Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Meeting called to order at 8:30 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Charles Brooks, Sheryl Brown, Leanne Grillot, Ben Grzesik, Robert Kelly, Patricia Lipovsky, Lenora Marten, Sandra Martin, Donte Mickens, Bruce Miles , Dan O’Connor,  Michael Wiseman and Robert Doyle, Director 

Council Members Present via Teleconference: 3
Jesus Garcia, Gloria Mills, Dwight Sayer

Vicky Magliocchino, Joe Minichiello, Sylvia Perez,

Janice Hameline

Tom Austin, Wayne Jennings, Beth Crain, Michelle Levy, Sandra Brown, Jeff Whitehead, Denise Valluerca, Bobbie Howard-Davis, Janet Alterman, Juan Carlos Diaz, Nancy Brown, Mireya Hernandez, Tony Pileggi, Bruce Emmerton, Ana Saint-Fort, Madeline Davidson, Leigh Ann Bellamy, Donna Rhodes, Lynn Ritter, Stacey Smith, Robert Lewis, April Ogden, Stael Exantus and Brian Michaels 

Minna Jia, Becki Forsell, Paul Edwards,

A motion to amend the agenda to have Bruce Miles give a Florida Rehabilitation Council (FRC) update report tomorrow morning July 28 was made and seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Director’s Report

Robert Doyle presented the following:

Division of Blind Services (DBS) General Update

Gifts and Donations
The Gifts and Donations application program has been revised.  We are revamping it to simply the application and approval processes and to hopefully make it look less like a Request for Proposal (RFP). It will now be available to both public and private not-for-profit organizations.  The new guidelines will be sent to the DSO for review. It will also need to be approved through DOE’s routing/approval processes.


Employer Recognition

Break (take photos)

ACCESS LYNX Para Transit Presentation

Questions and Comments -
How do people get notified?

Does the Occupational Therapist do a functional assessment on someone who is visually impaired?

Does Access LYNX provide free rides to students to church and other activities during the summer months?

Do you work with the local Vocational Rehabilitation office to provide transportation for people can get to work?

 Are you working to make your passes in this area so that it is active between local transportation?

Do you have reciprocal agreement for people living in other counties?

Now that UBER is available to the city, does it have an effect on Access LYNX? 

Donte Mickens – Access LYNX has a good travel training program. Get a free 30 day pass and the scheduling of rides on-line.  Do you know what type of scheduling software is used for the training, is it trapeze?  What is the most common complaint you receive?

Charles Brooks - What about fixed routes?  You have to get off the bus and walk a certain distance to get another bus.  As a blind person it is not safe to walk a distance to get another bus.  It puts you at a great disadvantage.

Sandy Martin – In reference to providing services 24/7, do you prioritize routes to get people to work on time?

Mickey Wiseman – Congrats on your 90 percent rate.   What kind of disciplinary actions have circumvented and have you taken care of it? 

How do you handle chronic problem riders? 

It was suggested that Access LYNX incorporate a question on the application regarding service animals.

VR Goals update and Vermont Model Project

Wayne discussed the data for the quarter and year.

Robert Doyle – We are working on a Dash Board Project so that we have more data readily available to every counselor.  We are looking at ways to break down data across the board.  One of the goals of the Department is look at our Return on Investments (ROI) at the school level. We are looking at how we can corporate some of the same things at the district level and with the Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) to identify best practices.

Mickey Wiseman – Is the Dash Board going to be internal facing?

Robert – Yes, it is internal facing and the data will be available as we are building it.

Mickey Wiseman – Is it similar to the outward phasing portal that VR will be using with all of their statistics? 

Robert – It is a different dash board system from what VR will be using.  Our nature of service delivery is a little different.

Paul Edwards – Congratulation on adding a new statistical component. Thank you for putting it in place.

Donte Mickens –  Congratulated DBS and asked what is it that highly successful districts are doing to distinguished themselves from everyone else --- so we that can kind learn some of those best practices?

Wayne Jennings– You may ask Leanne Bellamy as she had the most successful closures.

Sheryl Brown – This is a general VR question. Around the state people are at risk of losing their jobs and have already been in post-employment, what is the time frame it takes to reopen a case? Has the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) ever looked at not making the 60 days where you could expedite somebody that’s employed need something real quick to not lose their job?

Dan Conner- As I understand it, there isn’t any stricter requirements. As a counselor, I try and expedite quickly, especially if there is someone employed.  The 60 day time limit is just the outer limit. We have to get them in for an interview within a few days, sometimes the same day eligible and have a plan developed. 

Jesus Garcia – My case was opened and I am employed.  Things were moving within a week.  I would give credit to the counselor assigned to my case.

Wayne Jennings – If a client had a case with us previously, and they were closed and it is the right timeframe which is one year, we can open in Post-Employment Status (PES) and you don’t have to go through that process.  I do think that one of the things we have to focus on, and it has helped us reached our goal, is better case work upfront.  You have all heard us talking about doing better assessments upfront. We are focusing on those things and hopefully the timeframes are decreasing and not increasing.

Sheryl Brown– If it is after a post-employment status, do you we still have to do the interview and the paper work?

Wayne Jennings – Yes, you will have to open a new case.  Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act (WOIA) is recommending a 90 day and not a 60 day.  They are going in the other direction.  We are staying with the lesser days.

Robert Doyle –If there is an opportunity that we can streamline some of those areas by utilizing existing information - up to a certain period of time, we would like to do that.

Wayne – I think we’ve done that through our process and I believe we can continue to work on those things and look for more efficient ways to do business. 

Mikey Wiseman – Going back to the great numbers and looking back on this year, have you been able to identify anything you can implement as a cornerstone, either by the initiative you took or some corrective measures that you took that were extremely successful? 

Tom – To continue to work closely with the field in making sure we are being consistent in all the districts.  Tightening up the VR process and moving folks through.  Not leaving stagnant cases just sitting.  We are moving people forward through the process and looking at some possibilities through the Vermont Model to see how these might also help. It’s a pilot project so we don’t know. 

Sheryl Brown – How do you track Conklin Center or Lighthouse? How do you know?

Wayne – Ask the district to track where they refer or who places those folks.  That’s where those numbers come from.

Sheryl Brown – Is it in AWARE?

Wayne Jennings – Part of it is in AWARE.  Some of the placements, especially the Conklin Center have it on their invoices. They have different rules and tables in the other contracts regarding their placements.  I believe the contract manager and the staff at Conklin Center talk about it monthly to make sure they are on track. The districts   keep track of who they refer for placement to the providers as well as the EPS.

Robert Doyle – We evaluated data on using outside placement providers for 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Tom Austin - Across the board we have been asking this question and we do feel that the EPS were instrumental. Kristen and the work she was doing with the employers, and pulling everyone together was very instrumental in helping us meet our goals. I think there were other things contributing to staff level.

Wayne Jennings - Kristen and I traveled around the state and trained our staff and some of the providers on the EOP placement model which is what the division purchased and have used over the last 15 years. I think getting those folks training across the state and having everybody on the same page and speaking the same language helped greatly as well.

Sheryl Brown - Marcia sent an email stating that you were not doing authorizations for placements in 2014 and we continued to place through the VR contract. You have no way to capture this data. Are you doing authorizations again for replacements?

Robert Doyle - We have not gotten that far. When we did the authorizations for placements we were looking for a specific period.  In think we will go back to the team and look at the overall. What strategies will we employ? The authorizations are one option.  Expanding payment to the CRP's for successful outcomes is one of the things we should be talking about.  We had more outside placement in 2013 while we were getting the EPS model started. A lot of great things happened on time.  An opportunity outside placements provided additional payment to the providers and again our role is to be successful - 761.

Client Satisfaction Survey Review
Dr. Minna Jia, Director of The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) provided the council with a full report prior to the meeting and discussed the report.

This report summarizes the data collected for the last quarter of the 2014-15 fiscal year.  This report includes cases closed between April 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015.  The Customer Satisfaction Survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients gathers perspectives of former DBS clients concerning program services, levels of satisfaction, and areas for program improvement.  This report describes the methods used and presents the last quarter of 2014-15 results.  In the fall of 2009, the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind modified the previous survey to streamline the interviews and update information in new areas.  Some minor modifications to this survey were made October 2010.  Many of the items remained comparable or identical to the survey administered the previous 10 years.  In these instances, data for the 10 previous years are provided for comparison purposes.  For new questions, major modifications made to question wording, or questions asked of different populations (new screens), no comparisons to prior years can be made.

Survey Procedures

Population Surveyed.  The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL), College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, conducted a telephone survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients on a monthly basis. Employment-bound clients with cases “closed“ between April 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015 comprises the population surveyed for this last quarter report.  DBS provided the names, addresses, phone numbers and demographic information for 278 former clients.  Case closures are classified into two major groupings, those with successful and unsuccessful closures. 

Successful Closure –178 Clients

Unsuccessful Closure -- 100 Clients

Robert Doyle - We are compiling a state fiscal year Annual Report.  I recommend the council to put together a committee to review the satisfaction survey process.

Charles Brooks, III – When was the last time the survey was updated?

Dr. Minna Jia – The survey was updated the year 2010.

Robert Kelly – We will take that up tomorrow to look for people who would like to participate on that committee. 

Lunch Break
Housekeeping note – please limit your questions. 

Lighthouse Central Florida Report
Stephanie Mora introduced staff from LCF, Mark Bachelor, Ginger Oreskvich.  Ginger introduced Dave Shapiro and Nikki Lipton. 

Dave stated that in 1976 Lighthouse Central Florida (LCF), (formerly Center for Independence, Training and Education (CITE) was formed nearly 40 years ago).  LCF has served blind and visually impaired Floridians through education and rehabilitation for persons of all ages and their families in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.  LCF offers a wide range of services for early intervention, school-aged children who are primarily served in the home and are visited twice a month.  We are very excited to get our school-age program back this year.   Also, we have one of the largest transition programs in the state.  We have 57 teenagers and an adult program.  The age of the oldest client served is 102 years old. 

Vocational Rehabilitation - We are starting brand new program next week and DBS counselors will refer clients to us for assessment.  When the VR client comes for an assessment, they will receive extreme comprehensive hands on demonstration assessment.  The programs offered during a seven week period are:

At the end of the seven weeks the local DBS counselor will receive updated reports of what has taken place. Once the client has met the criteria they will have completed the training at the New Hampshire Office.  The next is to send them to Lighthouse Works Business Center.

Lighthouse Works’ provides competitive employment opportunities for the blind and visually-impaired community.   Also, provides marketing skills to become independent.  Lighthouse Works has a call center which provides support to companies in health care, hospitality & travel, financial, and apparel merchandising industries.  Our supply chain division is constantly working toward the mission of Lighthouse Works by providing career opportunities for the blind and visually impaired and helping them learn and develop new skills to earn an income.

Currently, the supply chain is working on fulfilling contracts for the federal government, the state of Florida, and private organizations.  Last year showed a 100% rate of success for orders filled by our team and we fully expect to maintain this level of quality as we continue to grow and create more opportunities for the blind and visually-impaired community.

Robert Doyle – Is this for a specific population of clients coming in the program or is this for all clients in the program?

Dave Shapiro – For all vocational rehabilitation clients in the program.

Robert Doyle – Will they all get the call center work experience?

David Shapiro -The call center would be a part of the work experience.

LCF staff person - For example, if a client wants to be a dish washer, they would still receive a portion of the technology training and all of the job readiness while combining AT and job readiness in the program.

Mikey Wiseman– Regarding your three months give a take a week, with your expectations that the client will be ready to go to work, is the client aware of the deadline?

Dave Shapiro – The client will be made aware of the deadline at the very beginning stages.  We have conversations about the expectations through the program process. 

LCF staff person - One of the things we are doing with this is opening up more communication with the state office.  We find it very important for the program.  We want you to know what progress the client has made as well.

Robert Doyle – How often do you anticipate cohorts? If you have clients who are coming into a program for three months my questions relates to -- if you just started the program last week, does this client coming in for service now have to wait three weeks, five weeks or seven weeks before the next session comes open?   If a client that finished the program realizes they need more training or individualized training, is it still made available to them?

Dave Shapiro – We have laid out the schedule so the next group can start next week.  We have a line of students that are still going to receive their core services. The anticipation is that they are ready to start in September. At the moment there is no waiting list. 

For example, after the work experience has been completed and retraining is needed, we certainly will address their issues.  We don’t anticipate the client having any issues.  We planned on doing a follow-up with the client for the next year just to touch base as a part of the job networking.

Donte Mickens – If, I as a client lived in the area and wanted to be an Accountant, how does those services get to me?  What if a client comes in and doesn’t feel like they need every facet of the program, do they test out and demonstrate they don’t need some of it?

Dave Shapiro – Every client that comes to LCF receives an individualized written plan.  If they don’t need all the services offered, it will be removed from the plan for them.  We certainly don’t want anyone sitting in the classroom if they are not going to benefit from it.

LCF Comment – That’s where the five key components come in.  So, if they do test out, don’t need IES or O&M they still have to show or demonstrate they don’t need those things.  One of the things we want to make sure of is the notetaking device.  Being able to not only take that information, but retrieve it as well. As an accountant you would have to do that efficiently and accurately to be placed into a job.

Sandra Martin – What about secondary conditions?  What is the time frame? When are they made aware?

Dave Shapiro – It’s a case specific secondary issue.  For example, if the client goes to dialysis 3 days a week, that is going to impact training.

LCF comment – We are connecting the counselor and staff at Lighthouse Works more so than just regular markers.  We are increasing in that area.  If someone is going through we will work through it with a team approach.  If you are not ready for that work experience we would not push anyone through.

The work experience is there to increase work skills, confidence and see if you like the job.

Donte Mickens – What is your biggest challenge towards achieving your mission or goals as an organization and program?

Dave Shapiro – As far as this program goes, in my opinion, it's twofold.  Receiving VR referrals and changing the mind set of people.  I think that the biggest obstacle or challenge is getting people to want to go back to work and step up to the plate.

Robert Kelly thanked the LCF for their report.

District Administrators Report
Jeff Whitehead, DA provided the council with the following report:

Office Location and Counties served:
District 6 is the largest district office in the state. The District serves five counties (Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Sumter). We have both a rural and a popular city that we work with.  The transportation in our metropolitan area is very good.

We have the largest district office in the state. Our employment goals were 113 and we completed 99.  Our VR goal for next year is set for 120.

We are restructuring our office to increase customer service availability. We have put together a team of counselors to cover different areas of the zip code as to even the caseloads.  While trying to increase our consumer services availability, and increase our referrals, we are visiting other communities.

The district participated in quarterly marketing and outreach campaigns to increase referrals as well as reach underserved populations in our rural areas.  We focused on marketing to eye physicians, hospitals/clinics/medical centers, schools, churches, and other social/community programs.
We have about 450 active cases in VR and have one of the largest AP programs in the state.  We have some wonderful things going on with our consumers as well. We are working on providing better customer service from our office.  Also, the district has a long standing relationship with its providers.  We work well together to ensure the provision of client services. We conduct monthly case management meetings to discuss client progress.

Donte Mickens – Do you have any new challenges regionally?  Can you tell me about your feedback you get from clients regarding services? 

Jeff Whitehead – I think our biggest challenge is making a name in the community.  DBS is still an unknown entity to a lot of organizations and it is a constant battle to get in the community and let them know who we are and that we are here.  EPS staff came across employers who had never heard of DBS or the Lighthouse of Central Florida or New Vision for Independence.  The continuing of education process in our community is the biggest thing.  LYNX is a good transportation system. Like any other system there are problems with getting customers to their destinations on time.  We have told our clients to schedule extra time for an appointment.

Question – How does the central Florida area work with youth and our seniors?

Jeff Whitehead - We have joined with LCF who is working with the YMCA specifically seniors and doctor’s offices in the community during work experience. 

Question – Do they start at the high school age?

Jeff Whitehead – Transition program starts as early as 14 and 15 years old for work experience.

Mikey Wiseman – I am excited about the model that was discussed by the Lighthouse.   I think I want to hear the other end.  What preparation have you done in getting ready to work with doctors? Obviously, there is going to be an expectation of more working together as a team, and the delivery of quality product to an employer.  So can you talk about what you are doing on the other end?

Jeff Whitehead – To get that process started, clients go through an application process. After they are determined eligible for services, we send the referral over to the lighthouse. At that point we have talked about employment and what it will mean.  When they get to the LCF they are assessed on how that service will be structured. The program has really generated some excitement and I think it is really going to be great to see.  This adds another element and component to give us an opportunity to present the clients a better option.

Mikey Wiseman – Are you specifically earmarking the clients that are to be targeted for this pipeline, a counselor or a particular group of counselors?  Or are they going to continue disbursing throughout your office?  How are you going to approach that? The level of dialog seems that it’s going to be elevated, which I am excited about as well.

Jeff Whitehead – It is going to be a lot more elevated.  We are actually doing this throughout the office.  We don’t want to just pipeline it to specific people because if a client come in and decide they want to wait later, we don’t want to have to switch that client to another counselor.  We are having the entire office embraced this approach. We work with New Vision for Independence the same way. LCF really do have some innovative and specific targets they do with their clients that works very well.  It’s really a great program and we are working together.   If I have a question, I am going to call whomever I need to get it taken care of and it works same with the clients.  If they have a problem, then we are going to get together as a team.  Point them in the direction they want to go to get to their employment goals.  Which is our overall goal to make sure the client is getting what they need.

Mickey Wiseman– I want to wish you all the best of luck.  I am glad you may be breaking the mold and look forward to hearing about the first batch.

Jeff Whitehead – We will be glad to give you an update.

Charles Brooks – We heard about focus for the youth and that it is wonderful.   As stated previously, there are people that are in a different age group such as Mikey's age group or like myself, who went blind at a later stage in life and still can be productive.  What is being done to help those people transition and possibly even get back in the work force?

Jeff Whitehead – That’s our main mission.  We are going to bring them in and find out what is going on in their lives and the goals they may have in mind.  We will send them to one of the service providers and they will do an assessment and give us feedback about what we need to do to help get that specific client in order to move forward with their goals.  They may go through an independent living skills class to do a broad structure. But, that individual may need a little more time to work through and adjust.  We would schedule a one on one session.  The client will need time to develop their skills so that they can move forward with the changes in vision through counseling. Then they would move on to vocational skills.  It all depends upon a person’s individual goals.

Donte Mickens – What kind of extra curricula activities are you aware of that are provided by you or the CRP particularly, those that might be more social in nature?  One of the things that affect employability is being able to converse,  limiting some of the mannerism that are typical within our community that affects their ability to land the job during the interview.  What kind of extra curricula activities might be available where we can work or some of those soft skills?

Jeff Whitehead – Most of what is provided is through the CRP when they go over to the training site.  Most of the training is completed in a fun environment that fosters some interaction with people and peer groups on a professional level.  When I was still with LCF, we did a trip to Bush Gardens as an orientation and mobility.  We had the students go through and advocate themselves so we could make sure they do what they needed.  It wasn’t all fun.   We did a lot of teaching and training on how to take care of yourself.  All about including those needed life skills.  The adults that LCF has are part of an alumni group.  There is not a lot of funding for social outlets.

Robert Kelly – There is a lot of collaboration and communication between the agency and the CRP’s.

Report from New Vision for Independence
Chantel Buck provided the council with the following report:

This is the first opportunity we had to speak in front of the Rehab Council.  Thank you for inviting us.  We serve Lake and Sumter Counties and the Villages.  This is a retirement community over 60 years of age.   We serve all ages from birth earth. Majority of the clients are 70 percent seniors.  Transportation is very limited and difficult for this rural area.  The majority of what we do is in the individual home and that makes service delivery time extensive and expensive.  We celebrated 10 years and branched off from LCF who we have a great working relationship with.  When we branched off,  they stopped serving Lake and Sumter Counties 10 years ago.  They are difficult counties to serve because it is very rural and spread out and I am probably the youngest person in the county.

You are a private non-profit?

Chantel Buck – We are private non-profit and located at Lake Sumter State College. They are donating the space.  We serve high school students and working adults.  We do have a relationship where we help one another.  Not under the umbrella.

Bruce Miles– How many clients are you serving?

Chantel Buck – We are serving a total of 196 direct services and support groups throughout the area.  We have a staff of seven full-time and three part-time.

Mikey Wiseman– What would you say is your primary deliverable of services given the demographic served?

Chantel Buck – I would say the service we provide the least of is braille.  But, independent living skills and assistive technology are probably our top two.

How many O& M instructors do you have?

Chantel Buck – We have one O&M and one CVRT.

What is your mission?

Chantel Buck
Our mission is to provide rehabilitation, community education, and support services for people with low vision or blindness and their families to promote independence, acceptance, and self-confidence.

Donte Mickens– I would like to compliment you all for doing a great dining in the dark event.

Chantel Buck – We have an annual dining in the dark event and this is our 5th this year.  We work with the Lake County SWAT team to bring people in the room and they turn off lights and experience for a short period the difficulties of having to do something like eating a meal with vision loss, but also throughout the entire event make sure that it’s not “oh those poor blind people”.  We had a great reception and a lot of volunteers.  We had a lot of board members as dining in the dark is one of our big fund raisers.  Donte was one of our speakers and people talked wonderful about him.

Update on the Vermont Model Request Report
Wayne Jennings

Sometime in April, Robert brought to our attention information regarding the Vermont Model.  He asked if we would check it out.  It is a pretty good model and we are going to pilot it here.  It is now located in six districts -  Pensacola, Jacksonville, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.  Basically, it is a dual consumer approach with rapid engagement. It means we are focusing on the business and client at the same time.  The model does this with hard to place clients that have been stagnant or they need more motivation or clients that say they want to work, but not hold a job.  Those are the types of clients that this model targets. This is what we will focus on with those districts.  When a client is identified within a month, we will enter them in a work experience for at least two to six weeks.  Not a long term employment situation.   It lets the employer and client try it before you buy it kind of model.  This allows the employer to see that the blind can an actually do their job.  A lot of our clients in the AP program are folks that have lost their vision and think they can’t work.  After we send the client to Sheryl, and she works with them for a while, they realize they can go back to work.  Getting those unmotivated clients back to work is what this project does.  Do you have specific questions?

Sandra Martin – Are there weeks or hours of work experience?

Wayne Jennings – It is setup for weeks right now.  They like to focus on the one month time frame and that is why I say two to six weeks.  Some folks need a little longer than others.  The one month seems to work really well.

Sheryl Brown– Do they still need a vocational evaluation?

Wayne Jennings– Yes, after they are determined eligible.  We really want to focus on clients that have been in the process awhile and look at those folks getting in the process to actually go back to work.

Robert Kelly – Am I hearing that this is geared toward a select group of clients?

Wayne Jennings – Yes.

Bruce Miles – Is this already in place in those six districts?

Wayne Jennings – Let's do a quick timeline.  Back in April when we started discussion, we had one onsite meeting and a couple of webinars.  We have to setup training with those six districts. This project is being implemented in four states.  We are one of those four states. Getting training from ICI and the Vermont folks is going to take a time.  We are hoping by October 1st to be in full swing, tracking and reporting statistics. I know if we give it every effort that it needs it will work very well.  The concept is really solid.

Mikey Wiseman – Is the two to six weeks going to be in OJT? What is the dollar figure commitment?

Wayne Jennings– It will fall under the same stipend rules that we carry right now with our work experience.  Which is we pay $6.00 per hour for training.   It could be an OJT if one of the employers say hey, we would like to go ahead and hire this person, but it really isn’t geared toward that.  We have been told that Vermont did get a lot of placements.  This model really helps build skills and it helps companies understand working with visually impaired folks.

Dwight Sayer –Do you think you will have any problems finding employers willing to do that kind of experimentation?

Wayne Jennings – I really don’t think we will have too much of a problem finding employers to do work experiences and our typical VR clients.  I think it will be a positive experience for both sides.

Sandra Martin – Is it limited to six districts?

Wayne – For the pilot, yes.

Bruce Miles – Can you elaborate on the $6 training offset? 

Wayne – Yes.  The client gets paid $6 hour while they are in this program.  While they are actually working and not the whole thing they are in the program at a site working.

Bruce Miles – They will get paid by DBS only?

Wayne Jennings – Yes.  We want them to go through many work experiences so that they feel like they are working and at the same time we are working on counseling and guidance through all the training that LCF and New Vision does and all the other providers.  It’s all going on at the same time.  That is why they say rapid engagement to get them back in workforce is quicker.

Sheryl Brown – I printed a document from the internet and it says it’s for people who have lower or no work history and low skills level.  The things that interest me, is people with criminal backgrounds or other barriers have been a barrier to paid employment.

Wayne Jennings – They did talk about it a lot. It’s a very sizeable piece of theirs, because they had several clients that had criminal backgrounds and it worked very well for those folks as it did for any of the other population of folks that they had in their study.

Mikey Wiseman – Can you talk about the prospective employers you have in the pipeline and how would you build a working relationship between you?

Wayne Jennings –Currently, we have not approached any additional employers regarding this project.  But, through our ET's and partnerships with the lighthouses, we are planning to continue using the same model that we've been using to approach those businesses. We would talk to them about employment and solicit their help with this pilot project to see where it goes.  We have not started that phase of it yet.  That will be after the training of all our staff.

Question – What other state besides Florida?

Wayne Jennings – Oregon, Nebraska, Vermont and Maine are those agencies participating in the Vermont Progressive Employment Model Project.

Wayne Jennings – There was one question earlier that I wanted to go back to.  Someone ask about the Federal Fiscal Year. Last year we closed 721 cases for FFY.  Currently, we are at 661 this FFY. On an average we are closing 66 cases a month. This should put us over the 721.  Last year we crushed the previous year number.

WIOA Work Group
Robert Kelly
We composed several written comments for the RSA having to do with the open comment period that closed June 16.  We ask them to reconsider the phase out of the homemaker closure category.  We ask them to reconsider or amplify their discussion about qualified personnel in rehabilitation counseling and also ask them to consider the fact that blindness rehabilitation involves some specialized skills set including CVRT and Certified O&M mobility folks. We won’t hear anything from it in terms of outcomes until January 2016.

Paul Edwards – Comments were sent to the counsel for review. There were five or six other areas.  We spent some time talking about the minimum wage.  There was a lot of good discussion in our workgroup and I think it turned out to be a consensus position that was kind of hard to come by.  I think our comments were good.  I see some other comments that have gone in.  Thanks to good feedback from everybody and for their contribution.  Essentially we would have members of the council do the initial writing and then we put it altogether and sent it on.

Robert Doyle - Comments regarding the state taskforce.  Many of you are aware that the state has established a taskforce for WIOA invitation to see how we are going to put out at the state level. Several agencies are members of the taskforce with DBS being one of them along with several other DOE organizations including Career Source Florida and others.  The workforce was established during four public meetings in Tallahassee.  We have been discussing WIOA general topics.  They have been bringing folks from the business community to talk about their businesses.  At the last meeting adult career presented comments and folks from the college system presented some comments as well. It appears to be some concern, that certain aspects of funding were going to be shifted in WIOA. At each meeting we were asked to give answers on questions.  The primary questions are below:

(1) How should WIOA planning regions be organized? Basically, WIOA requires    that there be planning regions throughout the state so everyone can give their comments. Currently, there are 24 regions in the state and 24 boards. After we all gave our comments, Chairman Hart, who is also president of Career Source Florida, presented an overlay chart of his recommendations. He proposed eight planning regions that will overlay the existing 24 regions.  He very closely aligned those planning regions with Department of Transportation regions.  They are available online. He asked for additional input/feedback from folks within each of those eight regions, 24 career source counties and everything that they represent.  His proposal suggested that one organization in each of those eight areas that will take the lead on planning.

(2) What should be included in a comprehensive one stop career center?  What they were getting to is that there are four partners that are required by both, WIOA, Adult Career Ed, VR, and the Workforce Board Unemployment system. They are required partners in a one stop and those required partners have additional components.  There are 13 required partners in the law. Who should be sitting physically or who should be a part of the comprehensive system? Should DBS be a part of the comprehensive one-stop? We have shared some of our comments and thoughts. In some instances it would probably make sense.  We may have physical locations and be able to provide meeting space.  We can meet with folks at the office to talk about services and cross training.  Maybe CRP's also use those spaces for training and meetings as well.

(3) What programs and entities should be included in the workforce development system? Do we want a combined plan or unified plan?  Unified plan is required of the four partners.  DBS has a plan and VR has a plan.  We all may have a part in a unified plan.  But, it’s all going together as one plan to the Feds. Combined plan means that other partners who have submitted state plan services to the federal government became part of the coordinated plan that goes in when this plan is submitted.  Seems like in general the idea is that there will be a combine plan with the core partners and others that will be a part of that combine plan and there may be others that came on board later on.

(5) How can the development system better share information and Customers and better integrate information? There was discussion about a common intake and reporting system, but not for the development of a new mega system.

(6) Last question, what can the Florida Workforce Development do to better serve individuals with obstacles to employment?

There is another meeting on August 6. It’s going to be the last in-person meeting that is scheduled.  They have four questions that are scheduled; (1) Follow-up for additional recommendation from last meeting, (2) How should the required infrastructure cost for one stop center partners be shared, (3) Since WIOA is requiring a common measurement in planning the core programs, what government or organizational structure would best lead to those outcomes, and (5) What resources and relationships do you need to implement WIOA?  I think there will be a lot of discussion around the second and third question. We had some discussions about co-locating some of those areas.  We are interesting in exploring the area where it’s a good idea, meets our needs, and doesn’t take away funds from us client resources.  Those are the things we are looking at.  I would recommend that someone from the council be there for the meeting in Tallahassee on August 6. 

Sheryl Brown – Are you trying to get on the board?  VR is at the table for all the meetings. 

Robert Doyle – Yes. That was one of our comments.  We need to be at the table both on the local and state board.

Mikey Wiseman – Are you going to send us the list of questions and your answers?

Robert Doyle – Yes, I will send out to the council.

Sheryl Brown– There was a time when we did co-locate.  We were doing that at the one stop in Tampa. But, it was a shared cost.  They wanted DBS to help pay for it.

Robert Doyle – There is a requirement in WIOA that VR is included and has to contribute. 

UBER Florida
Matthey Gore, General Manager
UBER impacts Florida and our commitment to accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.  We met at the NFB Convention in Orlando. UBER sponsored NFB’s 75th anniversary. UBER also held a focus group and an exhibit demonstrating the UBER application.

A brief overview of UBER.  It is simple – you press the button and you get in car.  The company started back in 2010 in San Francisco, CA.  By recognizing that there was a great need out there to help with the problem of transportation.  There were a lot of black cars that had a couple of corporate times for the day – black car service.  We realized by putting a smart phone based application in the hands of drivers, we can help them utilize their idle time, assets and increased their efficiency dramatically by connecting them to riders that might be a few blocks away and they would never know it.  For riders it’s about the simplicity. Any driver with a good driving record, clean background, ten years old or newer vehicle to pick up riders in the city and on top of that pricing is about 40 percent cheaper than a taxi in most cases.  Riders love cashless seamless provider service.  So when you open up your App, press the button for a car, before it arrives you will know the name of the driver, the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number, and the estimated time of arrival.  When the car arrives, you get in the car and tell the driver your destination and they take you there.  When you get to your destination, that’s it. There is no cash involved.  Your debit/credit card is on file and is automatically charged and you have the opportunity to rate the driver so that we can make sure only the best drivers remain on the platform. If you have not tried UBER, I highly recommend it.

You realize there are other opportunities, because when we build the transportation platform on a digital platform it creates opportunity to solve other plans you might not even had the opportunity to solve before.  For example, if the driver takes a poor route and you don’t know if your familiar with the route or you simply see that you were charged more than expected, we can actually pull the data and if it shows that the trip was longer than it should have been, we will adjust that charge and refund the difference.  If you leave something in the vehicle, simply reply to the receipt that we send you after every route and we will connect you with the driver to get it. 

Availability and reliability in Orlando has reached new heights.  The average wait time is under four minutes.  We cover 70 percent of the U.S. population and over 90 percent of Floridians and globally over 300 cities.  We also created hundreds and thousands of jobs in the cities in which we operate. In Florida, along we have over 20,000 drivers in the state. Everybody rides regardless to what the person looks like, their background, where they live or where they are going.  UBER provides that rider liability.  This is never before seen in transportation.  It’s accessible from web enabled device transparencies in prices driven and rider anonymous. We solicit feedback from the rider and driver to make sure everyone have a quality experience.  Both low rated driver and riders can be deactivated from the platform causing people to be on their best behavior. 

UBER is a cashless transaction and it improves security for both drivers and riders. Importantly, UBER Apps provides reliable important transportation options for the blind and visually impaired community. IOS voice UBER Rider Apps uses Apple voice over technology and Android Rider Apps uses talkback.  Both platforms can be used in conjunction with wireless braille display. UBER has partnered with the NFB lighthouse in San Francisco and regularly engages with blind users and Apps usage and functionality. One of our technology advisors and blind UBER rider themselves, Mike May created an excellent audio podcast on how to use the system. UBER is in four countries and 10 cities. It is call UBER the most single advancement for the mobility of blind Apps in the past decade.  We hear this on a wider scale.  We get this feedback from UBER riders with disabilities all over the world. The thing we hear about most importantly is the increase efficiency in freedom reducing discrimination and crucially increased accountability.  Ability to provide real on time feedback is as simple as replying to your receipt. We serve all individuals especially the underserved.  Additionally, we provide to partners an accessibility curriculum and nondiscrimination policies.  When partner’s first time driving on an on-going basis, they receive materials on accessibility of clients including a video on accommodating riders with disabilities. Also, available for on-line references.  We expect our driver/partner to comply with all state and federal and local laws covering transportation of riders of disabilities including accessibility laws.   Our code of conduct details our policy on accommodating people with disabilities and specifically prohibits any type of discrimination in serving riders with disabilities.  Finally, disability feedback is a critical response issue.  Any mention of Voice over IOS issue is service denial, and any feedback to us would be escalated to a special response team.  Positive feedback is welcome too.  UBER is fundamentally changing cities and lives of people within.  Changed mind and I believe yours, if it had not already.  Thanks for having us.

Mikey Wiseman – you talked about accessibility training, ADA.

Matthew – We are held to a higher standard and I believe we have taken many great steps and there is more work to be done.  There is no quick way to fix things.  We can partner with the community and figure out how to make those improvements.  Accountability is the most important tool in handling incidents.

Paul Edwards - I am a dedicated UBER user and it certainly changed by life.  UBER has given me the ability to do things that I would not be able to do considering the area I live in.

Question – Ft. Lauderdale is where you are having problems?

Matthew Gore - The County Commission passed laws that are extensively to create an environment that we simply can’t operate in.  We have been negotiating with them over a year.  We are going to have to shut down UBER in Broward County. Each county in Florida has its own set of laws.

Jesus Garcia – I hope you guys return to Broward as soon as possible.  I have been using UBER on a regular basis and the more time passes, the more I use it, and frankly I haven’t used a cab in almost a year. 

Matthew Gore - Tallahassee has developed a notable framework that we hope is going to be a model for the cities and counties around Florida.

Sandra Burke – How are prices established?

Matthew Gore - You can visit UBER website for prices.  It will provide you with an estimated cost of travel.

Question – What about ages under the age of 18?

Matthew Gore – All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a supervisor.

Question – Are you working with O&M instructors for students who are under that age?

Matthew Gore – Unfortunately, that is not a something we can do right now for liability purposes.  We definitely recognize the issue.

Bruce Miles - With Florida being one of the right to work states, shouldn’t that have an effect on Broward problems?

Matthew Gore - Unfortunately, the counties write the laws the way they want them written.

Bruce Miles - The State of Florida does not reimburse for using UBER.

Robert Doyle – I will check with the comptroller’s office regarding the reimbursement of using UBER for traveling.

Mikey Wiseman - What makes the Tallahassee model so great?

Matthew Gore - Our drivers/partners are part-time drivers who work a few times a week.  We run a third party background check and we have vehicle requirements that are monitored.

Tallahassee created a licensing structure where UBER has to get a license to do the background checking.

Donte Mickens - Has UBER thought about working with some of the para transits which was mentioned earlier this morning?

Matthew Gore – Use the App that have license numbers available.  Ask the driver for their license number.

Donte Mickens - Does the driver know they are visually impaired?

Matthew Gore - You can call the driver and tell them you are blind and what you are wearing?

Robert Kelly – Thank you UBER

Mississippi Needs Assessment
Michelle McDonald

Michelle discussed the results of the statewide needs assessment and the six specific questions that guided the needs assessment. Also, I will talk about the surveys and data we collected and give you a summary of the results and a brief answer to each of the questions.  RSA requires the state answer and address five research questions, but six questions guided this need assessment.

Six specific research questions guided this need assessment:


We use multi-data sources from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, FDBS Case Service (RSA-911), and FDBS Consumer Survey (previously collected by Florida State University).

We collected the data from consumers closed in FY 2013, FDBS staff, employers who have worked with FDBS and from key informants. We did a survey with consumers closed in FY 2013. The first section of the survey had to do with identifying potential service needs. We had 19 areas that consumers might have a service need. We did this by telephone and email.  Received a total of 394 respondents (28.6 %) response rate, and from invalid numbers (31.4 %).

FDBS Staff Survey
We provided a list of 25 services or activities that could be improved upon or expanded, and staff was asked to rate the level of need for each, either critical, moderate limited, or no need. Sent an on-line survey to 133 staff members; we had 99 respondents with a (77%) response rate.  

We did a brief on-line survey regarding services provided by FDBS on additional services that they would like to receive from employers. We sent the survey to 354 employers via email. Thirty-seven (37) employers completed the survey with a (10.5%) response rate.

Key Informant Interviews
Key informants are experts who are knowledgeable about the rehabilitation needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired in Florida.  A structured interview consisting of nine items (most of which included sub-items) was developed for utilization with the key informants. FDBS identified seven people and of that group only six participated.

This is an overview of the reports.  We looked at the results from each data source.  We tried to identify needs based on each individual and we looked across to see what each need represented.  There were consistent needs across the different sources.  They are somewhat in order of the needs that had the greatest evidence, but not completely.  The greatest need identified across multiple sources was the need to improve employment related services.  All the data sources that included information indicated a need in this area.  This was the area that consumers had the greatest remaining need after receiving services.  Most staff thought that improving job placement services and training on job seeking skills were critical needs.

Key informants of job placement thought that assistance with rehabilitation were an important need. An analysis is done with the RSA-911 data.  Assistance with job placement is not associated with employment at closure as it is when you look at that data nationally.  Another important need was to develop and strengthened employer relationship.  Most staff thought that there was a critical need through placement services by developing and strengthening employee relationship.  This was actually the highest rated need overall and the employee survey would also indicate this based on several things. Low response rate, majority who responded said that they hadn’t hired anyone who was blind or visually impaired.  Many of them weren’t familiar with the FDBS services available and more than a third did not express satisfaction with services.  Another important need was services to minorities.  This was based on the Hispanic/Latino population which appears to be underserved in Florida.  They represent 23.3 % of the general population, but only 12.3% of the FDBS population. Their representation is lower, but nationally the rate is about 5% lower in Florida than double the amount of African Americans and American Indians who were less likely to be accepted for services and to receive employment.  Key informants indicated that language barriers were the problems with minority populations and that there was a need for better outreach. Staff indicated that improving availability of materials for non-English speaking people was a critical/moderate need of 77.8%.

Assistive technology services were another area of need identified.  The top three consumers identified needs for service that was related to assistive technology or assistive devices.  Between 31 and 43% reported a remaining need for AP services after case closure.  FDBS staff, 88.9 % identified assistive technology services as an important need.  Another need was to increase outreach in communities with disabilities.  Staff and key informants indicated that there are community groups who are unaware of FDBS, and that is a particular concern.  Staff and key informants should offer materials in multiple languages and employ bilingual staff or high interpreters. Staff also saw a need to improve FDBS visibility in the business community. 

Transportation, the lack of was identified as one of the primary barriers to employment.  Staff indicated transportation was at the top for consumers closed unsuccessfully.  Key informants said that transportation is a rehabilitation need and also challenge other needs of consumers.  This was of course particularly a problem in rural areas.  Another important need is Community Rehabilitation Providers.  89.8% of staff saw a critical or moderate need to improve existing CRP’s.   This is the second highest rated item by staff.  75.5 % saw critical or moderate need to establish or develop CRP’s.  Key informant saw 50% need to improve existing CRP’s and 66.7 saw need to establish or reverse the development of CRP’s.  Staff suggested that communication needed to improve between FDBS and CRP’s and consumers were not as directly satisfied with CRP’s in the survey. But, it is noted that they reported a high level of satisfaction with blindness training provided by the CRP’s in the FSU Satisfaction Survey. The satisfaction was not as high for employment services as it was for the traditional blindness training.  Another important need was follow-up with consumers.  Employers indicated that they wanted more consistent communication from FDBS after placement and staff and key informants indicated a need for on-going consumer support especially with those significantly disabled.  That’s the summary of needs identified based on the data.

Responses to the six questions

Those consumers closed unsuccessful were more likely to report a lack of need in VR, low interpretation of counselor, difficulty with travel skills, lack of jobs, lack of adequate counseling or some other barrier than those consumers closed successfully. 

It is interesting to know that most staff identified barriers relating to internal issues to the consumer other than transportation.  Barriers that could potentially be addressed by FDBS are barriers for those consumers closed unsuccessfully are the education skill level training, travel skills accommodation and transportation.

Sheryl Brown – What happens to it now?

Robert Doyle - We take the information and begin strategies around the rehab council  having some input on what do we build into our state plan as a result of the outcomes of the needs assessment.  One of the things that we also need to consider is RSA requirement that a needs assessment is done to determine the needs of students and youth.  That wasn’t a requirement when we originally contracted with MSU. At some point we will need to go back and get a needs assessment on students and youth. We should use this for planning and how we address the need in our state plan.

Bruce Miles - Has this gone out to the council?

Robert Doyle - The report itself was emailed to the council, but not the power point.  We will resend all the information.

Sheryl Brown - How many CRP’s, if any were involved in this?

Michelle McDonald - There were some key informants involved and two CRP’s participated.

Robert Kelly - I sent a letter to you in May with some concern about the design of the study which identifies a need at a critical level to improve the CRP’s.  The source of that need at a critical level was input from the DBS staff.  What I thought was interesting about that is clients responded with a pretty high level of satisfaction and training services which are largely provided through the CRP’s. There is certainly room for all of us to improve.  It seems striking to me that there is a critical need for improvement of CRP’s.  That didn’t seem to be supported by consumer input.  The other observation I had is that there was discussion about the need for additional CRP’s.  My thought is that we are talking about areas that are also rural and underserved. The real challenge is adding CRP’s. Think about the economics of making that happen.  One of the reasons there aren’t CRP’s or more CRP’s is that the community will support what it wishes.  What it really comes down to is as a state, what are we doing to make sure there is uniform service around the state.  My first issue is, I’m not sure what improvements are implied by the need study. When do we take a look at how to create more CRP’s?

Michelle McDonald - There is a lot of good comments and suggestions in the report.  Everything except what the key improvement does.  We did not put the direct quotes from the key informants.   Look at the appendices and comments.

Donte Mickens - One of the things that this report pointed out is already configured in the practices of some barriers eliminating the motivation for folks to work.  If they do have some income coming in like SSI/SSDI, educating the clients in regard to some of the incentive programs out there allows them to continue to work and still get some of those benefits.  With regards to health care, it does create a pathway for them to remove themselves from the public dome to a more independent kind of circumstance or situation.  But, being well versed in some of the rules for social security, I think that being able to communicate that to a client will guide them.  For instance with SSDI once you get pass a certain limit its every $2 you earn and they take $1. Just knowing some of those tidbits, let’s us relay to the client so they are better informed when making those decision in regards to continuing services.

Paul Edwards - Do you have any data that indicates a differentiation among the unsuccessful closed clients of those who actually reached the stage at which they had a full fledge IPE or those who is not?

Michelle McDonald - Some of the analysis are mentioned on the logistics progressive model.


Employer Recognition
Universal Studios Resort
Jeff Whitehead presented Sharon Myers of Universal Studios Resort with a Certificate of Appreciation. We present you with this certificate and to let you know how much we appreciate you for all the work you do.

Sharon Myers – I want to thank you all for the recognition on behalf the Universal Orlando Resort.  On behalf of the large staffing team, I am one of many. We do greatly appreciate this recognition.  I also want to say thank you to the lighthouse.  They have been excellent partners and in terms of you giving awareness training and education for our organization.  Thank you all for your big partnership there and I am looking forward to the big future head.

UCF Disability Resource Center
Brad Held
I am an Accessibility Coordinator at the student accessibility center. Rehab Council Members and DBS District Administrators and Supervisors watched a video of the programs.  There are 60,980 students on campus in class sizes up to 400.  The university has 180 buildings stretched across 1,415 acres.  There are 11,780 faculty staff members and over 280 programs.  This is UCF the second largest university in the nation.  Those are some examples of an academic life of a person with disabilities.  Now imagine friendly allies who believe your disability is not the problem.  Imagine no barriers.  We are students of accessible services.  The realty of a barrier with disability is interaction with the individual and the broader environment rather than potentially human characteristics.  We teach our professors, do I need to make modifications on the student or does the environment I teach need to be changed.  One thing we think about is the disability model.  A model is defined as a system or thing being used.  We look at society as a hold and think about the design as a whole that meet the needs of not just the majority but the people as a whole.

University of Central Florida falls under the association of higher education. It is a non-profit organization, professional member organization that works to develop policies and quality of services for individuals with disabilities in the higher education world.  They gave some documentation guidelines about five or six years ago.  We look at the students first.

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