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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

December 10, 2005

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman John Miller called the 284th meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:20 a.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2005, 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. Allen Moore offered the invocation.

The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson, Cheryl Whitley, Allen Moore, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Kellie Hightower-Spruill, Tom Winton, Sandy Foster, Ron Huber, and Kathy Brack.

Not Present:  Graham Watt, Angela McCants, and Russ Stinehour.

Others Present:  Jan Fesperman, Mary Flanagan, Joann Samuels,

Carla Parker, Sally Syria, Dr. Wiggins, Dr. Bernstein,

Dr. Fleming, and Dr. Casey.

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by Chairman

Ron Huber was appointed Parliamentarian.  Chairman John Miller reminded the members that this is the Commission’s 71st anniversary.  

Approval of Minutes

With typos corrected, a motion was made by Ron Huber, seconded by Allen Moore, and carried to approve the minutes of the September 10, 2005 meeting. 

Committee Reports:

Public Relations Committee—No Report


Inter-Committee Relations Committee—Allen Moore

The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) members held its meeting in Raleigh on November 30.  The various committees gave their reports and the minutes were approved. 

Advocacy Committee—John Miller and Tom Winton

Report was given jointly by John Miller and Tom Winton with focus on meetings over the past quarter that have related to concerns about the NCCU VITP.  John, Tom, and others from the Program’s Advisory Board have participated in meetings with NCCU Administration, UNC System Administration, staff from Senator Basnight’s Office, and four legislators who are on the Committee for Higher Education.  On these occasions, representatives from the Board have discussed and provided written documentation of the ongoing concerns with the Program and past efforts to address those concerns with little significant improvement.  They have consistently raised the option of placing the Program in a school that has a strong Special Education Department and will provide the support the Program needs in order to succeed. 

To date there is no commitment from any of these parties to move the Program, though there is verbal commitment to actively pursue with NCCU identification of why the Program has not been more successful and ensuring its future success.  The direct impact on DSB is most evident in the Agency’s ongoing difficulty in recruiting Orientation and Mobility instructors—a need that we had hoped the NCCU Program would address.  This conversation lead to discussion of other difficult-to-recruit-for positions including any that require sign skills as well as rehabilitation counselor positions. 

A motion was made by Ron Huber and seconded by Tom Winton that the Commission pursue establishment of a committee to work with service agencies such as DSB to analyze trends regarding positions that are difficult to fill, identify resources, and advocate for needed resources.  Recognizing that several routes might exist for the establishment of such a group and depending on responsibilities and authority of such a group, Chairman Miller asked that Debbie Jackson work with him and Tom Winton on formulating the group, possibly including a Commission by-laws change.

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

Major renovations have begun on the Cox Dorm located on GMS campus.  Students were moved out of Cox at the end of September and work began the first week of October.  It is anticipated the project will be complete in 9 months.  After Cox is completed, renovations will begin on the Milsap dorm. 

The News and Observer will be featuring an article on one of our consumers.  For the past several months, the writer has been attending classes with the student at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind.  Beginning on Sunday, December 11, the first of a series of four articles will appear in the News and Observer.    

Voting Machines—DSB staff will have an opportunity to participate in the evaluation of accessible voting machines in Wake and other counties.

Rehabilitation Program Needs Assessment—The Needs Assessment began in September, questionnaires have been mailed, and telephone calls are being made to some consumers.  Feedback should be back by mid-January, but DSB is not sure if the report will be finalized by our next meeting in March.

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee for the Blind—No one from the CAAC was present.  Tom Winton attended the CAAC meeting and reported an issue that NC Prevent Blindness brought to the attention of the CAAC.  A  “Governor’s Vision Care Program” was established during the last legislative session.   Its intent is to detect and correct vision problems in children.  The provision requires a comprehensive eye exam for every child entering public kindergarten within six months before the start of school.  A Governor’s Commission  on Early Childhood Vision Care is in the process of being developed.  When this Commission is established, Prevent Blindness has a list of concerns they will be sharing with them.  Some concerns include counties that do not have an optometrist or ophthalmologist, time, and cost.   

The Advocacy Committee will look at this legislation and take appropriate action. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Dr. Wiggins

The Medical Eye Care Program continues to be on schedule with bill paying and providing services to eligible clients.

Old Business


New Business


Adjournment of Commission Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.  The next meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind is scheduled for March 11, 2006, at 10 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

John T. Miller, III, Chairman Commission for the Blind DHHS         
Debbie Jackson, Director Division of Services for the Blind      


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