Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Mr. DePhillips called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. He asked board members,
staff and guests to introduce themselves.
Members Present: Mr. Joe DePhillips, Ms. Liza Bruce, Mr. Ashleigh Moody,
Ms. Althea Pittman (via conference call), Mr. Desmond Savill, and Mrs. Judy
Members Absent: Mrs. Evelyn Cabrera-Heatwole
Staff Present: Mr. Joe Bowman, commissioner, Mr. Bob Berrang, deputy
commissioner/general manager; Mr. Bob Burton, deputy commissioner for
services; Mr. Bill Pega, special assistant; and Mrs. Kathy Proffitt, board recorder
Staff Absent: Mrs. Maryann Belcher, human resource director; Mr. Jim Taylor,
chief deputy commissioner
Guests Present: Mrs. Squig Moore, assistant attorney general; Mr. Ron Lanier,
director of DDHH; Mr. Clayton Bowen, Virginia Relay Manager for DDHH, and
Ms. Trish Banks, CapTel Specialist with DDHH.
Adoption of Agenda: It was moved, seconded and passed by unanimous roll call
vote to adopt the agenda as amended by adding additional agenda items for the
appointment of VIB board members and a request for funds from the Washington
Ear. Mr. DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr. Moody, Ms. Pittman, and Mr.
Savill voted yea.
Action on Minutes of Previous Meeting: It was moved, seconded and passed by
unanimous role call vote to approve the January 10, 2006 minutes as distributed.
Mr. DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr. Moody, Ms. Pittman and Mr. Savill
Mr. DePhillips welcomed the staff of the Department for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing and invited them to make their presentation . Mr. Lanier provided a brief
summary of the CapTel phone system. Ms. Banks and Mr. Bowen gave a
Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired Page 1 of 8 9 pages April 11, 2006
demonstration of how the equipment operates. Mr. Lanier thanked the board for
allowing them to demonstrate the equipment and for their consideration of funding
for personal computers for up to 20 CapTel phone systems by individuals who
have low vision and are deaf or hard of hearing.
Public Comments: Mr. DePhillips invited comments from the public. No one Formatted: Font: Not Bold
was present who wished to address the board.
Mr. DePhillips presented Dennis Garza, director of the rehabilitation center, with a
plaque for his 34 years of service with the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the
Blind and Vision Impaired. Mr. Bowman provided highlights of Mr. Garza’s
career at VRCBVI. Mr. Garza will retire April 30, 2006.
Mr. DePhillips reopened discussion on the request for funding the CapTel project.
DDHH submitted a proposal for $18,000 for the purchase of 20 CapTel phone
systems. Mr. Bowman suggested deferring discussion on this request until the
agenda item on the proposed endowment fund budget.
Commissioner’s Report: Mr. Bowman reported that the federal Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) was still stalled in Congress. He noted on the state level,
that the last four months had been an exciting time with the transition to a new
administration. Mr. Bowman reported that he had the opportunity to meet with the
new Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Ms. Marilyn Tavenner and she
had visited the Azalea Avenue Complex on March 16. Mr. Bowman updated the
members on the current General Assembly session. He discussed the budget
impasse between the House and Senate. He also highlighted Governor Kaine’s
budget amendment to the FY 2006 budget for $951,000 for the Virginia
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired dormitory renovation
capital project. He noted that these additional funds are needed because of rising
construction costs in a variety of areas since the project was initially funded in
2002. Mr. Bowman highlighted that Governor Kaine made adjustments to the bill
to consolidate the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton and the
VSDB and Multi-Handicapped in Hampton. It appears that the schools will be
consolidated and located in Staunton with the Hampton school property being
transferred to a regional educational program.
Mr. Bowman reminded members of their discussion at the last meeting regarding
personnel recruitment and retention challenges confronting the department and
their advice to the department to develop some recruitment strategies. Since that
meeting, Commissioner Bowman along with Jim Taylor and Bob Burton have
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developed and implemented an incentive program for new employees recruited for
orientation and mobility and education coordinator positions. An incentive signing
bonus of up to $10,000 payable in three increments was developed and
implemented. He reported that the department will monitor the effectiveness of
this recruitment strategy and report back to the Board at future meetings.
Mr. Bowman reported that the Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) hasahs issued
their audit for fiscal year 2005 for the Disability Services Agencies, including
DBVI. The auditors focused on the Virginia Industries for the Blind in their FY
2005 audit. He complimented Mr. Berrang and VIB staff for their cooperation
with the audit staff and the good audit report.
Mr. Bowman informed the board of a recent conference call with staff at RSA
regarding RSA’s most recent on-site review of the vocational rehabilitation service
program. In the review, RSA staff noted one finding which indicated the agency
was not properly applying presumptive eligibility for VR services for recipients of
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income
(SSDI). A corrective action plan has been developed and RSA has approved it.
Training will be provided to VR counselors on presumptive eligibility on April 12.
He also noted that appropriate staff are reviewing the VR policies to determine if
any other changes are needed. These actions will address the review report and
ensure that the Department is in full compliance with RSA requirements and
Mr. Bowman reported on the recent Transition Forum he attended with Jim
Rothrock, commissioner of DRS and Secretary Tavenner. Secretary Tavenner was
invited to introduce the luncheon panel consisting of seven students with
disabilities who talked briefly about their experience with special education and
transition. Two of the students were blind and provided impressive remarks.
Mr. Bowman noted that the National Library Services will be conducting an on-
site review of the Library and Resource Center later in April. He reported that the
LRC sent invoices to schools divisions for replacement cost of braille and large
print textbooks that are not returned, not returned on time, or returned damaged
beyond use. Per the agreement between the department and local school divisions
the school division is billed for replacement cost. This is the first year invoices
have actually been sent to the school divisions for payment. Out of 135 school
divisions, only 34 had not returned the materials. Ms. Bruce asked about the
average cost of reproducing a textbook in braille. Mr. Bowman noted that he did
not know the average cost but he had recently approved the production of three
Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired Page 3 of 8 9 pages April 11, 2006
braille textbooks which cost in excess of $20,000 each. Board members expressed
surprise at the high cost of Braille textbooks and agreed that school divisions
should pay replacement costs per the agreement.
Virginia Industries for the Blind Report: Mr. Berrang noted that Katy Peltier
had been working on two new brochure samples and passed them around for the
board members to review. Ms. Peltier has a master’s degree in graphic
designsEnglish with emphasis on corporate communication and unfortunately will
be leaving in August relocating after her marriage.
Mr. Berrang reported that VIB currently has 107 legally blind employees across
the Commonwealth. This total amounts to 62 percent of the total staff of 174. He
had advised the VIB advisory board at the last meeting that VIB had stopped
manufacturing the Army moisture wicking tee shirt in Charlottesville due to the
fact that they are unable to meet all ordinances required for the federal
specifications. As a result, VIB has laid off all wage-sighted employees in that
area. He noted that all the legally blind employees have been relocated to the
manufacturing of university mattresses at this time. He stated that VIB is not
planning any lay offs of legally blind employees.
Mr. Berrang noted that he had recently traveled to Alexandria to meet with staff at
the Department of Logistics of the Army in the area of Washington to discuss the
Pentagon store. The Pentagon is currently undergoing renovations for the past six
years. The Concourse area which contains CVS stores, banks, etc. as well as a
very successful VIB location will have to close down by October. VIB is currently
looking for space but have not located any sites as yet. Currently, VIB has a total
of 10 individuals employed in the two stores in the Pentagon. Six of the
employees are legally blind.
Mr. Berrang reported for the past nine months, sales are at the $16 million mark.
He noted it was going to be a good year for revenue. He stated that breaking down
the amount, the stores were 61 percent of the revenues, Charlottesville
manufacturing plant 23 percent, Richmond plant 11 percent, and services five
percent. Mr. Berrang gave a perspective of the importance of the Pentagon
Concourse store. He noted the stores are 61 percent of this year’s revenues, while
the Pentagon Concourse store by itself is 20 percent of the total store revenues.
Mr. Berrang reported that VIB has new opportunities to find a space for Fort Myer.
The Ggarrison commander has committed a response within 90 days from the date
of their meeting. Currently, VIB is in the planning stages of the Fort Belvoir store
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which is a huge opportunity for employment of blind individuals. He noted 21,000
tenants will be moving to Fort Belvoir under a master plan which has yet to be
designed. VIB has been included as tenants in the master plan.
Division for Services Report: Mr. Burton reported that last year VIB purchased
software that would allow a totally blind individual to perform a number of duties
to be accomplished in the base supply stores. The investment was over $100,000.
To date, two individuals have been awarded use of the software. The software
which is a talking barcode reader will allow visually impaired individuals to scan
materials on the shelf. The visually impaired individual will have a voice read out
of all items scanned.
Mr. Burton reported that four positions remain open which he reported on at the
last board meeting. He also noted that within the last three weeks, he had received
notification of three additional resignations around the state. He announced that
there are two opening in the Bristol regional office, one O&M specialist position
and one VR counselor. The VR position has been filled and the individual started
work on April 11. He is visually impaired and had been a past student of the rehab
center. The regional manager is currently recruiting for the O&M position.
Mr. Burton reported that there are two vacancies in the Norfolk office a
rehabilitation teacher and orientation & mobility specialist. Mr. Bowman noted
that the agency has used counter offers for the vacancies; however the staff wanted
to move back to their home areas.
Mr. Burton noted that there is VR counselor position still open in the Richmond
regional office. He stated that staff had actually gone through the second round of
recruiting for the position and offered the position to an individual who turned it
down. On the second round of recruiting, there are currently a pool of applicants
scheduled for interviews on April 24 and 25.
Dave Johnson, orientation and mobility specialist in the Richmond office,
submitted his resignation. He will be working with the Veterans Administration
Medical Center in Richmond at a $20,000 annual increase in salary.
Mr. Burton updated the members of vacancies at the rehabilitation center which
included the recreational instructor position, vocational evaluator, computer
instructor, and the rehabilitation center director position. He noted that computer
instructor position had been filled by a previous employee of DBVI by the name of
Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired Page 5 of 8 9 pages April 11, 2006
Dan Aunspach. Human Resources recommended that recruitment for the rehab
center position be extended for two more weeks. There will not be a person on
board prior to Mr. Garza’s retirement of April 30.
Mr. Burton reported that the agency is going to provide in-band adjustments for
rehabilitation teachers who are certified as rehab teachers by the Academy for
Certification of Vocational Educational Professionals. This is a certification that
you have to demonstrate your knowledge of certain core competencies in the area
of rehabilitation teaching, certain amount of education, and recertification is
required every five year. Currently, eight of the 25 rehab teachers are certified and
will be awarded an in-band adjustment to their salary effective July 1. The agency
will reimburse staff for the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining
certification in whatever discipline the employee may be involved.
Mr. Burton mentioned that Susan Payne, VR program director and Marge Owens,
Low Vision program director, spoke to over 100 third graders on April 6 for the
purpose of recruiting O&M instructors. Crestview Elementary was hosting a
career day for students.
Endowment Fund Receipts & Expenditures: Mr. Pega reported for the quarter
ending March 31, 2006, the department accepted on behalf of the board
endowment donations in the amount of $25. Expenditures for the quarter ending
March 31, totaled $117,918.70.
Update on Dorm Project: Mr. Pega stated since the last board meeting, the
Commonwealth Art & Architectural Review Board reviewed the schematic design
concept for the dorm and approved the schematics with no changes. The review by
the Art & Architectural Review Board is required for all new and major
renovations projects undertaken by state agencies, colleges and universities. The
dorm project has been approved to go forward with preliminary plans. The plans
should be ready by the end of April and will be reviewed by the building
committee, which consist of Bob Burton, Carol Koger, Dennis Garza, Dick Fisher,
and Bill Pega.
Update on 2006-2008 Capital Budget: Mr. Pega reported that the agency had
received $3,972,000 for phase II for VIB-Richmond plant renovation and funds
were proposed for replacing the roofs at the administration, recreational room and
dinning hall buildings at VRCBVI estimated at $2,077,000. The bill is still in the
House and Senate is pending passage in the budget.
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Mr. Pega reported that the VIB-Charlottesville project is near the end spending the
money for that project. The remaining work includes two flag poles, signage, and
installation of compact dock and paving the receiving area. Bids have been issued
and work will begin in the near future.
Proposed Endowment Fund Budget for 2006-07: Mr. Pega reviewed the
proposed endowment fund budget as follows:
Proposed Endowment Fund Budget
July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007
Estimated Interest Income $164, 145
Summer Camp (approved by the Board Oct ’06) $ 42,000
Paid Drivers for the visually impaired staff $ 78,000
(except VR Counselors who are paid from VR)
Total Proposed Budget $120,000
Balance of Estimated Interest Income $ 44,145
Mr. DePhillips made the suggestion that in the future, funds for drivers should be
included in the DBVI budget as an accommodation for blind rehabilitation
teachers. Mr. Bowman stated that DBVI will reexamine the budget very closely to
determine if the agency can cover it within their budget. If the agency cannot, we
will then submit a budget request at the next opportunity. However, action will be
needed for next year.
Mr. Bowman suggested that the board support the CapTel funding in the amount of
$17,000 and $15,000 for Washington Ear. He noted that funds were available
from the Endowment Fund and would not effect the principle.
MOTION: Ms. Bruce made a motion to approve funding for the CapTel project
($18,000), Washington Ear ($15,000), paid drivers for rehabilitation teachers
($78,000) and Super Summer Camp ($42,000). Ms. Bruce requested in the next
budget cycle, state funds be budgeted for drivers of visually impaired rehabilitation
teachers. There being no further discussion, it was passed by unanimous roll call
vote. Mr. DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr. Moody, Ms. Pittman and Mr.
Savill voted yea.
Presentation on Investments & Endowment Fund Account: Mr. Pega
welcomed Mr. Shawn Haney and Mr. Fred Wunderlich of Bank of America’s
Private Investment Section. Mr. Haney provided an overall review of the market
index and distributed a copy of the current investment portfolio. Mr. Wunderlich
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provided an overview of the board’s investments during the period ending
February 28, 2006 and then opened the floor for questions.
VIB Advisory Board Appointments and Reappointments:
MOTION: Ms. Bruce made a motion to appoint Eric Denby and Charlie Peters
and reappoint Robert Carrier, Linda Broady-Myers, and Peter Del
Priore to the VIB Advisory Board. It was moved, seconded and passed
by unanimous roll call vote to accept the new slate of VIB Advisory
Board members. There being no further discussion, it was passed by
unanimous roll call vote. Mr. DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr.
Moody, and Ms. Pittman voted yea.
Mr. Savill left the meeting and did not participate in the election of officers.
Election of Officers for 2005-2006: Mr. DePhillips opened the floor for
nominations for the positions of secretary, vice chair and chair.
MOTION: Ms. Bruce nominated Ms. Evelyn Cabrera-Heatwole for the position of
secretary. Hearing no other nomination, closed the floor to nominations.
It was moved, seconded and passed by unanimous roll call vote that
Ms. Cabrera-Heatwole serve as secretary for the upcoming term. Mr.
DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr. Moody, and Ms. Pittman voted
MOTION: Ms. Bruce nominated Ms. Althea Pittman for the position of vice chair.
Hearing no other nomination, closed the floor to nominations. It was
moved, seconded and passed by unanimous roll call vote that Ms.
Pittman serve as vice chair for the upcoming term. Mr. DePhillips,
Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, and Mr. Moody voted yea, Ms. Pittman
MOTION: Mrs. Spears nominated Ms. Liza Bruce for the position of chair.
Hearing no other nomination, closed the floor to nominations. It was
moved, seconded and passed by unanimous roll call vote that Ms. Bruce
serve as chair for the upcoming term. Mr. DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Mr.
Moody, and Ms. Pittman voted yea, Ms. Bruce abstained.
Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired Page 8 of 8 9 pages April 11, 2006
Adjournment: There being no further business, it was moved, seconded and
passed by unanimous roll call vote to adjourn the meeting at 3:30 p.m. Mr.
DePhillips, Mrs. Spears, Ms. Bruce, Mr. Moody, and Ms. Pittman voted yea.
The next meeting will be held on July 11, 2006, at 1:00 p.m. at the DBVI
Mr. Joseph DePhillips Mrs. Mrs. Evelyn Cabrera-Heatwole
Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired Page 9 of 8 9 pages April 11, 2006