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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 14, 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, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chair Beth Butler called the 297th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2009

Graham Watt offered the invocation.

The following members were present in the conference room:  Terri Meyers, Julie Kagy, and Debbie Jackson. 

Members connected by conference call were:  Beth Butler, Allen Casey, Graham Watt, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Tommy Jenkins, Ruth Haines, Jay Williams, Kathy Brack, Richard Oliver, and Eddie Weaver.  Dr. Holland, member of the Professional Advisory Committee, also joined the call. 

Others Present:  Jan Fesperman, Cynthia Joos, Chris Fleming, Laura Gropper, Dan Bernstein, David Arthur, Mary Flanagan, Gary Ray, Dr. Chamblee, and Carla Parker.

Chair Beth Butler 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.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Graham Watt, seconded by Ruth Haines, and carried to approve the minutes of the December 13, 2008 meeting.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Public Relations Committee—Kathy Brack

The Public Relations Committee (Beth Butler, Kathy Brack, Eddie Weaver, and Allen Casey) met via telephone to discuss ways of getting the word out about DSB services.  Funds are limited and not available for PSA’s.  The committee will continue to investigate other avenues such as working with administrative staff in medical offices and participating in conferences when funds allow. 

Comment was made it was frustrating from a provider’s   standpoint to make referrals to DSB when funds are not available.  Debbie Jackson, Director, made it clear that the services we cannot provide are only in the Medical Eye Care Program since they are State dollars.  The Division does so much more than pay for medical bills in the medical eye care program.  The VR Program provides training, job placement, assistive technology, independent living, education, etc.  Educating the public about DSB’s services is an on-going need. 

Intercommittee Relations Committee—Julie Kagy and Ruth Haines

The Intercommittee Relations Committee contacted Dr. Wormsley and Anita Heath-Cunningham.  It was suggested that someone from Developmental Disabilities come speak about their organization and how we can work together. 

Ms. Haines attended the last SILC meeting.  It was a very upbeat meeting.  SILC is funding two centers for independent living in the eastern part of NC which is an underserved area. 

Advocacy Committee—Tommy Jenkins

The Advocacy Committee has not met.  If anyone has any issues that the Advocacy Committee needs to address, please let Mr. Jenkins know.  Ms. Haines commented that SILC has a very active legislative committee.  Mr. Jenkins will contact Ms. Haines to get more information about this committee. 

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy

Dr. Wormsley was not able to attend today’s meeting but left Ms. Kagy a report to share with the committee.  The VITP Program has moved from the South Building to the 2nd floor of Lineberry Hall. 

In August 2008, the VITP began the first year of a 5-year $500,000 grant funded by RSA to fund O & M students who are studying to work with adults who are transition age  to develop a new concentration in vision rehabilitation therapy and to recruit and fund RT students.  Funding for students consist of scholarships for tuition and stipends.  At this point, they are on track with the number of students predicted to receive funding with twenty-five students being active. 

Dr. Barton has decided to return to teaching and is currently working part-time with VITP and also working for Wake County as an itinerant teacher for the visually impaired. 

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

For the record, two former DSB employees have passed away during the past couple of weeks--Mr. George Staton and Mr. Buford Caudle.

Medical Eye Care Program—DSB was able to pay out some obligations.  It has been paid down to approximately $100,000.  By moving some money around and paying old authorizations, DSB will re-open the Medical Eye Care Program and will provide limited services.  DSB will be tracking this program carefully.  After this meeting, Cynthia Joos will meet with the Professional Advisory Committee and Dr. Chamblee to finalize the letter that will be mailed to providers next week explaining the limited services that will be offered beginning April 1. 

Governor’s Budget—DSB did request additional Medical Eye Care Money but it did not get approved.  DSB should find out next week what is in the Governor’s Budget. 

In addition to the new DHHS Secretary, Lanier Cansler, the new Deputy Secretary for Long-Term Care and Family Services is Maria Spauldin.

Recovery Money—DSB is due to receive recovery money in 2 areas—1) in the Vocational Rehabilitation (no state match required) and 2) Independent Living Rehabilitation for the Older Blind (10% state match).  No guidance from RSA has been received as of yet.  DSB has until September 2011 to obligate the money.  Money can be spent in the same manner as regular VR grant is spent.  DSB must be highly accountable and must track all expenditures. 

Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee—Gary Ray

Gary Ray expressed his thanks to members of the Commission for the Blind that participated in the CAAC yesterday. 

The CAAC is continuing to work on the enabling legislation that established the CAAC.  Gary Ray will keep the Commission informed on the status of this.

According to legislation, two legislators are appointed to the CAAC.  The CAAC has not had a Senator for some time and Representative Linda Coleman is now head of State Personnel.  At the present, the CAAC does not have any legislators. 

The CAAC is monitoring the continuation of the legislative study of the residential schools for the blind and deaf, the education model for the education of the blind and deaf in NC and an examination of the number of students at the residential schools.  As the final report is being finalized, Gary Ray will keep you informed by e-mail.

Praxis—The Praxis is a Licensure Test and given by a company that allows people to be licensed in a particular educational area. It was accepted by the State Board of Education and allows teachers to take a praxis exam to make them licensed in another area of teaching.  This does not work well in low incidence areas such as working with visually-impaired and deaf students. It is possible for a person to take no coursework in the VI or Deaf field to become licensed in these fields.  Changing this practice may require a change in State law.  This test should not be the only criteria for getting a license in another area of teaching.

At this time, the Professional Advisory Committee and Cynthia Joos adjourned the meeting so they could hold their PAC meeting.    

Old Business 

None 

New Business 

None 

Adjournment

The Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m. 

Respectfully Submitted,

Beth Butler, Chair Commission for the Blind  
Debbie Jackson, Director Division of Services f/t Blind            

 

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