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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

September 12, 2003

Call to Order and Invocation

Chairman Tim Jones called the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind to order at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 12, 2003. A roll call was conducted and the following members were present: Steve Walker, Hazel Staley, Diane Whitley, and Kimberly Kiser.

Members not present: Brian Lewis, Don Matney, Jim Baker, and Representative Pete Cunningham.

Others present: Debbie Jackson, Emily DuBois, Francine Martin, Tom Winton, and Pat Robbins from Charlotte.

Welcome and Remarks

Mr. Jones welcomed those present and asked Ms. Staley to offer the invocation.

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve the minutes of the June 13, 2003 meeting.

Report of Entities

Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped – Francine Martin

Room to Grow

  • The LBPH will remain in its current location, and in October 2003 begin leasing annex space in the building next door to the LBPH. The Braille collection will be moved into that annex space. This should give room for 10 years’ growth of all collections.
  • State Library Administration is ensuring funding for the annex rent and additional shelving to accommodate 5 years’ growth of the Braille and cassette tape collections. This is despite no additional funding in the current fiscal year’s budget for the State Library. They are also supporting contracting with a company to move the Braille collection.

Staffing and Services

LBPH is undergoing reorganization of staffing. One position (vacant) in State Library was cut by the legislature this year, but it was not in the LBPH, even though the LBPH had 3 of the 5 vacant positions.

However, given the 25% reduction in staffing of the LBPH over the past 10 years, a major reorganization was warranted. The Assistant State Librarian led the process to study tasks and positions and determined the reorganization, with the following goals in mind:

  • Complete toll-free line coverage all hours the library is open.
  • Adequate supervision in all areas of the library.
  • Improving accuracy of the library’s online catalog.
  • Improving availability of copies of older popular books.
  • Additional volunteer recruitment to compensate for loss of positions.
  • Accomplishing the above with existing positions.

Key changes in responsibilities include:

  • The Assistant Regional Librarian will be focusing solely on patron services staff and will be providing daily direct patron service (manning WATS lines, etc.).
  • The vacant Reader Advisor position was changed to a Circulation Unit Supervisor position (vacant).
  • The Collection Librarian (vacant) will no longer be directly supervising the Circulation Unit staff, but will be focusing on cataloging, collection development, and materials production and machine unit supervision.
  • The Outreach and Volunteer Services Director (Gary Ray) will no longer supervise the Materials Production operations and will focus more on outreach and volunteer recruitment.

Status of the reorganization goals:

  • Kristen Beebe was hired July 21 as Assistant Regional Librarian. Full WATS coverage resumed as of August 20, 2003, so library users should find it easier to get through to the library on the toll-free lines.
  • The two vacant positions should be filled by November. Hopefully, by January 2004, progress can begin on the remaining goals.

Wayne Yelton, Ron Eller, and Keri Lohmeier entered the meeting.

Governor Morehead School – Keri Lohmeier for Judy Plymale

Enrollment Report/Staff Update

  • As of August 8, 2003, 68 students are enrolled in the instructional program.
  • GMS Preschool is opening the school year with 254 children ages’ birth to three and 319 children ages three to five.
  • GMS is pleased to welcome Kathy Davis, the first GMS Outreach Director.

Instructional Services

  • After the completion of the mandatory Braille class, 18 of the 19 staff passed with at least a 90% proficiency level. Congratulations on a job well done to Keri Lohmeier and staff. Staff will complete the Nemeth Course and focus on functional vision assessments during the fall semester.
  • The summer program was a great success. Eleven students from GMS participated in paid work experiences. The Expanded Core camp gave both GMS students and those across the state the opportunity to focus on orientation and mobility skills, daily living skills, community-based instruction, music, sports and socialization. Next year we expect even more students to join in this unique experience toward higher independence.

Outreach Services

  • Planning for the 2nd Annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness has begun. GMS is very excited about being able to, once again, partner with DPI, DSB, and AER to sponsor a spring conference on the GMS campus.

Preschool Services

  • Eastern preschool staff (comprised of personnel from the Greenville, Elizabeth City, and Morehead City locations) will be co-sponsoring a 3rd annual parents/professionals weekend at the Trinity Center in Salter Path during October.

Student Life Services

  • During summer camp, students experienced fishing from a charter boat in Swansboro, NC. The "Take a Kid Fishing" organization sponsored the fishing trip, offering transportation, meals, fishing, and souvenirs.

Department of Public Instruction – Tom Winton

Textbooks Update

The study on the overall operations of the State Textbook Warehouse, which was discussed at the last Consumer and Advocacy meeting, recommended the development of more clear procedures for ordering modified textbooks (i.e., those in Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.). It also recommended the development of an Instructional Materials Resource Center (IMRC) and that this IMRC combine the current functions of the warehouse in handling modified textbook orders and of the Exceptional Children Division in handling Federal Quota Funds for supplemental instructional materials. The study was accepted by the State Board of Education in July and referred to DPI for consideration. Procedures are being developed within DPI to clarify the process and guidelines for ordering modified textbooks. Future action for establishing an IMRC is being studied by an internal committee. The C&A Advisory Committee will be updated on its progress at the next scheduled meeting.

NCCU-VITP Advisory Board

The Advisory Board to the Visual Impairment Training Program (VITP) at NCCU continues to meet bimonthly, with Tom Winton and Dr. Deborah Hatton as co-chairs. Dr. Alana Zambone has been hired by NCCU as a fulltime faculty member and is now the Director of the program.

Summer Institutes

The Exceptional Children Division held two institutes on low vision services in August. One was in Charlotte (19 professionals trained) and the other was in Raleigh (46 professionals trained).

53rd Conference on Exceptional Children

The conference will be held on October 27-29, 2003 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. This year’s theme is "Together We Can Do So Much", a quote from Helen Keller. One of the presenters at the conference plenary session is Jeff Moyer, a singer and motivational speaker who is blind. Two instructional sessions scheduled for the conference focus on effective management of an itinerant VI caseload and electronic access of textbooks for students with visual impairments. The Governor Morehead School chorus will perform for the plenary session. There will also be a hands-on assistive technology lab, including technology for students with visual impairments. More information is available at www.ncpublicschools.org/ec/conference/ .

APH Quota Funds

The 2003 Federal Quota Census for legally blind students was finalized in August. There were 771 students registered from North Carolina public schools and 328 students registered from North Carolina private, non-profit educational agencies. This census generates the Federal Quota Funds disbursed to the Department of Public Instruction, which are used to purchase instructional materials from the American Printing House for the Blind.

The fiscal year for APH Quota Funds ends on September 30. All remaining Quota Funds are being spent before the end of the month. Specific expenditures are being made for large print and Braille textbooks and an investment in a supply of the new BookPort electronic book reading devices. These devices will be made available on loan to schools throughout the state to help students in the transition to digital book access.

Testing

The APH meeting on testing that was mentioned at the last meeting has been rescheduled for January or February of 2004. The September meeting date has been revised to only include private test publishing companies. State Departments of Education will meet at the later date. This is an effort to ensure that statewide tests are following the guidelines recommended by experts throughout the country.

Standards and Licensure

New standards for the VI teaching license are still being reviewed by stakeholders in the field.

Second Annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness

The Exceptional Children Division looks forward to sponsoring the next conference, which this past year grew out of a combination of the NCAER and GMS Outreach Conference. Tentative dates for the conference, which will also be sponsored by DSB, GMS, and NCAER and others, are March 11-13, 2004.

Deaf/Blind Functional Vision Assessment Workshop

The Exceptional Children Division is sponsoring a workshop on functional vision assessments for students with deaf/blindness. It will be held on September 25-26 in Shelby, NC. More information on this workshop has been sent to VI professionals throughout the State.

Division of Services for the Blind – Debbie Jackson for John DeLuca

Retreat

On the morning of August 1, 2003, members of the management teams from DSB, the Division of Services for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing and the Office of Education Services met with Secretary Hooker Odom, Deputy Secretary Lanier Cansler, and Assistant Secretary Lynda McDaniel in a mini-retreat setting to discuss programs, vision and goals for these programs for the next year and a half, and any obstacles that might prevent attainment of those goals. The session offered a unique opportunity to talk about hopes and concerns with the Secretary in a small group setting that was conducive to open discussion. As such, it was a valuable opportunity for all concerned. The fact that Secretary Hooker Odom is having such meetings with DHHS Divisions is very noteworthy and much appreciated.

Retirement

Lynda McDaniel, Assistant Secretary, will be retiring at the end of September. Ms. McDaniel will be replaced by Jackie Sheppard.

RSA Monitoring Visit

During the week of August 18, 2003, DSB hosted a monitoring visit by Mary Davis of the Atlanta office of RSA. These monitoring visits occur on an annual basis. Areas reviewed by Ms. Davis included transition services, standards and indicators, relationships between DSB and joblink centers, and the status of agreements between DSB and public institutions of higher learning in North Carolina. Although DSB does not expect to receive the written report of the visit until October or November, it is believed that the report will be a positive one.

NewsLine

At present, 37 states have NewsLine for the blind, a service through which eligible users can access many newspapers across the nation, including the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, through the touch-tone telephone. North Carolina has had this service on a statewide basis for the last year and a half through a federal grant to the National Federation of the Blind. These grant funds are about to expire and advocates worked very hard this year to obtain legislative funding for the continuation of this service. Although that effort was unsuccessful, DHHS and DSB have identified sufficient resources to continue the service for a year while advocates seek legislative funding in 2004.

Recruitment

Two important initiatives are underway in DSB at the present time. These include the search for an additional Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselor, to be based in the Raleigh District Office, and replacement of a Low Vision Specialist, who left DSB to resume his education.

Recent and Upcoming Events

During the weeks of June 16 and August 4, the Rehabilitation Center hosted seminars for independent living consumers. These seminars focused on additional instruction in such areas as assistive technology, orientation and mobility, and Braille. During the second and fourth weekends in September, Camp Dogwood will host persons who are deaf/blind. During October 13-15, the VIP Fishing Tournament will take place on the Outer Banks. Approximately 550 blind and visually impaired individuals are expected to attend.

State Council of the North Carolina Lions – Diane Whitley

Ms. Whitley stated that she had nothing to report. Ms. Whitley replaces Billy Herring.

North Carolina Lions Foundation – Steve Walker

Mr. Walker reported the following:

  • The summer camping session was just completed at Camp Dogwood. 800 campers attended the 12 weeks. Numbers are down slightly this year.
  • The Board has approved construction of a new dormitory. The new dorm will replace the existing Bell Dorm, which was the first dorm built on the campus in 1969-70.
  • The first deaf/blind weekend is being held this weekend. The second deaf/blind weekend will be held on September 26-28.
  • Many requests are coming in for Lions’ assistance, so funding may be an issue in the coming years.
  • The vision van is active. Referrals are coming in at about 40%.

Prevent Blindness North Carolina – Kimberly Kiser for Jennifer Talbot

State-Funded Programs

With the legislature adjourned, Prevent Blindness North Carolina (PBNC) did as well as could be expected with regards to continuing state funding for our public schools and preschool programs. The public school training program, serving 550,000 K-6 children, received 90% of funding (the same as the year before). The preschool photo-screening funding was cut in half although the good news was that the program was budgeted as recurring instead of non-recurring.

Photo-screening Study

PBNC is in the early planning stages to conduct a study of photo-screening technology for preschool. It is expected that Prevent Blindness America and the Centers for Disease Control will be sponsoring this study. The RFP process from PBA to the CDC happened in August, and it is anticipated that PBA will receive news some time this month.

Adult Screening

PBNC has been working with Senator Edwards and Representatives McIntire and Watts to secure funding from the National Glaucoma Caucus to fund vision screenings for African-Americans in New Hanover and Mecklenburg counties. PBNC has also applied to the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation for adult screening funds for the down East area of the state.

PBA News

Prevent Blindness America has continued its discussions with Lighthouse International concerning a merger of the two organizations. A decision is expected in November.

North Carolina Council of the Blind – Wayne Yelton

Mr. Yelton reported the following:

  • ACB held its national convention in July in Pittsburgh.
  • NCCB State Convention is to be held September 26-28 in Burlington.
  • Two new chapters have been formed, one in Alamance County and one in Fayetteville.
  • The 1st Vice President just returned from a trip to DC working on legislative issues including the Randolph Sheppard Act, and the Surface Transportation Act.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina – Hazel Staley

  • In June, NFB members from around the state were very active in visiting and calling Senators regarding H147, Left Turn on Red, and in distributing NewsLine information. The blindness community was successful in defeating H147. DHHS has picked up funding for NewsLine for the rest of the year. NFB will be working with the Department regarding ongoing funding for NewsLine in their expansion budget.
  • Twenty-six members from North Carolina attended the NFB national convention in Louisville, Kentucky in July.
  • A new chapter was organized in Asheville on August 2, and we have three more areas on hold until after the state convention, which will be held in Rocky Mount this weekend at the Gateway Holiday Inn. Everyone is invited to attend.
  • NFB is concerned about a movement in Congress related to Medicare. Some members of Congress want to allow doctors to prescribe rehabilitation services for senior blind, and NFB is opposed to this. It is felt that this service should be left up to the state and the professionals who are trained for this.

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind – Don Matney

No Report

North Carolina Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired – Jim Baker

No Report

Elected Committee of Vendors – Tim Jones

No Report

Legislators

No Report

Old Business

Mr. Winton asked for an update on Left Turn on Red. Mr. Jones stated that the bill is sleeping. It made it to the 3rd reading in the Senate. It was strongly supported by the House. This bill was discussed at length at the June meeting. This committee will continue to follow up and oppose this bill.

New Business

None

Adjournment of Meeting

With no further business, motion was made, seconded, and carried that the meeting be adjourned. The meeting adjourned at 2:15 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for December 12, 2003 at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Jones, Chair
Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind

 

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