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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 8, 2008

Call to Order

Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance
Chair Graham Watt called the 293rd meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2008, in the conference room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance.  Tommy Jenkins offered the invocation. 

The following members were present:   

Graham Watt, Debbie Jackson, Kathy Crow, Tommy Jenkins, Eddie Weaver, Allen Casey, Richard Oliver, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Jay Williams, Julie Kagy, and Beth Butler. 

Members Not Present: 

Stacey Milbern and Terri Myers

Others Present: 

Cynthia Joos, Jan Fesperman, Joann Wood, David Arthur, Gary Ray, Mary Flanagan, Dr. Fleming, Dr. Gropper, Dr. Wiggins, Dr. Bernstein, and Carla Parker.  

Chair Graham Watt welcomed everyone and reminded members of the Ethics Awareness and Conflict of Interest order.  If any board member has any known conflict with respect to any matters coming before the Board, please identify the conflict or appearance of conflict and refrain from any undue participation in the particular matter involved.

Eddie Weaver was appointed Parliamentarian.

Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Kathy Crow, seconded by Tommy Jenkins, and carried to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2007 minutes. 

Debbie Jackson introduced Cynthia Joos to the Commission for the Blind.  Mrs. Joos is the Chief of Independent Living and Medical Eye Care Program replacing Sally Syria whom retired. 


 Public Relations Committee - Kathy Crow

Kathy Crow will be meeting with Debbie Jackson to discuss the priorities of the Division regarding public relations.  The Public Relations Committee will be meeting after the Commission meeting today.

Intercommittee Relations Committee

No Report

Advocacy Commmittee - Tommy Jenkins

The Advocacy Committee within the Commission for the Blind has not officially met this quarter. Mr. Jenkins attended the meeting of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee (CAAC) yesterday to get a better understanding of the differences between the CAAC and the Commission for the Blind.  Originally, the Advocacy Committee was established when issues were brought up concerning the consolidation of Services for the Blind and other disability agencies.  The Advocacy Committee will represent the position of the Commission for the Blind when needed on different issues.  

Question was raised regarding the agenda for the Commission—Should committees be listed if the committee has nothing to report?  After discussion, the committee decided to list each committee on the agenda.  All members should be aware when appointed that this is the way the agenda will be prepared. 

Personnel Development Committee - Julie Kagy

 No report

Director’s Report - Debbie Jackson

  • RSA will be visiting DSB the week of May 19 to review the Rehabilitation and Independent Living Rehabilitation Programs.  Some members of the Commission may be asked to meet with RSA either by conference call or in person.  An outline/agenda is currently being developed for this review.  This is the first time RSA has visited DSB since RSA centralized their management and changed their review process. 
  • As you know during the last legislative session, DSB received 4 additional positions (3 ILR Counselors and 1 Assistive Technology Position). Two of these positions have been filled.  Also, the funding and the economic needs scale changed.   In the Rehabilitation Program, DSB has not seen a significant increase in the number of people served but people are receiving more services.  In the Medical Eye Care, a tremendous increase has been seen in the number of people eligible. 
  • An additional expansion item for the Medical Eye Care Program ($147,000) has been submitted and has been approved by DHHS. 
  • DSB and DPI have jointly purchased technology devices for transition aged students.  Some items purchased include a braille note, pac mate, and a trekker which is used as a GPS device.  
  • Summer Programs at Rehabilitation Center—Three programs are being offered this summer:   1) World of Work Program, 2) Adjustment to Blindness for transition aged students; 3) A college bound program for seniors or graduates.    
  • DSB has participated in job fairs at UNC-Chapel Hill and the CIAA. 
  • Internships—Two students from Western Michigan University have inquired about doing internships with us.  Inquiries continue to come from NCCU and NCAT. 
  • Public Relations—A number of outreach activities are planned including the NBC17 Health Fair which will be held at the fairgrounds in the Jim Graham Building on May 17-18.
  • A number of years ago, a cooperative agreement was developed between DPI, NCCU, DSB, and NCCU.  The agreement has recently been updated. 
  • The annual conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness will be held April 24-26 on the Governor Morehead School campus.  Website is .
  • BEACON—The State of North Carolina is in the process of converting to a new accounting/payroll/timekeeping system.  The first phase involves the payroll system and will go live April 1.  DSB has been involved in assuring this system will be accessible to people who use adaptive software such as screen readers.   In February, DSB was offered to test the system and found this system does not work with adaptive software.  BEACON is aware of this and working on the problems.  

Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee - Gary Ray

  • Gary Ray was very pleased to have Tommy Jenkins to attend the CAAC yesterday.  Gary Ray requested that Carla Parker send the legislation regarding the CAAC to the Commission for the Blind committee members.  Communication between the two committees is very important.  The CAAC is the process of examining its purpose and mission and may consider changing the wording of the general statute. If wording is changed, it would need to be brought before the legislature at the long session in 2009.
  • Both of the consumer organizations, the NFB and ACB, shared one legislative agenda this issue.  And that is the issue of hybrid cars.  Hybrid cars are very quiet; particularly at intersections.   Legislation is needed regarding this issue that states all cars must have some sort of audible detection.   
  • NFB will be approaching the legislative again for a special provision for an additional years’ funding ($75,000) for Newsline which is a dial-in news service. 
  • Francine Martin, Regional Librarian for the NC Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, will be retiring July 1, 2008. 
  • Congress is not willing to fully fund the digital conversion for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped conversion to the digital talking book.  We had anticipated this would happen before the end of 2008.  The full implementation will stretch the transition to 4-6 years.    
  • The Legislature mandated a Legislative Study of Delivery of Educational Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired and Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  A draft has been prepared and available on-line.  The final report is in process and will be presented to the Legislative April 1. 
  • The super conference, NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness, will be held April 24-26.  For more info, the website is .
  • NC Lions Foundation is changing their grant award process.  Grants will be awarded only after the Foundation determines how much money they may have left over.  At the end of the fiscal year, more programs may be funded if excess funds are available. 

Professional Advisory Committee - Dr. Wiggins

  • The Medical Eye Care Program will be short this year.  The reason is the new eligibility scale increased from $697 to a $1,064 a month; thus, the program is serving more people.   The Professional Advisory Committee is looking forward to working with Cynthia Joos, Chief/Independent Living Services and Medical Eye Care Program.  Mrs. Harriet Whiteman, Lead Nursing Eye Care Consultant, retired at the end of December and the position remains vacant.  Ms. Margaret Murray, Nursing Eye Care Consultant, in Asheville retired and this position has been filled. 

Old Business


New Business

 Question was raised regarding options regarding committee meetings.  Does the current system work—corresponding by e-mail, conference calls, meeting in person?  After discussion, it was agreed that the Chair of each committee will determine, as needed, what works best rather it be by e-mail, conference call, or meeting in person.  

Ethics Training—Each member will need to attend one training session.   Chair Graham Watt will contact the Ethics Board for clarification on these training sessions.  Also, the Statements of Economic Interest forms will need to be completed before April 15.  


Following an adjournment motion made by Anita Heath-Cunningham and seconded by Beth Butler, the Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Graham Watt, Ph.D., Chair, Commission for the Blind     
Debbie Jackson, Division of Services f/t Blind


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