- Use alternative social networking sites, which more fully cater to the needs of blind, low vision, and other people with disabilities.(Back to table of contents)
Objective: Create a Better-rounded, Informed Volunteer Corps to Help Sun Sounds Meet its Other Goals and Objectives at Each Affiliate
- Add resources, information and tools to sunsounds.org/volunteer.
- Create a quarterly orientation session for all new volunteers; invite veteran volunteers as well.
- Offer at least one annual workshop or training session to volunteers in each affiliate.
- Teach volunteers a 30-second elevator speech so that they can communicate our mission and vision to others reliably.
- In 5 years, 80% of volunteers surveyed will respond that our communication with them is sufficient.
Objective: Effectively Engage Volunteers in Order to Create a Deeper Pool of Resources from which to Draw
- Introduce volunteers to the listening audience (virtually, electronically and in person).
- Hold annual volunteer focus groups in each affiliate.
- Hold informal volunteer get-togethers throughout the year in order for volunteers to meet one another.
- Establish a procedure for providing program feedback to each volunteer.
- Ask volunteers how to best communicate with them, and then implement ways to reach them effectively.
- Create volunteer management teams to help us meet these goals.
- Set up short-term volunteer teams for special projects.
- Create a Volunteer Buddy System where established volunteers contact and mentor new volunteers.
Objective: Recruit and Train Adequate Numbers of Volunteers to Meet Our Extended Needs
- Define needs.
- Interview for specific positions and qualifications.
- Identify special expertise current volunteers may have.
- Expand recruitment efforts to find talent for unmet needs. (Back to table of contents)
To support the provision of excellent service to the audiences of Sun Sounds, we will pursue the following:
Objective: Ensure that Each Affiliate is on an Equal Footing as Regards the Following
- Hot-swappable audio backup server.
- Internet broadcast stream.
- Full capability to encode and upload to Sun Dial II.
- Full capability to play, record, edit, and transfer programs between affiliates.
- Institute DAISY recording standards that index audio files as a part of normal production.
- Implement on-demand programming that will be available via the web.
Objective: Create a standardized method to begin supplementing current operations, engineering, and IT personnel with a new corps of skilled and specialized volunteers, part-time employees and contractors for the purposes of software engineering, IT and Engineering support, operations training, audio engineering, and related tasks
- Collaborate with Development to create needed funding when necessary.
- Collaborate with Volunteer Coordinators to build this network for each station.
- Begin recruitment efforts at schools, universities, and companies.
- When applicable, plan with division engineering and IT staff to determine working boundaries and collaboration.
Objective: Establish Formal Production Standards
- Establish minimum standards to create more uniformity among programs and between locations.
- Flexibility and creativity will be encouraged while working within standards.
- Options will be available for volunteers to record at home using digital recorders as opposed to computers, as long as the recordings can be transferred to us in an efficient manner.
- Create handbooks for operating in recording booths, operating in control rooms, and recording remotely. Each book of standards will be affiliate specific.
Objective: Modernize the Broadcast Platform and Associated Equipment
Collaborate with development, current IT and engineering personnel along with any applicable vendors and volunteers. Associated equipment will include:
- Computers running broadcast software.
- Servers and backups.
- FTP server.
- KVM switches.
- Upgrades to production room(s) to include a more robust system for editing and post production tasks, as well as improvements to supplementary equipment such as computer monitors, speakers, microphones, etc.
Objective: Evaluate Audio Infrastructure for all Affiliates
- Evaluate signal fidelity across all gain stages.
- Evaluate ease of access for repair and replacement.
- Identify potential failures in studio equipment and wiring.
- Recommend changes needed to bring all affiliates into standards compliance.
Objective: Put Together Remote Recording Kits to Support Programming Production Goals
- Provide one kit to each affiliate.
- In support of our core values, kits will include accessible recording equipment for blind users. This can be a piece of gear with dual functionality or two separate pieces of gear, one accessible one not (i.e. a PlexTalk recorder for accessibility and a Tascam HD for sighted individuals.)
- The recording kit will be equipped to handle varying program production needs.
- Provide appropriate training for volunteers and select staff to use the equipment.
Objective: Implement a Digital Print Editing System for Program Preparation
- Implement a copy and paste methodology to obtain printed information from the web and prepare for broadcast then pushing prepared documents from the Volunteer Library to be available on studio computer monitors.
- Institute the training of volunteers and associated personnel as it relates to this goal.
- Replace the existing hard copy (newspaper ripping) method to the degree possible.
Objective Review and Modify Statewide Networking Infrastructure for Maximum Reliability and Consistent Quality
- Re-examine how we respond to and resolve outages.
- Ensure that all stations have streaming backups for their satellites that are functional.
- Determine if and when satellites will need recalibration and maintenance.
- Recommend changes or improvements as indicated. (Back to table of contents)
Objective: Raise Adequate Funding to Keep Sun Sounds Viable in the Short Run, and to Allow Increase of Capacity to Meet Objectives Going Forward
- Collaboration between development staff and other members of the Sun Sounds team, as well as, with Division Development staff, will be sought to address the strengths and weaknesses of our current efforts and to enhance results.
- Improvements and increases in funding must be achieved in all of the following areas:
- Individual gifts – campaigns
- Grants - Government, Foundations and Corporations
- Planned giving
- Major Gifts solicitation
- Special Events
- Other Income/revenue (Back to table of contents)
Every manager is involved in administration. Many non-manager staff and volunteers are also involved in administration. We should not confuse administration with supervision. Supervision is a function of administration, but only one.
Objective: Implement this Strategic Plan
Administration is the act of organizing and coordinating our work so that our goals are accomplished. Administrators act in support of those goals and the staff executing those goals.
- Distribute the final strategic plan to all staff and interested volunteers to promote familiarity and inform decision-making.
- The Director of Sun Sounds will ensure that all senior administrators understand where they fit into the plan and how they might develop specific steps and stratagems to reach the objectives and goals of the plan.
- Senior administrators will instruct first line supervisors, line staff, and volunteers making sure they understand the plan overall, and their parts in its successful accomplishment.
- Publish the plan in Print, Braille, on the web, and publicize its existence to all stakeholders.
Objective: Organization, Coordination and Communication will Take Place Before, During and After the Actions of a Goal are Executed
Plan, act, review, rinse and repeat. However, do not confuse Administration with action. The act part of the scenario must occur or administration has failed.
- As each objective and sub-objective of this plan is undertaken, the team leader will create a written chart to map tasks and monitor progress.
- Updates of these charts will be submitted to the Director on a regular basis, at least quarterly.
- Each objective’s success will be judged based on the accomplishment of the objective, not on the plan designed to reach the objective.
Objective: Implement Cross Division, and Cross Affiliate Administrative Teams to Coordinate Objectives
Administrative activity will take place within every affiliate. Affiliates will coordinate and integrate with one another so that Sun Sounds moves ahead as one organization and is consistent in its practices for the sake of all stakeholders including donors, members, volunteers, and friends. Sun Sounds as a whole will also integrate cross division to strengthen Sun Sounds by strengthening the entire division.
- Management and operational staffing will be reviewed to ascertain where economies of scale can be achieved within Sun Sounds and throughout the division.
- Staffing levels will be optimized for maximum impact on goals and objectives and to minimize activities and efforts, which draw resources away from the goals and objectives.
Objective: Set In Place a Professional, Self Correcting and Continually Improving Management System
Sun Sounds is tolerant of many styles of management, and working structures. Even so, certain standards are in order. Sun Sounds activities will be highly professional, give appropriate attention to detail, error correcting, responsive, considerate, non-defensive, and supportive.
- Senior Managers will meet at least quarterly to review strategies, problem solve, and coordinate organizational activities.
- Team leaders and departmental managers will meet with their teams on a regular basis to facilitate communication between the Director and the front line employees and volunteers and to assist in promoting Division goals.
- Inter-affiliate travel and communication will be encouraged to aid in statewide coordination and help produce a collegial spirit of cooperation.
- As is appropriate concerning MCCCD policy, formal or informal annual reviews and goal setting will be undertaken between all supervisors and their direct reports so that all employees know where they stand and can develop professionally. (Back to table of contents)
Sun Sounds of Arizona would like to express appreciation for the efforts of those who directly participated in creating this plan and document. They include:
Heidi Capriotti, Bill Davis, Murry Everson, Michael Hayden, Eleanor Mooney, David Noble, Bill Pasco, Andrea Pasquale, Mitzi Tharin and Margie Zebell.