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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

June 13, 2013

Call to Order
The CAAC for the meeting was called to order by Chairman, Gary Ray, at 1 p.m.

Present in the Conference Room:  Gary Ray, Carla Parker, Carl Keehn, Eddie Weaver, Lucy Radford, Dasha Radford, Claire Hakin, and Robert Parrish.

Connected by Conference Call:  Gina Powell, Tim Jones, and Allen Casey, Wayne McGohan, and Jennifer Talbot.

Approval of Minutes:
A motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Allen Casey and moved to approve the minutes of the March 8, 2013 CAAC meeting.

Entities:

Governor Morehead School for the Blind—Barbria Bacon
It was a great year at the GMS.  Four students graduated.  Because of pending weather conditions, the commencement ceremony was moved into the dining hall.  The senior class had a prom, trip to the beach, and the Downtown Lions gave each graduate $100. 

GMS had 5 retirements during the year.

When the new school year begins, 40 students will be enrolled.  Sixty students will be attending summer school, June 17-July 5. 

GMS is working with Pullen Park to provide excess parking on the weekends. 

The YMCA will not be offering a program on campus this year.
The campus will host the BELL Program, Alumni Conference Eye Retreat, NCCU classes, and NCWB weekend. 

Next year, the Wake Youth Women’s’ Leadership will have an additional 100 students by adding grades 8 and 10. 

GMS school property has been included in the Dix deal…unsure what will happen.

GMS staff had the opportunity to attend the NCCVIB this year.  The level of presenters and the topics were outstanding. 
Chair Ray thanked Mrs. Bacon for all the support and dedicated service she has provided to GMS through the years. 

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

Carl Keehn:  Upcoming Closing Dates
Thursday      July 4            Independence Day
Monday  September 2 Labor Day

NLS
After long delays, the National Library Service has implemented the digital magazine program.  North Carolina was one of the first libraries to implement the program, the first cartridge mailing went out the end of February.  Since then, the program has been expanded to every library.

There have been some glitches in the program.  NLS promised that libraries would be provided with administrative tools which would allow the libraries to resend magazines or set a claims returned status.  To date, these tools have not been implemented.

Response to the digital magazine program has been mixed.  Some people are thrilled that the magazines have finally gone digital, commenting on the cleaner sound and ease of understanding the narrator.  Others are concerned that they have to return the magazine cartridges.

North Carolina has also instituted our own digital magazine program. We will be sending out a cartridge every six weeks, with every magazine that was produced or obtained during the six week period.  We sent out our first edition in mid-May and are expecting to send our next out in early July.

With the appointment of a new processing assistant in the Circulation unit, the library is at full staff for the first time in a while.  In addition the Circulation Unit supervisor has been able to return to work since recovering from his stroke. 

Gina Powell:  The Library provided outreach to 4 DSB mini-centers, the Deaf-Blind Conference, and the NCCVIB.  National Volunteer Week was celebrated.  Kathy Brack offers home town hero sessions at Conn Elementary School.  We visited a preschool class at GMS.  The Summer Reading Assembly for kids will be offered during the regular school year.  The Natural Science Museum will be kicking off the children’s reading program with a program “Dig into Reading”.  The children’s reading program will be held June 1-August 31.  An Adult Reading Program will be held July-September.

Department of Public Instruction—Claire Hakin
New Director for the Exceptional Children Division. Effective June 3, 2013: Please see the announcement below from
Drs. Rebecca Garland and Angela Quick on behalf of the Academic Services area:

We are pleased to announce that William J. Hussey has been named the new Director of the Division of Exceptional Children.    Bill has a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Special Education from Appalachian State University and joins DPI from the Alamance-Burlington School System where he was the Executive Director of Exceptional Children and AIG Services since 2005.  Prior to this, Bill was an Exceptional Children Coordinator for Durham Public Schools.  He had also worked here in the agency as an SED Consultant and Section Chief for Willie M. under the Division of Exceptional Children from 1992 to 1998.  Bill serves on the advisory board for Elon University’s Masters in Education Program and the Advisory Council for Exceptional Children Directors as well as the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Association of School Administrators.   He is a member and currently president (2012-14) of the North Carolina Council of Administrators of Special Education.

Summer Institutes at UNC Greensboro
Friday July 23rd
Orientation and Mobility for Students with Multiple Impairments
Presented by Carla Brown, M.Ed, COMS, is a dual specialist (TVI/O&M Specialist) and a teacher of severe disabilities working in Fairfax County Public Schools.

Over 50% of the students identified as visually impaired also have additional impairments, including students with mild to severe intellectual disabilities, motor impairments and autism. Many of these students have developed learned helplessness and need specific instruction to assist in more goal directed behavior. This workshop will focus on how to integrate O&M into functional routines by increasing a student’s active participation in school activities and expanding opportunities for interacting with the environment.  Case studies will be utilized in small groups to apply the presented information to functional application.

Wednesday July 24-25
The APH Intervention Continuum for Learners with Visual and Multiple Impairments
Presented by Millie Smith;  Ms. Smith is a private consultant for students with visual and multiple impairments. She worked at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired as an outreach teacher-trainer, classroom teacher of students with visual and multiple impairments, and a resource teacher for academic students who were visually impaired. Millie was an itinerant teacher of students who are visually impaired in the Dallas Independent School District, as well as an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin. She has a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin in visual impairment and emotional disturbance. She has published several books and numerous articles. Since retiring in 2000, she has been working as a consultant for the American Printing House for the Blind, helping them develop products for students with visual and multiple impairments. She will be showcasing products she had developed including the Sensory Learning Kit, the SAM, and Tactile Connections. Throughout life, learning begins with the acquisition of sensory information. The APH continuum provides strategies and tools for addressing the sensory needs of learners with visual and multiple impairments as they develop cognitive, communication, and social skills at three levels. The Sensory Learning Kit addresses the skills needed for attention to and exploration of the people, objects, and actions that provide contexts for communication. SAM: Symbols and Meaning addresses the skills needed for the late sensorimotor, early preoperational stage where iconic symbols are used to label concrete referents: the people, objects, actions, and places seen and touched during high quality sensory experiences. Tactile Connections addresses the skills needed for using arbitrary symbols to communicate thoughts about abstract preoperational concepts.

Monday July 15-19th
Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities Literacy Institute
 Presenters: Penny Hatch & Karen Erickson
This week long institute may be particularly beneficial for Teachers of the Visually Impaired who have students within this disability area. Theoretical models and processes of literacy and their relationship to individuals with significant disabilities will be introduced.  Teachers will be introduced /exposed to a range of assessment and intervention strategies that address the emergent and conventional literacy needs of students with significant disabilities.

Teachers will become familiar with a range of technologies, and a variety of materials and classroom modifications that support literacy learning and use by students with significant disabilities. A range of resources and strategies for continuing self-education as well as parent and professional support will be presented.

63nd Conference on Exceptional Children
November 21 – 22, 2013
Koury Convention Center, Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons
Save the dates, including Nov. 20th Institutes day.

Low Vision Clinics
William Tubilleja is coordinating low vision clinics for our students across the state with Dr. Alana Scheiner.  These free clinics are helping students with low vision receive the appropriate tools to gain access to their educational environment.  Approximately 50 students were evaluated during the 2012-13 school year. DPI will continue to offer clinics around the state during the next school year.

 Annual Registration of Legally Blind Students
Julie Kagy, Consultant for the Visually Impaired and Assistive Technology, reports North Carolina has registered 1,4041 LB students ages 3-21 in and 419 students in Private and Home schools.

Federal sequestration has not affected our American Printing House for the Blind funds.  We are fully funded at this time.  Their new fiscal year will begin on Oct. 1. 

 Common Core, Access, and New Tests
Dpi has recently created a web portal regarding the Common Core: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/core-explained/
The portal addresses several areas implementation timeline, FAQ’s, and the state standards.

Creation of tests to assess the Common Core continues to be designed by DPI’s Test Development Section, Division of Accountability Services and through contract with Technical Outreach for Public Schools (TOPS). From Nadine McBride, PHD, Psychometrician, with NCDPI, Test Development Section:
“Test item review occurs at the item level and at the test level. Content and accessibility are reviewed.   The test producer has staff review for content and access, and DPI’s Test Development Section does the same.

NCDPI follows Universal Design Procedures in the construction of the End-of-Grade/End-of-Course items and tests.  Universal Design is an approach to item writing and test construction that considers the accessibility needs of the test-takers.  As a part of Universal Design, items are examined to ensure that they measure what they are intended to measure while reducing extraneous material that requires skills beyond those needed to address the content of the question.

Through the review process, all items are reviewed not just by teachers of content but representatives of Exceptional Children, Visual Impairment, and English as a Second Language, students for any indication of unfairness or construct-irrelevant bias.  This review process occurs before the tests and items are seen by the student.  

It is important to note that the review is for construct-irrelevant material.   In some cases, the standard may require students to use visual information (making a visual construct-relevant instead of construct-irrelevant).  An example would be standards in ELA which requires students to examine and use information gathered from illustrations.  In cases where a graphic or other visual is deemed necessary for measurement of the content standard, the graphic is rendered in the simplest possible form.

If a student is still unable to access test items with graphics in a standard test form, there may be other accommodations that would be appropriate for the student.”

Prevent Blindness North Carolina—Jennifer Talbot
The Library will be operating on a 4% cut in its budget.  Part of the money is recurring and should be in the continuation budget.  The Department would not confirm until a certified budget is issued. 

In January, the Division of Services for the Blind discontinued providing eye exams and glasses and began making referrals to Prevent Blindness.  Prevent Blindness didn’t receive any notice of this until the letter had been mailed to vendors. 

Prevent Blindness does have access to free vouchers for exams or glasses, but does not receive State dollars for that program.  It is very time consuming for staff to mail vouchers and deal with people on the phones, but there is no way of capturing this information and the legislature does not provide any funding for this service.   Prevent Blindness was receiving 200 requests for adults weekly and it overwhelmed the system.  They had to stop the replacement eyeglasses for adults about a month ago to clear out the backlog. 

Mrs. Talbot asked if DSB would be able to resume sponsoring exams and glasses July 1?  Mr. Weaver responded that DSB will use their funds for surgery and treatment not exams and glasses. 

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver
Most of DSB’s programs were not affected by the budget.  However, there was a reduction of $272,000 in SSBG which is our Social Worker/Independent Living Program.  Adjustment Services for the Blind will also be effected. This is the program that purchases small ticket items such as talking watches, cooking utensils, etc. 

DHHS issued a memo restricting purchases and travel.  Divisions are directed to save as much money as possible in order to assist Medicaid.  All purchases must be approved by Eddie Weaver.  We are hoping that in July everything will go back to normal. 

This years “Super Conference NCCVIB” was a big success with good staff representation and turnout.  DSB’s Business Enterprises Program assisted by providing drinks and snacks.

DSB is in the midst of a statewide comprehensive needs assessment which is required by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).  This involves focus groups, interviews, and surveys.  UNC-Chapel Hill will be conducting these interviews and surveys. 

BEAM—DSB is in the short rows of User Acceptance Testing (UAT).  Field staff are coming in to test the system to assure everything is working as it should before going live in October. 
A few retirements within DSB include James Russell, Pattie Barker, Verna Jacobs, and Steve Murphy.

Chair Ray commented that for many years NEWSLINE has been appropriated in the budget.  It is not yet listed in the appropriations but Ray is confident that NEWSLINE will be funded. 

State Council of NC Lions—Wayne McGohan
Voting did take place to redistrict the Lions.  These changes will take place in 2015.  Hopefully, this will improve finances for the Lions in North Carolina.  There is money for blind/visually impaired students to go to college and there is money for glasses.  Mr. McGohan will be replaced by Bob Sprinkle from Sparta, NC, in August.

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Allen Casey
The National Convention will be held in Columbus, OH.
Theodore Bryant is the sole surviving charter member of the NC Council of the Blind.  He will be recognized as a NC home hero.
The State Convention will be held in Greensboro September 27-29. 

The Council went to Washington to discuss regulations that affect blind and visually impaired.  The 21st Century Communications Act require that emergency broadcast information be accessible to blind and the disabled.  There is a 10 year limitation period so industry will push the 10 year limit before doing anything.  Consumer groups will push that it be done sooner. 

Elected Committee of Vendors:  Tim Jones
The Business Enterprises Program is doing well.  This past quarter has 71 operators, 81 locations, and sales were $2,531,000. 

Currently, BE is working on a couple of building at Fort Bragg and will be opening in the near future.

National Federation of the Blind—Lucy Radford and Gary Ray
The national conference will be held in Orlando, FL, in July. 

State Convention will be held in Fayetteville, NC, at the Holiday Inn Bordeux September 12-15.

The BELL Program has two sites this year:  Lincolnton, July 8-12; GMS, July 15-26.

GMS Alumni—Robert Patterson
The GMS Alumni convention will be held August 2-4 at the Holiday Inn North in Raleigh.

The Alumni gave a monetary donation to each of the graduates.
Fred McEachern was recognized and thanked for all of his contributions to the blind community.

The NCWB weekend is also August 2-4.

The next CAAC meeting will be held Friday, September 20, from 1 p.m. til 3 p.m. in the Conference Room of Fisher Building on the Governor Morehead School Campus.

 

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