Florida Division of Blind Services logo



The Shores Resort and Spa
2637 South Atlantic Avenue
Daytona Beach, Florida  32118

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chairman Robert Kelly called the meeting to order at 8:40 AM with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present: 9
Robert Kelly, Mikey Wiseman, Patricia Lipovsky, Bruce Miles, Robert Doyle, Sandra Burke, Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Lenora Marten

Council Members via Phone: 1
Howard Bell

Council Members Absent: 2
Gloria Mills, Charles Brooks

Council Staff: 1
Selena Sickler

DBS Staff: 2
Ana Saint-Fort, Phyllis Heath, Stacy Smith

Attendees via Phone: 2
Sheryl Brown, Charles Burke

Mikey Wiseman made a motion to approve the agenda. Bruce Miles seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Bruce Miles recognized the passing of Phyllis Dill and Henry Alexander.

Director Robert Doyle recognized the passing of Brenda Mennitt, Tom Spiliotis and Fredrick Haynes.

Robert Doyle presented the following:

Division of Blind Services (DBS) General Update:

  • Reappointments to the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
  • Howard Bell
  • Jesus Garcia
  • Robert Kelly
  • DBS Plans to fill the following state employee vacancies:
  • Bureau Chief of Client Services
  • Retired employee, Lynn Ritter’s position
  • Wayne Jennings former position
  • Daytona and Jacksonville offices are fully operational after being closed due to Hurricane Matthew.
  • Federal Regulations are in effect and DBS is estimating two years to get them fully implemented.
  • DBS is participating in a national program Vision 2020 which is working to identify a process to elevate the quality of services nationally and to eliminate misperceptions relating to vocational rehabilitation.
  • DBS Legislative Budget Request includes items for recurring funds only.
  • DBS Contingency Budget cuts are approximately $1.3 million.
  • Gifts and Donations funding on 5 projects is moving forward and letters are being processed.
  • DSO Meeting Minutes have been forwarded to the Senate who has also requested Conflict of Interest Statements and By-Laws.
  • Vermont Progressive Employment Program is designed to assist individuals with multiple barriers to employment has helped 19 of 176 participants become employed.
  • DBS wasn’t selected to participate in the RSA pilot program SARA, however we are still interested in learning about the program.
  • DBS Online Application
  • 930 people have applied for services online
  • 884 have been processed
  • 609 became new cases:461 VR, 223 Independent Living, 62 Transition Services, 57 Children’s Program, 20 Blind Babies
  • 275 closed without a new case
  • DBS 75th Anniversary Celebrations continue on November 18 in West Palm Beach, December in Orlando and wrapping up in Tampa next year.
  • DBS Tampa office
  • Reconstruction cost is expected to be $782,000.
  • DBS plans to keep moving forward with anticipated goal of opening in spring 2017.
  • DBS Strategic Plan
  • DBS received council feedback.
  • Strategic Plan is posted on DBS website.
  • Statewide call is scheduled for December 12 and 13.
  • Paul Edwards complimented DBS on the plan.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Implementation date is December 4.
  •  No overtime is allowed.
  • 143 DBS employees automatically impacted. 

Heather Blanck presented a report.  A summary of the report is below.

Votran provides fixed routes to 16 municipalities in the county, and Sun Rail feeder routes operate in the West Volusia urbanized area.  Paratransit service, known as Votran Gold, is provided in the ADA corridor and for those beyond the ADA corridor. Votran offers riders technology tools to help them get around. MyStop real-time bus tracker provides customers information on:  what area does a route service; location of stops; Stop Identification Information; Real-time bus location; Access to Trip Planner utilizing Google Transit.  VO-TO-GO allows riders to text a short message and get back real-time information using any mobile phone. MyStop Mobile app will show you what transit is available in your area; shows where Votran buses are in real-time; and when your next bus will arrive at your stop. Votran is working on the implementation of the Interactive Voice Recognition system to automate outgoing calls that remind customers about next day trips and enables existing reservations to be confirmed or cancelled. 

Employer Recognition
District Administrator Phyllis Heath presented the employer recognition award to Dunkin Donuts of Volusia County.  Dunkin Donut owner, Mrs. Pat Barnett accepted the award and expressed her gratitude for being able to help others in the community.  Phyllis Health also recognized Mark and Rainey who work at the Conklin Center for their efforts with the program.

Morning Break (take photos)

VR Goals Update
Director Doyle provided an update on VR goals for the 1th Quarter of SFY 16/17. A summary of the report is below.

The division served 3523 consumers;  The total number of closed cases is 398; the number of unsuccessful closures is 289;  the number of unsuccessful closures after receiving services is 145; the number of successful closures is 109; the number of partially or legally blind consumers successfully closed is 61; the number of other visually impaired individuals closing successfully is 20; the number of totally blind individuals closing successfully is 10; the number of clients closing successfully as a result of restoration is 17.  This brings our Rehabilitation Rate to 43%.

The council had a discussion about taking a closer look at the statistical data to identify trends both in Florida and how they compare to national trends.  The council noted specifically the downward trend over the past several years in the number served, and thought it would be useful information to know the breakdown by visual function. The council discussed the importance of examining the data going forward with the intention of further discussion at the Tampa meeting in February 2017. 

Paul Edwards made a motion to add the discussion to the agenda in Tampa. The motion was seconded. The motion passed. 

Federal Regulations (WIOA)
Director Robert Doyle presented highlights of the RSA August meeting.  Mr. Doyle stated the regulations were finalized.  RSA answered questions presented by states on issues like homemaker closures during transition, Pre-employment transition services and technical support entities.

The council had a discussion regarding their position on how to address RSA Regulations going forward.  The council decided to have discussions at all the quarterly meetings as well as looking at policy changes occurring within DBS.

Chairman Robert Kelly asked about the financial effect of declining referrals on CRP’s.  Director Doyle stated that federal dollars can be carried over to the next year, however state funding could be lost.

The council had a discussion regarding restructuring district offices. Director Doyle stated that a dialogue had started to look at pros and cons but nothing is in writing. 

Client Satisfaction Survey 2015-2016 Annual Report
Dr. Minna Jia, Director of Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory presented a report to the council on the final survey results of the Client Satisfaction Survey for FY 2015-2016.

The report summarized data gathered from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.  The report includes Division of Blind Services (DBS) Employment bound Clients whose cases were closed July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. The Client Satisfaction Survey gathers perspectives of former DBS clients concerning programs services, levels of satisfaction, and areas for program improvement.

Client Satisfaction Survey Subcommittee Report
2016/2017 Client Satisfaction Survey
Bruce Miles presented a report. A summary is below.

  • The subcommittee held its first meeting on December 3, 2015 followed by seven additional teleconference calls and one face to face meeting for a total of 19 hours. 
  • Bruce stated there was one correction on page 14 with question 33.  He stated the subcommittee had agreed at the last meeting to add the words “check all that apply”.

Bruce Miles made a motion to approve the new survey for the future with the caveat of the one revision to Question 33 that the subcommittee will continue to meeting with the idea that the questions evaluating the Rehab Center may or may not be added depending on the subcommittee’s decision. Bruce also noted that any of those changes would be brought back to the council for approval. The motion was seconded.  The motion passed.

Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library
James Woolyhand presented a report.  A summary is below.

The Daytona Regional Library continues to serve patrons in all 67 counties in Florida with the assistance from nine sub-regional libraries.  Active patrons in the state = 31,678 for State Fiscal Year (SFY).  The National Program of Braille and Audio Reading Download Services, aka, BARD continues to grow with approximately 233,000 items being downloaded by our patrons last SFY. The quarterly newsletter is available to patrons by mail in large print and Braille, and on the Library website in large print, speech accessible Word document and an audio file. The recording studio produced and submitted its first production to be accepted to the BARD program. Newsline provides access to national newspapers and magazines by using a touch tone phone.  The Friends organization continues to assist the Library with recruitment of our volunteers, and supports the Library staff and volunteers in its overall mission to provide specialized services to our patrons. 

DA Report
Phyllis Heath presented a report.  A summary is below.

The District 5 Office is located Daytona Beach with a satellite office located in Brevard County.  The district serves 4 counties:  Volusia, Brevard, Flagler, and Putnam Counties.  District 5 was chosen as District of the Year during this past fiscal year.  They exceeded their goal for successful closures by 24 additional closures for a total of 95 closures. District 5 currently serves approximately 550 individuals in our 4 counties: 15 clients in the Blind Babies Program, 42 in the Children’s Program, 148 in the Independent Living Programs, and 345 in the VR Program.  The VR program includes special programs for college students, for transition students, and for Supported Employment. 

Center for the Visually Impaired, Inc.
Ronee Silverman presented a report. A summary is below.

Today, the Agency serves over 400 individuals each year. The comprehensive services provided include Daily Independent Living Skills for non-vocational students, Children’s services for those ages 6-13 years old, Transition Services for youths between the ages of 14 to 22 who are under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with the school system, and Vocational Rehabilitation Services for blind and visually impaired individuals who are seeking higher education or employment. The Agency currently employs a staff of 23, most of whom have professional degrees in the blindness rehabilitation field. Of the 23, eight are blind or visually impaired (35%).  The center sponsors many fundraising events such as the CVI Prom, Luncheons, Dining in the Dark and White Cane Day. 

Rehabilitation Center f/t Blind and Visually Impaired
Ed Hudson presented a report.  A summary is below.

The Pre-Employment Program was designed to meet the needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired and out-of-work, but considering employment.  It is an intense fast paced program with increased emphasis on self-awareness, career goals and maintaining a job once an individual begins working.  Upon graduation, each client leaves with an action plan of tasks which are related to helping them achieve their goal.   Follow up is a critical part of the program with each student being contacted on a regular basis to monitor their progress.

The Rehab Center held its first class on June 6th, 2016 and five individuals participated.  In July, the Rehab Center held a transition program for ages 18 to 24 years of age.  We only had four referrals, however; the class went well.  The AT department continues to provide training ranging from basic computer skills, speech/screen enlargement programs, Apple products (IPad, IPhone), digital note taking devices and Braille devices. The ILS program continues to teach O&M, Home/Personal Management and Braille (including UEB).  The Employability Skills Class is a less intense version of the PEP class.  Clients are involved in work experiences, job shadowing and career research both on and off campus.

Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind
Robert Kelly presented a report.  A summary is below.
The Conklin Center is the only organization in the United States whose adult programs are dedicated exclusively to addressing the vocational and independent living needs of people who are blind and multiply disabled. The center operates a residential training facility in Daytona Beach that offers intensive functional skills training, supported employment and supported living services to eligible clients referred statewide by the Florida Division of Blind Services. The Conklin Center also provides Early Intervention Services to infants and toddlers birth to 5 in District 5 which includes Volusia, Flagler and Putnam Counties. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Center served an unduplicated total of 138 consumers.
The Center is currently renovating a duplex located with access to public transportation, community amenities and employment opportunities which will provide opportunities for our advanced students to apply their newly-acquired independent living skills in a real community environment. Future plans of the center continue to concentrate on identifying and developing new programs to address the unmet needs among blind adults with multiple disabilities.

The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

Friday October 21, 2016

Meeting called to order at 9:05 with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present: 7
Robert Kelly, Mikey Wiseman, Bruce Miles, Robert Doyle, Sandra Burke, Paul Edwards, Lenora Marten

Council Members Present Via Telephone: 2
Patricia Lipovsky, Howard Bell

Council Members Absent: 3
Gloria Mills, Charles Brooks, Jesus Garcia

Council Staff: 1
Selena Sickler

DBS Staff: 2
Ed Hudson, Megan Martin

Attendees: 2
Charles Burke, Kim Carr

 Council Business
Approval of July 2016 Meeting Minutes
Chairman Robert Kelly asked if everyone had received a copy of the minutes and if there was discussion. Mikey Wiseman stated that he needed clarity in the meeting minutes regarding the dialogue between himself and presenter Doug Fowler which occurred during the council meeting in July 2016.  Sandy Burke objected to the discussion.  Mikey requested a transcript of the conversation to get an accurate accounting.

Chairman Robert Kelly stated that the discussion before the council was to ensure the July 2016 FRCB Meeting Minutes accurately reflected the dialogue between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Fowler.   Mr. Kelly stated to look at a transcript of the minutes between now and the next meeting and add the topic to the February 2017 Agenda under Council Business.

Paul Edwards made a motion to table the approval of July 2016 Meeting Minutes until the February, 2017 meeting in Tampa.  Mikey seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Agenda Items for February 2017 Tampa

  • Transcript of Dialogue between Mikey Wiseman and Doug Fowler – Mikey
  • Report from the Transportation Coordinator regarding using UBER as part of their Paratransit - Patricia Lipovsky
  • WIOA – Robert Doyle
  • Data Relating to Severely Blind People – Robert Doyle
  • Paul’s Letter- Bruce Miles
  • Client Satisfaction Survey Regarding the Rehab Center- Bruce Miles
  • Florida Instructional Materials Center – Paul Edwards
  • UEB Implementation.– Paul Edwards
  • Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind- Robert Kelly
  • Lighthouse of Pinellas, Inc.- Robert Kelly
  • Tampa Lighthouse Tours – Bruce Miles
  • Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired  Blind – Robert Kelly
  • Public Forum- Paul Edwards
  • Vocational Evaluations ( Old Business) – Mikey Wiseman
  • Rehab Center Questions ( Old Business) – Robert Kelly

Location and Date of October 2017 Meeting
Paul Edwards made a motion to have the meeting in Lakeland. Bruce Miles seconded the motion.  The motion passed. Paul Edwards made a motion for the meeting dates of October 25, 26, 27 2017.  Bruce Miles seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Mikey Wiseman made a motion to move the July 2017 meeting from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando.  Patricia Lipovsky seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Report on Florida Rehab Council Meeting by Mikey Wiseman

  • There is a focus on removing barriers to the work experience, the twenty hours of Pre-Employment Training and Clients Choice.
  • Donte Mickens was appointed to the council
  • Staff members Andrea and Rasheda have made lateral moves

Bruce Miles made a motion for Mikey Wiseman to be the permanent FRC Liaison. Mikey seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Old Business
The council had a discussion regarding Vocational Evaluations and the format which they are administered. The council agreed more information was needed regarding DBS policy and further discussion was recommended.  The council
agreed to move forward and reach out to Dr. Karen Wolf. The council suggested to add to the agenda for the next meeting under Old Business.

New Business
Paul Edwards addressed the council regarding his Rehab Center document and asked for any feedback.   The council had a discussion and agreed on the importance of measuring the success of services to clients in order to improve access, reinforce skills learned and reduce recidivism.  Paul Edwards and Ed Hudson agreed to meet and develop a set of questions before the next Client Satisfaction Subcommittee meeting on November 29. The council agreed to further the discussion at the next meeting under Old Business.

Sandy Burke stated the importance of recommending clients to a CRP to receive training to improve skills. Sandy also requested assistance in helping a client who whose services were terminated by DBS.

The council was notified about the creation of a phone line in Volusia County for people who are print impaired to use to hear voting information.

The council had a discussion regarding ways to meet the needs of people who have antiquated equipment that cannot afford new equipment, that cannot be repaired and that DBS cannot purchase due to the expense. The council suggested using donations from people who have old equipment they are not using anymore.

Bruce made a motion to postpone the nomination of second vice chair until Tampa meeting. Mikey seconded the motion. The motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 10:56am.