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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

June 13, 2008

Call to Order

Chairman Gary Ray called the meeting to order at 12:40 p.m.  Ron Eller offered the invocation.  The following members were present:  Gary Ray, Kathy Davis, Jennifer Talbot, Ron Eller, and Allen Casey.

Others Present:  Barbria Bacon, Debbie Jackson, Julie Kagy, Tommy Jenkins, Lara Handler, Carl Keehn, and Carla Parker.

Members Not Present:  Tim Jones, Linda Lewis, Ann Vieregge, Steve Walker, Steve Wilson, and Linda Coleman.

Chairman Ray welcomed and thanked everyone for their attendance and participation in this meeting.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Jennifer Talbot, seconded by Allen Casey, and carried to approve the minutes for the March 7, 2008 meeting. 

Reports of Entities:

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—Carl Keehn and Lara Handler

The National Library Service has announced the pre-launch testing of machines that should occur at the end of 2008.  There will be 5000 digital talking book machines released to 8 of the largest regional libraries for final testing.  The 2 that serve the southern part of the US is Florida and Texas. 

Retrospective copy allotments have started to order books that are presently available on cassette and are going to be transcribed into the digital format and made available for purchase. 

The National Library Services is not planning for the multistate centers to duplicate and send out the digital titles that the regional libraries will not be carrying.  Francine Martin has been lobbying to get other regional libraries to join us in lobbying the NLS to reverse this ruling.  

The National Library Service has released its first list of digital books that will be available.  Digital materials will be ordered in June. 

During the next few months, the NLS will provide training materials and information to the network libraries including machine care, repair manuals, FAQ, training resources, etc. 

Francine Martin will be retiring effective July 1.  Carl Keehn will be replacing Ms. Martin. 

Lara Handler reported on the Outreach activities that the Library participated in during the past year.  The Library  attended the following conferences:  NFB of NC, NCCB, VIP Fishing Tournament, NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness  “Superconference”.  Staff from the library also spoke to many different organizations, senior groups, and disability fairs across the State.  Ms. Handler also spoke on a local radio show in the mountains.

Tours were provided to many different groups including the President of the National Library in Pakistan. 

Governor Morehead School—Barbria Bacon

The end of the year at GMS has been very busy with students participating in public school testing, proms, graduation, etc.  Summer school is underway with a low vision, independent living skills, and art camp.   

Physical work to the campus will take place over the summer.  The circle and the sidewalk that crosses over to Lineberry will be repaired.  The “tree” that begins at Crockett-Peeler and leads down to the dining hall will be preserved.  The roots are so large that the pavement is broken and dangerous. 

Assessment evaluations of the administrative team are being performed—looking at what we have done, what we would like to do, and what changes we need.  The Strategic Plan and School Improvement Plan is also being looked at to determine realistic priorities. 

During the summer, staff working hours will change.  GMS staff will go to four 10-hour days.  A receptionist will be answering phones on Fridays.  If there is an emergency, issues will be responded to promptly. 

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy 

DPI has renewed its contract with the Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.  This allows all of the local education units in the State to get all of their State adopted textbooks, without having to buy a membership, through DPI on CD if that is the student’s preference.

Every year there is a textbook adoption for the State.  This consists of a textbook commission, which include stakeholders from around the State, publishers, and training/evaluation meetings.  Ms. Kagy has been involved in all of these meetings and presented to the textbook commission the concerns for students with visual disabilities.  Ms. Kagy will be presenting on June 22 to the training/evaluation committee alerting them on what to look for in reviewing books for students with disabilities and what would be helpful in terms of being able to get the books transcribed assuring that the books have files that are NIMAS ready. 

Ms. Kagy is involved with reviewing the end of grade tests, end of course tests, and all of the forms which accompany the tests.

The Vision Consortium agreement was signed by Diane Wormsley, Debbie Jackson, and Julie Kagy.  This is an agreement between DSB, DPI and NCCU for teacher and professional development in the State. 

DPI is offering a Summer Institute in Greensboro.  Each DPI consultant sponsors at least 2 workshops.  Ms. Kagy is sponsoring a workshop on augmentative communication for students and another workshop on Batton’s Disease and other degenerative diseases. 

DPI is sponsoring its annual Exceptional Children’s Conference on November 17, 18, and 19.  

The mandated Legislative Study of the delivery of education services to the blind and visually impaired and Deaf and Hard of Hearing has been completed and presented to the legislature. 

Gary Ray informed the Committee about a bill that has been introduced for students with disabilities who are in private schools or home school.  These students lose some of the state-sponsored services such as O & M.  The parents assume all the cost for these services.  This bill will allow the student to receive these services and the parents may get up to a $500 tax deduction.  This bill has just been introduced and no other details are available at this time.   

Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) visited DSB the week of May 19.   DSB should receive a report of recommendations/findings in August. 

Renovations in Haywood Building—Aids and Appliances will be moving out of Cooke Building into the Haywood Building.  Communications Unit will be moving out of Simpson Building into the Haywood Building.  These moves will make staff and services more accessible.  Also, a mini-center instructional site will be set up in the Haywood Building. 

Summer Programs—The Adult Program at the Rehabilitation Center is ending next week.  A 5-week World of Work Program will be held.  An Adjustment to Blindness Program will be offered to transition aged students.  A college-prep program will be offered to rising seniors or graduates. 

Medical Eye Care Program—During the short legislative session, DSB requested additional money for the Medical Eye Care Program but it did not make it to the General Assembly.  Since the income scale changed, more people are eligible and receiving services so additional money will be needed.

NewsLine will be funded for another year. 

Prevent Blindness of North Carolina—Jennifer Talbot 

The mandated vision exam legislation became the mandated vision screening legislation.  Prevent Blindness supports the mandated vision screening legislation.  In the last version of this bill, $500,000 was made available for exams for children who failed the screening if they were not covered under other plans. The DHHS version of this year’s budget deleted the $500,000.

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller and Allen Casey

The National Convention is July 5-12 in Louisville, KY.  The State Convention is September 26-28 in Raleigh. 

Legislation has been introduced in Texas regarding blind parents of sighted children.  Materials sent home with children should be in accessible formats for the parents to read. 

In April a bill was introduced, Pedestrian/Safety Enhancement Act of 2008, and is designed to direct the Secretary of Transportation to study and establish uniform safety standards for motor vehicles so there will be some sort of warning mechanism to pedestrians when a quiet vehicle is approaching. 

The Federation is requesting the FCC to develop an audio system to warn blind/visually impaired when emergency announcements are shown on the television screen. 

A few years ago, the American Council for the Blind filed a suit against the Treasury Department requesting that accessible currency be made available to the blind/visually impaired.   In November of 2007, a ruling was made that the Treasury Department was in violation of the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide accessible currency.  The Treasury appealed this ruling to the DC Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals upheld the original decision.  The Treasury Department may decide to appeal to the Supreme Court. 

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray  

The NFB National Convention will be held in Dallas, TX, June 29-July 5, 2008.  The State Convention will be held in Charlotte the weekend of September 19.

NFB may be introducing a “quiet car legislation” during the next session of the state legislature. 

North Carolina Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired—Kathy Davis

Plans are underway for the 2009 NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness, March 19-21.  The theme is transition, employment, and employability—“Working for a Living”. 

Old Business

None

New Business

Through the State Board of Elections, a series of public hearings were planned across the State to discuss accessible voting.  Gary Ray will contact the Board of Elections in hopes to get this type of information sooner so we can get the word out.  

Adjournment of Meeting

The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.  The next meeting is September 12, 2008. 

 

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