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Employer Award

By Shelanda Shaw

2012 New Employer for Disabilities awardOn April 19, 2012, the Bahama Breeze restaurant was awarded the 2012 New Employer for Disabilities award by the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. The restaurant has two locations in the Orlando area and was recognized for employing more than 10 visually impaired or blind individuals over the last 14 months.

Through a collaborative effort with the Lighthouse of Central Florida, the Division of Blind Services and Bahama Breeze restaurant, an opportunity has been provided to enhance client's lives and independence.

We give a big thank you to Ginny Taylor, Lighthouse of Central Florida; counselors of the Division of Blind services as well as Stewart Wigdore and Craig Barhorst, Bahama Breeze restaurant managers, for all they have done to make this a fabulous opportunity for clients.

Personnel Actions

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

SportsAbility Expo 2012

By Aimee Mallini

Martial artist in wheelchair practices

Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) held its annual SportsAbility Tallahassee Expo on Friday, April 13, 2012, at Tallahassee Community College (TCC). This annual event provides first-hand access to resources and demonstrations of recreational activities designed to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living.

The expo showcased the latest in equipment, as well as information booths on the latest products, active leisure programs and services for people with disabilities. Many hands on activities were also demonstrated including

SportsAbility Ocala will be hosting there expo on October 5-6, 2012. For more information on the FDOA please visit their website at http://www.fdoa.org/.

My Story

By Ryan Vlazny

I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and as a toddler, I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. My parents made sure I had hearing aids and, along with my brother, learned sign language.

I began a preschool program for deaf students which was housed in a deteriorated classroom. Dissatisfied with the classroom, my parents and others started Parents Really Involved in Deaf Education. As a result, a new portable classroom was added.

I then attended elementary school and at 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Ushers Syndrome, deaf, visually impaired (retinitis pigmentosa) and vestibular dysfunction. A cochlear implant was placed in my right ear. My parents then went through a difficult process to have me placed in a school with a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing program. I attended D/HH classes and some mainstream classes until the fifth grade.

I then attended middle school and high school. I was mainstreamed, but was in a location where I could receive services from the D/HH program. I was involved in extra-curricular activities such as the National Honor Society.
The FCAT was difficult for me, passing all sections with the exception of reading on the first attempt. I did not give up and passed on my third attempt. At that time my mom and I traveled to Tallahassee and spoke to elected officials about special-needs students receiving a regular diploma if they meet requirements other than passing the FCAT. A school committee approved the recommendation.

Deafness and vision impairment did not stop me from achieving my goals. I received a regular high school diploma, attended Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and received a BS Degree in Information Technology.

RIT required me to complete an internship program to earn my degree. My internships were in Plantation, Florida and at Southern Illinois University. This was my first experience living independently and it was challenging and exciting.

This was all possible because of the Division of Blind Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. I did not want to be on Social Security Disability Insurance. I wanted to graduate, get a good job and be self-sufficient. I have achieved those goals! It was hard work, but it was certainly worth it.

"Because It's the Right Thing to Do"

By Dorothy Minor

These are the words of Jasper Carbone when he was asked by a visiting Florida legislator why he volunteered at the Library.

Jasper CarboneOn April 19, the Library honored its volunteers with a luncheon provided by the Friends of Library Access at the Sunset Harbor Yacht Club in Daytona Beach. Over 115 volunteers, guests and staff attended.

Jasper Carbone was honored at the luncheon for over 7,000 hours of volunteer service and the Production Section volunteers were recognized for the first locally duplicated books and magazines in digital format produced in Florida.

Susan Roberts, Bureau Chief, congratulated and thanked the volunteers for their work equivalent to 13.5 full time staff members. Doug Hall expressed the thanks of the Friends of Library Access for the volunteers' efforts on behalf of the Library's customers, "Because it's the right thing to do."

Lighthouse of the Big Bend Awarded Extreme Makeover!

By Barbara Lynn Ross

We are delighted to share that the Lighthouse of the Big Bend in Tallahassee was one of four agencies that the United Way of the Big Bend's Young Philanthropist's Circle awarded with an "Extreme Makeover" grant.

Recently a group of Access Tallahassee United Way volunteers descended upon the Lighthouse to make over our Early Intervention classroom for blind and visually impaired toddlers. Access Tallahassee supplied the free labor and the United Way bought and delivered all the materials that were needed. What a luxury!

The existing flat paint was in sad shape despite our best efforts. The makeover began with the entire room being painted with bright blue semi-gloss paint so smudges from little fingers could be wiped off. Special magnetic paint was added to the bottom half of one wall for children to play with large alphabet magnets so they could learn the shape of letters. On a different wall, chalkboard paint was added to the bottom half for kids to draw with chalk, learn and play. To complete the surface re-finishing, a colorful area rug was rolled out to cover the indoor-outdoor carpeting that had been harsh for little knees to crawl on.

As you can imagine, learning to move around and explore the world when you are little and can't see is a challenge. In a world with only adult-size furniture, it is just about impossible. Therefore, for the first time the Extreme Makeover grant allowed the room to be outfitted with child-sized tables and chairs, the type you see in preschools.

Thank you, United Way of the Big Bend, Access Tallahassee, and two other donors who gave cash to add a few extra special additions. Our early intervention families are already benefitting!


By Teresa Donaldson Thomas

Kameron is a beautiful, smart, talented 5-year oldKameron is a beautiful, smart, talented 5-year old who is fiercely independent. She is totally blind due to retinopathy of prematurity. Kameron loves to ride her bike, swim, ride horses, sing and dance and dress-up in pretty clothes with matching shoes. She chooses her own clothes and shoes each morning for school and then dresses independently. Kameron knows her way around the kitchen in her home and can pour herself a drink and fix herself a snack when she gets hungry.

Kameron has participated in several beauty pageants and is currently taking a tap dance class. She is excited about her upcoming recital in June. Kameron is also an active member of her Sunday school and "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed" (AWANA) club. She is an outstanding student in her Pre-K program where she is learning to read and produce Braille on her own Perkins Brailler.

Kameron is adored by all who know her and is loved and nurtured by her family. Her parents are well known in the community for their strong advocacy for children. They have consistently and strongly encouraged Kameron's independence and full involvement in her community. They are delighted that she is ready to begin kindergarten in a mainstream classroom in the fall.

Kameron is an inspiration to all who know her!

Lares Receives Good Wheels Award

By Margaret Lincoln

Lares Receives Good Wheels AwardGood Wheels is a not-for-profit corporation that was established to meet the door-to-door transportation needs of the disabled, disadvantaged and elderly in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. Each year Good Wheels hosts a luncheon along with its partner agencies to acknowledge and award individuals that have provided exemplary service to persons within their community.

One of this year's nominees and recipients was assistive technology supervisor Gabino Lares. Lares is employed by the Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida where he provides technology training to many.

As an elementary school-aged child, Lares suffered the loss of most usable vision due to a baseball injury. Rather than being limited by the loss, he was determined to succeed. He went on to be a high school and college athlete in both wrestling and long distance running. Following graduation he further excelled as a teacher of visually impaired children. He was nominated for this award by one of his clients.

Congratulations Mr. Lares for a job well done!

Blind Matters on the Big 810 AM!

By Phyllis Dill

"Blind Matters" is the only radio call-in talk show in Florida that is specifically devoted to the blind, their families and their advocates. It was created and produced by Michael and Lynne Golder and is hosted by Michael. "Blind Matters" has a unique form of delivery and promises to be entertaining and informative.

Join Michael Golder on the Big 8 Radio call-in talk show; every Saturday at 3 pm.
For those outside the Orlando listening area the radio station simulcast is available on the Internet at http://www.big810am.com/.

Ride Without Sight Event

By Sandra Martin and Allison Leone

The Fort Myers Harley-Davidson (HD) dealer recently offered clients and friends of the Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida (VIP) an opportunity to "Ride Without Sight" at the monthly lunch n' learn.

Approximately 50 guests joined the VIP Center for their monthly lunch n' learn that focused on giving blind and visually impaired clients the chance to feel what it is like to actually ride an HD motorcycle. All of the visually impaired and blind attendees were given a chance to ride the Harley-Davidson Jumpstart Simulator. This process works by placing a real motorcycle on the Jumpstart Simulator which holds the front wheel of the bike stationary while allowing the back wheel to move.

This device truly simulates what it is like to ride a HD motorcycle. Sheila Corbin, HD Outreach, and the dedicated HD staff organized the event, which turned out to be a wonderful and exciting experience for everyone at HD while providing a remarkable experience for VIP unsighted participants as well. HD enjoys serving the community with outreach and education for a variety of organizations.

After taking a ride, one client exclaimed, "It was wonderful! I enjoyed it so much!" Crystal, one of the VIP visually impaired staff said, "No matter what age we are or challenge we have, it is all about those few moments of freedom you feel when riding." This day will live on in the memory of participants for a long time. The experience was best summed up by HD staff member, Harley, who assisted with guidance of the visually impaired riding the simulator motorcycles. When asked, he smiled big and said, "It was so cool!"

The VIP is very grateful to Fort Myers for the chance to participate in a community outreach with them, as well as the opportunity for visually impaired individuals to enjoy an unforgettable and exciting experience! Ride Without Sight!

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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