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FLORIDA REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND
PUBLIC FORUM

Hilton
6001 Destination Parkway
Orlando, Florida
July 26, 2018, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Chairman Kelly called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. with introductions and Pledge of Allegiance.

Council Members Present:
Robert Kelly, Patricia Lipovsky, Robert Doyle, Bruce Miles, Paul Kurtz, Louise Peyton, Howard Bell, Denise Valkema, Paul Edwards, Mikey Wiseman

Council Members via Phone:
Paul Kurtz

Council Members Absent:
Lenora Marten, Rose Conry, Nicole Attong

Council Staff:
Selena Sickler, Tami Oates

DBS Staff
Bridget Giles, Robin Goldstone-Garcia, Ted Pobst

Chairman Robert Kelly welcomed everyone to the forum. He asked for introductions from people on the phone and the audience.

Four Consumers Commented

First speaker from the audience stated that his DBS counselor needed training to improve her people skills. Director Doyle apologized for the negative experience and encouraged him to reach out again to the District Administrator or Supervisor.

Speakers two – four all discussed work at the Lighthouse Works and concerns about the location not being supported as a competitive integrated environment.

Chairman Kelly stated that DBS is supportive of the type of employment that Lighthouse Works provides.  He stated that DBS was going by federal laws. 

The Council expressed their support for the speakers.  The Council explained the requirements of Competitive Integrated Employment and Informed Choice.  The Council expressed their concerns with the laws and indicated they would be expressing those concerns in writing. 

Director Doyle stated the importance of the client’s individual plan.  He stated that the challenge for DBS is what the federal law considers competitive and integrated environment.  Counselors can make a determination on a case by case basis.  If the counselor determines that a job does not fit the definition of Competitive Integrated Employment, then DBS is not allowed to spend resources to support that initiative.  Director Doyle stressed that DBS is there to help.  Director Doyle indicated there were Counselors, District Administrators, Supervisors, Client Resolution Specialist, and The Client Assistance Program with Disability Rights Florida.

Chairman Kelly stated their stories have provided additional inspiration to advocate and make the law make more sense. 

The Council encouraged the speakers to reach out to consumer advocacy groups such as National Federation of the Blind and Florida Council of the Blind.

The mother of a DBS client spoke on behalf of her daughter.  Mikey translated.  The client is very happy and goes to school every day.

The forum adjourned at 6:00 p.m.