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Hildreth Speaks at Sixth Annual Vision Summit
By Aimee Mallini

Joyce HildrethJoyce Hildreth, Director of the Florida Division of Blind Services spoke to attendees of the 2012 Vision Summit.  In her address, Ms. Hildreth brought to light the importance of programs that serve blind and visually impaired babies and their families.  She expressed that these services are critical, and can mean the difference between a life full of hope, independence, and productivity or a life of dependency and limitations. 

At a time when families are in crisis, the Blind Babies program is there to provide support, expertise, and resources to children and their families.  This program is critical to the future success of these children.  These services provide a strong foundation for individuals and families and promise a life full of opportunity and hope. 

Currently, funding is very limited for this program and the need is great.  Hildreth stressed the need for an increase in this year’s funding in order to serve an additional 201 babies.  She implored the audience and the elected officials to take an active role in supporting program funding.

Personnel Actions

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

Congratulations to the following employees who received a promotion:

Vision Summit 2012

By Ana Saint-Fort

Little girlThe staff from the District 2 Office and the State Office attended this year's Vision Summit sponsored by the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind.  As always this event is educational as it brings enlightenment to the community and legislators on Vision Awareness.

DBS information tableThis year the focus was on the importance and the valuable services that Early Intervention Programs provide.  We had the distinct honor of having Rep. Dennis Baxley make the welcoming remarks.  Also, Dr. James Murdaugh, Tallahassee Community College President, talked about the College’s historic support of our local Community Rehabilitation Program, The Lighthouse of the Big Bend.  There were many other speakers including a speech from our very own Director, Ms. Joyce Hildreth.  Several visitors stop by the DBS table to seek and gather information. 

Ringling Bros. Help Kids Discover Circus

By Sharon Lucas

At center, Marcela Escobar 12, her father Hermes Escobar left, as she pets an Asian elephant.About ten visually impaired children and their families  enjoyed a private interactive seminar from performers in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They met Duchess, the Asian elephant and they got a chance to experience other aspects of circus life at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. 

“It's a way for visually impaired kids to enjoy the offerings of the circus,” said Janice Gruenwald Aponte, publicist for the show.  Arrangements were made with the help of the Florida Outreach Center for the Blind, a not-for-profit based in Palm Springs.

This was the first circus experience for eight year old Gillian Press, who came to the Convention Center with her mother, Dianna.  At first shy, Gillian ended up trying out all the different stations, even donning a sequined vest.  Gillian is legally blind, but can see some things close up. 
"The kids were excited to come to the circus," said Carolyn Lapp, the center's executive director.  Lapp, who lost her sight in a car accident as a teen, said she's been to the circus both as a sighted person and as a blind person.

New Addition to District 10

By Christina Panczak-Smith

Christina Panczak-Smith and guide dog RomaIn October, 2011, I was introduced to my new pup named Roma.  Roma is a small yellow lab with a wonderful spirit and a big heart.  We worked together for three weeks getting to know one another and learning how to work together as a team.  When I returned to the office, Roma quickly learned the members of District 10, and she comfortably adjusted into her new routine.  Roma and I began the process of introducing her to my coworkers, my participants, and working within the community.  In fact, Roma and I conducted our first presentation to 4th grade students on November 22.  We have also visited employers and establishments within the five county areas that our District covers.  In short, Roma has settled into our routine quite well.

My first guide, Joanie, is still in my heart and her spirit will always be with me, but my Roma is a wonderful companion.  I love her unconditionally.  I am truly blessed to have her in my life. 

Roma is the newest member to the District 10 team.  She and I will continue to educate the community through outreach, meeting with employers to develop job opportunities for participants, and above all continue to empower participants to achieve their own goals.

Employment Resource Guide

By Dorothy Minor

This Reference Circular, published online by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, contains lists of organizations that provide information to people with disabilities, their families, employers, and the professionals who assist them with recruitment, training, hiring, and retraining.  In addition,  other  resources dealing with worksite accommodations, job analysis, small-business opportunities, and supported employment are included.  The circular also  contains a selective bibliography and internet resource guide.  The web address is:  http://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/circulars/employment.html

Scholarship Opportunity

From the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation News Release

The Michael J. McGowan Leadership Scholarship Award was established in 2008 on behalf of the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) to recognize leadership and empower young people with albinism.  NOAH will award one scholarship annually to a NOAH member with albinism residing in the U.S. or Canada who is enrolled in an undergraduate program at an institution of higher education in the U.S. or Canada.  The intent is to enhance educational opportunities for students with albinism while celebrating dedication and outstanding leadership qualities similar to those exhibited by NOAH's current and past leaders.  The 2012 scholarship award will be $3,000.

To apply, complete the online application then submit the following: 

The application must be received by May 1, 2012. 
Email:  scholarship@albinism.org.

Please contact NOAH's Scholarship Committee with any questions at scholarship@albinism.org or 800-473-2310 (U.S. and Canada). 

Federal Support for the Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program

Picture of whitehouse

Taken in part from statement of Barack Obama, President

Thousands of Americans who are blind have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit that helps define our nation as a land of opportunity.  Through the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program administered by the Department of Education, talented and creative individuals who are blind have acquired the management training and business skills necessary to realize the American dream -- a lifetime of economic opportunity, independence, and self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.

For 75 years, blind business managers have successfully operated food services and commercial ventures in federal, state, and private buildings and locations nationwide.  We honor and celebrate this program's historic achievements.

The Randolph-Sheppard Act created the Vending Facility Program requiring qualified blind individuals be given a priority to operate vending facilities on federal properties.  This program is responsible today for providing entrepreneurial opportunities for over 2,500 individuals who are blind.  In turn, these business managers have hired thousands of workers, many of whom are individuals with disabilities.

Continued support and cooperation are needed from executive departments, agencies, and offices to extend the Randolph-Sheppard priority to qualified blind managers through the state agencies that implement the program. Therefore, I direct all agencies that have property management responsibilities to ensure that agency officials, when pursuing the establishment and operation of vending facilities (including cafeterias and military dining facilities) issue permits and contracts in compliance with the act and consistent with existing regulations and law.  I further direct the Secretary of Education, through the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, to submit a report to the President on agencies' implementation of the Randolph-Sheppard Program not later than one year from the date of this memorandum.

Celebrating 20 Years of Service to Floridians

logo for Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc.We would like to extend our gratitude to the many organizations and clients for supporting the Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) program since 1991.  You have been a great part of our success.

In 1991, the Florida Legislature passed the Telecommunications Access System Act (TASA) to make basic telecommunications accessible and affordable for hard of hearing, deaf, speech impaired and deaf/blind persons. 

The FTRI, a non-profit organization, was created to administer TASA and provide the specialized equipment at no cost to qualified Florida residents.  The program is funded through a monthly 11 cent surcharge on all telephone landlines.  FTRI also promotes the Florida Relay Service (711).

The equipment available through the program includes:

To receive a telephone or specialized equipment, applicants must be a permanent Florida resident, age three or older, and certified as hard of hearing, deaf, deaf/blind or speech impaired.  To request FTRI applications, in Braille or text, contact the Outreach Department at orsecretary@ftri.org or 800-222-3448.  Text copies can be downloaded from the FTRI website at www.ftri.org.

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
Email:  Ashley.Evans@dbs.fldoe.org
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 al.peterson@dbs.fldoe.org or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0360
Email:  DBS.HelpDesk@dbs.fldoe.org

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0395 or 1-866-841-0912
Email:  Aware.support@dbs.fldoe.org

DBS Division of Blind Services (external):  http://dbs.myflorida.com.

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