Table of Contents

Spot Light

Division of Blind Services Expanded Leadership Meeting Update

By Joyce Hildreth

As part of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) ongoing efforts to address employee feedback, the leadership team (District Administrators and the State Office Management Team) met July 12 and 13, 2012, in Tallahassee to evaluate and prioritize all staff suggestions that were submitted during the regional meeting breakout groups. Statewide and district accomplishments from the prior fiscal year that correlated to each of the Strategic Goals were addressed. Most importantly, the team focused on how to prioritize the suggested initiatives.

Suggested activities for each Strategic Goal were categorized by common topic, edited for duplication, and ranked. The ranked initiatives will be further prioritized during the next couple of months. The team also clarified some of the Strategic Plan objectives.

All documents are available on the DBS Intranet Site at http://dbssossrs/web/. If you would like additional information on the development of the Strategic Plan and outcomes from the regional and expanded team meetings or have input please e-mail commuications@dbs.fldoe.org.

DBS Employment Opportunities

  1. Senior Rehabilitation Specialist for the Blind, (position number 48007260) - The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for a Senior Rehabilitation Specialist - Blind, Career Service in Miami (Dade County) with a closing date of August 9, 2012. Annual salary is $30,988.62 without Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) or $32,988.62 with CRC. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website.
  2. Library Services Supervisor, (position number 48007009) SES - The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for a Library Services Supervisor, Select Exempt Service in Daytona Beach (Volusia County) with a closing date of August 1, 2012. Annual salary is $34,501.68. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website.

Personnel Actions

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

Florida Commissioner of Education, Gerard Robinson, Announces Resignation. Chancellor Pam Stewart Appointed as Interim.

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson submitted his resignation on July 31, 2012. The State Board of Education approved Pam Stewart, Chancellor of Public Schools at the Florida Department of Education, to serve as interim with a start date of September 1, 2012.

Thoughts on Blindness

By Joyce Hildreth

DBS Director Joyce HildrethWhen I reflect upon my gradual and continual loss of vision that occurred over many years, many thoughts come to mind. My journey is personal and even so, there is a common thread shared by many who have also experienced loss of vision.

It takes courage to acknowledge and accept that the journey does not have to be made alone and that we can learn from others who already have traveled this road. Courage to continue to embrace new experiences, to step off the curb and cross the street, to attend the social gathering, to participate in activities with family and friends and ultimately to seize the day and enjoy all that life brings.

It takes a belief in oneself to make the commitment to meet head on and overcome the challenges that result from loss of sight.

It takes forgiveness of oneself to accept failed attempts to accomplish a skill and to keep trying until the technique becomes a part of you.

It takes humor and the ability to laugh at oneself to enjoy life and throw off the self-consciousness that can so easily keep you from moving forward.

It takes trust to receive and give help to those you touch and those who touch you as you move through daily life.

It takes recognition of one's self-worth, to support the conviction that you are needed and have valuable contributions to make to your friends, family and community.

As you read the many positive examples of triumph over adversity included here, you will come to understand that the indomitable human spirit can overcome any adversity and become a beacon to those just beginning this journey.

Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities

By JoAnn Carrin

On July 26, 2012, the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities issued a report with the following recommendations. 

The full report is available at http://www.flgov.com/gcjfd.

Blind Matters Radio Show

By Brain Michaels

Michael Golder"Blind Matters Radio Show" is a new talk radio show geared toward those with visual impairments. The show, a first of its kind, caters specifically to the visually impaired and blind, as well as their families and advocates. The show debuted in Orlando in March 2012 and since has been well received. Eventually being picked up by several stations in Florida as well as nationally. The show is hosted and produced by former DBS client Michael Golder who is himself is legally blind. Interesting and entertaining segments and guests are often featured, many of whom are also blind or visually impaired. Below you will find a list of radio stations that feature the "Blind Matters Radio Show" as well as the show's website.

Website: www.blindmattersradioshow.com

U.S Access Board to Lead Effort to Develop Guidance on Accessible Drug Labels

Press Release

The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Board is leading the effort to develop guidance on making prescription drug labels accessible to people with vision impairments under an act signed into law by President Obama this week. The "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act" includes measures to promote drug safety and to improve FDA procedures for reviewing new medicines and medical devices.

A provision of the act authorizes the Board to convene a stakeholder working group to develop best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. This group, which will include equal representation from advocacy organizations and from industry, will develop best practices for pharmacies on providing independent access to prescription drug container labels. The working group will explore various alternatives, including Braille, large print labels, and auditory technologies such as "talking bottles" and radio frequency identification tags. The group's recommendations, which are to be developed within one year, will be advisory only, not mandatory and will not have the force of guidelines or standards.

The law also calls upon the National Council on Disability to conduct an informational and educational campaign in cooperation with the stakeholder working group to inform the public, including people with disabilities and pharmacists of the best practices. The Government Accountability Office will undertake a review at a later date to assess the extent to which pharmacies are following the best practices and to what extent barriers to information on prescription drug container labels remain.

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at mazz@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0020 (V), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY). Additional information is posted on the Board's website. Those interested in this initiative can sign up to receive further updates.

US Labor Department Announces 2012 Theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Press Release

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy announces the official theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. The theme, "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" promotes the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes workers with disabilities, who represent a highly skilled talent pool. "Employers who ensure that inclusive workplace policies and practices are woven into the fabric and culture of the organization create an environment that encourages all workers - including those of us with disabilities - to work to their full capacity and contribute fully to the organization's success," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

Early announcement of the theme helps communities nationwide plan a series of announcements, events and meetings to begin in October. Such activities include proclamations, public awareness programs and job fairs that showcase the skills and talents of workers with disabilities.

Public Law 176, enacted by Congress in 1945, designated the first week in October each year as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." President Harry S. Truman designated the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities to carry out the observance. In 1962, the word "physically" was removed from the week's name to acknowledge the employment needs of all Americans with disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed its name to "National Disability Awareness Month," which eventually evolved to its current name. The Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy took over responsibility for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 2001.

Members of the public with questions related to the 2012 theme should contact Carol Dunlap in ODEP at (202)693-7902.

Digital Learning

By JoAnn Carrin

On July 17, 2012, a presentation on Digital Learning was made to the State Board of Education. Deirdre Finn, consultant with the Department of Education presented, "The power of technology to transform education for the 21st century economy." Two elements of the plan that relate to students who are blind or visually impaired are:

1. Instructional Materials

2. Internet and Access Devices

The State Board of Education may take action regarding a State Digital Learning Plan at upcoming meetings. To review the completed plan look for the link to "Presentations" at the following web site.


Employment is Where You Find It!

By Harry McEwen

employment opportunities imageThe Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Daytona Beach has had some very good news in the last two months. Three of our students have become employed while attending classes at the center.

One of Terri Titus's participants, Will Snead, gained employment at LC Industries in Daytona Beach. He participated in a work experience in the Center's cafeteria and thought he would like to become a chef. He is working during the day at LC Industries to help with family obligations and is attending classes in the evening with plans to enter the culinary arena.

Richard Huffman, Janet Alderman's client, recently graduated high school in the Ft. Myers area. He was referred to the Center to gain independent living skills, build confidence and explore his employment interests. He participated in a work experience at the Library and demonstrated his work ethic so well; they decided to offer him his first real job. Richard began work as a Clerk Specialist at the Braille and Talking Book Library on July 2, 2012.

Jannelle Henry's client from West Palm Beach, Charles "Butch" Singer, said he has a desire to work and take care of his obligations. He began looking for work before completing his classes and with the Center's assistance has focused his energies on his goals for employment and a place to live. He toured LC Industries, had an interview and began employment there on July 23, 2012.

We feel very lucky here at the Rehabilitation Center. We have several stories that have led to employment and feel our focus is on the students and working with them where they are. We are honored to assist in their pursuit of employment and independence.

DBS Client Awarded R. Henry P. Johnsons Award

By Aimee Mallini

Cathy-Alice KoyangiThe R. Henry P. Johnson Award is presented each year by the Florida Council for the Blind (FCB) to a legally blind Floridian who has shown outstanding service through their work to the community. The award's namesake, Johnson, was a Tampa attorney, who had vision loss as an adult and no formal training to adapt.

Through his determination and effort Johnson became a founding father of FCB. He spearheaded the campaign for a state agency for the blind. As a result of his work and tireless effort the legislature passed a bill in April of 1941. Johnson was then appointed by Governor Spessard Holland to head the first agency for the blind in Florida.

This award is a wonderful way to recognize trailblazers in our field who set the standards high and continue to raise the bar. This year's award was presented at the 2012 FCB Convention to Ms. Cathy-Alice Koyangi. Ms. Koyangi is a client of Blind Services and received much of her training from DBS. She is currently employed as an Adjustment to Blindness Counselor at the Lighthouse of the Palm Beaches.

Lakeland Employer selected as the Able Trust Large Employer of The Year Award

By Harry McEwen

Sykes Inc. logoCongratulations to our Lakeland employer, Sykes Enterprises, Inc. on being selected as The Able Trust's 2012 recipient of the Large Employer of the Year Award. The nomination was made by Sheryl Brown with the Tampa Lighthouse and The Able Trust selected the nomination to honor Sykes for their commitment to inclusion and job creation for individuals with disabilities. The awards luncheon was held Friday, June 15, 2012, at the Golden Eagle Country Club in Tallahassee. Representatives from Tampa Lighthouse, Sykes, and DBS were in attendance.

Sykes has been instrumental in being one of the first employers in Lakeland to offer work sites in the Information Technology department for transition students. Several of our clients continue to be employed in the call center, providing up to nine years of employment to Sykes. Congratulations to Sykes who is well deserving of this award in showing the willingness to give our clients "an opportunity". In addition, Sykes is expanding to a larger building and will be hiring up to 600 employees starting in 2013.

High School Volunteers Needed at the Library

By Stacy Wolcott

volunteers needed signHigh school volunteers are needed to support the Braille and Talking Books Library remodeling and move to modernization. There is a critical need to reduce the Library inventory of reading materials in cassette format and volunteers are needed to box these cassettes for shipping. As a Library volunteer you will enjoy knowing that you are contributing your time to one of Florida's best assets for blind and visually impaired residents and possibly earn community service credits.

The Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library serves more than 30,000 Florida residents who cannot use standard print reading materials as the result of a visual, physical, or reading disability.

Volunteers are needed for a limited time commitment of 15 -20 hours per week for 2 - 3 months. Tell your friends and volunteer together. For more information contact Stacy Wolcott by email at stacy.wolcott@dbs.fldoe.org or by phone 386-239-6090.

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 week 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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