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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

September 17, 2011

Due to budget restrictions, this meeting was held by conference call.  The out-of-town members were connected via telephone while the Raleigh-based members met in the conference room of Fisher Building in Raleigh, NC.

Call to Order
The Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind meeting was called to order by Chairman Gary Ray at 1:05 p.m.  Invocation was offered by Carl Keehn.

A quorum was not present.  Approval of minutes will be at the next meeting on December 8.

Present in the Conference Room: Eddie Weaver, Gary Ray, Tom Winton, Debbie Jackson, Carl Keehn, Barbria Bacon, Debbie Jackson, William Tubilleja, Gina Powell, Daniel Simmons, and Carla Parker

Present on Conference Call:  Erica Nail and Rebecca Marks, VI Outreach, Sensory Support and Assistive Technology of the Exceptional Children’s Division within the Department of Public Instruction.  Ms. Marks replaces Ms. Julie Kagy.

Reports of Entities:

Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—Carl Keehn and Gina Powell

Upcoming Closing Dates:

Veterans Day /Friday November 11
Thanksgiving / Thursday – Friday, November 24-25
Christmas / Monday – Tuesday, December 26-27
New Year’s Day / Monday – January 2, 2012

NLS:

NLS has added a third network consultant, Pam Davenport; who was previously the Regional Librarian for South Carolina.  With the addition of a third network consultant, consultant responsibilities will be reallocated effective with the new federal Fiscal Year on October 1.  Our new network consultant will be Mary Beth Wise.

NLS has entered into a pilot project with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Walter Reed has apparently been designated as a clearing house/triage site for returning wounded soldiers.  The rehabilitation counselors will assign the wounded soldiers with NLS digital players, a cartridge and cable.  The counselor will help the soldier fill out an application for library service and an electronic copy of the application and the serial number of the assigned digital player are forwarded to the local library for processing.  North Carolina has been selected as one of the pilot libraries, due to the military presence in our state.  We have already received two applications under the new program.

NCLBPH:

Our NOBLE site (North Carolina Bard Local) has grown a great deal in the past quarter.  We now have 12 books available for download in digital format and have added our first two web braille offerings.  Additions to NOBLE are announced on the library Facebook page.

During the past quarter, the digital format audio has become our dominant material type.  Over the past few months, when we have factored in the BARD download statistics, digital circulation has exceeded analog circulation.  In August, for the first time; digital circulation exceeded analog circulation even before the download circulation was figured in.  The lack of new materials in analog format is certainly a factor as no new books have been produced in analog format for a year.

Staffing concerns have been our major issue during the past quarter.  Since Chris Guthrie’s passing left our machine unit supervisor position vacant, Deborah Jernigan has been filling in on an interim basis.  We were finally given permission to advertise the position as an internal posting and Deborah was offered the position.  Her old position was eliminated.

In mid-July, Corrie White submitted her resignation; to return to college.  She left her position in patron processing vacant.  The position was deemed to be critical and we were given permission to advertise it last week.

Outeach—Gina Powell

2011 Summer Reading for Kids
This past summer, we had 38 kids registered for the Kids Summer Reading Program.  The theme this year was “One World, Many Stories.”  The program ran from June 1-August 31, 2011.  The kids read over 230, with our top reader Bonnie Bice reading 125 books.

The library held a kids summer reading event at the Gov. Morehead School on June 23rd.  The kids played games from around the world, did craft activities and had refreshments.  We had approximately 35 attendees.

2011 Adult Reading Program (Sept. 1-November 30)
We are sponsoring our 1st Adult Reading program year as well.  Theme is Novel Destinations.”  Prizes will be given to the top readers.  We hope to have an event at the library for participants sometime in early December.  Have about 18 people signed up so far. 

Other Activities conducted This Quarter:

Assisted the Braille Literacy Council with its first BELL program this year.  Nine children participated.  In July, kids had a tour of the library, including doing a recording in our studios.  They all received a copy of the recording.  We assisted with the tour of the Marbles Kids Museum, and I finally had a good excuse to play with their toys and games.

Issue of Tar Heel Talk written and printed.  It was mailed out this week.

Summer Reading presentation for juvenile patrons at the Clayton Public Library in August.

Presentations at Carol Woods, Wesley Pines Emerald Pond Retirement Centers.

Conferences/Conventions—Presentations and Vendor Tables
GMS Alumni Conference in July
GMS Youth Retreat in August
NC Council for the Blind in September
NFB State Convention in September
NCAWB

Presentations at the following mini-centers:  Chapel Hill, Lumberton, Winston-Salem, and Wake Forest.

Upcoming Events:  Lions VIP Fishing Tournament is October 17-19.

Volunteer Recognition Dinner Thursday, November 10 at Marbles Kids Museum, 6-9 p.m. Retiring State Librarian, Mary Boone, will be our keynote speaker.

AT Expo is December 1-3.

Department of Public Instruction—Rebecca Marks

DPI report to Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind Sept 16, 2011

  • The Instructional Media Resource Center is closer to being a reality. We are still in the process of cleaning out Penland in order to have a smoothly running delivery system but we have already begun stocking the center.   The APH fiscal year will close on Sept. 30. We will get a new quota allotment on Oct. 1.   Heather Brooks and Julie will be attending the Annual APH conference in October in Louisville.  Julie will be attending the Prison Braille Meeting that occurs the day before the conference along with Robert Leon and Cindy Belue from Correction Enterprises of North Carolina. 
  • The 61st Conference on Exceptional Children will be held October 31 - November 1, 2011 with most post-conference institutes being held November 1 - 2, 2011, at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons Koury Convention Center. This year’s conference theme, “Leading Change: Improving Outcomes” will address proactive responses to budgetary and other changes to public education.

The keynote speakers are David Richards and Jose Martin, leaders in the special education legal field, with insights into IDEA and the IEP process. The post-conference VI institute will be Cortical Visual Impairment Assessment.

  • Summer Institutes.

The first, Cortical Visual Impairment: Functional Implications and Intervention Strategies presented by Patricia Myers and attended by 48 participants. 
The second, Creating and Instructing with Tactile Graphics was presented by Lucia Hastings and attended by 24 participants.

  • The Division and NC Central are sponsoring training with Dianne Wormsley in her functional Braille program, IMABLE. Participants will have 2 days of training in October and a follow-up day in Feb. They will receive all materials and expenses will be paid for the trainings.
  • VI Outreach team, part of the Sensory Support and Assistive Technology team, formally the GMS Outreach Program. Claire Hakin is our Orientation and Mobility specialist, William Tubilleja is coordinating our low vision clinics and handling many of our technology assessments. Sharon Farley, Heather Brooks, Cindy Caruso, William and I work with the LEAs to provide Functional Vision Assessments, Learning Media and Assistive Technology assessments as well as consultation and professional development.

This fall, we have completed the first part of a 2 day professional development workshop for the GMS staff. This workshop focuses on Functional Vision Assessment. A similar one day workshop was presented to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg TVIs.

Presentations at the regional EC Director’s meetings.
Met with Patrick Flynn of Learning Ally (formally RFB&D) to get more information and training so we can work with the LEAs to continue to provide downloadable books through this service.

We are concerned that many areas of the state are without Teachers for students with visual impairment or teachers who have received their license through the Praxis testing program and have not completed a certification program. Professional development is necessary to keep TVIs updated on changes and new information, but cannot provide the in-depth work and knowledge of a VI or O&M program. Many areas with no TVI or O&M specialist must contract for their services which can be expensive and can create difficulties when trying to provide extensive service.  While we provide support to all of these areas we see the need to develop consortia throughout the state to address this need. We want to strengthen educational programs for students with visual impairment and to find ways to meet so many varying needs. The goal of educating our students in the least restrictive environment can only be met when we have a continuum of services available for all students; a system that encourages a student to move between programs to best address his needs.. We feel the mandate for change that we now face is an opportunity to develop a stronger system of support for all levels of need and ability and we look forward to being a part of this exciting challenge to strengthen all points along the continuum.

Some of us are still in the Penland Building and can be contacted there (919 715 4257).

Governor Morehead School—Barbria Bacon
The Governor Morehead School opened up with a full core of activities i.e. academics, athletics, music, etc., Kelly Davis will continue to serve as interim principal for this year.  The other half of her position moved to OEL with EI and GMS Preschool Office of Early Learning with the Department of Public Instruction. 

GMS has planned for a comprehensive needs assessment improvement process with specific goals and objectives.   This was added as a result of the recommendations by the legislature last year. 

The Office of Schools and District Transformation has tried to align the 3 residential schools with the other school districts. 

The merger has been challenging but has gone very well.

There are 3 items that have been taken up by the State Board:

  • Student appeals—a 3 member panel will be appointed to make recommendations to the Board.
  • A similar process will be in place for staff issues and appeals will go through the Ethics Committee.
  • A Board for the 3 residential schools will be formed and will have representation of both the deaf and blind committee.

GMS is planning an Open House on September 19 from 2 til 4 p.m. Mrs. Bacon encouraged that anyone that can to attend this event.  Staff and students have worked very hard. 

Division of Services for the Blind, Director
Eddie Weaver

DSB fared very well with the budget.  DSB’s share of DHHS reductions resulted in approximately $121, 000 which was 4 ½ vacant positions.

According to Executive Order 85, the merger of DSB, DSDHH and VR will take effect July 1, 2012 unless some action takes place. 

A youth summer program was held this summer, SAVVY, with 28 students participating. 

NewsLine was funded again this year. 

A few Commission member positions are vacant.  DSB has had difficulty in getting positions filled but, hopefully, these positions will be filled soon.

Mr. Weaver also attended the conferences for the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind.

Department of Public Instruction—Tom Winton

Mr. Winton reported on the Prison Braille Program that is up and running through Correction Enterprises.  Julie Kagy played a key role in getting this started.

An instructional materials center is being planned for Outreach.  The Penland Building will be converted into an educational materials center for students across the State.

Mr. Winton then discussed the issue of the legislature and the three residential schools.

On June 1, 2011, the three residential schools were transferred to the Department of Public Instruction along with the Early Intervention Program for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and also the GMS Preschool Program.  This transfer was enacted by last year’s budget bill, 2010. 

On June 15, 2011, the General Assembly over rides Governor Purdue’s veto and enacts the appropriations act of 2011.  The Department of Public Instruction was directly by the General Assembly to report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by January 15 about two items:  1) The residential school that the Department has decided to close, and 2) The Plan for consolidating programs from the closed campus to the remaining two residential schools. 

There are five considerations that the decision should be based on:  1) minimization of impact of services to deaf and blind students 2) minimization of cost of modifications of the two remaining residential schools to accommodate students from the closed school, 3) maximization of funds generated or net savings to the State from cost avoided due to the closure of one of the schools in the sale or transfer to another State agency, 4) minimization of required travel for students of the school that is closed, and 5) historical and cultural significance of the school.

DPI has designated the Exceptional Children’s Division to lead this initiative.  The Exceptional Children’s Division has developed a plan.  In this plan, there is a core committee.  Mr. David Mills was hired to be the facilitator of the committee.

The core committee will be obtaining input from various areas—existing reports, residential schools, public, on-line survey, public hearings, etc.  The on-line survey is on the agency’s website and will be up until September 30.  Alternative versions of the survey are available for people who do not have on-line access. 

Three public hearings will from 5:30-7 p.m. and will be held in the town that the school is located in.  The first hearing is scheduled for September 20 in Morganton, the second is scheduled for September 22 in Wilson, and the third will be here in Raleigh at the Avery C. Upchurch Government Building, 224 W. Hargett Street, Room 201 on September 28.  Rules and guidelines are in place for these public hearings.  People will be allowed to speak for 3 minutes.  Written comments are welcome at these hearings.  On the day of each hearing, the core committee will be at each school meeting with administration, student life, and instructional staff. 

The core committee will make a recommendation which school will be closed to the Superintendent and in turn the Superintendent will present the recommendation to the State Board. 

Chair Ray inquired as to how the CAAC can make their recommendation.  Mr. Winton recommended sending the recommendation to Ms. June Atkinson, Superintendent along with a copy to each core committee member. 

Chair Ray thanked Mr. Winton for his report to the Committee.

Mr. Ray also asked Mr. Winton if the SBOE could reverse a decision made to it in this matter.  Mr. Winton was asked to get a specific answer to this question.

Braille Literacy Council—Debbie Jackson

The BELL Program was held this year.  It was sponsored by the Braille Literacy Council and supported by many volunteers.  Nine kids participated from 5 different counties. 

The central Braille Challenge will be held on February 16 on the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh. 

North Carolina Association of Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired—William Tubilleja and Daniel Simmons

William Tubilleja reported that the AER Board will be drafting a position on the issues of the residential school closing and DSB merger.

Daniel Simmons reported on the NCVIB conference which will be held on the Governor Morehead School campus on March 16 and 17, 2012.  This year the conference will be paralleled with the NC Association of Blind Students (NCABS).  NCVIB will begin the afternoon of March 16 and continue the morning of March 17.  NCABS will only be on March 17. 

Raising Cane 5K run is scheduled for March 31, 2012.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The NFB of NC’s Convention was held in Winston-Salem with 100 people being registered. 

The national convention was held in Orlando, FL, with 2,960 attending. 

The NFB held a demonstration in front of Kay Hagen’s office in Raleigh, NC, urging her not to support the sub-minimum wage portion of the Work Force Investment Act. 

The meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.

Chairman Ray expressed deep concern at the lack of attendance on the part of members of the CAAC at today’s meeting, especially at this critical time.  He indicated that the CAAC needs to take action IMMEDIATELY on a number of issues.  He indicated that he would work to gain CAAC action by email or a special conference call in the very near future.

Next meeting of the CAAC is Thursday, December 8 from 1 till 3 p.m.

 

 

 

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