Florida Division of Blind Services logo


May 7 thru 8, 2015

Hilton Miami airport
5101 blue lagoon drive
miami, FL  33126  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Meeting called to order at 8:30 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present:  (16)

Charles Brooks, Sheryl Brown, Jesus Garcia, Leanne Grillot, Ben Grzesik, Robert Kelly Patricia Lipovsky, Vicky Magliocchino, Donté Mickens, Bruce Miles, Gloria Mills, Dan O’Connor, Sylvia Perez, Dwight Sayer, Michael Wiseman and Robert Doyle, Director 

Council Members Present via Teleconference: (1)

Lenora Marten

Council Members Absent: (2)

Sandra Martin, Joe Minichiello 

Council Staff: (1)

Alise Fields

DBS Staff: (20)

Tom Austin, Bureau Chief of Client Services, Wayne Jennings, Beth Crain, Michelle Levy, Sandra Brown, Tracey Bradley, Jeff Whitehead, Denise Valluerca, Bobbie Howard-Davis, Janet Alterman, Juan Carlos Diaz, Nancy Brown, Mireya Hernandez, Tony Pileggi, Bruce Emmerton, Ana Saint-Fort, Madeline Davidson, Bertha Hyche,  Leigh Ann Bellamy, Donna Rhodes 

Attendees: (5)

Minna Jia, Becki Forsell, Virginia Jacko, Paul Edwards, Carol Brady-Simmons

A motion to amend the agenda to have Becki Forsell give an FRC update in place of Bruce Miles was made and seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Director’s Report

Robert Doyle presented the following:

  • DBS General Update
  • Director recognized DBS staff present, and newly promoted DBS staff members
  • DBS Strategic Plan
    • Statewide calls are expected to begin in July or August 2015 for consumer input.
  • DBS Internal Activities
    • Contracts
    • Rehab Engineering
    • Blind Babies, Adult Program and Older Blind Program Enhancements
    • Updating Newsline
    • Monitoring Schedule in place for the Community Rehabilitation Programs
    • Comprehensive Data Reporting Plan
    • District Monitoring Schedule
    • Departmental Training
    • Collaboration with Developmental Advocacy Groups
    • Employment First Workgroup
    • Updating Gifts and Donations Grant Review
    • MOU updating  with Vocational Rehabilitation
    • Staffing
    • Supported Employment Services
    • EOP Training-Job Placement
    • Vermont Model of Employment Program
      • Being Implemented in six districts
    • Legislative Training
  • Successful Closures (full report can be obtained through the DBS State Office)
    • 529 successful closures as of May 7, 2015
    • 300+ in employment status
    • Expected to meet or surpass the past years totals of successful closures
    • Case reviews are being performed
      • Average compliance rate is 96%
    • YTD comparisons as of the end of the third quarter of projected or actual percentage of goals are on target
    • Total Successful Employment Closures
      • Expected to meet or exceed the projected goals of employment outcomes
    • Rehabilitation Rate Outcomes (as of 3/30/15)
      • Gradual Increase from 50% in the previous quarter to 59% currently
    • Top Four Expenditures YTD
      • Physical and mental restoration
      • Rehab Engineering
      • Maintenance
      • Training/Non-Contracted Services
    • Trend Data FY2011-2014
      • Top Cities of successful employment outcomes
        • Miami
        • Orlando
        • Jacksonville
        • Daytona
        • Tallahassee
        • Tampa
      • Top Job Categories
        • Para-Professional Technical
        • Clerical/Administrative Support
        • Construction/Material Handling
        • Sales
        • Managerial
        • Special Occupations
        • Healthcare
        • Education Training
        • Agricultural/Forestry
      • Top Job Titles
        • Customer service
        • Food Service Workers
        • Clerical/Administrative Support Workers
        • Teachers and Instructors
        • Vending Operators
        • Managers/Administrators
    • Nationwide Trend Data FY 2012-2022
      • Top Expected Employment Opportunities
        • Retail Sales Persons
        • Combined Food Preparations
        • Cashiers
        • Waiters/Waitresses
        • Registered Nurses
    • Wage Trend Goal (per hour earned)
      • Goal is for there to be an increase in wages for clients upon exit of program
    • Training Statistics YTD
      • Unsuccessful Closures use more training hours
      • Successful Closures use less training hours 
      • Decrease in training hours during FY 2012-2014 for successful closures
    • RSA Standards and Regulators
      • Regulators propose that all current standards and regulators will be replaced with the proposed rules
  • Governor’s Recommended Budget (full report can be obtained through the DBS State Office)
    • Legislature adjourned without an approved budget
    • Special Session is expected to begin June 1-20, 2015
    • FAASB Recommendations of proposed funds for a Children’s Program is included in the Senate’s proposed budget.
  • Legislative Updates
    • House Bill 71 expanding rights and adding responsibilities as it pertains to the act for service animals and public accommodations has passed 
    • Senate Bill 642 Florida Able Act that creates a tax exempt savings accounts for individuals up to age 26 for disability related expenses has passed
    • House Bill 7019 has passed that creates a task force for the implementation of WIOA  
  • WIOA
    • Series of internal department workgroup meetings have occurred and continuation of those meetings will be scheduled to discuss impacts and connections
      • Public Meeting will be held on May 14th for public comment
        • Future meetings scheduled:
          • June 11th
          • July 16th
          • August 6th   
    • Recommendations will be submitted to the Career Source Florida Board
    • Discussions include mapping as it relates to the State Plan and the Sunshine Act


  • Michael Wiseman asks how the expected rapid communication with the Counselors will be affected by the shortage in staff throughout the DBS. Also, how will the employment and training status of the clients be affected for individuals that are in between employment categories.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that he does not have the progressive model correlation at this time. Mr. Doyle further responds that training will be made available via the ICI and AWARE modifications may be necessary to address various progressive outcomes. .
  • Dwight Sayer asks what the projected increase in cost is in providing the program.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that he is not expecting a significant increase in cost.
  • Becki Forsell asks how transportation will be handled for the more rural areas throughout the state of Florida with the Vermont Model of Employment Program.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there will need to be some flexibility in the choices of the individual during their career path.
  • Donte Mickens comments that Child Placement Specialist should consider placements outside of their districts.
  • Sylvia Perez comments that she is interested to see what training successful closure clients received.  Sylvia also comments that regarding the WIOA task force, if there is an option of including a rehab provider on the internal DBS task force.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that the challenge with this collaboration is that there are limitations with the applicability of the Sunshine Act.   

Employer Recognition

Chairman Kelly recognized Baptist Hospital as the recipient of the Employer’s Award. Baptist Hospital has provided successful job placements for DBS clients.

VR Goals Update

Wayne Jennings provided the Council with his report and data prior to the meeting. (Full report can be obtained through the DBS State Office)

Wayne discussed the following information for the third quarter:

  • Category Trend Data
    • Numbers are recorded for each year and DBS has adjusted how calculations are made  
  • Average Rehab Rate Calculations
    • Fifty-Four percent compared to Fifty-Eight percent from the previous year third quarter
  • District Closures Quality Control Performance Measures
    • Data comes from the case management system AWARE
    • DBS will provide accessible copies of data directly from AWARE to eliminate duplication errors


  • Bruce Miles asks for clarification of the categories that are questionable.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that the data will be clarified through the DBS programmers and clear and corrected data will be reported back to the FRCB by the July meeting.
  • Michael Wiseman asks if there is a common trend with unsuccessful closures.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there is a need to perform more precise data collection with the category.  
  • Chairman Kelly asks Mr. Doyle how the FRCB can be of support during the comment period during the public meeting, regarding the Homemaker status. 

Director Doyle provide suggestions and encouraged the Council to develop comments during the public comment period.

    • NPRM/State Plan Update

Robert Doyle presented the following:

  • Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) Overview
    • Six Core Programs
    • Five individual rulemaking with a designated docket number
    • Joint proposed rulemaking groups developed
    • Department of Education proposed three rulemakings
  • Structure of the NPRM
    • Preamble
    • Executive Summary
    • Significant Proposed Regulations
    • Regulatory Impact Analysis
    • Paperwork Reduction Act
  • Proposed Regulations Comment Suggestions
    • FRCB should consider workgroups
    • Use DBS response template from workgroups 
    • Identify the docket number for the relevant proposed rule
    • Submit comments for multiple proposed rules separately
    • Submit comments that are electronically searchable
    • Organize comments based on the relevant proposed section number
    • Identify the proposed regulation related to the comment
    •  Provide complete discussion of the concern
    • Indicate areas of agreement
  • New Employment Outcome Language
    • Gainful Employment term has been replaced with Competitive Integrated Employment
    • Defined as customized employment
    • Employment outcomes will have to be competitive employment or self-employment or working from home
  • IPE
    • Would need a specific employment goal
    • Hired at the state or federal minimum wage
    • Must yield an income competitive with other individuals in the same line of work
    • Must provide level of benefits to employees that are similar to other individuals in the same line of work
    • Must be at a location that is typically found in the community  


  • Michael Wiseman asks regarding Adult Education Literacy, is there a link to ESOL services.
    • Robert Doyle responds that there may be a link however, all the details are not yet available.
  • Michael Wiseman asks if DBS is prepared to provide the FRCB with the template to respond to the RSA.
    • Tom Austin responds that the template will be shared with the FRCB. 
  • Paul Edwards comments that he will share all NPRMs with the FRCB through Alise Fields.
  • Sylvia Perez proposed a motion to form a workgroup task force. Michael Wiseman seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
    • Chairman Kelly suggests that the development of the workgroup be further discussed during the FRCB meeting on May 8, 2015.
  • Dwight Sayer asks if the unified state plan is combined with the general agencies state plan.  
    • Mr. Doyle responds that the agencies are posturing to maintain the uniqueness of each program’s activities in the unified state plan.   
  • Michael Wiseman asks what the interpretation of the DBS is for continuing higher education or a verified viable advancement opportunity.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that this would be based on the development of the individual goal and IEP of the client.   

Client Satisfaction Survey Review

Dr. Minna Jia and Senior Analyst with The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) provided the council with a full report prior to the meeting and discussed the following:

This report summarizes the data collected for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  This report includes cases closed between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.  The Customer Satisfaction Survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients gathers perspectives of former DBS clients concerning program services, levels of satisfaction, and areas for program improvement.  This report describes the methods used and presents the 2014-15 results for clients with cases closed between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. Attempts to call clients with cases closed between February 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015 are still in the process and the results will be updated in the annual report for fiscal year 2014-2015.  In the fall of 2009, the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind modified the previous survey to streamline the interviews and update information in new areas.  Some minor modifications to this survey were made October 2010.  Many of the items remained comparable or identical to the survey administered the previous 10 years.  In these instances, data for the 10 previous years are provided for comparison purposes.  For new questions, major modifications made to question wording, or questions asked of different populations (new screens), no comparisons to prior years can be made.


Population Surveyed.  The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL), College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, conducted a telephone survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients on a monthly basis. Employment-bound clients with cases “closed” between April 1, 2014 and March31, 2015 comprises the population surveyed for this report.  DBS provided the names, addresses, phone numbers and demographic information for 1,281 former clients.  Case closures are classified into two major groupings, those with successful and unsuccessful closures. 

Successful Closure – 708 Clients

Unsuccessful Closure – 573 Clients

Copies of the report can be obtained from FRCB personnel


  • Donte Mickens asks how are the clients contacted
    • Dr. Jia responds that clients are contacted by phone numbers that are listed on the cases received from DBS. Dr. Jia further responds that there are many cases that do not have numbers so in this case a client may not be contacted.
    • Donte Mickens follows up with a statement that there may be an opportunity to collect an email address from clients as an alternative contact method.  
  • Bruce Miles asks for further clarification of the previous client numbers, because the numbers seem to be significantly lower.
    • Dr. Jia responds that it can be a classification or coding issue. Dr. Jia further comments that she will confirm the coding.
  • Donte Mickens comments that multiple entries and exits can explain why some of the numbers are skewed.
  • Donte Mickens asks if a satisfaction rate can be broken out from the category of clients seeking services to obtain employment.
    • Dr. Jia comments that she can provide a separate satisfaction rate from this category.  

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:05 PM

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.

Virginia A. Jacko, President & CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc. provided the Council with a copy of her report. A full copy of the report can be obtained through a request to FRCB staff.  The following information was provided by the Miami Lighthouse:

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc. was founded in 1931 and is Florida's largest and oldest private, nonprofit agency. We provide eye health services to underserved schoolchildren in 67 Florida counties and vision rehabilitation and training for the estimated 60,000 residents living in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties who are blind or visually impaired (estimate from Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Florida by County, Florida Association Agencies Serving the Blind, 2013). According to this estimate, Miami-Dade County has the largest number of visually impaired residents of any county in Florida.  

National Recognition:

Through our continued collaborations with the academic community, Miami Lighthouse has gained a reputation as an innovator in vision rehabilitation and has, in keeping with our mission, contributed to expanding the number of vision rehabilitation professionals.  During 2014 our certified low vision occupational therapist provided eight-week practicum internships for twelve occupational therapist students from Florida International University and our Orientation and Mobility staff supervised five O&M interns from, Florida State University and the University of Massachusetts. In past years we have also provided Orientation and Mobility internships to students from Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Western Michigan University, Texas Tech, and the University of Northern Colorado.

In collaboration with Second Sight and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Carol Brady Simmons, COMS and Raquel Vander Biest, OTR/L and CLVT are providing rehabilitation services to the tenth patient in the U.S. successfully completing the artificial retinal implant surgery.

In order to offer our comprehensive Braille music course to a wider audience not limited by geography, we recently debuted our distance learning Braille music curriculum. This first-of-its-kind online instruction for Braille music, developed over a two-year period by Miami Lighthouse instructors makes Braille music learning available to students worldwide. Students who complete the course are delighted to have access to the same information their sighted music peers have on sheet music (see attached flyer). 

Our innovative programs and best practices have been featured in national peer-reviewed journals in the field of vision impairment and in non-profit publications: 

  • “Implementing the Principles of Universal Design during Fieldwork” manuscript pending peer review for acceptance in OT Practice Journal. 
  • “A New Synthesis of Sound and Tactile Music Code Instruction in a Pilot Online Braille Music Curriculum,” Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, March-April 2015, pp. 153-157 (copy of article attached). 
  • Blind Babies Play Program: A Model for Affordable, Sustainable Early Childhood Literacy Intervention through Play and Socialization," Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, May-June 2013, pp. 238-242."
  • Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program," Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association, Volume 83, Issue 1, January 2012,
  • pp. 42-46.
  • "Mainstream Employment in Music Production for Individuals Who are Visually Impaired: Development of a Model Training Program," Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, September 2010, pp. 519-521. 
  • "Intervention through Art for Adults Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired," Journal of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2009, pp. 9-11.
  • Building a Rock-Solid Board/CEO Partnership: Talking with CEO Virginia Jacko," Nonprofit World, May/June 2009.
  • "Leading and Managing Governance Change," Nonprofit World, May/June 2008
  • “Let’s Give the Blind Better Access to Online Learning,” by Virginia A. Jacko, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 8, 2011.

Recent Awards and Recognitions

2015   Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Award Finalist Outstanding Organization of the Year.  Award winners will be announced on April 23.The Sapphire Awards honor outstanding individuals, programs and nonprofit organizations in community health care, or health care related fields, whose work is distinguished by leadership, innovation and achievements in community health.

2015   Beacon Council Distinguished Industry Award for Education

2014   Miami Lighthouse was selected as a 2014 Miami Marlins Charity Partner   from nearly 200 local charities competing for this distinction, and          funding from the Marlins Foundation was used to underwrite comprehensive eye exams and glasses for inner-city school children through our Heiken Children’s Vision Program.

2014   Molina Health Care of Florida Community Champion Award

2013   Switchboard of Miami Most Valuable Non-Profit Award

Total number of employees 68:  all certified staff involved in delivering instruction (CVRT, COMS, CLVT and TVI) provide services consistent with professional certification and license requirements and NAC expectations, and all children’s specialists hold INSIGHT and VIISA certificates, and all six of our staff who teach technology hold State of Florida Division of Blind Services endorsement in assistive technology in screen reading and screen enlargement.

Miami Lighthouse Services
January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014

DOE/DBS Programs                     Clients Served                     
Blind Babies                                       100              
Transition                                              38               
Vocational Rehab                              157              
Independent Living                           180              
Alternative Rehab Services       Clients Served                     
Music                                                   200              
GED/Family Empowerment               86               
STAR/Braille Technology                   73               
Senior Group Activities                      141             
Low Vision Services                        3,876             
Heiken                                               8,482             
Total FY2014 clients se          13,333       

In February 2013 the Board of Directors approved our “Strategic Vision for Expansion of Programs in our Center of Excellence Initiative” which focuses on six initiatives over the four-year period from 2013-2016:
1. Meeting the Needs of Visually Impaired Children
2. Providing Career Guidance and Job Placement
3. Meeting the Needs of Visually Impaired Adults, Especially Seniors
4. Innovating through Advanced Technology
5. Collaborating with Academe
6. Positioning Miami Lighthouse for Health Care Reform
This Strategic Vision identifies those areas where Miami Lighthouse must continue to expand and to evolve to meet the growing need for vision rehabilitation, training and eye health services.  An update on progress of Strategic Vision Initiatives is on our web site at:  http://miamilighthouse.org/Docs/StrategicPlanningAccomplishments2013thru2016.pdf

Our Sash A. Spencer Educational Empowerment Center—a  project to enable more blind teenagers and adults to transition successfully from high school to higher education or mainstream employment—was dedicated on October 7, 2014.  At the end of 2014 forty-seven visually impaired adults were taking classes to both learn English and attain their GED in this new fourth-floor space.  Other activities held in this area include our Family Empowerment Program, meetings of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Teachers of the Visually Impaired and sessions such as Community Based Organizations participating in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Million Dollar Literacy Challenge.

For additional information contact: vjacko@miamilighthouse.org
Or call 305.856.4793.
Web:  www.miamilighthouse.org


  • Becki Forsell asked if individuals that live in areas on a fixed route can use funds allocated for transportation.
    • Ms. Brady-Simmons responds that in the pilot project offers flexibility in transportation options.
  • Bruce Miles asks what the experience with UBER in the area is.
    • Ms. Jacko responds that she has not had much experience with using UBER.
  • Michael Wiseman asks if the pilot program is opening doors as it pertains to the level of employment.
    • Ms. Jacko responds that it is a challenge with transportation. She indicated that some employees are using UBER as an alternative.
  • Leanne Grillot asked what the number of interaction with children between the ages of 6-14 is.
    • Ms. Jacko responded that Carol Brady-Simmons started the summer camp for children that focuses primarily on literacy. The program is an inclusion program that includes siblings. Ms. Jacko further responds that there are an array of programs that the Lighthouse offers for children.

Vanda Pharmaceuticals/Non-24 Hour Presentation

Mallery Mayo, PhD, Neuro Scientist with Vanda Pharmaceuticals, discussed the following information:

Vanda Pharmaceuticals performs research on a disorder called Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder.

  • Overview
    • Relatively common in blind individuals
    • Non-24 sleep disorder occurs at any age
    • Non-24 sleep disorder occurs in males and females
    • Correlation has been found in time with individuals who begin to lose their sight
    • Benefits to variations in sleep cycles
  • Symptoms of Sleep-Wake Disorder
    • Difficulty falling asleep
    • Staying asleep
    • Waking up in the morning
    • Excessive need to sleep during the day
    • Shift in sleep cycle
    • Changes in biological and behavioral processes


  • Dan O’Connor asks if there is a difference between people who are born blind and those that lose sight over time.
    • Dr. Mayo responds that there have not been any biological correlations made but there have been correlation with the awareness from individuals.
  • Donte Mickens asks if there is a correlation between the different types of light.
    • Dr. Mayo responds that there is a trend between the different types of light but the goal is to follow a normal lighting pattern.
  • Robert Kelly asks how no light perception is diagnosed.
    • Dr. Mayo responds that physicians diagnose by use of a clinical diagnosis.
  • Leanne Grillot asks is there is information that exists for K-12 students that will get assistance out to students whose education may be affected by this disorder.
    • Dr. Mayo responds that there is information available.              

FRC November Meeting Report

Becki Forsell provided the following updates:

  • Legislative Updates
    • FRC has strongly pushed legislation for voting machines
    • FRC has strongly pushed legislation for the employment portal
    • Final VR Legislation will be provided when it is available
    • FRC sent staff to Washington for WIOA meetings
  • FRC Quarterly Meeting
    • May 19-21 in Jacksonville, FL
    • More consumer awareness is needed for public forum participation

Needs Assessment

Robert Doyle, provided the Council with an overview of the first draft of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment. A full copy of the report can be obtained through a request to FRCB staff.

Comprehensive statewide needs assessment is performed every three years. Mississippi State University has been contracted to perform this cycle.

Six specific research questions guided this needs assessment:

  • What are the rehabilitation needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of those individuals with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services?
  • What are the vocational rehabilitation services needs of minorities?
  • What are the vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program?
  • What are the vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system?
  • What is the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state?
  • What are the biggest barriers to achieving employment for those consumers closed unsuccessfully?

FDBS administrative staff met with NRTC staff multiple times to define the scope of activities, including identification of specific data sources to be used in the comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA). It was agreed that collecting data from multiple sources would be valuable, and eight sources of data were targeted for the CSNA. In addition to meeting the mandate established by RSA, the purpose of the CSNA was to identify any unmet needs of consumers served by FDBS, in order to improve services to current and future consumers. It is expected that data provided in this report will assists FDBS in developing their state plan.

Evaluation Methods and Data Utilized

Secondary (Existing) Data

 U.S. Census Bureau Data

          This report utilizes data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Census Bureau’s state intercensal estimates.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

          Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was used to provide national employment projections by occupation and to identify the jobs with the largest growth and the largest number of expected openings (due to growth and replacements).

FDBS Case Service (RSA-911) Data

          RSA requires that agencies provide a list of all consumers who were closed during each fiscal year (FY), which is referred to as RSA-911 case service data.

FDBS Consumer Survey Data (Previously collected by Florida State University)

          Since 2004, FDBS has commissioned the Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory to conduct customer satisfaction surveys on a monthly basis with all clients whose cases were closed during the previous month. FDBS provided aggregated results for all cases closed between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. Results from the surveys deemed pertinent to the goals of this CSNA were included in the report.

Consumer Survey

          A survey for consumers was developed in collaboration with FDBS. Items included on the survey covered potential service needs in 19 areas. Consumers were asked if they needed the service; if so, they were asked if they received the services; if so, they were asked if the service met their needs. Other items on the survey included current employment status, barriers experienced to gaining or maintaining employment, transportation utilized, reasons for leaving the program (for those closed unsuccessfully), and open-ended items about the most important services received and recommendations to improve services.

FDBS Staff Survey

          An online survey was developed to gauge FDBS employees’ opinions about VR services and areas in need of improvement.

Employer Survey

          In order to assess FDBS’ interactions with employers, a brief online survey was developed and sent to employers who had recently worked with FDBS.

Key Informant Interviews

          Key informants are experts who are knowledgeable about the rehabilitation needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired in Florida. A structured interview form consisting of nine items (most of which included sub-items) was developed for utilization with the key informants.


Minority Populations

          Florida has a population of more than 19.3 million individuals, of which 43.3% are members of a racial or ethnic minority group. Minority populations in Florida represent a higher percentage of the total population compared to the U.S., and they are increasing at a faster rate than the non-minority population (which increased at 13.6% during the same time period). The minority group with the largest representation in the state is persons of Hispanic/Latino origin, which increased from 16.8% of the population in 2000 to 23.3% of the population in 2011-2013.

Labor Force Statistics

          Labor force statistics were similar for persons identified as having a visual difficulty in Florida and nationally. Persons with a visual difficulty in Florida were slightly more likely to be unemployed (defined as not employed but actively seeking employment in the past four weeks), equally likely to be participating in the labor force (consists of both employed and unemployed people), and had a similar employment-population ratio compared to persons with visual difficulties in the U.S. as a whole.

Summary of Key Findings

          The large amount of data collected and analyzed for this project was reviewed to identify the most significant needs that emerged from the data.

The eight most important needs identified are listed below.

Most Important Needs Identified

  • Employment-related services
  • Develop and strengthen employer relationships
  • Services to minorities
  • Assistive technology services
  • Increased outreach and community visibility
  • Transportation
  • Community rehabilitation providers (CRPs)
  • Regular follow-up with consumers

FDBS will provide the FRCB with a full report of the completed needs assessment.

Afternoon Break

District Administrator’s Report

Juan Diaz, DA provided the Council with the following report:

  • Office Location and Counties served:

District 12 is a main office in Miami Dade County.  The District serves 2 counties that stretch across a total of 2880.28 square miles. County coverage areas are as follows: Miami Dade and Monroe.
It is important to highlight some key statistics of the area we serve Dade county is the most populous county with an estimated 2,662,874 Residents.  1) Miami Dade County is the 3rd most densely populated county in the State of Florida 2) Monroe County only has 2 VR clients.  It would be helpful to have office space in Monroe County.  

  • Staff Members:

The district staff totals of 19 full time employees and 2 OPS reader/drivers.  We currently have 3 vacancies.  Positions are as follows:
1 DA
1 Supervisor (Miami Dade County).
7 VR counselors (Miami Dade County)
2 Rehabilitation Technicians (Miami Dade County)
2 Employment Placement Specialists
2 IL/CP counselors
2 Senior Word Processor
1 Word Processor (Vacant)
1 Staff Assistant
1 Receptionist

The district employs 4 visually impaired and/or blind staff members.  We have 2 OPS reader/drivers one of which is assigned to the VR program.   Of our VR staff, 1 is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). 

*The district began the fiscal year without a supervisor and later had a vacancy for a District Administrator and 2 VR counselors.  

  • Outstanding Staff:

District 12 staff is knowledgeable in their field and relies on many years of vocational, rehabilitation, and case management experience.  Many members of our team have over 20 years working with the agency. Ana Gartenbaum has been with the Division of Blind Services for almost 21 years, and she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, Mental Retardation. Andi Finkelman has been with the Division of Blind Services for 4 ½ years, and she has both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. These dedicated employees carry a case load of 303 cases of IL/AP cases and total 98 CP cases.
The district values and respects all members of its team.  However, it is fitting to recognize several extraordinary staff members that contribute to our day-to-day success. Ms. Carolyn Narayan has 25 years of experience with the agency. She started as a client with the Division of Blind Services. She did a work experience with the Bureau of Business Enterprise Program, and later became the Vending Facilities Specialist. Then, she worked several years until she was recruited by the District Administrator of Blind Services expressed an interest in her to become a Counselor. So she applied and was accepted. She now has experience as a Specialist in both Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Since she has a vision problem, her clients seem to enjoy working with her. They know she can relate to the difficulties, perceptions and misunderstanding of the visually impaired. She has worked in both Miami-Dade and Monroe County, and worked with Spanish and Creole Speaking clients.

Denise Valluerca is the new Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor who has dedicated a career in public rehabilitation. She has been with Division of Blind Services for 12 years.  She has excelled in the supervision and leadership of her staff as acting supervisor as of November/2014.  She has earned the respect and currently awaits confirmation for new position. Her contribution to the district goal for this fiscal year is 2 successful closures and 3 in employed status. 

Joan E. Watson, Sr. Word Processor, has been with the agency since 2006. Prior to joining DBS, she worked at The Miami Herald for 27 years as a Budget Coordinator. She currently works with 2 VR counselors, creating authorizations, placing and following up with orders, working directly with clients and vendors, coordinating with hospital representatives for client surgeries and state and private colleges for tuition and books payment, and assisting new vendors register with MyFloridaMarketplace.

  • Performance Goals:

For FY 2014-2015, the district was assigned a goal of 100 successfully rehabilitated VR closures.  To date, we have successfully employed and closed 69 clients, 1 of which were veterans and 4 of which were college students.  As of March 31, 2015, we have an additional 45 cases in employed status, as of April 20, 2015.
We are on target to meet and exceed our assigned goal by 14 successful placements.

  • FY 2012-2013 the district successfully rehabilitated 72 cases.
  • FY 2013-2014 the district successfully rehabilitated 61 cases.
Open Cases-Service Status Program Type
Blind Babies 85
Children’s Program 97
Independent Living Program (OB/AP) 303
Vocation Rehabilitation 452

*47 transition, 95 College Cases

  • Activities:

The district participated in quarterly marketing and outreach campaigns to increase referrals as well as reach underserved populations in our rural areas.  We focused on marketing to eye physicians, hospitals/clinics/medical centers, schools, churches, and other social/community programs.  We have seen an increase in referrals.

Our Employment Placement Specialist (EPS) has been working on securing volunteer positions and work experience opportunities with various county government entities; two of which resulted in employment. 

  • Community Rehabilitation Providers:

Given our region, the district collaborates with one CRP, The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  The CRP serves clients in Miami Dade and Monroe Counties.   We work well together to ensure clients provision of services.  The district places an emphasis on keeping open channels of communication. The relationship of this district and the CRP is one of mutual respect where we can discuss concerns or challenges as they appear and work through our problems. 


  • Michael Wiseman asks what can be credited to success of the local DBS office.
    • Juan Diaz responds that aside from team collaboration, the employment specialist have been instrumental in the success of the local DBS office.
  • Jesus Garcia asks if the office is fully staffed.
    • Juan Diaz responds that they are not fully staffed at this time.
  • Donte Mickens asks what the transportation challenges are.
    • Juan Diaz responds that the biggest challenge is getting out to the Hispanic community.

FILC Update

Patricia Lipovsky and Jesus Garcia provided the following update:

  • ABLE Act is a great benefit however the biggest drawback is having to acquire your disability by 26 years old
  • January 2016 the new braille code will be in existence

Children’s Camp Ad Hoc Committee

Lenora Marten provided the following updates:

  • Set to develop a Steering Committee to explore further options in developing a Children’s Summer Camp Positions are as follows:
    • FRCB Representative
    • FDBS Representative
    • FDBS Children’s Counselor
    • FSU Vision Program Representative
    • Florida Instructional Materials Center
    • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
    • Parent of a blind child
    • LIONS Representative
  • Suggestions of appointments 
    • Leanne Grillot will make a recommendation on a representative of a teacher of the visually impaired and the FIMC. Leanne will also serve as the FSU Vision Program Representative.
    • Paul Edwards will serve as the BSF Representative
    • Director Doyle has suggested that Wayne Jennings be a FDBS Representative.
  • Proposed date for next meeting
    • May 19, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Comments on NCSRC/CSAVR

Robert Kelly shared the following information in regards to the NCSRC Spring Training Session.

There are a number of issues that will impact employment opportunities and the FRCB          

  • Suggested that the FRCB needs to breakout into workgroups to better comprehend WIOA
  • Suggested that the FRCB assist FDBS with implementing WIOA to benefit consumers

Robert Doyle shared the following information in regards to the CSAVR Spring Training Session.

There was conversation about the NPRM and information was provided. There was an opportunity for the Director’s to attend a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to further discuss the challenges and opportunity from WIOA.

There was an opportunity to discuss the Randolph Shepard Act

There is a committee of elected vendors that are active with the agency that does not prohibit the connection with the DVR and the FRCB. 


  • Sheryl Brown asks how vending is viewed by WIOA.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that it is not directly integrated and that it has its own statute. It can be viewed as entrepreneurial but it is considered a successful employment outcome.
  • Sheryl Brown asked who the drafters of WIOA were.
    •  Mr. Doyle responds that he will provide this information to the FRCB.
  • Patricia Lipovsky asked if Director Doyle could provide an update about the vacancies at the Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library

Mr. Doyle responds that after a lengthy process Jim Woolyhand has been recommended for the position as Bureau Chief of the Library.      

Meeting adjourned at 4:20 PM.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Meeting called to order at 9:00 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present:  (16)

Charles Brooks, Sheryl Brown, Jesus Garcia, Leanne Grillot, Ben Grzesik, Robert Kelly Patricia Lipovsky, Vicky Magliocchino, Donté Mickens, Bruce Miles, Gloria Mills, Dan O’Connor, Sylvia Perez, Dwight Sayer, Michael Wiseman and Robert Doyle, Director. 

Council Members Present via Teleconference: (1)

Lenora Marten

Council Members Absent: (2)

Sandra Martin, Joe Minichiello 

Council Staff: (1)

Alise Fields

DBS Staff: (1)

Jeff Whitehead, District 6-Orlando, DA.

A motion to adopt the Agenda was made. The motion passed.

Council Business

Approval of February Minutes -

  • A motion to approve the February minutes was made. The motion passed.

Location and dates of May 2016 meeting -

  • A motion to have the May 2016 meeting in St. Augustine, FL with a tentative location of Daytona Beach, FL was made. The motion passed.
    • Proposed date for Council travel is 5/11, Council Meeting and Public Forum is 5/12, Council Meeting 5/13.
    • Leanne Grillot will work with Council Staff to determine a meeting location option.
  • Confirmation of July 2015 FRCB Meeting dates are :
    • Council travel is 7/27/2015
    • Council Meeting and Public Forum are 7/28/2015
    • Council Meeting 7/29. 

Agenda Items for July 2015 meeting

  • Para-Transit
  • UCF-Disability Resource Center
  • Update on the Vermont Model Project
  • BBE Update
  • WIOA Workgroup Report
  • Term Vacancies/Appointments
  • VR Goals Update
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey
  • Needs Assessments
  • Disney Employment Presentation
  • Public Forum-follow up from Miami forum  

Previous/New Business/Open Discussion

  • Form a workgroup for the WIOA Amendment Response
    • Meeting to be scheduled on May 28, 2016 at 2PM.
    • Chair of the workgroup will be Paul Edwards.  
  • Extend an invitation to the FRC to attend this conference call.
  • FDBS will consult with legal counsel on email ratifications.
  • Possible development of a mentorship program with successful closures.
  • FDBS follow up with consumers from the public forum and provide FRCB with a report.
  • Revision of public forum procedures and policy.  

Motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:30 AM received a second and passed.