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McKinlay named Interim Director

By JoAnn Carrin


Photo of Aleisa McKinlay

On December 18, Aleisa McKinlay was named as the Interim Director of the Florida Division of Blind Services. She also serves as Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and previously served in VR as the Bureau Chief of Partnerships and Communication.

Prior to joining VR, she was Chief of Adult Community Mental Health at the Florida Department of Children & Families. She also served as the Director of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illnesses Program at the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities (now Disability Rights Florida). In addition to holding a law degree, McKinlay has significant experience in the administration of public mental health services and is a tremendous advocate for the needs of people with disabilities.

New District 9 Administrator

By Barbara Cutrera

Photo of Carla Craver

After working 15 years for both the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Goodwill Industries, Carla Craver was hired as a Senior Rehabilitation Specialist for the Division of Blind Services, Fort Myers office in April of 2008. Carla became the supervisor in August 2008, and is now the district administrator. "I am looking forward to expanding outreach, and I would like to hire a customer service specialist to help with placements," said Craver. The staff is very excited to have her as administrator, and they are looking forward to her leadership.

Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Host Quarterly Meeting

By Phyllis Dill

The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind will conduct its next quarterly meeting on February 6, 2013, from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Doubletree Hotel located at 101 South Adams Street in Tallahassee.

For a copy of the agenda, contact Phyllis Dill at 850-245-0392 or

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons needing a special accommodation to participate in these meetings should contact the local DBS office, no later than 10 working days prior to the meeting, at 850-245-0370 or toll free (800) 672-7038, or through the Florida Telephone Relay system 711.

Free Braille Transcription in Honor of National Braille Literacy Month

By Chantel Buck, Executive Director, New Vision for Independence

New Vision for Independence LogoIn observance of National Braille Literacy Month in January, New Vision for Independence in Leesburg is offering free Braille transcription to local businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations that want to have a printed or electronic document converted to Braille for their customers, students, or clients.

Braille is an important tool of independence for those with low vision or blindness who desire a different option for reading and writing. Having print materials more available in Braille helps those who read Braille, as well as businesses and organizations that want to expand their client base.

Some ideas of how Braille can be used in a business or organization include a Braille printed menu, flyer or marketing piece printed in Braille, or a description of a store layout printed in Braille.

Requests are limited to a maximum of five copies of a five-page Braille document, one document per business, organization, or school. Donations are always welcome to help offset the transcription costs.

New Vision for Independence is a nationally accredited nonprofit organization providing training, community education, and support services to help people with low vision or blindness live with greater independence. New Vision for Independence serves Lake and Sumter counties including The Villages.

Transition Programs Hold Annual Holiday Party

By Emily Nostro, Transition Program Coordinator, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired LogoOn December 15, 2012, 35 teenagers from the Miami Lighthouse and the Broward Lighthouse transition programs hosted an annual holiday party. The party was held at the Miami Lighthouse, and students had the opportunity to meet and socialize with other local teenagers who are visually impaired. The party was full of fun and games and would not have been possible without the hard work and planning on behalf of the transition participants.

The Miami Lighthouse teenagers worked with assistive technology instructor Barbara Del Pino to search for gifts for the "white elephant" gift exchange on Target's website. Using screen magnification and screen reading software, the teenagers were able to find items that fit within their $20 budget.

The following week, the Miami Lighthouse students went to Target to purchase the items they had found online. The teens worked within their budget to purchase gifts while practicing invaluable money identification skills. Additionally, they were taught how to wrap gifts and practiced this newly acquired skill.

On the day of the party, students helped prepare the buffet table and set up activity stations that other teenagers could enjoy. The stations included an accessible board game, beauty and spa, and music stations. And of course, the teenagers were responsible for cleaning up.

Gingerbread House Party

By Kathleen Peck

Lighthouse of Collier LogoPhoto of children making gingerbread houses

Lighthouse of Collier hosted a gingerbread house-making party for the blind and visually impaired youth of Collier County on Saturday, December 1, 2012. The party kicked off the holiday season for the youth and their families. Fun was had by all, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

The mission of the Lighthouse of Collier is to promote the development, implementation, and on-going evaluation of programs and services which foster independence and enhance the quality of life for the blind, visually impaired and their caregivers.

Babies' Holiday Support Group

By Krizia Perez, MSW

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired LogoOn Saturday, December 15, 2012, the Miami Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired's Blind Babies program hosted a special holiday support group for families. Each family was provided with helpful resources on how to choose appropriate toys for children who are blind or visually impaired. The program's social worker created a "Holiday Gift Guide" that provided a list of suggested toys from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and All participants were given a toy and a book with an audio CD. These gifts were generously donated to the program. Everyone enjoyed a morning filled with music, food, and fun in celebrating the holiday season.

Holidays at the Library

By Susan Roberts

Library staff enjoying holiday luncheon

The Library management team invited volunteers and staff to enjoy a few minutes of holiday festivities on December 18, 2012.

Fun Friday Ice Cream

By Kendra Jahnke

State Office employees enjoy delicious food and good conversation at ice cream social

Wanting to share their "happy mojo," Management Information Systems' staff held an ice cream social for state office staff on Friday, December 14, 2012. Staff enjoyed ice cream with a variety of toppings, cookies, and cake. To bring in the spirit of giving to the event, many participated in the "white elephant" gift exchange. It was a fun Friday filled with sweet treats, good conversation, and lots of laughter.

State Office employees enjoy delicious food and good conversation at ice cream social

Free 9-1-1 Safety Profile

By Katharine Farrell

Smart911 LogoSmart911 allows citizens to create a free safety profile that includes information they want made available to emergency responders in the event of an emergency call. When a parent dials 9-1-1 to report a child missing, emergency responders immediately have a photo, physical description, and rescue notes including details on how the child may respond and what behaviors the child may exhibit. You can list your vehicle information, emergency contacts, and even pets or service animals. is a 100 percent private and secure website, and the information in the safety profile is only seen by 9-1-1 call takers when a call is made.

Currently, Smart911 is deployed in 26 different states, including 10 counties in Florida. If you live in or visit Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Collier, Union, Jackson, Gilchrist, and Taylor counties, take five minutes to create your safety profile today at If you would like to help spread the word about Smart911, please contact for materials and content to share.

Read about how Smart911 recently assisted when a mother called 9-1-1 to report her child missing.

Super Bowl Party Bread

By Phyllis Dill

Check out this delicious bread recipe for a fun filled Super Bowl party dish. Add a little soup or dip, and you, too, can score a touchdown with your family and friends.

Photo of Super Bowl party bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crisscross two pieces of tin foil (enough to cover bread, usually 24" - 30") and place on pizza stone or cookie sheet.

Score bread in crisscross pattern (not all the way through) and center on top of tin foil. Cut a block of cheese in half lengthwise then slice into strips. Place strips between bread slices. Sprinkle onions, then the poppy seeds all over. Pour melted butter over top and close foil over bread loosely. Bake 25 minutes, then open foil and bake for another 5 minutes.

This is a great recipe for watching football games. You may want to make two. Enjoy.

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

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of the Visionary contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0360

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0395 or 1-866-841-0912

DBS Division of Blind Services website (external):

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