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

Annual Report 2001

The North Carolina Commission for the Blind
Serving as the State Rehabilitation Council
Presents the 2001 Annual Report of the Council and the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind

A Message from the Chair

It is with pleasure and pride that the N.C. Commission for the Blind presents the 2001 Annual Report of the Council and the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind. This report, jointly developed by Council members and Division staff, highlights some of the many achievements of the Division and Council in providing independent living and employment services to North Carolinians who are blind or visually impaired. This year, we focus on persons with significant disabilities.

Persons with significant disabilities are individuals who are blind or have severe vision loss. Many have other disabling conditions such as diabetes, hearing loss, orthopedic impairments, developmental disabilities, etc. These individuals require multiple specialized services to achieve their independence.

The challenges in today's world that confront persons with significant disabilities require a level of confidence, judgment, and independence never before faced by this population. While demands for competence in the highly competitive workplace and full participation in the community accelerate, so, happily, do the developments of techniques and technologies that will enable people with significant disabilities to successfully meet those demands placed upon them.

In this report, you will meet some of our fellow citizens who are living with total blindness or seriously impaired vision. Some have other mental or physical disabilities, which further complicate their road to independence. However, with compassionate and professional services and the adaptive technology available today, these individuals are achieving success.

As the majority of members of the Commission are themselves "legally blind," we can especially appreciate the skill and energy of the Division staff as they work with our consumers to achieve their goals and dreams.

We deeply appreciate the support shown by North Carolinians for the excellent work of the Division of Services for the Blind.

~ Norma Krajczar


North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind
Rehabilitation Council
2000-2001

Council Membership:

Norma F. Krajczar, Chairperson, Carteret County

John T. Miller III, Vice Chairperson, Dare County

Annette Clinard, Guilford County

Kristy Eubanks, Wake County

Ronald L. Huber, Guilford County

J. Oattley Lee, Cumberland County

1 Vacant Seat

Allen Moore, Mecklenburg County

George Murphy, Catawba County

Mary Le O'Daniel, Mecklenburg County

Paul H. Starling, Durham County

Catherleen Thomas, Wake County

Anita Wayne, Craven County

Client Assistance Program:
Kathy Brack, Director

Ex-Officio Members:
John B. Deluca, Director, Division of Services for the Blind
Sandy Foster, Rehabilitation Counselor In-Charge, Division of Services for the Blind

The North Carolina Commission for the Blind serves as the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind State Rehabilitation Council. The Commission consists of 12 members and a Chairperson appointed by the Governor.The membership elects the Vice-Chairperson. The Council has 5 standing committees: Consumer Information, Inter-Committee Relations, Policy and Procedures Review, State Plans and Strategic Plan Review, and Public Relations. Adhoc committees are formed as needed.

While the Council meets quarterly, the various committees meet as often as necessary to fulfill the Council's responsibilities related to the Division's Rehabilitation Program, as cited in the 1998 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


Highlights of Rehabilitation Council Activities

Held Two Public Hearings to Seek Input for the Division's State Plan

Assisted in the Preparation of the Division's State Plan Updates

Conducted Consumer Satisfaction Survey

Participated in the Division's Rulemaking Process

Provided Input in Establishing the Rehabilitation Program's Goals and Priorities

Reviewed and Provided Guidance on Rehabilitation Program Policy Changes

Assisted in the Revision of the Division's "A Guide to Services" Handbook

Developed the Division's Annual Report on Programs and Activities


VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM

In North Carolina, people who are blind or visually impaired have opportunities to work. Specialized services are provided by the Division's Vocational Rehabilitation Program to help people who are blind and visually impaired achieve their employment goals. Professionals such as Rehabilitation Counselors, Job Placement Specialists, Assistive Technology Specialists, Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors, and Orientation and Mobility Specialists provide these services. All services are geared toward assisting consumers to retain, obtain, or maintain employment.

3,650 consumers were served by DSB Rehabilitation Program, 88% (3209) had significant disabilities.

1,978 consumers continued their programs into 2001 - 2002, 92% (1818) have significant disabilities.

730 consumers accomplished their employment goal, 89% (648) had significant disabilities.

627 (86%) consumers who accomplished their employment goals earned at least the minimum wage, 533 (85%) were significantly disabled.

The average weekly wage of consumers before rehabilitation was $131.71. The average weekly wage after rehabilitation was $311.76.

The average cost for Division services provided per consumer rehabilitated was $4,381.90


SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

Supported employment services are intensive and ongoing services provided to people with the most significant disabilities. Job coaching and extended follow-up after employment are the two major components of the Division's Supported Employment Program. Often, consumers who receive supported employment services have limited or no experience working in the community and these services provide the support needed to maintain a job. The Division contracts for these services with Community Rehabilitation Programs across the state.


JOB PLACEMENT SERVICES

During the fiscal year, the Division expanded its efforts to work with business and industry employers to develop relationships and market consumers with blindness. Consumers being marketed to employers by the Division's Staff include those with significant disabilities that need assistance and specialized services to be employed. Substantial resources were invested in staff development and training. Rehabilitation Counselors, Job Placement Specialists, Supervisors, and Management completed a series of training designed to achieve one basic goal - to build relationships with North Carolina employers. This approach encourages Rehabilitation Professionals to build long-term relationships with these employers, laying a foundation for "multiple placements" of consumers. In its first year of implementation, the Division has realized a significant increase in placements of consumers in wage earning jobs.


BUSINESS ENTERPRISES PROGRAM

The North Carolina Business Enterprises Program (BEP) provides employment opportunities for legally blind individuals to work as managers of food service and vending facilities. More than 85 legally blind individuals worked as facility managers during the year, earning an average annual wage of $32,762. There were 87 BEP facilities statewide at the end of Fiscal Year 2001, with gross sales of $11.9 million.

To become a licensee in the N.C. Business Enterprises Program, each legally blind trainee must successfully complete the six-week training course offered at the DSB Rehabilitation Center. During this time trainees receive "hands on" instruction in various subjects related to the food service industry such as sanitation, safety, customer relations, business math, menu selection, and food preparation.

After successfully completing the six-week course at the DSB Rehabilitation Center, each trainee must complete on-the-job training with an established manager who has a training agreement with the Division. Depending on the level of license that the trainee wishes to obtain, he or she will complete an additional six to ten weeks of on-the-job training in an actual BEP facility.

Once licensed, the individual is eligible to apply for advertised vacancies in the N.C. Business Enterprises Program. When awarded a facility, the new manager is provided on-going support from the Business Enterprises Program staff.


TRANSITION SERVICES

In preparing students with visual impairments to move from school to work, vocational or advanced academic training, the Division offers transition services. These services are available to youth as young as age 14 and all services are based upon the students' interests, abilities, and needs. While the overall needs of students vary, most benefit from participating in some type of work-related experiences.


DEAF-BLIND SERVICES

During 2000-2001, more than 600 deaf-blind consumers received services through a joint initiative between the Division of Services for the Blind and the Division of Services for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. These services included advocacy, sign language interpreters, purchase of assistive technology and training, communication skills training, job placement and follow-up, as well as the coordination of other community services.


INDEPENDENT LIVING REHABILITATION PROGRAM

EMPOWERING INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES

Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors provide extensive adjustment services to North Carolinians who have severe vision loss and blindness. These services are designed to enable individuals to maintain their independence. Services are offered on an individual basis in the home and in community-based classes called "Mini-Centers."

  • 1,127 individuals were served in the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program
  • 46 "Mini-Centers" were held throughout North Carolina
  • 492 individuals were provided adaptive aids and equipment

MEDICAL EYE CARE PROGRAM

In North Carolina the major causes of blindness are retinal disorders, cataracts, and glaucoma. The Medical Eye Care Program uses many resources to prevent blindness, and when possible, to restore vision. During FY 2000-2001, 22,479 people received prevention of blindness and restoration of sight services.

Eye Examinations by Ophthalmologists and Optometrists: 5,552 people received eye examinations; 1,756 received eyeglasses; 2,912 received eye treatment/surgeries.

Glaucoma Screenings: 9,715 people were screened by Division staff.

Vision Screenings for Children: 7,212 children were screened by Division staff for early detection of visual problems.

Low Vision Assessment: 2,455 people were screened by Nursing Eye Care Consultants.


DSB REHABILITATION FACILITY PROGRAMS

The Division operates two residential rehabilitation facility programs in Raleigh, NC. The Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and the Evaluation Unit are housed on the campus of The Governor Morehead School.

These facility programs provide options for individuals needing in-depth, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Consumers use the facilities for a variety of specialized services such as vocational assessments and training, work readiness skills development, vision-specific assistive technology assessment and training, psychological testing, orientation and mobility training, and low vision screenings.

During the summer, the Center provides transitional services for high school students who are considering post-secondary training or work. These services include college preparation classes with some students attending local colleges. Other students concentrate in areas of special needs such as safe travel, Braille, keyboarding, technology, and independent living skills.

Vocational Assessments - 121
Work Readiness Participants - 28
Adjustment to Blindness Participants - 94
Transition Students - 33
Assistive Technology Lab Tours - 168
Calls for Technical Support and/or Information - 1149


AMERICORPS TECH-ED CAMPS - BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

The AmeriCorps Tech-Ed Camps, serving rural Eastern and Western North Carolina, is a new initiative between the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind and N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. Through this partnership, twelve AmeriCorps members teach adaptive computer training to persons who are blind or have severe vision loss. Services are provided through computer labs. The letter below commends North Carolina for outstanding services provided for the visually impaired.

August 23, 2001

Dear Mr. DeLuca:

The purpose of this letter is to express appreciation for the outstanding services that are provided by the State of North Carolina for its visually handicapped residents. The excellent support services from Mr. Preston Jones' Asheville office and the statewide leadership from your Division are sterling examples of innovative vision, wise planning, and professional management.

This letter, however, is directed to just one of your special programs administered by the Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. This program trains blind persons to operate a computer by using the "JAWS" for windows' screen reading software.

My wife is legally blind. She has been enrolled in the JAWS program at A-B Tech for approximately three months. She has learned to use the computer for writing letters and corresponding by e-mail. This has opened a new world of correspondence and communication for her, and she continues to learn at her weekly sessions at A-B Tech. Her instructor, Mrs. Judy Davis, is blind and is a marvelous example of how motivated persons can conquer a handicap and make a significant contribution to society when presented the opportunity. In other words, your program not only teaches the blind, but it also provides opportunities for the blind to teach.

Thank you for making this valuable program available in the Asheville area. It has made a great contribution to my family. We hope, of course, that it will survive the budget issues that our state government is currently debating. I would be pleased to write to any state official or legislator if that would be useful.

Sincerely,


INDEPENDENT LIVING SERVICES PROGRAM

Social Workers for the Blind provided Independent Living Services to consumers of all ages across the state. These services are provided in the home and community.

5,749 consumers received adjustment services for the blind and visually impaired: These services included personal skills such as learning to use a Braille watch or identify money, communication skills, adaptive recreation, and homemaking skills such as adaptive techniques for cooking and serving meals.

1,189 consumers learned specialized orientation and mobility skills. Depending upon the individual needs of the consumer, these skills included safe travel techniques with a sighted guide or learning to use a white cane for independent travel for shopping, traveling to work, and walking to classes at school.

555 consumers received Chore services to enable them to remain at home.

In addition to providing Independent Living and Chore Services, the DSB Social Workers partner with citizens that are blind, and local community groups such as the Lions and 4-H Clubs, in providing adaptive recreational activities. Annually, many Social Workers arrange for citizens who are blind to attend Camp Dogwood and the VIP Fishing tournament (events supported by the Lions). Most Social Workers work with their local communities in establishing local blind support groups. There are more than sixty active groups in the state.


Message from the Director

The two most recent re-authorizations of the Rehabilitation Act have established and then intensified the focus of vocational rehabilitation services on individuals with significant disabilities. Thus, it is only fitting that this annual report should highlight the accomplishments of recipients of vocational rehabilitation services from the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind that have significant disabilities. The experiences of the individuals portrayed in this report serve to educate, inspire, and offer hope at a time when our state, nation, and world needs such examples.

Without a doubt, the lions share of the credit and attention for these successes must go to the individuals themselves. However, as Director for the Division of Services for the Blind, I would be negligent if I did not offer tribute to the outstanding efforts of agency staff that played a significant role in these successes. I would also like to express my gratitude to the North Carolina Lions Foundation for its continuing support of the programs of the Division of Services for the Blind, including the production of this report.

The lives of blind and visually impaired individuals are enhanced substantially by the partnership of the North Carolina Lions Foundation, Lions of North Carolina, Division of Services for the Blind, and the Commission for the Blind/State Rehabilitation Council. I am honored and privileged to be a part of such a vital partnership.

John DeLuca, Director
North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind


The North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind Rehabilitation Program, in conjunction with the State Rehabilitation Council, conducted a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed rehabilitation programs in State Fiscal Year 1999-2000. Two hundred and ten (210) individuals responded - a 32% response rate.

This is what our consumers had to say about the Rehabilitation Program:

DSB staff were polite all the time - 97%

Telephone calls were returned the same or next day - 91%

Appointments scheduled as soon as consumers thought they should be, all or most of the time - 98%

Decisions about rehabilitation goals were made jointly by consumer and counselor - 81%

Decisions about services to be rendered were made jointly by consumer and counselor - 81%

Always understood each step in their rehabilitation program - 82%

Satisfied with the jobs they obtained as a result of, or with assistance from, DSB staff - 87%

Rated experience with DSB as good, all or most of the time - 96%


DSB CONSUMERS CHOSE TO WORK IN THESE OCCUPATIONS

 

Occupation Number %
Service Occupations 173 23.7%
Clerical/Sales 115 15.8%
Professional/Tech/
Managerical
106 14.5%
Structural Work 81 11.1%
Homemaker 61 8.4%
Machine Trades 53 7.3%
Benchwork Occupations 51 7.0%
Miscellaneous Occupations 47 6.4%
Agriculture, Fishing, Forestry 30 4.1%
Processing Occupations 12 1.6%

85% Earning minimum wage or more had significant disabilities.

Weekly earnings:
Before DSB Services: $130.71
After DSB Services: $311.76

 

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