Table of Contents


Personnel Actions

Tech Tip

Success Stories

Around the State

End Zone


Summer Reading for Children and Teens

By Kara Riley

Cartoon "Fizz, Boom, Read"We are pleased to announce that the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library (BBTBL) will offer a summer reading program for our young patrons. The statewide theme is “Fizz, Boom, Read” and will focus on books and activities with science connections. Additionally, a separate, “Spark a Reaction” component is available just for teens. In the coming months, the library will send summer reading program information packets to all of our active patrons 5-18 years of age.

The packet will include a registration form, age-appropriate reading lists, science activities and a reading log to help keep track of what has been read. Every participant will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the summer. We hope that all our young readers will participate in this statewide summer reading program through the BBTBL!

Personnel Actions

We welcome our newest employees to the DBS family.

Tech Tip

Get Your Mail Anywhere

By Amanda Freeman

Did you know you can check your email from any computer that is connected to the Internet? Just type into your browser. Enter your full email address as the username and your DBS password.

webmail screenshot number one

webmail screenshot number two

Success Stories

The Long Journey

By Carlos Montas

Kimberly WilsonThe journey for Kimberly Wilson has been long, but well worth the trip. In 2012, she received a kidney transplant and within two months she experienced reduced vision. Her life has taken a different direction since that time. Prior to a kidney transplant, Kimberly had been working on her master’s degree in reading. She took off a semester to give herself a chance to get acclimated to her medical situation.

DBS in Daytona Beach is an integral part of her transition toward success. The local community rehabilitation center, the Center for the Visually Impaired, provided access technology training to help her use a computer. In doing so, she finished writing a poetry book, “Letters, Forming Words, Telling a Story with A Purpose” which was published January 2014.

As a DBS counselor, I offered assistance and recommendations to Kimberly when needed. Kimberly met her goals of becoming a published author and an entrepreneur by starting the Wisdom Words T-shirt Company. She also made progress toward her degree and is now four courses from completion. Kimberly states, “I am thankful to God, my family, my medical team, DBS and the support of my community in helping me reach my goals.”

Gary Ernneus is Up To the Challenge

By Janet Chernoff

Gary ErnneusGary Ernneus was up to the challenge of being a corrections officer and managing a staff of 72. When he lost his sight as the result of someone else’s actions he was up to this challenge too.

Ernneus has skills and experience in graphic design, corrections, teaching, as a mail carrier and in product procurement. He speaks English, French Creole and Spanish, and he is a self-starter who takes initiative. He was strongly recommended for the Bureau Business Enterprise (BBE) training program in 2011 and in August 2012, he accepted a contract to operate a vending route in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Recently, Ernneus joined BBE staff members Bill Findley, Maureen Fink, Tony Arduengo and me at a meeting with Manasota Lighthouse staff. The purpose of the meeting was to explain the BBE program and share the opportunities available for qualified people who are visually impaired. He told the group how much the program means to him and how the program gave him the opportunity to be productive and gave his life purpose. Ernneus said he is willing to help BBE staff as they explore new locations and create new facilities in the area.

Ernneus has the characteristics and qualities to be a successful BBE vending operator. He is dedicated, hardworking and quick to adapt and learn new things. His work is exemplary and has a bright future in the program.

Around the State

Creative Mentoring

By Peggy Styron

Teaching puppets and certificateMentoring can be done in different ways and I prefer to use the story approach. I used interactive storytelling technique as an undergraduate in elementary education and when teaching storytelling as a leader in 4-H for 11 years. I have revised the technique to mentor two first grade classes at Palm Terrance Elementary School in Daytona Beach.

Interactive storytelling is used to teach the love of reading, self-esteem, confidence, public speaking and general information on various topics ranging from caring for others to geography. One of the main methods of working with children is through the use of puppets. The children use the puppets to assist me in presenting these stories. I also use floor puzzles, as well as my famous “rip story” to work with the children in allotments of 30 minutes.

It has amazed me how the children have responded and how much they remember. All stories are told with questions and answers during the story to encourage the children to respond and be involved. After doing this a few times I asked one of the classes, “What do interactive stories mean?” The answer from a boy in a special needs class was “we tell the stories with you.” They impress me each time I have the opportunity to be with them.

My co-workers have assisted me with art supplies, prizes that fit stories, and puppets. I gave one teacher a floor puzzle of the United States to help students learn the names of states and another class got their own bag of 16 puppets to use as tools in the classroom. Mentoring does not have to be one method. I have explored how to meet this challenge of finding out what I can fit into one hour.

Effective Communication with Your DBS Counselor

By Dr. Robert Sandefur, DBS Client

Dr. Sandefur with family friendsI joined DBS a few months ago to receive an iPad training. Unfortunately, my iPad was accidently broken, so I was forced to give up the training. I had my vocational rehabilitation (VR) evaluation, and it was determined that due to the lack of Paratransit in Okeechobee County, and due to the fact that I didn’t wish to relocate, employment was not an option for me at this time.

When I told my counselor, Jannelle Henry who works at the District 10 office, of my decision not to seek employment, she was supportive. The point here is to make your VR goals clear to your counselor. You should not be rude or condescending, but your counselor should hear what it is that you want to do. After all, it is your VR plan. If you wish to attend the rehabilitation center or attend a particular school, you should express this to your counselor.

It is normal for people to disagree. If you and your counselor disagree concerning something in your plan, or a certain recommendation your counselor is making, hear your counselor out. The key to being a successful self advocate is not only speaking, but also effective listening.

In listening to your counselor you may find that they are making a point you did not think of. However, if you and your counselor have disagreements, ask the counselor’s supervisor to assist in solving the problem. Jannelle and I never had any disagreements, and if a question arose, I would ask her, and nine times out of 10, she would get back to me within five to 10 minutes, or by the next day. Try to be patient with your counselor; you are not the only client your counselor has.

In conclusion, remember to make your goals clear to your counselor and be an effective listener. This will not only assist you in dealing with DBS, but these tips will also assist you in the workplace.

Dr. Sandefur obtained bachelors in criminal justice from Florida Atlantic University, and his masters and doctoral degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary in Camilla, Ga.

Broward Braille Challenge

The Broward Braille Challenge was held Feb. 21, 2014 at the Arthur Ashe School Campus. DBS District 11 and Lighthouse of Broward staff participated.

Small group presentation with questions and answers. Bernita Plowden, and Linda Clark,

Gene Rotello, Linda Clark, Bernita Plowden and Cindy Wolke

Health Fair in North Florida

By La’ Verne Scott

La' Verne ScottFeb. 19, 2014, I attended the 15th Annual Florida State Hospital Health Fair in Chattahoochee, Fla. This health fair is a collaboration of many local agencies in the Big Bend area. The main purpose and goal of the health fair was to raise awareness of the various health-related resources available to hospital residents, as well as the employees of Florida State Hospital.

There were approximately 75 vendors who participated in this year’s health fair. The Focus Credit Union provided half-hour ticket drawings allowing hospital employees a chance to win $25 gift certificates! Entertainment was provided by staff members enrolled in the hospital’s Zumba class. As a token of the hospital’s appreciation, all vendors received complimentary lunches from the hospital cafeteria. This was indeed another successful health fair!

BlindFold Driver

By Emily Nostro

Miami Lighthouse logoStudents in the Miami Lighthouse Transition Program served as prototype testers for BlindFold Driver, a new application designed for children and teenagers who are visually impaired. The application was made by students of the Cushman School in Miami under the direction of software entrepreneur Marty Schultz. Unlike almost every game available for download in the iTunes App Store, in this game, players must use their ears, not their eyes, to play the game.

BlindFold Driver is designed to be played by blind, visually impaired and fully sighted children, teens and adults. The screen remains dark at all times, and a player drives his or her car by listening to the environment via headphones. The player steers the car by tilting the iPad or iPhone left and right, and controls the car by tapping on the screen. Since the screen is off, it is also a fun game for sighted children to play after bedtime when their parents think they are asleep.

Nov. 16, 2013, teens from the transition program tested out the application and had the opportunity to help design it by offering their suggestions and improvements. The Cushman School will present the updated app from their previous suggestions to the teens Feb. 22, 2014.

Lighthouse of Collier Honored by the Jewish Federation

By Kathleen Peck

Lighthouse of Collier logoLighthouse of Collier, Inc., Center for Blindness and Vision Loss was awarded the Human Needs award from The Jewish Federation of Collier County Feb. 11. 2014. Gail Smith and Sandy Wolf of the federation presented the award and a very generous $3,750 donation check to lighthouse directors Art Bookbinder, Dr. Fred Brown and Kathleen Peck.

Lighthouse proudly displays the framed award on its center’s wall of fame. The $3,750 donation will allow Lighthouse to continue providing programs and services for people who are blind and visually impaired in Collier County.

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.

End Zone

Publication and Submission Information

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 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 866-841-0912

Division of Blind Services website (external):

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