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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

December 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, December 11, 2004.  The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson (ex-officio), Tom Winton, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Allen Moore, Graham Watt, Ron Huber, Angela McCants, Sandy Foster, and Kathy Brack.  

Members not present:  Catherleen Thomas, Russ Stinehour, and Annette Clinard. 

Others Present:  Mary Flanagan, Dave Arthur, Joann Strader, Sally Syria, Chris Fleming, Jan Fesperman, Jim Boehm, and Carla Parker. 

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by Chairman

Graham Watt was appointed Parliamentarian. 

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Tom Winton, seconded by Graham Watt, and carried to approve the minutes of the September 11, 2004 meeting.

Committee Reports:

Public Relations Committee – Ron Huber

The Lions will be having an exhibit table in Greensboro. Alysia Well, Social Worker in Forsyth County, will be doing a seminar and calendars will be distributed. 

Debbie Jackson continues to send Mr. Huber an article each quarter about DSB.  Mr. Huber then sends the article to the district governors for them to include in their newsletters.

Intercommittee Relations—Allen Moore

Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) met on November 5.  The elections were by acclamation--Debbie Baldwin, Chair Person; Pat Yarborough, Vice ChairPerson; and Scott Broadway, member at large.  Membership Committee will be recommending 6 members to fill vacancies.  Committee assignments were made as follows:  Johnna Simmons and Allen Moore are going to co-chair a    technology committee for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, and/or older blind.  Scott Broadway is also going to serve on the committee.  There was some discussion of finding a new hotel to meeting but the location will remain the same.  SILC adjourned after lunch.  

Advocacy Committee—No Report

Directors Report—Debbie Jackson

The General Assembly returns in January.  Expansion Budget request has been submitted to include money for case service funds for people in our ILR Program.  It also includes several new positions that will be used by both ILR as well as our Vocational Rehabilitation (Employment Program).  Positions we have asked for are:  1) Assistive Technology position; 2) support staff/clerical position; 3) deaf/blind position; and 4) field-based computer training position.  This request has been approved by the Department and is now at the State Budget level. 

DSB’s Charlotte District Office will still be moving; although, it hasn’t been as quick as we had hoped.  Space requirements have been developed and bids will go out in January.  DSB’s Wilmington District Office may also be moving. 

Charlotte/Mecklenburg School System--DSB has developed with the Charlotte/Mecklenburg School System a Cooperative Agreement that will allow us to place 2 people in Charlotte/Mecklenburg area to provide services specifically to transition age kids who are blind and visually-impaired.  Federal Rehabilitation money is used and the Charlotte/Mecklenburg school system provides the non-federal match.  Two people have been hired for these 2 positions. 

The Durham County agreement is still not in place.  Agreement has been signed but not returned.  Until DSB receives the signed agreement, hiring cannot take place.  

The Director of Governor Morehead School, Judy Plymale, is no longer working at GMS.  She has taken a position with the Wake County Public Schools.  Cyndie Bennett, Director of Office of Educational Services, will be filling in until the position is filled. 

Federal Level--IDEA was reauthorized.  The Rehabilitation Act was not reauthorized. 

 DSB Funding—As in year’s past, programs are running short.  Program Chiefs will report on how much money is needed to keep bills paid and services continuing.  Money from “Other Vending” and “Social Security Reimbursement” will be moved into the programs as needed. 

DSB Recruitment--DSB will be focusing on improving our recruitment efforts.  We have many staff members nearing the retirement age.  We need to hire people that we can train and move into supervisory roles.   The difficulty is in the Rehabilitation Program.  The Rehabilitation Services Administration has a requirement that staff have a master’s degrees in Rehabilitation.  The colleges and universities are not generating as many people as the Rehabilitation agencies need and private employers can pay more than government.   DSB and DVR will start an internship program.  DSB will begin their paid internship program in January (1 will begin in January for Asheville and possibly another in February for Wilmington).  We hope this will be an ongoing effort so each semester we will be able to offer paid internships. 

DSB had the opportunity to participate in both consumer conferences—the Federation and the Council--and the VIP Fishing Tournament.  All were very well attended. 

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction—Tom Winton

54th Conference on Exceptional Children The 54th Conference on Exceptional Children was held on November 1-3 in Greensboro at the Koury Convention Center.  Among the 79 instructional sessions, Maria Delgado of APH gave a web-based presentation on new APH technology products and Julie Kagy and Peggy Holly of Wake County Public Schools presented on using laptop computers with visually impaired students.  Estelle Condra presented to exceptional children directors and principals from throughout the state and received a standing ovation.  In all, more than 2,800 educators attended.  The 55th Conference is scheduled for November 7-9, 2005.

North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness – Planning is continuing 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.  It will likely contract with NCAER to sponsor a keynote address by Dr. Abraham Nemeth, inventor of the Nemeth Braille Code.

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.  The next meeting of the Board is Tuesday, December 14.  It is hoped the program will see increased administrative support with the firing of the Provost at NCCU.  It was believed this Provost caused many of the difficulties with resolving tenure issues, completing contracts and filling faculty vacancies.

Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee—Tim Jones was not present.  Debbie Jackson reported that no resolutions or action was taken at the Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee meeting yesterday.  Verlo Insko, the house-appointed representative to serve on the CAAC, was present at the meeting.  She chairs the electronic voting committee and extended invitation to a public hearing on December 20 from 10 a.m. til 1 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building. 

Professional Advisory Committee

In Dr. Wiggin’s absence, Sally Syria, Chief of Medical Eye Care, reported on issues.  As in past year’s, we are running short again this year in the Medical Eye Care.   Two new nurses have joined the Medical Eye Care Program and they are outstanding.

Old Business


New Business


Adjournment of Commission Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11 a.m.  The next meeting of the Commission for the Blind is scheduled for March 12, 2005, 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/DHHS


DECEMBER 11, 2004


Call to Order of the State Rehabilitation Council

Following the Commission meet, John Miller opened the State Rehabilitation Council meeting at 11:15 a.m.  The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson (ex-officio), Graham Watt, Allen Moore, Angela McCants, Ron Huber, Tom Winton, Kathy Brack, Sandy Foster (ex-officio), and Anita Heath-Cunningham

Others Present:  Joann Strader, Jan Fesperman, Dave Arthur, and Carla Parker

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Tom Winton, seconded by Ron Huber, and carried to approve the minutes of the meeting September 11, 2004.

 Committee Reports:

Policy and Procedures—Kathy Brack

The Rehabilitation Program made 3 policy changes that were recommended by RSA.  The changes concerned:  1) Family members; 2) Guidance and Counseling; and 3) Other services. 

Updated existing policies regarding 1) Post-Secondary; 2) Rehabilitation Center; and 3) Admissions Policy to the Rehabilitation Center. 

A motion made by Graham Watt; seconded by Kathy Brack, and carried to approve the policies and procedure changes. 

State Plan—Kathy Brack

No Report

Consumer Information Committee—Joann Strader

In Catherleen Thomas’ absence, Joann Strader reported on the Consumer Satisfaction Survey.  The Satisfaction Survey that is mailed out quarterly has had minor formatting changes and needs the Council’s approval of the changes.   After discussions with other States about the survey, we found another measurement criteria as being more valid and accepted.  This criteria has been changed from having 5 measurements to 3 which will be, if approved:  “Satisfied”, “Somewhat Unsatisfied”, and “Unsatisfied”.  Also, additional space was added for any comments the consumer may have.  The 16 questions remain the same. 

A motion made by Tom Winton, seconded by Angela McCants,  and carried to approve the formatting changes in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey.

Annual Report—Dave Arthur

The Annual Report was distributed to Committee.

The Calendar is at the printers and will be back before the end of the year.  A proto-type of the calendar was distributed to the committee.  Council members, Tom Winton and Graham Watt, assisted with the proofreading of the calendar.   The Rehabilitation Program is required to do an annual report so DSB encompasses the annual report of all programs into a calendar.   Calendars are distributed to congressional representatives in Washington as well as State House/Senate Representatives in North Carolina as well as every State. 

Question was raised regarding how many blind people are in North Carolina.  DSB does not know an exact number.  DSB does have a Register of the Blind which is a State legislative-mandated register.  DSB relies on ophthalmologists, optometrists to make us aware of people that need to be on the Register.  Currently, DSB has around 24,000 people.  DSB can breakdown the 24,000 into age, county, race, etc. 

Old Business


New Business

Statewide Needs Assessment is coming up in 2005.  Mary Flanagan explained as required by the Rehabilitation Act, DSB is required to periodically do a needs assessment.  In 1999, we contracted with Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.  The process involves conducting interviews with DSB staff, council members, and consumers.  The process takes about 6 months.  At this point, we are looking at whom to go with at doing the needs assessment.  Invitation was extended to people on the Council that would like to be a part of the needs assessment.  Angela McCants volunteered her assistance. 

Chairman, John Miller, reported on information he received from the Rehabilitation Services Administration regarding training that will be occurring for the State Rehabilitation Councils.  This training will be in Atlanta on January 26 & 27, 2005.  John Miller, Dave Arthur, and Tom Winton are planning to attend.  In case, Chairman John Miller or any others are not able to attend Graham Watt and Allen Moore volunteered to go in their absence.   

Graham Watt is involved in Workforce Development. There are currently 103 job link career centers in the State that serve all workers and handicaps.  When DSB staff are traveling through the job link centers and determine there is a need for a piece of equipment that will enable the person to work, let Mr. Watt know and he will assist in getting that piece of equipment in place

Adjournment of Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.  The next meeting is schedule for March 12. 2005.

Respectfully submitted,

John Miller, III, Chairman State Rehabilitation Council DHHS          
Debbie Jackson, Director Division of Services for the Blind DHHS / DSB    


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