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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

June 14, 2012

The Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee (CAAC) for the Blind met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Thursday, June 14.  The budget now allows for out-of-town members to attend in person if they wish and get reimbursed.  If not, members may join the meeting by conference call.

Call to Order

The CAAC for the Blind meeting was called to order by Chairman Gary Ray at 1:05 p.m. 

Present in the Conference Room:   Gary Ray, Debbie Jackson,  Barbria Bacon, Corye Dunn, Anthony Garcia-Copian, Carl Keehn, Gina Powell, Daniel Simmons, and Dennis Thurman.

Present on Conference Call:  Tim Jones, Ron Eller, and Eddie Weaver

Approval of Minutes:  A motion was made by Tim Jones seconded by Daniel Simmons and moved to approve the minutes of the March 9, 2012 meeting.

Gary Ray, Chair, informed the Committee that the reporting entities will be out of order today since some of the members need to leave early. 

The Chair updated the committee of four matters that have been of interest to this committee over the years. 

  •  The Governor Morehead School—a year ago the legislature mandated that one of the residential schools be closed.  After a study was completed, it was announced that GMS would be closed July 1, 2012.  The legislature is now about to reverse this decision by a special provision and GMS will remain open. 
  • NewsLine:  We received funding of $75,000.
  • Merger:  Governor Perdue issued the Executive Order 85 which combined all of the disability VR units into a single super agency effective July 1, 2012.  If the House passes the resolution which modifies this order, the merger will not take effect. 
  • Governor Perdue issued a list of Boards and Commissions that she felt needed to be studied by the legislature.  On the list was the Commission for the Blind.  The CAAC was not mentioned.  The Senate staff drafted language that did away with the CAAC and merge it in with the Commission for the Blind.  Senator Purcell made an amendment to keep the CAAC and it passed. 

Braille Literacy Council—Debbie Jackson
The BELL Program, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Program, will be held the weeks of July 16 and July 23 on the Governor Morehead School campus in the Haywood Building.  The BELL Program focuses on braille-related instructions for kids.  We currently have 12 applications from 3 or 4 counties. 

The date for the Braille Challenge will be announced in the next 3-4 weeks. 

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicap—Carl Keehn

Upcoming Holidays

Wednesday July 4 Independence Day

Monday September 3 Labor Day

NLS

The National Library service hosted their biennial Conference in Newport, RI in May.  North Carolina was able to send four of our librarians, thanks to a staff development grant.

The theme of the Conference was “Charting our Course: Expanding our Services”  

During the opening ceremony, North Carolina was pleasantly surprised to be recognized for our participation in the NLS 80th Anniversary celebration.  North Carolina was presented with a plaque which is on display in our lobby area.

Equating braille literacy with success, NLS Director Karen Keninger called for a renewed emphasis in braille service.  The lack of braille production capacity is limiting the number of titles that NLS can produce on an annual basis.

NCLBPH

In my previous report, I had mentioned that staffing concerns were of significant impact over the past quarter.  These concerns would extend into the current reporting period and would become critical.

On April 2, Steve Maupin, our circulation unit supervisor, passed away after an extended illness.  His death would be a severe blow to a unit which was already suffering staff shortages.  Through the efforts of the entire library staff, we were able to ensure that our operations were not too badly impacted.  With the assistance of library staff and volunteers we were able to process returned materials without too extended a delay and were able to maintain the shipment of materials to our patrons at the current level.

A donation to the family was made on behalf of the Friends Group.  Steve’s widow asked me to pass on to the Friends Board, how much she appreciated the donation.

As we have been able to interview for and fill positions, the library is beginning to return to stability.  We were pleased to welcome Margaret Edmunds as our new volunteer coordinator in mid-April.  Danny Powell joined us as our new processing assistant in circulation, in mid-May and Jessica Hawk will join us in mid-June as our new reader advisor.

Currently, the circulation supervisor position is our only vacant position.  Interviews have been held and our recommended candidate has been referred to Human Resources.  We are currently awaiting authorization to hire.  

With the phasing out of analog service well under way, this year, North Carolina is required to discard a quarter of the cassette collection, or 40,000 items.  The collection management team is working hard to meet that requirement.  The most labor intensive part of the process is the labeling of the discarded items so that they can be sent to the recycling facility.  That process is being done by volunteers.

As more readers have transitioned to digital service, most of them are indicating that they prefer the digital recordings and are asking that their requests be sent in digital format.  The digital format now makes up about 60% of our overall circulation, with analog, large print and braille making up the rest.

In May, the State Library hosted their annual orientation for new Library Directors.  NCLBPH was asked to present a short talk on our services, which was warmly received.

Mr. Keehn also reported on Outreach.  The Library has a children’s program and an adults program which begin on June 1.  The children’s program has approximately 40 registered so far and the adult program has approximately 70 registered. 
On June 29, the Library and GMS will have a joint program.

Governor Morehead School—Barbria Bacon
The staff at Governor Morehead School has been very busy, but it’s been exciting and we are moving forward.  The legislature is well aware that the 3 residential schools need to remain and of the $5.5 million dollar reduction, the schools need $4.5 million dollars of that back. 

GMS is focusing on improving our student outcome.  They are based end of course and end of grade test.  We need to broaden that to where our students are learning in specific areas. 

For the Improvement Plan Process, GMS is gathering input from parents and staff and writing goals that are accountable.  Our student outcomes are much broader than those academic ones that are structured through DPI.  We are not the only school that provides services to visually impaired kids and some kids are being left out.  We need to put some programs back in place so we can reach the visually-impaired students that are not being served.

GMS has come up with a number of ways to raise money.  They have sold extra pianos, rented parking spaces to Pullen Park on the weekends, and partnered with YMCA.  

Wake County Schools is bringing 150 young women to the GMS campus in the fall.  They will be participating in a Leadership Academy.  Their classes will be held in the basement of Lineberry.   It is very exciting to have a public school program on a residential campus. 

The Governor Morehead School received an e-rate grant for a half million dollars and this campus is now wireless.

UPDATE FROM THE NC DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION—Rebecca Marks

Summer Institutes
VI Outreach is sponsoring two Summer Institutes for teachers this year.
The first is June 14-15 in Charlotte with Dr. Lauren Lieberman who is a professor of Kinesiology, sport studies and physical education at the State University of New York Brockport. Dr. Lieberman’s area of specialty and research are in adapted physical education (APE), especially concerning students with sensory impairments. This presentation is intended to provide the following:

  • Assessment, eligibility and placement of students into APE
  • Books, websites and other resources for APE for students who are deaf blind or visually impaired
  • Training of support staff such as peer tutors and para-educators
  • Improving fitness for all ages (running techniques, biking, talking pedometers, etc.)
  • Improving motor skills (instructional strategies)
  • Modifications to the general PE curriculum
  • Information on support opportunities and summer camps

The targeted participants for this presentation are:

  • Teachers of the Visually Impaired
  • Adapted PE teachers
  • Related service providers
  • Teachers and para-professionals serving students in the area of visual impairments

The second will be July 23-24 in Greensboro. American Printing House for the Blind (APH) field research professionals will present products and demonstrate teaching strategies developed to support principles and techniques used in Orientation and Mobility instruction for the visually impaired learner with an emphasis on strategies for the Exceptional Children’s classroom teacher.
Some of the products included in the institute session are:

  1. APH Talking PC Maps Software
  2. O&M Family Booklet Software
  3. Tactile Graphics
  4. Picture Maker: Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit
  5. DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board

Teachers will gain knowledge and develop broad teaching strategies for a variety of learners. In addition participants will have an opportunity to explore these products during hands on small group sessions within the workshop.

62nd Conference on Exceptional Children
The Exceptional Children Division will hold its 62nd Conference on Exceptional Children coming up in November. We will host Visual Impairment Institute again this year. Susan Osterhaus from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired will be the presenter; the focus of the presentation is math for students with visual impairments.

VI Outreach Move to Education Building
VI Outreach staff has moved from the Penland Building on the GMS Campus to the Education Building downtown, due to the reassignment of space on campus. This was obviously not our first choice. VI Outreach remains committed to retaining a good working relationship with GMS.

New Brochures/Website
Our Statewide System of Support for Students with Visual Impairments is established and brochures are available. We will be glad to make these available to those interested. 
We also have a new EC Division website; the address is: ec.ncpublicschools.gov

Visually Impaired Program Reviews
Working with NCDPI compliance monitors, we have been involved in conducting program reviews in some LEAs to ensure and promote better services to students with visual impairments. These have been very interesting and informative and have given us lots of ideas about future professional development we hope to provide.

Low Vision Clinics
We continue to sponsor and conduct low vision clinics with Dr. Elana Scheiner. The most recent was in Morganton and the next one will be on the GMS Campus in July. William Tubilleja is our contact person for those clinics if you would like further information.

Work with Division of Services for the Blind on Transition Issues
Working with David Arthur, we have had meetings with Division of Services for the Blind staff in three regions and plan to continue meeting with staff across the state. The meetings have been interesting and informative for both groups and we look forward to finding ways to support each other’s programs to strengthen transition planning for students with visual impairment.

Instructional Materials Center
Our Instructional Materials Center is in place and we have been able to begin processing some APH orders locally. At this time it is strictly a warehouse and not the resource center we hope it will grow to be. At this time, we are only housing APH materials for shipment. A central location for these materials should make for more efficient use of the resource.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver
DSB does not have any items in the House and Senate’s budget; that means no reductions.  The Department has been requested to abolish 50 positions.  These are positions that have been vacant for at least 2 years. 

Mr. Weaver thanked all of the consumer groups and anyone else that had a part in stopping the merger.  

DSB’s staff on the top floor of Simpson Building will be moving to the basement of Fisher Building.  Construction of the basement should start within the next month. 

BEAM is still moving along.  Staff continues to work many hours to get BEAM up and running.  The projected go-live date is October 1, 2012. 

The BELL Program will be held in July and activities will be in the Haywood Building. 

The SAVVY Program at the Rehabilitation Center will be July 8-August 3. 

DSB has a new Business Coordinator, Mrs. Kathy Davis.  Mrs. Davis came to DSB from Illinois.  She will working with staff on job placements and standards. 

Preston Jones, Area Rehabilitation Supervisor in Asheville, will retire August 1.

American Council for the Blind—Ron Eller
Mr. Eller also thanked Disability Rights.  On the national level, they worked with the ACB very closely. 

The Fall Convention will be held in Greensboro, NC, September 28-30, at the Clarion Hotel on Swing Road.

The National Convention will be held in Louisville, KY, July 7-13. 

NCAER—Daniel Simmons and Dennis Thurman
Since 2010, AER has experienced a twenty percent decline in membership.  This could be because of the economics or the limited benefits AER is now offering. 

NCAER is developing a strategic plan to increase benefits and to rebuild the support for the VI professionals throughout the State.   In May a survey was sent to current and past members to determine their needs.  Members request relevant and current workshops for VI professionals for their professional development, networking opportunities, a compiled list of other VI professionals throughout the State, and a mentoring team.

The next Board meeting will be August 3 at NCCU.  This meeting is open to members and non-members. 

AER International meeting will be in Bellue, Washington, July 18-22. 

The North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness.  No date has been set but the focus will be on meeting the needs of the VI professionals. 

Mr. Thurman added since the time he has been a member, there have been 3 periods that AER has been down.  It is very possible it is because of the economy and we are looking at ways to make some changes.

Randolph Sheppard Act, BE Vending—Tim Jones
The BE Program’s gross sales is $12 million dollars annually.  There are 75 blind operators with 81 locations.  Average Operator Income is $43,500.  Four new locations will be opening very soon.

Chair Ray announced that Mr. William Purcell will not be seeking re-election.  Mr. Purcell has been a great fried to the blind of North Carolina for many years and we owe him a tremendous thank you.  He always took the time to explain the process.

Old Business
None

New Business
Elections—It’s time for re-elections for the President and Vice-President.

The floor was open for nominations for the President of the CAAC.  Mr. Eller nominated Gary Ray; Mr. Jones seconded; no more nominations were presented and Mr. Gary Ray was elected by acclimation.

The floor was open for nominations for the Vice-President of the CAAC.  Mr. Jones nominated Ron Eller; Mr. Simmons seconded; no more nominations were presented and Mr. Ron Eller was elected by acclimation. 

Meeting adjourned.

Next CAAC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 13, 2012, from 1 p.m. til 3 p.m.

 

 

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