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By JoAnn Carrin

Phyllis Vaughn, Administrative Services Bureau Chief for DBSThe Division is pleased to announce Phyllis Vaughn as the Administrative Services Bureau
Chief for DBS.  Phyllis comes to us from the Justice Administration Commission where she served as Financial Services Director and was responsible for all financial matters relating to the Guardian ad Litem Program.

Previously Phyllis served as Director of Policy and Budget for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services where she was responsible for developing the Department's Legislative Budget Request and Five-Year Long Range Program Plan, including the Capital Improvement Plan and Fixed Capital Outlay needs.  She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from FSU.  Please join me in welcoming Phyllis to DBS.    

Congratulations District 3

District 3 deserves recognition.  District 3, comprised of the Gainesville and Jacksonville offices, is the only district in which all counselors are qualified and/or certified for the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development  and Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification. 

The counselors are as follows: Dan, O’Connor, Lakisha Crocker, Tracy Kurek, Cheryl Undheim, Courtney Rudolph, Madeline Davidson, Alvin Olige, Mary Ann Hastings, and April Ogden.  Congratulations on a job well done!

Providing Services to All Floridians: A first-hand encounter

By Representative Betty Reed, Ranking Democratic Member of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee for Commissioner Robinson’s Blog

Even as we continue to tighten our belts, there are many projects the Legislature always tries to approve. One of these areas includes persons with visual impairments.

I had the pleasure last week to visit the DOE Division of Blind Service’s Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library, and the Conklin Center for the Blind.

Ed Hudson, Ginger Lancaster and Representative Betty ReedAt the Center, I visited the Independent Living, Technology, Business Enterprise, and Orientation and Mobility classes. The students were engaged, accomplished, and driven to succeed not only personally, but also professionally. Many are well on their way to starting their own businesses and the majority are self-sufficient. 

I had heard much about the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library and was excited to see the studio and live book recordings first-hand. The resources were expansive, with more than 2.4 million items in Braille and auto format. And the facility is well-used, providing services to almost 32,000 Floridians who cannot used standard print reading materials as a result of visual, physical or reading disability.

My last stop at the Conklin Center for the Blind, a facility that DOE’s Division of Blind Services works closely with, also made a positive impression on me. The Center provides services to visually impaired or blind Adults ages 18 and above. 

The trip strongly confirmed my support of DOE’s efforts to provide services to all Floridians. I was impressed by the valuable services they provide and will continue to support them through my work in the Legislature.

Have you or any of your friends or family members ever used any of these services and/or facilities?

Personnel Actions

We would like to welcome our newest employees to the DBS family:

Attention Musicians

By Dorothy Minor

Picture of music scores and booksDid you know that there is a music library providing direct services to individuals with visual or physical disabilities that prevents them from using conventional music scores and instructional materials?  The Music Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress has provided these services since 1962.  Their collection includes more than 30,000 items in audio, Braille and large print formats.  This includes instructions for learning to play the piano, guitar, and organ on your own.  They also produce magazines such as Musical Mainstream and Contemporary Sound Track:  A Review of Pop, Jazz, Rock and Country on audio cassette and on BARD.  You can access more information on the web at

In order to receive services, you must contact them directly at 1-800-424-8567.  Anyone receiving services from the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library is eligible.  Only, please be aware that musical recordings intended solely for listening are not part of the music collection, as these materials are readily available from stores and public libraries.

Free Home Delivery of Talking Books

By Dorothy Minor

Did you know that Florida is home to one of the best collections in the world of free narrated books for loan?  Located in Daytona Beach the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library Services is home to fiction and non-fiction narrated books, magazines, and descriptive movies.  The library is available to serve the needs of approximately 430,000 blind or visually impaired eligible Floridians.  In order to receive services, a person must to be a Florida resident who is unable to read a print book because of physical or visual limitations, or certain cognitive disorders. 

The new customer can look forward to the immediate delivery by the US Postal service of a state of the art digital book player.  Soon afterwards, books will begin arriving via the mail to the customer’s home.  Thanks to the Library, there is no reason for Florida residents to miss out on the great fiction and non-fiction books.  Even people who were not readers before their impairment can enjoy the free, narrated and unabridged books delivered right to them.

If you or someone you know would like to apply for Library services, go online to and click the link for the application or call 1-800-226-6075 for more information.

Hadley School for the Blind Announces New Blinded Veterans Initiative

By Randy Morgan

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011, The Hadley School for the Blind announced the launch of a new Blinded Veterans Initiative.

Former Hadley student Steve Beres, who will assume the position of executive director of the BVA in December, will be in Winnetka to officially launch the new initiative at the Veterans Day Observance. Beres served in the U.S. Army as a Special Operations Officer, including numerous combat tours in the Middle East, until becoming totally blind due to a traumatic injury in 2002. He has taken a number of Hadley courses, including Braille instruction, technology and business curriculum.

The new Blinded Veterans Initiative will also complement Hadley’s recently launched Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE) designed to provide individuals who are visually impaired with the knowledge, resources and networking opportunities to advance in their careers or start their own business. On November 11, Hadley will activate a new “Veterans Benefits” module as part of the Center. This module will demystify the complexity of veteran benefits including disability compensation, pension, medical care benefits and survivor benefits.

The 2012 Braille Challenge Coming to a City Near You

By Aimee Mallini

Braille Challenge logoThe Braille Challenge is an annual two-stage Braille literacy competition designed to motivate blind students to emphasize their study of Braille. The program parallels with the importance and educational purpose of a spelling bee for sighted children. In the competition, students transcribe and read Braille using a device called a Perkins Brailler. Their speed and accuracy, comprehension, ability to decode charts and graphs in Braille, and spelling are all tested.

There are three grades of Braille:

Below is a listing of cities participating in the 2012 Braille Challenge activities:

For more specific information please visit the web page for The Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired at or contact Ms. Sue Galser by phone at 813-695-8193 or by email at

White Cane Safety Day -- 45th Year Anniversary

By Peter Cerullo

People at White Cane Safety Day in DaytonaOn Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, more than 120 people gathered in historic downtown Daytona to commemorate the 45th anniversary of “White Cane Safety Day”.  White Cane Safety Law was modeled after the civil rights law written by Jacobus Tenbroek founder of the National Federation of the Blind and is recognized across America. The law states that a blind, visually impaired or mobility impaired pedestrian steps into a crosswalk carrying a white cane, service animal, a walker or is using crutches; a motorist must come to a complete stop.    

The Daytona Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind planned and organized this event. The opening ceremony included DBS Rehab Center graduate, Ms. Sandy Deffler  singing God Bless America and an invocation given by VFW Commander Chaplin Roger Lee Tiffany.     

Daytona Beach City Commissioner Kelly White read the city proclamation and  Volusia Council Chair Frank Bruno read the county proclamation.  Many other dignitaries participated in the activities including the “blind trust” walk around the four corner intersection of Orange Avenue and Beach Street.  These dignitaries included Police Chief Mike Chitwood, Commissioner White, representation from Senator Marco Rubio’s office, Congressman John Mica, Senator Sandy Adams and West Volusia County Councilman Andy Kelly.

The staff and students of the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually attended in support and to display their orientation and mobility white cane skills learned at the center.

There was a strong presence from many organizations like (CVI) Center for Visually Impaired.  Lions Conklin Center led by Executive Director Robert Kelly, staff and students.  H.A.V.O.C. Handy Cap Adults Volusia County, FCB / Halifax Council of the Blind, Daytona State College/Occupational Therapy Department,  Halifax Urban Ministries led by Rev. David James and the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce with Jim Cameron.          

2012 Vision Summit

The Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB) sixth annual Florida Vision Summit will be held Jan. 19, 2012.  This one day summit is designed to raise public awareness, and prompt state government to address the concerns and issues impacting Florida’s blind and visually impaired.

The activities during the summit are designed to define the problems, raise public awareness, and urge state leaders to address critical issues.  Attendees will hear from state government policymakers including legislators, agency heads, and education officials; leading experts from the private sector, including eye care physicians and professionals, leaders of statewide professional associations, leaders of community based non-profit organizations; and most importantly inspiring Floridians who are blind or visually impaired.  If you are unable to attend, the Summit will be aired on the Florida Channel in live streaming video. 

See below details for the event.

Date: Thursday, Jan. 19, 8am - 12pm
Location: Cabinet Room in the Lower Level (LL) of the FL Capitol Capitol
Contact: Skip Koch, FAASB Executive Director
Phone: (850) 942-0641

Boarding the Social Media Train

By Aimee Mallini

Screen shot of DBS websiteIn today’s media landscape, it is important to be where the public and customers are.  This includes being current in the way we communicate with our consumer, the public. As a result the Division is now plugged into the Department of Education’s social media, utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blog.

Facebook allows an easy and efficient way to communicate with the public.  In addition to written correspondence, newspapers, and newsletters, Facebook also provides information about policy, planning and events.  Facebook is easily updated and allows the public to be informed.

Twitter, the latest trend in social media, is also an important part of the DBS and DOE social media activity.  Tweets give the public a picture in time of what is happening in any given moment.  We have seen very positive results from Twitter, including media coverage and increased community involvement.  Tweets are short messages of no more than 140 characters.

In Government, an official Blog on view and experiences help to start conversations and can have a direct positive impact.  In addition, blogs are often a vehicle for educating others.  Commissioner Robinson has a public blog and often has guest posts by senior administrative staff.  Director Hildreth wrote a guest blog honoring some of our clients who are veterans for the Veterans Day Holiday.

YouTube is a video-sharing website that allows the user to subscribe to different channels or search by topic.  The Department now has its own YouTube channel where videos and footage from events are posted.  The channel features videos about Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living and Business Enterprise Program.

A big event for the Division this month is the release of the new DBS website.  We hope with the updates and reorganization the site better meets the needs of our consumers. 
Please send us your ideas for Facebook postings, tweets and blogs.  Thank you. 
If you haven’t already done so please visit our social media sites listed below:

DBS Homepage:

For everyone:

Parents/general public:


District 2 Community Awareness Education

By Tiffany Wilson

On Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, the community awareness team of Wanda Stokley and Tiffany Wilson instructed groups of kindergarteners through second graders at Hartsfield Elementary about visual impairments and blindness.  The interactive presentation called “YES WE CAN!” educated the students and kept them fully spellbound, fascinated, and  enlightened regarding the lives and possibilities of people with visual impairments.  The students marveled at the texture of Braille when they were each given the opportunity to  ‘read’ Braille children’s books.  They practiced relying on other senses when prompted to close their eyes and track the location of a sound emitting soccer ball.  They were amazed when the talking calculator told them the calculation of 100 times 100.  And were equally astonished with the speaking voice of, watches and dictionaries, and the Braille Note Computer communicated their contents.  When Jaws read the spelling and pronunciation of some of their individual names, the children were completely astounded.

One of the major highlights of the presentation was when Wanda Stokley and Yazley entered the stage.  The children were taken by the majestic intelligence of her guide dog.  The children were able to participate in an informative question and answer session with Wanda, as Yazley demonstrated his obedience, guide work, and assistance skills.  At one point Wanda seemingly accidentally dropped an item and requested that Yazley find it for her and hand it to her.  The students were stunned when Yazley did so with such ease of understanding.

The students were left with a new image of people with blindness and visual impairments.  The students were also left with a classroom copy of a guide dog school training video and a news broadcast from KUSI news about the first blind California State Games Gold Medalist and Torch Bearer, which just happened to be Tiffany Wilson.

Wanda reported that these type of presentations help change the inaccurate stereotypes that people sometimes feel about people with blindness.  Many times, if we can start changing the attitudes of young people, it will allow for a more access and opportunities in the future for us all.

Time for Transition

By Pat Marshall

Two transition students having lunchThe ILAB Transition group has been quite busy since the program resumed in October.  
Along with the regular weekly afterschool meetings, the Transition group has enjoyed two Saturday events.

The Kick-Off event was held on Saturday, Oct. 15.  The group planned and organized a picnic at Hanna Park in Jacksonville Beach. Hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, cookies, and fruit made up the menu with several grill artists in the mix.

Prior to the event, the students had designed and sculpted medals for game participants. The students played both kickball and dodge ball before lunch. Following lunch, all enjoyed paddle boating in the adjacent lake.  It was a day filled with good food, great fellowship, and healthy physical activity.

For our November event, the Transition group decided that it was time to give back and give thanks. Forty ILAB participants registered for the 9th Annual Buddy Walk sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville.  The walk was held on Saturday, November 9th.  The day was cold and breezy. Undaunted, our group walked with several thousand other hearty volunteers. A big thank you to our top fundraisers: Kyle Taylor, Trent Taylor, Ephry Sales, Sandra Pierce, Cody Ford, and Stephanie Charles. 

Following the Buddy Walk, the Transition group enjoyed games, music, food, and dancing. They forged new friendships while existing friendships were strengthened. A sense of community with lots of laughter ruled the day.

The staff at ILAB remains dedicated to program excellence.  The hard work and commitment on the part of the participants is obvious.  Student attendance and involvement has been outstanding.  We will continue to encourage our participants to learn from the past, keep grounded in the present, and keep their eyes on the future!

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):

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