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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

September 20, 2013

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance
Chair Richard Oliver called the 315th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10 a.m.  Chair Oliver offered the invocation.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. 

Present in the Conference Room:  Eddie Weaver, Carla Parker, Cynthia Speight, Brenda Savage, Gary Ray, Dr. Akers, Dr. Gropper, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Chamblee, Tom Thompson, and Pearl Floyd.

Connected by Conference Call:  Richard Oliver, Dorothy Frye, John Marens, Erica McMahon, and Lin Taliaferro.

Julie Kagy was appointed Parliamentarian.

Chair 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. 

Eddie Weaver provided an update on the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC).  The legislature has abolished this committee and the members have now been appointed to the Commission for the Blind.   

As you know the Commission for the Blind members also serve on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) which is governed by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).  Mr. Weaver has asked if the PAC is part of the SRC but has not received an answer.  Until further clarification is received, we are assuming that the PAC only serves as Commission for the Blind members and are not a part of the SRC. 

The modifications went into effect August 1, 2013.  The PAC are voting members within the Commission for the Blind. 

William Tubilleja has been designated to replace Julie Kagy to serve as the Department of Public Instruction representative.  This request has been forwarded to the Governor’s office but has not been acted on.  Mrs. Kagy will be retiring at the end of October. 

Approval of Minutes:
Carla Parker will determine if June’s meeting was the 313th or 314th of the Commission for the Blind and make the correction in the minutes. 

Motion was made by Dorothy Frye, seconded by Julie Kagy and carried to approve the minutes of the June 13, 2013 meeting.

Committee Reports:

Public Relations—John Marens
Eddie Weaver made presentations at the NFB and ACB State Conferences and will attend the Visually Impaired Fishing Tournament in October. 

Eddie Weaver reported on the outreach activities that DSB staff has been involved in.  DSB reached out to more than 3,700 people through health fairs, cultural fairs, job fairs, employer contacts, etc.  This is part of DSB’s State Plan. 

Inter-Committee Relations—Dorothy Frye
IL held its training session in August.  DSB had a staff member to attend the summit as an ex-officio.  It was a productive time of sharing information and establishing partnerships between the Centers of IL, SILC and the designated state units.  

Brenda Savage attended the NC VR Conference and Training Institute that was held in August.  She represented Workforce Development.  State Plans are being written.  Many people from DVR from across the State attended and it was a great opportunity to partner with fellow Divisions.  Mrs. Savage suggested that next year DSB and the Inter-Committee Relations look at having a presence at this institute as they have a very active exhibit hall. 

This may be Dorothy Frye’s last meeting as she will no longer be serving on SILC effective September 30.  She will remain on the Commission until someone else is appointed to take her place. 

Brenda Montforti resigned the Commission for the Blind because she is no longer in the area.  Mrs. Montforti has recommended someone to replace her and we are waiting to receive her application and resume. 

Advocacy Committee
At the last meeting, John Marens offered to chair the Advocacy Committee if Steve Harris is not able hold this position.  DSB is in the process of finding someone to replace Mr. Harris since he has not been able to attend the last few meetings.  Mr. Marens will await to hear from Mr. Weaver regarding his serving as Chair. 

Issue was brought to DSB’s attention about the documentation that is being sent to the consumers…i.e, is it in accessible format that they can read?   All information sent to a consumer should be sent in a format that they can read.   DSB Counselors are aware of this but they will be reminded that all correspondence should be in their preferred media.

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy
North Carolina Central University Vision Program in conjunction with DPI applied for a grant through OSEP which provides tuition and stipends for teachers and Orientation and Mobility instructors and establishes a mentor program.  Their application was approved.  NCCU will hold an open house on September 27.

Division of Services for the Blind—Eddie Weaver
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has a new Commissioner, Janet LaBreck, who is blind. 

The Reauthorization of the Rehab Act, Senate Bill 1356, Workforce Investment Act, has many provisions that DSB does see as favorable.  It proposes removing RSA from the Department of Education and moving it to the Department of Labor.  It also proposes taking Independent Living Services and moving them to the Department of Human Resources on the Federal level.  If you would like to discuss further, please contact Eddie Weaver directly. 

Budget:  The VR, ILR, and MEC Programs received level funding this year.  The area hardest hit is the Independent Living Services Program (Social Workers).  Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) was hit hard across the board.  We are hoping to be able to move funds to help offset the $378,000 reduction. 

Security:  Safety officers have stressed the importance of making our buildings safe.  Fisher Building now has a security door where visitors will sign in and a staff person must let the visitor in by pressing a button to open the secured door.  The Department wants all of our buildings on campus to be secured. 

SAVVY Program—Each year, DSB sponsors a program for transition-aged students who are visually impaired or blind.  This year 28 students participated.  This program has three parts:  Adjustment to Blindness, World of Work, and a College Prep program.

BEAM—DSB’s case management system for our consumers and staff is nearing a “Go Live” date.  For the most part, it’s JAWS friendly. We are working with vendor to get these issues resolved. 

Vacancies—Since May, the Department has not released any positions to be posted.  Across the State, DSB has 10 vacancies.

The Governor authorized to make 3 additional positions within DSB exempt.  This means they are serving at the pleasure of the Governor.  The 3 additional positions are the Assistant Director, Program Chief for Facilities and Services and the Program Chief for VR. 

David Arthur retired October 31, 2013. 

Newsline was funded again this year in the amount of $75,000. 

DSB provided space and staff for the BELL program.  This program is for kids aged 5-11 and focuses on learning and using braille. 

Gary Ray—Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee
We have several bills floating around the legislature that would have drastically affected the future of the residential schools.  Particularly one created within DPI.  The Division of Deaf Education would be at the same as the Division of Exceptional Children and leave the blind at a lower level.

The 2 deaf schools were taken out from the direct supervision of Barbria Bacon, GMS Superintendent, but all 3 schools report to Rebecca Garland, Chief Academic Officer.  There is still a LEA which is the educational services for the deaf and blind and Mrs. Bacon is still in charge of this. 

Thanks to a lot of advocacy work NewsLine was funded for another year.   Representative Dollar helped us get the $75,000 appropriation into the budget. 

The National Library Services provide talking books which are now in digital format.  The app that allows the blind to use  these materials on iPods, iPads, and iPhones is now available.  This is a major access issue that the blind community is very pleased with.  The app is NLS BARD APP.

Lin Taliaferro—Chief of Medical Eye Care Program
MEC Budget Update
State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2013-2014 Certified Budget Amount
$2,313,334

Total Expenditures paid as of 09-10-2013
$186,021.26

Net Encumbered
$275,945.31

Balance as of 09-10-2013
$1,851,367.43   

Effective September 1, 2013, the Division of Services for the Blind’s Medical Eye Care Program will provide the following services:

  • eye related treatment/surgery of an emergency nature such as surgery for retinal detachments.
  • eye emergencies when vision loss is imminent such as temporal arteritis.
  • some eye medications such as glaucoma medications and eye drops for the treatment of acute infections or inflammations.
  • 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 proliferative diabetic retinopathy, retina tears, cystoid macula edema.
  • laser capsulotomy when the visual acuity is 20/30 or worse.

Consumers needing information about eye exams and glasses should be referred to Prevent Blindness of NC.  For further information regarding available services and eligibility visit their website at nc.preventblindness.org/ or call 919-755-5044 or 800-543-7839.  Consumers needing surgical or optical treatment for keratoconus and other corneal problems should be referred to the National Keratoconus Assistance Foundation.  For further information visit their website at http://www.nkcf.org/.  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 continue to be fully available to those who qualify. 

Prior approval for emergency services, including treatment/surgery of an emergency nature will be given by the State Consulting Ophthalmologist and the request should be faxed for approval to your Division of Services for the Blind district office.  Any request sent for approval by the State Consulting Ophthalmologist for other than emergency services including treatment of an emergency nature must be reviewed by the Nursing Eye Care Consultant.  The Nursing Eye Care Consultant will include their signature on the fax cover sheet for verification purposes.  The Nursing Eye Care consultant will approve authorizations for eye related medications.

Old Business:  None

New Business:  None

Adjourn
A motion was made by Dorothy Frye, seconded by Brenda Savage and carried to adjourn the State Rehabilitation Council meeting.

Next meeting is Thursday, December 12, 2014 at 4 p.m.

 

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