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

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Minutes

December 13, 2012

The Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee (CAAC) for the Blind met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Thursday, December 13, 2012.  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 p.m. 

Present in the Conference Room:  Gary Ray, Daniel Simmons, Eddie Weaver, Debbie Jackson, Corye Dunn, Steve Walker, Carl Keehn, Dennis Thurman, Senator Austin Allran, and Carla Parker

Connected by conference call:  Alan Casey, Steve Harris, Tim Jones, and Jennifer Talbot

Eddie Weaver provided the invocation.

Daniel Simmons presented his report first as he had another commitment.

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

NCAER is committed to meeting the needs of the VI professionals and make this a more active association.  This past year NCAER sponsored an IPOD and IOS device training.  Trainings were held in Raleigh, Wilmington and Morganton.  Members voted on November 30 to support two more trainings. 

NCAER has suffered a significant declined in membership.  In an effort to recruit new members if a member recruits a new member, their name is entered into a drawing for $100.  The goal is to recruit 30 new members. 

NCAER has been very supportive of Raising Cane and helped launch Raising Cane to become its own non-profit organization 501 C 3.  Funds raised by the race will be used to develop a sports camp for visually impaired children, Camp Abilities NC

The NCCVIB conference will be held April 19-20, 2013.  We are currently pursuing presenters and speakers. 

Update by Chair, Gary Ray

Mr. Ray had hoped that he would have more to report.  We are watching the incoming Governor and the new Legislature.  At this time, we are uncertain what our challenges, if any, will be for the upcoming long session of the Legislature.  Governor McCrory will be sworn in January 5. 

Governor McCrory announced the new DHHS Secretary today, Dr. Aldona Wos.

Regional Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped—Carl Keehn

Upcoming Holidays:

Christmas Holiday                                       December 24 – 26, 2012
New Years Day                                Tuesday         January 1, 2013
Martin Luther King Day                  Monday          January 21, 2013


The conversion of magazine service to a digital format is moving along.  Contracts have been issued with the producer and the producer has been provided with a supply of digital cartridges.

The new Braille/Audio BARD service rolled out publically on Thursday November 29.  BARD was shut down over the Thanksgiving weekend, with the new BARD scheduled to be active on Tuesday November 27.  Issues with the rollout delayed the restart by two days.  With the new BARD service, readers can download Web-Braille and Digital Audio downloads from a single site.  In addition, the new site offers enhancements including a reader history, the ability to save titles for later download in a “wish list” and the ability to make minor modifications in the appearance and the display of titles.

Northstar Systems Inc., the producer of the digital cartridges; has reported to NLS that they may be unable to meet contractual obligations to manufacture the cartridges.  They are defaulting on recent orders placed by Network Libraries.  Carolyn Sung, the head of Network Services informed me that it should not have any impact on NLS services at the present time.  The producer for the digital magazine service has been provided with cartridges to start the transition and NLS maintains a sufficient reserve of blank cartridges to provide a bit of a cushion for the book production. 


As a result of the transition to digital magazine service, we are in the process of contacting magazine subscribers that don’t have digital players.  We had made a previous attempt to contact them by mail and now our Administrative Aide, Mary Brake is phoning those patrons that didn’t respond to the mailing.  We are trying to ensure that all readers that currently receive magazines in an analog format will be ready when they become digital only.

Our biennial Consultant visit has been scheduled for Thursday – Friday, February 7 – 8, 2013.  Every two years, our NLS consultant makes a site visit to review our program and to meet with the State Library Administration.

On November 1, Laura O’Donoghue started her new duty as Assistant State Librarian.  The library administration structure was modified so that we no longer report through the Assistant State Librarian, the Library Services Section Chief answers directly to the State Librarian.

We hosted a very successful Volunteer Recognition event on Wednesday November 14.  Our outreach report should go into more detail on the Dinner.


 Previously, I had reported how Marilyn Johns was transferred from the State Library, Library Development Office to fill our vacant circulation position.  On November 3 she left us to accept an appointment with another State Agency.  The vacant position has been advertised and closed yesterday.  We are hoping that interviewing should start soon.

The vacant Reader Advisor position has finally been filled.  Richard Vincent accepted the appointment on November 15 and is well along in the training program, he was added to our phone schedule this week.

Outreach Report NCLBPH
Activities conducted in this quarter:

Tar Heel Talk Patron newsletter printed and mailed.

Volunteer Recognition Dinner on Nov. 14, 2012
Total Volunteer hours – 6607
Volunteer of the Year – Sean Gilan; 8 yr volunteer, over 4000 volunteer hours

Other Activities Conducted this Quarter

1 Presentation at Emma Conn Elementary School’s Hometown Heroes Program by Kathy Brack on Dec. 7

Presentation and Info table at the Lions VIP Fishing Tournament – Oct. 15-19

Info Table at GreAT Conference (Tech Xpo) in Raleigh – Dec. 6

Info Table at Unity in the Community in Durham – Oct. 3

Presentation to VIP group at Magnolia Glenn Assisted Living Center – Raleigh, Oct. 26

Info Table at Apex Senior Health Fair – Nov. 28

Met with Activity Director at The Heritage Assisted Living Center - Fayetteville

Mini Center Presentations:
Lee County
2 in Wake County
Cumberland County

Upcoming Events: 

Presentation to VIP group at Pinnick Village, Southern Pines – Dec. 14

Braille Challenge – Feb. 14th

Governor Morehead School—Debbie Jackson

In Barbria Bacon’s absence, Debbie Jackson presented the GMS report. 

GMS kids go home tomorrow for the holidays and returned January 1.

A couple of positions have been filled.  The Food Services Director and the HR Director positions have been filled.  GMS is recruiting for a Braille teaching position.  This is a difficult to fill position.  Also recruiting for a Special Ed position.  GMS needs to build up their pool of substitute teachers.

The schools were directed to do a number of things by the legislature.  Use of facilities—Wake County is renting space and we are looking to expand this next year.  GMS is also renting space to Pullen Park to accommodate their overflow parking lot.  The Braille Challenge is held on campus and the NCCVIB conference.  GMS welcomes other entities to use the campus. 

GMS has begun to work on the School Improvement Plan.

GMS is trying to revive the PTA.  Attendance has been very good.  It is difficult for parents since they are spread all across the State. 

The Braille Challenge will be held February 14.   These will be held on the GMS campus and at Camp Dogwood. 

The 3rd annual BELL Program is scheduled for July 15-26. 

Department of Public Instruction—Rebecca Marks

I-M-ABLE project (Functional Braille)
Diane Wormsley and Julie Kagy are arranging a follow-up to the I-M-ABLE project with a two-day workshop in March. This is a project to develop Braille literacy in students with visual impairments and mild/moderate intellectual disabilities. Dr. Wormsley will present the Practice Guide developed from the original year-long project.  It will be open to 35 VI professionals.  We have not determined the location yet but it will either be in Durham or Greensboro. 

Correction Enterprise Braille Program
All NCDPI testing materials in Braille are now being produced by the Correction Enterprise Braille Program.  They are producing Braille texts, also. 

Summer Institutes
July 24-25. Millie Smith will be our presenter for this 2-day institute. Ms. Smith is well known for her work with students with visual impairment and multiple disabilities. This institute is open to Exceptional Children teachers as well as Teachers of Students with Visual Impairment.

62nd Conference on Exceptional Children
November 14 – November 16, 2012
Koury Convention Center, Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons

62nd Conference on Exceptional Children was held November 14-16, 2012. This year’s theme was ‘Building Bridges for Success’ and it highlighted the collaborative efforts and structures required for true progress in the education of children with disabilities. The keynote speaker, Haben Girma, is finishing her law degree and is a prime example of someone using Braille and assistive technology to do great things. Haben spoke to the more than 2,000 professionals from across North Carolina attending the conference demonstrating the power of having a multitude of “tools” for addressing the varying needs of students with visual impairment. We hope to make the video of her speech available on the DPI website soon.
We were also lucky enough to meet Asha Gandhi, a middle-school student who is both deaf-blind and gifted, who spoke during the Plenary Session.

VI Institute at the 62nd Conference on Exceptional Children
November 13, 2012.
We hosted Susan Osterhaus for this year’s VI Institute. Susan is Math Consultant for Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Outreach Programs and one of the most respected and well-known authorities on teaching math to students with visual impairment. 46 teachers from across the state attended.

*AT EXPO/GReAT Conference (Global Rehabilitation Enhanced with Assistive Technology)
The GReAT Conference (Global Rehabilitation Enhanced with Assistive Technology)and was held at the Raleigh Convention Center on Dec. 5,6 and 7th. NCDPI sponsored an Education Track and also the General Session with Dr. Karen Erickson who spoke about Universal Design for Learning. 

Low Vision Clinics
We are sponsoring low vision clinics for our students across the state with Dr. Alana Scheiner. Clinics are scheduled for January 28, 2012 in Alamance County and January 29, 2012 at Governor Morehead School. William Tubilleja is in the process of scheduling clinics for the spring in the Wilmington area, in Morganton and in Cumberland County. These free clinics are helping students with low vision receive the appropriate tools to gain access to their educational environment.

2013 Braille Challenge
The Exceptional Children Division will again provide logistical coordination, man power, and funding of $1000.00 towards the Braille Challenge events.

North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness (NCCVIB)
The EC Division continues to work with NC DSB, NCCU-VITP, the Friends of the Library, GMS, and GM Preschool in planning for the NCCVIB on April 19-20, 2013.  

Professional Development Opportunities
Three of the five professional development meetings with Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools and other area schools have occurred. 18 teachers of students with visual impairment are attending these sessions. The topics for these presentations are Specialized Assessments and Best Practices in Teaching Students with Visual Impairment.

Working with DPI Monitors, we have developed a professional development module concentrating on clearly defining student needs and focusing on goals that directly reflect and address those needs in the IEP. We are presently arranging times and facilities for this presentation to teachers statewide.

NCDPI Exceptional Children Representative
Beginning with the next meeting of the CAAC, Claire Hakin will be taking my place as representative to the committee. We feel that it is important for all members of our VI Outreach Team to have the opportunity to work with this important group; I know Claire is looking forward to meeting with you. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver
Earlier in the year, each Division was asked to prepare a list of priorities.  This list has been shared with the Transition Team.  The Transition is now meeting with DHHS.

Sequestration—This remains  “watch, wait and see”.  If these spending cuts do come into effect, it will affect our MEC/ILS Programs.  ILR could also be affected. 

A couple of position changes as a result of recent retirements.  David Arthur replaced Joann Wood and Patricia Sikes replaced Cynthia Speight.

North Carolina Lions Inc.—Steve Walker
The Lions are experiencing the same challenges as everyone else.  Membership is below 8,000.  There is a proposal to re-district the organization.  There are now 8 districts.  It is recommended that it be cut to 5. 

Revenue is down about 10%.  The demand for services is great but the funds are limited. 

After 13 years of services, the vision van has been replaced.  The new one is a mobile screening unit which tests vision and hearing.  It is a 40 foot trailer towed by a customized pickup truck. 

The media center is being expanded.  Computers are being added.  This will expose campers to computers. 

Since 1947 the primary fund raiser has been the Humanitarian White Cane Drive.  This doesn’t relay the message we want to tell.  Effective July 1, 2013, our new program will be called “Brighter Visions Annual Fund Drive”. 

Dennis Thurman requested a meeting with Steve Walker to learn more about Camp Dogwood. 

Prevent Blindness North Carolina—Jennifer Talbot
There has been an increase for adult services.  Delivery is up about 75%.   Since the cut on glasses, exams, surgery for adults last year went into effect, one of our voucher program was able to help out.  The voucher program started picking up glasses and eye exams for adult services.  We are receiving approximately 50 applications weekly.  At this time, we are able assist on all requests for glasses and exams. 

Our children programs are doing well but adult funding has is hard to come by. 

Disability Rights NC (DRNC)—Corye Dunn
We are very proud that Carmike and Regal theaters are providing access to people with vision and hearing problems.  The Carmike theaters are complete and Regal should be completed by the end of first quarter of 2013.  Each theater have devices that has captioning and audio description.  If anyone finds a Carmike theater that does not have this feature, please contact DRNC.

North Carolina Council of the Blind—Allen Casey
2012 Convention was held in Greensboro in September.  The Director of Elections for Guilford County is very compassionate and concerned about people with disabilities and voting. 

The annual legislative caucus will be Feb. 23-26 in Washington DC.

National Conference is scheduled for July 5-12 in Columbus, OH.

State Convention is September 27-29 in Greensboro

National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina
The Federation will be in Washington at the beginning of February, in Orlando in July for the National Conference, and the State Conference will be in Fayetteville September 12-14. 

Elected Committee of Vendors—Tim Jones
Statewide Conference is February 15-17 in Raleigh at the Holiday Inn North.

We are looking to open a new location at a VA facility in Wilmington.

Old Business

New Business
Corye Dunn, DRNC, requested that if anyone finds a website that is not accessible particularly a state or federal website, please make DRNC aware of this and they will investigate.
Meeting adjourned at 2:30



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