Providing Services to All Floridians: A first-hand encounter

Guest post by Rep. Betty Reed, Ranking Democratic Member of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in the Florida House of Representatives

Even as we continue to tighten our belts, there are many projects the Legislature always tries to approve. One of these areas includes persons with visual impairments.

I had the pleasure last week to visit the DOE Division of Blind Service’s Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library, and the Conklin Center for the Blind.

At the Center, I visited the Independent Living, Technology, Business Enterprise, and Orientation and Mobility classes. The students were engaged, accomplished, and driven to succeed not only personally, but also professionally. Many are well on their way to starting their own businesses and the majority are self-sufficient. 

I had heard much about the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library and was excited to see the studio and live book recordings first-hand. The resources were expansive, with more than 2.4 million items in Braille and auto format. And the facility is well-used, providing services to almost 32,000 Floridians who cannot used standard print reading materials as a result of visual, physical or reading disability.

My last stop at the Conklin Center for the Blind, a facility that DOE’s Division of Blind Services works closely with, also made a positive impression on me. The Center provides services to visually impaired or blind Adults ages 18 and above. 

The trip strongly confirmed my support of DOE’s efforts to provide services to all Floridians. I was impressed by the valuable services they provide and will continue to support them through my work in the Legislature.

Have you or any of your friends or family members ever used any of these services and/or facilities?

Tomorrow the Higher Education Coordinating Council, which I am a member of, will meet to discuss the fifth draft of our recommendations to the legislature. In preparation for the meeting, I welcome your feedback in the comment section below, or feel free to contact me personally at betty.reed@myfloridahouse.gov.

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Serving those who served us

Guest post by Joyce Hildreth, DOE Division of Blind Services Director

There are so many ways United States military veterans have given their time, energy and resources for the country and our freedoms. The Florida Department of Education Division of Blind Services (DBS) is honored to be able to offer assistance to these veterans through a variety of our programs. 

Here are a few of their stories: 

Ernest Creech is a visually impaired Army veteran who has received Independent Living assistance, including mobility training, and a specially outfitted computer from DBS. He currently is an undergraduate at Atlantic Technical Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree as a Biomedical Maintenance Tech. Upon graduation, he hopes to find employment in a hospital setting. Currently, he is doing very well academically.

 

Video about DBS Independent Living services

Llars Copeland, also a visually impaired Army veteran, was injured in the line of service. The Department of Management Services has provided him with a computer and adaptive equipment. In addition, he has participated in the Independent Living Assistance program and Employer Services program. A law enforcement dog trainer for more than 20 years, he has returned to college and is majoring in family counseling, as he wishes to assist troubled youth and their families. He is active in his community and teaches music, keyboard and guitar to children in lower-income neighborhoods.


Video about DBS Vocational Rehabilitation services, including employment

Daniel Archer, a visually impaired Air Force veteran, participates in the DBS Business Enterprise Services program. The program recently helped him set up his own business servicing vending machines by providing a computer for his inventory operations, training on best management practices and guidance on how to repair machines. His company, Daniel Archer Enterprises, was licensed at the end of August and is thriving.


Video about DBS Business Enterprise Program

These veterans are lively, highly contributing members of their communities.

For more information about what DBS offers, visit http://dbs.myflorida.com. You’ll find details about everything from a talking book library to transition services.

Are you or someone you know a current or previous client of DBS’s resources? If so, how was your experience? If you or someone you know is visually impaired and have not accessed our services, do you think we could provide you with any help?