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

Annual Report 2009

NORTH CAROLINA ’S
DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2009
" TAKING OFF TOWARD A BRIGHTER FUTURE"

First in Flight”
N.C. DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL
2009-2010  

Beth Butler, Chairperson, Business/Industry/Labor

Allen Casey, Vice Chairperson, Disability Advocacy Group

Graham Watt, Workforce Development  

Anita Heath-Cunningham, Parent  

Tommy Jenkins, Business/Industry/Labor  

Julie Kagy, N.C. Department of Public Instruction  

Ruth Haines, Statewide Independent Living Council  

Kathy Brack, Client Assistance Program  

Kim Lambert, Vocational Rehabilitation Participant

Richard Oliver, Community Rehabilitation Program Service Provider  

Terri Meyer, Parent Training and Information Center

Ex Officio

Mary Flanagan, Acting Director, Division of Services for the Blind  

Eddie Weaver, DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors  


North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind
State Rehabilitation Council
Chairperson’s Message

As chairperson of the State Rehabilitation Council for the North Carolina Commission for the Blind, I am honored to present the 2009 Annual Report of the Council and the Commission.

Despite 2009’s economic challenges our council members and the professional team at N.C. Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) remain committed and focused on the delivery of quality service to all North Carolinians who are blind or visually impaired and seeking independence, employment and successful transition.    

The following pages will describe the various programs and services available through the DSB that empower us to continue fulfilling our mission of enabling people who are blind or visually impaired seeking to “take off” on their individual flights to a new future in employment.

Together, the sky is truly the limit!!  

Beth A. Butler
SRC Chairperson


TAKING OFF TOWARD A BRIGHTER FUTURE
DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

What does it mean to someone who has experienced vision loss to be able to “Take Off Toward a Brighter Future?”  To some individuals it might mean having a job or running their own business. For others it could be the ability to manage their home, cook a meal, use a computer, or go for a walk independently.  All these activities are significant achievements to someone whose life has been changed by vision loss.  Through the Division of Services for the Blind individuals whose lives have been altered by vision loss can receive the assistance and services needed to achieve their goals toward a brighter future.

In February of 2009 President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA, which has provided funds to improve the economy and create employment opportunities.  The Division of Services for the Blind, DSB, received funds from this federal initiative, which we must spend over a two and a half year period.  Utilizing these funds, DSB has created several new opportunities for consumers to achieve their goals.  Consumers who are seeking employment and are working toward a college degree or have completed their degree can now participate in a paid internship/traineeship to further their education through work experience.  A consumer with limited job experience, such as our high school graduates, can receive the assistance of a job coach while learning about the world of work at a community-based work site.  Consumers with an employment goal that will require technology either for the job and/or for training and education will now be able to obtain that technology regardless of their income.  These are some of the ways we are reaching out and assisting consumers through the use of the ARRA funds.  

In our Annual Report for 2009 you will read about the services the division provides and the numbers of individuals we have served.  You will also find stories about consumers who have achieved their goals and are on their way “to a brighter future.”  

Mary Flanagan,
Acting Director  


CONSUMER SATISFACTION

Each year, the Division of Services for the Blind, in cooperation with the Rehabilitation Council, conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey of people who completed rehabilitation programs for the fiscal year.  We sent 644 surveys and 179 were returned completed.   

Here is what our consumers had to say:  

  • DSB staff treated you with courtesy and respect most or all the time - 97 percent;
  • telephone calls were returned the same or next day - 94 percent;
  • appointments scheduled as soon as consumer thought they should be, most or all of the time - 95 percent;
  • counselor and consumer discussed your options together, then you chose your job goal - 89 percent;
  • decisions about planned services were jointly made - 86 percent; and
  • overall rating of experience with the division as good, most or all the time - 95 percent.  

  VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES

People with blindness or visual impairment who want to go or return to work may be eligible for DSB-Vocational Rehabilitation (DSB-VR) services.  These individuals can choose from an array of programs and services that best suit their individual vocational needs. Their options include the DSB support and assistance provided by our vocational and transitional rehabilitation counselors, business services representatives, community employment specialists, rehabilitation engineers, assistive technology specialists, vocational evaluators and rehabilitation center staff, as well as specialists who support and assist those with both blindness and hearing loss.

Our Results

In fiscal year 2009, DSB-VR provided services to

  • 3,150 consumers of which  
  • 528 reached their employment goal;  
  • 878 thousand hours of labor was contributed to the labor force;
  • 98 percent of whom had earnings at or in excess of the minimum wage;
  • 93 percent of whom were determined to be individuals with significant disabilities; 
  • $11.28 per hour was the average income earned; 
  • $9.9 million was generated in earned income returned to the economy;
  • $1.9 million in income taxes were  paid (calculated at the approximate 20 percent rate);
  • $1.5 million, approximately, was paid in Social Security taxes.

Business Development and Placement Services

DSB Business Services - 2009  

In 2000, the Division started DSB Business Services. The initiative was begun to identify and place individuals into competitive employment who would not get jobs without direct involvement of DSB professional staff with businesses in our communities.  By 2003, the initiative reported a 32.5 percent increase in people with blindness entering wage earning occupations.   

In fiscal year 2009, 528 people entered wage earning employment; 77 of whom entered employment as a result of DSB-VR direct involvement with employers through DSB Business Services.  Most had blindness or significant disability and they averaged $9.63 per hour in earnings – an 8.3 percent wage increase over the previous year – and they averaged more than 30 hours of work per week.  


BUSINESS ENTERPRISES PROGRAM

In September 2009, the North Carolina Business Enterprises Program was awarded the food service contract for Fort Bragg beginning October 1.  Fort Bragg is home to several high-profile military units, such as the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and it is the headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. More than 50,000 soldiers are stationed at Fort Bragg.  

This food service contract encompasses the feeding of these units in 13 dining facilities.  These facilities can prepare in excess of 20,000 meals per day using 400 cooks and food service workers to accomplish this task. These high volume units prepare and serve double the number of meals of a typical buffet/cafeteria style restaurant. Four additional dining facilities are scheduled to open in 2011.  

Tim Jones, who is legally blind, will manage the performance of this contract. Mr. Jones has more than 30 years of vending and food service experience in the Business Enterprises Program, as he managed a 24-hour/day full service cafeteria for many years at the USPS General Mail facility in Charlotte.  

The North Carolina Business Enterprises Program makes ours one of 24 states providing food service to service members on Department of Defense installations.

Our Results  

The Business Enterprises Program has statewide more than

  • 80 facilities generating
  • $11,227,800 in annual sales;
  • $37,654 was the average operator income.

School to Work/Transition Services

Transition Services is a coordinated set of activities for a student designed within an outcome-oriented process that promotes movement from school to post-school activities. Those activities may include postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.  The coordinated set of activities is based upon the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests, and include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. Transition services facilitates achievement of the employment outcome identified in the student's individualized plan for employment.  

A DSB VR counselor can begin working with students as early as age 14 to help them explore the world of work and identify career interests.  Skill and educational requirements, along with future job availability, are explored.  Activities such as visiting job sites that interest them, working side-by-side with someone in this career, or doing volunteer work are other options.  

Students planning on continuing their education after high school receive assistance from a DSB VR counselor in finding a school that will prepare them for their job goal. The counselor can also help them to identify financial resources that might cover part or all of the costs of the training, possibly including financial assistance from DSB. The need for services such as readers or technology is also assessed. The counselor continues to work with the student throughout the post secondary program to ensure success.  

Students planning to go to work after high school receive assistance in job exploration, job seeking, job development and placement from the DSB community employment specialist and counselor. If the students needs extra one-to-one assistance, a specialized job seeking and training program, supported employment, is available to help.  

DSB offered summer transition programs in 2009 through the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Raleigh, which included the World of Work (WOW) internship program, Summer Adjustment Vision for Youth (SAVVY), and college prep programs. Students in DSB transition programs who stayed in their home communities also participate in WOW internships and/or mini-centers.  

The WOW program provided paid internships in jobs in which the student expressed an interest. The SAVVY provided an opportunity to explore career interests, as well as specialized classes in Braille, safe travel, technology, and daily living skills. The college prep program included topics such as how to be a better advocate for themselves, visits to a disability service office both at a four-year college and a community college, introduction to various forms of assistive technology that could be useful to them while in college, information about different learning styles and study skills, and introduction to some daily living skills needed to survive in a dorm setting. The mini-centers in the students’ home communities were the result of collaboration between transition staff and the independent living staff, with assistance from orientation and mobility staff and assistive technology personnel. The program included basic cooking, which included developing a shopping list and the purchase of the food and preparation; budgeting; doing laundry; use of public transportation systems; and information about self advocacy.  

The goal of the transition program is to work with the student as early as possible to assist them in the development of a career path of their choice and to be successful in reaching their goal of competitive, integrated employment.

Our Results  

Total Students ages 14-21 active with DSB, 377

Students active in transition programs where there is a formal agreement with schools, 175

Student cases closed successfully, working, 13

Student cases closed successfully working with supported employment, 2

Summer Program Participation  

Students in the WOW program, 57

Students in the SAVVY transition, 14

Students in the college prep program, 5

Students in the computer camp, 5

Success Story

Stacie, MSW

Stacie first applied for services with Division of Services for the Blind transition program in Guilford County when she was an 18-year-old high school senior.  She had been previously diagnosed with congenital albinism, nystagmus and hyperopic astigmatism.  Her visual acuity was 20/200 bilaterally with correction; which meant that she was legally blind.  Prior to her senior year, she had not received any accommodation for her disability and as she learned of accommodations available to her, she began to blossom as an excellent student.   

Stacie had aspirations of attending college and one day becoming a social worker, but had a lot of challenges ahead of her. Prior to starting college, Stacie was sponsored by DSB to attend the Regional Rehabilitation Center for a technology and low vision evaluation.  During this evaluation, she was provided a dormitory room, food, transportation, training in the use of appropriate accommodations, and recreational activities while at the center.  Several pieces of assistive technology equipment were purchased by DSB for Stacie to use while in college.  This included a computer and printer, Zoom Text program and a CCTV.  She was also sponsored by DSB for an eye examination secondary to her need.  

DSB supported Stacie as a college student by providing tuition and fees, books and supplies as well as career counseling throughout her community college enrollments at Rockingham and Guilford County community colleges.  Secondary to hard work and DSB support, Stacie achieved one of her educational goals as she was able to transfer to a four-year university in the spring of 2006.  Now at UNC-Greensboro, Stacie was happy to find that DSB continued to support her efforts.  DSB not only continued to support her via counseling, assistive technology, tuition/fees, books/supplies, but also supplied room and board, as she was now a full-time university student.   

Stacie blossomed at the university level and especially in her social work classes.  At this time, Stacie had mastered the use of the accommodations provided by DSB and was an excellent self-advocate as well as an excellent student.  After obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in social work, she was immediately accepted into the advanced standing program for the Master of Social Work program as offered by UNC-Greensboro and NC A&T State University.  This would enable Stacie to graduate with a MSW in only 1.5 years.  With DSB’s emotional and financial support, Stacie graduated despite many life challenges and changes, achieving her MSW in May of 2009.  

On June 1, 2009, Stacie began her new career as a foster care social worker at Cleveland County Department of Social Services.  She accepted a starting annual salary of $38,000 with full benefits.  She reports that she absolutely loves her job and will “never forget” what DSB and her counselors did to help her achieve her goal.  


Supported Employment

Supported Employment facilitates competitive work in integrated work settings. It is meant for individuals with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred, and who, because of the nature and severity of their disability, need ongoing support services in order to perform their job. Supported employment provides assistance such as job coaches, assistive technology, specialized job training, and individually tailored supervision.

Supported employment is a way to move people from dependence on a service delivery system to independence via competitive employment. Recent studies indicate that the provision of on-going support services for people with severe disabilities significantly increases their rates for employment retention. Supported employment encourages people to work within their communities and encourages work, social interaction, and integration.

A job coach is hired by the placement agency to provide specialized on-site training to assist the employee with a disability in learning and performing the job.

Natural supports are support from supervisors and co-workers, such as mentoring, friendships, socializing at breaks and/or after work, providing feedback on job performance, or learning a new skill when required. These natural supports are particularly effective enhancing the social integration between the employee with a disability and his/her co-workers and supervisor.  In addition, natural supports are more permanent, consistently and readily available, thereby facilitating long-term job retention.  

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program through DSB provides intensive and on-going services to individuals with the most significant disabilities to achieve competitive employment. Services include assessment, direct job placement, intensive individualized on-site job training and coaching, and extended follow-up on the job site with the individuals and the employer to ensure a good job match.  Supported Employment Services are contracted with 14 private non-profit community rehabilitation programs serving all counties in North Carolina.

Our Results

Last year, through Supported Employment:

  • five individuals were referred for supported employment services;
  • 35 individuals received services in situational assessments, job development, placement, job coaching and training;
  • eight individuals received extended services;
  • seven individuals were placed in competitive, integrated employment; and
  •   five are continuing in successful employment.

NC DSB Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Evaluation Unit

The North Carolina Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and the Evaluation Unit are located on the campus of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. Services focus on in-depth, comprehensive evaluations of rehabilitation needs and identification of services required.  Consumers are eligible to take advantage of specialized vocational assessments and training, work readiness skills, low vision testing, assistive technology assessment and equipment training, psychological testing and safe travel skills training among others. 

Our Results  

Last year, the Evaluation Unit provided a total of:

  • 107 comprehensive vocational assessments;
  • 78 assessments for the regular program;
  • eight small business evaluations; and
  • 12 college evaluations.   

Additionally, scheduled for special testing were:

  • eight psychological evaluations; and
  • one vocational-only assessment. 

At the Rehabilitation Center:

  • 75 consumers received adjustment to blindness training ;
  • 119 consumers were provided specialized training; and
  • 28 high school students were provided transitional services through its college prep, transition and World of Work (WOW) programs.

Technology Support Services at the center also provided technical support, information, demonstrations and tours for visitors to the Technology Center throughout the year.   

The center also offered Adjustment to Blindness training to 23 recently hired DSB employees.  In October of 2008, these employees benefitted from experiencing many of the same aspects of the program that students do.     

Renovations and Acquisitions:  

Due to the efforts of the administration, the center’s Classroom Kitchen was remodeled.  The renovations began in March 2009 and the project was completed in August 2009.  Prior to the remodel, there were three student kitchens, none of which was accessible to students in wheelchairs.  At the completion of this renovation, four student kitchens are now available, of which one is accessible to students who use wheelchairs.  Utilization of these vehicles enables the residential life and recreation programs to avoid renting vans for special programs, such as the summer teen transition programs.  

During this fiscal year, the center was able to acquire two new vehicles: a Ford/Braun E-350 Para transit Conversion Van, which has a wheel chair lift and can seat seven passengers, plus two in wheelchairs, and a 13-passenger Ford Goshen Coach.  These vehicles enable the residential life and recreation programs to avoid renting vans for special programs. The center also gained a four-passenger golf cart for transporting students with mobility issues.  


Independent Living Rehabilitation Programs (ILR)State Independent Living Services
Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind  

The purpose of the independent living rehabilitation programs is to provide services and supports to help maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence and productivity of individuals with significant disabilities and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with significant disabilities into the mainstream of American society.  The ILR programs are statewide, serving all 100 counties in North Carolina.  Independent living rehabilitation counselors (ILRCs) are the case managers for individuals receiving services in these programs.  The 16 ILRCs work out of our seven district offices.  The specialized and individualized services of the independent living rehabilitation programs can be provided in-home and in small community-based sites called mini centers and through programs available at the Rehabilitation Center.  


State Independent Living Services

Services are available to individuals with a severe visual impairment whose ability to function independently in the family or community or whose ability to obtain, maintain or advance in employment is substantially limited.  The delivery of independent living services can improve the ability to function or move toward functioning independently in the family or community or employment.

Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind  

Services are provided for the individual aged fifty-five or older whose severe visual impairment makes competitive employment extremely difficult to obtain, but for whom independent living goals are feasible.  

The available services include, but are not limited to:

  • information and referral services;
  • diagnostic and assessment services;
  • adjustment to vision loss counseling;
  • extensive independent living skills training, detailed instruction provided over an extended period, such as kitchen safety and meal preparation, as opposed to basic skills training that can be completed with minimal instruction, such as pouring or marking appliances and 
  • advocacy  

Referrals are accepted from all DSB programs.  Please send written referrals to the proper ILRC, including the individual’s name, address and contact information, along with copies of the eye exam report, individual’s assessment/plan of services from the referring program and any other data relevant to the individual’s ILR service needs.  

The ILR program also uses the expertise of social workers for the blind, orientation and mobility specialists, nurse eye care consultants, deaf blind specialists, AT specialists /instructors and vocational rehabilitation counselors to provide a variety of services that empower individuals to reach their independent living rehabilitation goals.   

Our Results

  • 1541 consumers served
  • 459 consumers rehabilitated
  • 34 mini-centers have been held, with 411 attendees    

INDEPENDENT LIVING SERVICES PROGRAM

During the 2008-2009 fiscal years, the Independent Living Services Program served 5,219 people and they received one or more of the following services:  Adjustment Services for the Blind, Health Support Services, Family Adjustment Services, Employment and Training, Housing and Home Improvement..  

Our Results  

  • In-Home Aide Services for the Blind were provided for 212 people and enabled them to continue living in their homes and/or communities.  
  • 1,644 clients received specialized Orientation and Mobility Services and were able to travel about more safely and with greater independence.  
  • Special Assistance for the Blind was provided each month for an average of 78 people who reside in domiciliary care facilities.  The average monthly payment for rest home clients was $555.

Success Story  

Margaret

Margaret went back to get her graduate degree rather late in life, and received her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling in her early 60s. She went to work for Florida Blind Services, but only after a few years she was diagnosed with Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)) and consequently retired.  I met Margaret shortly after she moved from Florida into a downtown senior high-rise for the elderly and disabled. We were planning a mini-mini center in her residential facility during the winter, and she wanted to attend.   

One of the first things we focused on was getting Margaret organized. Her apartment was tiny, and she just couldn’t keep track of paperwork or find a place to put it, and was very flustered.  I purchased a rolling file drawer that we labeled and could easily be pulled out or tucked into any area when she was doing her bookkeeping.  I also provided her with colored files for easier recognition. Margaret had already obtained a closed circuit television (CCTV) (but needed updated magnifiers.  After the nursing eye care consultant (NECC) evaluated her, we provided the needed magnification aids including prism spectacles.  

In addition, Margaret was struggling with hearing loss and with the help of the deaf-blind specialist, she obtained a hearing aid.  Margaret also needed help with her computer. The assistive technology specialist initially assisted her with software set up.  She has since had at least two dozen sessions training with the AT specialist, learning to use Zoom Text and other computer features.  Margaret uses her computer for her volunteer advocacy work and general communication, and it is no doubt helping her to keep her mind sharp and active.  Margaret just completed a full mini center, was an avid note taker and positively thrilled with the notebook.  She cannot stop singing the praises of our agency. The only thing that disturbs her is why more people aren’t told by doctors or otherwise know about the “wonderful” Division of Services for the Blind.   


Deaf Blind Program

For more than 30 years, the Division of Services for the Blind has had a formal commitment to effectively serve individuals with hearing and vision loss. The program’s goals include improving vocational outcomes and quality of life for people with hearing and vision loss.  Five deaf-blind specialists provided services to consumers across 100 counties.  

All services provided by the specialists are designed to allow recipients to achieve their maximum potential through obtaining suitable employment or maintaining independence in the home. The role of the specialist involves advocacy, consultation, assessment, technical support, service coordination, training, outreach and more.  

The onset of hearing and vision loss can be overwhelming, but thanks to the Division of Services for the Blind, many are finding hope through the services provided by the agency. Below you will find several such stories of lives that have been changed.

Our Results

During the fiscal year 2008-2009 DSB served more than 200 referred clients  

Success Stories

Willie

Willie is 20 years old and is considered deaf-blind.  He was born with Usher syndrome: a combination of hearing loss with retinitis pigmentosa.  Usher syndrome is a genetic disorder.  Willie has been profoundly deaf since birth and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at around age 12.  Retinitis pigmentosa affects the rods in the eyes and causes the loss of peripheral vision.  Willie attended a deaf school and graduated with an occupational course of study certificate.  While Willie was in high school he met with staff from the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) who helped set up a transition plan for him to go from high school out into the working world as he wanted to go to work when he graduated.  He was referred to the deaf-blind specialist to do an assessment of his needs to assist him in becoming as independent as possible at work, at home and in the community.   

Over time, DSB assisted Willie with obtaining deaf-blind technology such as: TTY’s or video phones, amplified alarm clocks, alerting systems (doorbells, fire alarms, etc.).  He also received assistance to get ready to go to work by writing resumes, searching for and applying for jobs, teaching interview techniques, providing transportation, and providing interpreters for the deaf for interviews.  When Willie found employment, the deaf-blind specialist assisted him and his new employer by conducting sensitivity training with the employer and his co-workers, teaching basic sign language classes to the staff, acting as a job coach, and assisting the employer with job accommodations by obtaining any technology Willie might need, so that he could perform his job.  

Willie and the deaf-blind specialist spent the next 5 months after he graduated from high school searching for a job with no success.  This made Willie frustrated, so the deaf-blind specialist helped him figure what he really wanted to do as a job, which was to work on computers. Willie would need a diploma to get into college; unfortunately he only had a certificate.  Willie decided he would like to try to get a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Through the efforts of the deaf/blind specialist, Willie was accepted into the GED program.  He would have to test out at the ninth grade level in order to obtain his GED.   

The next obstacle Willie had to face was finding a sign language interpreter to assist him with communicating with his teachers in class.  It took several months for disability services at the community college to find an interpreter before Willie was finally able to start the GED program.  Willie struggled for the first six months with having the interpreter and being in classes with others.  When his interpreter quit, Willie, the disability services counselor, his teachers, and the deaf-blind program specialist met to discuss his progress.  It was decided that he would benefit more from one-on-one tutoring.  Disability Services was able to find a teacher with a degree in deaf education.  Willie goes twice a week for 2.5 hours a day to class and spends at least another five to six hours a week studying on his own.  Over the last two years his math and reading scores have improved almost three grade levels.  Willie knows that getting his GED will take some time, but that the benefits outweigh the time it will take.  Willie will eventually be able to attend college and obtain the job of his dreams with the assistance of his team to support him; he will have a better future.  

Jamal

The Division of Services for the Blind first began working with Jamal when he was in high school, as he has been deaf blind since birth.  Recently, Jamal and his employer, Thyme Savour Catering, were honored by Wilmington’s Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities.  Jamal has worked for the catering business for almost two years, operating dish washing machines, helping with kitchen prep,  and assisting where needed in a successful business.  

Jamal has taken a long path to become a valued employee.  He had many challenges with his family and jobs in the past, but this employer has been able to work with him to succeed.  They have learned some sign language, found the best way to communicate with him, and provided a caring atmosphere for him to come to work.  He sometimes uses text messaging to communicate with his supervisor.

Thyme Savour’s kitchen is located on an upscale golf resort in Carolina Beach, Beau Rivage, which is not on the bus route.  Jamal rides his scooter to work, rides his bike to work, or walks to get there.  Sometimes his coworkers or supervisor will pick him up. The job often requires the staff to go out to locations such as weddings and other events to provide catering services, and Jamal is always part of the team.   

He was shy in the past, but has made many friends within the catering business. Jamal knows the resort staff and jokes with them as he takes out the trash. Jamal has always been known for his sense of humor and ability to problem solve.  

Jamal really enjoyed his day with the mayor, when he got the award and was in the spotlight of attention.  Thyme Savour owners, Jeff and Danielle Cousler, took Jamal and his coworkers out to a steak lunch before taking him to the ceremony downtown in the historic Thalian Hall.  Many in the Wilmington disability community were beaming like Jamal, as he had a perfect day.  

Mrs. Lillie

If you’re traveling into Jacksonville you may feel overwhelmed.  A sprawling military town, the Camp LeJeune Marine base sits in the center of lots of traffic, rivers, and highways looping in every direction.  It is easy to feel lost here, especially if you’re looking for a quiet place to stay.  Luckily, right down the street is southern hospitality in its finest form:  Mrs. Lillie  

Lillie runs the breakfast bar at The Innkeeper, making weary travelers and young Marines far from home feel welcome.  She is a dedicated employee, truly caring for people early in the morning, before they venture out into the world of active military duty or other business on base.  

Lillie grew up in Kentucky, and her sweet southern accent still thrives.  It seems like nobody in Jacksonville is actually from Jacksonville, so it has the feeling of a big city.  Lillie makes you feel comfortable and welcome, with her great smile and personality.  

Lillie had mumps as a child, and started losing her hearing.  But in the 1940’s in rural Kentucky, there were not any resources for children with hearing loss, so she just sat in the front of the classroom and tried to keep up.  She had never had her hearing tested or knew of any way to buy a hearing aid, so she learned to just accept it and go on.   

In 2007, she started having vision problems too, and she was referred to the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind for services. A DSB vocational rehabilitation counselor worked with Lillie to undergo YAG laser surgery to clear her vision, and the deaf/blind specialist worked with Lillie to have her hearing loss evaluated.  She needed these services to maintain her job at the breakfast bar.  

The audiologist thought her hearing loss was severe and was amazed she had gotten along all these years without hearing aids.  Two powerful hearing aids were obtained for Lillie and it has made the world of difference.  Her coworkers don’t laugh anymore when she can’t understand, and she doesn’t have problems with miscommunications.    

I have a rare message on my answering machine that I refuse to erase:  It is Lillie’s sweet voice proclaiming:  “I love you and I LOVE my hearing aids!!!”  

Betty

Betty is an 82- year-old deaf-blind consumer that has macular degeneration with significant hearing loss over the last 40 years.  She was referred to the Deaf/Blind Program by her home counselor.   Betty lives with an invalid roommate who is not mobile and relies on Betty as her care taker.  The deaf-blind specialist made a home visit and implemented a deaf-blind assessment.  Several recommendations were made for her to obtain services and equipment to better her independent living needs, including one free hearing aid through the Telecommunication Equipment Distribution Program (TEDP), a William Sound Pocketalker Pro, which helps her to hear better in crowds and to hear the TV at a normal volume and an Ameriphone AM6000/Remote Combo, a device that alerts her by a flash of light when the door bell rings, when the telephone rings, and when the alarm clock goes off with a bed shaker to wake her in the morning.  The TEDP application was completed for Betty, and the deaf/blind specialist reviewed the process with her, and secured the documentation necessary.  To complete the task, an approved DSB vendor/audiologist was chosen.  An appointment was scheduled for a screening and an ear mold and she was transported for her appointment.  The audiologist completed the certification page of the application. About six weeks later, Betty received an acceptance letter from TEDP for the hearing aid. She received her hearing aid after an appointment with the audiologist, along with instruction on its wear, care and battery exchange.  The audiologist graciously agreed to provide Betty free service at N.C. ENT of Cary for the life of her hearing aid.  A follow up appointment to make some adjustments was necessary.  She was excited and expressed how wonderful it was to be able to hear so much better!  

As recommended, Betty also received the pocketalker so she can listen to TV and radio and  the remote combo at no charge through the TEDP.  Betty was pleased with services provided to her through the DSB, with a much improved quality of life for her and her roommate.   


HOW TO CONTACT US

DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND
2601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699 – 2601

Website:  www.ncdhhs.gov/dsb/

STATE OFFICE
Located on the campus of the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh

Office of the Director: (919) 733-9822
Aids and Appliances: (919) 715-0249
Business Enterprises Program: (919) 733-9703
Communications Unit: (Produces Materials in Alternate Format): (919) 715-2436
Evaluation Unit: (919) 733-4281 Voice/TTY
Independent Living Services: (919) 733-9744
Medical Eye Care Program: (919) 733-9744
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind: (919) 733-5897
Rehabilitation Services: (919) 733-9700 Voice/TTY
(Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Deaf-Blind Services, Independent Living Rehabilitation, Supported Employment Services, Transition Services, Rehabilitation Engineer )
Technology Resource Center: (919) 733-5897

Contact CARE-LINE 1-800-622-7030 for access to a Spanish Interpreter

DISTRICT OFFICES

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

Charlotte District Office    
5855 Executive Center Drive, Suite100
Charlotte, NC 28212
(704) 563-4168 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-1895

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

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

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

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

Winston-Salem District Office
4265 Brownsboro Road, Suite 100
Winston- Salem, NC 27106
(336) 896-2227 Voice/TTY
1 (800) 422-0373

 

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