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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

June 8, 2007

Call to Order and Invocation

Chairperson Tim Jones called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Committee to order at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 8, 2007.  Invocation was offered by Gary Ray.  A roll call was conducted and the following members were present:  Tim Jones, Ron Eller, Jennifer Talbot, Kathy Davis, and Gary Ray.

Members not present were Steve Walker, Linda Lewis, Jerry Garner, Martha Butler, and Representative Linda Coleman.

Others in attendance were John Miller, Debbie Jackson, Julie Kagy, Francine Martin, Dr. Larry Streeter, and Carla Parker.

Welcome and Remarks

Mr. Jones welcomed those present and Ms. Julie Kagy who replaces Tom Winton and represents DPI. 

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of the meeting March 9, 2007.

Report of Entities:

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

Funding Requests  

  • The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has a major funding request before Congress to implement the digital talking book program.   The funds are needed to implement the new format player and books and to ensure uninterrupted availability of playback equipment as the digital players and books are made available starting in late 2008.   Per recent ACB & NFB communiqués, the House of Representatives Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee voted to fund $7.5 million of the $19.1 million requested by NLS as needed to implement the digital talking book program.
  • As reported at the previous Friends Board meeting, the Governor's Recommended Budget for 2007-2009 included Capital funds totaling $32,000,000 for a joint LBPH and State Records building.  The Legislative Appropriations Subcommittee members and staff toured LBPH March 12, 2007. 
  • Subsequently, requested information was provided to the members via the DCR Legislative Liaison Donna Rosefield, including guidelines for LBPH facility location from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped’s “Network Library Manual” and a seven year comparison and projection for NCLBPH rent and utilities costs.
  • Neither the House nor the Senate budgets included these funds.

Report from the Northern/Southern Conference of Librarians for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

  • At the Northern/Southern Conference of Librarians for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, NLS staff stated LBPHs would start placing orders for digital talking books probably around February or March of 2008.  As it takes several (or many) months for the copies requested to be produced and distributed, that would mean LBPHs would likely start receiving the digital talking books probably in the Summer of 2008.  
  • If fully funded, 1,100 digital talking book players will be sent to LBPHs for distribution to library users in "late 2008".   This would mean approximately one in ten NC users would have access to the new format in late 2008.
  • In the meantime, we will still receive cassette books at least through 2010.  As the largest percentage of the collection will continue to be on cassette tape for many years, cassettes will still be a viable medium for the foreseeable future, even after new titles are no longer produced on cassette.  
  • Magazines will continue to be provided in cassette at least through 2011.
  • Braille books will continue as well with no cutoff date. 
  • NLS has already stopped production of cassette players.  The MultiState Centers have some new players in stock.  When LBPHs request cassette players, they will receive a small percentage of new ones mixed in with older ones that have reportedly been repaired.  
  • 18,000 titles currently on cassette tape (RC) will be made available in the new digital format early on.  In Spring and Summer of 2008 LBPHs will get to select from those 18,000 titles.  LBPHs will be told by NLS a total number of copies each LBPH can order from that list, so selection must be carefully determined.  LBPHs aren’t required to get one of each title, as the MultiState Centers will have them available for interlibrary loan if patrons need them. 
  • As those 18,000 titles will have the same number as the RC book (i.e. RC059000 will be something like DB059000 in digital format).  For those 18,000 titles and for new titles being produced in both tape and digital formats, the NCLBPH computer system will be able to tell if a patron has had a book on tape and will not send it in digital format.
  • The digital talking book container will be royal blue & will be exactly the same size as the RC container, only thinner. 

Our first digital recordings produced (on cassette tape)!

  • Three magazine issues have been recorded on the library’s new digital recording equipment and produced on cassette tape.   An issue of Diabetes Self-Management was the first digital recording completed, quickly followed by issues of Wildlife in North Carolina and North Carolina Historical Review.   Copies of these magazines are in circulation now.  Kudoes to the LBPH staff and volunteers who have worked long and hard to achieve this success! 
  • Since installation of the digital recording equipment in January, Volunteer Coordinator Shawn Faircloth has been trained and has, in turn, trained fourteen teams of volunteer narrators and monitors on use of the new equipment.   One team remains to be trained.   This, for the present, more than doubles the number of narrator/monitor teams volunteering at LBPH prior to the digital recording equipment installation (seven teams prior).  
  • The old reviewing equipment has been replaced with PC equipment for reviewing the digital recording files.  Three existing volunteer reviewers (those who review the finished product prior to production) and one new reviewer have been trained.  One more new reviewer remains to be trained.   Procedures are being documented, and recruitment efforts for additional reviewers will continue.
  • The digital recording process is proving to be less time-consuming than the old analog process.  It is anticipated quality of the finished recordings will be significantly better than those recorded on the old reel-to-reel tape recorders.  The books will continue to be produced in cassette tape format from the digital files until federal formats and guidelines for flash memory cartridge production are available.   The digital files for books recorded in these new studios will be retained and can be readily recorded onto the flash memory format once available.

Key Staff Turnover

  • Carl Keehn began work June 1, 2007 as the new LBPH Public Services Librarian.   Mr. Keehn’s has a Masters in Library Science and numerous years of library public services experience.
  • Lanny Parker began work half-time May 15, 2007 as the new LBPH Collection Management Librarian.  Julie Harris remained on half-time through the end of May 2007 helping train Mr. Parker, who became full-time June 1, 2007 as Ms. Harris left us.  Mr. Parker holds a Masters in Library Science and a wide variety of library experience, including many years of collection management experience in Wake County Public Libraries.
  • Marlene Debo began work April 16, 2007 as LTA I, Reader Advisor (Heather Brown’s former position.)  Ms. Debo has worked with students with visual impairments in the Wake County Public School system and has a long-time love of reading and libraries. 
  • Lyman Clayborn began work March 15, 2007 as the Processing Assistant (PA) II in the Collection Unit, helping with machine and magazine and damaged book related tasks. 
  • Lara Handler will begin work on June 15, 2007 as the new Outreach and Volunteer Services Librarian.   Lara has a Masters in Library Science and experience in outreach, newsletter preparation and editing, and volunteer management.   Outreach has been reduced and no newsletter has been produced during the vacancy of the position. 

Other NCLBPH News

The major project for the 2007/2008 State FiscalYear will be NCLBPH’s conversion to a major new version of KLAS, the software program that all LBPH staff use to provide services to our users. Conversion to the new version is tentatively planned for November 2007, with much planning and testing to occur prior to that.

  • New partitions have been installed in the office areas of NCLBPH.
  • Outreach and PR activities will be resumed as soon as feasible once the Outreach/Volunteer Librarian position is filled.  Until then no issues of the NCLBPH newsletter will be produced, due to the staffing and workload situations within the library during this period.   The work of the Friends in providing outreach for NCLBPH has been and is especially important and greatly appreciated during this period!

Governor Morehead School—Dr. Larry Streeter

Graduation for the 2007-08 seniors was held today.  Yesterday, graduation was held for GMS’s elementary and middle school students.

The top floor of Lineberry will be vacated this summer and the elementary school will be in Simpson.

Two students will be attending NFB training centers.  Both students are very excited.  Dr. Streeter thanked DSB staff for making this possible as they are paying the bill.

Most of you know, Dennis Thurman has resigned and his position has been advertised.   There were 10 or 11 applicants. 

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy

The NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility System) Advisory Council is planning to meet on June 20.  This will be the beginning of the NIMAS being introduced in North Carolina which means digital text being downloaded automatically from the NIMAS centers. 

There have been several meetings with the staff of North Carolina Central University in an effort to improve the professional development for teachers of the visually impaired.  Also, work is being done on recruitment of teachers for the visually impaired and developing a mentoring and support system for the teachers. 

Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

Renovations are going well at Crockett-Peeler.  This renovation involved reworking the heating and air-conditioning system and displaced staff for about 3 months.  GMS shared their space with us for those 3 months.  We are planning to move back into Crockett-Peeler (1st floor) the week of July 9.

The renovations for the Milsap dorm are progressing very well, and we hope to move into Milsap late September or early October. 

Budget—DSB’s expansion requests made it through the House with a few changes (A summary sheet was distributed).  For DSB’s VR/Employment Program, an additional $200,000 of case service funds was passed—this would be a very good start to changing our needs scale; For the Medical Eye Care Program, an additional $200,000 was passed; For ILR, we requested 9 additional positions but only 4 were passed. 

In the Senate budget, DSB did not fair as well—the Senate budget only included $200,000 for case service funds for Medical Eye Care and change the income scale to 125% of the poverty level.     

Funding for NewsLine is in the Senate Budget for $75,000. 

The Committee agreed that advocacy is needed to assist DSB to obtain needed funds.

A list of the House and Senate Conferees for Health and Human Services was distributed.  This list included e-mail addresses and mailing addresses.

A draft of a proposed letter was also distributed and read aloud to the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee members.    

Chairman Tim Jones made a motion, seconded by Ron Eller, and carried to send a letter to the House and Senate Conferees asking that DSB obtain the funds as outlined in the House version as the House version would allow the Division to make significant strides in serving more people.  A signature page with committee signatures will be attached to the letter.   Also, personal contact by members was encouraged.    

A motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Gary Ray, and carried that the Commission for the Blind follow suit and offer their support of the budget issues effecting DSB. 

State Council of the North Carolina Lions—John Miller

In Steve Walker and Martha Butler’s absence, John Miller reported on the activities of the State Council of the NC Lions. 

The Lions held their State Convention last weekend (June 2-3) in Asheville, NC.   They did vote to disband District C which is in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg/Cleveland County area.  These members will move into District A and E.  John Miller was elected Second Vice President of the Lions Foundation effective July 1.  

Camp Dogwood is becoming a true modern day facility by building new dormitories.   A 5-year plan has been approved for the long term use of Camp Dogwood.  This will upgrade the facility, offer more services for the blind, have more meeting areas, and have up-to-date technology learning center.  Camp Dogwood will continue to be a recreational camp and become a modern day conference facility.

Prevent Blindness North Carolina—Jennifer Talbot

Prevent Blindness requested recurring appropriations for their “More at Four Screenings”.  The Senate did agree to $150,000.

The “Left on Red” bill was not passed this year but we need to continue to watch this bill carefully. 

The Eye Commission for Screenings has completed its work and DHHS is writing up a report to call for a stereopsis screening for school-age children along with visual acuity and an eye observation.  This will be required in 2008.

Prevent Blindness has two concerns:  (1) this is a requirement for pediatricians and family practitioners yet there is no money in the budget for training, and (2) stereopsis equipment costs about $110.  The school nurse and trained screeners can perform this screening if they have the equipment.  Prevent Blindness is trying to find foundation money to get the equipment in the schools so the parent will not have to go back to the pediatrician to complete the requirement.    

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

The Council has a new chapter in Rowan County.

The State Convention will be September 28 – 30 at the Village Inn in Clemmons.  The National Convention will be the week of July 4 in Minneapolis. 

Scholarships have been awarded for this year. 

The Council will be supporting the efforts of the Library in obtaining funding.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

Planning continues for our annual State Convention.  The Convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel on Swing Road in Greensboro, near the airport.  Information will soon be posted to our website at www.nfbofnc.org .

One of our members, Cindy Bennett of Asheville, qualified for the Braille Challenge in California.  Cindy qualified at the recent GMS Outreach Braille Challenge.  A number of our members participated in the NC Braille Read-In held across the state in April.  The NFB of NC supports all efforts to improve Braille literacy.

On the legislative front, we have beaten Left Turn on Red for this session.  We will not be surprised to see it come back in the short session.

Funding for a new Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped did not make it into either the House or Senate budget so it appears to be dead for this session.

Our Newsline funding bill is still in committee, but another year of funding is in the Senate version of the budget.

There have been major cuts in funding to the Governor Morehead School.  We hope to get the funds into the final budget during the Conference process.

DSB did not get everything it requested in the House budget this year, but got less in the Senate version.  Again, we are hopeful of getting the funding in the final budget.

At the national Level, funding for the digital conversion planned by the Library of Congress is in Jeopardy.  The whole project may take up to $180 million and the House seems headed toward only providing a fraction of the needed funds for the multi-year conversion. We are working to get the level of funding up to where it is needed.

Anyone wanted additional info on any of the legislative matters should contact Gary Ray or Herman Gruber.

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind—

Linda Lewis was not present but submitted a report

The annual Alumni Weekend for the Governor Morehead School will be held on the campus July 20-22, 2007.  For information about the weekend, contact Mrs. Lee King in Charlotte at (704) 527-4935.

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

The 2008 Super Conference (NC Conference on Blindness and Visual Impairment) is scheduled for April 24-26 (Thursday through Saturday), 2008.  The Conference will be held on the campus of the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh.  Details may be located on our website at www.ncaer.net .  The theme is “Looking, Listening and Learning”. 

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones

The Business Enterprises Program in NC is exceeding a little over $13,000,000 in gross sales with an average operator income being in the mid $40,000 range. 

Old Business

None

New Business

Elections—The floor was open for nominations for the Chair of the Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee.  Ron Eller nominated Gary Ray for Chair.  There were no other nominations from the floor.  The motion for Gary Ray to become Chair was seconded and carried. 

The floor was open for nominations for the Vice-Chair of the Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee.  Jennifer Talbot nominated Tim Jones for Vice Chair, seconded by Kathy Davis, and carried.  There were no other nominations from the floor. 

Adjournment of Meeting

With no further business, a motion was made, seconded and carried that the meeting be adjourned.  The meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.  The next meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind is scheduled for September 7, 2007, at 1 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Tim Jones, Chairman

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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