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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

March 12, 2004

Call to Order and Invocation

Chairman Tim Jones called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind to order at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, March 12, 2004. A roll call was conducted and the following members were present: Ron Eller, Hazel Staley, Jim Baker, Diane Whitley, Erin McKenzie, and Steve Walker. Ms. Staley offered the invocation.

Members not present: Brian Lewis, Representative Pete Cunningham, and David Alexander.

Others present: Debbie Jackson, Mary Flanagan, Emily DuBois, Francine Martin, Tom Winton, John Miller, and Pat Robbins.

Welcome and Remarks

Mr. Jones welcomed Debbie Jackson and Mary Flanagan in their new roles as Director and Assistant Director, respectively.

Ms. Flanagan stated that her door is always open. She is a guide dog user. Her guide dog’s name is Tess. Ms. Flanagan has been in North Carolina since 1998. She began her career here with DSB in Fayetteville as Transition Counselor. She then moved to Raleigh in Office of Education Services. Worked there for one year and position eliminated and then took a job at GMS prior to accepting this current position.

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of December 12, 2003.

Report of Entities

Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped – Francine Martin

New Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) is coming!

  • New OPAC is to launch 4/15/04. This will be announced in Spring issue of Tar Heel Talk.
    • By using their user login and password, patrons will be able to see their patron records, including:
      • what they’ve had & have,
      • what’s on the way or on request & on reserve.
      • What their subject preferences and exclusions are listed as
      • What their favorite authors & series are listed as
      • What their address is listed as
    • Other added features include:
      • Patrons can tell the catalog to use their reading record & preferences when searching
      • Additional search options
      • Copy availability is now on the initial results screen of a book search.
      • The system will adhere to each patron’s requested maximum number of books so patrons don’t get overloaded. A RUSH feature will allow an override of the patron’s requested maximum.
    • As always, patrons may change their service preferences by emailing or calling the library.

Braille Collection is Being Moved

  • For seven working days, beginning March 8, the Braille collection is being moved from the LBPH main building at 1811 Capital Boulevard, right next door to 1813 Capital Boulevard. The move will give room for 10 years’ growth of all collections.
  • Braille service has not been interrupted during the move.
  • Patrons who visit the library to check out braille books are requested to call in advance to avoid a wait. Now that the braille is in another building, it will take a bit longer to access. Visitors to the library are always welcome, however, whenever possible, we encourage people to use the library’s books by mail service, especially now for braille books.
  • New braille shelving has been received and installed to give room for another 1.5 years’ growth.
  • New cassette tape shelving has been ordered & will be installed to partially fille in where the braille was.
  • Driveway from our back parking lot to give access to the annex has been paved
  • Air conditioning has been purchased & installed in the annex.

Staffed to Serve

NCLBPH currently has 29 positions (including 2 half-time positions as one.) A couple of key retirements began a chain of vacancies as several staff members were promoted. Ten staff members are, or will be, in new positions within the 10-month period between July 2003 and April 2004. This means more than 1/3 of the staff are or will be in new positions within a nine-month period and are learning their jobs. We are very glad to have been able to fill these positions.

Governor Morehead School – Judy Plymale

Events/Accomplishments

  • The winter concert of the Nutcracker was a huge success and the auditorium was packed.
  • GMS celebrated our students progress in Braille with our "1st Annual Braille Celebration Day". Students participated in special activities and tested their Braille Skills.
    • Congratulations to the middle school students and Pam Snyder for all their hard work in passing the computer competency test. 95% of the middle school students passed the computer competency test. They celebrated their achievement with an ice cream party.
    • Development of the new student recreation center is under way and should be operational by Spring 2004. The center will include a 50’s diner, game room and a movie theater. Many student jobs will also be created through this project with the support of our transition program.
    • Our new Orientation and Mobility model for GMS now provides instruction in both individual and group settings. The mobility instructors and students are thrilled about the benefits of this approach as it provides countless social opportunities, peer modeling and open group’s discussions for our kids. Look in COSBE for a recent article written by GMS’s own mobility instructors to promote this model at other schools for the blind.
    • All students in our elementary program were given tickets by Disney on Ice as a gift, and attend the show Monster’s Inc. in December. After the show, our students had the opportunity to go on stage and talk and touch the characters.
    • Outreach staff have conducted Functional Vision Assessment trainings throughout the state.
    • Susan Shier-Lowery, Preschool Services presented at the Southeastern Regional SOMA Conference in December. Along with Dr. Deborah Hatton, they presented their paper (published in Re:View last fall) on the development of walking skills in infants and toddlers with visual impairments.
    • Students received individual Christmas gifts purchased by the Downtown Lions Club on December 11, 2003. Besides visiting with the Lions Club members the students had a visit from Santa Claus.
    • Some students attended a play "The Christmas Carol" at the BTI Center in Raleigh with others going to a movie theatre in the community to see a holiday movie. Tickets for the play and movie were purchased by the funds presented by the Governor Morehead Foundation.
    • Students had a Christmas Party on December 18 where they received candy and DVD/VCR combo and a DVD for each cottage. Students in D1 cottage received a popcorn popper, popcorn and another DVD for the best decorated cottage. Funds for the Christmas Party and gifts were received from the Governor Morehead Foundation Volunteer Program.

Department of Public Instruction – Tom Winton

The second annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness is currently being held on the GMS campus for three days. This conference is sponsored by DPI, GMS, DSB, and AER. Over 200 people are in attendance. Estelle Condra is the keynote.

Mr. Winton stated that Summer Institutes are in the works for teachers.

The Annual Conference for Exceptional Children will be held November 1-3 in Greensboro at the Koury Convention Center. Over 2700 individuals attended last year from all over the State.

Mr. Winton attended the Taylor Leadership Conference and learned a lot about IDEA.

The book port study has continued. Mr. Winton has received 200 devices from American Printing House for the Blind. Mr. Winton is distributing them to teachers throughout the State.

DPI has conducted the annual registration of legally blind students. The numbers are probably going to 700-800 for public schools and 300 for private schools.

Division of Services for the Blind – Debbie Jackson

New Staff

Mary Flanagan has been hired as Assistant Director. Vickie Garrett has been hired at Human Resources Manager. Ms. Garrett is with DSB half time until April when she will become full-time.

Budget

Expansion and reduction budget requests have been completed. The plans are being reviewed by DHHS.

In the reduction area, DSB was required to submit 1%, 2%, and 3% reduction plans. In the 1% category, the amount was $70,000; 2% $140,000; 3% $210,000. In all of those categories, DSB proposed reducing case service funds reduction in Medical Eye Care.

If we actually have to implement would that at the 1% and 2% levels, DSB would no longer be purchasing eye exams. At the 3% level, DSB would no longer be purchasing eye exams or eyeglasses. The things that were left in are the more expensive types services such as surgery, purchase of glaucoma medication, and purchase of prosthesis.

DSB presently has to add money to Medical Eye Center to get through this year.

In the expansion budget area, DSB submitted two items. One was to build into DSB budget, the NewsLine contract costs in the amount of $70,000. The second was additional money for ILR Program in the VR Section in the amount of $800,000.

Dorm Renovations

The first round of work will begin before the end of March. An elevator will be installed in Cox. Waterproofing will be completed in Cox and Milsap. Project should be completed in 6 months. The second round of work will begin as soon as contracts are in place.

State Council of the North Carolina Lions – Diane Whitley

The Lions of North Carolina had a very successful State Convention the first weekend of March in Fayetteville. It was truly an International convention since the featured speaker was Lions Club International President Tae-Sup Lee of Seoul, South Korea.

The North Carolina Liberty Day Program was held at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in conjunction with the convention. Although the Golden Knights presented the colors (American Flag) by parachute, they were prohibited from completing their show because of high winds.

North Carolina Lions Foundation - Steve Walker

Contracts have been signed for the renovation of a new 14-bedroom dormitory. The Belk Dorm, the oldest dorm on campus, will be burned down tomorrow morning and the new one built on the same location.

Over 550 applications have been received for the summer camp session. 350 of those have been processed.

Screening van continues to be successful. 150 screenings have been scheduled during the current fiscal year. Of those 150 screenings, 20% are school and 80% public. Referrals are 40%-42%.

Budget requests are up from last year. The request for eyeglasses, eye exams, hearing aids, and canes have all increased. Thus far, NCLF has been able to meet the needs.

Prevent Blindness North Carolina – Erin McKenzie for Jennifer Talbot

Prevent Blindness (PB) pre-school is in 17 counties screening children from the ages of 2-5 in child care centers. This year, 17,000 children have been screened.

PB also has a public school certification program that trains and certifies vision screeners for public schools statewide. Over 3500 volunteers are trained annually. PB provides vouchers and free eye exams for those who need follow-up care but cannot afford it. This year, PB has provided $450,000 worth of donated services to public school children. Over 500,000 public school children in North Carolina received screenings in their schools this year.

The adult screening program is also providing screening to some of the neediest people in North Carolina. This program screens adults for signs of potential eye diseases. Last year, 8,000 adults were screened statewide with a 20% referral rate for follow-up care. PB does not provide follow-up services, but does refer these adults to other programs for care. The number is anticipated to be closer to 10,000 this year.

North Carolina Council of the Blind – Ron Eller

Mr. Eller reported that the legislative seminar was held in December. Some of the issues that will be addressed are IDEA, Reauthorization of the Transportation Act, Social Security Reform, and Civil Rights 2004, just to name a few. Mr. Eller stated that he would send position papers to DSB.

Preparations are in process for the National Convention that will be held in Birmingham.

Mr. Eller will be attending NCSAB in Bethesda, Maryland the last part of April.

If anyone knows of a child who is attending school and is visually impaired who would like to apply for one of NCCB’s scholarships, they may call 1-800-344-7113. One of the scholarships this year will be named in honor of Wayne Yelton who recently passed away. The deadline is for applying is May 15.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina – Hazel Staley

A new chapter was welcomed on March 2 in Alamance County.

Perhaps the most exciting event this quarter was the opening of the $19 million dollar addition to the headquarters buildings in Baltimore. It is called the NFB Jernigan Research and Training Institute. Six members from North Carolina attended the opening celebration on Friday evening, January 30. Betsy Zaborowski is Director of the Institute. There was a very impressive array of speakers on the program, including the Governor of Maryland, the Mayor of Baltimore, several Senators and Congressmen, and the Head of NASA.

Fifteen members from North Carolina attended the Washington Seminar the first week in February at which time the members talked with Senators and Congressmen regarding matters of concern to the blind. Members asked for amendment of Section 14C of the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit Directors of workshops for the blind from paying blind workers less than minimum wage. Members also asked for amendment of the Higher Education Act to allow blind college students to have more input into the courses they could take and activities in which they could participate. A third item that was requested was to eliminate the earnings limit for blind employees. Currently, if a blind employee earns more than $15,200 annually, that person loses disability insurance.

NFB asked Congress to consider an appropriation of $3 million dollars to help complete the development of a pocket size, reading machine. This little gadget would enable blind persons to do a lot of shopping without sighted assistance.

NFB National Convention is scheduled for June 29-July 5 in Atlanta at the Marriott.

NFB State Convention will be held September 24-26 at the Holiday Inn in Charlotte.

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind – Brian Lewis

No Report

North Carolina Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired – Jim Baker

Mr. Baker shared how the North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness got started. This is the second year of this conference, and it has been a real success.

The AER National Conference will be held in Disney World July 13-19 at the Hilton.

Membership of AER is currently at 75.

Elected Committee of Vendors – Tim Jones

The ECV Annual Training Conference was held in Raleigh at the Holiday Inn. Approximately 60 vendors were in attendance. The training was well attended. At the Committee meeting that took place following the training conference, a motion was made that would eliminate the 50% set-aside which a vendor will pay once the vendor operation reaches a certain level of income. Mr. Miller asked what set-aside dollars are used for. Mr. Jones stated the set-aside money is used to buy equipment, repairs on equipment, and management services.

Mr. Miller asked about the progress of a vending site in Dare County. Mr. Jones stated the last time he spoke with Clay Pope, it was not thought that it would support an operator. Mr. Jones will obtain more information for Mr. Miller.

Mr. Jones stated that a vending location on Hwy 26 going into Tennessee would soon be advertised.

Legislators – Representative W. Pete Cunningham

No Report

Old Business

Ms. Jackson shared that GACPD made contact with DSB to express an interest to continue to pursue the pedestrian safety items in Left Turn on Red. Forthcoming activity will be along that line.

Ms. Jackson also shared that GACPD has an interest in working on a piece of legislation that would impose some type of penalty if a service dog were attacked by another animal.

Mr. Miller stated that a meeting is to take place today regarding the Wharton Trust. The purpose of the meeting is to determine what to do with $130,000 remaining in the Trust.

New Business

None

Adjournment of Meeting

With no further business, a motion was made, seconded, and carried that the meeting be adjourned. The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 11, 2004 at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Jones, Chairman

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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