Florida Division of Blind Services logo




Quarterly Meeting Minutes
325 West Gaines Street, Turlington Building Room 1721-25
Tallahassee, Florida  32399

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Meeting called to order at 8:40 AM with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.


Robert Kelly, Mikey Wiseman, Sylvia Perez, Victoria Magliocchino, Patricia Lipovsky, Lenora Marten, Bruce Miles, Donte Mickens, Robert Doyle

Gloria Mills, Sandra Burke

Jesus Garcia, Benedict Grzesik, Reverend Charles Brooks, Leanne Grillot

Sharon Scurry

Tom Austin, Wayne Jennings, Beth Crain, Robert Lewis, April Ogden, Janet Alterman, Leigh Ann Bellamy, Carolyn Eleby, Madeline Davidson, Michelle Levy, Tony Pileggi, Juan Carlos Diaz, Bruce Emmerton, Rashad Morgan,  Erin Penmann, Donna Rhoades, Ted Pobst, Stael Exantus, Brian Michaels, Sandra Brown, Phyllis Heath, Nancy Brown, Mireya Hernandez, Bobbie Howard Davis, Pamela Ortiz, Lynn Ritter, Stacy Smith, Jeff Whitehead,  Dacia Drury, Ana Saint-Fort, Bertha Hyche, Mondi Azpeitia

Paul Edwards, Patrick Cannon, Kim Galban-Countryman, Kim Barr, Roy Cosgrove 

Howard Bell

Mikey Wiseman suggested to add the discussion of NAC to the agenda. Robert Kelly agreed.  Patricia Lipovsky moved to approve the agenda and Mikey Wiseman seconded the motion.


Chairman…………… Robert Kelly
Vice Chairman……. Patricia Lipovsky   
2nd Vice-Chair…….. Donte Mickens       
FRC Liaison…………..Bruce Miles
Backup Liaison……..Mikey Wiseman


Robert Doyle presented the following:

Division of Blind Services (DBS) General Update:

DBS New Staff Introductions:

Dacia Drury………… Contract Supervisor
Erin Penmann…….. Contracts
Phyllis Heath………. DA Daytona
Ted Pobst…………..  Supervisor District 5
Trish Bauer………….AA to Tom Austin
Pamela Ortiz………. Supervisor

  • Lynn Ritter is retiring in May, 2016.  Tom Austin presented Lynn with a retirement plaque in recognition of her 36 years of service. 
  • DBS is celebrating its 75th year and is partnering with other organizations throughout the state to highlight the agencies efforts.
  • The Suit Up Drive is being held in March.
  • A symposium in April is being held in Daytona where businesses, clients, and council members will attend education sessions and programs to promote DBS.
  • DBS will make a presentation in March before the State Board of Education to discuss its programs and services.

WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act)

  • The Unified State Plan is now online and open for public comments
  • Submission date extended to April 1, 2016
  • Final regulations will be available in June, 2016
  • DBS and DVR participating in CareerSource State meetings
  • Local areas will begin working on MOUs and Plans

DBS Strategic Plan goals outlined and derived to align with DOE:

  • Highest Client Achievement
  • Seamless Articulation and Maximum Access
  • Skilled Workforce and Economic Development
  • Quality Efficient Services


  • Governor………$55,233,387
  • House………….$54,733,387
  • Senate…………$55,457,632


  • PETS: 15% Set-Aside along with 7% VR Admin Costs
  • Offices moving locations include Pensacola, Tallahassee District 2, West Palm Beach and Tampa
  • Tampa Flood
      • Estimate cost of Flood $553,000
      • Received insurance payment of $279K
      • Still working with RSA
      • Budget Amendment may wait until 2016-2017
      • About $54K Usage of Gifts and Donations
  • Travel expenditures continue to be evaluated to determine cost cutting measures. At this time, there is not a moratorium on travel.


There was discussion about the gap between the reimbursement amount and the cost of the flood is quite substantial and DBS’ plans to address the needs to get the Tampa office reopened.


  • House Bill 7003 passed on January 21, 2016
  • Senate Bill 672 passed on January 21, 2016
  • Senate Bill 7040/HB 7065 makes conforming changes to Florida Statutes to reflect changes made by the U.S. Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • Provides for the implementation of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA through a 4-year (instead of 5-year) plan, including strategic and operational elements for core programs
  • Requires CareerSource FL and FDOE to enter into MOU to comply with the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA)
  • Requires CareerSource FL to collaborate w/ state and local entities to develop performance measures across all Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) core programs
  • Requires local CareerSource boards to enter into MOUs w/ one-stop partners (including DBS) to address infrastructure costs by July 2017
  • Revises CareerSource FL board membership to include vice-chair of Enterprise FL, one member representing each Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) partner, and other entities identified by WIOA as determined necessary
  • Requires CareerSource FL to establish regional planning areas by March 2018, to develop local workforce development plans
  • Legislation moving through committees of reference
  • Other bills introduced in the Legislature include:
  • SB 968/HB1359 - Vocational Rehabilitation
  • SB 7034/HB943 – Prenatal Services/Early Childhood Development
  • SB 202/HB495 - Prenatal Services/Early Childhood Development
  • SB 916/HB 705 – Qualifications for Educational Interpreters
  • SB 1088/HB 837 – John M. McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities
  • SB 390/HB 273 – Public Records/Public Agency Contracts


  • The Pre-Employment Program (PEP) is a structured learning program designed specifically to address the employability needs of people with visual disabilities. We are proud to announce that the first PEP cohort is slated to convene this spring 2016 (April 18th- May 13th) at the Rehab Center. All of our instructors have received extensive training in PEP and now accepting referrals for the spring.
  • The PEP content areas include Self-Awareness, Career Exploration, Job Seeking Skills, Job Maintenance Skills, and Job Search Skills.
  • The goal of the PEP is to stimulate a work environment, develop or refine soft skills, document capabilities and determine how to remediate any deficiencies. Lastly, the PEP demonstrates disability-specific and learned skills through application activities in order to evaluate overall work readiness and establish an action plan.


  • Online application live on January 29, 2016
  • STATISTICS: 26 applications received in 11 days as of 02/09/2016
  • Program Distribution:

0 Blind Babies
4 Children’s Program
23 Independent Living
6 Vocational Rehabilitation
2 Transition Services


Robert Kelly suggested to have a discussion regarding the new program at the Rehabilitation Center that will be bringing people in for short term job readiness training. He expressed concerns with transition contracts that were negotiated with CRP’s and the impact of overlapping services with the Rehabilitation Center.  Robert Doyle suggested that there would be no penalty to the CRP. Mickey Wiseman stated that transition under WIOA is very specific deliverable, i.e.  20 hours pre-placement training.  There is also very strict verbiage about nothing can interfere with school hours of youth 14 – 17. Robert Doyle stated that the services that we intend to provide for the youth program at the Rehabilitation Center will meet the criteria for pre-employment transition services as well. The students will be getting those activities all year round.  We will make sure that we are not penalizing CRP’s but we want to make sure that we are capturing people who are not being served.  Option A is the individual can receive transition services through the CRP’s and Option B is the Rehabilitation Center as an additional resource for transition youth in the summer.            


  • Innovative Projects Application Program available

$300K Available
Applications Due by 5PM on March 14, 2016

  • Working with DOE team on UEB Implementation
  • Children’s Contract executed with FAASB

Subcontractor agreements still being executed between FAASB and CRPs
Program includes components for after school, weekend and summer activities

  • MOA with DVR is ready


Presented by Ana Saint-Fort
It is with great honor that we humbly present Ms. Debbie Cross and Tasty Pastry with this appreciation award for her efforts in hiring one of our clients who is visually impaired.

  • Robert Kelly - There are a lot of people in this room that are very much invested in helping blind people live independently and prepare them for employment.  But everything we do really depends on employers in the community who are willing to extend opportunities to people who are blind. We very much appreciate you.
  • Debbie Cross – Thank you. I appreciate the recognition. It is an honor to help.

Morning Break (take photos)  

VR Goals Update

Wayne Jennings provided an update on VR goals which are attached to these minutes. A summary of the information is listed below:

Rehabilitation Council report for the 2nd Quarter.
The division served 3710 consumers;  The total number of closed cases is 478; the number of unsuccessful closures is 301;  the number of unsuccessful closures after receiving services is 158; the number of successful closures is 177; the number of partially or legally blind consumers successfully closed is 78; the number of other visually impaired individuals closing successfully is 49; the number of totally blind individuals closing successfully is 21; the number of clients closing successfully as a result of restoration is 29.  This brings our Rehabilitation Rate to 53%.  The number of successful closures as of February 11, 2016 is at 400 which is 70 more than one year ago.


  • Donte Mickens - What is the difference between the two reports that we received?
  • Wayne Jennings – One report is the actual Florida Rehabilitation Council VR Report and the other one is a three-year comparison of past performance.


The council had a discussion regarding the categories of the VR report.  Concerns were expressed about the need for more clarity in the categories and their meaning and the number of unsuccessful closures on page one of the report didn’t match with the numbers on page 3. 


A suggestion was discussed to take a look at the categories of unsuccessful closures and their meanings in order to get a better representation of the data.

Tallahassee Community College-Jennifer Barr

Ms. Barr spoke to the council about the many degrees, programs, and services offered to students attending TCC.  Ms. Barr reported the following:

The AA degree is one of the most popular. It is designed to be a springboard to a 4 year universities.  The Associate in Science degrees are designed to be our work ready degrees for students who are looking to move into a career immediately after graduation.

TCC offers many technical certificates as well as applied technology diplomas and post-secondary adult vocational certificates.  The testing center on campus provides placement testing to students with disabilities, proctor exams and perform GED testing.

This semester we have about 580 students with disabilities registered with our office.  Most of our students experience more than one disability. Some of the accommodations we provide include extended time testing, note taking and working with students who need adaptive technologies.  TCC also works with sign language interpreters.  Our roll with DBS really comes into play through our Disability Support Services Office by working collaboratively with DBS to support our students and connect them to the services they need.  We also have our Veterans Success Center. This is a separate space on campus for our student veterans and dependents of veterans.  The purpose of the center is to help students use the VA education benefits and to provide a quiet study space that is separate from the student union part of the campus.  We try to bring some of the services that are offered in other parts of the campus to the Veterans Center in one central location.  Services include academic advising and financial aid. 


  • Bruce Miles – How many blind students or visually impaired students are in your program?
  • Jennifer Barr- For students that experience some physical impairment, I would say about 23%. In terms of those who experience a visual impairment, I would say between 10% and 15%. 
  • Bruce Miles – Do you have any deaf/blind students?
  • Jennifer Barr – We have one student who is deaf and blind. 
  • Patrick Cannon (FRC) – You mentioned that there is a financial aid advisor in the VA portion, do you have the same thing for persons with disabilities?
  • Jennifer Barr – We do have a financial aid person in our Veterans Affairs Office. We don’t have a specific financial aid person who works with students with disabilities.  But, what we will offer to students who come into our office and need help navigating financial aid, is one on one assistance.
  • Mikey Wiseman–Is the information that you are needing to ensure the students success being delivered in a timely manner?  Is it accurate?
  • Jennifer Barr – Our office has a very good open line of communication with DBS.   Mr. Rashad Morgan visits the campus very regularly.
  • Donte Mickens – What’s your gage on the level of involvement of students who are visually impaired in campus activities?
  • Jennifer Barr – One of the things that we have at TCC is our SLICE (Student Leadership Involvement and Civic Engagement) office.  SLICE encourages students to get involved with their campus by joining clubs and organizations and at the same time focus on civic engagement and leadership. 
  • Paul Edwards – Do you have online courses that are accessible to blind people? How do you handle accessing things like computerized mathematics remediation?
  • Jennifer Barr –.  The Disability Support Services works very closely with our Online Department to ensure that the online courses are accessible. We are fortunate to have working partnerships with a lot of you in the room and with our instructors. 
  • Donte Mickens - Is there more of a movement towards e-text or eBooks that offer some strategic advantages to those students who are blind or visually impaired? What types of books are the professors selecting?
  • Jennifer Barr –As TCC receives more requests for accommodations, there is an increase in the need for varying text formats. We have a kind of “cheat sheet” for our instructors to ask publishers certain questions that will elicit answers that will identify that their books are accessible. 
  • Robert Kelly – Thank you for your presentation. 

National Accreditation Council


The council members had a discussion regarding the National Accreditation Council (NAC) for agencies serving the blind and visually impaired. The NAC is responsible for developing a blindness accreditation process that constitutes the best way for consumers of services, directors of agencies and entities like the Division of Blind Services that oversee those agencies to assure a standard is being applied by all agencies that are funded to delivery services to folks who are blind.  The Division of Blind Services (DBS) requires contractors to be accredited by NAC or another accrediting organization.

There are three parts to the NAC accreditation process. First, a set of standards is developed that apply equally across all of the agencies. These standards are developed by the National Accreditation Council. The agencies perform a self-study where they rate themselves. The report of the self-study is submitted and a site visit of the agency is conducted.  The site visit includes speaking with consumers, looking at the services, evaluating the self-study and making commendations as well as recommendations.  Based on the outcome, the agency may be awarded a 5 year accreditation. 


A proposal was presented to the group to consider adopting a resolution to encourage DBS to continue allowing for NAC accreditation. The council members were in agreement and the resolution was formally presented to the council.



            WHEREAS, the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind is mandated under state and federal law to provide input into the Florida State Plan and provides advice and input to the Director and staff of the Florida Division of Blind Services; and
            WHEREAS, one of the activities of our council at each meeting is to receive reports from local agencies providing services to individuals who are blind or have low vision; and
            WHEREAS, a fundamental reason for receiving these reports is to enable the council to be aware of innovative activities and ongoing measures of quality services as measured by outcomes which each local agency reports; and
            WHEREAS, many of the reports that we receive include information on the accreditation process that our local community rehabilitation programs are required to undertake; and
            WHEREAS, all of the input we have received indicates that the self-study and on-site visits that are an inherent part of the accreditation process allow local programs to regularly evaluate their own performance, which leads to changes in the way services are delivered based on the self-study findings and the recommendations made during the site visit from the accrediting body; and
            WHEREAS, the accreditation process uses the same set of standards at every agency that is being evaluated, which assures the state there is a level of service delivery that is being maintained at every local agency; and
            WHEREAS, the standards that are being used are blindness-specific and have been developed and endorsed by experts in the field of blindness or low vision;
            NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind assembled in Tallahassee, Florida on this the 10th day of February 2016, that this organization believes that the accreditation process currently in place in Florida is absolutely crucial and assures that the quality of services delivered by local agencies in this state are maintained; and
            BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this council believes that the specific standards being applied by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services constitutes an appropriate and valuable adjunct to the provision of quality rehabilitation and training for people who are blind or have low vision in Florida.

Patricia Lipovsky moved and Mikey Wiseman seconded the motion to accept the NAC proposal as written. A vote was taken.   The motion carried unanimously

The meeting adjourned for lunch.


District Administrators Report

Ana Saint-Fort, DA presented a report to the council.  A copy of the report is attached. Below is a summary of the information presented by Ms. Saint-Fort:

District 2 serves 11 counties in the Tallahassee area.  We continue to serve a lot of clients in rural counties where we perform extensive travel in order to meet with clients. In an effort to meet our employment goals, the VR supervisor is meeting with staff every week to review cases and identify clients who are ready for employment.  The EPS is meeting with referred clients on a weekly basis and conducting 12 employer contacts per month.  The VR counselors are working to increase their employment outreach activities and spending more time identifying potential employers in the community.  The district continues to participate in monthly community outreach to increase referrals by participating in such programs as Children’s Week at the Capitol as well as Senior Day.  The district has a long lasting relationship with Lighthouse of the Big Bend.  We conduct monthly case management meetings to discuss client’s progress and address any issues in an effort to reach a successful outcome.

Report from Lighthouse of the Big Bend (LBB)

Kim Galban-Countryman presented a report to the council.  A copy of the report is attached. A summary of Ms. Galban-Countryman’s report is below:

Kim Galban- Countryman is the new Executive Director at the LBB.  Yolanda Robles is the new Development Director who will be focusing on partnering with our District Office on outreach. LBB is partnering with the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology to bring all of their equipment out into the rural areas.  The LBB created a new position and hired Evelyn Worley as the Director of Curriculum, Training, & Client Services as part of an initiative to increase the organizations quality assurance and accountability to its clients and stakeholders. LBB has a new website with updated technology in order to provide clients with the latest technology and software. The LBB will undergo NAC accreditation which should be completed by the end of the year. Their focus for 2016 will be improving quality of services.


  • Donte Mickens – What kind of leisure and recreational activities are offered or supported?
  • Kim Galban-Countryman – Our Transition Team is introducing our clients to many activities in the community such as volunteering.   
  • Donte Mickens – What has your experience been with public transportation in general and the para transit more specifically.
  • Kim Galban-Countryman – I’ve been sitting in on the Transportation Advisory Council meetings and invited them to start meeting at the Lighthouse.  I’ve reached out to some of our clients and discovered that we do have some issues such as drivers not announcing stops.  We are offering to do continuous training because they have such a high turnover.


Dr. Minna Jia – Director of Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory presented a report to the council on the results of the Client Satisfaction Survey for the first two quarters of FY 2015/16.  A copy of the report is attached.

The report summarizes data gathered for the first and second quarters of FY 2015/16.  The report includes cases closed from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.   The Customer Satisfaction Survey gathers perspectives of former DBS clients concerning program services, levels of satisfaction, and areas for program improvement. 


John Irvine presented a report to the council.

We are a state agency and are tasked with providing and coordinating transportation services to disadvantaged persons throughout Florida.  The program is for anyone who cannot provide their own transportation due to their age, income or disability.  The program is managed through the Community Transportation Coordinator for each county.

Ivan Maldano presented a report to the council specifically on Leon County.
Star Metro is the entity providing transportation to residents across the entire city through the Community Transportation Coordinator program. 
Dial a Ride is Leon County’s para transportation provider that covers the entire city of Tallahassee. For citizens over the age of 60 and are not disabled, they can still qualify for Dial a Ride on a limited basis. Leon County utilizes two vendors, Big Bend Transit and Sessaly-Rose Transit, to provide transit to those persons who are disabled. We have a Bus Pass Program that is very unique.  Veterans who qualify can ride for free. We also have a partnership with the Kearney Center.  They are a local agency who provide assistance to people who are homeless.


  • Paul Edwards – What is your budgetary situation this year and what are your expectations in terms of funding?  Are there any new initiatives that you are working on?
  • John Irvine – Our agency gets its funding through the sale of auto tags in Florida. For every tag that’s sold in Florida, we get $1.50 of that money into our trust fund. We are looking at projects that would help people with disabilities get to employment trips. 
  • Donte Mickens – As far as demographics, who would typically use your services?
  • Ivan Maldano - The Community Transportation Coordinator coordinates travel for persons needing assistance getting to medical, educational, employment and recreational appointments.


William Findley presented a report to the council on the BBE’s accomplishments in 2015. The report is attached. A summary of Mr. Findley’s report is below:

  • Over 100 licensees/facility vendors attended the Biennial Seminar in August
  • Expanded BBE’s presence in VA clinics and will place 6-7 vending machines in the Tallahassee VA Clinic when it opens in the spring of 2016
  • Expanded presence in military facilities such as Camp Blanding and Panama City NAS
  • Improve borderline facilities with support of Business Analyst/Coach Mr. John Ahler
  • BBE’s Gross Sales were $21,125,680 for the period 10/1/14 – 9/30/15, an increase of almost 6% from $19,938,057 in FFY 13-14
  •  Develop a financial reporting system by working with Budget and Fiscal that will provide current cash flow and balance statements on a weekly basis  


Team Members: Lauren Williams, David Darm, Adam Gaffney, Walter Blackman

The See Different Initiative was created in an effort to break down barriers by taking away the miss perceptions that people have about blindness.  The initiative is an attempt to demonstrate that blindness does not make anyone different but seeks to show how people who are blind use a different way to see or participate in a certain activity. This is done through presentations to get the audience to experience through simulation activities what it is like to be blind. Thus far, the presentations have been in schools, colleges as well as some state offices. The goal is to take the initiative on the road with the help of our partners throughout the state.


  • Mikey Wiseman – Have you noticed any tangible differences with people that you work with since you presented your initiative?
  • Adam Gaffney - The presentations have opened up a dialogue and provided us with feedback.
  • Walter Blackman—I think our message is resonating each and every time that we make the presentation. 
  • Sylvia Perez – I think your initiative is building respect for people who are blind.
  • Donte Mickens – I applaud the effort and I hope when you take it on the road you have great success.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 PM.