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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

September 11, 2004

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance.

Chairman John Miller called the meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2004. A roll call was conducted and the following members were present: John Miller, Debbie Jackson (ex-officio), Graham Watt, Allen Moore, Catherleen Thomas, Angela McCants, Annette Clinard, Ron Huber, Tom Winton, Kathy Brack, Sandy Foster (ex-officio), and Russ Stinehour.

Others Present: Mary Flanagan, Joe Wiggins, Joann Strader, Jan Fesperman, Laura Gropper, Sally Syria, Dave Arthur, Dr. Bernstein, and Carla Parker.

Allen Moore offered the invocation.

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by Chairman

Tom Winton was appointed Parliamentarian.

Chairman John Miller opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and reported on the training for new Commission members which was held the afternoon of Friday, September 10. It was well attended and very informative.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Ron Huber, seconded by Graham Watt, and carried to approve the minutes of the June 12, 2004 meeting.

Mr. Miller distributed a new list of Committee Appointments (list attached).

Committee Reports:

Public Relations – Ron Huber

Mr. Huber reported one goal of the Public Relations Committee is to help Lions Clubs across the State better understand what the Division of Services for the Blind and the Commission for the Blind does. To accomplish this, information relating to DSB services and activities is sent to District Governors throughout the State for them to include in their monthly newsletter. Debbie Jackson provides Mr. Huber information about DSB and he forwards the information to the District Governors so the information can be shared with the Lions.

Inter-Committee RelationsAllen Moore

Mr. Moore attended the National Council on Independent Living in June. In August, he attended the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) conference. Many Division Directors were present at SILC and gave agency reports. George McKoy, Director of VR, reported VR suffered more budget cuts than DSB. They are also participating in an organizational grant with GA State University. The State Plan was review. The current State Plan is in effect until September 30, 2004. A signed copy of the new State Plan has not been received from RSA. The Bylaws were also reviewed.

Triangle Transit Authority may be merging with Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Many of the issues regarding the merger have not been resolved.

AdvocacyJohn Miller

Wharton Trust Funds are available but DSB has not had a basis for asking for them.

Cynthia Temoshenko, Governor’s Advocacy Council, provided Mr. Miller with a list of 300 banks in North Carolina that have talking ATM machines and this list has been passed on to Public Relations for distribution.

Debbie Jackson provided an update on the legislation regarding Left Turn on Red. Left Turn on Red did not pass; although, a bill that relates to pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists did pass (House Bill 965). There are now penalties for drivers of motor vehicles who strike a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist. These penalties are fines that range from $100 to $500 and the driver could get 4 driving points and 1 insurance point. The bill also requires statistics be gathered that show how many people violate this law yearly. When the Left Turn on Red bill is presented again, data will be available showing how many people violate this law year and are fined.

Kathy Brack discussed a statute regarding service animals including police dogs. The current statute addresses use of service animals and physical harm encountered by service animals.

Other States have revised their statute to include emotional harm encountered when service animals are attacked. Feedback is needed to see if North Carolina should revise the statute to be more stringent regarding attacks on service animals. If in agreement, the revised statute will be presented at the January session of the General Assembly. This issue will be presented at the upcoming State Convention of the NC Council of the Blind and the NFB State Convention for their input and thoughts.

Director’s Report - Debbie Jackson

DSB—Budget Issues—DSB came out very well with only one reduction ($30,000) and that was in our Special Assistance for the Blind program. It was money that would have been reverted to the State.

DHHS—Budget—At last meeting, it was reported that DHHS may have to cut about $3 million in positions. Fortunately, this was reduced to $800,000 and this amount was divided among the Divisions. DSB’s part is approximately $4,000.

Newsline—Permanent funding for Newsline was not passed this year. A year ago, DHHS was instructed by the General Assembly to identify funding to be used for Newsline for one year. The same happened this year so funding is in place for Newsline one more year.

State Agency Budget—DSB ended the year with having to add money to each major DSB program—Vocational Rehabilitation, Medical Eye Care, and Independent Living Services. DSB used money in "Other Vending" and "Social Security Reimbursement" to add money to the programs. From "Other Vending", we added $260,000 to Medical Eye Care; $35,000 was added to Independent Living Services. For our Vocational Rehabilitation Program, we added $129,000 from Social Security Reimbursement and $89,000 from "Other Vending"—this was used as match for $330,000. Based on current spending, money will need to be added again this year.

Federal Level—It is unlikely the Reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act will be addressed during this congressional session.

The General Accounting Office is planning to do a national study of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. The last study was in 1993. There have been a number of changes in the VR Program since the last study. At this point, we are not sure if North Carolina will be selected for any participation in the study.

Transition Agreements—The Charlotte/Mecklenburg agreement has been signed and two positions have been posted—1 Rehabilitation Counselor and 1 Community Employment Specialist. DSB has not received the signed Durham County agreement. When received, the position will be posted.

Annual Rehabilitation Services Administration Review—The RSA representatives from Atlanta were at DSB in August to do their annual programmatic and financial review. The written report has not been received but the exit conference was very good. No significant problems were found.

Division Events—Four Area Meetings are scheduled for DSB’s Rehabilitation, Independent Living and Social Work staff. The meetings are scheduled for Hickory—October 5; Winston-Salem—September 28; Raleigh—September 24; Greenville—October 6.

A meeting has been scheduled for rehabilitation staff members who do job placement for September 20-22 in Greensboro.

A meeting has been scheduled for Social Workers for the Blind November 8-10 at Camp Dogwood.

Management Review with Carmen Hooker Odom is September 15. Debbie Jackson and Carl Privette will meet with her.

Department of Public Instruction—Tom Winton

54th Conference on Exceptional Children – The 54th Conference on Exceptional Children is scheduled for November 1-3 at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel/Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. Informative instructional sessions, a keynote presentation, poster displays and vendors are but a few of the conference offerings. Two instructional sessions will directly address VI issues. Maria Delgado from APH will present on technology resources. Julie Kagy and Peggy Holly will present on the use of laptop computers to promote academic success with students with blindness. Also, Estelle Condra (keynote speaker of the NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness) will address principals and exceptional children directors from across the state during the Administrators’ Institute on Tuesday, November 2nd. Additional conference information is available at .

North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness – Planning is beginning on the 3rd annual North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness. This professional conference, which brings together agency and education professionals from across the state is scheduled for March 10-12, 2005. The Exceptional Children Division looks forward to continue its involvement and sponsorship of this worthy conference.

Federal Quota Funds – As of early September, 197 separate orders had been placed, totaling around $219,000, for instructional materials to be used in regular public schools and private education agencies throughout North Carolina. All materials that are non-consumable remain property of the State of North Carolina and are on permanent loan to the schools and agencies.

Summer Institutes – The Exceptional Children Division held a successful institute for teachers of visually impaired students on July 28-29 in Asheville. Maria Delgado, field representative for APH, instructed participants on the various APH technology resources. Twenty-six teachers and assistants participated and gained insight and skill in using the BookPort, Talking Typer for Windows, Termite Torpedo, Louis Database, and other valuable software and hardware.

NCCU-VITP Advisory Board – The Consultant for Visually Impaired continues to serve as co-chair with Dr. Deborah Hatton on the NCCU-VITP Advisory Board. The Board meets bi-monthly and is representative of stakeholder schools, agencies, committees, and consumer groups. The Board is currently working on strategies for student recruitment and publicizing the VITP. Currently the Board is also addressing issues of appropriate use of funds and positions for the VITP. At last Commission meeting, discussion was held on a grievance which was filed. We now have this grievance in writing and it concerns how funds are being administered. Dr. Deborah Hatton and Mr. Winton have a meeting scheduled with the administration to clarify this issue. If the administration cannot clarify the issue, the Advisory Board is prepared to go to General Assembly members to assure funds are being administered properly.

VI Listserv – The Exceptional Children Division has been operating a listserv for professionals in the VI field throughout North Carolina. This is an opportunity for teachers, assistants, O&M specialists, administrators and other professionals to post and reply to questions and comments. It is hoped this is a valuable resource to a field that is relatively small in number and spread thinly throughout the state. Persons interested in being added to the listserv should contact Tom Winton.

North Carolina Assistive Technology EXPO – The Exceptional Children Division continues its sponsorship of the North Carolina Assistive Technology EXPO, scheduled for November 4-5 at the North Raleigh Hilton. A comprehensive exhibit hall is available on Thursday, November 4th, and is free to the public. Instructional sessions in a variety of assistive technology areas (including visual impairments) will be offered, one of which will be led by Tom Winton. The Division appreciates the opportunity to continue this sponsorship along with that of other agencies, including the North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. More information on the EXPO is available at .

Report of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee – Tim Jones was not present.

Report of the Professional Advisory Committee – Dr. Wiggins reported the Medical Eye Care Program operated over budget last year but funds were shifted around to cover expenses. The Medical Eye Care Program is spending at the same rate as last year so the Program will probably be in the same situation this year but all qualified consumers are being served.

Old Business

Annette Clinard reported on National Industries for the Blind’s attempt to address the employment outcome rule with RSA. DSB Rehabilitation Counselors cannot get credit for blind people who are placed in non-integrated environments such as Industries of the Blind. Richard Burr visited Industries of the Blind and he was made aware of the employment outcome rule.

New Business

Debbie Jackson asked that members let Carla Parker know how they would like to receive information (e-mail, large print, braille, etc.). Commission minutes will be on DSB’s website after approval by the Commission members.

Adjournment of Commission Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m. The next meeting of the Commission for the Blind is scheduled for December 11, 2004 at 10 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

John T. Miller, III, Chairman, Commission for the Blind

Debbie Jackson, Director, Division of Services for the Blind DHHS


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