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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

March 11, 2011

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

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

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

Connected by Conference Call—Ron Staley, Connie Alexander, Allen Casey, Ricky Scott, Steve Walker, Tim Jones, Ann Avery, and Jennifer Talbot

Chairman Ray announced that the meeting will be conducted a little out of order since a couple of the reporting entities will need to leave the meeting early.

Reports of Entities:
Governor Morehead School:  Barbria Bacon
The transfer of the residential schools, GMS and the 2 Schools for the Deaf, to the Department of Public Instruction is in the process and moving forward.  For the 3 schools, the Governor is recommending a 5% cut which equals 22 positions.

The new superintendent for all 3 schools has been recommended to the State Board of Education and a person should be appointed by June 1. 

The School Director positions at the Schools for the Deaf have been interviewed and recommendations made to DHHS and DPI.  The plan is to have these positions appointed and in place prior to June 1.

Discussions are being held on how a Board of Directors and a Human Rights Committee will be formed after the transfer.  This will probably mean some legislation will be presented to the Legislature.

A comprehensive needs assessment was recommended for all of the residential schools.

Student transportation at all 3 schools is being discussed with NCSU.

The blending of two different agencies and departments within those agencies presented many challenges; i.e. budget, land, utilities, contracts, insurance, vehicles, fixed assets, etc.  The biggest challenge in this transition was trying to make so many changes with very limited resources.  Chairman Ray thanked Barbria Bacon and Debbie Jackson for their hard work during the transition. 

Braille Literacy Council—Debbie Jackson
The Braille Challenge was held in February and was very successful.  There were two locations this year:  1) GMS campus with 28 kids from 6 local school districts and 2) Western part of the state with 7 kids.  Scores have been sent to the national braille challenge. 

A new effort underway is the BELL Program which is a NFB sponsored program that the Braille Literacy Council will be partnering in with the NFB this year.  The NFB BELL Program is designed to serve as a demonstration program to provide exposure to Braille to low vision children during the summer months. Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) is a program that provides children ages 4-12 with two weeks of Braille exposure and instruction through fun, hands-on learning and activities.  The program will target those children with low vision, who otherwise do not receive Braille instruction because of their residual vision, but is not limited to these kids.  It will be open to any child who might benefit from the exposure.

Approval of Minutes
One correction was noted in the minutes; under AER it should read Captain Ivan Castro rather than Caption Ivan Kester.  Correction will be made.  Motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Connie Alexander and carried to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2010, as amended.

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

Upcoming Closing Dates:

December 24, 27 -   Christmas
December 31 – New Year’s Day


In September, the NLS abruptly ended the analog recording program, citing the inability to obtain cassette stock.  The original plan had been to phase the analog program out, over the next few months.  Instead, production was halted on any titles added since August and over 1,200 scheduled analog recordings were cancelled; to be produced in digital format only.  We received our final analog recording earlier this week.

The NLS still plans to produce 2,000 audio recordings each year, in digital format only.  They have also discontinued the quota system for ordering, which was established two years ago.
Magazine production will continue to be on cassette for the immediate future although the NLS is working to develop a means of providing magazine service in digital format.  All NLS provided magazines are available for download through the BARD system.

NLS has been turning over the administration of the BARD system to the local libraries.  We took over BARD administration on November 23.  The branding of the BARD pages was revised to reflect our involvement and the provided contact information is that of the NCLBPH.  We are now responsible for processing all applications for BARD service by North Carolina Patrons, as well as for providing primary support for the BARD program.

Gina Powell reported on the Outreach events at the Library.  The National Library Service’s Anniversary Open House at the local library is March 22.  Everyone is invited and it will be on the list.serve. 

National Volunteer Week is in April.  Ms. Powell assisted with the Braille Challenge.  Other events Ms. Powell attended are the B.E. Conference, NC Association of Blind Students, planning session for the Senior Golden Jubilee, Wake County Public Library Staff Development Conference, 4 mini-centers, and planning for the third year of the Summer Reading Program for Kids.  This year a program will be added for the adults.  The Library will also participate in the Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness.   

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy
The American Printing House registration deadline is March 15.  As of today there are 941 students legally blind students enrolled in public schools and in some private or home-based schools.

DPI Outreach staff participated in the Braille Challenge.

Regional EC Directors meetings are being held across the State.

William Tubilleja has been working on a new low vision service model that will provide evaluations and support for low vision across the State.  In conjunction with the NC Assistive Technology Program, Mr.Tubilleja is developing a regional low vision clinic designed to reach all parts of the State.  He presented this model at the statewide EC Administrators Conference and it was well received. 

DPI was again a co-sponsor at the annual NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness held on the Governor Morehead School for the Blind campus.

DPI staff is also planning the annual DPI Summer Institute.

Funds have been requested for a project in conjunction with the visually impaired program at NCCU.  The project will further develop Dr. Wormsley’s approach to Individualized Meaning Centered Approach to Braille Literacy (IMABLE) for teaching braille reading and writing to students who are blind and have additional cognitive impairments. A theoretical rationale is presented for the approach, along with some limited empirical evidence for using it with this population.
Mrs. Kagy continues to be involved with DPI’s accountability department in terms of statewide testing to assure accessibility to the tests. 

Tom Winton discussed the need for changes in the NC Statutes to better transition the three residential schools from DHHS to DPI.  There needs to be legislation relating to public education and setting up schools for the blind and deaf. NC Statutes need to be reconciled. It is not as easy as simply marking out “DHHS” and replacing it with “DPI”.  The Human Rights Committee does not currently exist under current legislation.  The CAAC is committed to pursuing this issue and reinstating this committee for the protection of the students.

Maria Spaulding, DHHS Deputy Secretary, joined the meeting at this time and remarked that there are currently  many issues up in the air such as the budget and the organizational structure that are awaiting a resolution.  Mrs. Spaulding asked the group to be patient and to be in touch with her.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver
The consolidation issue has come up again this year.  The proposal is to consolidate Services for the Blind, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Aging into one Agency. On March 16, the joint subcommittee will present its proposal.  At this time, we believe this recommendation came from fiscal research. 

Mrs. Spaulding has re-assured the Directors that no matter what happens with the consolidation effort, she understands that there is a big difference in providing services to someone who is visually impaired versus someone who is deaf. Mrs. Spaulding supports continuing helping individuals who want to be employed to be able to and provide the services and assistive technology that is needed. 

Chairman Gary Ray thanked Mrs. Spaulding and the Department for their position and support.

In the Governor’s Budget, Mr. Weaver reported that there was a reduction in the Medical Eye Care Program of $198,000.

DSB continues to work on its new case service system, BEAM.  Phase one which is an on-line training module is underway.  Phase two is being planned for April which staff will have hands-on training with the developers on the system. 

DSB’s annual Rehabilitation Program audit occurred in December.  There was one finding.  The Rehabilitation Program does not currently verify income.  A rule change will be made to begin verifying an applicant’s income. 

DSB’s Purchasing Officer retired at the end of February.  Since this position is non-critical and frozen, DSB collapsed this position over to Vocational Rehabilitation.  This has been a very smooth transition and we were able to streamline some of our processes.

On March 16, a radio and TV campaign will begin alerting people about Services for the Blind.  This will air for 6 weeks.  Also, a 3-minute Employer video is being developed for staff to show potential employers the advantages of hiring someone with a visual disability. 

Executive Leadership training will be held for DSB’s Management Team. 

State Council of the North Carolina Lions—Ron Staley
There are 8 Lions districts in North Carolina with 366 clubs and approximately 8,500 members.  Membership has declined in the last few years.  Most of the services provided by the Lions are administered by the NC Lions Foundation.  The primary focus of the clubs in NC is to assist the blind and visually impaired. 

The State Convention will be held in Fayetteville in June.  If anyone is interested in participating, please contact Mr. Staley. 

The International President of the Lions is from North Carolina, Mr. Syd Scruggs III.  The International Board of Directors meeting will be held in Raleigh in April. 

A dinner auction will be held April 14 in Raleigh at Lions Services. A tremendous amount of items will be auctioned.  Dinner is $20.  For more information, please contact Mr. Staley. 

NC Lions Foundation—Steve Walker
A proposal has been submitted to rename the NC Lions Foundation.  The proposed name is NC Lions Inc.  The purpose or function of the foundation will remain the same. It is hoped that changing will help in raising funds.  It is becoming more difficult to obtain the revenue needed to provide the services being demanded. 

Ms. Susan King is the new Camp Dogwood Director.  Ms. King has a lot of experience that will benefit our Summer Camp and organization.  Ms. King is very receptive to new ideas for the camp.  Camp applications were sent out in January and staff is being hired for the summer. 

NC Prevent Blindness—Jennifer Talbot
NC Prevent Blindness is pleased that so far the legislature has not recommended any cuts.  DPI has $1.5 million dollars to spend immediately for children with special needs.  Prevent Blindness is assisting in making recommendations for these purchases. 

Disability Rights of NC—Annaliese Dolph
Ms. Dolph emphasized the need for people who can advocate at the legislature to do so. 

Disability Rights is broadening their targets this year.  More cases about Employment Discrimination are being requested and new ADA regulations are coming out. 

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Allen Casey
Two weeks ago, the NC Council attended the annual Washington Legislative event and was able to have appointments with 7 congressional offices.  The legislative agenda contained three items:  1) Medicare support for assistive technology devices for the blind and visually impaired, 2) revision of the IRS code related to vehicle donation; and 3) labeling of prescription drugs.

The ACB National Convention and Conference will be held in July in Nevada.

The NC Council of the Blind State Convention will be held in Raleigh in September.

National Federation of the Blind—Tim Jones
National Federation of the Blind State Convention is going to be held in Winston-Salem September 9-11.

The National Convention will be held in Orlando, FL, July 3-8.

The NFB of NC also attended the NFB Washington Seminar.  Their agenda included 1) technology bill of rights, 2) education K-12; and 3) Randolph Sheppard Enactment of Disabilities Business Opportunities Act. 

The Blind Driver Challenge was held in Daytona in January where a blind gentleman drove a car around the speedway. 

Association of Workers for the Blind—Connie Alexander
The Alumni weekend will be held July 22-24 on the Governor Morehead School campus. A board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, March 12. 

NCAER—William Tubilleja
One of the main focuses of the NCAER Chapter is to collaborate with other agencies in planning for the Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness.  The NCAER Board is now in the process of looking at recommendations for the Rachel Rawls award.  This award is presented to a professional who has made a significant impact in the blindness community.

The annual AER business meeting will be held during the conference.  A few changes on the board will be addressed and Mr. Tubilleja will report on these changes in June.

Mr. Daniel Simmons reported on the final plans for the Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness which will be held April 8-9 on the GMS campus.  Twenty speakers will be present with Captain Ivan Castro being the keynote speaker.  Captain Castro is the only visually impaired officer in the Army Special Forces. 

A “Raising Cane 5K” Race is being planned for March 26 on the Dix campus.  This unique race is designed for persons with a visual impairment.  Guide runners will be present to assist the visually impaired by running behind the visually impaired person giving oral commands.  At this point, 77 people are registered.  If anyone is interested in participating, please go

Elected Committee of Vendors—No Report

GMS Alumni Association—Ricky Scott
The GMS Alumni Association’s Convention will be August 5-7.  Accommodations will be at the Holiday Inn Brownstone.  Rates are $79 a night which includes breakfast.  Registration fee is $50. 

The Alumni will be participating in the GMS graduation by providing a couple of scholarships and a staff award. 

The Alumni is in the process of obtaining information about a Youth Leadership Conference.  More details will be provided in June.

New Business
Chairman Ray talked with Senator Purcell this week.  Senator Purcell is putting together a bill in support of NewsLine for another year.  In the past, it has been administered by Services for the Blind as a special provision in the amount of $75,000.

Old Business
At our last meeting, the CAAC voted to support Human Rights Committees at the schools. Chairman Ray will continue to push for this.

We have not seen much detailed legislation regarding the residential schools.  DPI is committed to enacting the mandate which will become effective June 1, 2011.  Chairman Ray will continue following the legislation closely based on the mandate received last year.

Connie Alexander made a motion to maintain separate agencies for the blind and deaf in North Carolina and oppose the proposed merging of these agencies.  This motion was seconded by Ann Avery and carried. 

Chairman Ray will also pay close attention to the list of Boards and Commissions that is being discussed.  If the CAAC or the Commission for the Blind is on that list to be abolished, Chairman Ray will immediately advocate strongly that these 2 groups continue to exist. 

The next meeting for the CAAC will be held June 10, 2011.

Meeting adjourned at 2:50.



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