Table of Contents


Personnel Actions

Success Story

Around the State

End Zone


Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Goal

By JoAnn Carrin, communications director

Congratulations to everyone who worked hard toward vocational rehabilitation employment goal with 713 successful case closures this year. Districts 2, 5, 7, 9 and 10 received special recognition for meeting or exceeding their goal. DBS is continuing to move in the right direction by overcoming economic challenges. Every person in the division can be proud of the results, but the true beneficiaries of this year's employment outcomes are DBS clients who will enjoy a new sense of economic independence.

Personnel Actions

We welcome our newest employees to the DBS family.

Congratulations to employees who received a promotion.

Good Luck to Those Who Are Leaving.

We wish Rehabilitation Supervisor Geraldine Kressin  the best in her future endeavors as she retires from the Lakeland office.

Success Story

Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) Rising Star

By Janet Chernoff

Michelle MorrisWhen Michelle Morris started her journey in the BBE program, she was well on her way to being a BBE star. She applied to the program in July 2013, became licensed in February 2014 and opened the doors to the Terrace Café in the Broward County Government Center in April 2014.

Born in Jamaica and raised in New York, Morris attended law school in Texas and now resides in South Florida with her husband and teenage son. She worked as a law clerk for 14 years, and then began to explore the BBE program when her vision limitations required a career change.

Although Michelle has only been operating her cafeteria in for three months, she already has higher sales than the facility has seen in some time. When asked about her plans for the next five years, Morris indicated that her ultimate goal is to operate the cafeteria in the Turlington Building in Tallahassee. With her winning smile and can do attitude, look out Tallahassee, here she comes!

Around the State

Like Being Home

By Julie A. Smith, rehabilitation technician - Cocoa

Julie SmithI have been involved with the visually impaired my entire life as the second of three children born to visually impaired parents. Dad worked at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind when I was young. Mom and Dad both went through the Bureau of Business Enterprise vending program in Daytona and ran successful businesses until their retirement.

I grew up in Bunnell, Flagler Beach and Daytona Beach, later graduating from Flagler Palm Coast High School. I have been married for 32 years (to my high school sweetheart) and we have four children – Kristina-29, Patrick-26, Sara-22 and April-14 who is visually impaired.

I worked with DBS from 1987 through 1993, and left to care for my children. I stayed home for 13 years, at which time I raised my nephew from newborn to 6-years old. I later had my fourth child. I then went back to school and received my associates of science degree in office administration. In 2007, when I returned to work, DBS had no openings so I worked with vocational rehabilitation for seven years. It is great to be back with DBS. It is like being home.

The Rehabilitation Center’s Mobility Intern Program

By Ed Hudson, center director

Patricia CoxThe Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has a mobility internship program established primarily with Florida State University (FSU) for about two years. This program benefits the center in many ways. For example, current mobility staff learned about recent technology and university level teaching strategies. Each intern completes a special project while at the center. One intern developed a lesson on interpreting an audiological exam. At the time, the center had two or three students with audiological issues. The center supports the interns by providing free room and board. Interns observe and teach students and have the opportunity to develop professional teaching skills that will last them a lifetime.

Patricia Cox from Atlanta, Ga., is the current center intern. She is nearing the end of her master’s program for visual disabilities. Patricia has had a visual impairment since birth and she uses Braille to assist her with schoolwork. She bonded with her mobility instructor in middle school and wanted to share her enthusiasm and the experiences. She hopes to inspire visually impaired children in the same manner.

Patricia thinks that being at the center has enriched her academic study with hands-on experience. She learned how to use tactile maps while at FSU; however, she did not fully understand the impact tactile maps could have on a student’s understanding of space until she developed a lesson at the center. Patricia and the center have both benefited from the internship program.

Pinellas Children’s Workshop

By Amanda Honingford, rehabilitation specialist

Children CookingDBS and Lighthouse of Pinellas co-sponsored a children’s workshop for program participants and their families Saturday, June 14. Seven children participated in the activities including icebreaker activities, cane painting, making “freezer paint” to paint Father’s Day cards, arts and crafts, and preparing baked ziti to take home to their families for dinner. They had a blast spending the day with their teachers and playing with their peers. Some children have been to the Lighthouse for activities before and were so excited to return.

While the children participated in the activities, the parents held a roundtable discussion of issues related to the new core curriculum and their experiences as parents of visual impaired children. The parents were grateful for the chance to discuss these issues and make connections with other parents. Overall, this was a great event and one everyone is excited to repeat.

Children playing ball in circle

Children painting

Helping Clients Dress for Success!

By Tracy Bradley

Dan O’Conner and Joshua Beran showing closet they createdOn a cold winter day, Employment Placement Specialist Joshua Beran and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Dan O’Connor attended a meeting at Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) with JTA representatives. After a successful meeting, they noticed a warehouse next door with a vibrant paint job. They knocked on the big, steel door and waited until a person named Tasha welcomed them into Dignity U Wear. Inside volunteers were packing boxes of brand new work and interview clothes, to send to agencies all over the country. We are so glad Joshua and Dan stopped by and knocked that morning. Josh handled the required paperwork for the district office to participate.

Dignity U Wear require agencies to have closet space to store free clothing for clients going on job interviews. With the help of our team, we fashioned an old bookcase into a neat bureau, complete with clothes hangers and a clothes bar. We were all set when Joshua returned saying that our first box was ready for pickup. Dignity U Wear does mail clothes anywhere in the country, but since we are both in Jacksonville, Joshua was able to pick up the order. If you need Dignity U Wear, contact 904-636-9455 or visit

Project Enterprise

By Rebecca Leng, Winter Haven Lighthouse for the Blind

Winter Haven Lighthouse clientsWe have a monthly activity at the Polk County Division of the Lighthouse for the Blind where we make crafts and have other leisure activities. It is a chance for clients to learn different hobbies that can help relieve boredom and depression. The idea came from clients who wanted to keep their minds active and creative, but were unsure what to do or how to adapt previous hobbies. Project Enterprise was born. Clients also have the opportunity to socialize, which they love to do. Recently, each attendee learned to create their own terrarium and mini-garden.

Boogie on the Beach - Music for the Soul

By Kathleen Peck

Boogie on the Beach logoJoin Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., and Center for Blindness and Vision Loss at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club Nov. 9 from 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. for a fun-filled afternoon by the beach with live entertainment and refreshments. Presented by Arthrex, Inc., Boogie on the Beach will feature live-music by Sanctum Soul and fabulous auction items. The proceeds from the event go toward helping Lighthouse of Collier to continue their services to the estimated 14,000 blind and visually impaired children and adults in Collier County. Sponsorships and tickets are available at or by calling 239-430-3934.

Wakulla Health Fair

By La’Verne Scott

Supervisor Bertha Hyche and I attended the Annual Wakulla Senior Citizen’s Health Fair in Crawfordville, Fla. June 25. This was a very successful health fair. There were 22 vendors and 102 senior citizens who actively participated. All vendors donated a door prize, giving the seniors a chance to win. As always, they were very excited with the anticipation of possibly winning a door prize. Bertha and I took a picture with the winner of our DBS door prize, an Olive Garden gift card. All enjoyed this event.

La'Verne Scott, Bertha Hyche and door prize winner

South Florida Olympic Day

By Samantha Kelly, transition coordinator, Lighthouse of Broward

The Lighthouse of Broward participated in the United States of America Blind Athletes (USABA) Fuel Band Challenge. Participants wear a bracelet called a Nike Fuelband that tracks their movement throughout the day. The purpose of the program is to increase physical activity. The Lighthouse of Broward organized kayaking, tandem biking and hikes for clients to provide opportunities for exercise and socializing.

There was also challenge from the USABA to create an Olympic Day. On June 7, the Lighthouse of Broward teamed up with the Miami Lighthouse to compete in the South Florida Olympic Day. The clients started the day by attending a pep rally with Olympian, Staci Wilson. Clients first competed in a fitness challenge that consisted of a mile run and then a sit-up and push up competition. Volunteers and staff members served as guides for runners. The clients then participated in modified soccer and beep kickball. In the afternoon, clients relaxed with yoga. Clients earned medals for their victories.

Library Activities

By Susan Roberts, bureau chief

Betty Boyette   Staff during luncheon

June 30 was a festive day at the library. At noon, the staff gathered for a barbecue luncheon hosted by the management team. This was the quarterly staff gathering and greatly enjoyed by everyone. Afterward, the library staff hosted a dessert reception to honor Betty Boyette on her retirement after 37 years and eight months of active service.

Free Telecommunications Equipment for Deaf-Blind Floridians

By A.J. Sondossi, outreach specialist

Florida Telecommunication Relay LogoIn October 2010, President Barack Obama signed the 21st century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) into law, granting protections to people with disabilities access to broadband, digital and mobile technological innovations. What many Americans do not know is that the law created the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) funded National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) or iCanConnect. This program distributes telecommunications equipment to deaf-blind Americans that meet the qualifications and at no cost to them. The FCC has selected Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) to administer the NDBEDP in Florida. To learn more about NDBEDP or to learn if you are eligible, please visit or, email, or call FTRI at 1-800-222-3448.

Hearing and Vision client

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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