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Public Forum (Thursday, April 7, 2011)

Embassy Suites Miami-Airport
3974 South River Drive
Miami, FL   33142

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 4:00 PM with the pledge of allegiance following.

Council Members Present:  Paul Edwards, Ted Hull,  Jesus Garcia, Ben Grzesik, Bruce Miles, Dan O’Connor, Sue Townsend, Paul Kaminsky, Sheryl Brown, Dwight Sayer, Vicky Magliocchino, Michele Polland, Andrew Raines, Christopher White and Joyce Hildreth.

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Beth Crain, Wayne Jennings, Gail Sterner

Interpreters:  Accessible Communication for the Deaf – Brenda Adkinson, Mimi Penate

Seventeen consumers were in attendance.

First consumer comments:

  • They are presently studying at Miami-Dade.
  • Wanted to know if there was a talking dictionary that speaks Spanish.
  • Informed their Counselor several months ago they needed a scanner Intel reader.

Response:

  • There is a Spanish/English talking dictionary by Franklin.
  • The Curswilde 1000 has an English to Spanish and Spanish to English dictionary that is built in that can be used as a talking dictionary.
  • A KNFE reader scans material into your cell phone that allows you to translate it into another language.

The consumer’s contact information was taken for follow-up.

Second consumer comments:

  • They recently became a DBS client.
  • Lost their eyesight in 1990.
  • They are President of the United States Blind Chess Association.
  • Disappointed that the Help Desk at the office in Daytona was no longer available.  It was very helpful 8 years ago when he was on the job and had a question with JAWs or anything else concerning technology.
  • Would like for DBS to consider reopening it.

Response:

  • DBS will look into the possibility of reopening the Help Desk.
  • A Help Desk is now available in Chicago operated by Ray Campbell.
  • DBS will send the districts information on the Chicago Help Desk and also put it on the DBS website.

Third consumer comments:

  • Has a concern with People First and issues on completing applications for jobs using assistive technology.
  • Would like to know what steps DMS is taking to resolve the issue.
  • School districts are now required to hire instructors who have O&M and a TVI degree and he is concerned it may affect the ability to recruit individuals to teach our blind children.

Response:

  • His concern will be taken back to IDEA and explore it more.
  • DBS will share information with IDEA about O&M for the visually impaired.

 

  • DBS, consumer organizations and the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities developed a set of criteria and specific recommendations and presented People First staff with a 28 page document last fall.  All recommendations made were given to the implementers of the process and a new version of People First is expected to be launched in May or June of this year.  Many of the accessible problems are suppose to be corrected. 

Fourth consumer comments:

  • Has been a client of DBS since early 1980’s.
  • Has a problem with the present Supervisor.
  • Their request for simple help is not being addressed.
  • They asked for their CCTV to be repaired or perhaps getting a new one.
  • Has an educational concern for his grandson and wanted to know how and where to get help.
  • Would like the Council’s contact information in Large Print.
  • Asked to speak with the Educational representative of the Council.

Response:

  • Was informed that all of the Council’s information was on the DBS website.
  • DBS will provide them with the contact information for DBS Client Complaints.
  • The IDEA representative agreed to meet with the consumer after the meeting.

The consumer’s contact information was taken for follow-up.

Fifth consumer comments:

  • Concerned that there isn’t support groups for 30 year olds.
  • Their son attended the Lighthouse for computer workshops.
  • Concerned that there is no follow-up after training is completed at the Lighthouse.
  • Job skills’ training is needed for their son.

Response:

  • Informed the consumer of the advocacy groups in their area and suggested they join one of them.
  • The local NFB chapter president will speak with the consumer after the meeting.

The consumer’s contact information was taken for follow-up.

Sixth consumer comments:

  • Concerns with DBS for the past 8 or 9 months.
  • Received letter announcing the meeting in print and both he and wife are blind and needed to find someone to read it.  They asked why it wasn’t sent in Braille.
  • Concerned with the job readiness program and believes that ADL skills should not be part of job readiness.

Response:

  • Will check on getting announcements out in Braille.

Seventh consumer comments:

  • Asked if the budget cuts would affect serving clients.
  • Wanted more information about the Rehab Center in Daytona.

Response:

  • Ms. Hildreth explained the current status of the budget and any impacts that are possible.
  • It was recommended that individuals contact their representatives and voice their concerns.
  • The recommendation to join one of the advocacy groups because they advocate and collaborate with addressing issues with the legislators.

Eighth consumer:

  • Asked if the lighthouse was the only information for jobs.
  • Has a 12th grade education and wants to get into college and asked if there was help with the financial aid application.

Response:

  • A Council member agreed to meet with the consumer after the meeting.
  • Consumer was told to consider the Hadley School for the Blind’s course online.
  • Also told to check with the One Stop Employment office.

The consumer’s contact information was taken for follow-up.

Ninth consumer comments:

  • Their son’s Counselor recently mentioned the Rehab Center and wanted to know what the Rehab Center had to offer.

Response:

  • Ms. Hildreth explained the Rehab Center and what it offered, and information about the Business Enterprise Program.  She gave the criteria to be referred for either program.
  • Suggested they go and tour the facility as a family.

Barbara Moyer, Director of the sub regional Talking Book Library thanked DBS for its support for library services around the state.  She offered to answer any questions after the meeting concerning library services or with digital players.

No one responded when Mr. Garcia asked if anyone in the audience had any questions or comments and needed to speak in Spanish.

A consumer comments that were received via email:

  • Recently became a client of DBS to obtain an orientation and mobility evaluation from the light house of the blind of the Palm beaches.
  • Pleased that DBS is utilizing the light houses, and not requiring every one attend the Rehab Center in Daytona Beach.
  • Concerned with DBS closing the office in St. Petersburg.
  • Questioned the policies at the Rehab Center being changed.
  • Believes DBS would be able to provide the blind of this state better quality of service in an effective manner with out having to deal with the agency head of another department if it became a Florida Commission for the Blind.
  • Wants to know the qualifications to work as an RT, or a VR counselor.
  • Wants to know why recordings of the Rehabilitation Council meetings aren’t made available to the public.

Ms. Hildreth responded to the email last week.

Meeting adjourned at 5:30 PM