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

Annual Report 2005

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Services for the Blind
2005 Annual Report

Message from the Director

"Climbing to Success"-Whether the climb is to the top of a mountain that seems to have no peak or whether it is getting over a bump in the road the staff of the Division of Services for the Blind wants to assist each person who is blind, visually impaired, or deaf/blind to reach the goal.

For someone who has been working, taking care of the family, and going about their business independently each day giving little thought to sight, vision loss can be very disruptive. Developing the skills to do these routine tasks without vision often seems like a mountain and reaching the top seems impossible. But with good training such as that available through our orientation and mobility instructors, our mini-centers, our Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and with the services of counselors, employment consultants, social workers and many others we have seen over and over that people can succeed in reaching their goals and becoming independent.

For the high school student success might mean getting a summer job for the first time; for the 75-year old woman who lives alone and can no longer read her mail it might mean finding a magnifier that enables her to read independently; and for the mom who cannot see it might mean learning to prepare a healthy meal for her family.

During 2005 Division staff assisted more than 11,000 people reach their goals in areas of independence and employment. There is a personal story behind each of these successes and all of these accomplishments were possible through the hard work and cooperative efforts of our consumers, our staff and our many partners. We anticipate many more successful climbs over the next year!

Debbie Jackson,
Director of the Division of Services for the Blind

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

People with blindness or visual impairment that want to work may be eligible for DSB-Vocational Rehabilitation (DSB-VR) services. They have the opportunity to choose from a vast array of programs and services that best suit their individual needs. Support and assistance provided by our Rehabilitation Counselors, Employment Consultants, Rehabilitation Engineers, Assistive Technology Specialists, Transition Counselors, Vocational Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center staff. In addition, we have specialists to support and assist those with both blindness and hearing loss.

Our Results

In State Fiscal Year 2005, DSB-VR served 3,467 people; 93% had significant disabilities. Of these, 652 reached their employment objectives and 95% had significant disabilities.

The average wage earner had $349.15 per week in income, which is a 5% increase over the previous year's average income. Their employment generated approximately $906,000 in Social Security Administration taxes paid and those who left the SSA benefit roll saved the Administration approximately $3.2 million in projected payable benefits.

Employer Development and Placement Services
DSB Employment Services

In 2000, the Division started its initiative, DSB Employment Services, to identify and place individuals into competitive employment who would not get jobs without direct involvement of the DSB professional staff with employers in our communities. By 2003, the initiative reported a 32.5% increase in people with blindness entering wage earning occupations. In 2005, 634 people entered wage earning employment; of these 86 entered employment as a result of DSB-VR direct involvement with employers through DSB Employment Services. Of those achieving competitive employment as a result of this direct involvement, 94% had significant disabilities and 62% had blindness. They averaged $8.37 per hour in earnings with an average of more than 30 hours per week.

Supported Employment Services

Through its Vocational Rehabilitation Program, the Division provides intensive and on-going services to people with the most significant disabilities. Often, these people have multiple disabilities and need more intensive on the job services in order to retain employment. Services include direct job placement, on-site job training and coaching, and extended follow-up on the job site with the consumers and the employer to ensure a good job match. The Division contracts many of these services with various community rehabilitation programs throughout the state.

Our Results

Last year, 148 people were served, 25 placed in employment and 16 retained successful employments through our Supported Employment Services. The average hours worked weekly was 29 at an average hourly wage of $6.28.

Deaf-Blind Services

Each year the Division of Services for the Blind serves individuals with hearing and vision loss through the Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living and Social Work programs. During the fiscal year 2004-2005, Deaf-Blind Services assisted 630 individuals with hearing and vision loss. Ninety-nine of these individuals were served through the Vocational Rehabilitation program, 173 served through the Independent Living Rehabilitation program and 358 served through the Social Work program. The goal of Deaf-Blind services is to assist individuals with hearing and vision loss in achieving their maximum potential. If you know of someone with hearing and vision loss, contact your local DSB office today!

Transition Services

The Division offers transition services to help prepare students with visual impairments to move from school to vocational or continued academic training or directly into work. Our rehabilitation professionals work in cooperation with schools, family members and community and business leaders. Services are available in all 117 public school system in the State. Services are planned based on the student's interests, abilities and needs and often begin as early as age 14. Most young people in transition benefit from On-the-Job-Training, Job Shadowing, Internships and other work experiences sponsored by the Division.

Last year, approximately 193 consumers ages 14 to 19 were served. This includes services to 148 students in specialized transition programs in Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Wake, Guilford and Forsyth Counties as well as the Governor Morehead

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind & DSB Evaluation Unit

Our Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and the Evaluation Unit are located on the campus of the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh. Services focus on in-depth, comprehensive evaluations of rehabilitation needs and identification of services required. Consumers are eligible to take advantage of specialized vocational assessments and training, work readiness skills, low vision testing, assistive technology assessment and equipment training, psychological testing and safe travel skills training, among others. Also, the Center provides transitional services each summer for students ready for post secondary training or employment.

Our Results

Last year, the Evaluation Unit provided 108 vocational assessments and provided adjustment to blindness training to 93 consumers. Specialized training was provided to 58 consumers. The Center provided transitional services to 24 students. Technology Support Services at the Center provided technical support and information to 539 individuals and conducted tours/demonstrations for 47 visitors to the Technology Center.

Consumer Satisfaction

Each year, the Division in cooperation with the Rehabilitation Council, conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed rehabilitation programs for the fiscal year. We sent 700 surveys, the US Postal Service returned 138 as undeliverable and 260 were returned completed. The completed return rate was 37%. Here is what our consumers had to say:

  • DSB staff treated you with courtesy and respect. 99%-Satisfied
  • Telephone calls were returned the same or next day. 97%-Satisfied
  • Appointments scheduled as soon as consumer thought they should be.
  • DSB staff provided information you needed about your eye condition. 95%-Satisfied
  • Decisions about planned services were jointly made. 72%-Satisfied
  • Consumers report they received the services needed to go to work. 72%-Satisfied
  • Did you know you could return to DSB for more help if you needed it. 90%- Yes


The Business Enterprises Program offers opportunities in the Vending and food service industry for those who are legally blind. The program provides training, job placement and long term business consulting for the operator after they are awarded a facility.

The Business Enterprises Program generated gross sales of $12,456,997 for fiscal year 2005. There were 83 facilities located throughout the state and the average operator income for the year was $40,131.

The Business Enterprises Program is now in the second year of an agreement with the NC Division of Parks and Recreation to operate the restaurant located in the Mount Mitchell State Park. This popular tourist destination provides scenic full service dining, a gift shop, banquet and catering facilities and a patio perfect for outdoor grilling and dinning. The restaurant is open from May until October and provides breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days per week.

Independent Living Programs

The Division offers comprehensive Independent Living Services through its Social Workers for the Blind and Independent Living Rehabilitation (ILR) Counselors. The Social Workers are associated with all county Departments of Social Services and focus on consumer and family counseling, coordination of various services available from the community, and basic adjustment to vision loss. The ILR Counselors are associated with our 7 district offices to provide counseling and extensive independent living skills instruction either in the home or in classes at one of the 12-week, community based "Mini-Centers." They promote self-advocacy skills so consumers can expand their access to public services in their communities.

Last year, 6,426 people were served by DSB Social Workers. Safe travel skills training were provided to 1,162 people. Chore Services for the Blind were provided for 622 people and enabled them to continue living in their own homes. Special Assistance for the Blind was provided at a monthly average of 105 people who reside in domiciliary care facilities. Finally, 1,377 people received services from ILR Counselors; 458 were served in one of our 36 Mini-Centers. The statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) meetings for 2005-2006 will be held in February, May, August and November. Please call the Independent Living Program Specialist for exact dates and locations of these meetings.

Medical Eye Care Program

The primary focus for the Medical Eye Care Program is the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight. A total of 16,506 people received services which addressed this goal during the 2004/2005 SFY. This total includes 4312 eye examinations, 6727 people screened for glaucoma, and 5467children screened for amblyopia and other vision defects. These screenings resulted in 451 adults being referred to eye doctors as glaucoma suspects and 322 children referred to eye doctors for follow up. With regard to restoration of vision, 1730 pair of eyeglasses were purchased. The Division sponsored 3275 treatment/surgeries which prevented blindness and in many cases restored sight.

The nine Nursing Eye Care Consultants also provided low vision assessments for 2914 people.

How to Reach Us

Please contact us for additional information on services we provide to North Carolina citizens. Contact the office nearest you, or visit us on the web at:

Asheville (800) 422-1881

Charlotte (800) 422-1895

Fayetteville (800) 422-1897

Greenville (800) 422-1877

Raleigh (800) 422-1871

Wilmington (800) 422-1884

Winston-Salem (800) 422-0373

DSB State Office (919) 733-9822
or Toll Free (866) 222-1546

The Lions Clubs of North Carolina

For more than 66 years, the DSB and the Lions Clubs of North Carolina have worked cooperatively in serving the interests of citizens with blindness and visual impairment. The North Carolina Lions Foundation provides mobility and support canes to service consumers of the Division as well as helps support educational grants, hearing aid assistance, and eye research both locally and nationally. Local Lions Clubs help support Independent Living Rehabilitation Mini-Centers throughout the State, sponsor the Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) Fishing Tournament annually on the Outer Banks, and support Radio Reading Services among other projects.

The Lions Foundation sponsors 12, six-day camping sessions every year for people with blindness and visual impairment at Camp Dogwood. The camp is the Foundation's 48 acre camping resort on Lake Norman in Catawba County. In addition, each September, the Foundation supports special camping sessions for people with both blindness and impaired hearing.

Chairman's Message

The North Carolina Commission for the Blind serving as the State Rehabilitation Council is honored to present its 2005 Annual Report of the Council and the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

This year's theme is "Climbing to Success." With each step we take to reach the summit for a more independent life, we realize that each member of the organization is a step, and that we need each step to achieve this climb.

The dedication and nurturing that have transpired for 70 years have created much change and growth in the services provided to our consumers. Through the DSB and its myriad of programs and services; and through partnerships with Lions, legislators, corporate and private sectors, opportunities exist today for our blind and visually impaired citizens to live independent, productive lives and to expand the horizons of their individual potential.

The dedicated work of the staff of the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind has assured this "Climbing to Success" will continue to produce new areas of opportunity.

We greatly appreciate the continued support of the North Carolina Lions Foundation in the production of this report and the work of the thousands of Lions throughout North Carolina.

John T. Miller III

Division of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Council 2004-2005

John T. Miller III, Chairman- Dare County
Anita Heath-Cunningham- Guilford County
Cheryl Whitley- Wake County
Ronald L. Huber- NC Lions Foundation
Allen G. Moore- Statewide Independent Living Council
Russ Stinehour- Buncombe County
Kellie Hightower-Spruill- Wake County
Graham Watt- NC Commission on Workforce Development
Angela McCants- Exceptional Children Assistance Center
Tom Winton- NC Dept. of Public Instruction
Kathy Brack- Director, Client Assistance Program

Ex Officio

Debbie Jackson
Director, Division of Services for the Blind
Sandy Foster
DSB Rehabilitation Counselor-In-Charge

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