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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

December 10, 2011

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
The Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind meeting was called to order by Gary Ray at 1:05 p.m.  Invocation was offered by Eddie Weaver.

Present in the Conference Room—Gary Ray, Debbie Jackson, Eddie Weaver, Connie Alexander, Ricky Scott, Daniel Simmons, Carl Keehn William Tubijella, Gina Powell, Kathy Davis, and Carla Parker. 

Connected by Conference Call—Annaliese Dolph, Julie Kagy, Allen Casey, Tim Jones, Ron Eller, Tommy Jenkins, and Ann Avery.

Approval of Minutes
Motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Connie Alexander and carried to approve the minutes of the September 10, 2010 meeting.

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

Upcoming Closing Dates:

December 24, 27 - Christmas
December 31 – New Year’s Day

NLS:

In September, the NLS abruptly ended the analog recording program, citing the inability to obtain cassette stock.  The original plan had been to phase the analog program out, over the next few months.  Instead, production was halted on any titles added since August and over 1,200 scheduled analog recordings were cancelled; to be produced in digital format only.  We received our final analog recording earlier this week.

The NLS still plans to produce 2,000 audio recordings each year, in digital format only.  They have also discontinued the quota system for ordering, which was established two years ago.

Magazine production will continue to be on cassette for the immediate future although the NLS is working to develop a means of providing magazine service in digital format.  All NLS provided magazines are available for download through the BARD system.

NLS has been turning over the administration of the BARD system to the local libraries.  We took over BARD administration on November 23.  The branding of the BARD pages was revised to reflect our involvement and the provided contact information is that of the NCLBPH.  We are now responsible for processing all applications for BARD service by North Carolina Patrons, as well as for providing primary support for the BARD program.

We received a draft copy of the NLS consultant report.  Overall, North Carolina did well.  Among the recommendations were that we needed three additional reader advisors to meet ALA standards and that we should attend the Regional and National conferences.

LBPH:

We continue to provide digital players to our patrons nearly as fast as they are provided to us.  Currently we have shipped over 94% of the machines that NLS has provided.  As their target is about 85%, we are doing well.  Currently we have provided digital players to about 80% of our audio readership, a target we had hoped to reach by January 1. 

Effective January 1, North Carolina is ceasing the production of books in analog format and will produce them only in digital format.  NLS specification blank cassettes are becoming very difficult to obtain as well as very expensive.  In addition, producing both an analog and digital format recording requires that we process the recording twice, each format requires a different front matter and markup.

We have begun providing digital magazine service on a trial basis.  Yankee Magazine and Your Dog are both recorded in digital format by the Perkins Library in Massachusetts.  As both magazines have a limited subscription list they are ideal for the trial.

Outreach Program—Gina Powell

The Outreach Program at the Library had its’ annual volunteer recognition dinner on November 4.  For the FY, the Library had 122 volunteers and 6100 hours being contributed. 

Other events that the Library participated in are as follows:  VIP Fishing Tournament, NC Assistive Technology Expo, NC Chapter of the National Federation for the Blind, NC Council of the Blind, 4 health fairs, Senior Center Book Club, and mini-centers.

A survey has been sent to patrons of the library.  Results will be shared at the next CAAC meeting in March. 

Governor Morehead School for the Blind—Debbie Jackson
In the absence of Barbria Bacon and Kelly Davis, Debbie Jackson reported on the GMS.  In early October, Barbria Bacon was appointed Interim Superintendent for GMS and the 2 schools for the Deaf; Kelly Davis was then appointed Interim School Director/Principal.

One of the students at GMS  received a 3rd place award in the EPA Science competition.  The State’s Science Bus was on campus.

GMS students have art work at the Touchable Art Gallery in Durham.

GMS Chorus has their winter festival on December 17 at 10 a.m. 

2 additional GMS K-12 teachers received their National Board Certifications.  

6 additional GMS Preschool teachers received their National Board Certifications.

Governor Morehead School also had to make their contribution to the critical needs list for DHHS.

Next week, Ms. Bacon and Ms. Jackson will be talking with DHHS about some of the critical needs that exist at both GMS and the schools for the deaf as well as the Preschool Early Intervention Program.

Chair Gary Ray remarked that the Governor Morehead School Human Rights Committee plans to continue to meet the same as they did while they were under DHHS.  In the DPI final transition report, the GMS Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the proposed make up of the Human Rights Committee under the transition plan will not protect the children of the 3 residential schools.  They have voted to submit a letter to the CAAC, DPI, and DHHS expressing their concerns.

Ms. Jackson reported that the GMS Interim Superintendent’s Office is working to keep open communications and involve staff as much as they can.  They are also working with DPI discussing operational support, interviewing for positions, etc.

Department of Public Instruction—Julie Kagy

The final transition plan originally was to be presented to the legislature December 1.  An extension was granted and will be presented to the Legislature this week. 

The first meeting of the Vision Partnership committee was held November 22 with representatives from UNC, ECU, DSB, and many other interested parties. 

In November, the Exceptional Children’s Conference and VI Institute was held with 50 teachers attending.  Attendance was so great that teachers had to be turned away. 

DPI has renewed its contract with the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver

DHHS has requested that all agencies submit their proposed budget cuts in the amounts of 5, 10, and 15 percent.  DSB has submitted their proposals.

Mr. Weaver attended and presented at the NCNFB Conference and the NCACB in September.

A new case management system for DSB has been in the works for a number of months.  A vendor has been selected, Liberia.  ARRA funds are being used to fund this project.  

Mr. Weaver also attended the VIP Fishing Tournament.  There were over 500 participants and more than 300 volunteers this year.  Staff from DSB attended to assist in transportation.  DSB’s Aids and Appliances section attended selling low vision products.  The VIP Fishing Tournament is funded by the Lions and we are deeply grateful to them. 

Mr. Weaver attended the CSAVR and NCSAB Conference in San Diego, CA, in November. 

A number of DSB retirements are coming up; hopefully, DSB will be able to fill the critical care positions. 

Several staff attended the NC Assistive Technology Expo. 

GW Micro provided training to DSB’s AT staff on Window Eyes.  This was a 3-day training held on the GMS Campus.

Disability Rights NC (DRNC)—Annaliese Dolph

DRNC has been meeting with Barbria Bacon, Debbie Jackson, Gary Ray and staff from the deaf schools regarding the lack of awareness of the differences in the 3 residential schools and the changes to the Human Rights Committee at each school. 

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Allen Casey

The NC Council of the Blind State Convention was recently held.  The main focus was Health and Safety.  Other topics and speakers present were the State Attorney General’s Office, NC Radio Reading Service, Women’s Health Initiative, and NCCU VITP. 

On the national level, the 2nd Vice President of ACB, Mrs. Ruby Dillon, was present along with her husband, Mr. Dan Dillon, President of the Tennessee Council of the Blind. 

The legislative seminar is coming up in late February.  The  “Pedestrian Safety and Enhancement Act” was passed on the Senate side.  On the House side, the act blended into the “Motor Vehicle Safety Act”.  Hopefully, the “Pedestrian Safety and Enhancement Act” will be signed by the end of the year.

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina—Gary Ray

The National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina State Convention was held in September in Burlington.  Next year’s state convention will be held the 2nd weekend in September in Winston-Salem.  The national convention will be held in Orlando, FL. 

The annual legislative lobbying is coming up.  Chair Ray has not seen the legislative agenda. 

North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind—Connie Alexander

Board meeting was held in September.  From the “Christmas in July” sale, the Association donated $150 to GMS.

North Carolina Association of Education Rehabilitation of the Blind  Visually Impaired—Daniel Simmons

NC AER is in the planning stages of the annual Super Conference scheduled for April 8 and 9 on the Governor Morehead School campus.   The keynote speaker is Captain Ivan Kester, a special forces captain who lost his eyesight while serving in Iraq.  Captain Kester is still on active duty.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Learn from the Past; Work for the Future”.

A charity race to encourage activeness within the visually impaired community is planned for March 26.  The “Raising Cane 5K” race will be held on the Dorothea Dix campus.  A 5K race will be held on March 26.  Sighted volunteers are needed to guide the visually impaired runners.  More details will follow. 

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones

Another military contract has been awarded to a blind operator.  It is the Coast Guard in Elizabeth City.

GMS Alumni—Ricky Scott

The Alumni held its winter meeting January 22 at the Brownstone Hotel in Raleigh.  Discussions were on increasing alumni enrollment, advancing the education of the visually impaired throughout NC, outreach and fundraising during these hard economic times.  Everyone is invited to attend.

The GMS Alumni Convention will be held August 5, 6, and 7, 2011 at the Brownstone Hotel.

Braille Literacy—Debbie Jackson

The Braille Literacy Council is continuing to plan the Raleigh-based braille challenge which is February 17.

The second braille challenge in the Western part of the state is February 18. 

Old Business:

Yesterday, the Governor released her plan for re-organizing State Government.  She is recommending merging 14 departments into 8 departments.  At this time, DHHS is not in this group. 

The Governor is also recommending a review of all of the Boards and Commissions.   Chair Ray is not sure if the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee is on this list. 

Eddie Weaver reported that DSB submitted new names for the Commission for the Blind members back in June.  No new appointments have been made to the Commission for the Blind.

All consumer and professional organizations need to stand ready to approach the legislature and work proactively with the legislature to insure services for one of the smallest disability groups in North Carolina is maintained at the high level as years past. 

A motion was made by Tim Jones, seconded by Connie Alexander and carried for the CAAC work with the legislature to assure a smooth transition in moving the residential schools to DPI.

A motion was made by Connie Alexander, seconded by Tim Jones and carried that the CAAC work with the legislature to insure the protection of the human rights of students at each of the 3 residential schools by continuing the Human Rights Committees along its current lines and insuring an independent ombudsman position for the 3 schools. 

Our next meeting is Friday, March 11, 2011, at 1 p.m.

Meeting is adjourned at 2:40 p.m.

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