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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, July 28, 2011)

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


Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:40 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

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

Council Members Absent:  Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Sue Townsend, Michelle Polland
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Beth Crain, Wayne Jennings, Linda Brown, Bruce Emmerton, Kathy Salemi, Carla Craver

Audience:  Mary Stutzman, Patty Sayer, Betty Shaheen, Janice Felski, LaRetta Yarbrough, Margaret Lincoln, Doug Fowler, Dr. Steve Brown, Laura Williams

Interpreters:  Heidi Adams and Alice Fasig

Paul Edwards added the following item to the agenda.

A Resolution from the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) asking FRCB to consider -  Distance Learning/Training for individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the State of Florida.

A motion to adopt the Agenda as amended was seconded and passed.

District Administrator’s Report

Linda Brown presented the Council with an update on activities in District Nine.
District Nine serves Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, DeSoto, Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Joyce Hildreth acknowledged Linda Brown and staff for all the accomplishments they have made to all clients particularly the services to the VR clients.  She stated that the state office was looking at identifying the district’s strategies to possibly be implemented statewide.

Employer Recognition

Linda Brown, District Administrator introduced Carla Craver, Supervisor to present Lee Memorial Health Systems a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities.  Dr. Steve Brown accepted the award on behalf of Lee Memorial.

Ms. Brown introduced Bruce Emmerton, Supervisor to present Suncoast Communities Blood Bank a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities.
Ms. Laura Williams accepted the award on behalf of Suncoast Communities Blood Bank.

Separate photos were taken of Dr. Brown and Ms. Williams with Ms. Hildreth, Mr. Edwards, Ms. Brown, Ms. Craver and Mr. Emmerton.

VIP South West Florida

Doug Fowler, Executive Director, gave the Council an overview on the infrastructure of VIP of SW Florida.    He introduced Margaret Lincoln, Director of Operations.  Ms. Lincoln gave the Council an overview of the strategic plan and activities occurring at VIP of SW Florida as well as data on the clients served.

Mana-Sota Lighthouse for the Blind

Janice Felski, Executive Director, gave the Council a brief history of the Mana-Sota Lighthouse for the Blind and its programs, expansion, contract goals, social activities, staff and relationship with DBS.  She also read a few statements of satisfaction from clients.
Ms. Felski introduced LaRetta Yarbourgh, Development Director.  Ms. Yarbourgh spoke about the Golf Tournament held each year with the eighth hole being designated the “Blind Shot” hole where sighted golfers wear simulated goggles for awareness of what a blind or visually impaired individual deals with every day.  She also spoke about the Visionary Walk.

Ms. Felski and Mr. Fowler answered Ms. Hildreth’s question regarding clients being introduced to the community consumer associations.  They both stated that speakers attended classes giving information on advocacy groups and that the centers also provided clients information on the advocacy groups as well.

Morning Break

Client Satisfaction Survey Final Report

Mr. Edwards expressed his appreciation to the Evaluation Committee for reviewing the draft report and being sure the report reflected what the Council wanted.  He reported that a new contract has been sent forward for the next year.  He then introduced Dr. Mary Stutzman.
Dr. Stutzman informed the Council she thought the new timeline was a better schedule. 
Her presentation included:

  • The response rate was down from previous years.
  • She gave an overview of the survey and compared data with the previous year.  
  • She picked up problems in the Duval County area when reviewing the open ended comments.
  • She noted that satisfaction with the job search skills went up quite a bit.
  • She stated she would look at specific data if the Council requested.

Antionette Williams informed the Council that each of the 10 districts has a Customer Service Specialist.  She will send the Council the position description for this position.

Sheryl Brown informed the Council of the Governor signing an order this week on creating a Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities.  She noticed the Division of Blind Services was not included in the membership.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that the oversight was brought to the attention of the Commissioner of the Department of Education.  The Commissioner is working with the Governor’s Office to ensure a representative of DBS was appointed to the Commission.

Jesus Garcia moved that the Council Chair send a letter to the Governor with the Council’s concern over the exclusion of the Division of Blind Services as a member of the new Commission.  A copy would be provided to the appropriate staff of the DOE Commissioner.
Motion received a second and passed.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that DBS appointed a statewide employment consultant to work with the districts on their employment strategies and help develop a plan and emphasize jobs.  Also through stimulus funds DBS offered the CRPs contracts to conduct job readiness training; because of the outcome DBS will include this as part of the CRP contracts.

Mr. Edwards shared his concern with contractors (who are receiving VR dollars) setting up platforms and training programs that are not accessible thus ending up not including the visually impaired individuals in their programs.

Vicky Maglicchino was concerned with the deaf-blind closed clients not being contacted.

The Council requested DBS to identify those individuals who are deaf-blind on the data sent to FSU if possible. 

Blind Services Foundation Update

John Vaughn, Chair of the Foundation briefed the Council on the creation, mandate and membership of the Foundation.  He spoke about the funding resources and went over three    efforts for the next year. 1. Managing the Foundation investments.  2. Looking at how to get money into the community and provide direct support to the agency.  3. Increase awareness of the Foundation.

Mr. Vaughn encouraged solicitation for anyone that would be interested in serving on the Board. 

12:15 PM  Lunch

Meeting reconvened at 1:45 PM

Director’s Report

Ms. Hildreth’s report included the following:

Legislative Report

  • Committees begin mid September.
  • Session begins in January.
  • The main focus will be on the redistricting issues.
  • The best time to get in touch with representatives and Senators would be August or during the Committee period.
  • The Division submitted a continuation budget except in the Blind Babies funding.
  • The Department of Education approved the workload issue but did not put through the increase in payment.

Needs Assessment

  • Focus Groups have been conducted.
  • Now in process of collecting the data.
  • Expect to receive the report on time.
  • The Evaluation Committee and Division will begin working early on pursuing the next Needs Assessment.

Other discussion took place on the new criteria for students taking on-line courses that are not accessible and the Blind services Foundation will make a financial contribution towards a help desk for technical assistance.

FCAT – Standard High School Diploma

Mr. Edwards introduced Leanne Grillot as the person with IDEA responsible for the visually impaired students and would eventually be the representative appointed.

Ms. Grillot gave the Council a brief bio and also gave an updated report on FCAT.  She stated that she is working on the problem with some on-line courses for grade 9 being inaccessible.

Ms. Grillot stated that she would look into the Hadley School for the Blind being an option for courses.

Mr. Edwards pointed out three educational issues:

1.  Inaccessible grade nine courses
2.  On-line testing
3.  The move to electronic text books and the electronic text books delivery

Jesus Garcia stated that there are two things that must be assured if the school system is going to use electronic books of any type.  1. The text is accessible to a blind person 2. The device that the text is to be read on is accessible.

Mr. Edwards and Ms. Grillot explain NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Access Standard).

Mr. Edwards appointed an Ad Hoc Committee to devise strategies on where the council would like to go with these educational issues.  Paul Kaminsky, Jesus Garcia, Leanne Grillot and Mr. Edwards will meet via teleconference and report to the Council in October.

Approval of April Minutes

A motion for acceptance of the April 2011 minutes was seconded with no discussion.  Minutes were accepted unanimously.

October Agenda Items

  • Education (FCAT)
  • Endowment Foundation
  • Rehab Center Update – Ginger Lancaster, PA
  • Library Overview – Susan Roberts
  • Needs Assessment
  • Employer Awards
  • Governor’s Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities
  • Director Report to include Legislative report
  • Florida School for the Deaf and Blind – Mary Lou Hoffmann-Sitten

Vicky Magliocchino suggested inviting Emily Taylor Snell, President of the Florida Outreach Program.  Because Ms. Snell will be at the Vision Summit in January, it was agreed to wait and invite her to the January meeting in Tallahassee.

Location and Date of July 2012 Meeting

Joe Minichiello moved to conduct the July 2012 meeting in St. Augustine. 
Motion received a second and passed.

The Council agreed on July 26 & 27, 2012.

Paul Kaminisky’s motion tabled from the April meeting concerning equipment for Council members was discussed.

Antionette Williams informed the Council that there is nothing in federal regulations that prevent purchasing equipment for Council members, but RSA states that Basic 110 funds are set aside for eligible individuals who can benefit from services for employment.  If the Council uses these funds it will hinder those individuals who the funds are intended.

After discussion the motion did not carry.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council about the auto-select through the Library and that effective November 1, cassettes will be available by request only.  New enrollees will receive the new digitals.

Mr. Edwards read a Resolution concerning Distance Learning FCB created during its recent convention.

Mr. Minichiello moved that DBS and the CRPs work to implement Distance Learning in their facilities for blind and deaf-blind students.
Motion received a second and passed.

Bureau of Client Services Update

Antionette Williams went over the VR Goal report previously sent to the Council.

DBS Policies sent earlier for the Council’s review were discussed.

Policy 2.34 – Purging In-active Vendors in AWARE.

Council accepted policy as amended.

Policy 2.20 – Reopening Successful Closed Cases for Additional Placement Services and Post-Employment Policy.

Antionette will check to see if post-employment services can be for longer than one year.

Council suggested having two separate policies or re-word the first sentence as follows.

The Division will consider reopening a case for eligible applicants whose current job is not consistent with the individual’s strengths, resources, priorities and/or capabilities. (eliminate as well as)  To assist previously placed clients…………..

Dwight Sayer moved to accept the policy as amended.
Motion received a second and passed.

Meeting adjourned at 3:15 PM.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:35 AM.

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

Council Members Absent:  Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Sue Townsend, Michelle Polland
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Beth Crain, Wayne Jennings

Institute on Rehabilitation Issues Study Group

Ben Grzesik informed the Council that as of October 1, 2011 the Agency for Workforce Innovation will have a different structure.  Mr. Grzesik discussed the Department of Economic Opportunity, but because everything is unfolding with an implementation date of October 1st, he will provide more information by the next meeting.  He stated that the Department of Labor is conducting an audit on all regional work force boards.
Workforce Florida – along with its workforce system partners, the Agency for Workforce Innovation and the State’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards – were created in 2000 by the Florida Workforce Innovation Act and mandated by Federal Statute. 
Mr. Grzesik spoke about the IRI study group and the representation from around the country.  The group is writing an Affordable Health Care Act.   He explained how it will affect employment for the disabled.

Open Discussion

Council members were concerned that the Public Forum notice wasn’t mailed to clients/consumers in Collier County.
Ms. Hildreth stated that she would check into it and assured the Council the notification process to clients and consumers concerning the Public Forum will be improved.

Council members were asked to solicit individuals who would be interested in serving on the board of the Southeastern Guide Dogs.   Contact Debbie Grubb at (941) 749-6178 email: debbiecg@verizon.net; or Paul Edwards at (305) 237-1146 email: pedwards@mdc.edu or Phyllis Dill at (850) 245-0392 email: Phyllis.dill@dbs.fldoe.org .

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that Commissioner John Winn asked for a name to represent DBS on the new Commission.  She will check into the notification process for the Commission.

The Council suggested Dwight Sayer, Joe Minichiello and Joyce Hildreth.

Ms. Hildreth will also meet with Mike Hansen the new head of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Meeting Adjourned at 9:40 AM


Respectively submitted,
Phyllis Dill

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