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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, April 19, 2012)

Embassy Suites
8978 International Drive
Orlando, FL

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, Andrew Raines, Bruce Miles, Vicky Magliocchino, Ted Hull,  Christopher White, Donté Mickens, Sheryl Brown,  Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Dan O’Connor, Paul Kaminsky, Joe Minichiello, Sue Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.  Gloria Mills represented NFB.

Council Members Absent:  Ben Grzesik and Michele Polland
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff:  Lynn Ritter, Anthony Pileggi, Brian Michaels, Sue Velasko,

Attendees:  Barbara Chandler, SE Rep for Helen Keller National Center; Lighthouse Central Florida staff:  Lee Nasehi, President/CEO; Keith Gee, Resource Development Director;
Lee Van Eepoel, Program Director; Dylan Buhain, Transition Program Supervisor; and
Joyce Skipper, Executive Assistant

Interpreters: Emily Jones and Jessica Rodas

A motion to adopt the amended Agenda passed.  The addition of Policy 6.22 Purchase of IPads and the use of low vision to determine eligibility were added to the VR Goals Update/Policy Review at 10:45 AM.

District Six Administrator’s Report

Brian Michaels, DA welcomed the Council to the Orlando area.  His report included:

  • The District Office recently moved to its current location at 400 West Robinson Street, Suite S1026, Orlando and is now all on one floor.
  • District serves 5 counties:  Lake, Sumter, Orange, Osceola and Seminole.
  • District 6 works with two CRPs; Lighthouse Central Florida serves Orange, Osceola, Seminole and New Vision for Independence serves Lake and Sumter.
  • There is 20 staff that includes 2 visually impaired and 1 totally blind.
  • Currently clients served in District 6:
    • 590 VR
    • 280 Independent Living Program
    • 110 Blind Babies Program
    • 70 Children’s Program
  • Accolades were given to Ted Pobst, VRC.
  • In the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year District 6 had 65 successful closures; a 50% improvement over the previous 2 years and a 12% improvement over the last 5 year average. 
  • This year’s goal is 116.  The District currently have 54 successful (5 totally blind) closures and on pace to close another 30+ before the end of the fiscal year. 
  • A breakdown of closures across the programs for this fiscal year is:
    • Blind Babies - 46
    • Independent Living -  327     
    • Transition  -  7 
    • Children’s Program  -  2 
  • The Transition Program run by the Lighthouse served 61 clients in the previous year and currently served 47 clients to date this year.      
  • New Vision is starting a Transition Program this year serving Lake and Sumter.
  • The VR programs that are served by both CRPs have served over 150+ consumers so far this year.
  • The Independent Living (Adult Program) served by both CRP's, have served over 26+ clients to date.
  • The Independent Living (Older Blind) served by both CRP’s, have served over 154+ to date.
  • The Blind Babies Program has served over 89+ children to date.
  • The District 6 staff is working on developing more and more community resources to better serve its clients.
  • The Job Placement Program at the Lighthouse has already placed 11 individuals in the workforce. 
  • The Lake county New Vision for Independence has one to be placed within the next week.
  • New Vision for Independence is a young CRP and currently has 4 contracts with DBS (BB, BR, IL-AP, ILOB) as well as a Job Placement program. 
  • District 6 is currently working with New Vision to develop a summer Transition program for students in Lake and Sumter counties.
  • District 6 currently has over 50 individuals in applications/eligibility status with an averaged approx. 20 applications a month this fiscal year.

Employer Award

Two Bahama Breeze locations were selected to receive the Employer Award in District Six.  Mr. Michaels also recognized Lee Van Eepoel; Paul Sershon; Chris DeBonis and Ginny Taylor from the Lighthouse Central Florida for their cooperation and working relationship.
On behalf of Bahama Breeze, managers Stewart Wigdor and Craig Barhors each accepted a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities.

Photos were taken of each presentation as well as a group photo including Ms. Hildreth, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Michaels.

Lighthouse Central Florida (LCF)

Lee Nasehi, President and CEO of Lighthouse Central Florida gave the following update:

  • LCF has been in operation for 35 years.
  • LCF provides services to residents of Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties who are blind, have low vision or severely impaired sight.
  • Nearly all services are available in Spanish as well as English.
  • LCF received its third 5-Year Accreditation by NAC in January 2012.
  • LCF is a member of VisionServe Alliance, NAPVI, AER, NAEPB and affiliates of RESPECT of Florida and NIB.
  • LCF provided vision-specific services to 689 visually impaired people plus their family members, friends, colleagues and employers in 2011; this year, they expect to serve over 700.
  • Education, Rehabilitation and Employment Service Programs include:
    • Intake, Referral and Information
    • Comprehensive Functional Assessment
    • Early Intervention Program
    • Can, Too! for School-Aged Children
    • Transition for Teens
    • Independent Living for Adults
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Assessment
    • Job Readiness Training
    • Job Development and Placement
    • Supported Employment
    • Job Specific Training (Customer Service Basics, Customer Service Excellence, Contract Management Services/Close-Out)
  • 2012 Annual Operating expenditures this year will be approximately $4 million. Approximately $800,000 of that is being invested in the Lighthouse Works! initiatives.
  • To further LCF Works! endeavors, they have affiliated with RESPECT of Florida and the AbilityOne Commission through the National Industries for the Blind.
  • Lighthouse Works! includes a working contact center with 14 blind/visually impaired agents, and several other business lines under development including job-specific training, Contract Management Services, 508 Compliance and Other Accessibility Consulting, and Product Development, Sales and Distribution.
  • LCF has two facilities in Orlando located at 215 E. New Hampshire Street and 421 E. Robinson Street.
  • LCF has a Facilities Task Force to locate a third facility with warehouse space for Lighthouse Works! initiatives.
  • LCF Boards of Directors has a total of 17 members including 3 visually impaired persons, 3 family members of visually impaired persons, an ophthalmologist and a graduate student. 100% of board members support Lighthouse financially, are active ambassadors for Lighthouse and fully engaged in the goals and objectives of the organization.
  • LCF is in the midst of Strategic Planning utilizing a framework called Integrated Planning by Sam Frank of Synthesis Partnership in Newton, MA.
  • LCF has included an objective in the Strategic Plan to further develop services to the deaf-blind population.
  • LCF and Works! have approximately 70 employees, 20 of whom are part time.
  • LCF’s Current Assets to Current Liabilities Ratio is 10:1; with an overall debt to asset ratio of 18%.
  • LCF utilizes the sustainable funding model known as Benevon. They provide two regularly scheduled “In the Blink of an Eye” Tours per months.
  • LCF has an active Alumni Association.
  • LCF has an excellent working relationship with the Division of Blind Services.
  • LCF will soon enhance and expand its client outcomes measurement system and Annual Program Evaluation.
  • More referrals are needed for the following programs: Transition, Vocational Rehabilitation, Job Placement and Supported Employment.
  • LCF’s biggest concerns are:
    • lack of available qualified personnel to hire throughout the agency in the near future;
    • significant underfunding of Early Intervention;
    • underfunding of Independent Living AP & OB;
    • complete lack of funding for School-Aged Children;
    • lack of access technology equipment and other devices for many clients of all ages;
    • lack of affordable transportation options;
    • ongoing lack of public awareness of issues related to blindness and vision loss;
    • inaccessibility of growing numbers of online services in government and commercial world.

Lee Van Eepol gave the Council insight into the new initiative with the CRPs participating in employment.

Morning Break

VR Goals Update/Policy Review
Policy 2.10 – Self Employment

Lynn Ritter informed the Council the change made to Policy 2.10 Self Employment services was under Scope of Services replacing “…the client as sole proprietor.” With  “…the client owning at least 51% of the business.”
A motion was made to accept the policy as changed.  Motion received a second.

After discussion, a motion was made to table Policy 2.10 until the July meeting.  Motion received a second and passed.

 Policy 6.22 – Purchase of iPads

Bruce Miles read Policy 6.22 Purchase of iPads.

After discussion a motion was made to table Policy 6.22 until the July meeting.  Motion received a second and passed.

Policy 8.17 - Low Vision Assistance for Clients

Sheryl Brown questioned the statement in Policy 8.17 that reads…”A low vision examination should not be used to determine client eligibility.”  She suggested it be removed and indicated that a low vision examination conducted by a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist should be considered appropriate for determining eligibility.

Antionette Williams was in agreement and asked Ms. Ritter to make the change.

Council agreed to the change.

State Plan

Antionette Williams, Bureau Chief summarized the State Plan attachments for this year:

  • State Plan is due July 1st .
  • DBS intends to get the Plan to the Commissioner the first week in June.
  • There are 7 attachments to the Plan.
  • Attachment 4.2 (c): Summary of Input Provided by the State Rehabilitation Council
  • Attachment 4.10:  Comprehensive System of Personnel Development.
  • Attachment 4.11(b): Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Services (this will need to be revised)
  • Attachment 4.11(c)(4): Goals and Plans Regarding Distribution of Supported Employment
  • Attachment 4.11 (c)(1): Goals and Priorities (will update from 7 to 4)
  • Attachment 4.11 (a) Assessment (will share the results of the statewide assessment)

Changes will be completed by the end of May and delivered to the Commissioner the first week of June.

Council requested Ms. Williams to send members the final State Plan by the end of May for Council to review.  Council will give comments via a teleconference call on June 4th.

Mr. Miles questioned the language on page 8 of Attachment 4.10 pertaining to the recruitment strategies.   In first paragraph, last sentence….”beginning salary is set at $2,000 above base based on CRC.”  He asked if it should be based on the VRC instead.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:25 PM.

Before the next item on the agenda and after a brief discussion, a motion was made and seconded as follows:

For transition students only a recommendation from a CRP which attests relevance and proficiency goes to a Counselor who then follows up with Rehab Engineering and then a purchase of an iPad can be approved.
Motion passed.

Helen Keller National Center Presentation

Barbara Chandler, Southeast Representative of the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) provided handouts via email earlier.  (Attached)

Ms. Chandler demonstrated a number of listening devices available for the deaf- blind (DB).  She spoke about the importance and strategies for communicating with deaf-blind.

Ms. Chandler informed the Council of Diz Wiz which is an App for an iPad that will allow the person to take a picture of an item and it will let them know what it is. 

Ms. Chandler shared what the Helen Keller National Center does and her position as the Southeast representative.

  • HKNC provides training to those working with individuals with dual sensory loss.
  • HKNC has 11 representatives around the country.
  • A HKNC Rep provides support for the agencies, consumers and families.
  • The Rep provides training, awareness, shows equipment and how to improve strategies when working with deaf-blind.
  • The Rep oversees the process of individuals being sent to HKNC.
  • HKNC has an 8 week assessment which also includes training.
  • Presently HKNC serves 28 deaf-blind individuals.
  • The funding is a MOU and the goal is to have DOE, DBS and VR share serving the deaf-blind individual being referred to HKNC.
  • HKNC is the only Comprehensive Rehab Center in the United States.
  • A unit called the “Viber Call Alert System” is the best for deaf-blind and is made by silentcall.com .
  • To apply for services at HKNC the individual must be 16 years or older and medically and psychologically stable.
  • HKNC does not have doctors or psychologist on staff and only Medicaid to cover emergencies.
  • Tuition at HKNC is $800 week that includes food, room and training.

Ms. Chandler informed the Council she would provide training in an office or the region.  She stated she would like to conduct a coordinated effort between DBS, DVR and the CRPs.

Director’s Report

Ms. Hildreth’s requested Ellen McCarron, JoAnn Carrin and Erica Hicks to report on the DBS Strategic Plan, Virtual Learning and a Legislative Update.

Strategic Plan - Ellen McCarron, Deputy Director 

  • Brief Recap
  • 2010 First Strategic Plan developed
  • Five-year period: 2010-2015 
  • Intended as a living document, subject to changes when needed
  • February, 2011 – Council was advised that projects and goals were being consolidated for a more concise plan and that it would be posted on the DBS website when process was completed
  • Plan Changes
  • 7 goals collapsed to 4 goals 
  • 9 objectives spread among the 4 goals 
  • Many of the original projects have been completed
  • Successful projects move to Accomplishments list 
  • New projects added as needed
  • Plan “lives and breathes” in this way, as originally intended
  • Functional Changes
  • Expanded leadership team (ELT) – April 2011 meeting, where field input and structural changes started
  • Fall, 2011 – ELT now integrally involved, regular teleconferences with SMT on Strategic Plan
  • January, 2012 – Regional meetings with field staff planned for Spring, 2012. Strategic Plan will be included on agenda.
  • First regional meeting highly successful
  • Goal is for all-DBS to understand how their individual work relates to the Strategic Plan
  • July, 2012 - Face-to-Face workshop with ELT planned on plan’s objectives and projects
  • Communicating the Strategic Plan
  • Posted on DBS Internet Website at http://dbs.myflorida.com/about-us/strategic-plan.php
  • Continuing with plan as living document, updating as needs arise

Virtual Learning -  JoAnn Carrin, Communications Director

  • Two bills filed concerning access for students who were blind or visually impaired did not pass legislature.
  • There are current laws that require accessibility for all students.
  • Ms. Hildreth spoke with the Commissioner of Education on school grading and students with disabilities.
  • Based on the conversation, the Commissioner put together a Task Force to address the issue and asked DBS to be involved.
  • The report went to the State Board of Education in March.
  • The State Board of Education asked the Commissioner to put together a Task Force on Digital Learning.
  • The first Planning session did not include accessibility in any of the 3 Power Point Presentations.
  • Ms. Carrin and the Bureau of Exceptional Student Education rep pointed out the importance of the need for the classes to be accessible.
    • 2014/ 15 school year the testing for common core standards will all be digital.
    • 2015/16 districts will be required to spend 50% of the budget on instructional material on digital content.
  • Accessibility is now a part of all three sub committees.
  • A new initiative has been proposed by the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities for Florida to work with them on improving accessibility for students with disabilities.
  • The Rehabilitation Center AT team gave an evaluation of the website of providers of courses approved by DOE and the ratings were from 1 to a 3.68 with no fours.
  • A proposal is being drafted to get volunteers to allow going into the actual courses online to access them.
  • DBS is now getting requests from DOE to look at the products or projects they are creating on accessibility.

Legislative Update – Erica Hicks, Operations & Management Consultant II

Ms. Hicks gave the Council a quick overview of the legislative process before providing the status of DBS Bills tracked during the 2012 session:

  • White Cane Law HB 405 died and SB 1192 died.
  • Service Animals Bill made it to the chamber floor of the House but died when Session concluded.  In the Senate it made it through the 2nd and 3rd reading and passed and sent to the House where it died.
  • General Appropriations Act was signed by the Governor.
  • DBS didn’t lose any positions and received additional General Revenue Funds of $540,981 for the Blind Babies Program.

Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM

Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
Quarterly Meeting


Friday, April 20, 2012

Paul Edwards, Chair called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM.

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

Council Members Absent:  Ben Grzesik, Michele Polland, Christopher White and Sue Townsend
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff:   Anthony Pileggi

Interpreters: Emily Jones and Jessica Rodas

Attendees:  Dan Hicks

Update on Appointments

Ms. Hildreth summarized the status of appointments and the meeting with the Chester Spellman, Director of the Appointments Office.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council of the regional meetings being conducted around the state with employees to involve them with the Strategic Plan.  The one day meeting included the morning session dealing with the history and culture of the Division and the afternoon session dealing with the Strategic Plan.

The Council requested DBS to send out the schedule of the regional meetings.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that the Office of Inspector General was conducting a Management Review of the Division and  are looking at the processes with communication, contracts and personnel. 

At the conclusion of the review the Council will be provided the information.

Mr. Edwards read the Strategic Plan to the Council.

Mr. Edwards asked if there were any projects or objectives that included the Council.

Ms. Hildreth responded she would be interested in adding something if the Council would like.

Approval of January 2012 Minutes

A motion for acceptance of the January 2012 minutes was seconded with no discussion.  Minutes were accepted unanimously.

Location and Date of January 2013 Meeting

Mr. Garcia’s recommendation for Ft. Lauderdale received 6 votes.
Ms. Perez’s recommendation for West Palm Beach received 5 votes.
Mr. Raines recommendation for Pensacola received 1 vote.

A motion to conduct the April 2013 meeting in Ft. Lauderdale received a second and passed.

The Council agreed on April 18 and 19, 2013 with April 17 as travel day.

Agenda Items for July 2012 quarterly meeting in Jacksonville

 Strategic Plan Projects Update
Client Satisfaction Survey Report
Client Satisfaction Contract for FY 2012/2013

Other on-going items:

Director’s Report
Local CRP Report – ILAB Becky Simpson
District Administrator’s Report
Update of VR Goals and review of policies  (tabled policies 6.22 and 2.10)
Employer Recognition
Approval of April minutes
Location of July 2013 meeting
Agenda items for October meeting

The Council decided to conduct a Public Forum in Jacksonville.

Meeting adjourned at 10:15 AM.

Respectively submitted,
Phyllis Dill, AAII


Helen Keller National Center Presentation
Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
April 19, 2012  1:00 pm

Presenter:  Barbara Chandler
                  SE Regional Representative
          Atlanta, GA

Overview of HKNC Programs and Services

  • Residential, comprehensive assessment and training for independence and employment.  Located in NY.
  • Age 16 and above, with both hearing and vision loss, medically and psychologically stable with strong home support team
  • 8 week assessment/training
  • Additional 13 week training periods as recommended
  • Young adult (transition age) 2 week summer program
  • Senior (age 55 and above)1 week program in NY
  • Senior 2 and1/2 day program in consumer’s home state – Confident Living Program (CLP). Can use OBP funds
  • Seminars for Service Providers, 1 week, technology, O & M, or DB interpreting
  • Certificate in Deaf-Blindness, NIU (Northern Illinois University) in collaboration with HKNC -15 credit hours

Deaf-Blind Perspectives

  • Total US Deaf-Blind – over 1.25 million
  • Most common cause of DB – aging
  • Some estimates as high as 21% of those age 70 and above have combined hearing and vision loss
  • Total HKNC Registry – FL 315, but 2010 census, age 70 and above approximately 600,000 !!
  • Most common genetic cause of DB – Usher
  • Deaf-Blindness is under-identified, and under-reported
  • Lack of awareness and tools to assess hearing loss by service providers – no “legally deaf” category
  • Hard of hearing are hidden, overlooked

Communication Assessment and Devices

  • Assessment – Questions about hearing loss to ask during intake
  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) for hard of hearing
  • PockeTalker (wired) cost $150
  • FM Wireless Tour Guide System (wireless) cost $1500 for use by up to 10 people
  • iPad, iPhone with built in screen reader, can be used with wireless refreshabraille

Challenges to Serving those who are Deaf-Blind in Florida

  • Collaboration between DOE VR and DBS under the MOU – some regions good, other regions lack communication
  • Communication support for the consumer is essential and sometimes not provided due to lack of funding and awareness of sign language interpreting resources
  • Hard of hearing needs sometimes overlooked due to lack of awareness of ALDs (assistive listening devices, amplified phones, alert systems)
  • Need for more DB training for counselors
  • Need for thorough consumer assessment and training on accommodations before job placement
  • Students returning to FL after HKNC training sometimes face barriers getting the equipment recommended (i.e., Vibra Call) vibrating alert pager for independence in the home including alert to door bell, fire alarm, weather radio, carbon monoxide, etc.
  • Need to establish a FL Support Service Provider Program to overcome isolation


  • Conklin Center for the Blind, Robert Kelly, robert@conklincenter.org
  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) www.advocatesforbetterhearing.com Sarasota, FL, a4bh@msn.com, Tel: 941-922-1242
  • Certified Interpreters -Contact DOE VR
  • FTRI- Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc.  Provide equipment (loan) and training to access the phone including Deaf-Blind Communicator
  • FTRI – James Forstall, jforstall@ftri.org
  • FCC National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Project to begin in July 2012
  • Kathy Zarate, Deaf-Blind Specialist, Port St. Lucie, FL
  • kathryn.zarate@gmail.com
  • Kathy is a DBS and FTRI contractor who is deaf-blind and a former HKNC instructor. She teaches braille, tactile sign language, technology and ILS
  • Florida Deaf-Blind Association –consumer group, Vicky Magliocchino, president
  • DB Certificate Program – NIU and HKNC


  • HKNC SE Regional Representative