Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation

DHHS Home | A-Z Site Map | Get Updates | Divisions | About Us | Contacts | En Español

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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

September 15, 2012

The Commission for the Blind met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Saturday, September 15, 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, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance
Chair Richard Oliver called the 311th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2012.  Chair Richard Oliver offered the invocation.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Present in the Conference Room:  Richard Oliver, Carla Parker, Julie Kagy, Joann Wood, Cynthia Speight, Dave Arthur, Gary Ray, John Marens, Brenda Savage, Verdina Gillette-Simms, Eddie Weaver, Tom Akers, Dan Bernstein, Michael Holland.

Connected by Conference Call:  Brenda Montforti, Tony Ferrita, Lin Taliaferro, Kim Lambert, Steve Harris, and Erica McMahan. 

Julie Kagy was appointed Parliamentarian.
Chairman Oliver 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:

Motion was made by John Marens, seconded by Brenda Savage and moved to approve the minutes of the June 11, 2012, meeting. 

Committee Report:

Public Relations Committee—John Marens

DSB has been very busy sharing information about their services.  DSB has participated in 246 events and reached over 13,000 individuals across the State.  Some of the events that DSB participated in included a diabetes workshop and a presentation at a Veteran’s of Foreign War Conference.  Presentations were also held at a Senior Health Fair, Deaf-Blind Parent Conference, and the John Deere Health Fair. 

Inter-Committee Relations Committee—No Report
Advocacy Committee—No Report

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy

The TVIP (Teachers of Visual Impairment Program) is going strong at NCCU.  The Program is now physically located at NCCU.  They are no longer located on the Governor Morehead School campus.  Cynthia Speight added that DSB is very supportive of the program at NCCU. 

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver

The Executive Order 85 which merged DSB, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing was repealed.    This was a group effort by citizens, staff, consumer groups, etc.  Mr. Weaver thanked everyone who had a part in this repeal.

DSB does not have any budget cuts posed by the legislature.  The Department is asking for $50,000.  DSB has designated this money and this will not affect any positions or services. 

The Legislature is funding Newsline in the amount of $75,000. 

Mary Flanagan, Assistant Director, and Joann Wood, Chief of Rehabilitation Services, are retiring.  A celebration will be held on September 21 in the Weathers Dining Hall on the GMS campus. 
A Braille Enrichment in Literacy and Learning Program (BELL) was held this summer for students age 5-13.  Eleven students participated. 

The BELL program is a 2 week annual summer camp for blind and visually impaired youth to help increase braille literacy in North Carolina.  BELL is a program of the National Federation of the Blind. 

The goal of BELL is to improve the braille skills of the children enrolled and to do this in a fun way.  Most of the children who attend BELL do not know many other blind kids so socialization is an important goal.  The hope is to show kids that braille is a respectable way to read and learn.  The kids are also exposed to non-visual techniques such as cane travel and money identification. 

At the Rehabilitation Center, SAVVY (Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to Visually Impaired Youth) was held.  Twenty Nine students participated.  This program focuses on preparing students for after high school. 

Upcoming Events:

  • New Administration in January
  • Sequestration which is an across the board cut for all programs.  DSB has been asked to determine how a 7.8% reduction would affect our programs.  This would be a tremendous cut for all of DSB’s programs.  It would affect service delivery and possibly positions. 

The Department has asked each Division to compile a list of priorities to be used in the transition from one administration to another. 

Mr. Weaver spoke at the NFB Conference at Camp Dogwood, the ACB Conference in Greensboro, and will attend the VIP Fishing Tournament in Nags Head. 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray

The legislature unclosed the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, blocked Executive Order 85, fully funded Newsline, and the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee was removed from the list of committees that was set to be abolished. 

With the new administration, we do not know what we may face, but the visually-impaired of North Carolina was extremely successful dealing with the legislature this year.

Report of the Professional Advisory Committee—Lin Taliaferro
MEC Budget Update
State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2012-2013 Certified Budget Amount
Total Expenditures paid as of 09-12-2012
Net Encumbered
Balance as of 09-12-2012

Currently we are not anticipating any reductions in the budget amounts. As we all know and have seen in the past, this is subject to change at any time.
The Division of Services for the Blind's Medical Eye Care Program continues to provide :

  • routine eye exams and glasses if glasses are prescribed (as long as funding remains at the certified amount)
  • eye related treatment/surgery of an emergency nature such as surgery for retinal detachments.
  • eye emergencies when vision loss is imminent and temporal arteritis.
  • some eye medications such as glaucoma medications and eye drops for the treatment of acute infections.
  • cataract surgery when the visual acuity is 20/50 or worse in the first eye and 20/70 or worse in the second eye.
  • laser surgery for diabetes and retinal tears, follow-up for glaucoma, and filter surgery for glaucoma.

These guidelines will apply until further notice.  (Please note, this letter applies to the MEDICAL EYE CARE PROGRAM ONLY and not to our DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  All other services provided by other programs will continue to be fully available to those who qualify). 

Old Business:

Brenda Savage congratulated Verdina Gillette-Simm’s son, Lex Gillette, for this winning another silver medal for the long jump at the Paralympics in London.

Joann Wood recognized Tucker Dupree.  At the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Tucker brought home a Silver Medal in the 100 Meter Backstroke and Bronze Medals in the 50 Meter Freestyle and 100 Meter Freestyle.

Mr. Richard Oliver made a motion that we draft a congratulatory letter to Mr. Dupree and Mr. Gillette.  The motion was seconded by John Marens and carried.   Mr. Oliver will draft the letter. 

New Business:

NCAER is sponsoring a 5K run on November 17 on the Dix Campus.  Any funds raised will be used to sponsor a disability camp.  For more information, visit

Julie Kagy reported that Correction Enterprises, Department of Corrections, received the contract for putting into braille all of the testing materials in North Carolina.  The braille materials are produced at the Scotland Prison in Laurinburg. 

The Vice-Chair position of the Commission for the Blind is vacant.  The floor was opened for nominees.  Chair Oliver nominated John Marens.  A motion was made by Mr. Oliver, seconded by Julie Kagy, and carried for John Marens to become the Vice-Chair of the Commission for the Blind.  No other nominations were made. 


The Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned at approximately 11:00 a.m. 


top Ready NC Connect NC