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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Blind
 
 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

March 7, 2008

Call to Order

Chairman Gary Ray called the meeting to order at 12:35 p.m.  Tim Jones offered the invocation.  The following members were present:  Gary Ray, Kathy Davis, Steve Walker, Tim Jones, Steve Wilson, Jennifer Talbot, Ron Eller, Allen Casey, and Connie Alexander (conference call).

Others Present:

Barbria Bacon, Debbie Jackson, Herman Gruber, Francine Martin, Julie Kagy, Tommy Jenkins, and Carla Parker

Chair Ray welcomed and thanked everyone for their attendance and participation at this meeting.   

Approval of Minutes:

A motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Jennifer Talbot, and carried to approve the minutes for the December 7, 2007 meeting. 

Reports of Entities:

Regional Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped—Francine Martin

Transitions

  • The National Library Service has announced a delay in production of the digital talking books & machines. 
    • LBPHs were to begin receiving copies of the digital books in the Spring of 2008, however, due to possible patent issues, LBPHs will not begin receiving any digital books until “late 2008”.
    • NCLBPH originally anticipated receiving 1000 digital machines for distribution in late 2008.  However, NLS has now advised only 5,000 machines will be available for the entire network in late 2008, as part of a “prelaunch test” of the machines.  Only after that “prelaunch test” is completed will more machines be made available.
    • The complete text of this announcement from NLS, as it appeared in the NLS Operations Alert to network libraries, is appended to this report.
  • All major functions of the new KLAS software are operational with one exception.  A key cataloging function for downloading and interpreting the complete machine-readable cataloging records (MARC) for the NCLBPH books is not yet available.   As we never had this function for tape and braille catalog records, this has no impact on that service.  It does however impact our large print book processing.
    • As a result, no large print books have been made available for circulation since November 2007.  
    • The vendor has been working on this function and expects to have it available soon.  
    • This only impacts our large print collection. 
    • Tape and braille books continue to be made available for circulation as soon as received.
    • Eventually, NCLBPH plans to download the full MARC records for tape and braille books, so the NCLBPH catalog will have complete information for these titles.
  • Library staff are all taking web-based training sessions on the new State Personnel record-keeping system, called Beacon.  This system will be used starting April 1, 2008 by employees of many State agencies.  Staff will use the system to log their time worked and leave taken, can access and independently update their benefits and some payroll information.
  • Library positions classified as Librarian, Library Technical Assistant, and Library Assistant are currently being studied for Career Banding of the positions.   Office of State Personnel and Department of Cultural Resources Human Resources staff are working with key library staff to identify competencies and levels of competencies required for each position.   No funding is attached to this process.

Upcoming Library Closing Dates:
March 21, 2008             Good Friday
May 26, 2008                Memorial Day

Appendix:

                    NLS Operations Alert
No. 08-06

DATE: January 25, 2008
TO: Network Libraries
FROM: Michael Katzmann
Subject: Status of Digital Transition

Network Bulletin 08-01, which describes NLS budget and audiobook production plan for 2008 and beyond, has generated questions as to how quickly digital books and players will be delivered to the network. The intricacies of the federal procurement process and late enactment of the 2008 federal budget, in addition to usual program challenges, has delayed the transition.

Two major Requests for Proposal (RFPs), one for the cartridge and one for the player, are in process. The status is as follows:

FLASH CARTRIDGE
The synopsis was posted on June 5, 2007; the solicitation on June 25; and amendments on July 2, July 9, July 17, and September 6.  The RFP was withdrawn in early November 2007 because of a possible patent issue that emerged during the bidding process. 

NLS is working with both the Library of Congress Office of Contracts and Grants Management and Office of the General Counsel, in addition to the U.S. Department of Justice, to resolve the problems and repost the cartridge RFP. While this is expected to happen soon, no firm date has been set. Even if the reposting occurs within the next few weeks, the network should not expect to receive digital books on cartridge until late 2008. 

DIGITAL PLAYER
The synopsis was posted on December 7, 2007; the solicitation and a modification on December 21; and amendments on January 14 and 17, 2008. The closing date of February 2, 2008, has been extended until February 25 to ensure that all interested bidders have sufficient time to respond.  Once the RFP closes, bids will be reviewed before a contract can be awarded. The successful bidder will need time to build tooling, establish a production line, and demonstrate through qualification testing that it can produce a digital player that meets NLS specifications. As reported in Network Bulletin 08-01, NLS will award a player contract in 2008 and expects the first five thousand players to be produced and distributed to network libraries for the prelaunch test. If the prelaunch test is successful that is, does not identify any serious latent problems
NLS will authorize ongoing manufacture of twelve thousand digital players per month.

We expect that the prelaunch test will not begin until late 2008, depending upon contracting and manufacturing progress. NLS will advise the network of the state of the digital implementation as it proceeds.

For more information contact:

Michael Katzmann
Chief, Materials Development Division
mkat@loc.gov

Francine Martin will be retiring July 1, 2008.  Chair Ray thanked Ms. Martin for all her services and dedication at the Library.

Governor Morehead School for the Blind - Barbria Bacon

Staff at the Governor Morehead School is busy completing set goals for the year and making plans for the next school year.  GMS students are making Easter Baskets for area nursing homes.  A Spelling Bee is planned for March 19 in Greensboro.  A talent show which is hosted with downtown Lions Club will be held March 27 at 7 p.m. 

Mrs. Bacon thanked the CAAC for their participation with the Legislative Study. 

The dedication of GMS’ Culinary Garden provided by the NC Garden Club will be held April 9 at 2 p.m.

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) will be visiting GMS on May 13-15, 2008. 

GMS has 16 students graduating this year.  Graduation will be June 6 at 10 a.m. in Lineberry Hall. 

Department of Public Instruction - Julie Kagy

A draft of the Legislative Study, prepared by the School of Government and focusing on the education delivery system for children with disabilities in NC, is on the internet.  This is only one part of the report.   Administrators from DPI and DHHS will be meeting on March 14 to discuss the recommendations that are in the report.  The final report will be presented to the Legislature on April 1. 

When the report is finalized and on the internet, Julie Kagy will e-mail the link to Carla Parker for her to forward to the members of the Commission for the Blind and members of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind.   

DPI is involved with the American Printing House for the Blind quota account.  This is a count of all the students who are legally blind and served in North Carolina.  Based on this count, the amount of money that DPI receives from the Federal government is determined.  These funds are used to purchase materials through APH for students across the State. 

An agreement for a Vision Consortium consisting of staff from DHHS, DPI, and NCCU has been finalized.  This consortium supports the professional development program for teachers of the visually-impaired at NCCU. 

Division of Services for the Blind - Debbie Jackson

DSB is excited about new technology that was purchased jointly by DPI and DSB.  This technology will be used for our summer programs at the Rehabilitation Center.  Three summer programs will be offered: 1) A World of Work (WOW) Program will focus on work-related skills with the students employed earning money, 2) An Adjustment to Blindness Program for sophomores and juniors will be offered, and 3) A college bound program for seniors or graduates will be offered. 

The money received from the legislature in September has allowed DSB to serve significantly more people in the Medical Eye Care Program.  DSB has submitted an additional expansion budget request for $147,000 this year. 
In the Rehabilitation Program, DSB is providing more services to eligible people.  In the Rehabilitation Program, some services are not based on income. 

The Rehabilitation Services Administration will be visiting DSB and conducting a monitoring review in May. 

The State Of North Carolina is moving to a new payroll system, BEACON.  This will allow employees to enter their time electronically and change their deductions and benefits.  A number of meetings have been held to discuss the accessibility issues with BEACON.  BEACON is planned to go live April 1 and there are still numerous accessibility issues.  The programmers are aware of these issues and hopefully will be resolved soon. 

State Council of the North Carolina Lions—Steve Wilson

The State Council of the North Carolina Lions has 9 governors this year.  The NC Lions contribute to the visually impaired in many ways.  Some of the ways are funding at Camp Dogwood and helping with Disaster Relief.  Cars are also being raffled to raise money for Sight First.  Syd Scruggs of Vass, NC, is the Second Vice President of Lions Club International. 

North Carolina Lions Foundation—Steve Walker

The process that the NC Lions Foundation has used to reward grants to outside agencies is being changed.  For many years, funding was provided to a variety of organizations who worked in the areas of visual impairments.  Because of budget issues, this year’s grant rewards will not be considered until the end of the fiscal year, June 30.  At the end of the year if there are excess funds available, other programs can be funded. 

Applications for summer camp were mailed in January.  Camp Dogwood is involved in a marketing survey in an effort to reach more people in North Carolina and get new ideas to meet the needs of the visually impaired.

The new dorm is complete and will be dedicated May 4.  A donation was received to create a recreational facility at the Camp. 

Prevent Blindness of North Carolina—Jennifer Talbot

Prevent Blindness is continuing with its 3 core programs:  photo screening at day care centers, certification of public school vision screeners, and adult screenings.  During the next year, eye safety will be a focus of Prevent Blindness. 

The mandated screening law will take effect in the fall of 2008.  New forms for kindergarten health assessments were circulated in February.  The $500,000 funding for this new mandate is for only glasses and examinations.  School nurses and staff at health departments need training to comply with this new law. 

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

The Council attended the annual legislative seminar in Washington D.C.  Three priorities were presented at this seminar:  1) telecommunications and the digital transition that is being planned for February 2009, recommending video description; 2) internet accessibility; and 3) hybrid cars are very quiet and the visually impaired cannot hear these cars.  Hybrid cars also present danger to joggers, bicyclists, etc. 

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The Federation also attended the legislative seminar in  Washington.  The Federation’s priorities in Washington were the hybrid cars, increase funding for digital transition at the Library of Congress’ Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and the earnings limit related to Social Security Disability.

The NFB National Convention will be held in Dallas, TX, June 29-July 5, 2008.  The State Convention will be held in June.

NFB in NC is considering introducing legislation regarding the hybrid cars to raise awareness of the dangers that a quiet car present to the blind/visually-impaired, joggers, bicyclists, etc. 

NFB will also return to the legislature to request funding for the NewsLine Program.   

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind—Connie Alexander

A Board meeting of the NCAWB will be held on March 8 in the Fisher Building Conference Room on the Governor Morehead School campus.  Items to be discussed include the NCAWB weekend get together which is planned for the weekend of July 19 and Barbria Bacon, Superintendent of GMS, will be speaking at the meeting.

North Carolina Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired—Kathy Davis

The plans for the annual NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness, April 24-26, are being finalized.  For more details, the website is www.ncaer.net

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones

The annual conference of the Business Enterprises Vendors was held in Fayetteville.

In the past few years, the number of vendors has decreased but the amount the blind vendor earns has increased considerably.  This is due to some of the smaller locations being attached to another operator’s location. 

The B.E. program will be investigating a statewide permit with the postal service.  This will provide vending route opportunities. 

BLAST will be held in Memphis this year.  Several operators and staff will attend this national vending conference. 

Old Business

None

New Business

After this meeting, discussion will be held on the General Statute for the Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee.   Anyone who is interested in participating in this discussion is welcome to stay for the meeting. 

Adjournment of Meeting

This meeting adjourned at 2 p.m. 

 

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