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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

March 11, 2005

Call to Order and Invocation

Chairman, Tim Jones, called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind to order at 1:10 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2005.  Invocation was offered by Ms. Hazel Staley.   The following members were present:  Tim Jones, David Alexander, Hazel Staley, Ron Eller, and Tom Winton

Members Not Present:  Linda Lewis, Brian Lewis, Jim Shuart, Steve Walker, Jennifer Talbot, Bill Apple, and Representative Verla Insko

Others Present:  Debbie Jackson, Francine Martin, Pat Robbins, Jim Boehm, Cyndie Bennett, and Carla Parker

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of December 10, 2004.

Report of Entities

North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—Francine Martin

State Library Administration

The NCLBPH is a branch of the State Library of North Carolina.  State Librarian Sandra Cooper has resigned her position.  The position will be advertised nationally.  Until the position is filled, the two Section Chiefs and the Assistant State Librarian for Information Technology will share the State Librarian responsibilities. 

Assistant State Librarian, Chief Operating Officer, Juedi Kleindienst, has announced she is applying for long-term disability and will not be returning to work.  

Denise Sigmon, Section Chief for Library Services to whom the LBPH Regional Librarian reports, will continue to serve as Section Chief and will have final authority within the State Library for internal operating decisions.  We look forward to her continued support of LBPH services.

Budget

The Governor’s continuation budget includes an increase for LBPH funding.  The increase would cover the rent for the annex now housing the braille collection, increases in utilities, increases in automation costs, a new telephone system for LBPH including voice-mail option (so users may leave a message when our lines are busy), and a card access security system for the main LBPH building.  

Digital Books Updates from NLS

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is providing monthly updates on the progress towards digital books in a new publication entitled FLASH.  The contents of the newsletters will be included in each issue of the bimonthly catalogs, Talking Book Topics and Braille Book Review.  The newsletter is also available on the NLS website, www.loc.gov/nls/ .  To view then follow the first link, “What’s New” then select the “Flash, News, and Updates” link. 

The January issue discusses downloadable books and magazines.  Five states’ LBPHs have contracted with commercial audiobook vendors to allow a limited number of their patrons access to downloadable books.  They are testing to determine accessibility issues of the general commercial equipment and software.   NLS has only their staff participating in the project.  

One year ago, NLS began a web magazine pilot project.  Nearly 50 patrons across the nation are testing the system, which makes available on the web three audio magazines: U.S. News and World Report, Smart Computing, and selected issues of People.   The test patrons can download either the entire magazine or select articles to download either to their computer or to a commercially available player capable of playing digital talking books.

NLS plans to have 20,000 book titles and a wide selection of magazines in digital format available to users by 2008.  In the meantime, they are testing commercial and NLS-developed online products to ensure the best options are selected for widespread use beginning late in 2007.  

Realizing that efficient downloading of digital books requires high-speed Internet access, the books available for downloading will also be available in the flash-memory card digital format for circulation to all library users.  The flash-memory card format has now been officially selected.  The flash memory card is durable and can be reused thousands of times.  The playback equipment has no moving parts, so will endure mailing and require less repair than CD or tape players.  More information on the digital planning and projects is available on the NLS website and in the NLS News, a monthly publication available on the NLS website and in all braille and tape and print formats by subscription through NCLBPH.

NCLBPH Staffing

  • Clay Griffith began work February 7, 2005 as our new Reader Advisor.  He fills the position vacated when Terry Jackson retired.   Both toll-free lines should be fully staffed most days again by mid-March.
  • We are still searching for a Circulation Unit Supervisor.   The position is being advertised for the third time.  It has been vacant since December 1, 2004.   Various LBPH staff continue to assist as needed in the Circulation Unit to ensure delays in service rarely occur.
  • Wallace (Teddy) Griffith, Magazine Specialist, retired December 31, 2004.  His position is currently being studied to better meet needs of the library prior to advertising.  

Machine Unit Progress and Self-Audit

  • The Machine Unit has been fully staffed now for 4 months and has caught up on the backlog of machines to be repaired. 
  • The Machine Unit staff has almost completed a self-audit as recommended by the National Library Service.  A random sampling of 50 machines was selected.  If the machine is out to a patron, the patron is contacted and asked to verify the serial number if possible.
  • Once the self-audit is completed, the Machine Unit will begin work on verifying our database inventory of machines with the national machine inventory database called BPHICS.   NCLBPH maintains records for more than 14000 machines, most in the hands of patrons.   The BPHICS reconciliation project will ensure the national database of machine inventory accurately reflects the machine status as shown in our database.  This project is also recommended by the National Library Service.   This project will not require any patron contact.

KLAS Conference

The Keystone Library Automation Software (KLAS) annual conference is being held in Raleigh on March 16-19 this year.  The software was developed from specifications provided by NCLBPH in the early 1980s.  Now more than half the states are using the software.  Having the conference in Raleigh allows many NCLBPH staff to attend, have input on the software development, and meet and network with staff from other LBPHs across the country.  

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction—Tom Winton

American Printing House for the Blind—DPI is in the process of its annual registration of legally blind students throughout the State.  This registration determines the federal quota funds that are received for buying instructional materials for students.   So far this fiscal year, 130 separate orders have been processed. 

3rd Annual NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness- Approximately 200 professional throughout North Carolina are attended this conference.  DPI contracted with the keynote speaker, Dr. Abraham Nemeth

Summer Institute for Teachers—July 25-29—Susan Osterhaus, Texas School for the Blind, will be present to talk about teaching math to students who are visually-impaired. 

Annual Conference from the Exceptional Children’s Division will be held November 7-8, 2005,  in Greensboro, NC.  Approximately 3,000 educators are expected. 

Mr. Winton is serving on the APH Educational Products Advisory Committee. 

IDEA, Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act, was reauthorized in December and is now called Individual’s with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.  One provision is the establishment of a national file format for textbooks—National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, which is one file format that all textbooks must follow and submitted electronically. 

New licensure standards have been submitted to the State Board of Education for teachers of visually-impaired. 

NC Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

The 3rd Annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness is currently underway on the campus of the Governor Morehead School.  Appreciation was expressed to the BE Operators for their conference input in raising money and purchasing snacks.   

DSB sponsored a speaker for the conference—Ms. Silvana Rainey, Assistive Technology Specialist, conducted 4 sessions during the conference.  Ms. Rainey was able to demonstrate pretty much every device relating to technology/blindness and answered many questions.

Federal Legislation

The House of Representatives has passed its bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act including the VR Act—HR 27.  There were possibilities for amendment to the bill during committee and floor debate that would have consolidated funding for nine job training programs including that of VR.  Due largely to the efforts of advocates, the amendment was not introduced at either point.

The House Bill has a great deal of language regarding additional emphasis on services to transition students.  It also changes the position of RSA Commissioner from an appointed one to one that would be hired by the Secretary of Education.  Because the RSA Commissioner is the highest level position that deals with services to people with disabilities, advocates view this as a very unfavorable move.

A Senate Bill has not gone to committee yet.  It is expected that their bill will be introduced in a few weeks and once passed a conference committee will work on the differences.

President’s Budget

The funding consolidation issue is also seen in President Bush’s budget.  This consolidated funding is seen as something that the administration wants very much.

Also in the President’s budget is a provision that would eliminate 50 to 60 positions, most of which are in RSA.  The plan would be to close down all RSA regional offices.  All RSA functions would be handled out of its Washington office.  It is our understanding that the President can take this step even if the provision outlined in his budget is not passed.  RSA seems to be moving ahead with plans to close the offices.

RSA Commissioner

In February, Commissioner JoAnne Wilson resigned her position at RSA effective March 1.  She has been replaced by Acting Commissioner Troy Justesen.

Governor Easley’s Budget

Although DSB’s Expansion Budget request progressed from the DHHS level to the Office of State Budget, the request was not included in the Governor’s Budget.  The request would have added case service money to the ILR case service budget as well as several positions that would have benefited ILR and VR consumers.

The good news is that no cuts were recommended for DSB in the Governor’s Budget.  Of course, the final outcome will not be known until the General Assembly has passed its budget.

DSB Radio Spots

In late March or early April, DSB will be airing two radio spots that will hopefully help to address the common observation that people don’t know DSB exist.  Our target stations will be those in rural areas, African American stations, and Spanish speaking stations.  The spots will be very general, hopefully, providing enough information for a person to make contact with us if they are having vision problems that impact their functioning at home or work.

Governor Morehead School—Cyndie Bennett

Cyndie Bennett distributed a list of events/accomplishments.  They include the following:

  • Completed SACS Accreditation 5 year renewal cycle in November 2004.
  • Kathy Davis, GMS Outreach Director (in partnership with Tom Winton of DPI and Alana Zambone of NCCU) presented to Southeast Regional Special Education Directors Meeting in November. 
  • K-12 staff have completed training in Learning Media Assessments and Functional Vision Assessments and are in the process of developing a Vision Room in Lineberry to be used for conducting clinical evaluations.
  • Capitol improvement money is forthcoming—priorities to be addressed are air conditioning systems and repairs to uneven, cracked sidewalks.
  • Staff participated in a Christmas “Giving Tree” project, donating over 100 items for children in the Wake County foster care system.
  • Currently considering acquiring a Tele-Medicine system to provide more access to physicians and to reduce absenteeism.  Using Tele-Medicine, students in the GMS Health Center can be evaluated by a physician in his/her office using medical equipment such as an ophthalmoscope (to view the eye) through a computer monitor.  (Currently, we have on-campus access to a physician only twice/week).
  • Students in the short-term program visited a NC Museum, the NC Legislative Building, and NC State University.  They also participated with the NC State PE Department in using a rock climbing wall, swimming, bowling, and golf.
  • The Orientation and Mobility instructors have approved for particular students to go off campus and practice their independent walking skills.  Students, transported by the Student Life Educational Aide, make weekly trips to Cary Towne Center and Crabtree Valley Mall.
  • The students enjoyed many holiday events, including shopping in the community to purchase Christmas gifts for parents and friends, visiting with Santa, attending The Christmas Carol at the BTI Center and Cinderella at Raleigh Little Theatre, and taking in a concert by the Seabreeze Singers.  They also had the opportunity to socialize at a New Year’s dance and a Valentine dinner and dance on campus. 
  • Congratulations are in order to the GMS cheerleaders and the wrestling team, who came in 1st and 2nd, respectively, (from a field of 6) in the Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind (EAAB) Tournament hosted by New York Institute for Special Education in Bronx, New York.
  • The Learning Center now has Internet service available on all computer stations as well as a new network printer so that students can print out their homework assignments from any computer in the center. 
  • The 2nd Annual Braille Challenge was a great success.
  • GM co-hosting North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness:  The Road to Independence March 10-12.  

State Council of NC Lions—Jim Boehm

Capsule Program—fund raising program which ask each club in North Carolina to donate $50 in hopes of raising $10,000.  The money will be used to furnish the new building at Camp Dogwood, purchase a guide dog, and educate the youth about diabetes—a leading cause of blindness.

Long range plan to re-district from 9 districts to 6 districts to meet international standards of 1,250 per district. 

State Convention will be held at the North Raleigh Hilton, May 27-29.

Many local clubs had Christmas parties for the blind and visually-impaired. 

NC Lions Foundation—Jim Boehm

The new building at Camp Dogwood should be completed by April 2005. 

A new garden at Camp Dogwood will have a variety of flowers, shrubs, benches, and a water fountain.

Funds are running low for matching funds for glasses but should never run out due to reserve funds that the Foundation has. 

The Foundation also provides hearing aids with the local clubs paying for the fitting.

The White Cane Drive is progressing well. 

NC Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

A group attended the Annual Legislative Seminar.  Hopefully some of the things we did before and while we were there had an impact on items not being included in HR 27.   ACB is committed to the preservation of a separate funding stream for VR and strongly opposes the language in HR 27 that offers the consolidation of funds that would direct capital away from programs that directly serve persons with disabilities. 

ACB encourages the creation of a Beneficiary Impact Statement to study the impact of changes on Social Security Retirement to Social Security Disability Programs and opposes any changes that would have an adverse impact on workers who acquire disabilities. 

ACB is strongly opposed to changes in the current structure of the Medicaid program that include converting the program into a block grant or otherwise imposing caps on federal funding.  They believe that these measures run contrary to the partnership entered into between the States and the federal government, and put at risk the provision of quality healthcare to needy families and individuals with disabilities. 

ACB supports legislation to restore the Video Description mandate ensuring that video described programming will continue to be available to people who are blind.  This programming will include both descriptive information during regular programming, and verbalization of critical emergency information which is commonly displayed visually for other viewers.  ACB urges Congress to support the restoration of Video Description. 

ACB supports the language in HR 3 (the Transportation Efficiency Act:  A Legacy for Users or TEA-LU) that maintains the New Freedom Initiative (NFI) as a program separate and apart from Section 5310 and encourages the Senate to adopt language maintaining that separation.  NFI encourages integrated rather than segregated services.  ACB believes that the current funding proposed, $91 million, for Section 5310 is grossly insufficient to meet the current demand for the critical transportation services for people with disabilities and senior citizens and asks Congress to consider increasing that amount. 

ACB supports the amendment of TEA-LU to include the Remote Infrared Audible Signage Model Accessibility Project (to be proposed as Section 3045 of Title III) establishing the nation’s first inter-model transportation system linked by accessible signage. ACB believes it is imperative that individuals with disabilities are included in all aspects of transportation planning and project disclosure. 

ACB urges congress to protect the priority granted by the Randolph-Sheppard Act for blind vendors on federal property, including military dining facilities. 

National Convention is going to be the week of July 4 in Las Vegas.  The State Convention is going to be in Burlington on September 23-25. 

National Federation for the Blind—Hazel Staley

In February, 15 federations from NC went to Washington for an annual seminar.  Six were from Charlotte.  Three issues were discussed with Congress:  Guide Persons/SSDI; require publishers to make textbooks more accessible to college students; and military dining. 

National convention in Louisville, Kentucky, the first week in July and State Convention is going to be in Raleigh on September 9-11.

The Federation will be participating in the “Human Race” which is a walk-a-thon on March 19 in Greensboro.

AER—Tom Winton

Bill Apple was not able to attend this meeting as he is involved with NCCVIB.  NCAER is a strong partner in this conference. 

The Rachel Rawl’s Award was presented to Donna Apple. 

NCAER has purchased materials to try to recruit more people in the field of Rehabilitation, Teachers, O & M Specialists or Low Vision Therapists.  This recruitment material will be shared with the VI Program at NC Central in an effort of drawing more people into the field. 

Business Enterprises Program—Tim Jones

Annual Sales—(2004) $12,322,863 

  • (2003) $11,728,482

Average Operator Income—(2004)  $36,529

  • (2003)      $35,681

Net Income to All Operators—(2004) $3,183,798

  • (2003) $2,000,997

83 facilities are currently operating with no vacancies. 

New Business

Election of Chair and Vice Chair

Mr. Tim Jones made a motion that the floor be opened for nominations of Chair.  Ms. Hazel Staley nominated Tim Jones.  After no further nominations, Mr. Jones entertained a motion that the nominations be closed.  A motion was made, seconded, and carried that the nominations be closed and that Tim Jones be elected by acclamation as Chair.

Mr. Jones made a motion that the floor be opened for nominations of Vice Chair.  Mr. David Alexander nominated Ron Eller.  After no further nominations, Mr. Jones entertained a motion that the nominations be closed.  A motion was made, seconded, and carried that the nominations be closed and that Ron Eller be elected by acclamation as Vice Chair. 

Old Business

None

Adjournment of Meeting

With no further business, motion was made, seconded, and carried that the meeting be adjourned.  The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.  The next meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2005 at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Jones

Tim Jones, Chairman

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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