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FLORIDA REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND
PUBLIC FORUM

Quarterly Business Meeting
Hampton Inn & Suites Vilano Beach
95 Vilano Road
St. Augustine, Florida

Thursday May 12, 2016

The meeting was held at 5:02 PM.

COUNCIL MEMEBERS PRESENT: 14
Robert Kelly, Robert Doyle, Mikey Wiseman, Patricia Lipovsky, Sylvia Perez, Vicky Magliocchino, Lenora Martin, Bruce Miles, Donte Mickens, Jesus Garcia, Charles Brooks, Sandra Burke, Gloria Mills, Ben Grzesik

COUNCIL MEMBERS ABSENT: 1
 Leann Grillot

COUNCIL STAFF: 1
Selena Sickler

DBS STAFF: 1
Tom Austin, Robert Lewis, April Ogden, Madeline Davidson

ATTENDEES: 3Paul Edwards, Pat Marshall, Howard Bell

Consumer via Telephone: 1

Consumer in Person: 1
Consumer 1

Introduction:

Robert Kelly stated that the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind is a group of volunteers appointed by the Governor. The role of the council is to help the Division of Blind Services with the development of its State Plan, serve in an advisory capacity to the Division of Blind Services in terms of policy making, and help the Division of Blind Services evaluate and improve its services through a public forum.  The council is interested in what the Division of Blind Services is doing well and also to help them solve problems where they exist.

  • Howard Bell commented that the Division of Blind Services is doing a good job at reaching out to its consumers to create participation in the public forum and encouraged them to continue to explore other options to increase attendance.
  • Robert Kelly speculated that maybe attendance was low because clients were satisfied with the services they received.
  • Caller on the phone indicated that she heard about the forum through her DBS counselor.  She also indicated that transportation was an issue for her.
  • Gloria Mills commented that transportation and timing were the main issues contributing to low attendance at the public forum.
  • Robert Doyle commented that we don’t want to assume that something is wrong. He also stated that Florida is doing as well or better than other states when it comes to getting people to our public forums.  He encouraged the council to look at other states and try to determine if an in person meeting is the best mechanism on getting input.  He stated that alternative mechanisms such as the telephone or creating topics for people to respond to might be viable options.
  • Mikey Wiseman commented that he was encouraged that the caller on the phone heard about the public forum through her DBS counselor. 
  • Donte Mickens commented that location was important and working with our local partners. He recommended tapping someone locally as a point person to act as a liaison who could suggest meeting locations.
  • Charles Brooks suggested to contact the advocacy groups and advertise on their website. 
  • Jesus Garcia commented that transportation is a main issue. He suggested chartering a van to pick up people.
  • Lenora Marten suggested putting out a flyer that contains contact information for people to call if they need help with transportation. 
  • Sandra Burke suggested a council member from the area where the meeting is located be assigned with the task of getting the word out about the forum.
  • Robert Kelly made a formal request to Sandra Burke to generate interest in the public forum in Fort Myers.
  • Mikey Wiseman suggested to form a committee to discuss and make recommendations at the next council meeting. Donte Mickens, Sandra Burke, Gloria Mills, Charles Brooks, and Pat Marshall volunteered for the committee. Mikey Wiseman was asked to chair the committee and he agreed.  Robert Doyle indicated he would have a representative from DBS to serve on the committee.
  • Robert Doyle encouraged the committee to look at research, look at what’s happening in other places, look at what we have done already, look at what we have been successful at and see if we can devise something useful so the committee can make recommendations.
  • Paul Edwards suggested looking at rewriting the current announcement for email blasts so that it’s more marketing oriented.
  • Telephone caller commented that she was confused by the letter that she received advertising the public forum. The caller suggested the letter be geared towards getting people to talk.
  • Robert Kelly recognized consumer 1 and asked if they wanted to speak.
  • Consumer 1 stated she had been with DBS since 2007 with the Business Enterprise Program.  The program gave me back my life and mind. I have come back to the program since 2015. The consumer stated the program has become weak.
  • Robert Doyle stated he needed to clarify if the consumer was referring to the Business Enterprise Program or the vocational Rehabilitation Program not being as strong as it used to be.
  • Consumer 1 states both.
  • Robert Doyle asks if consumer 1 is reengaged back in the Business Enterprise Program.
  • Consumer 1 states that she cannot get back into the program because her vending machines were not making money back in 2013. Consumer 1 states that she is in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to become retrained.
  • Consumer 1 states that she learned a lot from the Business Enterprise Program.
  • Robert Doyle recognized District Administrator Bobby Lewis and stated that he could speak with Consumer 1 about local issues. Robert Doyle also stated he was available to hear about issues on a state level.
  • Bruce Miles states he would like to get a report at the next meeting in Fort Myers from Lighthouse of Collier.

Discussion

Robert Doyle proposed having a discussion with the council members regarding Career Pathways as a path to getting people trained and enter the workforce quicker based on the needs of the labor market. Once the person is employed provide them an opportunity to attain the degree they originally wanted to pursue.

  • Donte Mickens asks what kind of career counseling is provided to clients of the VR Program
  • Robert Doyle states the concept of informed choice is very important.
  • Madeline Davidson states assessing clients work training and work history is performed with each client. A comprehensive vocational assessment is performed to access the client’s skills, interest and values and look at what opportunities are in the job market. A staffing then takes place to look at the results of the vocational evaluation and make a plan for services.
  • April Ogden states that Benefits Counseling is vital to all clients.
  • Paul Edwards states his concern with the lack of Career Counseling for blind and visually impaired students in elementary, Junior High and High School.
  • Charles Brooks’ states that career paths need to be assessed to determine if they are viable options for attaining employment in the future.
  • Sylvia Perez suggests when it comes to teens that CRP’s have to take responsibility for the Career Pathway.
  • April Ogden stated she was pleased to see more realistic goals coming out of the Jacksonville office and she recognized Pat Marshall for her leadership in starting programs with transition students.

The meeting adjourned at 6:05 PM