Table of Contents

The Director's Corner

photo from the Cabinet meeting. Pictured left to right: Jeff Atwater, Phyllis Vaughn, Aleisa McKinlay, Pam Bondi, Joyce Hildreth, Sue Homant, Alma Candis, Gov. Rick Scott, David Darm, Mike Prendergast, Barbara Palmer, Hunting Deutsch and Adam PutnamOctober is Disability Employment Awareness month and I had the opportunity to attend two wonderful events to recognize and support persons with disabilities.

On September 18, 2012, I had the pleasure of attending a cabinet meeting recognizing Disability Employment Awareness month where proclamation was signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Also in attendance were Jeff Atwater (Florida Chief Financial Officer), Pam Bondi (Florida Attorney General), and several other dignitaries.

Photo of Monica Verra-Tirado, Bureau Chief Bureau of Exceptional Education Joyce Hildreth, Director, Division of Blind Services, and Alex Brown, Youth Advisor to Florida Youth CouncilOn Monday, October 1, 2012, I had the honor of speaking at the Department of Education's kick-off event recognizing Disability History and Awareness weeks. When addressing the crowd, I felt it was important to ask, "What is the word in disabilities?" To my delight, I was met with the resounding response, "Abilities!" In the not so distant past, persons with disabilities were only recognized for what they could not do rather than for their abilities. Today, much progress has been made through education, funding, programs, and of course dedicated professionals like you. As we celebrate the abilities of our clients this month, I want to thank each of you for all that you do for the division and our clients. Together we can continue to make great strides.

Thank you,

Joyce Hildreth


Man Pursues Artwork Despite Deteriorating Vision

By Lacey McLaughlin

STAFF WRITER, Daytona Beach New Journal

Photo of Winfield Sainpreux displaying his artworkOnce arriving at the Conklin Center, Winfield Sainpreux's artistic talent caught the attention of many. Not only does Winfield have limited vision, he is also deaf. Art has become more than a form of self-expression for the 25-year-old; it's a way to communicate.

Sainpreux, was born deaf and at the age of 12 he was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a progressive degeneration of the retinas. Sainpreux discovered his ability while attending the Helen Keller School in New York. He took art classes and was mentored by professional artist Bernard Jackson. Winfield paints by bringing the canvas close to his face under bright light.

Conklin Center vocational instructor Karen Brandenburg noticed his talents and encouraged his artistic ability. Sainpreux has painted several portraits of famous figures such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley. The work is tedious because Sainpreux can only see limited amounts of his canvas.

His work has been showcased by the Very Special Arts Volusia (VSA) and his portrait of Michael Jackson is currently on display at VSA's exhibit at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center. "He is very talented, given the fact that he has these challenges and is able to create art in the manor he does is absolutely amazing," said Barbara Wolfson, Director of VSA. "He has succeeded and surpassed what most sighted and hearing people can do."

"He has showed determination in every task he has been given," said Conklin Center Orientation Mobility Instructor David Buhl . "His goal is to be able to work in our city and be able to live on his own."

Funded by the Florida Lions Club and the Florida Division of Blind Services, the Conklin Center provides daily living skills and vocational training to those who are blind.

Personnel Actions

We would like to welcome our newest employees to the DBS Family:

Linda Brown Retires

By Lynn Ritter

Photo of Linda BrownLinda Brown began her career with the Division of Blind Services (DBS) when she was hired in 2000 to be the supervisor in the Bradenton office. She had previously spent four years with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and brought with her a wealth of resources and knowledge. Under Linda's guidance and strong work ethic, the Bradenton referrals increased, caseloads grew, and more placements were achieved. Her no nonsense approach and her ability to think far outside the box gave the staff new energy and opened more doors to our clients.

Eventually the Bradenton office was moved under the Ft. Myers district and Linda was promoted to District Administrator in Ft. Myers. Again, she took her approach to rehabilitation and worked alongside her staff to make the community aware of DBS, what we could do, and how we could provide guidance, support, and services. Each year Linda's team seems to top the previous year, almost doubling their placement goals. She has always taken the approach that we are not here to say, "No, we can't do that" but to say, "How can we do that" in order to help our clients achieve their goals.

A butterfly symbolizes transformation, change, a new life born from the old one. Linda has assisted many of our client's in transforming, changing, and securing a new and wonderful life through her efforts, knowledge, can do attitude, and true and deep desire to help those who either need or will benefit from what can be offered. To this I say, "Thank you Linda for filling the world with so many beautiful butterflies!!!!!!!!"

MasterChef, Christine Ha

By Randy Morgan

Congratulations to Hadley student Christine Ha who has won season three of MasterChef, a cooking competition series on FOX!

"We're very proud to have Christine as a student and very excited for her to talk about her experiences," says Hadley Senior Vice President Dawn Turco. "Christine's success is a great example of Hadley's mission to promote independent living."

In 2003, Christine was diagnosed with NeuroMyelitis Optica (NMO), an autoimmune disease that attacks the optic nerves and caused her vision loss. Before losing her sight, Christine worked as a software consultant. She developed a passion for cooking in college as she enjoyed making meals for her friends. She also has a degree in creative writing and would like to pursue a publishing deal.

"Winning MasterChef proved not only to the world but also to myself that dreams can come true against all odds. Hadley helped me get back on my feet with cooking after losing my vision by offering courses on independent living skills. I received raised bumps to place on my stove knobs, ovens, and microwave which fostered my courage to venture back into the kitchen," says Christine.

Barbara Cutrera (District 9 Rehab Tech) Is Now a Published Author!

By Linda Brown

photo of book coverBarbara Cutrera, a former Division of Blind Services client, was hired as a Rehab Tech for the District 9 Bradenton office in 2006. What her co-workers didn't know at the time was that she had been writing novels since 1999. They quickly learned that she liked to work on her books during her lunch breaks as well as at home. This year, she has released her first publication, "In a Manner of Speaking," which is a mystery. In October, she plans to release "Over, Under, Across and Through," which is the first book in her fiction trilogy.

Barbara has Stargardts, a form of macular degeneration, and utilizes Zoom Text in order to assist her in using the computer to its best advantage—both at work and in her writing efforts. She finds it helpful to use the speech function in order to proofread her novels. Barbara has five completed books and three first drafts. She writes fiction, mystery, and romance, and would like to explore other genres in the future.

"In a Manner of Speaking," currently an e-book, is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Her National Federation of the Blind Adult Writers' Division award-winning short story, "Clean as Cotton," is available through her website as are links to her books, a weekly blog, and information about herself and her works. The website address is: http://www.onmywayuponline.com.

Thrilled to publish her books, Barbara is moving towards making them accessible to other visually impaired persons via the National Library Service Talking Book Program. In her free time she is focusing on marketing her books and continuing her writing. She loves her job at DBS. Barbara hopes both careers will bring joy to others.

The Florida Outreach for the Blind Hosts New Program

By Carolyn Lapp, Executive Director, Florida Outreach for the Blind

Photo of adult and child doing art workThe Florida Outreach Center for the Blind is a nationally accredited non-profit organization that provides quality training programs at no charge to blind persons. The Center recently hosted the first ever Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program in Florida. This program targeted low-vision children who are not getting Braille instruction in school due to their residual vision. The BELL program provided instruction in Braille and exposure to positive blind role models, both of which are critical for success. By hosting programs like the BELL, the center hopes to reduce the 85 percent Braille illiteracy among blind children. In addition, our Kids' Club held bowling events, parties, a beeping egg hunt, and a touch tour of the Barnum and Bailey Circus which enabled blind children and their families to share support and resources.

The Center will host our 6th Annual Dr. Thomas Hartig "Dining in the Dark" event. This is a unique public awareness and fundraising event to increase awareness about blindness and raise the much needed funds for our programs. The center is very pleased to have Maurice Jacobson, former Mayor of South Palm Beach, as our Honorary Chairman and Michael Williams, Channel 5 Anchor, as our Master of Ceremony. We are also delighted to have David Bigoney, Executive Director of Team Vision Foundation and the first blind man to complete the IronMan competition, as our Keynote Speaker and the Palm Beach County SWAT-Team as our wait staff. There will be live entertainment, raffles, and a cash bar. The dinner will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at the Airport Hilton, located at 150 Australian Avenue, West Palm Beach. Purchase individual tickets for $75 and reserved tables for eight for $650 by calling (561) 642-0005 or mail a check to F.O.C.B. at 2315 S. Congress Avenue, Palm Springs, FL 33406.

Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind

By Phyllis Dill

The Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind will conduct its next quarterly meeting in Daytona Beach at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, 100 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32118 on October 25, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and October 26, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. For a copy of the agenda, when available, contact Phyllis Dill at (850) 245-0392 or email Phyllis.dill@dbs.fldoe.org.

The Council will also conduct a Public Forum at the same location on October 25, 2012 from 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. to receive consumer input on the effectiveness of services provided by the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) in assisting individuals with visual impairments to achieve Employment and Independence under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act. This is an open meeting with no agenda. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons needing a special accommodation to participate in these meetings should contact the local DBS office no later than ten (10) working days prior to the meeting. Phone (386) 254-3800 call toll free at (800) 329-3801. The Florida Telephone Relay system 711 is also availble.

The Sababa Come Back of an "Awesome" Restaurateur

By Mary Ann Hastings

Photo of Sababa owner and two DBS staffShe says "sababa," I say "awesome," and we mean the same thing when it comes to the delectable Israeli falafel Division of Blind Services (DBS) client Liora Volkovich is serving these days at the University of Florida (UF) Hillel Foundation. To get the full flavor of Liora's present success as a self-employed Israeli food vendor we have to rewind two years ago to a chain of events that culminated in the closure of Liora's Sababa Restaurant which was a thriving part of the Jewish community in Gainesville.

Liora had been dealing with progressive retinitis pigmentosa for several years. With the loss of what she loved to do best—cooking up "sababa" food—she became depressed about her future employment. After almost a year of struggling with the choice to prepare for and find a job, Liora began showing signs of greater acceptance of her visual impairment as she sought treatment for her depression. Treatment was so successful that Liora's daughter thanked the doctor "for giving me my mother back."

The big breakthrough came when Liora was approached by the Executive Director of the UF Hillel Foundation. For a fraction of the monthly fee, Liora was given full access to their commercial kitchen and the supervision of the Mashgiach that was needed to produce kosher food. All she needed to do was to resurrect "Sababa" in her business name and, with assistance from DBS with some start-up food costs, to open a kosher food kiosk in the Hillel lobby. As Liora puts it, "When I lost my vision, I thought it was over for me. I thought, 'who would ever hire a blind person to cut and cook food?' But now, I have my confidence back. I am happy!"

We at DBS Gainesville think that is, well…just "sababa!"

October Professional Studies Enrollment Changes

By Randy Morgan

The Florida Division of Blind Services has generously enabled the Hadley School for the Blind to provide free professional development courses to Floridians since June of 2010. Through this time-limited arrangement, the goal of the Division of Blind Services has been to encourage all eligible Floridians to become acquainted with the courses and seminars offered by Hadley. Hadley's unique courses offer lifelong learning opportunities for independent living, employment skills, adjustment to blindness, and enjoyment and fulfillment.

Thanks to the leadership of the Division of Blind Services and its unique collaboration with Hadley, Florida was the number one state for Hadley enrollments for the past two years.

We will continue to offer all courses in Adult Continuing Education, High School, and Family Education tuition free. However, as of October 1st, many (but not all) professional development courses will require a modest tuition.

We hope that participants will continue to utilize the Hadley School to enhance their knowledge and to earn Continuing Education units for the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. We applaud the Florida Division of Blind Services for continuing their stellar example of commitment to excellence by agreeing to pay the tuition of employees who take Hadley courses for professional development!

Together with the Hadley staff I thank all participants and I hope you will express your sincere thanks to Joyce Hildreth and the leadership of the Florida Division of Blind Services for the unique opportunity they have provided Floridians over these past 28 months.

Disability History and Awareness Weeks Lunch 'n' Learn

By Shelanda Shaw

Photo of participant wearing simulator goggles at Lunch N LearnThe Division of Blind Services' (DBS) Lunch 'n' Learn, in honor of Disability History and Awareness Weeks, was held on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 and was a great success. There was an overview of the Division's services, an opportunity to participate in several interactive activities with the use of vision simulators, and accessibility equipment. A big "Thank You" goes to Janine Kane and Wayne Warner from the Lighthouse of the Big Bend and Adam Gaffney from DBS for facilitating the event.

Lighthouse of Collier's 3rd Annual Summer Camp—Another Success

By Kathleen Peck

Lighthouse of Collier's 3rd Annual Summer Camp titled "It's All About the Environment," was a sensory experience.

The first week, Lisa Andrews with Big Cypress Preserve brought turtles to touch and learn. Home Depot helped the campers build flower boxes and create a fragrant garden. The week wrapped up with the sounds of dolphins jumping as the campers cruised the Naples Bay with Freedom Waters Foundation.

The second week Home Depot assisted the campers in creating bird houses. Then off to the Conservancy of South West Florida to pet alligators, snakes, and water creatures. The week ended up a swinging success with Kevin Walker at the Arthur L. Allen Tennis Center where the campers played tennis with the audible foam tennis balls—sound balls for the blind and vision impaired.

On week three Big Cypress Preserve flew in their feathered friends for the campers to feel. Home Depot helped the campers design window bird feeders so the campers will be able to hear the birds sing by their bedroom windows. The scents and sounds were enjoyed by all at the Naples Botanical Gardens, especially the Butterfly Garden.

Paddling out the third week with Old Naples Surf Shop was a first time experience for all—paddle boarding on the Gulf of Mexico. The campers paddled their hearts out!

The last week of camp was filled with all sorts of sounds and music when the campers visited the Naples Zoo and World Café at Golisano Children's Museum of Naples.

The fourth week camp was made possible by the generous donations from American Comfort Limousines, the 11th Annual Joel Ingersoll Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament, the Naples Beach Hotel, and Trinity by the Cove's Archangel Fund for Collier County Charities.

To learn more about Lighthouse of Collier please visit http://www.LighthouseofCollier.org or call (239) 430-EYE4 (3934).

Happy Mojo Moments

By Aimee Mallini

For those of you who have attended Tippy Amick's Division of Blind Services (DBS) employee training, you are familiar with the term "Happy Mojo." For those of you who have not, you are in for a special treat. In the upcoming months Tippy will be training all DBS staff on communication and a positive work environment.

These trainings stress the importance of creating a positive workplace culture. A positive workplace culture contains many elements such as encouraging, strong leadership; appropriate employee relations; and a healthy work environment.

In keeping with this theme, the Visionary will now include a new section titled "Happy Mojo." This section will include fun, festive, and motivating events taking place with employees at offices across the state.

The state office is recognizing their "Happy Mojo" with monthly interactive events for staff. A halloween themed luncheon is planned for October. Everyone will contribute a few dollars for pizza. We will spend our lunch time enjoying one another and may even be visited by some ghosts and ghouls.

We encourage you to get creative and plan some positive, interactive events for staff within your office. We would also love to hear about them and feature them in this section. So feel free to email your "Happy Mojo" moments and send some pics too.

You can contact us at Communications@dbs.fldoe.org

New Procedures for Newsletter

By the Communications Team

We are pleased to announce a new and improved DBS Newsletter "The Visionary." A recent competition was held for a new name to what had been "Inside DBS." Eric Barrette, who is employed with the Lighthouse of Broward, submitted the winning name. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to send your creative ideas.

We now have a designated an e-mail address for you to send your articles to for the newsletter, communications@dbs.fldoe.org. This will streamline the process and help us keep track of the exciting stories you submit.

We will continue the deadline of the 24th of each month to submit articles for publishing in the next edition. Pictures are always a plus so please include them whenever possible. Also, please keep articles 250 to 300 words in length. We are always looking for ways to improve. Please send your ideas so we can make "The Visionary" as interesting as possible. Thank you.

End Zone

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting.  Remember, we need your submissions each month.  Let us know what’s going on in your district or facility.  The publication date for the Visionary newsletter is the first week of each month.  The deadline for submissions is the 24th of each month.  Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

DBS Communications
Email:  Communications@dbs.fldoe.org

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of the Visionary contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: al.peterson@dbs.fldoe.org or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0360
Email:  DBS.HelpDesk@dbs.fldoe.org

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0395 or 1-866-841-0912
Email:  Aware.support@dbs.fldoe.org

DBS Division of Blind Services website (external):  dbs.fldoe.org.

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