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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

March 10, 2006

Call to Order and Invocation

Vice Chairman Ron Eller called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind to order at 1:20 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2006.  Chairman Tim Jones called and was delayed in getting to the meeting due to traffic and asked that Ron Eller begin the meeting.  The following members were present:  Tim Jones, Hazel Staley,  Ron Eller, Steve Walker, Brad Logsdon

Members Not Present:  Linda Lewis, Brian Lewis, Jim Shuart, and Representative Verla Insko. 

Others Present:  Francine Martin, Jim Irvin and Carla Parker

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of December 9, 2005. 

Report of Entities:

North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—Francine Martin

Projects and Service Improvements

  • The new telephone system for LBPH was installed January 11, 2006 with training for staff on January 12, 2006.  No interruption in service occurred.  Numerous meetings and discussions were held with State ITS representatives and representatives from NuVision, the company that won the bid, prior to installation to clarify and ensure system functions would best meet LBPH user and staff needs.
    • A third WATS (toll-free) line was installed which is handled by an autoattendant, so when both of the original WATS lines are busy, the third caller has the option of holding for one of the two RA staff on phone duty to be free to take their call, or of leaving a list of book number requests on a voicemail box.   Patron Processing Unit staff will routinely check the book request voicemail box and enter the requests into the KLAS system.
    • If staffing is short and only one RA is fielding phone calls for the hour, up to two callers have the ‘hold or place requests on a voicemail box’ options.
    • All supervisors, Volunteer Coordinators, and the Administrative Assistant now have their own phone numbers.  This alleviates the strain on the three local lines available for general calls.
    • The general local and toll-free phone numbers remain the same.
    • The majority of staff now have voice-mail boxes.
    • Local lines now have after-hours voice-mail, so local callers may leave messages if the library is closed.
    • The new system also has a building-wide speaker function accessible from any phone.
  • The Library will serve as a site for the Braille Read-In on April 1, 2006.  While not normally open on Saturdays, the Library will open its doors from 10-12 for Braille Read-In participants.   We regret we will not be staffed to select and pull books for attendees during the Saturday event.  Participants are asked to bring their Braille with them, or to call the Thursday before the event to request what titles they would like ready for them when they arrive.  We will be happy to have materials ready for attendees to pick up, given advance notice.
  • A security system for the LBPH building has been ordered and should be installed in the next 4 weeks.  It should not affect library users.   It will require that staff use an ID card to enter the building during hours the library is not open to the public.  Card readers will be installed at the front and back doors.
  • The library continues working to prepare for the new digital format coming in 2008 from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).   We hope to purchase digital recording equipment next year for our local studios.  The locally produced titles will still be produced and circulated on cassette tape.  When the new digital flash memory cartridge format is finalized in 2008, we would then prepare to purchase equipment to actually produce the digitally recorded books and magazines in the new format.
    • Shaun Mason, Information Technology Librarian, and Shawn Faircloth, Volunteer Coordinator visited NLS in DC to see two of the three NLS recommended digital recording systems in operation.  They will be visiting the South Carolina LBPH March 14 to see how one of the systems is in use with volunteers.  
    • A justification and request for federal funding for NCLBPH to upgrade its recording studios and purchase digital recording equipment will be presented to State Library in mid-April.
  • New large print book mailing bags (800 this year and 873 last year) and descriptive video mailing bags (350 this year) have been purchased and are now in use.   While we still have to use some of the older bags for large print books, the majority of items are now mailed in the new bags.   We hope to get one more order off this year to completely eliminate the need to use the older bags by this summer.  This is in response to patron requests for cleaner bags.

Staff News

  • Chris Guthrie began work January 2006 in the Machine Repair Technician position vacated by Moses Garner.
  • The Receptionist position and the Machine Unit’s Processing Assistant III position vacancies have closed, and interviews have been conducted.
  • Processing Assistant II  Suzette Jernigan in the Circulation Unit accepted a higher level position with another Department in February.   Other unit staff are assisting in the unit, so the circulation of books has not been adversely affected.

NC Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

Next week, our agency and DVR will have its first visit from RSA since their restructuring and closing of the regional offices.  This will not be a monitoring visit, but more of a get-acquainted meeting.  The leader of North Carolina’s five-member team and his supervisor will be with us from Washington for the week. They will be here on Monday when we will tour the Rehabilitation Center and meet with staff. On Wednesday morning we will go to a mini-center in Moore County. They will also spend time with DVR and with some of the State Independent Living Council members and visit one of the Centers for Independent Living.

We are very pleased with the rate that the work is progressing on the Cox Dorm and are hopeful of getting back into the dorm in July and immediately begin work on the Milsap Dorm.

In addition to being involved in the Conference on Vision Impairment and Blindness going on this week, our staff will also be involved in the Braille Literacy Day on April 1.  As with the Conference, the April 1 event is a join effort on the part of a number of agencies involved in serving people with vision loss including DPI, Metrolina Association for the Blind, the Library, GMS and DSB.  There will be a number of sites around the state where people will be reading Braille on April 1 and, hopefully, good press coverage will be provided for this event. 

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction—Tom Winton  

North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness – The 4th annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness is currently being held.  This professional conference brings together agency and education professionals from across the state.  The Exceptional Children Division is pleased to continue its involvement and sponsorship of this worthy conference.  It is contracting with NCAER to sponsor a keynote address.

Federal Quota Funds – As of March 9, 119 separate orders had been placed with APH in the Fiscal Year 2005-06 to procure instructional materials with Quota Funds. 

NCCU-VITP Advisory Board – The Consultant for Visually Impaired continues to serve as co-chair with Dr. Deborah Hatton on the NCCU-VITP Advisory Board.  NCCU has agreed to improve its support of the VITP and is hopefully making positive strides in this effort. It recently hired Julie Bardin as program director and has several other new strategies planned.

Registration of Legally Blind – The Annual Registration of Legally Blind students continues. Official numbers have not been completed as of this meeting date but will likely be close to last year’s numbers of 879 legally blind students in regular public schools and 336 students in private non-profit education agencies.

Staff Development Opportunities – The Exceptional Children Division is offering continuing education certificates to licensed VI teachers for participating in staff development activities offered by Orientation & Mobility Services, Inc.  The Division is also fielding more than 20 special study institutes this summer, many of which will be appropriate for teachers of students with visual impairments.

State Council of the North Carolina Lions—Brad Logsdon

The Lions of North Carolina are continuously looking for ways to help the blind and visually impaired by raising funds and local lions lend their financial support to the their VIP’s by taking them to the VIP Fishing Tournament, Camp Dogwood, etc. 

North Carolina Lions Foundation—Steve Walker

Plans are underway for Camp Dogwood’s summer camping session which will be in May.  As of this week, approximately 400-500 applications have been received.

Two years ago, the Belk Dormitory was replaced.  Currently, we are planning to replace the Shaw-Brown Dorm.  If everything goes as scheduled, demolition of that building will begin in October 2006 and the dorm would not be available for the summer session of 2007. 

The Foundation is continuing to provide a large number of support and mobility canes. 

NC Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

The Legislative Seminar in Washington D.C. was held February 5-7.  Items discussed were disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, resolution that has passed the House of Representatives that will asking the DMV’s across the US to make it mandatory for a driver to be able to identify a white cane and guide dog.  The Randolph Sheppard Vending Program is currently under the Department of Education, RSA.  We are lobbying to get it moved to the Department of Commerce. 

A resolution is being written for the NC General Assembly to declare April of each year “Braille Literacy” month. 

A 5-State Leadership Conference is tentatively scheduled for August and it will either be in Atlanta, GA, or Knoxville, TN.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina- Hazel Staley

Ms. Staley is working with a group of blind people in Vance and Warren counties to organize a chapter.

Fifteen members attended our Washington seminar the first week in February.  This is a time when we lobby Congress about issues concerning the blind.  Three issues were discussed:

  • Congress should require publishers to produce  electronic format textbooks needed by blind students in higher education.  Publishers should also establish a National Higher Education Center where blind students could receive files and other printed instructional materials. 
  • Congress should expand business and employment opportunities for the blind by enacting the Blind Individuals’ Business Development and Employment Opportunities Act.  This would establish a Federal agency within the Department of Commerce to administer the Randolph-Sheppard Act and expand employment for the blind by creating blind business enterprises and employment for the blind in the awarding of Federal procurement contracts.  It would also establish management, work force, and pay criteria for any Blind Business Enterprise or a Qualified Blind Employment Enterprise.  It would also provide training and technical assistance to support creation and growth.
  • Congress should enact the Louis Braille Commemorative Coin Act and make this coin available in 2009, the anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth.  Proceeds from this coin would promote braille literacy among young blind people by teaching them to read and write braille.

Elected Committee of Vendors--Tim Jones

The program is continuing to do well.   Gross sales are about $13 million with 84 operators.  Average operator income is approximately $40,000 which is the national average.  BE’s annual training conference was held in Rocky Mount and went very well. 

The Elected Committee of Blind Vendors voted to establish a David Alexander Service Award.  Tim Jones was the recipient this year. 

Adjournment of Meeting

With no further business, a motion was made, seconded, and carried that the meeting be adjourned.  The meeting adjourned at 2:00.  The next meeting is scheduled for

June 9, 2006 at 1 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted

Ron Eller, Vice Chairman

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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