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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

September 14, 2012

The Consumer and Advisory Committee (CAAC) for the Blind Advocacy met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Friday, September 14.  The budget now allows for out-of-town members to attend in person if they wish and get reimbursed.  If not, members may join the meeting by conference call.

There were problems with the recording of this meeting.  Minutes were prepared by notes sent in by people in attendance. 

Call to Order

The CAAC for the Blind meeting was called to order by Chairman Gary Ray at 1:05 p.m. 

Present in the Conference Room:   Gary Ray,  Barbria Bacon, Corye Dunn,  Carl Keehn, Gina Powell, Eddie Weaver, Daniel Simmons, and Dennis Thurman.

Present on Conference Call:  Steve Harris, Allen Casey, Rebecca Marks, Ricky Scott, and Marsha Brantley.

Update from Chair, Gary Ray:

At our last meeting, we noted 4 areas of effort in the Legislature.  I have results on all of them.  We were successful on all four.

Governor Morehead School:

The Legislature reversed itself and “un closed” the school.  They left all 3 residential schools open.  This is only a breather and not final.


Newsline was funded for another year in the final budget to the tune of $75,000.


Both houses passed resolutions blocking the merger of DSB into a Super VR agency.

Future of CAAC:

The CAAC has been taken off the Hit List of Committees to be eliminated.  This was mostly due to the efforts of Bill Purcell.

It is with a heavy heart that I report on the passing of Herman Gruber.  Herman died in August of ALS.  Herman was Director of DSB and later president of the NFB of NC.

Regional Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped—Carl Keehn

Upcoming Holidays:

Monday          November 12            Veteran’s Day

November 22 – 23               Thanksgiving


The big news during the quarter was the retirement of David Whittall on August 31.  David Whittall had served as a network consultant and more recently as the BARD administrator.

NLS continues to work on the folding of web braille into the BARD service.  In order to use web braille, a reader will need to be registered with BARD and announcements to that effect will be placed on the web braille site as the effective date approaches.

The plan to convert the magazine service to digital format continues to move forward, with no firm date of changeover established yet.  NLS has asked local agencies to review their patron database to identify and contact audio magazine readers who do not have a digital player.  To continue to receive audio magazine service, the reader will need to obtain a digital player.

HR 5882, the senate appropriations act for the Legislative Branch, also includes language which has the potential to expand the reader base for the National Library Service.  The language strikes the physical handicap qualification and replaces it with a disability as defined by Section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990.  The list of certifying authorities has also been expanded to include psychologists, educational diagnosticians, rehabilitation teachers, superintendents and reading specialist s. 


Our staff is continuing to work on the phasing out of the analog collection.  The collections management staff continue to work on the weeding of the cassettes to meet our quota for the year of 40,000 items removed.  The circulation staff and volunteers are shifting the remaining cassettes to free up space for the digital materials and our growing braille collection.

Staffing problems continue to be a major concern for us.  During the last quarter, I had reported that we were in the process of hiring a Supervisor for the Circulation Unit.  Kevin Kelly was offered and accepted the promotion, leaving his processing assistant position vacant.  Marilyn Johns was transferred from the Library Development Section to fill the vacant position and our circulation unit is at full staff for the first time since last November.

I had reported the appointment of Jessica Hawk to fill the reader advisor position.  Unfortunately, she lasted only one month.  She was offered a position with the library system she had left to work with us and resigned to accept the appointment.  Our Public Services Supervisor is presently interviewing to fill the vacant position.  Once it is filled, we should be at full staff.

With the retirement of Denise Sigmon as Assistant State Librarian, the library lost a staunch advocate.  Her last working day was August 31.  The initial recruitment pool failed to find a suitable candidate to replace her and the search has been reopened to find a new Assistant State Librarian.

Our digital readership and circulation continue to grow.  In the past quarter, the digital circulation has increased from about 60% to nearly 65% of our overall circulation.

NCLBPH Outreach Report—Gina Powell

4th Annual Kids Summer Reading ran from June 1 to August 31.  The theme was “Dream Big – Read.”  We had About 53 participants who read over 250 books.  Had event at GMS in late June.  36 kids attended. 

Hosted a World of Work intern in July.  (James can explain more about this program and intern Samantha.)

Hosted BELL students for library field trip in July.  We made an audio recording of all the students and gave each a copy.  We read books, played a few games, and had lunch.

Helped Gary with NCAWB conference in August.

Presentation to Wake co. VIP group.

Friends table at NFB conference.  James Benton gave library report.

Presentation and info table at the Deaf Blind conference.

Fall Tar Heel talk completed and waiting for approval from downtown.


Presentation to library students at UNC CH.

Assist State Library with American Rural and Small Library Assoc. conference Sept. 26 - 28.

Friends table at NCCB conference and presentation to group Sept. 28 - 29.

Gary to attend VIP Fishing Tourney in Oct.

Volunteer Rec dinner Nov.14 at Marbles Museum 6 to9pm.

Department of Public Instruction—Rebecca Marks

Instructional Materials Warehouse (IMW)
The Instructional Materials Warehouse (IMW) is up and running with materials being shipped out several times a week.  Additional materials have been ordered and the inventory is growing quickly. At this time all materials are from American Printing House for the Blind and are purchased with quota funds.  We are beginning to establish a program of shipping some non-functioning electronics and possibly Braille writers back to APH to use for parts in their repair department.

I-M-ABLE project (Functional Braillle)
The initial I-M-ABLE project (Functional Braillle) is complete and Dr. Wormsley is finishing the Practice Guide which will be used for further professional development on this technique. 
The project was presented at the AER Conference recently. 

NC Prison Braille Program
We are awaiting confirmation that the NC Prison Braille Program at Scotland Prison has been awarded the contract for transcribing all NCDPI assessments.

Summer Institutes
The first was June 14-15 in Charlotte with Dr. Lauren Lieberman, professor of Kinesiology, sport studies and physical education at the State University of New York Brockport. Dr. Lieberman’s area of specialty and research are in adapted physical education (APE), especially concerning students with sensory impairments.
This was attended by Teachers of Students with Visual Impairment (TVIs), Adapted PE teachers, related service providers such as Physical Therapists, and teachers and para-professionals serving students in the area of visual impairments.
The second was July 23-24 in Greensboro. Loana Mason, from American Printing House for the Blind (APH), presented products and demonstrated teaching strategies developed to support principles and techniques used in Orientation and Mobility instruction for the visually impaired learner with an emphasis on strategies for the Exceptional Children’s classroom teacher.

62nd Conference on Exceptional Children
November 14 – November 16, 2012
Koury Convention Center, Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons

62nd Conference on Exceptional Children which will be held November 14-16, 2012, at the Koury Convention Center/Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons in Greensboro. This year’s theme is ‘Building Bridges for Success’ and it highlights the collaborative efforts and structures that are required for true progress in the education of children with disabilities. More than three thousand special education teachers, administrators, parents, related service providers, university personnel and more to explore exciting topics and innovative practices in exceptional children education in North Carolina Public Schools.
Online registration:

VI Institute at the 62nd Conference on Exceptional Children
Nov. 13, 2012 Koury Convention Center, Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons. We are delighted and excited to host Susan Osterhaus for this year’s VI Institute.  Susan is Math Consultant for Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired's Outreach Programs and one of the most respected and well-known authorities on teaching math to students with visual impairment. Susan’s use of technology and manipulatives makes math accessible and understandable; her ability to teach teachers to use these same strategies makes her an invaluable resource for our TVIs. We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to teachers across the state.

AT EXPO/GReAT Conference( Global Rehabilitation Enhanced with Assistive Technology)
What was previously the AT EXPO, will be held this year after being cancelled last year.  It has a new name, the GReAT Conference( Global Rehabilitation Enhanced with Assistive Technology)and will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center on Dec. 5,6 and 7th. NCDPI is sponsoring an Education Track and also the General Session with Dr. Karen Erickson who will speak about Universal Design for Learning.  Registration information can be found at the NCATP website or the NC Rehabilitation Assoc. (NCRA)  website.

Low Vision Clinics
We held a 2 day low vision clinic during the GMS Summer Camp and saw 10 students. Some of the students who were also attending the summer camp were given low vision optical devices as recommend by the low vision doctor try during the camp and at the end of camp were allowed to take them home.  The devices were originally purchased through a grant from Wal-Mart.  
We are in the process of renewing the contract with Dr. Scheiner to conduct low vision evaluations for our low vision clinic, which is coordinated by William Tubilleja.

2013 Braille Challenge
The 2013 Braille Challenge is currently being organized with support from the EC Division, the NC Braille Literacy Council and the Friends of the Library for the Blind. The date for the NC Regional Braille Challenge to be held on the GMS campus is February 14th, Valentine's Day.  The EC Division provides logistical coordination, man power, and funding of $1000.00 annually towards the Braille Challenge events which have occurred in Raleigh and in Catawba County since 2006.  For more information about the Braille Challenge in NC, please contact William Tubilleja or Debbie Jackson.  

The NCCVIB is currently being organized by an effort through the EC Division, NC DSB, NCCU-VITP, the Friends of the Library, GMS, and GM Preschool.  The dates for the conference are April 19-20, 2013.  The Chair for the NCCVIB Planning Committee is Mr. Dennis Thurman, the former Superintendent of GMS.  

Professional Development Opportunities
We are working with Charlotte/Mecklenberg Schools to provide professional development for area TVIs. The topics for these presentations are Functional Vision Assessment, Learning Media Assessment, Functional Skills (Expanded Core Curriculum), and Best Practices in Teaching Students with Visual Impairment.

As a result of observations made during program reviews, we became aware that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) do not always clearly explain the needs of students with visual impairments. In order to address this need to write effective, VI-specific IEPs, we are working with DPI Monitors to develop and present a professional development module concentrating on clearly defining student needs and focusing on goals that directly reflect and address those needs. These modules will be available to teachers statewide.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver

The Executive Order 85 which merged DSB, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing was repealed.    This was a group effort by citizens, staff, consumer groups, etc.  Mr. Weaver thanked everyone who had a part in this repeal.

DSB does not have any budget cuts posed by the legislature.  The Department is asking for $50,000.  DSB has designated this money and this will not affect any positions or services. 

The Legislature is funding Newsline in the amount of $75,000. 

Mary Flanagan, Assistant Director, and Joann Wood, Chief of Rehabilitation Services, are retiring.  A celebration will be held on September 21 in the Weathers Dining Hall on the GMS campus. 
A Braille Enrichment in Literacy and Learning Program (BELL) was held this summer for students age 5-13.  Eleven students participated. 

The BELL program is a 2 week annual summer camp for blind and visually impaired youth to help increase braille literacy in North Carolina.  BELL is a program of the National Federation of the Blind. 

The goal of BELL is to improve the braille skills of the children enrolled and to do this in a fun way.  Most of the children who attend BELL do not know many other blind kids so socialization is an important goal.  The hope is to show kids that braille is a respectable way to read and learn.  The kids are also exposed to non-visual techniques such as cane travel and money identification. 

At the Rehabilitation Center, SAVVY (Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to Visually Impaired Youth) was held.  Twenty Nine students participated.  This program focuses on preparing students for after high school. 

The Department has asked each Division to compile a list of priorities to be used in the transition from one administration to another. 

Mr. Weaver spoke at the NFB Conference at Camp Dogwood, the ACB Conference in Greensboro, and will attend the VIP Fishing Tournament in Nags Head. 

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The NFB National Convention was held in Dallas in July.  About 2400 folks attended.  The NC BELL program won an award of $3,000.  The Next National Convention in 2013 will be held in Orlando.

The NFB and the BLC put on the 2012 BELL Program on the GMS campus in July of 2012.  It was a summer camp for 11 blind children.  Funding was mostly provided by the Friends of the NCLBPH.  WE will do it again next year and will try to add another site in the western part of NC.

The NFB of NC State Convention was held at Camp Dogwood in September. 135 folks attended the event.  Parnell Diggs of SC was the featured speaker.

Meeting adjourned.

Next CAAC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 13, 2012, from 1 p.m. til 3 p.m.



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