Florida Division of Blind Services logo

 

75th anniversary banner

Celebrating 75 Years of Fostering Independence for Blind and Visually Impaired Floridians

DBS Director Robert L. Doyle, III (Director Doyle Headshot)The Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) will commemorate its Diamond Anniversary on April 22. The occasion’s theme, “Celebrating 75 Years of Fostering Independence for Blind and Visually Impaired Floridians,” asks citizens to reflect on the agency’s progression and celebrate the accomplishments and individuals who have helped make DBS successful. Seventy-five years ago, the Florida Legislature established the Florida Council for the Blind. Since its birth, DBS has administered programs and services, which provide new opportunities for blind and visually impaired Floridians of all ages, including: the Blind Babies Program, Children’s Program, Employer Services, Independent Living, Transition Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living, Business Enterprise, Rehabilitation Center and Braille and Talking Books Library.

The Division, in conjunction with its Community Rehabilitation Programs, serves over 11,200 individuals in its client service programs each year; and more than 31,000 individuals receive services through DBS’ Braille and Talking Books Library.

While job creation and retention remain a priority for our state, our agency has exceeded its goals by providing employment services to 5,203 customers and helped 761 individuals gain, maintain or advance in successful employment this past year. With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in Florida, Florida law calls upon employers, both public and private, to be aware of and utilize the employment skills of individuals with disabilities by recognizing their worth as individuals and their productive capacities in our rapidly changing society. Through partnerships with CareerSource Florida and other Core partners, more Floridians will have the opportunity to enter the workforce, and maintain or advance in employment.  Through this collaboration, we will continue to strengthen accessibility of systems of persons with visual disabilities, and assist businesses in meeting their hiring goals.

As DBS commemorates 75 years of services, we plan to kick off our year-long celebration at the DBS Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired on April 27. There will be guest speakers, educational sessions, business networking opportunities and a technology expo tailored to visually impaired citizens, businesses and those wanting to learn more about DBS and visual impairment.
Each month, we will honor DBS clients, advocates, businesses and community partners through our “Successful 75” recognition program. These recipients will showcase a high level of perseverance and determination to be successful, and exhibit a sincere investment in working with and providing opportunities for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

Since 1941, DBS has made vast strides in attacking the attitudinal barriers and lack of technology access that have hindered clients from fully participating in our society and our workforce. Read about the history of DBS. As we look to the future, we continue to charge toward our goal of Florida being a barrier-free environment for residents with visual disabilities. Together, we continue to shine as a national model in education, employment and other services that foster independence for blind and visually impaired Floridians.

For more information, contact DBS75@dbs.fldoe.org

Division of Blind Services 75th Anniversary & White Cane Day Regional Ceremony and Expo Schedule of Events

Division of Blind Services 75th Anniversary and White Cane Day Logo

Date, Time, and Location

Thursday, October 13, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
               
Florida State University
Student Services Building – Room 203
874 Traditions Way
Tallahassee, FL 32306

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Panel Discussion
An informative dialogue and Q&A session with DBS staff, clients, advocates and others who will discuss their personal journeys and weigh-in on hot topics. Together, we can talk, share and learn from one another.

10:10-10:40 a.m.

Real Stories of the Business Enterprise
Learn how to become a successful business owner and financially independent through the DBS Business Enterprise program, which provides training, vending and food service opportunities, start-up capital, and support to blind entrepreneurs. 

11:00 a.m.

75th Anniversary Ceremony

  • Welcome – Director Robert Doyle (Division of Blind Services)
  • Greetings – Commissioner Pam Stewart (Florida Department of Education)
  • Testimonial – Miss Kiersten McCans
  • Greetings – Rep. Alan Williams (Florida House of Representatives, District 8)
  • Presentation – Ms. Angela Hendrieth (City of Tallahassee)
  • Testimonial – Dave Bigoney (Triathlete)
  • Greetings – Captain Jeffrey Bissainthe (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
  • Greetings – Ms. Anna McMillan (Florida State University College of Education Visual Disabilities Program)
  • Testimonial – Ms. Grayson DeLong Weeks (FSU Student)
  •  “Successful 75” Presentation – Director Doyle and Commissioner Stewart
  • Closing Remarks – Director Doyle

12:00-5:00 p.m.

Exhibit Expo
Meet and learn about our partner organizations and the services they provide to the Tallahassee area community.

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Business Luncheon (RSVP only)
As a workforce development partner, the Division of Blind Services can help your business meet human resources needs by providing qualified job candidates who are trained in a wide variety of skills. Hear from DBS employment experts and local business partners about the services DBS offers for employers, the benefits of hiring our job-ready clients and how the Division can help you meet your hiring needs.

2:00-3:00 p.m.

See Different
A fun and interactive forum to showcase how individuals with visual impairments, like everyone else, possess qualities and capabilities to contribute to and successfully live, work and play in their communities.  

3:30-5:00 p.m.

Interactive Sensory Activities 
Experience a glimpse of life as a person with a visual impairment by taking on everyday tasks while wearing a blindfold or goggles that simulate a visual impairment. 

DBS to Host White Cane Day and 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo in Tallahassee

Image with White Cane Safety logo and DBS 75th logo. Image reads: FLORIDA DIVISION OF BLIND SERVICES 75th Anniversary and White Cane Safety Day Ceremony and Expo, Florida State University Student Services Building (Room 203), 874 Traditions Way Tallahassee, Florida

The Division of Blind Services, in partnership with the Florida State University College of Education, will host its White Cane Day and 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo in Tallahassee on Thursday, October 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join us for educational sessions, business networking opportunities and a technology/community expo.

White Cane Day is intended to educate the public about the White Cane Law, which requires motorists to stop when a pedestrian carrying a white cane or accompanied by a guide dog is crossing a street. It is also a time to celebrate the abilities and successes achieved by blind people in a sighted world.

The 75th Anniversary and White Cane Safety Day Ceremony, beginning at 11 a.m., will feature current and former DBS client testimonials, as well as guest speakers who have been influential throughout DBS' history.

DBS to Host Regional 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo in Fort Myers

DBS will continue its commemoration of 75 years of fostering independence to the blind and visually impaired community during the July 28 regional anniversary ceremony and expo in Fort Myers.

The ceremony and expo will  feature educational sessions, sensory activities for children, business networking opportunities and a community and technology showcase. A business luncheon, presented by Hands on Educational Services, Inc., provided companies with information regarding training programs and discussed the benefits of hiring individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities.

Entrepreneur and former DBS client John DiMarco served as the keynote speaker. Through his company, “Quest4Vision,” he designs tools for assisted mobility and special apps for iPhone and iPad. He also offers one-on-one training for individuals who need assistance in learning how to use products and apps for the blind and visually impaired. As an advocate, he was instrumental in obtaining audible crosswalks and bus stop signs written in Braille for his community, and remains active with the Lions Club of Fort Myers Beach. He also serves as the chair for Collier Area Transit.

DBS administrators will also present the latest inductees with the "Successful 75" award. This initiative recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses that have remained steadfast in the advancement of independence for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

The ceremony and expo will be held at Florida Southwestern State College’s Lee Campus, located at 8099 College Pkwy, Building U.

To RSVP, visit online RSVP tool or DBS75@dbs.fldoe.org.

To serve as a community or technology exhibitor, submit an Exhibitor Registration Form.

To register for the Business Luncheon, contact Albert Bsales at Albert.Bsales@dbs.fldoe.org.

To nominate an individual or organization for the “Successful 75” Award, please click on one of the following links:

Date, Time, and Location

Thursday, July 28, 2016 from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Florida SouthWestern State College
8099 College Parkway - Building U
Fort Myers, FL 33919

Parking is available around Building U and in Lot 6.

Schedule of Events

12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Technology Expo (U Building Lobby)
Visit Assistive Technology (AT) vendors and explore the latest innovations in low vision, blindness and deaf-blind technologies.

Community Expo (Room U-102)
Meet and learn about DBS partner organizations and the services they provide to the Fort Myers community.

Kids Zone (Room U-205)
Visually impaired and sighted children, ages 6-13, can learn about blindness and participate in multi-sensory activities and games. Children participating in this session will meet Peach, a puppy being raised to become a guide dog, and Billy, a service dog trained to detect low blood sugar in his owner. Come learn how guide dogs help persons who are blind to live independently. Participants may also create tactile art and have their faces painted. 

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Business Luncheon (Room U-106)
Facilitated by John Ficca, Director of Hands on Educational Services, this presentation will illustrate the business-based partnership approach to rehabilitation. Lunch will be prepared and served by two “Hands On” graduates who want to give back to the counselors and the agency that helped them get started. RSVP-only. To RSVP, please contact Albert Bsales at albert.bsales@dbs.fldoe.org.

1:10 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

See Different
A fun and interactive forum to showcase how individuals with visual impairments, like everyone else, possess qualities and capabilities to contribute to and successfully live, work and play in their communities  

2:10 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion
An informative dialogue and Q&A session with Director Doyle, DBS clients, staff, advocates, and others who will discuss their personal journeys of overcoming barriers and striving toward self-sufficiency. Together, we can talk, share and learn from one another.

3:10 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Assistive Technology 101
Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools that help people with disabilities overcome challenges and lead independent lives. Learn how these devices can help at school, work and home.

3:45 p.m. to -4:15 p.m.

Real Stories of the Business Enterprise
Learn how to become a successful business owner and financially independent through the DBS Business Enterprise program, which provides training, vending and food service opportunities, start-up capital, and support to blind entrepreneurs.

4:30 p.m.

75th Anniversary Ceremony (Room U-102)

  • Prelude – Mr. Bryan Huling (Singer)
  • Welcome – Director Robert Doyle (Division of Blind Services)
  • Greetings – Commissioner Pam Stewart (Florida Department of Education)
  • Greetings – Rep. Matthew Hudson (Florida House of Representatives, District 80)
  • Presentation – Director of External Affairs Cameron Sisser (Miami Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Inc.)
  • Greetings – Chairman Robert Kelly (Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind)
  • Historical Perspective – Mr. Paul Edwards (Former President, American Council of the Blind)
  • Greetings – Director Angela Hartsell (Florida SouthWestern State College Office of Adaptive Services)
  • Testimonial – Ms. Crystle Fliss (Florida SouthWestern State College)
  • Entertainment – Mr. Bryan Huling (Singer)
  • Keynote Address – Mr. John DiMarco (Entrepreneur)
  • Testimonial – Ms. Rachel Weeks (Triathlete)
  •  “Successful 75” Presentation – Director Doyle and Commissioner Stewart
  • Closing Remarks – Director Doyle

*Guests are encouraged to stay for the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Public Forum to begin at 6 p.m.*

Governor Scott Extends Greetings for DBS Anniversary

Full text below this image.

WHEREAS, the Florida Division of Blind Services works to ensure blind and visually impaired Floridians have the tools, support and opportunity to achieve success; and

WHEREAS, 75 years ago, the Florida Legislature established the Florida Council for the Blind, which is today is known as the Florida Division of Blind Services; and

WHEREAS, during the past 75 years, thousands of blind Floridians have benefited from the educational, vocational, medical, social and recreational services provided by the Division of Blind Services; and

WHEREAS, more than 7.3 million Americans suffer from a visual impairment and nearly 495,000 Floridians have a visual disability, according to the American Community Survey; and

WHEREAS, in partnership with community rehabilitation programs and public agencies, the Division of Bind Services works to create a barrier-free environment in the lives of Floridians with visual disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Division of Blind Services is committed to working with all partners in order to ensure equal opportunity for all; and

WHEREAS, the Division of Blind Services has more than 500 business and government partnerships that have employed one or more of its customers, and during the 2014-2015 state fiscal year, the agency provided employments services to 5,023 clients; and

WHEREAS, the State of Florida, through the Division of Blind Services and its Community Rehabilitation Programs, can look forward to a continued expansion of employment opportunities for and greater acceptance of blind persons in the competitive job market; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing April 22, 2016, the Florida Division of Blind Services 75th Anniversary.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed at Tallahassee, the Capital, this 13th day of May, in the year two thousand sixteen.

Mayor Derrick Henry Proclaims April 27 as Division of Blind Services Day in Daytona Beach

Full text below this image.

The CITY OF DAYTONA BEACH

DIVISION OF BLIND SERVICES DAY 

WHEREAS, 75 years ago, the Florida Legislature established the Florida Council for the Blind, which is today is known as the Florida Division of Blind Services; and

 WHEREAS, the Division of Blind Services provides services to blind and visually impaired Floridians of all ages, through its Blind Babies, Children’s, Transition, Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living and Older Blind, Rehabilitation Center and Braille and Talking Book programs and services; and

WHEREAS, since 1941, thousands of blind Floridians have benefited from the educational, vocational, medical, social and recreational services provided by the Division of Blind Services; and

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, located in Daytona Beach, is a place where people who are blind can reside temporarily while they learn to lead productive, self-sufficient lives; and

WHEREAS, Florida law calls upon employers, both public and private, to be aware of and utilize the employment skills of our blind citizens by recognizing their worth as individuals and their productive capacities in our rapidly changing society; and

WHEREAS, the City of Daytona Beach, through the Division of Blind Services and its Community Rehabilitation Programs, can look forward to a continued expansion of employment opportunities for and greater acceptance of blind persons in the competitive job market; and

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Derrick Henry, Mayor of the City of Daytona Beach, Florida, do hereby proclaim April 27, 2016 as DIVISION OF BLIND SERVICES DAY IN DAYTONA BEACH.

Local Attorney to Discuss Breaking Barriers During Division of Blind Services' 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo

Associate Attorney Rachel McCulloughAt 17, Rachel McCullough was a student leader in the process of running for student body president at her high school when she began to lose her vision. Following a doctor’s visit, McCullough was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration.

“I didn’t know how to function, not only in the day-to-day tasks, but I questioned if I could go on as successful student leader,” the Deland, Fla. native said. “I allowed my extreme vision loss to scare me. I felt paralyzed; for the first time feeling socially anxious and awkward.”

McCullough immediately turned to the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) and began learning to live as a person with low vision. Now 30, McCullough, is an associate attorney at Landis Graham French law firm, where she specializes in land-use law and civil litigation.

McCullough will serve as the keynote speaker for the DBS 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo, scheduled for April 27 from 2-6:30 p.m. in Daytona Beach.

“DBS, its counselors and resources are invaluable,” said McCullough, who later won the class election. “Every visually impaired or blind person should link up with DBS, if not to learn about the latest and greatest technology, then to have an advocate in their corner; one there for you to guide you through life as a person with low vision or blindness. We are lucky to have a great facility in our own community.”

DBS, a division of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), has made great strides since its establishment since 1941. The agency serves thousands of blind and visually impaired Floridians annually through its many educational, vocational, medical, social and recreational services.

“This year’s theme, ‘Celebrating 75 Years of Fostering Independence for Blind and Visually Impaired Floridians,’ asks us to reflect on our past and proudly recognize the accomplishments and individuals who have made DBS a success,” DBS Director Robert L. Doyle said. “As we look to the future, we continue to charge toward our vision of Florida being a barrier-free environment for residents with visual disabilities.”

There will be educational sessions, business networking opportunities and a technology expo, featuring displays and informative demonstrations, for guests, before and after the 75th Anniversary Ceremony, which begins at 4 p.m. The session topics will be tailored to visually impaired citizens, businesses and those wanting to learn more about DBS and visual impairment. In the “Kids’ Zone,” children, ages 5-12, can participate in fun sensory activities and coloring stations.

 “It is important to know that visual impairment and blindness does not target a particular type of person,” McCullough said. “It affects all people in all walks of life. Our common thread becomes our disability. I hope to encourage attendees of the event to find comfort and support in this community, but more importantly, I hope to inspire each attendee to go out into the world and use their disability to achieve their goals and motivate others in the process.”

Other speakers include Director Doyle, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and Daytona Beach Police Department Criminal Investigation Department’s Victim Aide Josh Espinal. DBS administrators will also induct the first members of the Successful 75, an award program that recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses who have remained steadfast in the advancement of independence for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

The celebration is free and open to the public. Campus tours will also be available from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The DBS 75th Anniversary Ceremony and Expo is the first of several outreach opportunities the Division will host throughout the state in honor of its 75th anniversary. 

DBS "Successful 75" Call for Nominations

Do you know an individual, organization or business who goes above and beyond to create or advance opportunities for the blind and visually impaired community? Is there a current or former client whose success story could serve as a model for others to follow?

In honor of DBS’ 75th anniversary, the Division has launched its “Successful 75” award program, which will recognize and honor the contributions of individuals, organizations and businesses that represent and/or are committed to fostering independence in blind and visually impaired Floridians. Each month of our 75th year, up to seven honorees will be honored with this award and presented with a 75th anniversary medallion. To nominate an individual, organization or business for the “Successful 75” award, please see the following criteria:

“Successful 75” Business Award — Business must demonstrate a sincere investment in working with and providing opportunities for persons who are blind or visually impaired, via recruitment and hiring practices, reasonable work accommodations and the creation of an inclusive workplace. To nominate, visit Business Nomination

“Successful 75” Client Award — Individual must demonstrate a high level of leadership, perseverance, independence and determination to be successful. To nominate, visit Client Nomination

“Successful 75” Community Advocate — Individual or organization must be committed to the betterment of persons with visual disabilities. Nominees should be model individuals and/or organizations whose actions provide inspiration and a lasting impact towards the advancement of the blind and visually impaired community. To nominate, visit Community Advocate Nomination

“Successful 75” Community Partner — Through selfless advocacy on behalf of blind and visually impaired Floridians, nominee(s) should demonstrate a commitment to quality services, collaborative efforts with DBS and other partnering agencies, and high ethical standards of operation. To nominate, visit Community Partner Nomination

 “Successful 75” DBS Employee — Individual must be a current or former DBS employee, demonstrate instances of high level job performance, impeccable customer service, promotion of agency values and confidence in the abilities of those living with visual impairments. To nominate, visit DBS Employee Nomination