Table of Contents

The Director’s Corner

Joyce Hildreth with District 3 staffAs part of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) ongoing efforts to address the employee input received from the Division’s Regional meetings, I have begun a statewide tour of all DBS District offices and facilities.  The tour is designed so that each employee has the opportunity to share ideas, best practices and to be recognized for their performance. 

Thus far I have visited District 3 - Jacksonville Office, Talking Books Library, The Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired and District 5 - Daytona Office. I look forward to visiting each of your sites in the near future, weaving the fabric of our culture here at DBS and further shaping the future of our Division.

Joyce Hildreth

Spot Light

DBS Newsletter Named

By Aimee Mallini

Eric Barrette 954-463-4217There were many fantastic submissions to our “Name the Newsletter” contest. Thank you to all who participated.  As the survey results show the DBS newsletter will now be called “The Visionary.”  The name chosen was submitted by Mr. Eric Barrette of the Lighthouse of Broward. 

Eric is a former DBS client who began receiving services at the age of 23.  As a young man Eric was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy.  Through determination and training Eric earned a Bachelor Degree in Visual Disabilities from FSU and is certified as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).  Mr. Barrette is employed as an Assistive Technology Specialist and will receive his Masters in Visual Disabilities from FSU in May 2013. In addition, he and his wife, Christine, are expecting their first child in the summer of 2013. 

Congratulations Eric!

DBS Employment Opportunities

  1. General Services Specialist (position number 48007016) - The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for a General Services Specialist, Career Service in Tampa (Hillsborough County) with a closing date of September 11, 2012.  Annual salary is $34,501. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website.
  2. Senior Rehabilitation Specialist (position number is 48007296) - The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for Senior Rehabilitation Specialist, Career Service in Jacksonville (Duval County) with a closing date of September 3, 2012.  Annual salary is $30,988.62 without CRC or $32,988.62 with CRC. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website. PLEASE NOTE THIS POSITION IS CURRENTLY LOCATED IN GAINESVILLE, IT WILL BE MOVED TO JACKSONVILLE EFFECTIVE 9/1/12. THIS IS AN INTERNAL POSTING; ONLY CURRENT EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WILL BE CONSIDERED.
  3. Clerk Specialist (position number is 48007137) The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for a Clerk Specialist, Career Service in Daytona Beach (Volusia County) at the Braille and Talking Books Library with a closing date of September 9, 2012.  Annual salary is $18,524.16. The position number is 48007137. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website.
  4. Senior Rehabilitation Specialist – (position number is 48007193)- The Florida Division of Blind Services has an opening for Senior Rehabilitation Specialist – Blind, Career Service in Jacksonville (Duval County) with a closing date of September 17, 2012.  Annual salary is $30,988.62 without CRC or $32,988.62 with CRC. If interested, please apply through the People First employment website.

Personnel Actions

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

New Employee Orientation

By Shelanda Shaw

Shelanda ShawThe second new employee orientation  was held August 1-2, 2012, at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Daytona. The purpose of the training is to give an overall view and promote awareness and understanding of the role of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) as it pertains to the implementation of vocational rehabilitation services for visually impaired and blind individuals.

This was accomplished by providing hands-on activities and presentations. Presenters from the Rehabilitation Center included Ginger Oreskovich, Renea Keough, Holly Idler, and Steven Perry, and Marcel Carroll gave a presentation and tour of the Talking Books Library. We were also pleased to have Jim Woolyhand, DBS District Administrator, Ronnie Silverman, Executive Director of the Center for the Visually Impaired, and Robert Kelly, Executive Director of the Conklin Center talk with participants about the working relationships between district offices and Community Rehabilitation Providers.

Two of the speakers, Dr. Christopher Choat, Low Vision Optometrist, and Ms. Bonnie Smith, Occupational Therapist and Certified Low Vision Therapist, presented information on eye conditions and visual functioning as they highlighted an array of low vision devices.

Lynn Ritter, DBS Program Consultant, presented an overview of VR policy and Ivy Romero, District Administrator, highlighted the importance of good customer service with the "Give'em the Pickle" training. All survey feedback has indicated that the training was again successful.

Giving Back

By Barbara Cutrera

Kathy Salemi, Lynda Dotson, Angela Daughtry, and Lily Oliver, Bob OliverBob Oliver, a former DBS client, has touched the lives of many blind persons in District 9 through his generosity and dedication.  He has refurbished and donated 112 computers to date to visually impaired persons who cannot afford them and do not qualify for the various programs available by the Division.   When Bob donated the hundredth computer, District 9 recognized his accomplishment by celebrating with a cake and a certificate of appreciation.

Bob does most of his computer repairs and upgrades by touch, he also uses a hand-held LCD magnifier, purchased by DBS.  He credits his DBS counselor, Kathy Salemi, with his success.  Through her guidance Bob received O&M (Orientation and Mobility) and ADL (Activities of Daily Living) training as well as computer instruction and screen reader (JAWS) training through the Lighthouse of Manasota.  Bob was also referred to Dr. Lissa Rivero, where he received great service. Through the efforts of those involved including his doctors here in Florida, he embraced the services that allowed him a new lease on life. 

When sharing about his generosity he stated "I am not in this for the glory or to try to earn a reputation. I just wanted to help others mainly because I got help when I needed it. I want to thank Kathy and the staff at DBS for their encouragement. The staff at the Lighthouse has helped me to learn so much."   In addition, he remarked "Dr. Rivero made me realize that I had to put aside my pride and become independent by using a white cane.  I don't go anywhere without it."

Bob and his wife, Lily, have no plans to slow down.  They want to continue to assist and encourage others affected by visual impairment to succeed and move forward, just as Bob did.

How Does the Braille and Talking Books Library Determine What to Record or Transcribe to Braille?

By Susan Roberts

Over the course of the last year, a state-wide workgroup has been engaged to develop and implement a plan to review and recommend materials for inclusion in the recording and Braille transcription program.  With an emphasis in moving toward the development of a stronger collection of Floridians, the workgroup created protocols for objectively evaluating materials that are requested by customers or recommended by others. Led by Al Peterson, Library Services Supervisor and the head of the Bureau’s Production Section, the group comprises representation from audio and print readers who have both visual and physical limitations, Spanish-language reader advisors, recording specialists, and librarians who manage Sub-regional Talking Books programs across the state. The initial charge to the group was to develop a way to review materials and decide whether they should be considered for production and then to implement the plan.  After working carefully to establish protocols, the workgroup is now fully functional and providing exceptional guidance for the development of locally produced materials. The group meets quarterly via teleconference and welcomes suggestions of materials that could be added to the Library’s collection.  For more information, please contact Al Peterson at (386)239-6041 or al.peterson@dbs.fldoe.org.

Conklin Center’s White Cane Walk and Sensory Trail

Press Release

Put on your walking shoes and join us for the Conklin Center’s White Cane Walk and Sensory Trail!  The walk is a major fundraiser for the programs and support services that enable people who are blind with additional disabilities to work and live on their own in the community.

Our goals are to raise funds and also to raise awareness of what it is like to live with impaired vision.

To do that we have added a sensory trail this year.  After receiving instructions, participants will perform everyday activities wearing a full blindfold or glasses that simulate common eye disorders.  There will be stations set up along the pathway on the Center’s grounds where walkers will perform tasks such as pouring a drink, counting change, and using the white cane to travel a short distance.
We hope you will come and join us.  

Ways you can help:

Everyone who raises or donates $20 will receive a free t-shirt. Anyone who raises $100, $250, $500 and $1,000 will be entered in a drawing to win prizes at those levels.  Lunch will be available to purchase for $7.00.

Check out the details at:  conta.cc/NWBYyx (copy and paste to your browser) or on our website www.conklincenter.org.

Then call Denise Harlow at (386)258-3441 or email dharlow@conklincenter.org to request a form and start contacting your sponsors.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Aimee Mallini

In 1988 the United States Congress declared October of each year to be National Disability Employment Awareness Month.   To raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities, many activities have been planned across the great state of Florida.  Please see below list of upcoming events for the month of October.

October 2012 Disability Awareness Month Planned Events and Activities

Leesburg, FL

New Vision for Independence (dates to be determined)

For more specific information please contact New Vision for Independence at (352) 435-5040.


Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services

            For more information contact Agency for Persons with Disabilities at (850)488-4257.

Department of Education

            For more information contact Jenny Harry at 850-245-0985.


Florida Center for the Blind

            For more information please contact the Florida Center for the Blind at (352)873-4700

Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA)

            For more information please visit the web link:             http://www.fdoa.org/programs/sportsability/ocala


Conklin Center for the Blind

            For more information contact Delores Farris at 352-245-6092.

Tech Tuesday Training

By Kendra Jahnke

Kendra Jahnke Instructor for Tech TuesdayAdam Gaffney Instructor for Tech TuesdayNeed any training? Tech Tuesdays are offered through MIS by Kendra Jahnke and Adam Gaffney for Division  staff and service providers. Tech Tuesday trainings are offered via webinars and conference calls and  are designed to reach all users. JAWS user specific trainings are presented to ensure meaningful training sessions with JAWS specific information. Training webinars and conference calls are recorded and shared on the “O” drive under the Tech Tuesday folder.

Past training topics included Microsoft Office programs (Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), AWARE features and tips, and general computer performance. Feel free to let us know of any training topics you’d like to see presented or repeated.

Currently there is a series of trainings specific to Accessibility on 8/28, 9/4, and 9/11. Be sure to look out for emails!

The Florida Center for the Blind Hosts Dining in the Dark

Press Release

The Florida Center for the Blind will be hosting a unique dining experience at the Hilton Ocala on Saturday, November 3, 2012, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. It is called Dining in the Dark, a concept that originated in Germany and swept across Europe before arriving in America.

The evening begins with a fun reception and perusal of the items offered at the silent auction. Then you will experience a delectable three-course meal prepared by the Hilton’s chefs as you may never have before – without your sight. Your remaining senses will be stimulated to savor the smell, taste and texture of your dining experience. Conversation will become more intimate and immediate. The goal is to expand your understanding of what individuals who are blind experience throughout their lives. You will discover that, with the help of humor and friends, you can prevail. This is really what the Florida Center for the Blind is all about-  teaching people who are visually impaired to cope and do all the things they took for granted when they were sighted.

The keynote speaker this year will be Connor Boss, Miss Delray Beach, who was the first legally blind Miss Florida USA contestant. She was diagnosed at age 8 with Stargardt’s Disease, a genetic disorder that causes progressive vision loss. Despite having only 20/400 and 20/600 peripheral vision, she has competed in 11 pageants and won five crowns. Her desire is to reach others with disabilities and encourage them to confront life’s challenges with humor and hope.

Individual tickets for general seating are available for $45, two tickets can be purchased for $80, or a private table of eight can be reserved for $320. Tickets can be purchased by calling (352) 873-4700, or by sending a check to Florida Center for the Blind at 7634 SW 60th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34476.

Top Ten Ways Technology Has Increased Accessibility for the Blind

Courtesy of the Lighthouse of the Big Bend

  1. Devices can now identify money or color (Carolyn Lapp).
  2. Online banking and bill paying eliminate the need to write checks or address            
    envelopes (Lois Butterfield).
  3. Talking glucose meters enable blood sugar level checks and determine how  
    much insulin to take (Lynda Jones).
  4. You can find almost any appliance that talks – even things you’d rather not
    hear, such as a talking scale! (Jeanine Kane).
  5. Portable software programs can make any computer accessible (Carolyn
  6. Almost everything can be ordered online and delivered to your front door (Wayne Warner).
  7. Talking GPS programs make it possible to easily find destinations – you may
    never get lost again! (Lois Butterfield).
  8. Bar code scanners can be used to scan products, get info on the item and
    comparison shop (Carolyn Lapp).
  9. You carry more power and access to information in your pocket now than a  
    room-sized computer in years past (Wayne Warner).
  10. Email and texting greatly expands communication and frees many from the
    use of printed documents (Elizabeth Bowden).

Welcome to Bonnie

By Bryan McKernan

Alton Gayle and Guide Dog Bonnie

District One would like to welcome Bonnie, the newest member of the team in Pensacola. Bonnie is the new service dog of Alton Gayle. After almost six month wait, Bonnie has arrived and is a wonderful addition to the office.

Employer Award

By Phyllis Dill

Mr. Edwards, Ms. Hildreth, Mr Hartley, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Stampfli and Ms. Malletti.On July 26, 2012, the Convergys Corporation was awarded a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities. The award was presented during the Florida Council of the Blind’s quarterly meeting. 

Gene Hartley, Customer Service Specialist in the Convergys Jacksonville Office presented the award to Chris Stampfli, Human Resources Manager and Sue Malletti, Project Manager. The Council was given a brief overview of the Convergys Corporation.

A group photo included:  Mr. Edwards, Ms. Hildreth, Mr Hartley, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Stampfli and Ms. Malletti.

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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