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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.

Response:

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.

Response:

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