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Welcome New Data Processing Manager

Bryan Hudnall

Bryan Hudnall recently joined the Division of Blind Services (DBS) team as the data processing manager. He will focus on the information technology needs of the division. Bryan holds a master’s degree in information studies from Florida State University and previously worked in the nonprofit sector as a senior management information systems technical manager.

Personnel Actions

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

Congratulations to the following employees who received a promotion:

Tech Tip

By Kendra Jahnke

Windows lock keyFor information security purposes, all DBS employees are required to lock their computer while away from their desks during the day. Be sure to lock your computer even if you’re going to be away for a few minutes. Unlike logging off, locking your computer will not close any windows or programs you currently have open.

A quick way to lock your computer is to press the Windows key + “L” on your keyboard. Get in the habit of using this shortcut every time you walk away from your computer. So remember "Windows key + L" to make your computer secure.

Employment Success Stories

Former DBS Client Now Judge

By Linda Clark

Judge McHugh swearing inNine new judges were officially sworn in to serve the 17th Judicial Circuit in an afternoon robing ceremony, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. Those honored include former DBS client Broward County Judge Kathleen McHugh. Judge McHugh is assigned to the domestic violence division of the county court. She ran for office August 14, 2012, and defeated her opponent with 55.6 percent of the vote. Her campaign videos are available on YouTube.

Judge McHugh completed her law degree from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale in 1994 and has been a full-time practicing lawyer since. DBS has provided her with adaptive equipment and accommodations for her visual impairment that resulted from a genetic condition. When conducting court, she uses a CCTV on the bench to read legal documents. In the photo Kathleen is second from the right.

Giving Up is Not an Option

By Gene Hartley

Deametris ShepherdDeametris Shepherd is a skilled customer service representative with years of experience in call centers. When the company he was working for ended a long-term project, he lost his job. Deametris is totally blind, but has never let that slow him down. He is extremely skilled, articulate and has very good communications skills. He also possesses awesome Job Access With Speech (JAWS) skills on the computer.

“D,” as I sometimes refer to him, has been looking for work for almost as long as I have worked for DBS. As we are all aware, JAWS is not universally compatible with many employers’ servers, which limits JAWS users’ opportunities for work.

Recently, NPACT America, a local nonprofit company, found it had a need to hire someone to be what NPACT referred to as “the first impression of NPACT.” That person would be involved in taking calls, providing information to present customers on orders and shipments, prospecting for new customers and making outbound sales calls to these prospects.

Deametris fit this profile exactly. NPACT had interviewed other candidates, but when the day came for Deametris to interview, he made such an impression that they made him an offer that day. Cory Mayerlen, chief executive officer of NPACT, told me that Deametris has exceeded all of their expectations in every way. From my perspective, this is a victory for both our client and his new employer. Deametris Shepherd is a “can do” person, and sets an example for others by having a great attitude and a joy for living.

Learning Did Not Stop After Graduation

By Gene Hartley

Jessica CuddyWith master’s degree in hand, Jessica Cuddy began her job search shortly after graduating from the University of North Florida. Jessica is legally blind and with the help of her guide dog, Rollo, she manages to get around Jacksonville with little trouble. Jessica’s goal is to work in a field where she can serve others with disabilities like herself.

She is a quiet, self-confident person, but she had very little work experience. Fearing that she would not do well in job interviews, she attended the DBS job preparation workshop, which focuses on job selection, search techniques and most of all, interview skills training. After several attempts at interviewing with disability agencies, she discovered that in order to qualify for the jobs she applied for, she would need additional education. And Jessica wanted to work.

Not deterred, she continued to seek out other positions. When an opportunity presented itself at the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), she applied and began to prepare for the interview she was confident she would get. “I did exactly what I was trained to do, and I blew them away in the interview,” said Jessica. “I never realized how important it was to prepare for the interview until now.” Jessica was hired at the IRLC as an information and referral coordinator. When making a follow-up visit at her workplace, I found her and Rollo in her new office. She said she is very happy in her new role and is excited about her future in disability services.

The Place to Go, Wanda’s Café

By Janet Chernoff

Lawanda Feldsteen is on the right with employees Willie Johnson in the middle and Paula Johnson on the left.After 14 years in a restaurant called Bill’s Elbow South in Oviedo, Fla., Lawanda Feldsteen became unemployed when the restaurant closed in 2008. Lawanda has been visually impaired since age two and found it hard to find another job. She started training in the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program in 2011, and was licensed as a BBE vendor in 2012. In September 2012, she was awarded a contract to operate the cafeteria in the Claude Pepper Building in Tallahassee. In addition to the cafeteria, Lawanda also operates vending in both the Claude Pepper Building and the Caldwell Building next door. Since the first day, she has worked to provide good food and great customer service. She has promoted her business through numerous contests and recently was very successful with her “Soul Food” Day. She has really connected with the employees in the Pepper and Caldwell buildings, and they love coming to her cafeteria. Lawanda’s hard work has increased business every month and has made Wanda’s Café Atrium the place to go for breakfast or lunch.

Children’s Day at the Capitol

By Laverne Scott

Text: Laverne Scott, DBS; Commissioner of Education Bennett; Aimee Mallini and Rethia Hudson, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services; and Heather Conley and Patrick Wright, Division of Career and Adult Education

Hundreds of children from around the Big Bend and beyond came to the Capitol for Children’s Day. They were accompanied by their classmates, teachers, parents and advocates. They mingled with community leaders, elected officials and policy makers for a day of fun-filled and educational events. Commissioner Bennett, first lady Ann Scott and others were on hand to read books to children during this wonderful annual event. Various agencies’ provided resource information, as well as fun items for children, parents and curious on-lookers throughout the event. We were also entertained by participants who sang and danced!  This was indeed an enjoyable event!

Mind Sight at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum

By Gina White

Jill Hillard, Chase Russell, Ben Hughs, Mary Glazer, Hannah Moore and Jules NesmithOn March 23, 2013, students from the University of Florida’s (UF) Environmental Horticulture Club, the Lions Club and local artists presented various elements for those who are either visually impaired or sighted to experience during the annual Mind Sight event. These elements included both tactile art and ornamental plants. The event took place at the Harn Museum, which is a part of UF in Gainesville.

As sighted visitors came to view the items, they were each given blindfolds to wear. StatueThe blindfolds allowed them to acquaint themselves with the challenges persons with visual impairments face on a daily basis. Not only were they able to touch the plants you see represented in the photo, but the students crushed some of the herbal leaves so the visitors could distinguish the different scents each herb produced. By their sense of touch they were able to feel the different forms each artist created. Since the pieces were produced in three dimensions, visitors had an even better mental image of the work.

Included in these 3D experiences were crafted items, including wood designs, wire items, plants, clay bas-relief sculptures and statues. The event was impressive, not only with the works presented and the wonderful experiences these elements provided, but also with the enthusiasm displayed by the students. They demonstrated an eagerness to assist me while I photographed these works of art for the DBS Visionary Newsletter.

ScultpuresMy sincere thanks go out to the students of the University of Florida’s Environmental Horticulture Club, whom you see in one of the photos. In order, they are: Jill Hillard, Chase Russell, Ben Hughs, Mary Glazer, Hannah Moore and Jules Nesmith. Many accolades also go out to the Lions Club volunteers, the artists and everyone who made the Mind Sight event possible. It was truly a remarkable day.

(Alt Text 1:  Jill Hillard, Chase Russell, Ben Hughs, Mary Glazer, Hannah Moore and Jules Nesmith)

Beginning a New Life Together

By Keith Flowers

Keith and SunnyI have finally returned from guide dog school with my new guide dog, Sunny. She is a 51-pound yellow Labrador retriever. She is small, but what she lacks in weight, she makes up for in intelligence. She is a smart little girl. Training for 25 days with a new guide dog is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, as any guide dog user can relate. But, it is more than worth the journey. Bonding with a new dog is an incredible experience. For Sunny and me, that bonding process will continue for the next eight weeks before it is finally complete. Learning to work together as a team takes time and commitment, but we are both up for the challenge.

Eagle, my former guide, and Sunny are getting along fine. They were both wagging their tails the first time they saw each other and it has not stopped yet!  One of the trainers at the school who had a hand in training both of them told me she was certain they would get along just fine, and she was right. I must praise Southeastern Guide Dogs for their insight and professionalism. They made the perfect match with me and Eagle more than six years ago, and they have done it again with Sunny. I am so very lucky to have her as my partner. She is an awesome little girl.

New Employee Orientation

By Shelanda Shaw

A training session for new employees was held Feb. 26 and 27, 2013, at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Daytona Beach. The purpose of the training was to give an overview and promote awareness and understanding of the role of DBS.

New employee orientation groupNew employee orientation groupThis was accomplished by providing hands-on activities and presentations. Presenters from the rehabilitation center included Ginger Oreskovich, Renea Keough, Holly Idler and Steven Perry. We were pleased to have Jim Woolyhand, district administrator and 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.

Bonnie Smith, an occupational therapist and certified low vision therapist, presented information on eye conditions and visual functioning. She also highlighted an array of low vision devices.

Beth Crain, a program administrator, presented an overview of the agency, and Ivy Romero, a district administrator, highlighted the importance of good customer service with the "Give 'em the Pickle" customer service training. All reports indicated that the training was successful. The next new employee orientation is scheduled for May 14 and 15, 2013.

The Visionary Survey Results

By JoAnn Carrin

Thanks to all the DBS employees who responded to The Visionary Newsletter survey. The response rate was approximately 30 percent, and the feedback was mostly very positive. Comments included the following:

We want to use the suggestions to improve the quality of the newsletter and highlight the good work all DBS employees do every day. This is an employee newsletter, and employees are encouraged to submit articles. The office administrator may establish a review process, if they choose. In order to have more time for the new editing process for The Visionary, we are moving the submission date to the 15th day of the month. Because some folks think the articles are too short and some think the articles are too long, we will keep the current guide for article length to 250-300 words. Please email articles and picture to Thank you for your support, and we look forward to reading all of your interesting stories.

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 deadline for articles to be submitted is the 15th 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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