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

Annual Report 2010

RAISING THE BAR!
State of North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services
DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
2010 ANNUAL REPORT

Our Mission
The mission of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is, in collaboration with our partners, to protect the health and safety of all North Carolinians and provide essential human services.

Since 1935, the mission of the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) has been to enable people who are blind or visually impaired to reach their goals of independence and employment.

The agency’s vision is to be known across North Carolina as the leader in providing employment and independent living services for people who are blind or visually impaired. 

Our Value Statement
1.  North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) values individuals who are blind or visually impaired; they are our reason for existence. Therefore, we will:

  • Treat each individual with respect, dignity, equality, and trust.
  • Support each individual’s right to reach his/her maximum potential.
  • Provide services of the highest quality to individuals.
  • Advocate for individuals and involve them in advocacy activities.

2. We value all staff as our greatest resource. Therefore, we will:

  • Treat all staff with respect, dignity, equality, and trust.
  • Make every effort to provide staff with the necessary resources to do their jobs, including a safe environment and supportive work atmosphere.
  • Provide staff with the opportunity to have input into the decision-making process and to exercise individual responsibility and professional autonomy.
  • Recognize and appreciate diversity.
  • Provide incentives to promote employee satisfaction, recognition, and employment longevity.
  • Provide opportunities for leadership development.

3. We value resources adequate to meet the needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Therefore, we will:

  • Promote accountability to maximize benefits for individuals.
  • Advocate maintaining a university training program for professionals in the area of visual impairment.
  • Seek new funding sources.

4. We value effective leadership. Therefore, we will:

  • Be responsible to the needs and the concerns of individuals and staff.
  • Promote open, clear, and honest communication throughout the agency.
  • Encourage creativity and flexibility at all levels of the agency.
  • Promote public awareness of people who are blind or visually impaired and provide DSB services to meet their needs and enhance their abilities.
  • Develop and disseminate policies that are clear, fair, and consistently applied.
  • Advocate for appropriate technology that will enable agency-wide communication.

Message from Beth A. Butler, Chairperson
State Rehabilitation Council

As Chairperson of the State Rehabilitation Council for the North Carolina Commission for the Blind, I am privileged to present the 2010 Annual Report of the Council and the Commission.

Robert H. Waterman, author and expert on management practices once said, “Organizations exist only for one purpose: to help people reach greater ends together than they could achieve individually.”

Director, Eddie Weaver and his staff at the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (NC DSB) are a perfect example of that kind of organization.  Despite unprecedented unemployment rates, the hard work and commitment of the team at NC DSB, “raised the bar” and increased the number of successful placements by 28% in 2010.

The following pages describe the various programs and services available through the DSB that empower us to continue fulfilling our mission of enabling people who are blind or visually impaired to reach their goals of independence, employment and successful transition – “raising the bar” in their own lives – both personally and professionally.

Together, we truly can support those North Carolinians who are blind or visually impaired achieve more as consumers of our programs than they could achieve individually.  When NC DSB consumers become independent and employed, North Carolina wins!!

-Beth A. Butler, SRC Chairperson


Message from Eddie Weaver, Director
North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind

This year’s theme is “Raising the Bar”, and as I think of this theme, I believe it means that we raise the level of our accomplishments one step at a time.  Many of the consumers you will see featured in this report have continued to “raise the bar” in their personal lives by obtaining more independence through our Independent Living service programs, or by achieving competitive employment through our Rehabilitation programs. 

In a year that has seen unemployment continue at a high rate, our staff has accomplished a 28 percent increase in the number of successful placements over last year.  The bar was raised, and the staff stepped up to that challenge.  Consumers were able to take advantage of the American Reinvestment Recovery Act (ARRA) funds and other services to help them meet their goals and outcomes.  Consumers were offered multiple services, and by accepting these services, the bar was raised and they achieved that next level of success.  Mary E. Switzer, the Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services 1950, stated “It’s not what you have lost that matters, but what you have left that counts”.  In these pages, you will find consumers who have taken what counts most in their lives and raised the bar to meet their personal challenges.

-Eddie Weaver , Director, Division of Services for the Blind


Vocational Rehabilitation Services

People with blindness or visual impairment who want to go or return to work may be eligible for DSB-Vocational Rehabilitation (DSB-VR) services.  These individuals can choose from an array of programs and services that best suit their individual vocational needs with the DSB support and assistance provided by our Vocational and Transitional Rehabilitation Counselors, Business Services Representatives, Community Employment Specialists, Rehabilitation Engineers, Assistive Technology Specialists, Vocational Evaluators and Rehabilitation Center staff, as well as specialists to support and assist those with both blindness and hearing loss.

DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Results

In Fiscal Year 2010, DSB-VR served 3,248 people, an increase of 3% over the previous fiscal year.  Of these, 592 reached their employment objectives.  Of these individuals, 97% had earnings at or in excess of the minimum wage and of those, 87% were determined to be individuals with significant disabilities.  The average wage earner had $10.98 per hour in income.  Their employment generated approximately $9.8 million in earned income returned to the economy, and at a 20% rate approximately $2 million in income taxes paid.  This also resulted in approximately $1.5 million paid in Social Security taxes. 


Business Development and Placement Services

In 2010, the Division commemorated the 10th anniversary of its business development initiative, DSB Business ServicesIts purpose was to initiate a “dual customer approach” to vocational rehabilitation services recognizing that DSB job candidates and businesses in our communities are all customers of our Division.  In addition, the initiative was to identify and place individuals into competitive employment who would not get jobs without direct involvement of DSB professional staff with business.   

In Fiscal Year 2010, 592 people entered wage earning employment; 92 entered employment as a result of DSB-VR dual service, direct involvement with job candidates and employers through DSB Business Services, reflecting a 28% increase over those placed in the previous reporting period.  Most had blindness or significant disability, and they averaged $10.18 per hour in earnings--a 5.7% wage increase over the previous year-- and averaged 30 hours of work per week.


Brandon Boswell Receives Sam Walton Hero’s Award from Sam’s Club
ADA celebrates 20 years; Brandon Boswell celebrates life.

Brandon Boswell may seem as unlikely hero to some.  His recognition as such is not for saving a life, but rather for the example he sets in the way he lives his own.

Brandon was honored July 21, 2010 by Sam’s Club top executives at a luncheon at the warehouse retailer’s Arkansas headquarters.  He was presented the Sam Walton Hero Award for recognition of his service, compassion and advocacy for people with disabilities.

He was recognized during the employee-focused celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The event was held at the corporate offices in Bentonville, Ark.  As Brandon tells it, his recognition was focused on his role as an associate of Sam’s Club.

Brandon started his employment at the Jacksonville, N.C., warehouse membership club as a product demonstrator.  Although he is vision impaired defined as an individual who is legally blind – he is more than capable of holding the floor most anywhere.  His ease with speaking is boosted by the three books he has self-published on Christian humor. 

Upon receiving the Sam’s Club award, Brandon made a few comments.  “I told the audience I was honored to receive the award, and that I was proud to work for a company that chooses not to focus on all the things I can’t do because I am disabled, but instead, they choose to focus on the things I can do despite having a disability.”

Brandon says the recognition from his employer is the culmination of several months of corporate attention.  He spoke in October, 2009 to fellow employees in Jacksonville about being an employee with a disability. “I must have spoken for 20 minutes.  I got a good reception,” he said.  “I mixed in a few jokes.”

A corporate video crew arrived at the store last May “to interview me and to talk to my coworkers, basically talk about that despite my being disabled, I still work hard and serve an important function in the store,” he said.
Brandon’s ability to communicate and put fellow employees at ease led to an invitation from his employer’s corporate offices to visit San Francisco and some of the touchstones of the ADA movement going back more than 30 years.  Brandon went.  He was accompanied by his store manager, Scott Williams, and by Kim Joyner, his rehabilitation counselor who works out of the Wilmington District office for the Division of Services for the Blind.

I have been a rehabilitation counselor for 22 years, and this has never happened before”, Joyner said.”  “It was a lot of work and traveling, and it was wonderful.”

Following the trips to California and Arkansas, in August, Brandon’s employer flew him and his counselor to Orlando, Fla.  There he spoke to an annual meeting of store managers while the retailer observed the 20th anniversary of ADA with a celebration of the year of inclusion of people with disabilities.

He spoke to three different groups of managers about what it is like to work with a disability,” Joyner said. “And he shone!  He said, ‘Just give us a chance.  We have a lot to offer.”’

Brandon is back on the job after all the attention, and is in training for a new position at the Jacksonville store.  He is preparing to be an attendant at outdoor fuel pumps, and he also will be encouraging new memberships in the merchandising chain.

I am positive that not only Sam’s Club, but other employers as well will in some way be positively impacted by their exposure to Brandon and information about the world of persons with disability,” Joyner said.  “I think more of our consumers will be hired in the future ---because their eyes will have seen disability in a brand new light.”

-Jim Jones, DHHS Public Affairs


Supported Employment

Supported Employment facilitates competitive work in integrated work settings for individuals with the most significant disabilities.  It is for individuals who competitive employment has not been successful due to the nature and severity of their disability.  They will need long term support services in order to perform their job. Supported employment provides assistance such as job coaches, assistive technology, specialized job training, and individually tailored supervision.

Supported employment is a way to move people from dependence on a service delivery system to independence via competitive employment. Recent studies indicate that the provision of long term support services for people with severe disabilities significantly increases their rates for employment retention.  Supported employment encourages people to work within their communities and encourages work, social interaction, and integration.

The DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Program contracts with 15 private non-profit Community Rehabilitation Programs to provide intensive and on-going services to individuals with the most significant disabilities to achieve competitive employment.  Services include assessment, direct job placement, intensive individualized on-site job training, and long term follow-up on the job site with the individuals and the employer to ensure a good job match and job retention. 

DSB Supported Employment Results

  • 8 individuals referred for supported employment services
  • 59 individuals received services in situational assessments, job development, placement, job coaching and training
  • 10 individuals received extended services
  • 10 individuals were placed in competitive, integrated employment
  • 10 retaining successful employments through the Supported Employment Services

Work Adjustment

DSB created a work adjustment program using ARRA funds to assist individuals in developing work skills, work habits, and job retention skills required to obtain and maintain employment.  The services are purchased from Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) accredited by a public authority or professional organization (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, Council on Accreditation, or the Council on Quality Leadership).  It is an outcome–based program involving a brief situational assessment, work adjustment plan development, job placement services and job coaching services.  Individuals participating in the work adjustment program do not require on-going support services, such as those needed with individuals participating in supported employment.

Work adjustment training is a vocational rehabilitation (VR) service that can be provided during an eligible individual’s rehabilitation program to assist the individual.  Work adjustment training includes activities to improve and increase productivity, attendance, punctuality, ability to work with others, ability to work under supervision, and work tolerance.

Work Adjustment Program Results

  • 10 individuals were referred to ARRA Work Adjustment Program
  • 2 individuals in the Work Adjustment Program have been placed in employment

Transition Services

Transition refers to change in status from behaving primarily as a student to assuming emergent adult roles in the community.  These roles include participating in post-secondary education, employment, maintaining a home, becoming appropriately involved in the community, experiencing satisfactory personal and social relationships.

A Transition Plan must be included in the student’s Individualized Employment Plan (IEP) no later than age 16 years but can start as early as 14years. It should include the following:

  • Employment (integrated employment including supported employment)
  • Post-Secondary Education (continuing adult education and vocational Training)
  • Residential (independent living)
  • Recreation/Leisure (community partnerships)

Students and their parents need to be involved in the planning for their future after school, and family support is crucial to the student’s success in meeting their post-secondary goals.

A DSB VR Counselor can begin working with students as early as age 14 to help them explore the world of work and identify career interests. Skill and educational requirements along with future job availability are explored. Activities such as visiting employers where someone does the job that interests them, working side-by-side with someone in this career, or doing volunteer work are other options.

Students planning to continue their education after high school receive assistance from a DSB VR Counselor in finding a school that will prepare them for their job goal. The Counselor can also help the student identify financial resources that could cover part or all of the costs of the training, and may include financial assistance from DSB. The need for services such as readers or technology is also assessed. The counselor continues to work with the student throughout their post secondary program to assure success.
Students planning to go to work after high school receive assistance in job exploration, job seeking, job development, and placement from the DSB Community Employment Specialist and counselor. If the students needs extra one-one assistance, a specialized job seeking and training program, supported employment, is available to help.

DSB offered its summer transition programs in 2010 through the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Raleigh which included the World of Work (WOW) Internship program, Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to Visually Impaired Youth Program (SAVVY), and College Prep program. The WOW program provided paid internships in jobs which the student expressed an interest.  The SAVVY provided an opportunity to explore career interests as well as take specialized classes in areas such as Braille, safe travel, technology, and daily living skills. The College Prep program included topics such as how to be better advocates for themselves including visits to a disability service office both at a four year college and a community college, introduced to various forms of Assistive Technology that could be useful to them while in college, received information about different learning styles and study skills, as well introduction to some daily living skills needed to survive in a dorm setting.

Students in DSB Transition Programs who stayed in their home communities also had opportunities to participate in local WOW internships, Transition Mini-Centers and recreation programs.

The local WOW programs provided internships and located summer jobs for the students in occupations as diverse as working in a local radio station to doing automobile detailing.

The transition mini-centers held in the student’s home communities are collaboration between Transition staff and the Independent living staff with assistance from Orientation & Mobility staff and Assistive Technology personnel.  The program included basic cooking, which included developing a shopping list and the purchase of the food and preparation, budgeting, doing laundry, use of public transportation systems, and information about self advocacy.

The summer recreation programs included activities such as learning to kayak, canoeing, camping trips, horseback riding and rock wall climbing.

The goal of the transition program is work with the student as early as is possible to assist them in the development of a career path of their choice and to be successful in reaching their goal of competitive, integrated employment.

Transition Coordinators

DSB established two full time positions to provide outreach and consulting services to high schools in rural counties utilizing ARRA funds. These positions provide information about the transition services available to students who are blind or visually impaired through presentations and individual meetings with school staff, parents and students. The coordinators identify students who may be eligible and could benefit from the services. They also provide consulting services to the schools concerning issues related to the Transition Program.

The goals are:  to increase the awareness with the school systems, parents and students the benefits of transition services provided by the Division; increase the number of students receiving transition services from the Division; and to increase the number of high school students, who are blind or visually impaired, to make a successful move into the world of work either directly or after post secondary education.

DSB Transition Services Results

  • Total Students (14-21) active with DSB -   343
  • Formal agreement with schools-  15
  • Students active in Transition programs with formal agreements-   212
  • Students worked in summer  jobs and internships in home community-  62
  • Students attended summer programs in home community-  34
  • Students identified by coordinators as not receiving transition services-  87

Deaf Blind Program

For over 30 years the DSB has had a formal commitment to effectively serve individuals with hearing and vision loss.  The program’s goals include improving vocational outcomes and quality of life for persons with hearing and vision.  Five Deaf-Blind specialists provide services to consumers across 100 counties.  During the last fiscal year, the Deaf/blind Program served over all referrals made to the program.

All services provided by the specialist are designed to allow recipients to achieve their maximum potential through obtaining suitable employment or maintaining independence in the home.  The role of the specialist involves advocacy, consultation, assessment, technical support, service coordination, training, outreach and more.

The onset of hearing and vision loss can be overwhelming, but DSB is helping individuals find hope through the services it provides.  Below you will find several such stories of lives that have been changed.

A Confident Man
Leonard Suggs is a 24 year old man who has a hearing and a vision loss, wants to become employed and live independently.  Currently, he lives with his sister and babysits her two children. 

When Leonard first came to DSB for help in finding employment, his resume was sloppy, his job interview skills were poor, and job application was vague.  Leonard was unclear and rambled through his first mock interview.  He would pause for an uncomfortable amount of time to think how he would answer the question.  His work history had a large time lapse and when asked to fill in the time gaps between college and job history, he became confused.  A The Deaf/Blind Specialist worked with him to think through his work history and polish his answers.  They reviewed appropriate responses as they went through each question.  As Leonard thought more about how to answer the questions, the more he wrote more appropriate responses.  With much practice, Leonard’s last mock interview was much improved!  He did not hesitate to answer any question precisely with no gaps of confusion.  He was much more confident and polished with his answers.

At first, Leonard’s completed job application was confusing and incomplete.  His writing was difficult to read and some of the questions were not answered.  The specialist reviewed his job applications and explored with him appropriate answers to a variety of questions.  Leonard eventually learned to take his time filling out the application and to use clearer handwriting.  Now Leonard’s job applications which cannot be completed on line are easily read by the employer.

After much practice, Leonard is now ready to seek employment as a customer service representative.  He presents an efficient job application and professional looking resume with a list of references available to prospective employers.  Leonard is now confident and not confused during an interview.  Leonard is job ready and on the road to a more independent life.    

-Kim Harrell, Deaf Blind Specialist


Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Evaluation Unit

The North Carolina Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (RCB) and the Evaluation Unit are located on the campus of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.  Services focus on in-depth, comprehensive and individualized assessments of rehabilitation needs and identification of services required. Consumers are eligible to take advantage of specialized vocational evaluations and training, work readiness skills, low vision and assistive technology assessments and training in the use of adaptive equipment, psychological testing and safe travel skills training among others. Enhanced components of the recreation therapy services include leisure education and community awareness and integration.


DSB Evaluation Unit Results

The Evaluation Unit provided a total of:

  • Total consumers reporting-  98
  • Comprehensive evaluations-  79
  • Small Business/Stand evaluations (BEP)-  7
  • College evaluations-  9
  • Psychological evaluations-  3

DSB Rehabilitation Center Results

  • 87  VR and ILR eligible individuals received adjustment to blindness training
  • 67 eligible individuals were provided specialized training in Assistive Technology ( Jaws, Zoom Text,); and
  • 29 high school students were provided transitional services through the Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to Visually Impaired Youth (SAVVY) College Prep, Transition and World of Work (WOW) programs.

Technology Support Services at the center also provided technical assistance, information, demonstrations and tours for visitors to the Technology Center throughout the year.


Renovation Project at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind

In September 2010, renovations began to the Rehab Center that will include remodeling of the restrooms, building a fully accessible restroom, installing new water fountains and replacing of all exterior windows with energy efficient and glare resistant panes. The project is expected to be completed by December of 2010.

Acquisitions

The Technology Resource Center acquired current state of the art assistive technology including Braille displays, digital recorders, portable and desktop video magnifiers and scanning systems.

Collaborations

During the 2010 Savvy Programs, a variety of workshops were provided to build character and equip the teens with the life skills they’ll need to successfully transition into young adulthood. Workshops were led by several of our DSB staff as well as a number of guest speakers from community agencies including Interact of Wake County (domestic violence prevention agency), SouthLight (drug and alcohol prevention agency), Wake Teen (Wake Co. health agency for teens), UNC Charlotte B.E.S.T. program (Building Education Strength and Talents), Affirmation Through Art, Guiding Eyes (Guide Dog Presentation), Acting Out and Drum for Change.

Additionally, the RCB has been selected to serve as a field test site for the American Printing House for the Blind.  The APH Braille Beads product is in the final stages of development, and the prototype is in the process of being evaluated and refined.  The purpose of the product is to develop motor skills, sorting skills, and design concepts, and may be used to introduce sighted individuals to Braille as well as provide individuals who have visual impairment or blindness with a way to produce signature jewelry.  Research is expected to be completed by December 31, 2010.


Assistive Technology (AT) Services

The Division of Services for the Blind provides assistive technology services in the local offices in addition to assistive technology training services available through the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and low vision services provided through the Low Vision Specialist and the Nurse Eye Care Consultants.  Services involve software and hardware to allow computer use for a person who is blind or who has low vision, closed circuit televisions (CCTV)/video magnifiers that allow individuals with low vision to read printed material, Braille output and embossing equipment, note taking devices such as Braille Notes, and other devices that enable an individual to obtain and maintain employment or to live more independently.   Services are provided through a Rehabilitation Engineer located in Raleigh, six Assistive Technology Consultants located in the field offices outside of Raleigh, and four field Assistive Technology Instructors located in Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Wilmington.  The enhanced growth in available technology as well as technology needs of today’s job market, these staff must stay on top of the “latest and greatest”.  This requires them to attend conferences such as the annual Assistive Technology Expo, to maintain good relationships with vendors and manufacturers, and to stay on top of medical information about blindness and visual impairments.  

Services are mainly provided to individuals served by DSB VR, but staff also serves individuals referred by the ILR Program.  The AT Instructors can work with referrals from the ILS Program.   

Last year, 541 individuals from DSB VR were provided with services that included:

  • Job analysis and job modifications
  • Post-secondary school evaluations
  • Assistive technology evaluations and recommendations for purchase of devices
  • Set-up, delivery, introductory instructions, minor repair and adjustment of equipment
  • Design of unique systems required to suit individual needs
  • Consultation with schools and employers and their IT departments regarding necessary accommodations
  • Presentations to DSB VR and other staff regarding new AT products

Business Enterprises Program

  • For the state fiscal year 2010, gross sales for the Business Enterprises Program are $11,403,684, compared to $11,227,800 for 2009.  
  • There are currently 75 Business Enterprises operators statewide with an average annual income of $39,500.  
  • A total of seven new operators were trained and awarded facilities during this year.
  • New facilities have been established at the Randolph County visitors Center, the US Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center in Raleigh and the US Coast Guard Support Center in Elizabeth City.  
  • ARRA funds were available to provide upgrades in vending equipment to the Business Enterprises facility in Greene County, and a major renovation was completed at the Administration Building in Raleigh.

The Randolph County visitor center and the Postal location in Raleigh are total vending facilities while the US Coast Guard Support Center is a full food service military dining contract.  As the Fort Bragg military feeding contract was awarded to the Business Enterprises Program in September, 2009, there are now two of these type facilities operated by program operators.  

  • With the addition of these new facilities, there are now 80 Business Enterprises locations statewide.

In addition to these new program opportunities, a large total vending facility is scheduled to open at Fort Bragg in September of 2011 as the Armed Forces Command Center (FORSCOM) and the U.S. Army Reserve Command center (USARC) will be relocated from Fort McPherson, Georgia to Fort Bragg as part of the national base realignment and closure plan. The new FORSCOM headquarters will house more than 1700 personnel, and is approximately 700,000 square feet in size.


Independent Living Rehabilitation Program 

The purpose of the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (ILR) is to provide services and support to help maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence and productivity of individuals with significant disabilities and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with significant disabilities into the mainstream of American society.  

The ILR program serves all 100 counties in North Carolina.  Independent living rehabilitation counselors (ILRCs) are the case managers for individuals receiving services from this program.  The 16 ILRCs work out of the seven district offices.  The specialized and individualized services of the independent living rehabilitation program can be provided in-home, through programs available at the Rehabilitation Center, and in small community-based sites called mini centers.  Referrals for ILR services are accepted from all DSB programs.

Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind

Services are provided for the individual aged 55 or older whose severe visual impairment makes competitive employment extremely difficult to obtain, but for whom independent living goals are feasible. 

The available services include, but are not limited to:

  • information and referral services;
  • diagnostic and assessment services;
  • adjustment to vision loss counseling;
  • extensive independent living skills training, detailed instruction
  • provided over an extended period, such as kitchen safety and meal
  • preparation, as  opposed to basic skills training that can be completed with minimal instruction, such as pouring or marking appliances; and
  • advocacy.

The ILR program also uses the expertise of Social Workers for the Blind, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, Nurse Eye Care Consultants, Deaf Blind Specialists, Assistive Technology Specialist and Instructors and DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors to provide a variety of services that empower individuals to reach their independent living rehabilitation goals.

ILR Results for 2010

  • 1482 eligible individuals served
  • 517 eligible individuals rehabilitated
  • 34 mini-centers have been held
  • 391 eligible individuals attending mini-centers

 


Independent Living Services Program

Services are available to individuals with a severe visual impairment whose ability to function independently in the family or community or whose ability to obtain, maintain or advance in employment is substantially limited.  The delivery of independent living services can improve the individual’s ability to function or move toward functioning independently in the family or community.

The Independent Living Services Program served 4,841 people in the last fiscal year,and they received one or more of the following services: 

  • Adjustment to blindness services;
  •  Health support services;
  •  Family adjustment services;
  •  Employment and training referral and assistance; and
  •  Housing and home improvement referral and assistance.

Independent Living Services Results for 2010

  • 182 people received In-Home Aide Services for the Blind which enabled them to continue living in their homes and communities.
  • 1,740 clients received specialized Orientation and Mobility Services and were able to travel about more safely and with greater independence.
  • 74 people who reside in domiciliary care facilities received Special Assistance for the Blind every month.  
  • $545.00 was the average monthly payment for rest home clients.

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 4,081 people received financial assistance with medical services through the Medical Eye Care Program this year.  This total includes these results:

  • 2,626 people received eye examinations
  • 1,455children were screened for amblyopia and other vision defects 
  • 132 children were referred to eye doctors for follow up
  • 709 pairs of eyeglasses were purchased, and
  • 4,446 treatments and surgeries to prevent blindness or to restore vision were sponsored.

DSB has eight Nursing Eye Care Consultants that provide services in all 100 counties.  This year, they provided:

  • 2,613 people with low vision assessments;
  • 138 people with  CCTV Evaluation; and
  • 287 people with Diabetic Education.

The Nursing Eye Care Consultants participated in nine health fairs sponsored by public and private organizations and other events to provide outreach to all North Carolinians. 


NC Division of Services for the Blind 2010 State Rehabilitation Council

Beth Butler, Chairperson, Business/Industry/Labor
Allen Casey, Vice Chairperson, Disability Advocacy Group
Graham Watt, Workforce Development
Anita Heath-Cunningham, Parent Representative
Tommy Jenkins, Business/Industry/Labor
Julie Kagy, Department of Public Instruction
Ruth Haines, Statewide Independent Living Council
Kathy Brack, Director, Client Assistance Program
Kim Lambert, Representative of Vocational Rehabilitation participants
Richard Oliver, Community Rehabilitation Program Service Provider
Terri Meyer, Parent Training and Information Center

Ex Officio

Eddie Weaver, Director, Division of Services for the Blind
Erica Nail, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Representative,


Consumer Satisfaction Survey

Each year the Rehabilitation Council, with assistance from DSB, conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed vocational rehabilitation programs for the fiscal year.  There were 925 surveys mailed and 209 returned completed. 

Here is what participants had to say:

  • DSB staff treated you with courtesy and respect most or all the time – 97.1%
  • Telephone calls were returned the same or next day – 95.2%
  • Appointments scheduled as soon as participant thought as they should be, most or all of the time – 93.8%
  • Counselor and consumer discussed options together, then participant chose the job goal – 68.4%
  • Decisions about planned services were jointly made -86.1%
  • Overall rating of experience with the Division as good, most or all the time – 97.6%

Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment

The State Rehabilitation Council authorized the Division to conduct a Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment in 2009.  The contract was awarded to East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.  The Assessment was prepared by Steven R. Sligar, Ed. D., Shirley B. Madison, MA, MA, and Min J. Kim, MS, and the final report was received in April, 2010. 

Following is a synopsis of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment and its recommendations:
Numerous people were involved in this comprehensive needs assessment (CNA): most importantly the 221 people who participated in the surveys, interviews, and focus groups.  Different service needs and barriers were indentified, but the most frequent needs mentioned by most people can be summarized as the three Ts: transportation, technology and training.  The Ts were issues for all respondents except those from community rehabilitation programs (CRP) and disability navigators (DN).  There were numerous suggestions for improving DSB services with the primary suggestion being to increase funding (for the 3 Ts).  Other suggestions were to reduce administrative barriers (eligibility for services, paper work), better inform target audiences (medical personnel) and improve outreach to minority communities.  The participant data were combined with a review of the literature to formulate the following summary and recommendations. Employment and transportation recommendations are made at two levels: client and systemic.

Demographic Trends
NC’s population is 9.2 million (10th in the country).  The population continues to grow with an expected increase in international immigration resulting in greater numbers and percentages of minorities, with greater growth in the Hispanic population.  North Carolina will experience the 18th largest net international immigration gain in the country.

Recommendation- DSB needs to plan for an increase in applications from minority groups including international immigrants.  This planning needs to include serving people with disabilities with and without documentation as well as modifying practice for communicating service availability to these groups.

Underserved and Not Served Populations
A gross estimate of people who are not receiving services is based on the approximately 110,000 people in North Carolina (over 40) who have a vision loss.  In 2009, the DSB served 3,150 clients.  This indicates potential demand far in excess of available services.  A similar need is demonstrated by the 286 cases closed status 08 (2009).  When this number is removed from those served, there are approximately 2,800 known clients who applied for services and were not served or underserved.

Recommendation - DSB needs to target the medical community and educate them about DSB services via seminars, lectures in medical schools, and workshops of special interests such as new therapies, treatment protocols, or technology.

Recommendation– DSB needs to better communicate information on available services to target groups including older individuals and minorities.

Recommendation - Internally, DSB needs to educate social workers and independent living counselors about eligibility and services offered through vocational rehabilitation.

Prevalence and Trends in Vision Loss
There are 154,566 people in North Carolina who are 18 and older and experience a vision loss, a figure that represents 2.54% of the population. The leading cause of vision loss in NC is diabetic retinopathy, which disproportionately affects White females, ages 40 and over.  Other risk high risk groups include: Blacks for open angle glaucoma and Whites (male and female) for myopia, cataracts, and hyperopia.

Recommendation - At risk groups need specific and targeted information on functional limitations, specific plans for case management, issues for counseling, and suggested medical interventions.

Employment Outcomes
The economy and resultant job loss has adversely affected DSB clients from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Recommendation- Assist clients to develop personal marketing skills to include career identification job choice, job getting, and job keeping skills.  Greater use of vocational evaluations, career counseling and portfolios are possible approaches to these problems.

Recommendation - Collaborate with Regional Workforce Development Boards, Chambers of Commerce and other organizations to increase the number and awareness of jobs available for clients.

Recommendation - Disability Navigators need a “train the trainer on blindness” to enable them to act as advocates for clients who enter the JobLink system.

Transportation
Five different types of transportation are provided by each county. On paper, limited services are available for all citizens; however, reports of user experiences indicate real world transportation services are often limited or inconsistent.  Limited schedules and low ridership, especially in rural areas, jeopardize the ability of these systems to meet client needs.

Recommendation- DSB needs to collect information on available transportation and costs from each county for distribution to clients.

Recommendation- DSB needs to advocate at the county and state level to improve portal to portal transportation services.

Current and Needed Programs
Current service programs are well utilized; however, there is an expressed need for expansion of services to minorities and those with additional disabilities.  There is also an expressed need to increase the use of community rehabilitation programs (CRPs).

Recommendation - Consider increasing referrals and service contracts with community rehabilitation programs.

General Recommendations
These recommendations address multiple issues that include clients who are not served, underserved, minorities, have multiple disabilities and/or from rural areas.

Strategic recommendations - Outreach to various constituencies via language-appropriate materials.  One suggestion is to hold topical seminars (e.g., living with macular degeneration or tips on managing your diabetes) in local communities. Another is to host mini-center activities in various locations (e.g. churches, civic centers) with sponsorship and promotion from grass root constituencies. These activities need to be targeted to a specific group (i.e. racial—Blacks or Hispanics in rural areas, disability— screen reader users, age of onset—advanced macular degeneration).

Communication recommendations - DSB needs to provide information through various media regarding services that are available for people with a vision loss who are not totally blind. There appears to be a misperception among some constituents that DSB services are only for those who are totally blind.

Recommendations in the Report are being addressed by DSB in its State Plan, and other recommendations will be addressed in future State Plans. 


HOW TO CONTACT DSB

Office of the Director: (919) 733-9822
Aids and Appliances: (919) 715-0249
Business Enterprises Program: (919) 733-9703
Communications Unit (Produces Materials in Alternate Format for Blind and Visually Impaired):  (919) 715-2436
Evaluation Unit: (919) 733-4281 Voice/TTY
Independent Living Services: (919) 733-9744
Medical Eye Care Program: (919) 733-9744
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind: (919) 733-5897
Rehabilitation Services: (919) 733-9700 Voice/TTY

Community Rehabilitation Program
Deaf/Blind Services
Independent Living Rehabilitation
Supported Employment Services
Rehabilitation Engineer

Technology Resource Center: (919) 733-5897
CARE-LINE 1-800-622-7030 for access to a Spanish Interpreter
Website: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dsb/

District Offices
Asheville
50 South French Broad Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 251-6732 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1881

Charlotte
5855 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28212
(704) 563-4168 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1895

Fayetteville
225 Green Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 486-1582 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1897

Greenville
404 St. Andrews Drive
Greenville, NC 27834
(252) 355-9016 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1877

Raleigh
309 Ashe Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27606
(919) 733-4234 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1871

Wilmington
3240 Burnt Mill Road, Suite 7
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 251-5743Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1884

Winston-Salem
4265 Brownsboro Road, Suite 100
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
(336) 896-2227 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-0373

 

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