Florida Division of Blind Services logo


Public Forum (Thursday, July 28, 2011)

Crowne Plaza Hotel
13051 Bell Tower Dr.
Ft. Myers, FL

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 4:05 PM

Council Members Present:  Paul Edwards, Ted Hull,  Henry Alexander, Jesus Garcia, Ben Grzesik, Bruce Miles, Dan O’Connor, Donté Mickens, Joe Minichiello, Paul Kaminsky, Sheryl Brown, Dwight Sayer, Vicky Magliocchino, Andrew Raines, Christopher White, Leanne Grillot and Joyce Hildreth.

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Beth Crain, Wayne Jennings, Linda Brown

Interpreters: Heidi Adams and Alice Fasig

Twenty-two consumers were in attendance.

First consumer comments:

  • Former DBS client.
  • Volunteered at VIP for a few years.
  • Currently a receptionist at VIP.
  • VIP has changed her life.
  • Very pleased to be a part of staff.

Second consumer comments:

  • Attending Forum with daughter.
  • Daughter attended the school for the blind in Saint Augustine.
  • Concerned that consumers are not aware of the programs available.
  • Public schools need to get the word out.


  • Required that DBS counselors invited to attend the IEP at transition age.
  • Also required under state law to let parents know about the School for the Blind in Saint Augustine.
  • The Department of Education will be providing a pamphlet for students with sensory impairments that will also cover students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Third consumer comments:

  • Sheriff’s Office and DBS has been very good at accommodating her friend’s needs.
  • Because of her friend she didn’t quit working when problems with vision.
  • After vision problem was diagnosed accessible equipment became available.
  • Would like to see equipment made available on loan.

Fourth Consumer

  • Client of VIP in N. Ft. Myers.
  • A volunteer with the Radio Reading Service for years.
  • Need some sighted volunteers to service the radio and other purposes.
  • Now a recipient of services.
  • Pleased with the services by VIP.

Fifth consumer comments:

  • Need more input from the doctors informing patients of DBS and the CRPs.
  • Suggest that an eye doctor be put on the Council.


  • Doctors have been this way for years.
  • A Vision Caucus is held each year in Tallahassee where eye doctors are in attendance.

Sixth consumer comments:

  • Has been blind for seven years.
  • When first diagnosed his doctor said good-by and good luck.
  • Heard about the VIP through a friend’s friend.
  • VIP saved his life.
  • Now he’s not afraid to go anywhere.
  • Friend’s provided him with a pull along fishing cart so he could continue fishing.

Seventh consumer comments:

  • Have worked the past 4 years at VIP.
  • DBS provided services 12 years ago.
  • Lost eyesight 28 years ago.
  • Commended DBS with doing a good job.
  • Ask DBS to give clients the time needed for them to get their skills down.
  • She stressed to “Get the word out”!

Eighth consumer comments:

  • Has been a marketing and public relations specialist for years.
  • Started having vision problems at 61.
  • Doctor told her she was going to lose her vision but wouldn’t go blind.
  • He suggested she purchase a magnifying glass.
  • She was concerned with how she would be able to support herself.
  • A DBS counselor contacted her and for the past year and a half DBS has provided equipment to help her with her work.

Ninth consumer comments:

  • An employee with Lee Memorial.
  • Have received assistance from DBS the past 10 years.
  • DBS provided equipment that allowed her to do her job.
  • DBS recommended several things the hospital implemented.
  • In 2009 there was a change in the hospital system and the hospital she worked was shut down and she moved to a different facility.
  • She enlisted the support of DBS again and they helped her get the accommodations needed for her to maintain and even excel at her job.
  • The hospital was also accommodating.
  • There are services for children and services for seniors but there seems to be a gap and it’s hard to get assistance when between children and older adult.


  • An award was given to Lee Memorial earlier for their support and making the accommodations needed in serving you as a DBS client.

Tenth consumer comments:

  • He became a client of DBS eight years ago.
  • Went through the work experience program for 8 weeks in anticipation of getting a job with Goodwill Industries.
  • Thanks to DBS he is now employed with Goodwill Industries.

Ms. Hildreth informed the consumers how beneficial it would be if everyone would take it on personally to let eye doctors know of their success.  She also mentioned that General Practitioners should also be included along with eye doctors and ophthalmologist.

Doug Fowler shared how VIP was working with doctors in the area.

Donte’ Mickens stated that it was equally important that visually impaired individuals shared information and the resources available with others.

Meeting adjourned at 5:30 PM