Florida Division of Blind Services logo


Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Wednesday, January 18, 2012)

SpringHill Suites
1300 Executive Center Drive
Tallahassee, FL


Approved April 20, 2012

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:35 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

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

Council Members Absent:  Sheryl Brown and Joe Minichiello
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Ana Saint-Fort, Jeff Whitehead

Attendees: Alisa McKinlay, Roy Cosgrove, Leanne Grillot, Lee Nasehi,

Interpreters: Pam Hill and Tim Godwin

A motion to adopt the Agenda as written received a second and passed.

Election of Officers

Joyce Hildreth conducted the election for Council Chair.

Nomination for Chair:

Motion was made and seconded to elect Paul Edwards Chair by acclimation.

Mr. Edwards resumed his role as Chair of the Council and continued with elections.

Nomination for First Vice Chair:

Motion was made and seconded to elect Bruce Miles as First Vice Chair by acclimation.

Nomination for Second Vice Chair:

Motion was made and seconded to elect Paul Kaminsky as Second Vice Chair by acclimation.

District Administrator's Report

Ana Saint-Fort presented the Council with an overview of activities in district two and its relationship with the local CRPs.

  • The eleven counties served by district two are: Franklin – Gadsden – Hamilton – Jefferson – Suwannee – Wakulla – Leon – Liberty – Madison – Lafayette - Taylor
  • District two is fully staffed with twelve positions in addition to the DA.
  • Five district two staff is visually impaired.
  • Current open cases are:
    • VR – 192
    • Blind Babies/Early Intervention – 32
    • Transition – 26
    • Older Blind/Independent Living – 127 of which 22 are in the Adult Program under 55 years old and 105 are under the Older Blind 55 years old and older. 
    • Children’s Program - 31
  • The total number of referrals as of December 2011 is 16.
  • Fifteen clients have been referred to the Lighthouse for job placement.

Ms. Saint-Fort presented an overview of the district’s relationship with the local CRP, Lighthouse of the Big Bend (LBB).

  • DBS has 5 contracts with LBB.
  • LBB has served 24 of the 26 clients referred in transition.
  • LBB has served 22 blind babies with a goal to serve 28.
  • LBB is currently serving 87 Older Blind with a goal of 98.
  • LBB has currently met 95 of a goal of 136.

VR Director

Aleisa McKinlay, recently appointed Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, addressed the Council with an overview of VR.

  • VR has an active caseload of around 55,000 individuals.
  • The turnover rate with staff has been as high as 25% due to lower salaries.
  • The average caseload per VRC is approximately 130.
  • With vacant VRC positions, some Counselors carry a caseload near 300.
  • Last year, VR helped 5,018 achieve their employment goal (30% improvement over prior year).
  • VR is on track for approximately 6,000 job placements this year.
  • Of those placed, 97% were individuals with significant or most significant disabilities.
  • VR went into an Order of Selection in 2008.
  • Individuals VR works with now have significant and most significant disabilities.
  • There is a no waiting list for categories 1 and 2 (significant and most significant disabilities).
  • Category 3 (one barrier to employment and services will last less than 6 months) remains closed, and the waiting list is approximately 2,500.  There is no anticipation of opening in the near future.
  • VR has a Pilot in the Orlando area under the Discovery Model.
    • Includes 17 individuals employed by VR vendors in supported employment.
    • Objective is to observe and learn what the person can do and to come up with a customized employment plan.
  • VR is asking for a continuation budget in the current legislative session.
  • One Bureau within VR, the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services (BRRS), also known as Florida’s Injured Worker’s Program, is highly likely to be eliminated this year.
  • VR does not have sufficient match to draw down all federal dollars.
  • VR receives 78.7% of funds from federal resources and 21.3% from state general revenue.
  • Since VR has been under an Order of Selection, it has a surplus on the federal side.
  • VR has approximately 1000 employees.
Last year VR gainfully employed clients were: 41% mental health issues, 16% orthopedic, 14% chronic medical, 9% developmental disability, 14% sensory disability, 4 % substance abuse and 2% learning disability.

Director's Report

Ms. Hildreth’s report included the following:

Legislative issues:

  • The submitted LBR includes additional funds to serve 200 plus, blind babies at the going rate.
  • A request to increase rate was also requested.
  • DOE approved funding to serve additional 200 babies, but it was not included in the Governor’s budget.
  • The Governor’s budget included a loss of 6 positions with an amount of $260,000.
  • DBS has 6 positions vacant but they are in lower paid positions.
  • If budget passes, DBS will eliminate more than 6 positions or some higher level positions.
  • The Governor’s budget added an additional category to the DBS budget for Grants that will flow through funds transferred from the Health Department to DBS.  These funds will go to the Hiking Children’s Vision Program in Miami.
  • There was a small decrease related to technology, but DBS did not spend it so it will not be a loss to operations.
  • DBS requested a continuation budget, except for the request for blind babies.
  • DBS’ ability to recoup money from Social Security has decreased the 1.5 million deficit from a few years ago.
  • DBS has two things to look at:
    • What is the legislature going to do with DBS’ budget?
    • How is DBS going to address the 1.5 million dollar reduction a few years ago that it is now faced with?
  • The programs affected will be in the general revenue funded programs: blind babies, children, older blind and the library.
  • DBS is pursuing the Discovery Model as a pilot at the Rehab Center.
  • DBS will reach out to the CRPs to continue with the Model in the individual’s community.
  • Another pilot to be done at the Rehab Center is exploring opportunities in self-employment.
  • A meeting is scheduled January 30th & 31st at the Rehab Center with a National Representative and representatives from the Conklin Center, local Community Rehab Center and DBS staff at the Rehab Center.

Ms. McKinlay informed the Council of a contract VR has with the Center for Social Capital (CSC).  CSC’s charge, under the contract, is to do train the trainer to develop certifying business technical assistance centers (CETAC).  She offered to share the information with DBS.


Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE)

Bill Findley, Bureau Chief presented the Council with an overview and update of BBE.

  • 151 operating vending facilities on federal and state properties.
    • 13 cafeterias
    • 24 snack bars
    • 55 Highway vending facilities
    • 59 Non highway vending facilities
  • The facilities generate $18 million annually in total sales.
  • Vendors pay a state sales tax as well as a 6% set aside that comes out of the net profit. 
  • The 6% set aside goes towards repairing or replacing equipment and assist locations to get started.
  • DBS provides: location, equipment, start up funds and support.
  • Vendors are expected to manage their business including hiring employees and must reside at least within 75 miles of their facility.
  • Currently vendors have the option of on-line reporting and payment of the 6% set aside.  However, beginning October 1st on-line reporting will be required by all vendors.
  • Eight vendors are running two facilities and 2 vendors are running three facilities.
  • BBE has made changes to improve the training program.
  • Vendors are now provided on-the-job training with a selected vendor before licensure.
  • BBE, the Rehab Center staff, and field staff have worked together to develop an application process to be sure of getting the right person.
  • All applicants go through a 2 week work experience as part of the application process before being accepted into the program.
  • Requirements to apply are: must be legally blind, at least 18 years of age, be a US citizen, possess a High School Diploma or GED, complete a physical exam, and pass a level 2 criminal background screening.  A vocational assessment is given as well.
  • An additional training class has been added in Daytona. (now two classes)
  • Every eight weeks a new sixteen week training class begins.  Eight weeks into one class, a new one begins.  The classes overlap.
  • There are usually three or four individuals per class, but a class may take up to five trainees.
  • Sixteen weeks of training include: vending, food preparation, food safety, record keeping, business start-up and business management.
  • BBE received the award for the new dining facility at Elgin Air force base that could possibly become an $80 - $90,000 a year job in a few years when the contract is renewed and the blind manager takes on more of the responsibility for managing the facility.
  • BBE will be interviewing around the state for someone to do marketing and site development.
  • BBE also has municipal, county and private facilities with no priority and can be asked to vacate in 30 days.  Therefore, it is imperative that our vendors do a good job in these locations.
  • Monitoring of facilities has been implemented by BBE.
  • There is a good relationship between BBE and the State Committee of Vendors (SCV).
  • SCV is made up of licensed vendors having a facility.
  • The SCV has ten districts and BBE has five regions comprising two of the districts.
  • Every two years SCV conducts an election for committee members.
  • The current SCV chair is Tom Spiliotis who is located in Auburndale, which is near Lakeland.
  • BBE conducts quarterly meetings in Orlando with the SCV.

Bureau of Client Services Update

Antionette Williams reported the following information:

  • The Goals for this year remain the same as last year at 750.
  • Successful employments so far this year are 289 which include:
  • 110 partially or legally blind
  • 80 other visual impairments
  • 25 totally blind
  • 4 as result of restoration
  • 8 veterans
  • There are 671 unsuccessful closures this year to date.
  • DBS attributes the successful closures to elements of the employment plan which includes:
  • Heightened accountability among the districts.
  • Requiring VR staff to attend employment opportunity training.
  • VR staff is taught how to provide employers with qualified applicants.
  • DBS has identified an employment consultant.
  • The BBE program is being promoted.
  • Now emphasizing the work experience program.
  • Promoting internal employment programs.
  • Embarking upon two new employment initiative programs.
  • DBS is confident it will meet or exceed the 750 goal this year.

DBS Policy #10.9

Lynn Ritter read Policy #10.9 – Identification Cards, tabled from the July meeting.

Christopher White referred to the second paragraph and suggested replacing the wording “adequate eye report” with “eye report that meets the above criteria”.

Motion to accept change was seconded. 

After discussion it was decided to condense the first sentence in second paragraph to read:

“Certification of visual impairment or legal blindness may be made by DBS counselor, Supervisor or District Administrator who has access to an eye report that meets the above criteria.”

 Motion passed.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:15 p.m.

Florida Outreach Program - Birth - 21 years

Emily Taylor-Snell, Coordinator with the Florida Outreach Project (FOP) provided material to the Council earlier via e-mail.  She conducted a Power Point presentation with a detail description of each slide.

  • FOP serves children (birth) and young adults (to 21 years) who are deaf-blind.
  • The Project is federally funded under the Office of Special Education programs.
  • FOP cannot provide direct services, but assist schools, families and agencies in how they can best serve and understand the needs of a person who has both a combination of vision and hearing.

Contact information:

Florida Outreach Project
University of Florida
P.O. Box 100234
Gainesville, FL  32510
Toll Free:  800/667-4052
Email:  info@deafblind.ufl.edu
Web site:  www.deafblind.ufl.edu

Florida Outreach Program - Adult Needs

Vicky Magliocchino, President of the Florida Association of Dead-Blind and its representative on FRCB, addressed the Council on the adult needs of the deaf-blind.

  • Total deaf-blind in the United States, of all ages beginning at birth, is 1.214 Million.
  • In 2010 more deaf-blind has increased due to baby boomers becoming 55 and above.
  • Approximately 1.7 million senior citizens will lose their hearing.
  • Approximately 1.01 senior citizens will lose their vision.
  • Approximately 290,000 senior citizens will lose both hearing and vision.
  • There are three barriers with deaf-blind:
  • Communication is the largest barrier.
  • Mobility limitations
  • Participation in ones own community.
  • Greatest need is accessibility
  • To participate in our communities
  • To meet others like ourselves
  • To have access to training and technology
  • Degrees of hearing and vision:
  • Completely deaf-blind is no hearing or sight.
  • Deaf with low vision.
  • Hard of hearing and completely blind.
  • Hard of hearing with low vision
  • Being born deaf first and becoming visually impaired later.
  • Being born blind first and becoming hearing impaired later.
  • The Mission of the Florida Deaf-Blind Association (FDBA):
  • To enhance independence through economic and social opportunities for all people who are Deaf-Blind in Florida. This will be accomplished through education and advocacy for people who are deaf-blind in their community. FDBA will educate the general public about deaf-blindness so that all Floridians may better understand the needs of the deaf-blind community in order to lend their support.
  • FDBA held its first meeting in May 2004 and elected Mrs. Nellie Pohlmeyer as the first President.  Vicky Magliocchino was the second president and is currently serving a second term as president.
  • FDBA has 4 regions with 2 representatives in each region.
  • ACTIVE membership is for anyone who is DEAF-BLIND.
  • ASSOCIATE membership is for anyone who is SIGHTED and is a supporter, such as a friend, a family member, or a caring person.
  • STUDENT membership is for anyone who is DEAF-BLIND and is attending school as long as he/she is 23 years old or under.
  • ORGANIZATIONAL/BUSINESS membership is available to national, state, and local non-profit organizations and businesses with a mission or interest for promoting the lives of Deaf-Blind people.
  • FDBA web site: www.fldeafblind.org 
  • FDBA has 6 goals :
  • 1. Increase outreach to find more deaf-blind individuals.
  • 2. Increase public awareness of deaf-blind and their needs.
  • 3. Provide social events for the deaf-blind.
  • 4. Establish an SSP (support service provider) task force to set up a SSP Program in Florida.
  • The role of an SSP include the following:
    • Facilitate communication for the deaf-blind individual.
    • Provide transportation.
    • Provide information about written materials.
    • Assist with shopping and appointments.
    • Provide environmental information.
    • Provide companionship
  • 5. Hold an annual state meeting (often in the Fall)
  • 6. To help deaf-blind individuals be aware and provide information about the different kinds of communication access and the different options.
  • Types of Communication for the deaf-blind include: Text; computer, TTYs, Relay Operators, Black Berry, assistive listening devices, communication cards, Video Phone (VP), Video Relay Service (VRS), CapTel, Deaf Blind Communicator (DBC), iPhone, wireless Braille displays.
  • Sign language can be provided through:  close vision, tactile, finger spelling, print on palm and other Braille technology.
  • The Communication Video Access Act (CVAA) was recently passed that will distribute $10 million annually for equipment for deaf-blind individuals.  It’s called the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP).  Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc. (FTRI) has applied to serve as the manager of NDBEDP and is expected to receive approximately $450,000. 
  • CVAA also requires that all communication technology to meet the needs of the deaf, blind and deaf-blind individuals.
  • The deaf-blind community believes that neither agency (DBS or VR) truly understand deaf-blind individuals.

Client Satisfaction Survey Update

  • Mary Stutzman, PhD gave the Council a highlighted interim report on the survey.

    • 237 closed cases have been called to date.
    • 44% of calls so far are previously closed clients.
    • 43% stated they came to DBS to maintain employment.
    • 42% stated they came to DBS to obtain employment.
    • Satisfied with services increased over last year with the maintain employment.
    • 46% of calls had a need of transportation and was an issue with just a few.
    • 87 % overall satisfaction has maintained at a high level.
    • 96% stated they would recommend DBS to a friend.
    • A suggestion was made that the client’s background should be checked to make sure they will be able to go into a particular job. (i.e. criminal record may not be accepted).
    • Everything seems to be on track as last year.

    Vision Statement

    Christopher White read the draft Vision Statement the ad hoc committee developed.

    “The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind functions to create a positive impact on the fairness, efficiency, and accessibility of services through the evaluation of consumer feedback and the Florida Division of Blind Services performance.”

    Motion to accept the Vision Statement received a second and was approved.

    Mr. White read the Mission Statement the ad hoc committee re-addressed.

    Motion to accept the revised Mission Statement was seconded.

    During discussion a Motion to replace the word “guide” with “review, analyze and advise” was seconded and passed.

    The Mission Statement with the change reads:

    “The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind reviews, analyzes & advises on the policy decisions and evaluates the effectiveness of the Florida Division of Blind Services to ensure meaningful access to and use of vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs for Floridians who are blind or visually impaired.”

    A motion to accept the Mission Statement as amended received a second and passed.

    Letter to Appointment's Office

    Ted Hull asked Ms. Dill to read the draft letter developed by FRCB and other councils addressed to the Governors Appointments Office with concerns of appointments.

    • Ms. Hildreth suggested the letter should go to Governor’s Chief of Staff.
    • Mr. Kaminsky stated the chain of command should be followed and the Appointments Office should be first and if no response then followed by a letter to the Chief of Staff.
    • Mr. Edwards believes the letter was too polite.

    Roy Cosgrove, Program Administrator of the Florida Rehab Council, addressed the Council stating that the Appointments Office has not made their policies and process public and it was part of the intent of the letter.  The thought behind the letter was to take a wiser and gentler approach as recommended in the conference call.  He stated that the comments and recommendations by FRCB is appreciated and will have an affect on drafting the letter.

    Motion to endorse the letter as written received a second and passed.

    Approval of October Minutes

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

    Agenda Items for April 2012 quarterly meeting in Orlando

    • Needs Assessment Discussion
    • Update on Appointments
    • Legislative Update
    • Strategic Plan
    • Helen Keller National Center Presentation- Barbara Chandler, SE representative

    Other on-going items:

    Director’s Report
    Local CRP Report – Lee Nasehi speak on Call Center Training and Lighthouse Works
    District Administrator’s Report
    Update of VR Goals and review of policies (if any)
    Employer Recognition
    Approval of January minutes
    Location of April 2013 meeting
    Agenda items for July meeting

    The Council decided to conduct a Public Forum in Orlando.

    Location and Date of January 2013 Meeting

    It was agreed the dates would be in conjunction with the Vision Summit. If there’s not a Summit the dates will be January 24 & 25, 2013.  The Council agreed not to conduct a Public Forum in Tallahassee.

    Ms. Dill will get in touch with Skip Koch to find out if FAASB will be conducting a Summit and if so, the date.

    Business meeting adjourned at 3:55 PM

    Respectively submitted,
    Phyllis Dill, AAII