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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

June 9, 2006

Call to Order and Invocation

Chairman Tim Jones called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind to order at 1:10 p.m. on Friday, June 9, 2006.  The following members were present:  Tim Jones, Hazel Staley, Ron Eller, Gary Ray (representing AER), and Representative Linda Coleman.

Members Not Present:  Linda Lewis, Brian Lewis, Jennifer Talbot, Brad Logsdon, and Steve Walker.

Others Present:  Debbie Jackson, Carla Parker, Jim Irvin,

Francine Martin, Angela McCants, and Kathy Brack. 

Invocation was offered by Ms. Hazel Staley. 

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of March 10, 2006.

Report of Entities:

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

 Projects and Service Improvements

  • The LBPH federal LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant proposal for approximately $147,000 to purchase new studio recording booths and digital recording and storage equipment has been approved.  Funding will be available after July 1, 2006.   The library will continue to produce cassette tapes until the National Library Service finalizes design of the flash memory cartridges that will constitute the new digital talking book format.
  • New carpet will be installed in June 2006, starting about June 6 and taking the rest of the month to complete.  The Public Access PC at NCLBPH will not be available during the carpet installation, as staff will be shifted to such available PCs in other areas to continue to provide service to our patrons.  The public access PCs at State Library at 109 East Jones Street will be available.
  • A new reception station will be installed in June 2006, replacing the hodge-podge of various pieces and finishes of furniture currently comprising the reception station.
  • A security system for the LBPH building has been installed.  It has not affected library users.   It requires that staff use an ID card to enter the building during hours the library is not open to the public.  Card readers are installed at the front and back doors.
  • The second order for more new large print book mailing bags was completed.  The old large print bags are no longer in use.  This is in response to patron complaints about the poor condition of the old mailing bags.  
  • Braille is now being mailed in collapsible mailing containers with Velcro enclosures to all Braille users.  We are working to completely discontinue use of the large hard Braille mailing containers as soon as possible.  This will be dependent on continued availability of the collapsible containers to us from the NLS MultiState Centers.  We are making this change in response to patron complaints about the unwieldy size and non-user-friendly container straps of the old Braille mailing containers.

 NLS Conference News

  • All LBPH librarians and the Volunteer Director attended the National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in Portland, Maine, April 30-May 4.  
    • Gary Ray presided over the role call of the states and served on a user’s panel and on a panel about Friends groups.
    • NLS described the pilot project for digital book downloading to begin this year.  Approximately 100-150 patrons will participate and provide input to NLS.
    • NLS described the new digital players as charcoal gray, about half the size of the current C1 machine and lighter in weight, with tactile control buttons in differing shapes & contrasting colors.   The Humanware website has information on digital talking book machines they currently offer commercially, including one that looks a lot like the description provided of the proposed NLS digital talking book machine.   Full production of the new players is scheduled to begin 2008.
    • The flash memory cards will be about the size of a cassette tape only a little thinner.  They will be trapezoid shaped and will fit in the digital player only one way.
  • The Automation Librarian and Regional Librarian attended the Preconference on Digital Recording Systems on April 29.  

Staff News

  • The Receptionist position was filled by Alicia Ossi, who worked 2 months then decided to return to school for her Masters degree.  We plan to interview again for the position in early June.
  • John Friedrich began work April 17 as Processing Assistant II in the Circulation Unit, in the position formerly held by Suzette Jernigan.
  • Processing Assistant II Summer Roberts in the Circulation Unit accepted a higher level position with another Department in April.  Kevin Kelly has been approved to start work in that PA II position at LBPH as of June 15.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina— Hazel Staley

The Louis Braille Commemorative Coin bill has passed the House in Congress and has 70 sponsors in the Senate, including both of North Carolina’s senators so the bill will probably be a reality in July.  The coin will then be available in 2009—the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth.  Proceeds from this coin will be used to promote braille literacy.  We have developed a national literacy braille competency test.  This test will show how well prepared would be teachers are to teach braille.

This summer we will again sponsor a Science Academy.  This program will give middle and high school students an opportunity to have hands-on experiences in a science lab which, as a rule, is not available to them in public school.  High school students will again build a rocket, which they will actually launch from the harbor.  This program has been expanded into employment and internship with our National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASAA).  Last year, this part of the program was six weeks.  This year it will be eleven weeks.

The technology center provides evaluation, demonstration, and training with more than a million and a half dollars worth of tactile and speech technology available to blind people.  The Kurzweil--National Federation of the Blind Reading Machine will be ready for marketing in July.  It weighs 13 ounces and is completely portable.

One of the Federation’s initiatives is to find everyday items (microwave ovens, washing machines, driers, etc.) that blind people can use.  Through much discussion, our concerns have been made to the producers of these appliances and progress is being made.

The Federation has also been active in developing voting machines that will enable blind voters to case secret ballots.

We are also organizing a Parents of Blind Children Division of the Federation in North Carolina under the leadership of Lucy Radford, mother of a blind child in Raleigh.

Newsline continues to grow in the number of users and in reading time. 

The Federation’s National Convention will be held the first week in July in Dallas, TX, and our State Convention will be in Fayetteville the second week in September (September 8-10).  Anyone who can attend either of these events is welcome. 

Representative Linda Coleman joined the meeting.   Representative Coleman introduced herself to the Committee and members introduced themselves.  Representative Coleman represents primarily the Eastern part of Wake County (Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, a part of Garner, 401 North and the Capital Blvd. area.

NC Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

 Congress will not vote on the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and Rehabilitation Act during this congressional year. 

 Last year, the General Assembly appropriated $75,000 for the operation of Newsline which is in Services for the Blind’s budget.  There is a provision in this year’s budget for Newsline to be funded again at the same level. 

 Cox Dormitory is under renovation and, hopefully, will be finished in August.  Plans are to have a computer room and LAN connection in each room.  After Cox is completed, renovations will begin on the Milsap dorm.    

DSB’s Rehabilitation Program is required to do a needs assessment every three years and the final report has been received from Mississippi State University Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment. 

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction—Mr. Winton was not present but did submit the following report:

North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness – The 4th annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness was a big success. Around 180 professionals from across the state attended. The Exceptional Children Division was pleased to continue its sponsorship of this collaborative event.

Federal Quota Funds – As of June 9, 163 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. 

Registration of Legally Blind – The Annual Registration of Legally Blind students has concluded. This year 901 legally blind students in regular public schools and 318 students in private non-profit education agencies are being registered.

Staff Development Opportunities – The Exceptional Children Division is offering continuing education certificates to VI teachers and Orientation & Mobility specialists 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. One particular institute on Learning Media Assessments is scheduled for June 21-22 in Kinston with the presenter being Dr. Wendy Sapp from Georgia.

56th Conference on Exceptional Children The Exceptional Children Division is hosting the 56th Conference on Exceptional Children on November 6-7 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. This is the nation’s largest and longest-running exceptional children conference sponsored by a state education agency.

Deaf-Blind Conference – The Exceptional Children Division is sponsoring a national conference on deafblindness in conjunction with its deaf-blind families conference. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jan van Dijk, international deafblindness authority from The Netherlands. The conference is scheduled for July 21-27 at the Embassy Suites in Greensboro. Families and teachers of deaf-blind children can attend at virtually no cost through the sponsorship of the state’s Deaf-Blind Project. For more information, contact the DPI Deaf-Blind Grant Project Coordinator, Chris Jones, at 919/807-3991.

RFB&D Project The Exceptional Children Division is partnering with the State Textbook Warehouse to conduct a pilot project for improving provision of recorded textbooks to students in the state. Thirteen school systems are being provided with memberships to Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), which will allow them to order digital recordings of state-adopted textbooks directly from RFB&D for the 2006-07 school year. It is hoped that this direct ordering method and the improved quality of the recordings over the previous vendor will prove to be an effective strategy for giving students with print disabilities (including those with blindness or visual impairments) increased and more timely access to textbooks. Should this project prove effective, it may be implemented statewide for the 2007-08 school year. The Consultant for Visually Impaired is overseeing this project. Included in the pilot project are Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake County, Guilford County, Wilkes County, Caldwell County, Henderson County, Cherokee County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, Cumberland County, New Hanover County, Moore County, Montgomery County and Gaston County Schools.

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

Two new chapters have been established--Burke County and McDowell County. 

The National Convention will be in Jacksonville Florida, the second week in July and 28 NC members will attend.

The State Convention will be held the last weekend in September at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux in Fayetteville, NC. 

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)—Gary Ray

Effective July 1, Gary Ray will be the President of the NC Chapter of AER; Kathy Davis will be Vice-President; Joy Fleming, Secretary; and Nancy Massengill, Treasurer.

The North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness will be held March 22-24, 2007, on the Governor Morehead School Campus.  For more information, visit the NC AER website at www.ncaer.net .  AER goals for the upcoming year are to re-establish the newsletter, improve the website, and increase membership. 

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones

The Division trains and employs blind and visually impaired individuals to become self-employed in State, County and Federal buildings.  The program has 84 vendors with average earnings over $40,000.

Other: 

At the request of Tim Jones, Jim Irvin briefed the committee regarding current Lions Club events. 

Last week, Camp Dogwood began the start of its annual summer 12-week program.  Camp Dogwood is also in the process of building a new dorm.  In September, a Deaf/Blind retreat will be held at Camp Dogwood.  Martha Butler was elected Council Chair for the Lions.  Over 600 hearing aids and 16,000 mobility canes were furnished to citizens across the State.  Several new clubs have been formed that consist of predominately blind individuals—they are at the Raleigh Lions Clinic and in Winston-Salem.  The Greensboro workshop is in process of forming a club.   

The annual Governor Morehead School Alumni weekend will be held at the Brownstone Hotel July 21-23. 

Representative Coleman discussed the Governor’s Vision Care Bill which requires the mandatory vision testing for kindergartners.  A couple of changes have been recommended: timeframe changed from 6 months to 1 year; different avenues are being explored regarding money so every child will have access to an eye exam without regard to the ability to pay such as forming partnerships with optometrists. 

Old Business

None

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 2:20 p.m.  The next meeting is scheduled for September 8, 2006 at 1 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted

Tim Jones, Chairman

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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