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The Director's Corner

DBS director Joyce HildrethOn October 24, 2012, Governor Rick Scott announced three appointments and five reappointments to the Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. 

Please join me in congratulating the new council and we look forward to the year ahead.

Joyce Hildreth

Spot Light

Drum Major Hopes to Change Perception of Visually Impaired

By Paul Heddings (Special Editorial to CNN)

Drum Major Paul HeddingsOn Friday, September 7, 2007, I learned my life was going to change forever.  I went to the eye doctor thinking I needed a new contact lens prescription and instead was told that I had detached retinas and that my vision would never be the same. I was 17 years old and leading a typical high school life in Carrollton, Missouri.

The next few years were riddled with doctor visits, treatments, and surgeries. Due to my decreased vision I could no longer play sports. This was a huge blow, as I loved baseball and shared a connection to my grandpa through it. I became more invested in music to find a release. With the support of my family and friends I decided to take part in my high school's musical my love of music it led me to try out for the University of Missouri marching band. I found a home with the Marching Mizzou. It has been my best decision in college by far. I decided early on that I wanted to be Head Drum Major of Marching. I love being looked to in difficult times and can keep a level head in high-pressure situations. I don’t see my disability as an excuse not to achieve; if anything, I use it as motivation. Walt Disney once said: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”  This quote has become an inspiration to me, and I strive to do "the impossible" every day. 

I hope to change the way people perceive those living with disabilities. I don’t tell people I have a disability right off the bat; not because I’m ashamed of my disability, but because I’d rather them see all of the things I can do instead of pre-determining what I can’t do. 

I try to challenge the limits of what I "should" be able to do, and hope that others realize that they can do anything if they just put their mind to it and work hard for what they want.

Personnel Actions

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

DBS Personnel Liaison Training 2012

By Sheila White

DBS personnel liaison group pictureFifteen DBS Personnel Liaisons met in Tallahassee, October 15-17, for their annual administrative training.  Of the 17 sections, 15 were represented.

During this meeting 29 manual updates were covered by Erica Hicks.  Presentations were given by Paul Harbin (MIS Manager), Kendra Jahnke (MIS Program Specialist), Department of Education’s Labor Relations Director Dan Saunders, Ben Powell (Employee Assistant Program Coordinator), and Charlie Giblon (Personnel Benefits Consultant).

Section Managers introduced their staff so that Liaisons could put some faces with the names they communicate with.  It was a pleasure to welcome our three newest Liaisons to the group, District 2 - Olga Dye, District 3 - Marachel Young and District 11 - Ian Campbell.

As one member stated – "Personnel Liaisons ROCK!"

Happenings in District One

By Bryan McKernan

Gail Christian, her service dog Halo and University Academy Elementary studentsOn Friday, September 28, Gail Christian, Halo, and Anthony Pileggi from the District One office of the Division of Blind Services visited the University Academy in Panama City. The purpose of the visit was to give the children a better understanding of the relationship between a service animal and their person.  Mrs. Christian and Halo were happy to give the children insight into their daily activities and the children were enthusiastic about learning about the blind community.  Halo was a real bright spot, as the children had many questions regarding her day-to-day activities and how she assists Mrs. Christian. 

October 20 through October 26, the District One staff operated a booth at the Pensacola Interstate Fair. Located immediately inside the entrance to the fairgrounds, the Division of Blind Services booth has drawn many interested fairgoers who are seeking information for either themselves or someone they know.  The Fair was a great opportunity to reach out to the community and spread the word regarding our services.

On Wednesday, October 24, Pensacola staff members participated in White Cane Day at the Independence for the Blind of West Florida facilities.  Staff members maintained a booth and answered all questions regarding the services provided by the Division.

Division of Blind Services Represented at the Disability Employment Awareness Event

By Aimee Mallini

Wayne Jennings, Bertha Hyche and Governor Rick ScottOn Thursday, October 18, 2012, the Division of Blind Services was well represented at the Disability Employment Awareness event in Tallahassee, FL.  Joyce Hildreth, DBS Director; Phyllis Vaughn, DBS Bureau Chief, Administrative Services; Wayne Jennings, DBS Vocational/Transition Program Consultant; Ana Saint-Fort, District 2 DA and Tiffany Wilson, District 2 VR Counselor.  Governor Rick Scott was on hand and presented the employer awards. 



Looking Forward to Retirement

By Keith Flowers

Guide Dog EagleTuesday, October 23, 2006 was the first day I took my new guide dog, Eagle, to work with me.  Six wonderful years later, we face the prospect of his retirement. 

Eagle was three when I got him.  He will be nine in December and like me, has some grey hair.  He was diagnosed with arthritis two years ago and can’t quite keep up with me much of the time.  After talking to friends, other guide dog users and Southeastern Guide Dogs, I realize it would be unfair to keep working him.  I don’t want him to hurt or be unhappy.  So I decided it’s time to retire him from guide dog duty and keep him as my pet.

Only guide dog users can truly appreciate the bond that develops between a guide and their partner.  When you spend 24/7 with a dog, you forge a special relationship with them that few people apart from guide dog users are fortunate enough to experience.  The decision to retire Eagle is a gut-wrenching one but I must do what is best for him.

Eagle is my first guide and I could no more give him up than cut off my left hand.  I am going to keep him.  Even though our relationship will change in some ways, we will still be together to enjoy each other’s company.  I have already applied for a successor dog from Southeastern.  Soon there will be an addition to our family.  Young blood can do wonders for us old-timers!  I look forward to working with a new guide and Eagle is looking forward to enjoying his golden years.

Employee Safety Training

By Shelanda Shaw

An Employee Safety Training was conducted by Doug Lambert, Florida Department of Education Safety and Security Manager, on October 17 and 18 at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Daytona.

The purpose of the training was to teach the employees about the safety mechanisms in and around the Daytona Beach campus and to make them aware of who to contact in case a problem arises.

The courses covered were:

Although 20%  of all the worker compensation claims filed with the Division of Blind Services came from Daytona, 89 staff members as well as all maintenance and dormitory staff completed the training successfully.  With this knowledge the employees now know what makes a safe environment. 

Miss Reading Your Newspaper? Subscribe to Newsline® It's Free!

By Sherri Brun

Do you want to hear or read the latest news on the telephone or online? Do you have a favorite hometown newspaper you’d like to read to keep up with what is going on back home? Does low vision, blindness or some other physical disability keep you from reading regular print? Want to take your favorite papers or magazines with you on your portable talking book device to read on your way to work or during your travels? Then Newsline® is for you.

The Newsline® program is a free service brought to you by the National Federation of the blind of Florida and sponsored by a generous grant from the Florida Division of Blind Services. With Newsline®, you may have access to 14 Florida newspapers, over 300 newspapers nationwide, many magazines in several genres from pop culture to science and computers to the economy, your local TV listings, target ads and a job information line. Newsline® is easy to use. Our phone service offers you all this content from the convenience of your home or cell phone. You can also browes content online or download your favorite newspapers and magazines to your NLS talking book player or to your portable talking book device to read at your leisure. Go to www.nfbnewsline.org to learn more.

To sign up for this valuable free service, please contact Sherri Brun, your Newsline® chair at (800) 603-8578 or e-mail her at floridanewslineinfo@gmail.com

Miami Lighthouse Launches Distance Learning Braille Music

By Virginia Jacko

Miami Lighthouse has added a new component to its Braille Literacy and Technology Program that will bring music instruction to blind students across the nation.  Employment in the mainstream music industry is within reach of blind and severely visually impaired people who are educated in the skills and computer hardware and software that are standard in the music industry. 
In early 2013, Miami Lighthouse will launch its unique Distance Learning Braille Music curriculum which is based on expanded course content from its nationally acclaimed Better Chance Music Production Program™ and Braille and Technology Literacy Program.  The curriculum is specifically designed for blind and visually impaired of all ages with advanced Braille skills interested in pursuing a career in music. The curriculum was developed with the assistance of the Distance Learning Department of The Carroll Center for the Blind which is assisting in the launch. 
Comprehensive Braille Music training is not available anywhere else in the U.S.  Braille Music is the only way for a blind musician to read music scores directly.   Instructor Jin Ho Choi, himself a blind musician, wrote the Braille Music course offerings and has been teaching them in-house for the past year.  Soon to be available online, the Grade 2 Braille reader can learn the basic concepts of musical notation.  Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to read, understand, and successfully play or sing a Braille music score. The copyrighted online curriculum includes the opportunity for interaction between a Braille instructor and the student located off-site.  Each of the 25 lessons can be completed in approximately 45 minutes.
Miami Lighthouse will be enrolling new students in the Braille and Technology Literacy program by the end of this year. For more information, contact Miami Lighthouse CEO Virginia Jacko at (305) 856-4176.

Happy Mojo Moments

State Office Fun

DBS contracts dressed as contracts. Gordon Orr as Attachment G, Georgina Portillo-Foster as Attachment F, Brian Chambliss as Attachment B, Mondi Azpeita as Attachment A and Donna Waller as Contract Approval Form
DBS contracts dressed as contracts. Gordon Orr as Attachment G, Georgina Portillo-Foster as Attachment F, Brian Chambliss as Attachment B, Mondi Azpeita as Attachment A and Donna Waller as Contract Approval Form
Robin Frydenbourg dressed as a hippy. Wendy Peavy dressed as a butterfly. Erica Hicks dressed as Minnie Mouse, Phyllis Vaughn and Marta Copeland dressed as Sonny and Cher
Robin Frydenbourg dressed as a hippy. Wendy Peavy dressed as a butterfly. Erica Hicks dressed as Minnie Mouse, Phyllis Vaughn and Marta Copeland dressed as Sonny and Cher

The Division of Blind Services State office had a Halloween themed luncheon on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  Many employees came in their best costumes for the festive events. 

Daytona Campus Fun

By Aimee Mallini

Golf cart with cob webs and a large spider on roofThe DBS Daytona Campus hosted a golf cart decorating contest on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. The contest was judged by DBS students.  The “haunted recording studio” cart decorated by Production Services was crowned the overall winner.  Production Services charity of choice will be the recipient of the campus- wide food drive. Way to go Daytona for hosting such a fun filled activity.

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 Visionary 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:

DBS Communications
Email:  Communications@dbs.fldoe.org

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of the Visionary contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: 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 website (external):  dbs.myflorida.com.

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