Table of Contents

District Spotlight

by JoAnn Carrin

Congratulations to District 5, which has already met its employment goal for the year with 79 clients employed.  A special congratulations also to District 9, which surpassed its goal of 48 by reaching 73 clients employed.  We want to challenge other districts to strive for a successful year-end record as well!  Last year Districts 1, 2, 7, 8, and 12 all achieved their VR Goals.

Personnel Actions

Division Names McCarron As New State Contract Manager

Ellen McCarron has been promoted to Contract Manager in the State Office.  Her diverse job responsibilities will include coordination with the Procurement and Contracts offices to develop, execute, and provide oversight.  She will also communicate with contractors throughout the contracting process. 

Prior to her promotion, she served as a Senior Management Analyst II with the Division of Blind Services.  McCarron’s previous experience includes five years as an assistant director, and 10 years as an administrator and program manager with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) where she was honored as Employee of the Year in 1999.  McCarron earned a B.S. in Biology from Florida State University and continued her education with graduate work at Georgetown University Medical School and Clark University.  Additionally, McCarron has published numerous professional publications.  Congratulations, Ellen.

Congratulations to Kenneth Rogers

Kenneth Rogers was recently promoted to Customer Service Specialist in Orlando.

New Employees

We’d like to welcome our newest employees to the DBS family:

Business Partner: Marriott Receives Appreciation Award

by JoAnn Carrin

Photo of award presentation
Marriott receives Appreciation Award, pictured left to right: Director DBS Joyce Hildreth, DBS District Administrator in the Miami office Gail Sterner, Miami Lighthouse President Virginia Jacko, Marriott Hotels Director of Operations Chris Hoppe, and Chair of FRCB Paul Edwards.
During its quarterly meeting, the DBS Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind presented an Appreciation Award to Marriott Hotels for employing individuals with visual disabilities. Marriott Director of Operations Chris Hoppe accepted the award on the hotel’s behalf.  The award was presented by DBS Director Joyce Hildreth, DBS Miami District Administrator Gail Sterner, Virginia Jacko with Miami Lighthouse and Paul Edwards, FRCB chair were also on hand to recognize Marriott for its continued partnership.

This award recognizes the collaboration between Miami Lighthouse, the Florida Division of Blind Services and Marriott Worldwide Call Center- a collaboration that works for everyone involved.

Marriott has a long standing practice of supporting individuals with disabilities through the Marriott Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to foster the employment of young people with disabilities, which has included DBS clients, to enhance the diversity of their workforce. 

Further, the Miami Lighthouse has prepared nine visually-impaired clients who are now employed at the Marriott Worldwide Call Center. This is possible through the Lighthouse’s Job Readiness curriculum, which enables blind and visually-impaired participants to learn computer and other office skills they need in the workplace, including resume preparation, conducting productive job searches and handling interviews with confidence. 

“Walk & Roll”

by Charles Wrlak

Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind will hold its annual White Cane Awareness “Walk & Roll” event on Saturday, June 11 to raise money for the Center’s training and support services for blind children and adults.

Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. at the Center at 405 White Street, Daytona Beach. The walk begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. The Ormond by the Sea Lions Club will serve a pancake breakfast for $4 per plate from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m.  The West Volusia Lions Club will also conduct free diabetes screenings.

Although registration is free, we encourage walkers to collect sponsorship donations.  Walkers who raise or donate $20 or more receive a FREE event t-shirt.  Prizes will be awarded for the most money raised in several categories:  individual, business, Lion Club or individual Lion.  Contact: Denise Harlow at (386) 258-3441 or email for more details.

Get Ready to Dine in the Dark

by JoAnn Carrin

New Vision for Independence will host a Dining in the Dark event on June 3, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Lake-Sumter Community College.  They will provide entertainment and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team will serve dinner wearing their night-vision goggles.  For more information, call (352) 435-5040 or go to:

District 4:  Beeping Easter Eggs

by David Linn and Teresa Donaldson

More than 18 visually-impaired children and their families had a great time at the Annual Beeping Egg Hunt held on Sunday April 17.  The event was sponsored by the University of Florida Delta Gamma Sorority, and was held at the Sidney Lanier School in Gainesville.  Everyone enjoyed games, arts and crafts, snacks, drinks, a bounce house, face painting and capped off the day with an awesome Beeping Egg Hunt.  The Easter Bunny visited the children and gave away baskets filled with goodies.

The Beeping Eggs were provided by the Telephone Pioneers and Addy Mauro of the Delta Gamma Sorority.  DBS Children’s Counselor David Linn and DBS Supervisor Madeline Davidson were also in attendance, as were Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Parent Advisors and Teachers of the Visually Impaired who provide home and school based services to these children and families.  This annual event was founded by former DBS Counselor Peggy Bowie and Teacher of the Visually Impaired Susie Brier, and is offered to families located in eight counties. Several families have attended this event annually for the past seven years.

Children’s Week

Taken in part from Children’s Week website:

Children and Families gather at CapitalOn April 5, DBS District 2 joined with the Department of Education’s Communications Office in Tallahassee to celebrate the focus on children’s issues during Children’s Week.  Over the past 16 years, the only broad-based promotion of children and family issues in Florida has been Children's Week. 

A true grassroots event since its inception, Children's Week is supported by more than 80 different non-profit, corporate, philanthropic, faith based, state agencies and organizations.  Children's Week develops and implements more than 200 community events and activities statewide, bringing thousands of parents, children, policy makers, professionals, community leaders and concerned citizens together to share valuable knowledge and information about children's issues in each community across the state and at the state capitol.  Bertha Hyche, LaVerne Scott, Sarah Whiddon, and Tiffany Wilson braved the cold and windy weather to represent DBS at this event.

General Judy

by Margaret Lincoln and Sandra Martin

Judy Bezdek has been a dedicated volunteer at the Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida (VIP Center).  Judy started her journey with the VIP Center in 2008 as a client, and quickly started volunteering in the card room where she separated, organized and decorated the cards donated to the center.  Soon she was answering phones and conversing with clients and staff to brighten their day.

As Judy continued her job search, the VIP Center became more dependent on Judy’s time spent at the front desk, and on April 11, she was named an official receptionist at the VIP Center. 

“I am so honored that the staff has confidence in me to do the best job I can,” said Bezdek.

She is fondly nicknamed as the “General” by her executive director, and smiles broadly when she is called by her nickname.  She knows it is given to her with great fondness.  Her hard work and determination has made her a great asset to the VIP Center.  Welcome to the team General Judy!

80th Anniversary of Talking Book Library

by JoAnn Carrin

Volunteer at Bureau's recording studioThis year, DBS is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Braille and Talking Book Library program of the National Library Service, which makes reading possible for visually impaired and physically handicapped individuals. 
The Braille and Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach is a free library program which brings reading materials in digital audio and Braille formats straight to the homes of its clients.  The Braille and Talking Book Library has the largest collection in the country (1.99 million), and served 31,647 patrons in 2009-2010.  This program is sponsored by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress.

Silver Bistro Grand Opening

by JoAnn Carrin

Rep. Williams and Chef WhiteChef Don White, a DBS Bureau of Business Enterprise vendor, celebrated the Grand Opening of the Silver Bistro Café located in the Claude Pepper Building in Tallahassee on April 13.  Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) stopped by the opening to congratulate White. 

Delicious, varying, and affordable meals have led to great reviews of the Silver Bistro.  An expert in sugar-free desserts, White’s culinary creativity makes dining at the Silver Bistro a pleasurable experience.

Chocolate dipped strawberriesWhite lost his sight as a result of unsuccessful eye surgery in 2005, and completed his Bureau of Blind Enterprise training in 2009. 

His interest in food service began when he helped his grandmother prepare meals on a wood burning stove for a lumber camp in Northern Maine.  He received international chef training across Europe and previously held Executive Chef and Consultant positions in Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, and Massachusetts.

White was also the featured chef on the show “Cooking Without Looking,” a TV show produced especially for blind/visually impaired people.

Slater Honored

by Floridian View Magazine, Power Issue 2011

“Cynthia Slater has been at the helm of one of the most historic branches of the NAACP for more than a decade. In that time, she has been at the forefront of the Civil Rights struggle in our area. Never afraid to be at the tip of the spear, Slater has been arrested and detained as she led the NAACP on numerous causes in Daytona Beach. Always fighting the good fight, Slater is a champion in our community who is not afraid to speak her mind to give voice to the oppressed.”  Slater is a Rehabilitation Supervisor at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Daytona Beach.

Business Owner Keeps Working Despite Vision Loss

Ormond Beach resident, Mary Pepe, was featured in the Daytona Beach News Journal on February 21.  See the article at:

Florida Disabled Citizens for Progress

by Kirk Harmon

Logo for Florida Disabled Citizens for ProgressThe Florida Disabled Citizens for Progress (FDCP) is a nonprofit state organization dedicated and committed to ensuring that all blind and disabled citizens in Florida, no matter their financial condition, have access to adaptive technology necessary to gain independence and opportunity.  The main focus is to collect and distribute donated adaptable high-tech and low-tech tools to individuals and help them to gain independence to prepare for employment and to improve their daily lives by gaining Internet access, this will help individuals become more community aware.  This support allows citizens to live as independent, productive, and confident while turning their hopes and dreams into reality.  The disability community working together ensures that all Floridians have the best available resources possible to be successful and happy individuals!  If you have any equipment you would like to donate that would benefit recipients, or if you are in need of equipment, please contact us.  Thank you for spreading the word about this new and exciting organization.  For additional information contact us, toll-free:  1-888-955-3327 (FDCP); E-mail:

What’s New at Hadley

by Randy Morgan

Logo Hadley School for the BlindIn March, we celebrated a milestone for the Florida grant with Hadley.  Hadley enrollments have now doubled between June 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.  Florida became the number one state in the country in Hadley enrollments several months ago.  Thank you Floridians!

When looking at the major cities in Florida, Tallahassee has the most enrollments and Jacksonville is a close second.  We keep data by city, zip code, and by program.  Any time you would like to see how any particular city or zip code in your area is doing in enrollments, email and he can provide the numbers for you.

Hadley recently announced new courses that all of you are probably familiar with.  One six-lesson course that is available in all four of Hadley’s programs is one called Self-Employment with Minimal Investment.  Hadley also started three courses that are two lessons each that are for those who utilize screen readers.  They are Screen Readers: Formatting Word Documents, Screen Readers: Listening Skills, and Screen Readers: Web Browsing.  These three courses are only available to individuals who have a visual impairment through the Adult Continuing Education Program, or the Hadley High School Program. 

Recently, Hadley decided to offer the courses of Business Communications and Business Writing in the Hadley School for Professional Studies.  Hadley is hoping to add many more courses in its newly emerging Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship during the Fall.  We will keep you updated on the progress of this exciting new endeavor. 


by Jane Pikula

En-Vision America is making the ScripTalk Station available FREE OF CHARGE to all blind Americans, regardless of income level, medical coverage or employment status.  A blind or visually-impaired person interested in this program must contact En-Vision America and provide them with his/her name, address, email (if applicable), telephone number, and name and address of the pharmacy they use. 

En-Vision America is working with the major pharmacy chains, to get them onboard with this program.  The pharmacy chains are saying that there isn't enough need for them to spend the money to provide the infrared labels needed to allow the ScripTalk to read prescription labels to blind users.  If enough people contact En-Vision America, they can prove that the need is there.  Following is information on how the program works:  A blind patient receives the ScripTalk Station unit, and the pharmacy provides infrared labels that they affix to the medication bottles.  These infrared labels are then read by the ScripTalk unit in the blind person's home.  These labels contain ALL the information that a sighted person would have available to him/her, including warnings, dosage information, side effects, prescription number, doctor's name, etc.  This program could prevent serious injury to someone who does not have proper access to medication labels.  En-Vision America's homepage:

“Seeing the Vision”

by Sandra Martin

On April 9, the Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) of South West Florida participated in the annual Foundation for Fighting Blindness walk.  On this bright, sunny day 300 people participated including clients, transition students, and eye doctors.

The event has more than 50 center blocks, and includes participants from all over the country.  The VIP feel privileged to be able to have a booth that provides valuable information for someone that is facing vision loss.  The chance to educate sighted and unsighted individuals about the support that is available is a rewarding experience for all involved.  All major networks NBC, ABC, and CBS sponsored the event, and the community involvement was appreciated by everyone.

Seeing the vision of fighting blindness and rehabilitating people with vision loss is truly “seeing the vision” of a successful future for everyone (family, friends, caregivers included) who are faced with the challenge of reaching out and getting the help and support they need for a brighter future.

Fire Department Visits Daytona Campus

by Ed Hudson

On March 3, station five of the Daytona Beach Fire Department visited the DBS Daytona campus.  Station five is the designated fire department to respond to any campus emergencies, and members of the department visited the campus to familiarize themselves with the new dorm and the other buildings at the DBS complex.

Student and staff in latter truck bucketWhile there Lieutenant Anthony McCulley allowed the students at the Center to check out the fire trucks and ride in the bucket with assistance from members of his team.  The bucket is part of the ladder truck and can rise to a height of more than 100 feet. 

Lieutenant McCulley and his men were very friendly and knowledgeable, and answered many questions from both staff and students.  Thanks to the members of station five, this was a very successful and exciting event.

End Zone

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting.  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 is the first of each month.  The deadline for submissions is the 24th of each month.  Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

Ashley Evans
Phone:  850-245-0310

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of Inside DBS may contact the Braille and Talking Book Library at or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0360

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

DBS Division of Blind Services (external):

Correction:  In the March Edition of Inside DBS, we listed Kristin Panella’s new position incorrectly. Her correct position is Customer Service Specialist in the Gainesville Office.

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