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District 7 Summer Transition Programs

Tampa Lighthouse, Winter Haven, and Tampa facilities held their Eighth Annual Summer Transition Program which provided our teen participants, all of whom are blind or visually impaired, with five weeks of learning experiences designed to prepare them for the challenges of adulthood. This included many experiences that would equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to live independently, manage finances (banking), and work at a job successfully. Activities included mock job interviews, discussions about do's and don'ts of the workplace, discussions about etiquette, and many other things. Programs ran simultaneously in the Tampa (Hillsborough County) and Winter Haven (Polk County) facilities with 16 students in Tampa and 21 students in Winter Haven. The schedule included several field trips that were conducted to allow students to practice the skills learned at the facility such as visits to the bank, a local mall and retail store, neighborhood restaurants, etc.

The main emphasis was on the three-week work experience to gain skills in real work environments during weeks two through four. Each of the students was put at a place of business, where they worked three days per week. They were each paid for this, and used the bank visits to cash or deposit their paychecks.

The students were well rewarded for all of their hard work. Even the recreation activities served several useful purposes with emphasis on physical fitness, etiquette, self-defense, social skills, and development of healthy leisure time outlets. These activities included bowling, hiking, laser tag, swimming, a day at Treasure Island Beach, and a visit to Pump It Up, which has gigantic inflatable slides, bounce houses, and obstacle courses.

Pasco Hernando Lighthouse:

This summer, six transition teens participated in the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired five week Summer Transition Program in Port Richey, FL . The goal of the program is to empower students to live more independent, productive lives. To reach this goal, students are provided instruction on many things that include, but are not limited to, job skills, career skills, problem solving, social skills, independent living skills, and communication skills.

This summer students received paid work experience at the Suncoast Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). It was the perfect setting for students to learn real life daily living skills along with office skills. Students participated in many of the tasks it takes to make the SPCA run -- everything from cleaning bathrooms to filing papers. The director of the SPCA has a background in special education and had high expectations of these students, which they met, as is evident in the following quote from the director:

"The teens with the Lighthouse for the Blind Transition program are an amazing group of hard workers. Toward the end of the program I was actually worried I wouldn't have enough work to keep them busy! I had thought they would never get through all the filing we had, as it went back several years. They not only got through that but helped with day to day operations by cleaning and doing laundry (there's always laundry). They also kept our 'animeals' room organized, made frozen Kongs for the dogs, helped set up a new dog room by moving lots of DVDs, and then pet our kittens, cats, and dogs during lunch breaks. The other day a woman called us and asked us for the medical records for her cat, adopted in 2003. This was before they were on the computer, so we needed to go look up the paper copies. Before the Lighthouse group came this would have been a hit or miss project taking a long time with possibly no results. Instead, within five minutes we had the file. What a win for us! The group did a lot of valuable work for us, but the best part was meeting and spending time with them. We already miss them."

In addition to the work experience, students went on field trips with other Transition groups from other agencies, which further increased their peer network. Often students who are visually impaired or blind are the only one in their school, which may leave the student feeling isolated. At the LVIB, students have the opportunity to be around other students who face similar challenges and also be around positive visually impaired role models.

Outcomes From Job Readiness Program at Miami Lighthouse

Five students from the Miami Lighthouse Job Readiness Program had very successful outcomes. They were hired by the Mariott World-wide Call Center for call-center customer reservations. The Miami Lighthouse Job Readiness Program is lead by instructors Brendan Gibson and Katiriaa Figueroa, both of whom have significant experience. Brendan, who worked as a Biomedical Engineer at Jackson Hospital in Miami prior to his retna detachments, completed his vocational rehabilitation training at the Miami Lighthouse about ten years ago. He continues at the Miami Lighthouse, both as an access technology expert and as Manager of the Job Readiness Program. Before recently joining the Miami Lighthouse team, Katiria was employed with the Fontainebleau Hotel as a human relations specialist. The program offers resume preparation training, interviewing skills, Internet job search skills, and much more.

Dawn Saunders

In June, we said goodbye to Dawn Saunders. Dawn lost her one and one-half year battle with breast cancer. She was devoted to the students of Florida, especially those with visual and hearing impairments. During her time as a TVI and then during her years with the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, Dawn made a significant contribution to the professionals, families, and students served in these low prevalence areas. Staff members within the Bureau decided to acquire an inscribed stone in memory of our beloved colleague, Dawn M. Saunders. This stone will be placed on the Wall of Tribute to "Friends of Leaders and Legends" in the Hall of Fame located at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The Wall of Tribute has been designed to provide an opportunity to honor those who have made a difference through their contributions to the field.

If you are interested in contributing to this tribute stone, an account has been established at APH. Individuals may write a check payable to the APH Hall of Fame and indicate in the memo portion of the check that the contribution is being made in memory of Dawn Saunders. APH is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and you will receive an acknowledgement of your contribution. In order for us to finalize plans with APH, we would appreciate receiving all donations no later than October 29, 2010.

Happy 60th Anniversary!

The library is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The library is also currently undertaking the largest weeding and shifting operation in its history. To make room for future digital books, they are eliminating thousands of excess copies of cassette books. These are being shipped north for recycling. It will take the rest of 2010 to complete this once in a century project, even with the participation of all employees working weekly on it. When completed, the library will be well positioned to receive new digital books to serve its patrons for many years to come.

Dr. Sandra Lewis Receives the Mary K. Bauman Award at AER International Conference

The Mary K. Bauman Award was established to honor an individual who has made significant and outstanding contributions to the education of children and youth who are blind and visually impaired. These leadership contributions have had an impact on a national and international level through their direct effect on visually impaired children, or through the example, insight, and inspiration that they have provided to educators of visually impaired children in other states or nations. The 2010 Mary K. Bauman award was presented to our very own Dr. Sandra Lewis at this years AER International Conference held in Little Rock.

For the last 12 years, Sandy has overseen the Program in Visual Impairments at Florida State University by coordinating the preparation of teachers of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialists, and vision rehabilitation teachers. The preparation of this personnel has taken place traditionally on campus and, due to Sandy's innovation, through satellite campuses and distance education. Sandy has received millions of dollars in U.S. Department of Education and Florida Department of Education money to train high quality personnel to fill the critical needs in Florida, Georgia, and throughout the country. Her contributions to the field and the university have been recently recognized by her Florida State University colleagues and the administration through her recent promotion to Professor, which became effective August 2010. This career accomplishment is the result of her effectiveness in teacher preparation, research, and services to her field. Through her many publications, Sandy has been able to reach a wide audience of practitioners to improve the education and rehabilitation services provided to individuals with visual impairments.

In addition to training personnel, Sandy has worked vigorously to help educate parents on the developmental needs of children with visual impairments through formal presentations around the country, and through hours of answering email from parents. She essentially functions as an outreach service to the State of Florida, as she is frequently contacted for technical assistance information from parents and practitioners in the field. Sandy has served FAER and AER tirelessly serving as President Elect and President of FAER, Regional Representative on the AER Board and Editor of Re:View. Florida AER congratulates Sandy on the distinguished award as well as her promotion to Professor. We appreciate you!

Florida Rehabilitation Council Quarterly Meeting

The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind will conduct its next quarterly meeting in Daytona Beach at the rehab center, 408 White St., Daytona Beach, FL. The dates and times are: October 14, 2010 8:30am-3:00pm and October 15, 2010 8:30am-12:00pm.
The Council will also conduct a Public Forum at the same location on
October 14, 2010 from 3:30pm -5:00 pm.

In accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, persons needing a
special accommodation to participate in these meetings should contact
the local DBS office, no later than five working days prior to the
meeting, at 386/254-3800 or toll free 800/329-3801.
This is an open meeting with no agenda.

2010 Career and Health FAER

Join us in Tampa, Florida, Nov. 18 and Nov. 19, 2010, for the FAER Annual Conference! Learn new information and network with other colleagues. For information or to register go to:

Doubletree Hotel Westshore :
4500 West Cypress St.
Tampa, FL 33607

For more information contact Kay Ratzlaff, Phone 813-837-7828 or 813-879-4800.

ER Conference: Sheryl (813)251-2407

End Zone

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting and enlightening.  Remember, we need your submissions each month.  Let us know what’s going on in your district or facility.  The publication date for the Inside DBS newsletter should be the tenth of each month.  The deadline for submissions is the fifth of each month.  Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

Ashley Evans
Phone:  (850) 245-0310

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  (850) 245-0360

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone:  (850) 245-0395 or 1-866-841-0912

Division of Blind Services Website:

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