January 2016

Director's Message

Teamwork Continues to Make the DBS Dream Work

Robert Doyle, Director DBSWith each new year comes a renewed spirit to perform better than the one before. Last year was a full year for the Division of Blind Services and I want to thank each of you for your effort and commitment to our clients and DBS. While there is much work to be done in 2016, I must say that I am truly proud of the progress we made in 2015.

We exceeded our employment goals by providing employment services to 5,203 customers and helped 761 individuals gain, maintain or advance in successful employment. This was the highest level of employment outcomes for DBS in more than nine years!

We also had the opportunity to implement some changes in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Transition Program contracts, which will help to make sure the highest quality of services are being provided to our clients in accordance with the new WIOA legislation.

In 2016, we hope to accomplish so much more. We are currently working on aligning DBS’ strategic goals with the strategic goals of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).  Those goals are:

One of our biggest highlights for 2016 will be celebrating the Division’s 75th anniversary in April.  We have numerous statewide initiatives lined up leading up for the celebration. I am looking forward to seeing how all of our district offices will celebrate this occasion. Stay tuned for further details. 

As we all look forward to 2016, I ask that we continue to exceed our personal expectations, support the work of your colleagues and understand the value of each of our clients. The strength and success of DBS, and the primary reason for our current and future achievements is because of all of you. Thank you for all your hard work, and I wish you all the very best for the new year ahead.


DBS Encourages Community to ‘See Different’

A young woman in a college classroom using a vision simulator and goggles to read a menuAs we are all aware, individuals with visual disabilities, possess talents and have the potential to contribute to and succeed in their communities. However, misperceptions of the “limitations” associated with blindness have created barriers for many to fully engage in activities within the community, such as employment. The Division of Blind Services and other advocates can change these perceptions by helping the community see blindness from a different perspective and recognize the potentials these individuals offer through the See Different Experience.

Woman with a brown jacket and a blindfold pours a drink into a cup while being assisted by a man with a red shirt and tie.In late 2015, DBS staff members David Darm, Adam Gaffney and Walter Blackmon challenged Flagler College students to take on everyday tasks while blindfolded or using vision simulators. Each station illustrated how persons with visual impairments productively live, work and play. The students, who are training to become educators, were very receptive and learned new ways to teach their perspective students who may be visually impaired.

While wearing vision simulators, two young women use an iPad and are being assisted by a man in a white shirt.During the month of January, Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and DBS staff will be tested to “see different” during two demonstrations.  Some of the exercises to include ordering food from a restaurant, navigating an unfamiliar room and identifying items on a desk. At each station, guests will use adaptive technology to complete the designated task.

This learning opportunity further emphasizes DBS’ mission and will encourage those to see, think and act differently.

If you are interested in hosting a See Different Experience in your district or within your organization, please contact Stephanie.Lambert@dbs.fldoe.org.

Holiday Drives Bring Food and Toys to Big Bend Area

Box decorated like a turkey filled with canned goods Photo collage of four people smiling while delivering wrapped presents

The Tallahassee Division of Blind Services State Office hosted a canned food and toy drive over the November and December holidays. For the food drive, all proceeds went directly to America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend, which distributed the donated items throughout the holiday season. The office collected 106 pounds of food. The monetary donations received provided approximately 40 meals to families in the Big Bend area.

The toy drive was also very successful. The team collected more than 100 items, which were later given to the children’s wards of Capital Regional Hospital and Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. The smiling faces from the children brought great joy to all of the DBS staff members during the delivery process.

DBS Honors Braille Literacy Month

Image of youthful hands reading Braille. Text reads 'January is National Braille Literacy Month'January is National Braille Literacy Awareness Month in honor of Louis Braille, who originally developed the Braille code nearly 200 years ago. Born January 4, 1809, Louis Braille developed the code of raised dots to make text readable for individuals, like himself, who were blind.

Although learning to read and write in traditional ways may not be possible when you cannot see print on a page, there are many other paths to becoming literate. Learning to read and write in braille can make a dramatic difference in the life of a visually impaired child or adult. Braille is an irreplaceable and modern method for literacy.

Looking for games and activities to play with your family that promote Braille Literacy Month? Visit http://braillebug.afb.org/Games.asp.

DBS ‘Suits Up’ for Professional Attire Drive

Man with a white cane wearing a suitDressing in professional attire is a recommended practice for individuals seeking employment and those who want to make an impression in school and work.

In furtherance of its mission to ensure that blind and visually-impaired Floridians have the tools, support and opportunity to achieve success, the Division of Blind Services is hosting a “Suit Up” professional clothing for drive from March 1 through March 31.

We are asking you to reach into your closets and donate new or gently used suits, shirts, blouses, ties, dresses, blazers, slacks, skirts, polos, khakis, belts, shoes (hard bottoms, heels, flats) and any other professional attire. There will be drop-off locations at each of our district offices around the state.

Items donated will be provided to DBS clients in need of professional clothing in order to find, keep and/or advance in meaningful employment.

For more information, please contact communications@dbs.fldoe.org.

2016 Braille Calendars Now Available

The Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library Services 2016 Braille calendars are hereIf you would like to receive one, please call the Library at 386-239-6000 or toll-free 800-226-6075.

DBS Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Quarterly Meeting and Public Forum 

The Quarterly Business Meeting of the Rehabilitation Council is scheduled for February 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and February 11 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The public forum, which is open to the public, will be held February 10 at 4:30-5:30 p.m. The meeting and forum will take place at the Turlington Building (Florida Department of Education), located at 325 West Gaines Street, Room 1721-25, Tallahassee, Fla., 32399.

The Florida Division of Blind Services helps individuals with visual impairments to achieve employment and independence under Title 1 of the Rehab Act.  The public forum is for consumer input on the effectiveness of those services.

A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting:

Sharon Scurry
The Division of Blind Services
325 W. Gaines Street, Room 1114
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone (850) 245-0392 or e-mail Sharon.Scurry@dbs.fldoe.org

Success Stories

Juan Pablo: Profile of a Champion

Man sitting at a table listening to an audio bookBraille and Talking Book Library Services are not only for the blind.  Anyone who cannot see to read regular print or cannot handle printed material because of a physical disability may be eligible to receive the Library’s services. Juan Pablo Velez is one of those people. He became a patron in 2015. Born in New York City and raised in Miami, Velez takes advantage of the Library’s extensive Spanish-language collection, using the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) download program.

He describes the Braille and Talking Book Library as spectacular.

“It is a marvelous blessing -- so entertaining,” he said. “The biographies make me laugh.  Right now, I am reading the biography of Celia Cruz. I hope that people take advantage of it… instead of needing the library, enjoy the library!”

The public servant, for the last eight years, Velez has volunteered three days a week at TrueHelp Services, Inc., a local non-profit organization providing services for disabled persons.

“Whatever the disability, you have to overcome it,” he said. “Any goal you set yourself, you can reach with the help of the right services.”

Orlando Vendor is a ‘Master’ of the Bureau of Business Enterprise Game

Profile photo of man wearing sunglasses standing on a beachPhillip Hubbard worked for Publix as a manager for six years until changes in his eyesight put him on a different career path. He later spent two years teaching, one of which included teaching at-risk students.  When he felt that he could no longer teach, Hubbard decided to apply to the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program.

He said he applied because he wanted to be responsible for his own success and believed that being a vendor in the BBE program was a way to achieve it. Determination and perseverance are two of the traits that helped Hubbard successfully complete training with good reviews and marks. 

He was licensed in July of 2012 and accepted his first facility, a cafeteria in the State Regional Service Center in Orlando later that month.  He successfully operated that facility for one year and was then awarded a vending route in Orlando. In addition to being a BBE vendor, Hubbard is an active member of the United States’ Blind Golfer’s Association. His background, work experience and personality have made him a top player on the BBE team. 


Florida Blue Foundation Selects Miami Lighthouse for the Blind to Bring Low Vision Services to Underserved Seniors Affected by Age-Related Eye Disease

Lighthouse with the number 85 next to it. Text reads 'Miami Lighthouse, Celebrating 85 years of hope, confidence and independence.'Florida Blue Foundation has announced that Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MLB) has been awarded a three-year grant for the purpose of implementing the project “Bringing Low Vision Assessments to Underserved Populations and Training Professionals to Work with Seniors Affected by Age-Related Eye Disease.” Miami Lighthouse works in concert with Florida International University and the Alliance for Aging, according to President and CEO of Miami Lighthouse Virginia Jacko.

As funded by the Florida Blue Foundation, the project is expected to greatly improve the quality of life and level of independence of low vision, low-income seniors by providing direct service which is expected to result in reduced overall medical costs.

During the first two years of the project, Miami Lighthouse will track patient and project data on low vision exams/occupational therapy services and insurance information. In the third year the information will be compared with equivalent services in Chicago and in New York to determine whether billing codes are adequate. A toolkit will be developed to replicate the training throughout Florida.

For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.bluefoundationfl.com.

Lighthouse of Collier Event Raises More Than $75,000

Lighthouse with cartoon people dancing aroundLighthouse of Collier, Inc., and Center for Blindness and Vision Loss recently held its third annual Boogie on the Beach event at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort and raised more than $75,000. Boogie on the Beach featured live-music by Sanctum Soul, food and auction items. The proceeds from the event will go toward helping Lighthouse of Collier, Inc. continue its services to the estimated 14,000 children and adults in Collier County who are blind and visually impaired.

The mission of 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. To learn more about Lighthouse of Collier please visit www.LighthouseofCollier.org 239-430-EYE4 (3934).

Personnel Actions

Welcome Our Newest Employees

Congratulations to the Employees Receiving Promotions

Farewell to Those Employees Who Have Retired

Louise Peyton Says 'Goodbye' to DBS

Woman in a blue shirt and glasses smiling and standing next to a Christmas tree.After 36 years with the Division of Blind Services, Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Louise Peyton retired December 31, 2015. Peyton touched the lives of thousands of DBS clients during her tenure in District 7 (Tampa, Fla.), and was instrumental in helping many of those reach goals thought unobtainable. Her professionalism, dedication and compassion elicited the admiration of both peers and clients alike throughout her career, and will be missed. Peyton said her immediate plans following retirement included catching up on her reading, some travel, and not surprisingly, volunteer opportunities. 

“I will miss my colleagues in District 7 whose dedication, creativity and sense of humor enlivened the work day,” Peyton said of her DBS family. “Thank you for the opportunity to have served and for the chance of sharing both the good times and hard times with many of you.  Keep up the good work, and always remember our clients are our number one customers.  Your dedication is appreciated.”

Regina White Retires After More Than 10 Years of Service

In the spirit of holiday season, we celebrate Gina White’s December retirement from the DBS Gainesville office with this parody of “Up on the Housetop.”

Up on the DBS rooftop reindeer pause,
Out jumps Good Old Santa Claus.
Down through the chimney with lots poise,
All for Gina, he brings Christmas joy!

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go? Ho, ho, ho! Look at Gina go,
Out the DBS door, click, click, click.
Down the sidewalk with old Saint Nick.

First comes no more reception desk,
Oh, dear Santa let someone else greet the guest.
Give Gina days without jingle-jangling phones.
Let her sit a queen upon her throne!

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go? Ho, ho, ho! Look at Gina go,
Out the DBS door, click, click, click.
Down the sidewalk with old Saint Nick.

Oh Joy, no more lines on forms to fill,
Oh, how glorious just to chill.
Only writing letters that bring her a thrill,
Time and lots of Freedom she will trill.

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go? Ho, ho, ho! Look at Gina go,
Out the DBS door, click, click, click.
Onto a fun new life with old Saint Nick.

Lyrics by David Linn, rehabilitation specialist

From the Gainesville staff, we thank Gina for her more than years of service to DBS clients, staff and community partners.


Contact Us

The visionary newsletter logo

325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Email: Communications@dbs.fldoe.org
Phone: 850-245-7858

To request a Braille version of this edition of The Visionary, contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: Maureen.Dorosinski@dbs.fldoe.org or call 800-226-6075