Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Home | A-Z Site Map | Get Updates | Divisions | About Us | Contacts | En Español

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

Annual Report 2006

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Services for the Blind
2006 Annual Report
"A Journey Toward A Better Future Begins"

Consumer Satisfaction

Each year, the State Rehabilitation Council, conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed rehabilitation programs during the year. Surveys were mailed to 654 individuals whose cases were closed with an employment outcome. There were a total of 179 completed surveys returned an additional 58 returned as undeliverable. The completed return rate was 30%.

Here is what our consumers had to say:

  • 99% felt the DSB staff treated them with courtesy and respect
  • 97% were satisfied with the promptness of telephone calls
  • 94% said they felt appointments were scheduled as soon as possible
  • 95% felt DSB staff provided information they needed about their eye condition
  • 92% were satisfied with the level of choice they had in their job goal and services required to obtain or maintain employment
  • 98% were satisfied with the DSB services they received
  • 85% are still working in the job they had when their case record with DSB VR Services was closed
  • 84% stated they knew they could return to DSB for more help if needed

Chairman's Message

The North Carolina Commission for the Blind, serving as the State Rehabilitation Council, is honored to present the 2006 Annual Report of the Council and the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). Our theme this year is 'A Journey toward a Better Future Begin.' We eagerly step forward on the journey to improved outcomes for North Carolinians with blindness and visual impairments. In a strong partnership between Council members and DSB staff, we aim for greater opportunities and results in independent living, employment and transition. This better future will be realized as we move forward together, with all of our strengths.

Please take time to review the various DSB programs and initiatives highlighted in this calendar. Whether you read about the Medical Eye Care Program, Rehabilitation Center, Business Enterprises Program, Transition Services, Independent Living Programs, DSB Employment Services or others, take note not only of the dedication and expertise of DSB staff, but also the strong partnerships forged with clients, families, eye doctors, schools, employers, Lions Clubs of North Carolina, and many other community stakeholders. These partnerships are the key to the true progress we all seek.
Many thanks go to the leadership and staff at DSB for their dedication to this better future. As a majority of us as Commission/Council members are legally blind, we sincerely appreciate the effort and skill that DSB staff bring in working for all North Carolinians, either through direct service or support.

We hope you enjoy using and perusing this calendar for 2007. Get inspired by stories of individual success. Learn of innovative programs that make possible those things thought impossible. Through it all, notice how DSB embodies one of the many famous quotations of Helen Keller, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

Tom Winton,
Chairperson of the North Carolina Commission for the Blind


VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES

People with blindness or visual impairments who want to work may be eligible for DSB Vocational Rehabilitation (DSB-VR) services. They have the opportunity to choose from a variety of programs and services that best suit their individual needs. Support and assistance is provided by our rehabilitation counselors, transition counselors, employment consultants, community employment specialists, the rehabilitation engineer and assistive technologists, and vocational evaluation and rehabilitation center staff. In addition, we have specialists to assist and support those with both hearing and vision loss.

Our Results

During FY 2005-2006, DSB-VR served 3,428 people, 94% of whom were determined to have significant disabilities. Of these, 651 reached their employment objectives and more than 96% of those had significant disabilities. The average wage earner made approximately $10.48 per hour reflecting an increase of 5.5% over the previous annual average. Their employment wages generated approximately $1.8 million in Social Security withholding taxes paid.


EMPLOYER DEVELOPMENT AND PLACEMENT SERVICES

In 2000, DSB started its initiative, DSB Employment Services. The foundation of that initiative was to identify those individuals who, for various reasons, would not be able to achieve and maintain competitive employment without directed involvement of DSB staff with employers in our communities. One of the initial objectives of the initiative was to increase the placement of individuals with blindness in wage earning occupations by 33% in 3 years. Through concerted relationship building with employers, that original objective was attained in two years. In FY 2005-2006, DSB Employment Services placed 103 of these targeted individuals in competitive, wage earning occupations, 79% of whom were determined to be severely disabled. They averaged $8.96 per hour in earned wages and an average of more than 30 hours per week.


Supported Employment Services

Through its Vocational Rehabilitation Program, DSB 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. DSB contracts many of these services with various community rehabilitation programs throughout the state.

Our Results

Last year, 135 people were served in situational assessment, job development, placement, job coaching and training, and extended services, 29 placed in employment with 24 retaining successful employments through our Supported Employment Services. The average hours worked weekly was 20 at an average hourly wage of $6.36.


BUSINESS ENTERPRISES PROGRAM

The Business Enterprises Program (BEP) is a program of the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind, created in 1935 by the North Carolina General Assembly. The program's purpose is to provide employment opportunities to the blind and visually impaired citizens of North Carolina through the operation of vending and on-site food service locations throughout the state. On a national level, the program is known as the Randolph-Sheppard Program. The federal Randolph-Sheppard Act grants the state licensing agency, such as this Division, the rights to operate food service and vending facilities on federal properties. The Division is responsible for locating and establishing feasible facility locations and for providing necessary equipment, initial stock and petty cash to operate these retail facilities. The legally blind individuals trained and licensed by the Division of Services for the Blind are competitively awarded these locations where they function largely as independent contractors and business people. The proceeds generated by the facility accrue to the operator minus a small portion, referred to as set-aside that is retained by the Division and is similar in nature to a franchise fee. This assessment is used for the purpose of offsetting program expenses such as management services, purchase of new equipment, as well as maintenance and replacement of existing equipment as needed.

Once awarded a facility the operator is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility. The Division continues to provide counseling and management services as needed to insure that the facility is managed professionally and that it is also as profitable for the operator as it can be. The operator must sign a contract with the Division, which outlines the requirements and standards the operator is expected to meet or exceed.

Gross sales from all food service facilities amounted to $12,622,013 during FY 2006; for FY 2005 total sales were $12,456,997. The gross profit percentage for this year was 53% compared to 51.5% for last year. Net proceeds paid to operators totaled $3,224,326 during this period compared to $3,200,961 paid during FY 2005. Average operator income for FY 06 was $41,884 as compared to $40,131 for the same period last year.

During this period 84 operators were served and two new BEP locations were added.


Transition Services

DSB 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 DSB.

Last year, 193 consumers ages 14 to 19 were served. This includes services to 165 students in specialized transition programs in Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Durham, Wake, Guilford and Forsyth Counties as well as the Governor Morehead School. The specialized programs have started Career Clubs with their respective schools to provide the students active on the caseloads opportunities to meet together and discuss career planning, listen to invited speakers, go on field trips to potential employer, ex. A visit to a local hospital to learn more about all the careers located in a medical setting. One program, Wake County, started a mentor program matching students with adults who are visually impaired to work with the students on a variety of issues from tutoring to learning safe travel in the community to what recreational programs are and to act as role model.

DSB also operates summer transition program for high school students active in its VR programs. These programs last summer included the SAVVY (Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to Visually Impaired Youth) in the World of Work which was a six-week program is designed to prepare students for success in the world of work and in adult living. The teens learn work ethics and work behaviors through paid part-time work experiences and internships. The teens increase their communication skills and interpersonal skills while building confidence and self-reliance. Recreational activities include exercise, sports, wall climbing and more. 6 students participated in this program.

The SAVVY in transition, in which a variety of skills were taught and everyone was encouraged to take advantage of the coaching and practice that occurred in the local community. The training was matched to the age and needs of each teen. A training plan was designed to provide specific life skills training as basic living skills, social development, vocational and study skills, and independent living skills as cooking, techniques of daily living, mobility, assistive technology and Braille while allowing the flexibility to target the specific skills to the individual. 21 students participated in this program.


INDEPENDENT LIVING SERVICES PROGRAM
And INDEPENDENT LIVING REHABILITATION PROGRAM

During the 2005-2006 FY, the Independent Living Services Program served 7192 people and they received one or more of the following services: Adjustment Services for the Blind, Health Support Services, Family Adjustment Services, Employment and Training, Housing and Home Improvement.

Chore Services for the Blind were provided for 472 people and enabled them to continue living in their homes and/or communities.

There were 1304 clients who received specialized Orientation and Mobility Services and were able to travel about more safely and with greater independence.

Special Assistance for the Blind was provided each month for an average of 102 people who reside in domiciliary care facilities. The average monthly payment for rest home clients was $554.00.

The Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (ILR) served 1,442 consumers in the last year. The services provided were guidance and counseling, extensive independent living skills instructions either in the home or in classes at one of the 12-week community based "Mini-Centers". The ILR held 36 of these "Mini- Centers" across the state with 436 participants. These promote independent skills and self-advocacy so that consumers can expand their access to public services in their communities.

The following are the dates for the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) meetings for 2006 - 2007: February, May, August, and November.


Personal Success

Youssif Ansara

Originally from Egypt, Youssif has made quite a name for himself, with the help of some "friends". Throughout his education DSB has been there to help Youssif achieve the goals that he set for himself.

He attended local schools in North Carolina but then went on to attend La Cross University in Massachusetts where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. Now he is a Technical Business Analyst for a division of Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Pennsylvania. Through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Youssif received the job skills and confidence needed for employment such as on-the-job training, interviewing techniques, & job shadowing just to name a few. VR also provided financial aid with accumulating educational bills as well as moving expenses.

Youssif has also been involved in bringing long distance education from America to his countrymen in Egypt. He designed the Ansara Educational Technical Center in which his father now manages. Now the people of Egypt can receive a quality US education right from their homes.

Youssif has gone very far and can be proud of himself and the "friends" from DSB that helped him with his accomplishments.

Clearthur Davis

Trust God and He will provide in His time", Cleararthur Davis said about his ups and downs in finding a job. Clearthur, after working 11 ½ years as a Holiday Inn reservation specialist, lost his job when the facility closed. One door closed, but another door opened. He would now have the opportunity to act on his interest in the Business Enterprise Program and restaurant management.

Through DSB's Vocational Rehabilitation Program and Business Enterprise Program (BEP), Cleararthur received Business Enterprise training, On-the-Job-Training, a computer and assistive technology that includes JAWS, a software program that verbally reads the text on the display screen, and other services. He now successfully operates a café located in the Hospital on the grounds of Cherry Point Marine Corp Air Station in Havelock, NC, through the BEP. His wife and stepson also are part of the staff which brings a full course breakfast and lunch every day.


Deaf-Blind Services

During the past fiscal year, DSB provided services to 481 individuals with hearing and vision loss. The individuals served were mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and even children.

The onset of loss can occur at any time in our life. It is nice to know that there is an agency designed to help people put their lives back together after such a loss.

DSB is committed to providing quality rehabilitation services to individuals with hearing and vision losses. Services range from assisting individuals with telephone access, remaining independent and involved, as well as, providing employment opportunities. The reality is that people with hearing and vision loss are not aware of the technology that is available to improve their quality of life.

Feel free to contact any one of our staff, anyone of our offices to assist with meeting the needs of eligible individuals with hearing and vision loss.


DSB Rehabilitation Center for the Blind & 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.

Our Results
Last year, the Evaluation Unit provided 123 comprehensive vocational assessments including 71 assessments for the regular program, 7 small business evaluations, and 20 college evaluations. There were 12 Psychological evaluations, 7 vocational assessments, and 6 eye exams separate from the regular program.

The Rehabilitation Center 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.


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 13096 people received services which addressed this goal during the 2005/2006 SFY. This total includes 3884 people received eye examinations which were funded by this program, 5887 children were screened for amblyopia and other vision defects. These screenings resulted in 282 children referred to eye doctors for follow up. The nine Nursing Eye Care Consultants provided low vision assessments for 2909 people, CCTV Evaluations for 221 people and Diabetic Education for 195.

With regard to restoration of vision, 1467 pair of eyeglasses were purchased and The Division sponsored 2685 treatment/surgeries which prevented blindness and in many cases restored sight.

The Nursing Eye Care Consultants also participated in 33 events such as Health Fairs sponsored by Public and Private agencies/organizations.


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: http://qa.dhhs.state.nc.us/dsb/contacts/index.htm

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

CARE-LINE 1-800-622-7030 for access to a Spanish Interpreter


MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

How does The Future look to you? "Uncertain," "exciting," "bright," "depressing," and "frightening" are words sometimes used to describe The Future. Many factors influence how we view our future-some real and others imagined. We try to plan ahead for things that are likely to happen realizing that there will be many things that we must deal with as they happen.

Organizations must also look ahead and plan for The Future. One step that DSB took during the past year was to begin its Leadership Development Program. Fourteen people from DSB's direct service staff will complete the Program by the end of 2006. These people are demonstrating their desire to be ready to move into leadership roles as DSB prepares for a significant number of retirements during the next few years.

There has been much press about the Baby Boomers beginning to turn 60 this year. As we look at our future at DSB, we know that we need to prepare to serve more consumers with age-related vision loss. We also know that their needs will differ from previous generations. The Baby Boomers, for example, are accustomed to relying on computers and other technologies and will want to continue to do so after vision loss. At DSB we must know the latest technologies, how to use them, and how to train others to use them.

Often people who come to us with age-related vision loss describe their future as "depressing" or "frightening." Maybe they can no longer read or write print or drive so they believe they cannot correspond with family and friends, pay their own bills, shop, or travel on their own. At DSB we know that with the proper techniques, training, and technologies all of this and much more is possible. Our job is to help each person whom we serve see The Future as "bright," and "promising." The staff at DSB has knowledge to share, skills to teach, and a desire to reach every person who needs our services to help them meet the challenges of The Future!

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


NC DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND

STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL
2006-2007

Tom Winton, Chairman
NC Dept. of Public Instruction

Anita Heath-Cunningham,
Guilford County

Cheryl Whitley,
Wake County

Stacey Milbern,
Statewide Independent Living Council

Russ Stinehour,
Buncombe County

Kellie Hightower-Spruill,
Guilford County

Graham Watt,
NC Commission on Workforce Development

Angela McCants,
Exceptional Children Assistance Center

John T. Miller III,
Dare County

Kathy Brack,
Director, Client Assistance Program


Ex Officio

Debbie Jackson,
Director, Division of Services for the Blind

Sandy Foster,
DSB Rehabilitation Counselor-In-Charge,
Winston-Salem

 

top

State of North Carolina Home Page