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Personnel Actions

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

Congratulations to the following employees who received a promotion:

We wish our retirees the best in their future endeavors:


Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida Offers Scholarships

By Donna Ross

The Visual Aid Volunteers of Florida (VAVF) is pleased to announce that application forms for scholarships are available online at The VAVF will award $10,000 in scholarships to graduating Florida high-school seniors who are legally blind, but committed to continuing their education. The deadline for submitting completed applications is March 30, 2013. Please share this information with eligible students, and encourage them to apply.

Contact Peg Rogaski at for more information.

ZooMiami Volunteer Inspires Peers

By Emily Nostro


Students tour ZooMiamiOn January 19, students from the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired transition program went for a special tour of ZooMiami. The teens were not there for the animals, but for their peer, Camille Hall.

Camille has been a ZooMiami conservation teen scientist since 2012. Despite her vision loss, she has spent more than 150 hours educating visitors on wildlife and conservation. Camille is honing her public-speaking and customer-service skills as an exhibit interpreter. She guided the group of 19 teens and five instructors on a tour of the park, brought artifacts for her friends to touch, and spoke with them about her experience at ZooMiami.

Visually-impaired teens do not have the opportunity to learn about jobs or careers through incidental observation. The Transition Work Experience program provides students with hands-on career training. This assists participants who are completing volunteer work to enroll in the program. The Division of Blind Services provides a stipend to attract teenagers to the program so they can gain invaluable job skills.

Camille talking to tour groupCamille applied for and received an hourly stipend of $6 for her work at ZooMiami. Supervisors, Isabel Sanchez and Tedor Whitman, closely monitored her progress by completing weekly work evaluations. Camille has congenital glaucoma. She encouraged her peers to seek out their own work experience opportunities. "By arranging your own position, you will get experience in a job that actually interests you," said Camille.

Engineering the Gift of Sight

For 285 million visually-impaired people, the world is a dangerous place. A wrong step can lead to a catastrophic fall or collision. For the past seven years, University of Rhode Island biomedical engineering Adjunct Professor Eugene Chabot has been pioneering technology to make the world safer for those without sight.

Chabot and his students believe that their work will transform a simple camera and vibrators attached to a belt into de facto eyes. "There's definitely potential for a great benefit," Chabot said. "It makes you feel good that you could potentially impact a large part of society."

The latest incarnation of Chabot's system consists of a cell phone camera held on the head with an elastic headband connected to a 2 inches x 2 circuit board and a belt with vibrators. The camera uses vibrators to indicate direction, size, and location of motion. For example, a car approaching from the left would set off vibrators on the person's left side. A fast car perhaps would cause a rapid succession of vibrations corresponding to the direction and speed of motion.

"Nature has a lot of unique systems that we don't completely understand," said Chabot. Understanding them takes time. Implementing them takes money. Chabot aims to keep costs low. Then there's the fashion statement. No one wants to wear a clunky device on his or her head all day. With that in mind, he has kept the devices small and foresees integrating them into a pair of sunglasses. Visit for more information.

Taken in part from the University of Rhode Island College of Engineering website

Naples Museum of Art Shares Artistic Vision

By Mary Deissler


The Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art and the Lighthouse of Collier have joined forces to enable visually-impaired patrons to experience "Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Artists" at the museum. The exhibition will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. through March 21.

Accompanied by volunteers from the Lighthouse of Collier, visually-impaired patrons will view the first major exhibition of work by the world's most accomplished sight-impaired photographers.

The exhibition is divided into three photographic styles. One group orchestrates their photography based on an internal image they wish to convey. A second group takes the camera to the outside world, but instead of being driven by the image, they are driven by chance. The third group exhibits photographs by the legally blind that retain a highly attenuated sight-meaning they photograph to see.

The Naples Museum of Art is located at 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard in Naples, Fla. For more information, call 239-597-1900 or toll-free at 800-597-1900.

Professional Development Thursdays Prepare Students for Successful Careers

By Deb Dirmeir

"Professional Development Thursday" is in full-swing at the Division of Blind Services' Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This is a new program where students are asked to dress in business attire while attending classes each Thursday. Instructors observe students for proper etiquette, interactions, and overall personal presentation.

The management team, consisting of Cassandra Jessie and Christopher Hepburn, not only provide daily classroom instruction, but also work in conjunction with residential staff and the community-connect team to provide learning opportunities within the community. Most recently, three center students, Stephanie, Tiffany, and Darius, took a trip to a local bank and learned how to cash a check and open a checking account. In addition, two center students, David and Darius, are working daily in the campus-dining facility, obtaining valuable food-service work experience.

Any student at the center may take the opportunity to complete a work experience either on or off campus as part of their instruction. More and more students are taking this opportunity. Overall, students are very excited about the program and continue to participate in future management classes. We look forward to sharing student success stories throughout the new year.

Library Staff Travel to Author's Island Inspiration

By Wanda Currie

Wanda Currie and Cornelia Walker BaileyThrough books, we can travel to exotic places and experience extraordinary adventures. However, a book recorded at the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library in Daytona Beach, Fla., transported readers in the literal sense. God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man by Cornelia Walker Bailey worked its magic, drawing library volunteers, staff, and family members to Sapelo Island, located off Georgia's southern coast.

Staff met at the ferry landing to make the pilgrimage to the island where Bailey currently lives. The book is a sometimes moving, sometimes humorous, and always intriguing history of the "Geechee" culture of Sapelo Island. The Geechee people were West Africans brought to the island to work on plantations. The visitors explored sites of once thriving, now extinct communities, including the plantation ruins where the "tabby" walls of slave quarters still stand, and a large "shell ring" constructed by the island's earliest inhabitants.

They also visited rivers and marshes where locals still catch fish and shrimp and harvest oysters; pristine beaches; the luxurious R.J. Reynolds mansion; and the "behavior" cemetery, reportedly guarded by a large black "spirit" dog. Seeing these sites and hearing Bailey's own stories of these places and future plans for the island gave visitors a weekend filled with history, adventure, and beauty.

If you are looking for a quick and fascinating read, God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man is your book. And if you are looking for a get-away, Sapelo Island is your place.

New Signal Increases Safety

By Holly Idler

Photo of new signal boxThe original intersection of Dunn Avenue and White Street in Daytona Beach, Fla., had an audible bell that rang when traffic came to a complete stop, and a cross-walk light would visually appear. Over the years, this bell slowly deteriorated and often would not ring. This became a safety issue for the clients at the Division of Blind Services' Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

In order to get the attention of city and county officials, representatives were invited to 2010 White Cane Street Crossing activities. After the activities, officials began plans to replace the antiquated bell system with a Polara's Navigator Accessible Pedestrian System (APS). Orientation and mobility instructors from the rehabilitation center and the Conklin Center for the Blind provided input, and as of January 14, the system is up and working. This APS is the first of its kind in Daytona Beach, and there are more to come.

Library Gains Student Intern

By Al Peterson

Photo of Kara in recording studioThe Braille and Talking Books Library is hosting a University of Alabama Master of Library Science student intern for the next 15 weeks. In May 2012, a group of students from Project Accessible Libraries for All visited the library. Kara Riley became intrigued by the multi-faceted nature of a non-traditional library. Before the field trip was over, she talked with Bureau Chief Susan Roberts about the possibility of an internship.

Kara started her internship on January 14, and is being exposed to all aspects of the library's activities. However, her major focus is on customer service, recording, and outreach. By the time her internship is completed, Kara will have a good understanding of what "accessible" means, and what it takes to make it happen. Kara says her ultimate goal is to work with kids and young adults.

Braille and Talking Books Library staff members have the opportunity to play a role in developing new librarians who understand patrons with special needs. Plans are already in the works for a second intern and a distance-learning student.

Lighthouse Earns Accreditation

By Kathleen Peck

Logo Lighthouse of CollierThe Lighthouse of Collier recently earned a three-year accreditation from The National Accreditation Council (NAC) for Blind and Low Vision Services. NAC is the standard-setting and accrediting body that works with agencies and schools, providing services to people who are blind. NAC is a voluntary, not-for-profit corporation created in 1966.

The council's mission is to develop standards which promote effective, sound, and publicly-accountable programs that help children and adults with visual disabilities achieve their full potential. Lighthouse staff members are excited about the accreditation, because it demonstrates to the public that the organization is providing quality programs for Collier County citizens who are blind or have low-vision. To learn more about the Lighthouse of Collier, please visit or call 239-430-3934.

New-Employee Orientation

By Shelanda Shaw

The Division of Blind Services' (DBS) New-Employee Orientation is scheduled for February 26-27, 2013. The training will be held at the DBS Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired located at 408 White Street in Daytona Beach, Fla. There are 18 employees currently scheduled for the training.

The purpose of the training is to promote awareness and understanding of the role of DBS services to visually-impaired and blind individuals.

The training objectives are as follows:

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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