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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

September 7, 2007

Call to Order and Invocation 

Chair Gary Ray called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Committee for the Blind to order at 11:05 a.m. on Friday, September 7, 2007.  This meeting is being held at 11 a.m. rather than the usual 1 p.m. to accommodate training for the Commission for the Blind members.  Ron Eller offered the invocation. 

The following members were present: Chair Gary Ray,  Debbie Jackson (Director of Services for the Blind), Kathy Davis (Outreach Director of GMS and Vice-President of NCAER), Betty Clary (Prevent Blindness of North Carolina representing Jennifer Talbot), Lion Ken Bucher (Board Director on NC Lions Foundation representing Steve Walker, NC Lions Foundation, and Steve Wilson, State Council of NC Lions), and Ron Eller (NC Council of the Blind). 

The following members were connected by conference call:

Tim Jones (State President of NFB and representative for the Elected Committee of Vendors) and Ann Vieregge (President of North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind).

Others in attendance were:  Penny Rummel (Lions Club), Lara Handler (Outreach and Volunteer Services with NC Library for the Blind), Barbria Bacon (School Director of Governor Morehead School), Julie Kagy (DPI Consultant for Visual Impairment and Assistive Technology), Allen Casey (2nd Vice President of the NC Council for the Blind), Francine Martin (Regional Librarian of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped), and Carla Parker (Executive Assistant with Division of Services for the Blind).

Welcome and Remarks

Chair Ray welcomed and thanked everyone for their presence.  He also explained how a quorum will be determined.  If a representative is present in place of one of the voting members, that person will be counted as a voting member and included in the number required for a quorum.    Before the next meeting in December, Chair Ray will further investigate to see if this method for counting a quorum is correct. 

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made by Ron Eller, seconded by Tim Jones, and carried to approve the minutes of the June 8, 2007 meeting. 

Report of Entities:

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

Upcoming LBPH Closing Dates:

  • November 12, 2007---Veteran’s Day
  • November 22 & 23, 2007--- Thanksgiving Holidays
  • November 30, 2007 & December 3, 4, & 5, 2007--- Library Database Conversion & Staff Training for Major New Software Release for LBPH KLAS Software

Note:  The OPAC will be down starting 5:00 pm November 29, 2007 through December 4, 2007.

NCLBPH will experience a brief, rare, non-holiday closing at the end of November.   The Library will be closed to the public Friday, November 30, and Monday through Wednesday, December 3rd,  4th, and 5th.   As the library opens for business again on Thursday, December 6th, library staff will be using updated computer software to provide your library service.  

The NCLBPH online public access catalog (OPAC) will not be available while the software is upgraded, starting 5:00 p.m. Thursday, November 29th.   The OPAC should be available by end of day Tuesday, December 4, 2007, with a new search option: Users will be able to look up an item by book number, for example, RC063501.   Also in the new OPAC, if you log in and place a request for an item, the system will tell you if it is a book you already had or is of a type you’ve previously indicated you don’t want.  You will be able to override that notice and request the item anyway, if you so desire.  Otherwise, the OPAC will look and function the same as before the upgrade. 

NLS Digital Book Download Opportunity Soon to Open

  • HumanWare announced the launch of Victor Reader Stream, a palm-size Daisy/MP3/NISO player.  For the announcement and a complete description of the player go to  In the description of this player, HumanWare states that the Victor Reader Stream, once authorized, will be able to play NLS digital talking books from a removable SD card or from an attached USB flash drive.
  • NLS has opened the pilot book-and-magazine download site to patrons who are active readers and who have purchased a third-party digital talking-book player to read NLS digital books.  The Victor Reader Stream is the first such player.  NLS DTB playback capability may also be added to other existing and future assistive technology devices during the next few months. 
  • To be eligible for the pilot project the patron must also have high-speed Internet service such as DSL or cable, have access to a computer connected to the Internet for downloading and unzipping books and/or magazines, and have access to an active e-mail address.
  • Patrons who meet that criteria and are interested in joining the pilot project may contact NCLBPH to obtain the URL to use to request participation in this project.   NLS will notify the patron and issue the patron a  user ID, password, and instructions.

Recorded Disc (RD) Circulation to Be Discontinued; Record format declared obsolete:

NLS has declared the old record format of talking books obsolete.   In accordance with this change in the national service, starting in October 2007, NCLBPH will no longer house a collection of the records (RDs).   If a patron needs a title in record format that is not available in any other format, NCLBPH staff will still be able to interlibrary loan a copy for the patron.   The few library users who are still occasionally receiving this format will be notified of this change in September 2007.   All those users are primarily using other formats, such as cassette tape or Braille.

Silver & Gold Outreach Efforts

With the help and support of the Friends of NCLBPH, LBPH’s new Outreach and Volunteer Services Librarian, Lara Handler, has begun an outreach campaign to hopefully reach a population of readers who may not yet be aware of the many services available to them from our state as they are losing their sight.   It is hoped public libraries across the state may serve as a springboard to reach eligible users in targeted communities.  In late August, she did presentations at two assisted living facilities in North Wilkesboro, two senior centers in Boone, two public libraries in Ashe and Wilkes counties, and appeared as a special guest with the Ashe County public librarian on a local morning radio show in West Jefferson.   

The LBPH has historically enjoyed a strong 2-way referral relationship with DSB, as staff of each agency routinely informs consumers of the valuable services offered by both DSB and LBPH.   As the LBPH outreach moves more toward previously unidentified potential users of both agencies, we hope to continue this mutually supportive relationship.  

Friends & LBPH outreach will continue to include presentations and booths at major VI events and at smaller group events as time allows.  On August 22nd a presentation was made at the Senior Seminar Week held at Gov. Morehead School.  In September Gary Ray will be introducing our new Outreach and Volunteer Services Librarian to attendees of the NFB and NCCB state conventions.

The next LBPH “Tar Heel Talk” newsletter is already in draft form and is planned for distribution in November 2007.   From that point, we hope to maintain a quarterly publication schedule.   Agencies who would like to submit information for consideration for inclusion in the LBPH newsletter may contact Lara Handler for publication schedule and deadline information for issues going out in 2008.  She can be reached by email at or via the library’s regular phone numbers, toll-free 1-888-388-2460, or locally 733-4376.  

The date is set for NCLBPH’s Volunteer Recognition event, funded by the Friends of NCLBPH.  It will be November 7, 2007, 6-9 pm at the Clarion Hotel in Raleigh.

Governor Morehead School—Mrs. Barbria Bacon

Mrs. Bacon, Director of GMS, introduced herself, giving a brief background of her work experience.  Mrs. Bacon worked for the Maryland School for the Blind for 19 years, and in 1999 she began employment with the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.  Mrs. Bacon is very excited about the advocacy and team work among constituents serving the visually-impaired in North Carolina.  The first week of school at GMS went well with only a few problems.  Mrs. Bacon welcomed any questions now or in the future. 

Ann Vieregge, NCAWB President, asked Mrs. Bacon to attend one of their Board meetings in the future.  Mrs. Bacon will contact Mrs. Vieregge about future meeting dates. 

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy

Based on a recommendation from the fiscal research division, within State government, the General Assembly decreed that DHHS and DPI must join together to do a study to look at 3 issues regarding residential schools for the blind and deaf.  The three issues are:  1) evaluation of the State’s entire service delivery model (how services are delivered to all students across the State and the training needs of professional staff, access to assistive technology, and curriculum content), 2) determine whether the State schools for the Deaf and Blind should remain under DHHS or should management of schools be transferred to DPI, and 3) develop a plan to reduce the institutional capacity to an appropriate level for meeting the needs of hearing and visually-impaired students in North Carolina. 

No committees have been developed yet.  If anyone has  comments or questions, please contact Tom Winton, Julie Kagy or Barbria Bacon. 

Previously, audio textbooks were provided to students in North Carolina’s public schools through the State’s textbook warehouse.  There was a pilot project done to see if using recorded discs from RFB & D (Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic) rather than books on tape would be a better way of providing information to students.  From the pilot project, it was agreed discs would be better and it was proposed to take the pilot project Statewide.  Within the last 2 weeks, funds have been transferred to the Exceptional Children’s Division for audio textbooks.  Now the finances for audio textbooks will be handled through the Exceptional Children’s Division and all local education agencies who need audio textbooks for books on the state-adopted textbook list will receive those from RFB & D.  These will be provided to them at no cost and will have membership based on the amount of books ordered previously.  Memberships will be at Level I which is 25, Level II which is 50, and Level III is 100.  Up to 5 victor vibes and 5 pieces of easy reader software will be provided to each LEA.  This will be provided to LEA’s coming through the Exceptional Children’s Division and audio textbooks will no longer be handled by the State textbook warehouse. 

Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

The Department of Health and Human Services has a new Secretary, Mr. Dempsey Benton.  Carmen Hooker Odom is leaving to take a job in New York.

Legislative Update:  The economic needs scale changed for all of our programs.  For example, in the Rehab Program for a family of 1, the old scale was $694 per month and with the new scale, the monthly allowable income is $1,604.

In our Medical Eye Care Program, the scale increased from $405 per month for a family of 1 to $1,604 per month.  Income scales are currently at 125% of the federal poverty level. 

DSB also obtained additional case service money in support of the economic needs scale changes for our VR and Medical Eye Care Program.  For our VR Program because the State money we receive also draws Federal money, the program should be fine.  The Medical Eye Care Program is only State money and DSB is not sure that the additional money will take care of the added number of people that will be served.  The increase in the cost of medical services will also have an impact on the Program.   

DSB also received approval for 4 additional positions—3 Independent Living Counselor positions in the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program and 1 Assistive Technology position.

Sally Syria, Chief of Medical Eye Care/Independent Living Services, recently retired after 32 years of service.  Her position has not yet been posted.  It should be posted in a couple of weeks after we determine if any changes need to be made in the job description. 

At this time, Tim Jones had to leave the conference call. 

Penny Rummel—Lions Club

A support group has been formed for the blind and visually impaired in Southwest Wake County.  It was formed approximately 6 months and has 22 participants.  The meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at the Holly Springs Cultural Center from 10 til 12 noon.  The support group has a guest speaker each month.  Recently, the group visited Camp Dogwood. 

Ken Bucher added that, hopefully, this will be duplicated in other communities and the Lions will learn more about the needs and issues the visually-impaired face. 

State Council of North Carolina Lions—Ken Bucher

The Council of Governors is starting a new program with FEMA and the Department of Emergency Management.  When disasters occur and FEMA or the Department of Emergency Management are involved, the Lions will also assist.  First, training must occur through FEMA and the Department of Emergency Management.  The majority of the work by the Lions will be in the staging area, away from the impacted area.  The Lions will assist people with completing any paperwork that may need to be completed so they will qualify for any assistance available.  Anyone that would like to become a Lion and assist with this program is welcome. For more information, contact

North Carolina Lions Foundation—Ken Bucher

Camp Dogwood has a new dorm being built and it is estimated being completed by January 2008. 

Seven hundred and eight (708) people attended camp this summer with 132 first-time campers.  Due to construction, the camp was limited to 64 campers per week.  Next summer when the new dorm is complete, there will be room for 88 campers. 

Prevent Blindness North Carolina—Betty Clary

Prevent Blindness has three programs:

1) Preschool Vision Screening Program which goes into preschools and day cares and does vision screening with a photo-refractive camera.  This year, the Preschool Vision Screening Program will be screening in approximately 30 counties throughout the State.

2) School-Based Program—A bill was recently passed mandating vision screening for all children entering kindergarten.  This will be mandatory beginning in the 2008/2009 school year. 

3) Adult Program—This program is operated strictly by grants.  Two major screenings are coming up—the Lafiesta (Hispanic) and the State Fair, October 12-21.  At the State Fair, the booth will be in the Education Building. 

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

Council of the Blind’s National Convention was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in July.  The convention was very successful.  Mitch Pomerantz was elected as the new President. 

The State Convention will be held September 28-30 in Clemmons, NC.

World Blind Union (WBU) is assisting in getting information out about an essay competition for visually impaired teenagers.  Twenty-four visually impaired teenagers representing all six WBU regions will join together for three days of activities in Spain.   

ACB Radio is an internet website that broadcasts to the blind/low vision community.  It can be accessed through .  For the past 3 years, the Council’s national convention has been broadcast live on ACB Radio. This year Ronnie Milsap sponsored the entire cost. 

Allen Casey added he became aware of an event with the Indian Classical Music and Dance Society.  This event will involve visually-impaired dancers from Bangalore India.  It will be held October 7 at East Chapel Hill High School. 

For more information, visit

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The National Convention was held in Atlanta, GA.  About 1,000 members marched from the hotel to the Olympic Park.

The State Convention will be September 14-16 in Greensboro, NC.  Dr. Mark Maury, President of the National Federation of the Blind, will be the keynote speaker.

The State Legislature allocated $75,000 for NewsLine to run this year in North Carolina.  There are two sources of   newspaper information for the visually impaired available in NC: (1) Radio Reading Service and (2) NewsLine.  The Library for the Blind can provide more information on each of these services.  The e-mail address for the Library is and telephone number is 919-733-4376.

Left Turn on Red was defeated again this year.  North Carolina is one of the few States that does not have Left Turn on Red. 

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind—Ann Vieregge

A NCAWB Meeting was held in July 2007 on the campus of Governor Morehead School.  Attendance was good.  Ms. Vieregge thanked Gary Ray for all of his help and looks forward to working with him this coming year.  There is a board meeting tomorrow in Raleigh and Donna Permar will be joining the meeting to talk about fund raising ideas. 

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

The Super Conference is being planned for April 24-26, 2008.  The agenda is about one-half complete.  For more information, the website is

Elected Committee of Vendors—Ron Eller

Question was asked about the State Health Plan for BE Operators.  For years, BE Operators and families were covered under the State Health Plan then the State cancelled the coverage.  For now, operators and families are temporarily covered. 

Old Business


New Business

From North Carolina Lions Foundation, Ken Bucher reported that only 12 sighted students of visually impaired parents applied for scholarships.  Money is available but no one is applying for them.    For more information, contact the Lions at

Next meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee is December 7 at 1 p.m.

Following an adjournment motion by Ron Eller, a second by Julie Kagy, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 12:25. 

Respectfully submitted,

Gary Ray, Chair

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind


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