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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

September 11, 2009

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 

Chairman Gary Ray called the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m.  A moment of silence was held in honor of 9/11 and all of the families and lives that were lost on that day.  Gary Ray offered the invocation. 

Present in the Conference Room were:  Gary Ray—Chair and President of National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina; Tim Jones—National Federation of the Blind and Elected Committee of Blind Vendors; Kathy Davis—AER; Debbie Jackson—Director, Services for the Blind; Raquel Martin—Prevent Blindness NC; Ricky Scott—GMS Alumni Association; Lawrence Carter—GMS Alumni Association; Barbria Bacon—GMS School Director; William Tubilleja—GMS Outreach; Julie Kagy—Department of Public Instruction; Ron Eller—NC Council of the Blind; and Carla Parker—Services for the Blind

On the conference call were:  Tommy Jenkins—Commission for the Blind; Connie Alexander—NC Association of Workers for the Blind; Deborah Wilson—Parent Advocate and Partners in Policy Making;

Approval of Minutes:

A motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Ron Eller, and carried to approve the minutes of the June 12, 2009 meeting.

Reports of Entities: 

Regional Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped—Carl Keehn

The first digital machines were shipped in mid-August.  Presently the Library has 151 digital talking book machines and they are expecting another shipment next week. 

National Library Services (NLS) has released a major software upgrade for the new machines.  This new software allows for multiple books on one cartridge.  Unfortunately, NLS is having quality control issues with the digital cartridges, specifically, with the labeling.  At the current time, patrons are only allowed 1 book at a time because of the limited number available. 

Because of budget cuts in the budget, the Library has to break the lease to the annex where the Braille collection is stored.  The library will be offering partial service which means the library will keep only 2 years of the Braille collection.  The Library will contract with Perkins School to provide back-up services to materials that are no longer stored at the annex. 

The Library is expanding its description video service to include DVD’s.  The cost of the expansion was underwritten by The Friends of the Library.  The Friends of the Library also provided financial support for a summer reading program.  The theme was “Be Creative at Your Library”. 

On September 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Library will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and welcomes everyone to stop by and enjoy the celebration. 

Governor Morehead School—Barbria Bacon

As everyone knows, one of the recommendations from the legislature was to close the Governor Morehead School.  Fortunately, that did not move forward this year. 

Governor Morehead School began this school year with Tucker Dupree participating in the opening events.  Mr. Dupree is a 21 year old man who lost his vision 2 ½ years ago.  He is a Paralympics swimmer and participated in the Olympics in Beijing.  Mr. Dupree is a great motivational speaker and full of enthusiasm.  If you would like to get in touch with him, he can be reached at 

Classes began on August 23.  Enrollment this year is currently 51 students and 5 students are waiting on admissions. 

State agencies are still under budget restrictions.  GMS has identified $250,000 of budget cuts.  GMS is developing a model of services that will assist people serving students with visually impairments.  GMS is developing a consultation and diagnostic clinic where students get evaluated and are assisted in getting the recommendations implemented.  

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy

DPI is on the 3rd year of renewing their contract with Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic to provide audio books to people who are print disabled.  This year every LEA will have their own membership to RFB&D funded through DPI.  The reason for this is that RFB&D is moving toward downloadable files rather than CD’s and each LEA must have their own membership to be able to download these files.

Correction Enterprises will attend the American Printing House Conference.  Debbie Jackson will report further on the Prison Braille.   

The Consultant for Hearing Impairment and Ms. Kagy have been traveling across the State and working with groups of LEA’s to discuss the available resources and services that can be shared so their students are covered.

DPI and NCCU are hoping to receive a professional development grant.  A survey has been sent to teachers and professionals across the State to determine which professional development areas they are interested in.

Isabelle Perry, a student from St. Mary Magalene School in Apex, won the national award for the APH Art Contest for 4th 5th and 6th grade. 

Gary Ray acknowledged the commitment Debbie Jackson has shown to the blindness community.  Ms. Jackson will be retiring October 1.  The members of the CAAC thanked Ms. Jackson for all of her work and dedication. 

Division of Services for the Blind—Debbie Jackson

Ms. Jackson thanked the group for all of their hard work.  Ms. Jackson will stay involved with the blindness community. 

Prison Braille—DSB has been in contact with DOC to study the prisons setting up a Braille unit.  More details will follow as time goes on.  This will assist getting Braille books into our school system and assist the inmates in developing a skill to use when they leave prison. 

Budget—Overall, DSB came out fairly well.  DSB’s budget cuts were spread across different programs but overall, it was around $600,000.  Since Medical Eye Care is completely State funded, the Medical Eye Care Program suffered the largest hit. 

All agencies were asked to hold back 5%--If the budget gets better, some of this money will be released back to the agencies. 

DSB is able to sponsor Newsline for $75,000—this is a 1-year appropriation.   

Prevent Blindness of NC—Raquel Martin

Prevent Blindness of NC has a program “Donor Dot”.  Letters were sent to doctors in North Carolina to determine if they were willing to perform eye exams/glasses to children whose parents cannot afford this expense.  The response was great with 304 doctors responding and providing 869 exams and 484 pairs of glasses during SFY 2008/2009.

This year similar letters were sent to doctors requesting eye exams/glasses for adults.  Again, 111 doctors responded and they have provided 295 eye exams and 220 pairs of glasses.

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Ron Eller

Mr. Eller thanked Gary Ray for the opportunity for the 2 consumer groups to work together against the closing of the Governor Morehead School.

The State Convention will be held September 25-27 in Raleigh.   Mr. Eller will no longer be president of the North Carolina Council of the Blind after the State Convention. 

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina is being held this weekend at the Holiday Inn at Crabtree.

The National Convention was held in Detroit this year with 2,800 people attending. 

About one-half of the Louis Braille silver dollars have been sold.  The coins sell for $40. 

The Washington Seminar will be held at the end of January/first of February 2010.

Next year’s national convention will be held in Dallas, TX.

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind—Connie Alexander

The NCAWB State Convention was held in July.  Ms. Alexander was elected President.  She is looking forward to serving the group and hopes to build up membership. 

North Carolina Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired—Kathy Davis/William Tubilleja

Each year DHHS selects a teacher of the year.  This year Dan Simmons of the Governor Morehead School was DHHS’s Teacher of the Year.

NCAER drafted a response to the special provision of closing GMS.  NCAER is now planning the conference which will be held in March.  Discussion is being held as to have a 1-day conference or a full conference.  Last year, budget issues only allowed for a 1-day conference. 

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones/Ron Eller

In 2008/2009, the Business Enterprise Program’s sales were down by about 1 million dollars.  This was due to gas prices, economy, and Mt. Mitchell restaurant being partially closed due to the road repairs. 

The US Postal Service is contracting with “National Vending”.  The BE Program is looking at an agreement with the postal service. 

Ron Eller reported about the State of Virginia closing approximately 20 roadside rest areas.  Virginia Representative Wolfe offered an amendment to commercialize all highway rest areas across the United States.  This amendment was defeated.  This would be a devastating blow to the Randolph-Sheppard act if this moves forward. 

Ron Eller will send Carla Parker “talking points” and a list of committee members.  Carla will forward to each CAAC member this information so contact can be made. 

GMS Alumni—Ricky Scott/Lawrence Scott

Mr. Scott thanked the Council and the Federation in its efforts to save GMS.  The alumni participated in this effort. 

The 2nd official GMS Alumni convention was held this year and was well attended. 

GMS Alumni participated in the GMS’s graduation ceremony by presenting 2 scholarships to students and a staff member at the school. 

Old Business


New Business

Chair Gary Ray thanked everyone at the table for all of their support and efforts in saving GMS.  A motion was made by Ron Eller and seconded by Tim Jones and carried for the CAAC to develop a recommendation concerning the future of the residential school for the Blind, Governor Morehead School, and present this to the legislature.   This issue will keep coming back year after year.  The CAAC was developed to advise the legislatures on all issues concerning the blind in NC. 


Following an adjournment motion by Kathy Davis, seconded by Ron Eller, and carried, the Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee adjourned at 2:45 p.m.

The next CAAC meeting is December 11, 2009.


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