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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, October 27, 2011)

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
408 White Street
Daytona Beach, FL 32114

MINUTES

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:45 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present:  Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Henry Alexander, Bruce Miles, Ted Hull,  Vicky Magliocchino, Andrew Raines, Christopher White, Donté Mickens, Dan O’Connor, Joe Minichiello, Paul Kaminsky, Michele Polland, Sylvia Stinson-Perez,
Sue Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.  Gloria Mills represented NFB.

Council Members Absent:  Sheryl Brown and Ben Grzesik
 
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings, Jim Woolyhand

Interpreters:  Grace Daily and Keonna Evans

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

District Administrator’s Report

Jim Woolyhand presented the Council with an overview of activities in district five and its relationship with the local CRPs.

  • The four counties served by the district are: Flagler, Putnam, Volusia and Brevard.
  • Brevard County is served by a satellite office in Cocoa Beach.   
  • In addition to the DA, twelve staff serves the clients in the district.
  • There is two visually impaired staff.
  • The district has one staff person who is bi-lingual.
  • The districts VR caseload is 320 clients. 
  • There were 89 successful closures in FY 10/11.

Employer Recognition

Mr. Woolyhand, District Administrator gave the Council a summary of LLC, Industries and its relationship with the district.  On behalf of LLC, Industries, Will Ryan, Production Supervisor and Marisa O. Chrismon, PHR, VP Human Resources, accepted a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities.

Photos were taken of Mr. Ryan and Ms. Chrismon with Ms. Hildreth, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Woolyhand.

Library Overview

Susan Roberts, Bureau Chief presented the Council with an overview of the Library and assured them it was on solid ground. 

  • This past year the circulation was 2.2 million and presently the Library is circulating more digital books than audio cassettes. 
  • There is a search for a new director of the National Library Services. 
  • Braille, Auto Recorded Data Base (BARD) will begin having web Braille in the next few months.
  • By the end of federal fiscal year 2012 the capability of receiving magazines, which are produced by the National Library, will be on digital cartridge.
  • There was a complete reorganization of the Braille and Talking Books Library this past year.
  • Four different sections were set up:
    • Circulation
    • Customer Services
    • Production
    • Support Services
  • The Library recently added a Customer Development staff position.

Ms. Roberts answered questions asked by the Council as follows:

  • The Library will begin working with Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) across the state soon.
  • Funding is two fold. 
    • All materials and equipment is provided by the National Library Services at no costs.  There is a quota system on how many books allowed to request.  The old cassettes were 90 copies per title and the Digital books are 30 copies per title.  Every digital book circulated four times this past fiscal year.
    • Funding on the state side is through DBS appropriation.  The funding is not based on output or a quota.
  • When excess copies of the old cassettes are removed, they will be made available to libraries across the country for 60 days and if not claimed they will be sent to a place in York Pennsylvania and recycled to become park benches.
  • The Library does not have the capability to Braille higher mathematics.
  • An option for students to use is RFBD (Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic) for an annual fee. Also, the American Printing House for the Blind.
  • It is not unusual for a Braille math book to cost $1,000.
  • Notices for meetings and mail-outs should fit on 8 ½ x 5 /12 cards and received 4 to 6 weeks before the event.
  • The Library serves 30,000 individuals across the state and according to the US Census of 2009; there are 416,000 legally blind Floridians.
  • First priority is to get magazines on cartridges.
  • Florida has 10 sub-regional libraries.

Morning Break

Director’s Report

Ms. Hildreth’s report included the following:

  • Commissioner Robinson appointed Aleisa McKinlay as the new director of Vocational Rehabilitation.
  • There are two areas DBS and DVR work together
    • Agreement on serving individuals who are deaf-blind.
    • Agreement in serving other individuals having disabilities in addition to visual impairments.
  • Brian Michaels, District Administrator has been appointed to the Workforce Central Florida Board.
  • A Bill that has been proposed to insure accessibility for students who are visually impaired has one sponsor.  It addresses the virtual schools and other entities that provide software, etc the schools are using for assessments and education. 
  • DOE, Bureau of Exceptional Education and DBS have been in dialogue together on these issues.
  • DBS is now part of the state Student Advisory Committee (SAC).

Legislative issues:

  • This year Florida is anticipating another deficit.
  • DBS (in collaboration with the CRP partners) made a proposal to increase the budget for Blind Babies.
  • The remaining budget is for continuation.
  • When Ms. Hildreth spoke to the House Committee about DBS services she included the Blind Babies Program and the Business Enterprises Program (BBE).
  • BBE provides employment for 323 individuals for the state of Florida.  This is a combination of the vendors plus the people they employ.
  • In addition BBE generates 18.6 million dollars of state revenue that is taxable.
  • DBS placed 720 people in jobs this past year and only 30 below what the state goal is per the long range plan.
  • The response from the Committee was extremely positive.

Needs Assessment:

Ms. Hildreth asked Antionette Williams to speak about the Needs Assessment. The document was sent to the Council last week. The assessment will be included in the next submission of the State Plan and is available upon request.

Ms. Williams informed the Council that a number of the recommendations made were currently being done.

  • Florida is one of the leading states with its transition program.
  • Funding is an issue with the children’s program and DBS is limited in providing activities for the transition program.

Ms. Hildreth informed the council that as part of the reorganization, DBS combine the caseload for the babies, children and seniors into one caseload versus two.  She stated that vacant positions across the state were reassigned to reduce caseloads and whenever a vacancy occurs, DBS reassess the average caseload per district and reassigns the position to the district with the highest. Originally the goal was to keep the caseloads between 70 and 80; now the goal is between 50 and 60 per counselor.  She stated that when any position becomes vacant within the state, DBS senior management pulls data and reassigns or reclassifies the position to meet the greatest need.

Paul Edwards voiced his concern and asked if DBS was monitoring the impact of the combined positions, especially the children’s counselors.

Ms. Williams informed the Council that DBS added the combined children and adult caseload to the Quality Assurance efforts and looking at ways to efficiently monitor the caseload. 

Council Appointments:

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council of a Technical Assistance Communication (TAC) that the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) sent out to all the state directors.  It addressed the state rehabilitation councils and appointments.  In the past DBS allowed Council members to continue to serve and funded travel expenses after their term expired. 

The TAC clearly states that when a member’s term is up and there is not an appointment or reappointment made, the division can not fund it and the individual can not serve or vote. 

After discussion on the issue of appointments, Jesus moved that Paul Edwards compose a letter, with the Council’s concerns about appointments, to the Governor.  Motion received a second.

Ms. Hildreth asked the Council to consider including letters from DVR, SILC and FRC to be provided to the Commissioner to support his recommendation to the Governor.

Jesus moved to amend his motion accordingly.  Motion received a second.
The Council agreed it would rather the appointments be made by the Governor so it would maintain its importance at the state level; and only delegated to the Commissioner as an alternative.

The amended motion affirms that Paul Edwards compose a letter to the Commissioner of Education asking that he intervene with the Governor to resolve the issue concerning appointments.
Motion passed.

Ms. Hildreth updated the Council on DBS’ strategies to improve the outcome and approaches in employment.   She stated that DBS now includes job readiness in the contracts with CRPs as well as opened up the Employment Opportunity Program training.  Also, DBS is offering the districts and CRPs to work collaboratively on job placements.   The DBS counselor will still be responsible for job development and placement of their clients.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:00 PM.

Education

Michelle Polland took the lead on the presentation with Suzanne Dalton, Leanne Grillot and JoAnn Carrin joining via teleconference.

Ms. Dalton is the Supervisor at Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired (FIMC) in Tampa.  Her contact info is:  (813) 837-7826 or (800) 282-9193 and her e-mail address is: sdalton@fimcvi.org .

Ms. Grillot is the Program Specialist for the Blind/Visually Impaired Ι Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Ι Dual Sensory Impaired with the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services in Tallahassee.  Her contact info is: (850) 245-0478 and her e-mail is: Leanne.Grillot@fldoe.org

Ms. Carrin is the Communications Director with DBS in the State Office.  Her contact info is: (850) 245-7858.  Her e-mail address is: JoAnn.Carrin@dbs.fldoe.org

Ms. Polland informed the Council she will retire next year and surmises that Ms. Grillot will be her successor on the Council.

Ms. Polland read each question provided by Mr. Edwards for response.

Question 1.  How are we doing at assuring that on line courses required by students are accessible?  Does Hadley offer high school credit for its courses?

Response:

  • Currently the high school courses through Hadley are only available through correspondence and wouldn’t complete the requirement for an on-line course.
  • There will be a meeting in early December with Hadley at the Department with everyone involved to look at the possibility of having those courses available on-line.
  • A Pilot project is being planned where DBS employees who are visually impaired or blind would go to an on-line class and determine the accessibility by their ability to move through the courses.
  • It is being emphasized that Waivers would not be appropriate for course work on-line.
  • A change that has been made to the graduation requirement this last session was that students working towards a standard would take at least one course on-line.

Question 2.  What about progress in the area of accessible electronic testing?  As we move to electronic FCAT, will it be fully accessible?   If not, why not?  If so, how will mathematics be handled for students who can not read print or Braille?  How will we handle inaccessible elements?  If the test is fully accessible, will we make FCAT waivers harder to get?  How?

Response:

  • FIMC extremely involved in FCAT.
  • The Braille version is still only available in hard copy Braille, especially the reading section.
  • Students using large print have numerous options for Mathematics and science using the screen as well as hard copy large print.
  • For the blind students using Braille the only accessible way is using hard copy Braille.
  • There are manipulatives available for the mathematics portion of the FCAT if they can not get information from the tactical graphic in a hard copy form.
  • The FCAT is proof read dot to dot to ensure as close as possible to perfect with Braille.
  • The student sill has the option of having the mathematics portion read.
  • Teachers are now getting instruction in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Access Standard).
  • Everything on FCAT is reviewed by a totally blind individual.
  • The flexibility for the FCAT waivers was determined by the legislators and to change the requirements would be a statutory change.

Question 3.  We are on notice that we are moving to paperless text books.  Where are we with regard to accessibility of that process?  What is FIMC doing?  Are there problems on the horizon of which we need to be aware?  Are all publishers managing acceptable NIMAS?  Do these include descriptions of diagrams? Is NIMAS sufficient unto the day or do we need a standard that requires more?

Response:

  • Last session legislators made changes about how text books were adopted.
  • By 2015/2016 the school districts must send 50% of their instructional material funds on digital or electronic format.
  • Thirteen orders for Braille files have been received this year. 
  • A lot of the Braille files provided by Book Share and other vendors are not properly formatted.
  • FIMC is conducting a pilot this year with four school districts and Braille reader students.  The students and teachers will receive an iPod Touch and the data collected will show what else students need in the electronic Braille file to make it more useable.
  • It takes FIMC 29 days to get hard copy Braille books out after ordered and with electronic files the books get out within 5 to 10 days.

 
Question 4.   What is the state of Braille teaching in Florida? We have Braille laws and requirements that are part of IDEA.  Are these being enforced or monitored?  How are violations being dealt with, if there are any?  Would we know if there were?  What can be done to create more universal access to Braille instruction?

Response:

  • Braille laws are the requirements by IDEA are efforts put forth to the teachers of the visually impaired. 
  • FIMC has been promoting the quality programs for visual impairments throughout the state and teachers involved get trained on doing functional vision assessments.
  • Florida is offering 4 locations throughout the state for the Braille challenge provided by FIMC.  (Tallahasse, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa) Dates will be sent to Council.
  • There are district compliance reviews and if there is a violation there is a DOE audit response.
  • Continually spreading the word is being done to create more universal access to Braille instruction.

Question 5.  What is known about the qualifications of teachers specifically assigned to teach blindness skills?  In some districts, many teachers are getting to the point where they are retiring.  We are told that there is a huge shortage of qualified teachers. Is this reflected in out-of-field appointments?  What are we doing to assure more training for these out-of-field teachers?  Are we doing anything to assure that districts hire in-field teachers, when possible?

  • FIMC data base showed relatively few out-of-field appointments in the districts.
  • Florida State University (FSU) has 30 teachers enrolled in its Braille class this semester.
  • FSU also has satellite programs throughout the state for teachers of the visually impaired.
  • Ms. Grillot has quarterly conference calls with the teachers of the visually impaired in each district.

Question 6.  We would like to know about access technology provision by districts or the state, perhaps through quota funds.  There are three entities with responsibilities for technology provision as students’ transition.  The school system, DBS and post-secondary educational institutions.  How are we working to create and foster smooth transition of technology for blind students?

  • The Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services host the Florida Leadership Work Group quarterly. 
  • Ms. Grillot is also working with Project Ten in Tallahassee to make sure they have a web site section specifically for students who are visually impaired to be able to look at other options for transition.

Conklin Center

Robert Kelly gave the Council an overview of the Conklin Center.

  • The Conklin Center specializes and works with individuals, in the adult program, who are blind with one or more additional disabling conditions.
  • The Center also provides supported employment services and supported living services.
  • The focus of the Center is serving one on one.
  • DBS has been very supportive since the Center was founded in 1979.
  • DBS expanded the Center’s client caseload in the intensive residential program from 12 to 1, which has lead to individuals not waiting more than a couple of weeks for services.
  • The Center contracts with DBS to provide residential training, supportive employment and early intervention services.
  • In addition to the contracted services with DBS, the Center provides lifelong follow along with individuals placed in employment and supported living services.
  • The Center also has a relationship with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and Medicaid Waiver that covers less than 20% of those served. 
  • The individuals served by the Center usually go to work at entry level and fairly low wages.
  • This past year the Center’s Supported Employment Program received the Beverly Chapman award from the Able Trust.
  • The job placement for last year was 17 individuals.  The goal was 10.
  • The biggest bulk of people seen at the Center are between the ages of 18 and 30.

Bureau of Client Services Update

Antionette Williams reported the following information:

Data for the first quarter (July 1, 2011 thru September 30, 2011)
Total number served - 3,691
Successful closures - 116
Unsuccessful closures – 305
Legally blind closures – 34
Other visual impairments – 41
Totally blind closures – 9
Closed as result of restoration – 31
Veterans closed – 17

Lynn Ritter addressed two policies provided to the Council earlier.

New policy #2.28 – Written verification that original or amended plan has been signed by all parties prior to execution of services.

It was suggested the addition of “contract” in the last sentence between the words “provide and services”.

Motion to accept the policy was seconded and passed.

Policy #10.9 – Identification Cards

A motion to defer discussion of policy #10.9 until the January meeting received a second and passed.

Mission and Vision Statements

A motion to approve the following Mission statement was seconded and passed.   
“The Florida Rehabilitation Council is committed to increasing employment, enhancing independence, and improving the quality of life for Floridians who are blind or visually impaired.”
Vision: Ms. Dill read FRC’s Vision Statement –
“Partnering to create opportunities to employ all people with disabilities in competitive jobs of their choice.”
After discussion Mr. Edwards appointed an ad hoc committee consisting of Christopher White, Sylvia Stinson-Perez and himself.  The committee will review other states Vision Statements and create a statement to be sent out the middle of December for review by the Council.  It will be voted on during the January meeting.

Approval of Annual Report and July Minutes

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

A motion for acceptance of the 2011 Annual Report was seconded with no discussion.  Annual Report was accepted unanimously.

Agenda Items for January 2012 quarterly meeting in Tallahassee (One day meeting)

Florida Outreach Program – Emily Taylor Snell (need to invite)
Employer Award
Election of Officers
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Agenda Items for next Meeting
Location of January 2013 meeting and date
Director’s Report
Bureau of Client Services Update w/ Policies for review (Policy #10.9)
District Administrator Report
Client Satisfaction Survey
Local CRP
Vision Statement
New VR Director - Aleisa McKinlay

Mr. Kelly informed the Council the 2013 Vision Summit would probably be held in February.

Re-address July 2012 meeting location  (item moved from Friday’s agenda)

A motion to move the meeting to Jacksonville received a second and passed.

Dates remain July 25, 26 & 27.

Business meeting adjourned at 2:55 PM

FRCB minutes continued

Friday, October 28, 2011

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

Council Members Present:  Paul Edwards, Ted Hull,  Jesus Garcia, Henry Alexander, Bruce Miles, Dan O’Connor, Paul Kaminsky, Vicky Magliocchino, Andrew Raines, Christopher White, Donté Mickens, Joe Minichiello, Michelle Polland, Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Sue Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.  Gloria Mills represented NFB.

Council Members Absent:  Sheryl Brown and Ben Grzesik
 
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings, Ed Hudson

Interpreters:  Grace Daily and Keonna Evans

Rehab Center Update

Ginger Lancaster, PA and Ed Hudson brought the Council up to speed on the Rehab Center.

  • The Center is working towards National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC) accreditation for next year.
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist, won the
  • Currently the Center has no lines and no waiting.
  • The Center’s capacity is 40 and currently there are 25 students.
  • Construction of the MTTL building begin in July and is expected to finish the first of April, but will possibility be completed ahead of time.
  • The new facility will allow having all the technology training in one building.
  • Presently the Center’s curriculum doesn’t include MAC computer training.
  • Holly Idler, Orientation and Mobility Specialist recently received the Hadley Dean W. Tuttle Professional Education Award.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that DBS recently purchased 5 MAC computers.  The intention is for them to “go on the road” around the state.

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB)

Mary Lou Hoffmann-Sitten, Principal presented the Council an overview of FSDB.

  • The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind was founded in 1885.
  • FSDB is located on 70 acres in St. Augustine.
  • Florida is a state of parent choice, therefore, any parent who wishes for their child to attend, may apply.
  • The current president will be retiring in April.
  • The theme for the year is, Learning Today….Leading Tomorrow
  • Out of 665 employees 32 have worked at FSDB between 30 and 39 years, 92 have worked there between 20 and 29 years.
  • There are approximately 680 students from Pre-K through 22 years of age enrolled at present.
  • There are 200 blind students of which, 64 have a secondary disability.
  • 75% of FSDB students are residential with the remaining 25% bused in from the surrounding counties as day students.
  • There is no cost to families for tuition for eligible Florida residents.
  • FSDB is accredited by three different accrediting agencies.
    • State - Southern Association of Schools (SAC)
    • Blind - National Accreditation Council for the Blind (NAC)
    • Deaf - Conference of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CSPD)
  • FSDB is funded directly from the state of Florida.
  • FSDB awards both standard and special diplomas.
  • Last year, 74% of students in the blind department showed an increase in their Developmental scaled score of the FCAT.
  • 43% of FSDB’s blind students must take the FCAT in Braille.
  • FSDB has approximately 85 elementary/middle schoolers and 120 in the high school program of which 18 are mainstreamed into the local public high school.
  • Every student in the high school has a laptop with the programs installed to make the computer accessible for that particular student.
  • FSDB has a Secret Code Club in which students who don’t have Braille instruction on their IEP are given an opportunity to learn Braille in a fun, club-like setting.
  • Students from FSDB’s Blind Department are strongly represented in a variety of the school’s excellent athletic teams and all students have a chance to play the sport for the blind – Goalball.
  • The FSDB Girl’s Goalball team won their third consecutive National Championship Title and extended their unbelievable winning streak to 68 straight games, dating back to 2006.  In the last 5 years, they are 102-2.
  • The 2010 graduating class’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian are both members of the Goalball teams and have also participated on the swim team and track team respectively.

Location and Date of October 2012 Meeting

A motion to conduct the October 2012 meeting in Daytona received a second and passed.
The agreed on dates were October 25th and 26th with travel day on October 24th.

Previous/New Business

Mr. Edwards read the Florida Statutes 413.091 pertaining to ID Cards.  After discussion, the Council deferred to the previous motion to readdress Policy 10.9 during the January meeting.

Meeting Adjourned at 10:05 AM