Florida Division of Blind Services logo



Embassy Suites West Palm Beach
1601 BElvedere Road
West Palm Beach, FL  33406

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bruce Miles, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:30 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present:  (16)

Bruce Miles, Paul Edwards, Robert Kelly, Dwight Sayer, Donté Mickens, Sandra Martin, Lenora Marten, Gloria Mills, Dan O’Connor, Ben Grzesik, Christopher White, Jesus Garcia, Patricia Lipovsky, Sheryl Brown, Sylvia Stinson-Perez  and  Robert Doyle, Director. 

Council Members Absent: (4)

Vicky Magliocchino, Joe Minichiello, Leanne Grillot, Paul Kaminsky

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: (10)

Antionette Williams, Bureau Chief of Client Services, Wayne Jennings, Bobbie Davis, DA, Stael Exantus, VR Supervisor, Christina Panczak-Smith, Sr. Rehab Spec., Jannelle Henry, SR Rehab Spec., Zunaira Wasif, SR Rehab Spec., Sharon Lucas, IL/CP, Samuel Patterson, Employment Placement Spec., Grace Golasz, Rehab Tech

Attendees: (6)

Mary Stutzman, Minna Jia, Carol Brady, Sheila Miles, Betty Shaheen, Cynthia Sellers, Mary Allen

Mr. Miles welcomed the new appointments: Robert Kelly, Jesus Garcia and Patricia Lipovsky; and the reappointments: Ben Grzesik, Vicky Magliocchino, Donte Mickens, Leanne Grillot, Christopher White and Sylvia Stinson-Perez

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

Director’s Report

Robert Doyle presented the following:

  • Mr. Doyle announced that the Federal Shut-down was over.  He stated that DBS had funds in reserve from the previous year that would have carried DBS into the early part of next year if the shut-down had continued.
  • DBS is engaged in a number of activities relating to Disability Awareness Month.
  • Governor Scott signed an Executive Order reaffirming the commitment to Floridians with Disabilities.
    • Governor Scott is calling for the development of an inter-agency cooperative agreement.
    • Five Goals were established.
    • The Developmental Disabilities Council will be the coordinating agency that will work with all the agencies involved with persons with disabilities.
  • Mr. Doyle informed the Council that all the ITNs had been sent out and had been returned.  He is going through the proposals to determine who DBS will negotiate with probably in early to mid-November.
  • Mr. Doyle stated the goal was to have new contracts in place for those expiring on December 31st.
  • A work group is working on restructuring the contract for Supported Employment.
  • A proposal has been given to the Governor to consider for his budget that will go to the Legislature that will provide funding for follow-along services for up to 1,000 individuals through VR who receive supported employment services.
  • DBS is working on trying to get tied in to the clearing house for criminal background checks.
  • The Division is also working on legislation to encourage doctors to let parents of blind children know about DBS.
  • Mr. Doyle touched base on the reauthorization of WIA and moving RSA to Labor and creating an Independent Living Administration within the US Department of Human Services. 
  • The Rehab Center has been talking about allowing spouses or parents to observe activities the last couple of days of the student’s time at the Center.
  • DBS is exploring opening individuals in referral status to possibly address the negative closures status.
  • DBS is also considering adding Homemaker as a Closure Status option.

Ms. Stinson-Perez asked if Care Takers could be considered and Mr. Doyle stated that it would be something to look at.

Ms. Antionette Williams informed the Council that RSA allows 120 days from application to plan.  Once the referral is taken the Rehab Tech has 10 days to make contact with the individual.  Getting information from the eye doctor to help determine eligibility is the most time consuming.  Once the report is received the Counselor can determine eligibility. 

Mr. Doyle gave the following report on Gifts and Donations:

  • An application process is being created for the Gifts and Donations Funds targeting  not-for-profit organizations.
  • Up to $150,000 (total) would be available per year for applications that could be awarded as a one year grant.
  • The committee to evaluate the applications that are submitted will consist of at least 5 individuals (3 DBS staff; 1 DSO member; 1 FRCB member).
  • The selected applicants will be given to Mr. Doyle for final review and/or approval.
  • The process will begin in January 2014 with reviews being once or twice a year.

Mr. Doyle informed the Council that Ms. Dill’s position was upgraded and currently advertised with a closing date of Monday, October 21st. 

Budget Update:

  • The budget submitted is substantially similar to the previous year.
  • The Division asked for additional rate budget authority to hire VRC’s at a higher salary than currently.

District Administrator’s Report

Bobbie Howard provided the Council with a copy of her report in an email last week.  She gave the following highlights of the report:

  • The district 10 office is located in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  • The district serves five (5) counties, Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, Okeechobee and St. Lucie.
  • The five counties land mass from north to south is one hundred and thirty miles and about seventy mile from east to west.
  • The large employers in each of the counties consist of the public school districts, city and county governments.  
  • District Ten has eleven staff members (ten full time and one part-time), a district administrator, supervisor, four counselors (3 for the VR program, and 1 for Children Program/Independent Living Program), one employment specialist, two rehabilitation technicians, one staff assistant, one senior word processer, and reader/driver.
  • Several staff member have maintained their employment for over 30 years and the rest range from 1 ½ years to 23 years.
  • The staff refers to themselves as toss salad, because they are very unique, but blend perfectly together to make a winning TEAM.
  • The diversity of Team 10 offers the ability to communicate in six different languages, and the diversity of the group includes several different nationalities around the world.   
  • This past year, District 10’s personnel participated and assisted in organizing the following:
    • Five holiday activities for kids, most with our CRP’s, in which we provided donated food and treats. These activities were conducted on Saturdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
    • Participated in facilitating outreach activities to the underserved communities of the Glades (Belle, Pahokee, and South Bay), Indiantown, Okeechobee, and Fellsmere. Assisted each of these communities with health fairs, and resource fairs. These activities were conducted on Saturdays, in an effort to create the maximum awareness and outreach among the populations of these communities
  • Successful Closures - District Ten 4 year totals = 570
    •  Blind Babies = 38
    • Children Program = 30
    • Independent Living = 350
    • Vocational Rehabilitation = 152
  • VR successful Closures and performance goals  – District Ten
    • FY 2013-14    = 43    First Quarter: 11 -- On Target.
    • FY 2012-13    = 43    Achieved 46 -- Met goal at 1.07%
    • FY 2011-12 = 29       Achieved 30 -- Met goal at 1.03%
    • FY 2010-11 = 37       Achieved 39 -- Met goal at 1.05%
  • Participants Served – District Ten – 3 year Totals = 2043
    • Blind Babies = 270
    • Children Program     = 223
    • Independent Living = 744
    • Vocational Rehabilitation = 806

Mr. Patterson informed the Council that district ten had a population of approximately 2.3 million. 

Ms. Howard stated she believed there were a number of individuals not being served in the northern area and would like to see a satellite office in the area.  She stated that most of the clients came from the east side of the district.  Transportation for the northern counties is mainly for medical services.  Clients depend on family, coworkers or taxi services to get to work.

Ms. Howard informed the Council that there was not a local MOU with the school districts. 

Employer Recognition

Stael Exantus recognized Walgreen’s Distribution Center as the recipient of the Employer’s Award.  Dana Lynch has worked with DBS since 2007 and accepted the award.   Damian Tater, a former DBS client has worked at the Center since 2008.

A group photo was taken of Bruce Miles, Robert Doyle, Bobbie Howard, Stael Exantus,

Damian Tater, Walgreens; Adam Warriner, Walgreens; Milton Solorzano, Walgreens.

Morning Break

Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches (LBPB)

Mary Allen, Director of Vision Services introduced Kathy Spencer, Vice President of Programs and Services.  She gave the following report:

  • LBPB was established in 1946.
  • LBPB Mission: To assist persons with visual impairments to develop their capabilities to the fullest and to utilize them in the pursuits of life which are the right and privilege of all.
  • LBPB serves 5 counties (Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee)
  • LBPB has 12 staff: 3 CVRT, 3 COMS, 2 Assistive Technology, 1 Social Worker, 1 Adjustment to Blindness Counselor, 2 Children’s Services (TVI/COMS), 1 Administrative Assistant, 1 Director
  • LBPB’s current contracts with DBS: ILOB, ILAP, VR
  • LBPB has raised $312,000 in addition to DBS funds.
  • LBPB is interested in providing supported employment.
  • The services offered by LBPB:
    • Rehabilitation
    • Orientation & Mobility
    • Assistive Technology (including iPhone, iPad, android, Mac)
    • Adjustment to Blindness Counseling
    • Low Vision Clinic and services
    • LITE Club-summer camp, year round activities
    • Transition Summer Program
    • Used Equipment Grant
    • Clubs; Boot-up, Book Club
    • Social/Rec-Focus Group 
    • Aids & Appliances Store
    • I&R
    • Community Education/Outreach
  • LBPB has 5 major challenges:
  1. Large territory (much very rural), limited transportation for clients to get to centers, staff travel time to home or center (lots of time on road)
  1. Need-deliverables too low, over-serving.  Have had to hire unbudgeted staff to meet the




Months Complete

Contract Deliverable

Actual Deliverables







245 %



3 out of 6



270 %






329 %



3 out of 6



500 %






138 %

DBS funding covers approximately 50% of what it costs to provide contracted services. Therefore, Lighthouse must raise the other 50%, on top of 100% when overserving, as well as the cost of unfunded services/programs.

  1. Transition Program (contract) does not exist in this area. Need for these services to

 ensure future success.  We received POs for Summer Transition Program for 3

 participants. Would like POs for year round Transition services until ITN is decided. 

  1. DBS Children’s Program-very few referrals-We receive 1-2 POs a year. One PO

received for four hours for Independent Living Skills training.  Four hours doesn’t even

scratch the surface. Parents told wait until eligible for Transition program. This is not in

 the best interest of the child.

To offset the lack of children’s services, Lighthouse began offering Summer Camp and

year round activities to address some of these needs. Areas covered include; computer

skills and assistive technology, ADL skills, O&M, social skills and field trips.

  1. Babies-we feel the flow from one program/provider to the next is fractured. Children

are getting lost in the shuffle. Having comprehensive services under one roof is most

effective way to ensure continuity of services (and support) without interruption. 

DBS Policies

Michelle Levy, DA District 11 went over the policies with the Council on behalf of Lynn Ritter.

Policy 6.07 Purchase of Access and Rehabilitation Technology –

Mr. White had a question in the first paragraph and “documentation to AWARE”.

Ms. Williams stated that she understood what Mr. White was asking and that the documentation would include any information provided from the rehab engineers and the school system.

Mr. White had a concern with number 1  …”the client is responsible for maintenance ….”  He believes DBS should be responsible for maintenance for the three years it maintains ownership as stated in number 4 and 5.

Mr. Edwards suggested checking on a few punctuation errors in the policy.  He is concerned with the Tampa Lighthouse being an integral part of the policy.  He also believes that the Rehab Engineer should make recommendation and the decision should be with DBS.

Mr. Doyle agreed with Mr. Edwards and stated that it appears the decision is given to the Lighthouse where it should be recommendation and the final decision needs to be with DBS.

Mr. White’s other comments;

  • He pointed out that numbers 1 and 10 referred to “guidelines located on the O drive and he suggests that in terms of accessibility for clients to understand what the guidelines were they should be directed to the website to read the policy.
  • He believes there are some areas of the policy that just is vague enough for Counselors to misinterpret.  One is with 3 vendors and quotes.
  • He stated that paragraph nine and justification needs to clarify that the Counselor should be the one to provide the justification.

Mr. Miles asked that DBS make the proposed changes and send the revised policy to the Council for review and place on the agenda for the February meeting.

Mr. Edwards would like the 3 vendor rule removed from the policy.

Policy 2.10 Self-Employment Services -

Mr. White stated that the Client’s Assistance Program (CAP) felt there was a disconnect with the policy and Rule 6A-18.049.

Mr. Edwards moved to defer consideration of Policy 2.10 to the February meeting.

Motion received a second and passed.

Mr. Doyle informed the Council that he would be reviewing rule revisions drawn up over a year ago that includes Self-Employment Guidelines.  He stated that the rule making process is starting over.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:05 PM.

Needs Assessment Update

Mr. Doyle provided the Council an update on the status of the Needs Assessment and the reason FSU was no longer interested in contracting with DBS.  He stated that Mississippi State University has expressed an interest in conducting the Needs Assessment again.  MSU estimated that if all the elements required by RSA and the additional ones requested by the Council were included the contract could be close to $100,000.

Mr. Doyle had the following questions to consider:

  1. Do we want all the information in one report?
  2. Do we want to have two individualized reports?
  3. Do we want to have the Comprehensive Needs Assessment as outlined by RSA, and determine if there are any other avenues of getting the other data the Council was looking for?

Mr. Doyle stated that because the Needs Assessment data wouldn’t be completed until September 30, 2014 there was time to pull together a contract, time to begin some assessments and time to have a report written.  If the Needs Assessment is conducted in 2014 we have 2015 to evaluated it and up to 2016 to put the results in the State Plan.

The question is what is it that we really want to have, what is the mechanism that we want to go about getting it and what is the cost we are willing to pay.

Ms. Williams stated that it might be a good idea to see which of the 3 goals the Council requested that could be done in-house as opposed to hiring a vendor to do all three.

Mr. Edwards moved that the Council approve an on-going Needs Assessment which includes the 5 required plus the first additional component regarding unsuccessful closures as core components of the Needs Assessment to be entered into negotiations with MSU.

The motion received a second.

Mr. Mickens asked if it would be possible to use a portion of the Gifts and Donations funds to cover the other two components.

Ms. Stinson-Perez suggested setting up an Ad Hoc Committee to attempt to do the research and if it doesn’t develop then add to the Needs Assessment.

Ellie Dupree informed the Council that the Lighthouse of Broward was applying for a Grant that the Broward County Master Plan Organization has offered regarding Transportation. 

Mr. Doyle stated he was interested in the technological readiness from birth and determining what technologies an individual should be exposed to at different ages.

After discussion, Mr. Edwards’s motion passed.

VR Goals Update

  • Wayne Jennings provided the Council with his report and data previously and went over the report with a slide presentation. 
  • He explained that the totals for the last quarter will be different because they are updated daily. 
  • He informed the Council that MIS will group the cognitive or hearing impairments together with the sub-categories for the next meeting.
  • DBS will be removing the “Other” in the options list under reason for unsuccessful closure.
  • With the last AWARE update assessments were put prior to the plan so the assessment time is not averaged from eligibility to plan.

Mr. Miles read a letter from the Public Forum while they set up for the Florida Outreach Center for the Blind’s video presentation.

Florida Outreach Center for the Blind (FOCB)

Carolyn Lapp presented a video FOCB uses to promote the Center.

  • FOCB was founded in 2003 by Carolyn Lapp and husband, Bill.
  • FOCB is a not-for-profit agency formed for the express purpose of providing services

to people in Palm Beach County and surrounding areas that are blind or visually impaired. 

  • FOCB provides instruction and support in the areas of independent living skills and vocational rehabilitation services.
  • 100% of the FOCB staff are visually impaired and at least 50% of the Board of Directors must be blind are have a family member who is blind.
  • Mrs. Lapp stated that FOCB had a good relationship with the DBS office and she gave accolades to Bobbie Howard, DA for being very supportive.
  • FOCB’s mission is to seek the total integration of the blind and visually impaired into their communities.
  • FOCB’s goal is to provide the opportunities in rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired to expand their personal expectations and reach their full potential.
  • In 2011, FOCB began its Kids Club program.
  • FOCB developed a “Plan for the Future” for sustainability.
  • The plan includes gradually raising salary levels to assure retention of current staff and attraction of additional qualified staff.

Chronology of the highlights of the plan:

  • 2013  - Added an income development and grant writing specialist on a temporary basis
  • 2014 - Continue grant writing specialist on a temporary basis until a marketing and fund raiser employee or Assistant Executive Director of Marketing, Public Relations & Fundraising can be added.  Add a part time instructor to reflect increase in clients served.
  • 2015 - Add position of Assistant Executive Director of Marketing, Public Relations & Fundraising.
  • 2016 - Add another part time instructor to reflect increase in clients served.
  • 2017 - Change certified supervisor position from part time contractor to full time employee.   Add a part-time driver to reduce the amount of time and related cost associated with transporting blind instructors with public transportation.

Budget projections through 2018 are:


2013 - $101,130

2014 - $156,190

2015 - $207,420

2016 - $220,620

2017 - $264,220

2018 - $279,300


DBS: 2013 - $ 37,800; 2014 - $105,000; 2015 - $157,500; 2016 - $210,000; 2017 - $420,000; 2018 - $630,000

Able Trust: 2013 - $40,000; 2014 - $40,000; 2015 - $40,000; 2016 - $40,000; 2017 - $40,000; 2018 - $40,000

Lost Tree: 2013 - $12,000

Events: 2013 - $25,000; 2014 - $30,000; 2015 - $45,000; 2016 - $55,000; 2017 - $60,000; 2018 - $70,000

Donations:  2013 - $7,000; 2014 - $2,500; 2015 - $3,000; 2016 - $5,000; 2017 - $7,500;    2018 - $10,000

Client Satisfaction Survey Review

Dr. Mary Stutzman introduced Dr. Minna Jai, who will take over the lab after her retirement at the end of the month. 

Dr. Stutzman gave a brief overview of the data collected since the last survey ended in March.

Mr. Miles stated that next year a committee could re-visit the survey questions for possible tweaking.

Dr. Stutzman informed Mr. Doyle that the Statement of Work only included a yearly report and that usually in February a brief update is given. 

Mr. Miles read a few more letters from the Public Forum before the next agenda item.

Cooperative Agreement – FRCB/DBS

A copy of the proposed Cooperative Agreement was provided to the Council earlier for review.

Mr. Edwards moved that the Council Chair sign the Agreement with the changes.  Motion received a second and passed.

Council Business

Approval of Annual Report -

  • A motion to approve the Annual Report received a second and passed.

Approval of July Minutes –

  • A motion to approve the July minutes and Public Forum notes received a second and passed.

Location and dates of October 2014 meeting -

  • A motion to have the October 2014 meeting in Daytona Beach received a second and passed.
  • Approved dates are October 22, 23 & 24, 2014

Ms. Dill informed the Council that there was a possibility the July 2014 meeting would need to be relocated due to issues with obtaining a contract with the only available hotel in Gainesville.  She requested the Council give her approval on checking hotels in Ocala if needed.

Mr. Garcia moved to switch the July 2014 meeting, if necessary, from Gainesville to Ocala.  Motion received a second and passed.

Agenda Items for February 2014 meeting

  • Election of Officers
  • New Braille Code – Leanne Grillot
  • Re-address Policies #2.10 and #6.07 and the DBS Job Placement Policy
  • Update on the Needs Assessment
  • Client Satisfaction Mini report – Minna Jai
  • Be sure to invite Commissioner Stewart

There will not be a Public Forum conducted at the February meeting in Tallahassee.

Public Forum Procedures

Mr. Edwards moved to accept the By-laws, concerning the Public Forum Procedures, as amended.  Motion received a second.  

After discussion the following Amendment was approved.

Section 2. Public Forums:

The Council will conduct at least two (2) public forums per year.

The decision to hold a public forum in conjunction with a quarterly meeting will be made by majority vote of members in attendance when the meeting location has been decided.

The public forum will be advertised as a 1 ½ hour meeting with the date and time decided by the Council during the preceding meeting.

Previous/New Business/Open Discussion

Lee Nasehi, President and CEO of the Lighthouse of Central Florida and Lighthouse Works in Orlando spoke to the Council on the following:

  • Lighthouse Works (LW) has a central call center that they are re-branding as Foresight 360 powered by Lighthouse Works.
  • LW has 18 blind and visually impaired agents.
  • LW’s call center does surveys, marketing, and customer service.
  • LW offers higher than average customer service.
  • They have contracts with other companies to score their prerecorded calls.
  • LW subscribes to the no solicitation lists.

Mr. Edwards moved that the Chair appoints a transportation ad hoc committee with Gloria Mills as Chair, to report back to the Council at the February meeting with an action plan.

The committee will consist of:  Gloria Mills, Chair, Sylvia Stinson-Perez, Dwight Sayer, Paul Edwards, Sandy Martin and Joe Minichiello.

Mr. Edwards called a Question.  Motion passed.

Mr. Doyle asked the Council to appoint a member to serve on the interview committee for Ms. Dill’s position and also a member to serve on the Gifts and Donations review committee.

Council agreed that Council Chair, Mr. Miles serve on both committees.

Meeting adjourned at 4:15 PM.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Council Members Present:  Bruce Miles, Paul Edwards, Dwight Sayer, Robert Kelly

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

Council business concluded on Thursday, October 17th.  The Chair, three members and staff met in front of the meeting room at 8:30 AM in case anyone arrived expecting a meeting.  At 8:45 AM it was apparent no one was showing.