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

Annual Report 2007

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Services for the Blind
2007 Annual Report

"Soaring to New Heights"

Chairman’s Message

Helen Keller once declared “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, sailed to uncharted lands, or opened a new doorway for human spirit.” This statement remains as true today as the day it was expressed. The 2007 North Carolina Commission for the Blind has adopted the following vision statement: In 2008, the Division of Services for the Blind will be North Carolina’s leader in providing employment and independent living services for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Part of having positive vision means stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves, and “Soaring to New Heights” – which is the theme for this year’s Annual Report.  The North Carolina Commission for the Blind, serving as the State Rehabilitation Council, is privileged to present the 2007 Annual Report of the Council and the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB).

Throughout this document you will notice DSB programs and services empowering us to collectively meet our mission statement of enabling people who are blind or visually impaired to reach their goals of independence and employment.

The dedicated work of the personnel of the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind, the strength of the people we serve, and the enduring support of our partners, particularly the North Carolina Lions Foundation, ensures that collectively we will soar to new heights.

Graham Watt, Ph.D.
Chairperson, Commission for the Blind/State Rehabilitation Council


Message from the Director

As an Agency, DSB enjoyed a number of successes during the past year.  One of our most memorable and most celebrated was our success in the legislative session.  Like most successes this one was the result of hard work on the part of a number of Division staff, advocacy by the consumers whom we serve, strong support from the leadership of DHHS, and recognition by members of the General Assembly of the need to provide more services to more people with vision loss.

The outcome of this combined effort was the addition of four new positions, additional case service funding in three program areas, and an improved Economic Needs Scale in three programs.  By taking the many small steps necessary to achieve this success DSB is now in a better position to assist our consumers in achieving their goals. 

For each person “success” means something different. It might mean learning to send an e-mail using speech output software; learning to travel the route to the grocery store; reading a novel in Braille; getting the first summer job for a high school student; enjoying a few days at the VIP Fishing tournament or Camp Dogwood; or changing careers  after losing vision.  Our thanks to those who helped us to have a very successful year, and we in turn look forward to providing services to assist our consumers as they “Soar to New Heights!”

Debbie Jackson
Director of Division of Services for the Blind                                        


                                                
DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
State Fiscal Year 2007
ANNUAL REPORT

VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM

Individuals with blindness or visual impairments who want to work may be eligible for DSB Vocational Rehabilitation (DSB-VR) services.  They have the opportunity to choose from a variety of services that best suit their individual needs.  Support and assistance is provided by Rehabilitation Counselors, Transition Counselors, Employment Consultants, Community Employment Specialists, Rehabilitation Engineer, Assistive Technology Consultants, Assistive Technology Instructors, and Deaf Blind Specialists.  The Vocational Evaluation Unit provides intensive in-house vocational assessments.  The Rehabilitation Center for the Blind provides comprehensive training services for successful working and living independently through training in areas such as adjustment to blindness, career exploration, and assistive technology. 

State Fiscal Year 2007 DSB VR Results

Individuals served by DSB VR Services – 3,569
Of those 3,569 individuals served,
the number identified as having a significant disability: 3,332, or 93%

Individuals closed successfully working: 650
Of those individuals closed successfully working:
the number identified as having a significant disability – 613, or  94%
the number who are wage earners -  645, or 99%
the average case expenditure - $4,552.00     

Average weekly earnings of individuals closed successfully working:
before receiving services: -$147.14 per week
after receiving services: - $354.89 per week, $10.04 per hour

Consumer Satisfaction

Each year, the State Rehabilitation Council, conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed rehabilitation programs during the SFY 2006-2007.  Surveys were mailed to 634 individuals whose cases were closed with an employment outcome.  There were a total of 191 completed surveys returned with 86 returned as undeliverable.  The completed return rate was 30%. 

Here is what our consumers had to say:

  • 99% felt the DSB staff treated them with courtesy and respect
  • 99% were satisfied with the promptness of telephone calls
  • 99% said they felt appointments were scheduled as soon as possible
  • 93% felt DSB staff provided information they needed about their eye condition
  • 93% were satisfied with the level of choice they had in their job goal and services required to obtain or maintain employment 
  • 99% were satisfied with the DSB services they received
  • 82% are still working in the job they had when their case record with DSB VR Services was closed
  • 83% stated they knew they could return to DSB for more help if needed

Business Development and Placement Services

More than seven years ago, DSB VR started its initiative, DSB Placement Services, to identify those individuals who, for various reasons, would require more direct involvement with businesses in our communities to achieve and maintain competitive employment. Over time, the initiative was renamed from Placement Services to Employment Services to the present DSB Business Services to more accurately reflect the expanding relationships with business.  Its initial objective was to increase the placement of individuals with blindness in wage earning occupations by 33% in 3 years.  Through concerted relationship building with businesses, that original objective was attained in two years.  In State Fiscal Year 2007; DSB Business Services placed 99 of these targeted individuals in competitive, wage earning occupations, 89% of whom were determined to have significant disabilities.  They averaged $8.12 per hour in earned wages and averaged more than 29 work hours per week.


DSB VR Supported Employment Services

Some individuals can work in competitive jobs but need on-going assistance to be successful.  Supported employment is work performed by the individual in a competitive, integrated setting with job coaching assistance to maintain employment. These services are normally provided by a job coach and an extended services provider. Services are provided for the lifetime of the job. Individuals determined to have the most significantly disabling conditions who will need multiple services and long term follow up to become successfully employed and to maintain employment are eligible to receive these services. There are four basic components to Supported Employment: Assessment, job placement services, intensive on-the-job training, and long term follow up.

The DSB VR Program VR Counselor determines an individual’s eligibility for these services and makes the referrals to the appropriate providers of these services.  Supported Employment services are contracted with 14 private non-profit Community Rehabilitation Programs all across the state.

State Fiscal Year 2007 Supported Employment Results

Individuals receiving services: 135
(Includes situational assessment, job development, placement, job coaching, training, and extended services)
Individuals placed in employment: 29
Individuals retaining successful employment: 24
Average weekly hours worked: 20
Average hourly wage: $6.36 per hour

                                 


DSB VR Transition Services

DSB VR offers transition services to students in all 117 North Carolina public school systems to help prepare high school students with blindness or visual impairments to move from school to employment.  Moving from high school to post secondary vocational or academic training then to work or moving from high school directly into work presents many challenges.  DSB VR professionals work in cooperation with schools, family members and community and business leaders.  Services are planned based on the student's interests, abilities and needs and often begin as early as age 14.  Specialized on-the-job training, job shadowing, internships and other work experiences sponsored by DSB assist the students in their adjustment.

Last year, 337 individuals, ages 14 to 21, received DSB VR services. This includes services to 176 students in specialized transition programs located in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, Cumberland County, Durham County, Wake County, Guilford County and Forsyth County school systems, Governor Morehead School for the Blind, and a new Transition program that opened in January, 2007, in the Wilmington, NC area with Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Onslow County Schools. These caseloads only work with students, and provide specialized services, such as Career Clubs to provide the students opportunities to meet together and discuss career planning, to listen to invited speakers, and to go on field trips to potential employers.  Several groups visited local hospitals to learn more about careers located in a medical setting. The Wake County program has a mentor program matching students with adults who are visually impaired to act as role models and to work with the students on a variety of issues, such as tutoring, learning safe travel in the community, and observing local recreational programs.

The DSB VR transition program provides summer transition programs for high school students in cooperation with DSB Rehabilitation Center. These programs included the Summer Adjustment to Blindness Vital to VisuallyImpaired Youth (SAVVY) and the World of Work (WOW). WOW is a five-week paid internship program designed to prepare students for success in the world of work and in adult living.  The participants learn work ethics and work behaviors as well as start building their resumes. They increase their communication skills and interpersonal skills while building confidence and self-reliance.  Participants, who stay at the Rehabilitation Center, are involved in recreational activities in the evenings which include exercise, sports, and other recreational activities. During summer 2007, thirteen students participated in this program, with six students from across the state staying at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind campus and seven students participating in their home communities.

The SAVVY program includes instruction in a variety of skills.  The training is matched to the age and to the needs of each teen. A training plan is designed to provide specific life skills training as basic living skills, social development, vocational and study skills, and independent living skills as cooking, techniques of daily living, mobility, assistive technology and Braille while allowing the flexibility to target the specific skills to the individual. This year, nineteen students participated in this program.

A College Prep Program is being added for the summer of 2008 for newly graduated high schools student to help them prepare for their first year in college.  An exciting syllabus is being developed by the staff at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind.                               


DSB Deaf-Blind Services

Since 1976, the NC Division of Services for the Blind has been committed to effectively serve individuals with both hearing and vision loss.  The goals of these services are to improve vocational outcomes and quality of life for persons with hearing and vision loss.

Individuals with vision and hearing loss in need of service are referred to either the Vocational Rehabilitation or Independent Living programs. After eligibility is established, referrals are submitted to one of the five Deaf-Blind Specialists.  The Deaf-Blind Specialist contacts the referral and a home assessment is scheduled.  During the assessment, problems with hearing the phone ring, hearing on the phone, hearing the doorbell, etc., are identified and a report with recommendation on how to alleviate those problems is developed and sent back to the referring Counselor for implementation.  All services provided by the Specialist are designed to allow recipients to achieve their maximum potential whether through finding suitable employment or maintaining independence in the home.  The Deaf-Blind Specialists will assist in the areas of advocacy, consultation, education, assessment, technical support, service coordination, training, job development and more.
During State 2007 Fiscal Year, 275 individuals with hearing and vision loss received assistance.


DSB Evaluation Unit
DSB Rehabilitation Center for the Blind

The DSB Evaluation Unit and DSB Rehabilitation Center for the Blind are located on the campus of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind (GMS) in Raleigh, N.C.  The Evaluation Unit services focus on in-depth, comprehensive evaluations of rehabilitation needs and identification of services required. Specialized training is offered through the Rehabilitation Center that includes vocational training, work readiness skills, independent living skills, low vision testing, assistive technology assessment and equipment training, psychological services, and safe travel skills training, among others.  The Center provides Summer Programs in coordination with the Transition Services staff for high school students each summer.

 DSB recently completed renovation of the dorms used as housing for consumers who attend the Division’s Rehabilitation Center for the Blind for training.

The dorms were built in the 1930s, and no significant renovation work has been done on them in many years. DSB, using 110 Basic Support Grant funds, completed much needed renovations that include installing elevators in both dorms, upgrading heating and air-conditioning systems, adding a computer lab with assistive technology for evening study, and making other major renovations needed to improve access, safety, and general appearance. This has been a multi-year project based on the availability of funds and the process of obtaining contractors and relocating students while the work is underway.

State Fiscal Year 2007 Results

The Evaluation Unit provided 101 comprehensive vocational assessments including 69 assessments for the regular program, 14 small business evaluations, and 18 college evaluations.  Additionally, scheduled for special testing were 11 psychological evaluations, 12 vocational assessments, and 4 EYE-T evaluations. 

During Fiscal Year 2007, 235 individuals received services at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind.  81 of these individuals were served in the Regular Personal and Social Adjustment Program, 30 were served in the Summer Transition and College Bound Program, and 4 received training in the Business Enterprise Program.  80 of these individuals received training in Computer/Word Processing Technology.  Technology Support Services at the Center also provide technical support, information, demonstrations and tours for visitors to the Technology Center throughout the year.


Assistive Technology Services

DSB VR offers assistive technology (AT) services to individuals statewide that include assessments, recommendations and set-up of equipment, job modifications, training, repair and research.  Equipment such as computers with speech and large font accessibility, lighting modifications, notetakers, and other equipment are individually designed according to the needs of individuals for successful employment or independent living.  Services are offered through the Rehabilitation Engineer, six Assistive Technology Consultants, and one instructor located in the offices across the state, as well as through four assistive technology teachers in the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind.   DSB recognizes the growing need for assistive technology to keep up with the expansion of technology in the workplace.  This year, the sixth Assistive Technology Consultant was added, making one available in each district office.  Plans are in place for next year to add three assistive technology instructors in locations where coming to the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind for training is difficult.


BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

This program provides individuals who are legally blind with the opportunity to operate their own food service or vending facility.  The Business Enterprises Program provides initial training for potential licensees, ongoing counseling and management services to established operators.

The Division is responsible for locating and establishing feasible facility locations and for providing necessary equipment, initial stock and petty cash to operate these retail facilities. Qualified individuals trained and licensed by the Division of Services for the Blind are competitively awarded these locations where they function largely as independent contractors and business people. The proceeds generated by the facility accrue to the operator minus a small portion, referred to as set-aside that is retained by the Division and is similar in nature to a franchise fee. This assessment is used for the purpose of offsetting program expenses such as management services, purchase of new equipment, as well as maintenance and replacement of existing equipment as needed.

Once awarded a facility the operator is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility. The Division continues to provide counseling and management services as needed to insure that the facility is managed professionally and that it is also as profitable for the operator as it can be. The operator must sign a contract with the Division, which outlines the requirements and standards the operator is expected to meet or exceed.

The length of time required to complete the training depends on the individual’s qualifications prior to entering the program. Listed below are the general steps required to become a Business Enterprises operator:

  • Successfully complete Business Enterprises training course as well as on-the-job training with established operators in an actual facility
  • Become licensed by the Division of Services for the Blind
  • Apply for and successfully compete for a vacant facility
  • After the award of a vacant location, the operator will enter into a contractual agreement with the Division of Services for the Blind
  • Receive initial assistance in starting the business and ongoing support from Business Enterprises Representatives

On a national level, the program is known as the Randolph-Sheppard Program. The federal Randolph-Sheppard Act grants the state licensing agency, such as this Division, the rights to operate food service and vending facilities on federal properties.  Business Enterprises facilities are located in Federal and State Buildings, at rest areas, and welcome centers along interstate highways, and in some private locations.

DSB BE State Fiscal Year 2007 Results

82 facilities were in operation at the beginning and end of the year...
75 operators participated in the program, with four entering and six departing.   
Gross sales from all food service facilities amounted to $12,634,770.
Gross profit percentage was 53.9%.
Net proceeds paid to operators totaled $3,329,126.
Average operator income was $44,329.
Vending repairs for the year were $76, 647.

Renovations were completed at the Cumberland County Rest Area, the I-40 Johnston County Rest Area, the Agriculture Building and the Department of Motor Vehicle facilities in Raleigh. Equipment was installed and the new Mecklenburg County Courthouse facility was opened. The Maury Correctional facility was also awarded and officially opened as a new location and added more vending machines. Additional vending machines were installed at the new Federal Prison facility, the United States Postal Service (USPS) Administration Center and the USPS Processing and Distribution Center in Greensboro. The Fayetteville Remote Encoding Center facility and the facility at North Carolina State University’s 1911 Building were closed for major renovations.

There were vacancies at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, the Forsyth County Hall of Justice, the I-85 Warren County welcome Center, the Spruce Pines Correctional facility, the Maury Correctional facility, the Kendall Complex, the Albemarle Building, the Agriculture Building, ITS and the Century Center.


INDEPENDENT LIVING PROGRAMS

Living independently is a primary goal most individuals who are blind or visually impaired set for themselves.  Through comprehensive, quality services, most can achieve their goals.  DSB offers such services to all North Carolina residents who require them.

Through independent living services programs, persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired learn daily living skills and obtain the assistance they need to become self-sufficient.   Basic instruction is provided in the consumer’s home usually on a short-term basis to help them achieve their goals.  DSB Socials Workers for the Blind provide these services in all 100 counties of the State However, if extensive instruction in the home is needed then it would be provided by Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors. They also provide community-based learning centers known as mini-centers, primarily for adults to help them achieve independence and remain in their homes.

Some independent living services include:

Adjustment Services

Counseling, personal care skills, training, in-home management, labeling and identification, and leisure activities

Health Support Services

Counseling on health, nutrition, and diet

Family Adjustment Services

Provision of information and support to help family members adjust to the changes necessary to support the individual’s independence

Low Vision Services

Low vision evaluations to determine if any magnifiers are available to assist with tasks such as reading a letter or bill, recipe, or food label

Safe Travel Skills

Instruction on use of sighted guide, white cane, and safety techniques to travel independently

Mini-Centers

Community-based learning centers where individuals receive a minimum of thirty-six hours of adaptive living instruction, peer support, and adjustment counseling, primarily for adults to help them achieve independence and to remain in their homes

State Fiscal Year 2007 Results for Independent Living Services Program (ILS)

6,393 individuals received one or more of the following ILS services:  Adjustment Services for the Blind, Health Support Services, Family Adjustment Services, Employment and Training, Housing and Home Improvement.

284 peoplereceived DSB ILS chore services that enabled them to continue living in their homes and/or communities.

1,338 individuals received specialized Orientation and Mobility Services to travel about more safely and with greater independence.

87people who reside in domiciliary care facilities received ILS services of Special Assistance for the Blind. The average monthly payment was $530.00.

State Fiscal Year 2007 Results Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (ILR)

1,516 individuals received ILR services. 
- the number who are under 55 years old:  – 427. 
- the number who are 55 and over – 1,089
447 individuals successfully accomplished their independent living goals.
- the number under 55 years old:  - 109, and
- the number 55 and over:   - 338

During Fiscal Year 2007, the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program held 35 mini-centers with 417 individuals enrolled in these mini-centers.  Mini-Centers are community-based learning centers where individuals receive a minimum of thirty-six hours of adaptive living instruction, peer support, and adjustment counseling.


MEDICAL EYE CARE PROGRAM

The primary focus for the Medical Eye Care Program is the prevention of blindness and restoration of sight. 

State Fiscal Year 2007 Results

9,609people received Medical Eye Care during the State Fiscal Year 2007, with many of these receiving more than one of the following services:

3,705people received eye examinationsfunded by this program,
3,097 children were screened for amblyopia and other vision defects resulting in 134 children referred to eye doctors for follow up,
2,807 low vision assessments were provided by the nine Nursing Eye Care Consultants,
342 closed circuit television (CCTV) evaluations were provided,
217 individuals received diabetic education,
1,680 pairs of eyeglasses were purchased, and
2,281 treatment/surgerieswere sponsored to prevent blindness and in many cases restore sight.

The Nursing Eye Care Consultants also participated in 28 events such as Health Fairs sponsored by Public and Private agencies/organizations.


PERSONAL SUCCESS STORY:  HERBERT HODGE

Herbert is a wonderful man. He is pleasant, encouraging and has bountiful faith. He enjoys family, church and friends. Herbert is laughing and enjoying his life today however, in 1997, Herbert’s 17 year career as a federal employee ended when he lost his vision. Herbert had already developed hearing loss. What would he do! After completing adjustment services for his vision loss and after being out of the workforce for ten year Herbert made a decision. Herbert decided that he would like to work and contacted Services for the Blind’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program. While in this program Herbert was referred to supported employment. Fredrick Schaaf, Supported Employment Specialist, received the referral and with enthusiasm and tenacity, assisted Herbert with finding a security job at Peebles Department Store. With the assistance of his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Deaf-Blind Specialist and Supported Employment, Herbert transitioned smoothly back into work. Herbert’s job is to install security tags on merchandise to be sold in the Peebles Department Store. Herbert’s store manager, Jody Hoffman is delighted to have Herbert as a valuable part of her team. Prior to hiring Herbert, other staff members were burdened with installing the security tags on store merchandise and they hated it. With a few simple accommodations put in place, Herbert has been working as a cherished employee since May 2007 and loving it!

NC Division of Services for the Blind
Making a difference, one life at a time!

SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS!


HOW TO CONTACT US
DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND

Office of the Director: (919) 733-9822

Aids and Appliances: (919) 715-0249

Business Enterprises Program: (919) 733-9703

Independent Living Services: (919) 733-9744
Medical Eye Care Program: (919) 733-9744

Evaluation Unit: (919) 733-4281 Voice/TTY
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind: (919) 733-5897
Technology Resource Center: (919) 733-5897

Rehabilitation Services: (919) 733-9700 Voice/TTY
Business Development and Placement Services
Supported Employment Services
Transition Services
Communications Unit
(Produces materials in alternate format for blind and visually impaired)
Deaf-Blind Services
Independent Living Rehabilitation Services
Rehabilitation Engineer (919) 715-1154


DISTRICT OFFICES

Asheville
50 S. French Broad Avenue,  Asheville, NC 28801
1 (800) 422-1881, (828) 251-6732 Voice/TTY

Charlotte
5855 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28212
1-800-422-1895, (704) 563-4168 Voice/TTY

Fayetteville
225 Green Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301
1 (800) 422-1897, (910) 486-1582 Voice/TTY

Greenville
404 St. Andrews Drive, Greenville, NC 27834
1 (800) 422-1877, (252) 355-9016 Voice/TTY

Raleigh
309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27606
1 (800) 422-1871, (919) 733-4234 Voice/TTY

Wilmington
3240 Burnt Mill, Suite 7, Wilmington, NC 28403
1 (800) 422-1884, (910) 251-5743 Voice/TTY

Winston-Salem
4265 Brownsboro Road, Suite 100 Winston-Salem, NC 27 106
1 (800) 422-0373, (336) 896-2227 Voice/TTY

Website: http://qa.dhhs.state.nc.us/dsb/contacts/index.htm

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