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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

June 10, 2006

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman John Miller called the 286th meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2006 in the Conference Room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.  Mr. Ron Huber offered the invocation.

The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson, Cheryl Whitley, Stacey Milburn, Anita Cunningham, Kellie Hightower-Spruill, Ron Huber, Angela McCants, Tom Winton, Kathy Brack, Sandy Foster, and Russ Stinehour.

Not Present: Graham Watt (excused absence)

Others Present:  Carla Parker, Jim Irvin, Mary Flanagan, Dave Arthur, Joann Samuels, Sally Syria, Chris Fleming, and Laura Gropper. 

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by the Chairman

Tom Winton was appointed Parliamentarian. 

Chairman Miller 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. 

Chairman Miller introduced and welcomed a new member, Stacey Milbern, and explained the importance of serving on the Commission for the Blind and State Rehabilitation Council.  Ms. Milbern replaces Mr. Allen Moore.

Ms. Milbern is also a member of the Statewide Independent Living Council and the NC Youth Leadership Network. 

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made by Ron Huber, seconded by Angela McCants, and carried to approve the minutes of the March 11, 2006 meeting. 

Committee Reports:

Public Relations Committee—No Report

Intercommittee Relations Committee—Angela McCants

The Intercommittee Relations Committee met on June 9.  Discussion centered around lack of employment opportunities for visually impaired and blind individuals.  Angela McCants and Mary Flanagan attended the April 18 public hearing meeting.  Five consumers at this public hearing expressed concern about employment.  Even though each of these consumers had a bachelor’s or master’s degree, they were having difficulty obtaining a job.  The consumers did not feel they had adequate support and communication from their case manager.  

Angela McCants and Kathy Brack attended a consumer information meeting and they plan to work closely to encourage more consumers and parents to attend the NC Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness on March 22-24, 2007. 

Advocacy Committee—John Miller

Chairman Miller received a phone call from a gentleman in Charlotte, NC.  The gentleman was a real estate agent in South Carolina but when he lost his eyesight he moved to the Charlotte area.  Because of the gentleman’s eyesight, he needed a proctor to administer the test.  The proctor that assisted him was Hispanic and did not speak English very well.  As a result, the gentleman failed the test by 2 points.  He appealed to the Real Estate Licensing Board to retake the test with a different proctor.  The second time he made a 96 on the test.  The deadline for getting all the information into the Real Estate Licensing Board was April 1.  Since he had to retake the test, he missed the deadline. 

Mr. Miller called the Real Estate Licensing Board and spoke with the attorney and explained the situation with the proctor. The gentleman received a call from the Licensing Board that same day and was told his license would be issued to him. 

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

The Rehabilitation Act has not yet been reauthorized and it may be next year before the issue is addressed; therefore, we are proceeding as we have in the past and will let you know if we hear anything differently or if any advocacy is needed. 

Federal Level—The Governor’s Accountability Office (GAO) staff will be in North Carolina at the end of June.  They will be looking at the Supported Employment Program and Business Enterprises Program. North Carolina is one of the twelve States they are visiting.  They will visit Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Community Rehab. Programs.

State Level—DSB does not have any budget cuts or expansion items.  One item that may appear in DSB’s budget is NewsLine.  NewsLine is funded annually at $75,000 and it is non-recurring money so there is another request in the budget this year for the funding for NewsLine.  NewsLine is funded through DSB and paid to the National Federation for the Blind, which operates NewsLine. 

Needs Assessment—DSB has recently received the final report from Mississippi State University Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment.

The renovations of the Cox Dorm are on track and should be finished late July or early August.  The dorm will have a small computer lab and each dorm room will have LAN connections. 

The renovations for the Milsap Dorm will, hopefully, begin in October. 

In the past, we have had problems recruiting for Orientation and Mobility Instructors.  Requirements were that an Orientation and Mobility Specialist needed a degree in Orientation and Mobility and also have a NC teacher’s license or be eligible to receive a license.  After discussion with DHHS and Office of State Personnel, DSB will no longer require a teacher’s certification or license.  More emphasis will be placed on a degree in Orientation and Mobility at the Master’s level or undergraduate level.   

This position, without requiring the teacher certification, will be a paygrade 71.  For current O & M staff, DSB is offering the opportunity to remain in the “teacher” classification or they can move into the pay grade 71 schedule. 

The Governor Morehead School had expressed an interest in moving into the Crockett-Peeler.  After a review by DHHS, it was determined DSB would remain in Crockett-Peeler. 

Personnel Development Committee Ad HocTom Winton

There has not been a formal meeting regarding the Visual Impairment Training Program at NCCU but Mr. Winton has been in contact with Deborah Hatton and Julie Barden.  North Carolina Central University is moving forward with obtaining another faculty position.  This position would be a professor and an endowed chair for the Visual Impairment Training Program. 

Consumer Advisory and Advocacy Committee—No Report

Professional Advisory Committee—Sally Syria

The Medical Eye Care Program continues to be on schedule.  All offices have been encouraged to process the bills quickly so a large encumbrance is not carried forward. 

The Medical Eye Care manual is now on-line.  The website address is

Old Business


 New Business

Elections:  The floor was open for nominations for the Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind.  John Miller nominated Tom Winton for Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind, seconded by Anita Heath Cunningham, and carried.  There were no other nominations from the floor.  Tom Winton is the new Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind.  

The floor was open for nominations for the Vice Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind. 

John Miller nominated Angela McCants for Vice Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind, seconded by Ron Huber, and carried.  There were no other nominations from the floor.  Angela McCants is the new Vice Chair of the NC Commission for the Blind.

This is Mr. Ron Huber’s last meeting.   The Commission members thanked Mr. Huber for all of his work.  John Miller made a motion, seconded by Kathy Brack for a resolution be written thanking Mr. Huber for his services.  

Adjournment of Commission for the Blind meeting:

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 10:50 a.m.  The next meeting of the North Carolina Commission for the Blind is scheduled for September 9, 2006, at 10 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

John T. Miller, Chairman, Commission for the Blind       
Debbie Jackson, Director, Division of Services f/t Blind DHHS/DSB


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