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Public Forum (Thursday, July 25, 2013)

Hilton Garden Inn
1144 Airport Blvd.
Pensacola, FL

Bruce Miles, Chair called the meeting to order at 4:00 PM.

Council Members Present:  Bruce Miles, Paul Edwards, Paul Kaminsky, Andrew Raines, Dwight Sayer, Donté Mickens, Sandra Martin, Lenora Marten, Leanne Grillot, Gloria Mills, Dan O’Connor, Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Ben Grzesik, Christopher White and  Robert Doyle, Director. 
Patricia Lipovsky attended as the representative of the Independent Living Council.

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff:  Beth Crain, Wayne Jennings, Tony Pileggi, Lynn Ritter, Whitney Paine, Cynthia Lyons, LaChandra Barnes, Laura Gautier, Becky Kirsch

 Nineteen consumers were in attendance.

First consumer Comments:

  • Lost sight 4 years ago.
  • Started receiving services in 2009 from Independence for the Blind.
  • Thanked IB and DBS for supporting them.
  • The biggest thing faced in finding a job is transportation.


Julia Pearsall who works with transportation disadvantage informed the group they have brought in over $1 million for vehicles to be purchased.  She stated that there was a Federal Grant number 5310 is for agencies to purchase vehicles for the elderly and disabled.  She urged everyone to contact the local transportation organizations.

Second Consumer Comments:

  • Found out she had glaucoma when she went to get her license renewed in 2010.
  • She is legally blind in one eye.
  • She had her license taken away so she can’t drive anymore.
  • Gave praises to Independence for the Blind for giving her back her independence.
  • She has good family support.

Third Consumer Comments:

He has been blind for 20 years.
He thanked the Council for giving him the opportunity to say DBS “done good”!

Fourth Consumer Comments:

  • He lost his vision 1 year ago through retina detachments.
  • He feels that DBS dropped the ball numerous times.
  • He was not informed of his Counselor’s retirement and had problems with getting in touch with his new Counselor. 
  • His third Counselor seems to be getting things done.


Mr. Doyle apologized for the problems he encounter and assured him that as the new Director, he will be looking at customer service and the turnaround time involved.

Fifth Consumer Comments:

  • He expressed his appreciation to the local DBS staff for their helpfulness.
  • He had cataract surgery in his right eye in 2012 and just had his left eye surgery.
  • He stated that the gift of sight is amazing.

Sixth Consumer Comments:

Thanked the group for having the meeting and receiving consumer input.

Seventh Consumer Comments:

Mr. Miles read the following comments received via e-mail:

  • I take pride in DBS, because I know the kind of agency it can be. 
  • As a former client of DBS, I know what DBS can be because I’ve seen it first-hand. 
  • I’d like to see a complete restructuring of the rehabilitation center. 
  • Which is more important, learning how to make your bed or learning Microsoft certification?
  • I feel DBS is stressing employment and not independence.
  • Make working for DBS exciting.
  • Encourage former clients to assist new clients.  Networking is the key to success.

Eighth Consumer Comments:

Mr. Miles read the following comments received via e-mail:

  • It is unfortunate that this meeting could not be made accessible to me.
  • I have a dual sensory loss due to Usher Syndrome.
  • A dual disability requires a different type of training than for just a vision loss or a hearing loss
  • I am very grateful that Florida has recognized the need for a professional trained in dual sensory loss and will hire someone to serve this population.
  • More training, specialized training for the dual sensory loss, is needed in order for the instructors to successfully help one who suffers from a combined vision and hearing loss.
  • Agencies such as Division of Blind Services, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and Independence for the Blind of West Florida are very crucial to people who have visual challenges. 
  • It is because of these three agencies that I have a job today.
  • I have received training in Braille and O & M through Independence for the Blind's program.  
  • I have experienced a positive attitude towards my limited capabilities and IBs patience with delayed delivery of adaptive equipment that enables me to perform the duties of my job.
  • Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my comments with you today.

 No other consumers gave comment.

Other areas of information given to consumers by Council members:

  • All DBS policies and manuals are listed on the DBS website.
  • The Council directory, meeting notices, client satisfaction survey, annual reports and minutes of meetings and public forums are also on the DBS website.
  • The Council encouraged DBS to make sure Counselors explained all documents given to clients.
  • Consumers were informed that the Client Assistant Program would help them understand their rights and provide representation as necessary.
  • Consumers were encouraged to contact Walter Blackmon in the DBS State Office if they had any problems or concerns with their local office.

Public Forum adjourned at 5:30 PM