Florida Division of Blind Services logo


Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, July 26, 2012)

Crowne Plaza
1201 Riverplace Boulevard
Jacksonville, Fl  32207

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, Jesus Garcia, Henry Alexander, Andrew Raines, Bruce Miles, Donté Mickens, Sheryl Brown, Dan O’Connor,  Paul Kaminsky, Joe Minichiello, Gloria Mills, Sheryl Brown, Michele Polland, Sandra Martin, Ben Grzesik and Joyce Hildreth.   

Council Members Absent:  Christopher White, Vicky Maglicchino, Sylvia Stinson-Perez and Ted Hull

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff:  Wayne Jennings, Madeline Davidson and via teleconference, Antionette Williams, Lynn Ritter

Attendees:  Becky Simpson, ILAB;

A motion to adopt the Agenda passed. 

VR Goals Update

Wayne Jennings went over the fourth quarter goals.  He informed the Council that the goal is 750 every year and this year successful closures were 748.  He also went over the secondary disabilities and unsuccessful closures. 

Ms. Brown suggested checking into adding criminal background info in the AWARE system.

Ms. Williams gave the Council her thoughts on the data and progress the division is making concerning employment.

A motion to accept the report received a second and passed.

Policy Reviews

Policy 2.9 Post-Secondary Education

Lynn Ritter explained the reason Policy 2.9 had a change.  She went over the changes Christopher White had recommended. 

#1.CAP doesn’t want this policy to negatively impact potential clients by delaying their      attendance at a state school while residency is being established.

Council recommended deferring #1 until the October meeting and that Lynn would check with DVR on their policy plus poll other state agencies. 

#2. Council did not agree with Christopher’s recommendation and to leave as written.

#3. Council agreed to removing “choosing to” and adding “attending in state or” in the first sentence.

# 4. Council agreed with the following addition.  “According to the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies provide by the Secretary of Education.  The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by instructions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.  Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met.” 

#5. Council agreed with the language.

#6. Council agreed with Mr. White’s addition. “Exceptions may be made for medical reasons of student and/or family and bereavement.”  Council recommended changing the word “consumer” to “student”.

#7. Council agreed with changing the word “classes” to “courses” and using the language   “semester/term”.   Ms. Hildreth requested these changes be made throughout the policy.

Mr. Raines informed the group of the Academic Common Market (ACM), which allows students to be charged in-state tuition for a number of universities throughout the Southeast for courses not offered in Florida.  Mr. Grzesik stated the ACM was for graduate students and had no boundaries.

Ms. Martin emphasized the need for more instructors for training students on how to access on-line courses.

Council recommended deferring #7 until the October meeting and for members to send Lynn any comments on #7.

Policy 6.07 Purchase of Access and Rehabilitation Technology

Ms. Ritter explained to the Council about condensing 3 or 4 policies into #6.07.  She went over the changes Christopher White submitted.

Mr. White’s addition to the end of the second sentence of the first paragraph is: “when the school is unable to do so and documentation to AWARE supports the need.”

#1.  The Council recommended deleting reference to “Dell” and replace with “through a vendor holding a state contract”.  Also incorporate Rehab Engineer.

#2. The Council recommends that #1 covers all computers and Apple computers should not be separated.

#3.  Council agreed with the language.

#4. Council agreed with the language.

#5. Council agreed with the language.

#6 & #7 Mr. Edwards asked if some standard programs could be incorporated as part of the purchase made.  Mr. Mickens asked if the three year repair remained in force if case was closed or was equipment returned to DBS.

Mr. Edwards informed the Council that due to being behind schedule, discussion of policy #6.07 would be continued later.

Employer Award

Madeline Davidson, Supervisor from Gainesville, introduced Gene Hartley, Customer Service Specialist in the Jacksonville office to present the employer award to Convergys.

Chris Stampfli, HR Manager and Sue Malletti, Project Manager accepted a plaque of appreciation for employing individuals with visual disabilities.  They also gave the Council a brief overview of Convergys.

A group photo included:  Mr. Edwards, Ms. Hildreth, Mr. Hartley, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Stampfli and Ms. Malletti.

Morning Break

Local CRP – Independent Living for Adult Blind (ILAB)

Becky Simpson, Executive Director of ILAB gave the following update:

  • ILAB is associated with Florida State College of Jacksonville and it administers ILAB’s grants.
  • ILAB has four contracts with DBS.
  • The goal this year was to serve 99 clients and have served 208.
  • ILAB went to a majority of group classes.
  • ILAB adult program contract goal 23, and served 25.
  • ILAB VR contract goal is 152 - 12 months into the 18 month contract have served 97.
  • ILAB Transition contract goal 56 and have served 54.
  • ILAB has had 30 participants in the Summer Transition Program.
  • This past year ILAB has added a certified rehab counselor and certified work evaluator.
  • Ms. Simpson gave accolades to staff at DBS.
  • ILAB has been fully staffed for close to one year which includes12 full time instructors and two part-time instructors.
  • ILAB has established an Advisory Committee that includes consumers and college staff.
  • ILAB has purchased iPods and iPads and are offering training on a limited basis because the curriculum hasn’t been formalized.

District Three Administrator’s Report

Tracy Kurek, District Three DA asked Madeline Davidson, Supervisor in the Gainesville office to give the administrator’s report.

  • Locations of District III offices are in Jacksonville, Florida and a satellite office located in Gainesville, Florida.  The counties served for the district include the following:  Baker, Duval, St. John, Clay, Nassau, Alachua, Columbia, Gilchrist, Marion, Bradford, Dixie, Levy and Union.
    • Staff total:  20   Currently two vacancies.  Three part time OPS positions for drivers.  Three staff are blind.
  • Performance Goals for current FY 2012-2013: The total VR goal for 2012-2013 is 100.  The total VR goal met for 2011-2012 is 102.
  • Successful VR closures in District III in FY 2011-2012 as listed for each counselors’ case load in AWARE:
    • Totally Blind Cases: 9
    • Partially or Legally Blind Cases:  52
    • Other Visually Impaired Cases:  33
    • Cases as a result of restoration:  8
  • Number of cases being served FY 2012-2013
    • VR:  410
    • IL:   247
    • CP:    92
    • BB:  121
    • Total:  870 total participants currently being served.   
  • Number of closures (FY 2011-2012)
    • VR:  331
    • IL:   320
    • CP:    20
    • BB:    52
  • Transition Program (number served):  FY 2011-2012:  84  
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program (number served):  FY 2011-2012 :  700  
  • Independent Adult Living Program (IALP) – (number served):
    • FY 2011-2012:  70 in the Adult Program for 55 and under; 424 in the Older Blind Program for 55 and older.  
  • Status of Referrals: Total 36 (Jacksonville-20 & Gainesville-16) for FY 2012-2013 as listed on counselors’ case load in AWARE.
  • District III has excellent relationships and communication with all Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) serving our consumers.  For VR, Transition (TS), Older Blind (OB), and Adult Programs (AP) in Jacksonville the ILAB at Florida State College at Jacksonville provides contract services and they are presenting at today’s meeting.  In Gainesville the Florida Center for the Blind covers all VR and TS services, as well as OB and AP for 7 of our 8 counties.  Independence with Low Vision through Shands Elder Care covers OB and AP services for Alachua County.  Brochures for these 2 programs are attached.
  • In the past year the Gainesville and Jacksonville offices joined, with Gainesville now being a satellite of Jacksonville along with adding many new staff members.  The staff in both offices has been working closely together to become a district team.  With a good bit of staff turnover in Jacksonville all staff has worked together to insure clients continued receiving quality services.  Both office supervisors were involved in support for staff in both offices.  The staff from both offices came together in a regional meeting in Tallahassee, and a joint meeting with state office staff in Gainesville. 
  • In Gainesville a new customer service position (CSS) was added to the staff last year.  This has been a very helpful addition as the CSS plays a major role in job development and placement services for the VR team.  The CSS has run 2 six week job clubs, assisted clients with applications and interviews, helped explore technology needs for clients starting work, and did extensive employer outreach and development of community relationships in the 8 counties served by Gainesville.  Both the Gainesville and the Jacksonville CSS staff were important members of the VR team and assisted in our district meeting our VR goal this year.
  • Many outreach activities were regularly scheduled through both District III offices.  These include health fairs, doctors and health clinics, employer meetings, job fairs, schools and colleges with the Transition Education Network and Disability Offices.  For the Gainesville office: The V.A. Vision Awareness Days in Lake City and Gainesville, Alachua County & City of Gainesville ADA Forum, Beeping Easter Egg Hunt for children’s and blind baby caseload, White Cane Walks with ACB in Gainesville and Alachua, Blindness Awareness Day with NFB, and the Mind-Sight Art Show for the Blind at the Harn Museum.  For the Jacksonville office: The Fair Housing Symposium, National Disability Institute, Jacksonville Urban League, and Participated at the Emergency Preparedness Conference.  In addition there has been a presence on the Mayor’s Disability Council (MDC), the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission (JHRC), the Duval County Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board (DCTDCB), and the Duval County Elections Advisory Panel (EAP)
  • District III will continue to build relationships between the Jacksonville and Gainesville staff.  District III is reaching out to underserved populations in the 13 counties served.  District III wants to expand its relationships with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in all the counties served.  This will enable better service to the multi-disabled consumers through case sharing.

Ms. Hildreth asked Ms. Davidson to speak about the hands-on training program at the Hyatt.

  • A two week training program in culinary began a few years back with DBS partnering with the Hyatt in Tampa and Orlando.
  • The Jacksonville Hyatt will be starting a program soon for local clients.  Eventually it will expand for other districts.
  • Graduates from the program will be able to go into a variety of hotel positions.

Ms. Davidson informed the Council that Parent Advisors are trained with working with the families of blind babies (age 0 to 3) and they go to the homes.
Mr. O’Connor gave accolades to Tony Pileggi, DA in Pensacola for his tenure as the interim DA in Jacksonville.  He also praised the working relationship between the Jacksonville office staff and Gainesville office staff.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:10 PM

Client Satisfaction Survey Report

Mary Stutzman, PhD provided a summary of this year’s Client Satisfaction Survey that was provided to the Council last month.  She brought copies of the survey on CD and print; and included the open ended comments.

  • DBS provided 1475 closed cases this year.
  • The survey is a phone survey that takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Heard more from the cases closed successfully than not.
  • Access with Counselors went down from 85% last year to 78% this year.
  • Counselor getting back with client went down from 84% to 80%.
  • Number of first time clients declined with this survey.
  • Most people hear about DBS through family, friends, medical or have been a client.
  • 46% of clients who came to obtain employment reported working at time of the survey.
  • 12% of clients responded they were not aware their case had been closed.
  • 93% of clients strongly agreed that DBS services helped them maintain their job.
  • 96% of clients responded they would recommend DBS services to others.
  • 86% of clients responded they were overall satisfied with DBS services.
  • Equipment was cited as the most helpful service by 41% of the clients surveyed.
  • When asked what the least helpful services were, 15% cited Counselors and Service and 62% of clients surveyed cited everything was fine with DBS.
  • When asked how DBS could improve its services, 47% cited no improvement needed and 29% cited Counselors.

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that the CRPs are working collaboratively with DBS for job placement but are not taking over the function of job placement.  As of the end of June, the CRPs placed 12 clients out of 728.  There are a little over 20 in the day one to 90 day period going into next year.  CRPs are playing a role in job placement with the districts and referrals.

Strategic Plan Projects Update

Robin Frydenborg, Senior Management Analyst went over the material sent to the Council earlier in addition to some of the objectives and accomplishments and new projects that have been added.

Ms. Frydenborg went over the Expanded Leadership Meetings held throughout the state.

The strategic plan goals have been refined and streamlined to now being 4 Goals with objectives. 

Goal 1:  Create an environment that provides job opportunities for visually impaired and blind Floridians.

Objective 1.1:  Increase successful job outcomes in the Bureau of Business Enterprise Program.
Objective 1.2:  Increase successful job outcomes in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Goal 2:  Create a service delivery system that provides comprehensive services to visually impaired and blind Floridians.

Objective 2.1:  Increase the number of individuals receiving services.
Objective 2.2:  Increase services in un-served and underserved populations.
Objective 2.3:  Increase accessibility for students, to ensure equality in educational opportunities and experiences.

Goal 3:  Create an environment that fosters an exemplary division workforce.

Objective 3.1:  Increase staff development and continuing education.
Objective 3.2:  Improve employee satisfaction.

Goal 4:  Create a well-managed and accountable organization that ensures high quality.

Objective 4.1:  Simplify Division of Blind Services processes, increase data availability, and improve data validity.
Objective 4.2:  Expand the comprehensive quality assurance program in order to obtain zero audit findings from the Offices of the Inspector General, Auditor General, and the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
Objective 4.3:  Strengthen fiscal policy and procedures to promote responsible stewardship of available resources.


Expanded Leadership Team workgroups are developing initial work plans for the following initiatives that were identified during the July 12-13, 2012 Expanded Leadership Team Meeting.  The Team will meet in September to rank these projects for feasibility.

Goal 1:  Create an environment that provides job opportunities for visually impaired and blind Floridians.

  • Develop framework for marketing for job opportunities/scope of work for contract.
  • Strategy to develop Support Employee Program Resources in each district.
  • Strategy to focus on Job Development and placement (Customer Services Specialist) work plans
  • Strategy for contacts with post-secondary recruitment.
  • Identify new locations for outreach.
  • Letters of Recommendation.

Goal 2:  Create a service delivery system that provides comprehensive services                 to visually impaired and blind Floridians.

  • Geographical Information System (GIS) utilized to find underserved populations.
  • Collaboration between Districts and Library.
  • Resource list for clients.

Goal 3:  Create an environment that fosters an exemplary division workforce.

  • September Trainings on Performance Evaluations
  • Build an efficient  communication mechanism
  • Continue Training for staff, both overall and specific
  • Training on contracts
  • Incentive Program-

Goal 4: Create a well-managed and accountable organization that ensures high                          quality.

  • Identify administration budgets by each district/office
  • Develop and implement framework for Quality Assurance; include follow-up on report findings

Director’s Report

Joyce Hildreth presented the Council with the following:

  • Ms. Hildreth summarized the management review conducted by the Inspector General this past February that included a climate survey, DBS contracts and personnel practices.
  • The DBS Regional Reviews began in March after months of planning and were very successful.

Information gleaned from the Management and Regional reviews were:

  • Important that managers within the division get out into the field and listen to the staff and stakeholders.
  • Training supervisors on performance evaluations and how to justify ratings.
  • Training on contracts.
  • Team building and improving communication.

The extended leadership discussed in detail the survey’s data.  In discussing other vendors for Job Coaching, Ms. Hildreth charged the Leadership team with developing a vendor certification program where the vendor demonstrates they are qualified to provide services to blind and visually impaired individuals. 

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that anyone wanting the full Management Review should call the IG’s office. 
Ms. Hildreth stated that Antionette Williams, Bureau Chief of Client Services, instituted a goal for the next year to encourage staff to understand that exceptions can be made to policy to meet the individual needs of the client. 

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that Tippy Amick, PhD, a specialist in creating positive work environments will provide one-day trainings in Tallahassee and at the Rehab Center and Braille and Talking Books Library in September.  The training will also be conducted at regional meetings throughout the state.

Mr. Edwards disclosed the following to the Council:
At the request of the Board of Directors of the Florida Council of the Blind he sent a letter to the Commissioner of Education.  He also sent a letter to Ms. Hildreth requesting a meeting and included a copy of the letter to the Commissioner,

Ms. Polland moved that a letter of support for Ms. Hildreth and the Division be sent to the Commissioner of Education on the Council’s behalf.
Motion received a second.

During discussion it was suggested that a copy of the letter be sent to John Newman, Interim Chief of Staff.

After discussion motion passed.

Mr. Edwards stated that he would compose the letter and bring it back to the Council Friday.

Ms. Hildreth announced to the Council that DBS has requested an increase in funding for Older Blind.

Meeting adjourned at 3:35 PM

Quarterly Meeting (Friday, July 27, 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, Donté Mickens, Sheryl Brown, Dan O’Connor,  Paul Kaminsky, Joe Minichiello, Gloria Mills, Sheryl Brown, Michele Polland, Sandra Martin and Joyce Hildreth.   

Council Members Absent:  Ben Grzesik, Christopher White, Vicky Maglicchino, Sylvia Stinson-Perez and Ted Hull
Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff:  Wayne Jennings, Madeline Davidson and via teleconference:  Antionette Williams, JoAnn Carrin
Before addressing Agenda items Mr. Edwards read the letter FCB sent to the Commissioner and the letter he sent to Ms. Hildreth.   He then read the letter he composed as directed by the Council during the July 26th meeting. 

Several suggestions were made to the letter and Mr. Edwards stated he would make amendments giving more description of the Council before sending the letter to Ms. Dill to put on letterhead.

Mr. Kaminsky moved to accept the letter to the Commissioner.
Motion received a second and passed.

Council requested for the letters from FAASB and NFB be sent to Ms. Dill for distribution to the Council.

Digital Learning

JoAnn Carrin brought the Council up-to-date on the Digital Learning Accessibility project.  She provided her presentation material earlier via e-mail.

  • The next step is to contact other providers, the charter schools, and school districts.
  • The selection of courses will also be determined.
  • The Bureau of Exceptional Student Education has been involved from the very beginning.
  • The Office of Virtual Education played a large part.

Mr. Edwards stated there has never been and is not yet, a system that enables screen readers to handle the range of mathematical symbols that are at the heart of Math and Science courses.  He believes that eventually someone will have to bite the bullet and put substantial funding in the direction of creating a system that will enable on-line courses in the area of Math and Science to work.  Because it involves the state and obligations by the state, he believes the Digital Learning Project may be the one that will indicate there is a need.

Ms. Brown would like for the Florida Instructional Material Center in Tampa included in the project.

The group developing the State Plan for Education included accessible digital content of on-line courses as a part of the State Plan that was presented to the State Board of Education last week.

This past April, Ms. Carrin and Leann Grillot attended a Task Force meeting that was looking at the requirements for Digital Education and were successful in making sure that accessible content was included as one of the standards.

Ms. Carrin gave credit to the Assistive Technology staff at the Rehab Center for their part in the project.

Continuation of Policy 6.07 Purchase of Access and Rehabilitation Technology

#8.  The Council recommended adding the word “or employer” after the word “client” in the last sentence.

#9.  The Council recommended including “CCTVs” with equipment.  The Council recommended the language after “purchased at the determination of” read, “qualified local personnel and will be channeled through the Rehabilitation Engineer designee.”    Council recommended moving reference to $3,000 or more to the top.  The last sentence should be changed to read …under “state contract”….

#10.  The Council recommended adding “if needed” after Training and assessment in the first sentence.  Council recommended replacing the word “iPad” with “technology equipment” and strike “transition students”. 

#11.  The Council recommended striking #11.

#12 . The Council recommended incorporating #12 as part of #8.

#13.  The Council recommended specifying “after case is closed or placed in employed status 90 days or after”.

#14.  The Council recommended moving #14 to #5.

Ms. Williams informed the Council that Policy 6.07 applied to all equipment across the board.
Mr. Edwards referred back to #6 & #7 and stated that all computers purchased by the division include spyware and anti-spyware.  He stated he would add the word “accessible” to anti-virus and anti-spyware.

Mr. Garcia moved to accept Policy 6.07 with changes.  Motion received a second.

Mr. Hildreth suggested that due to the number of changes to the policy and the fact there will be a lot of rewrite to the policy perhaps a teleconference should be scheduled before the next meeting to go over the policy and the other policies one more time.

Motion was withdrawn.

Approval of April 2012 Minutes

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

Location and Date of July 2013 Meeting

Mr. Raines moved to conduct the July 2013 meeting in Pensacola.
Motion received a second and passed unanimously.

Council agreed on July 24, 25 & 26, 2013.

Agenda Items for October 2012 quarterly meeting in Daytona Beach

State Plan 2012 Submission Report
Approval of Annual Report to RSA
What Procedures and Policies are brought to the Council?
Strategic Plan Progress
Tour of new training center
Discovery Model
Gifts and Donations
Needs Assessment

Other on-going items:

Director’s Report
Local CRP Report
Update of VR Goals and review of policies   
Employer Recognition
Approval of July minutes
Agenda items for February meeting

The Council decided to conduct a Public Forum in Daytona at the hotel.

Mr. Garcia gave a report on the Blind Services Foundation.  He informed the Council the $500,000 had been returned to DBS.  The next Board meeting is scheduled for September 27th.

Mr. Miles also added that this past year the following has occurred with the Foundation:

  • New Board that includes 4 members who serve on FRCB as well.
  • Established new By-laws.
  • Established three committees: Finance, Projects and Fund raising.
  • The Finance committee cut finances and had a budget accepted by the Board.
  • Established a new investment portfolio.
  • United with other entities receiving Biker’s Care and formed a joint marketing effort.
  • Donated $32,292 to the Blind Babies Program.
  • There will be a budget item grant each year.
  • There have been three resignations.

Director’s Report continued from Thursday

  • During an inspection at the Library this past year mold was discovered.
  • Because digital books are replacing cassettes, the amount of storage will no longer be required, so buildings not needed, will be demolished. 
  • Because of the efforts of the VR Counselors and CRPs, successful outcomes exceeded the previous year.
  • DBS is hiring an individual that will be dedicated to working with the districts on employment initiatives.  
  • DBS is working on reclassifying the Customer Service Specialists (CSS) positions to a higher level to give an opportunity for promotions.
  • The CSS works with the Counselor to do job development and placement.
  • DBS will be looking at the possibility of some of the clients in the Adult Program being appropriate for Homemaker VR Services.  If implemented, the Council will be involved in the Policy development.
  • DBS has requested $580,000 for the Older Blind Program which includes 55 years and older.

Ms. Brown commented that RSA allows 2 year plans to VR and why DBS does one and if it could be looked at because of all the issues.

A motion to accept the Director’s report received a second and passed.

Mr. Edwards recognized Michele Polland and Sue Townsend on their contributions to the Council and on behalf of the Council expressed his deeply appreciation.

After a suggestion from Donte’, Ms. Dill will add a statement on the public forum notices that if consumers have questions after the forum to contact her at her email address.

Meeting adjourned at 11:00 AM.

Respectively submitted, Phyllis Dill, AAII