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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

December 8, 2007

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chair Graham Watt called the 292nd meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, 2007, in the conference room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance.
Chair Graham Watt offered the invocation. 

Tommy Jenkins was appointed Parliamentarian.

Chair Graham Watt 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
Minutes will be corrected to reflect the correct economic needs scale.  The September 8th minutes will now read as “For example, in the Rehab Program for a family of one, the old scale was $697 per month and with the new scale, the monthly allowable income is $1,064”.

Chair Watt reminded the committee a brief description of each committee is in the Bylaws.   
Chair Watt introduced a new member, Mr. Richard Oliver.  Mr. Oliver is employed with Industries of the Blind in Greensboro and works with product development and contract administration. 

The following members were present:  Graham Watt, Debbie Jackson, Kathy Crow, Julie Kagy, Stacey Milbern, Eddie Weaver, Richard Oliver, Allen Casey, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Beth Butler, Tommy Jenkins, Jay Williams, and Terri Meyers.

Others Present:  Mary Flanagan, Jan Fesperman, Joann Samuels Wood, David Arthur, Gary Ray, Dr, Gropper, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Fleming, and Carla Parker

Public Relations Committee—Kathy Crow
The committee has not met, although, they have many good ideas.

Kathy Crow and Graham Watt received an e-mail from Allen Casey in regards to participating in PSA’s.  This e-mail will be forwarded to other committee members for discussion.  Kathy would like to meet with Debbie Jackson  and discuss the Division’s priorities. 

Inter-Committee Relations—Stacey Milbern
The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is a federally-mandated independent council which promotes independent living in North Carolina.  SILC is continuing to work on their non-profit status.  SILC is sponsoring a Youth Leadership Forum this summer and will be held July 12-15, 2008.   For more information, visit SILC’s website at .

Advocacy Committee—Tommie Jenkins
No Report

Personnel Development Committee
No Report

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

Renovations—Milsap Dorm has been completed and Rehab. Center students have moved back into the dorm.

As a part of the last legislative session, DSB received 4 new positions.  Those 4 positions consist of 3 Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors and 1 Assistive Technology position.  Two of these positions have been filled—Counselor position in Charlotte and Assistive Technology position in Winston-Salem. 

DSB has had 6 retirements in the last quarter of the year.  Half of these positions have been filled and the others are being recruited for. 

North Carolina Central University—NCCU has a program that trains teachers of the visually impaired and orientation and mobility instructors.  Debbie Jackson attended a meeting in November with Tom Winton and others involved with the program.  The program is now heading in a great direction and moving forward.  Staff and students are very enthused with the program.   The University has applied for a grant which would enable them to train Vision Rehabilitation Therapists. 

For the past semester, DSB has had interns from various colleges and look forward to having more interns for the spring semester.  

DSB will sponsor a College Day wherein students from various Rehabilitation Master Degree programs visit DSB to learn about job opportunities.  Students have an opportunity to speak to counselors and visit the Rehabilitation Center.

The Division participated in an Employment Seminar which was held in Charlotte at Wachovia.  Approximately 30 employers attended.  Employers included Walgreens, Best Buy, Presbyterian Hospital, Price Water House, Lowes, and Bank of America.

Outreach—During the Fall, DSB participated in a number of outreach activities with one being the State Fair.  DSB staffed the booth from 9 a.m. til 9 p.m. for 10 days. 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray

The Chair of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee (C & A), Gary Ray, informed this committee of the purpose of the C & A.  It is a committee set up by general statute and consists of consumer and professional organizations, member of the House, member of the Senate, and organizations that work for the blind. 

The C & A is considering redefining and clarifying the statute.  After the statute is rewritten, it will then need to be approved by DHHS, the Governor, and brought before the Legislature.   

The Legislature has directed that a study of the education delivery system for the blind and deaf be conducted. The study will include the entire educational service delivery model—from the public schools to the residential schools.
The School of Government from UNC-Chapel Hill is conducting focus groups.  Their feedback will be included in the report as an appendix before the report is presented to the Legislature.

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—This is the public library for those who cannot use regular print.  The National Library Service continues working on digital books and players. In the past, the library has had analog audio cassettes.  The new digital player is based on a flash cartridge system.  The player has been designed and is being beta tested. Gary Ray is testing one of the players.  It is user friendly and has a user guide built into the player.  Each cartridge holds 22 hours of materials so 90% of most library books will fit on one cartridge.  

Professional Advisory Committee—Dr. Gropper, Dr. Bernstein, and Dr. Fleming

Debbie Jackson reported on the Medical Eye Care Program.  Over the past 6 weeks, DSB has seen a significant increase in the number of people who are determined eligible because of the change in the income scale. DSB will be monitoring the expenditures in this program carefully. 

Old Business


New Business


Following an adjournment motion by Kathy Crow, seconded by Stacey Milbern, and carried the Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Graham Watt, Ph.D., Chair Commission for the Blind 
Debbie Jackson, Director Services for the Blind     


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