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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Commission Newsletter

February 2000

BRAILLE LITERACY LEGISLATION WINS SENATE APPROVAL

Legislation promoting quality Braille instruction for blind and visually impaired students received final Senate approval February 10, passing unanimously, 34-0. The proposal, SB 658, sponsored by State Senator Ken Sikkema, would help assure the availability of Braille textbooks, call for standards of Braille instruction and assure the consideration of Braille instruction for blind and visually impaired students. The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives for further consideration.

MCBVI STATE BOARD MEETS IN LANSING

The State Board of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) met in Lansing, January 15, to address a number of blind advocacy issues, including services for the older blind, accessibility of state government programs and alternative formats for consumer account bills. Pat Cannon and Bob Utrup attended the meeting.

TRAINING CENTER CLIENT SURVEY MODIFIED

The MCB Skills of Blindness Committee met in Kalamazoo, January 19, and addressed several issues, including recommendations for adjustments in the client surveys utilized at the MCB Training Center. The changes, which will be implemented soon, will provide a client self-assessment of skills prior to entering the Center, upon leaving the Center and six months after Center services. The Technology Committee will meet February 17 and 18 to continue its strategic planning effort. The Transportation Committee and the Minority Outreach Committee also continue to meet to further address their respective goals.

RSA HOLDS REGION V MEETING IN CHICAGO

Pat Cannon and Jim Buscetta attended a one-day meeting in Chicago, January 24, held by Dr. Douglas Burleigh, Region V Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The meeting centered on implementation of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) with state vocational rehabilitation programs, RSA monitoring and state plan development.

STATE OPTOMETRIC BOARD

Jim Buscetta and Karla Hudson made a presentation to the State optometric Board, February 9, to provide an overview of MCB services. They also requested the licensing board’s assistance to get information into the hands of consumers regarding services available to the blind.

ACCESS BOARD’S COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY MEETS IN AUSTIN

The U. S. Access Board established a special advisory committee to help draft a proposed rule that would govern pedestrian crossings and other public rights of way issues. The Public Rights of Way Access Advisory Committee (PROWAAC) held a three-day meeting in Austin, Texas, February 9-11, which was attended by Pat Cannon, the Access Board’s liaison to the committee. Roundabouts, vertical deflection devices, depressed corners and accessible pedestrian signals were among the many issues addressed.

MCB VISION 2020 INITIATIVE BEGINS

The first meeting of MCB’s Vision 2020 Process Design Team was held in Lansing, February 8-9. The charge to the group, which is representative of Commissioners and staff, is to develop a process that will enable all staff members, Commissioners and other identified stakeholders to participate in strategic visioning which will guide the agency through the next 20 years and beyond. Members of the Vision 2020 Process Design Team are: John Boes, Cindy Caldwell, Amy Daniel, Bernie Kramer, Melody Lindsey, Roberta McCall-Gaither, Gwen McNeal, Bob Robertson, Earl Steenstra, Tony VanStaveren, Sue Wilson and Fred Wurtzel. The Design Team process, which is being facilitated by John Victory, will enable those interested in its work to be kept informed via the agency’s e-mail system.

MINI-ADJUSTMENT WORKSHOP TO BE HELD IN BATTLE CREEK

Nearly 40 MCB clients are expected to participate in a week-long Mini-Adjustment Workshop in Battle Creek, March 20-24, the second of six such programs planned for the year 2000. Participants will be introduced to a variety of skills of blindness, such as cane travel, Braille, managing time and money, adaptive kitchen skills and other skills to enhance independence. Additional Mini-Adjustment Workshops are scheduled for the year in Farmington Hills, Saulte Ste. Marie, Mount Pleasant and Woodhaven.

CONSUMER SERVICES DIVISION UPDATE

The updated policy manual will receive widespread distribution in the next few weeks as will the draft of the state plan. The Libera programmers were in town the week of February 7, 2000 to work on the computer system bugs. Staff are moving ahead with obtaining Memorandums of Understanding as required by the Workforce Investment Act. It is anticipated that agreements with all 25 service areas will be completed by the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, other agreements are being pursued with colleges, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Hannahville Indian Community.

MCB TRAINING CENTER UPDATE

Melody Lindsey and John Boes participated in the Grand Rapids and Flint staff meetings, January 24. Topics of discussion included: Center counselors e-mailing home counselors when their consumers have finished the program, staff meetings with the home counselor and teaching staff when a consumer with complex issues enters the program, teaching staff being made aware of special needs of consumers, follow-up surveys for consumers who have completed the training program, a day program for community agencies to learn about the services at the Center, etc.

Melody Lindsey met with Annette Skellenger, coordinator of WMU's Teacher of Children with Visual Impairments (TCVI) program to discuss the possibility of practicum students working with college prep consumers in the summer. The goal is to identify a mutually beneficial way of dealing with the supervision issue for minors participating in the Center.

Bill Wiener also invited Melody to address the Blind Rehab faculty meeting. At this meeting a dialogue was started about the challenges associated with rehabilitation of the blind and how WMU and MCBTC can work toward creative solutions and innovative projects. She was invited to return to a future staff meeting so that further discussion could take place.

In January both consumer organizations, the NFB of Michigan and the MCBVI, held informational meetings at the Center. Students were invited to participate in these meetings to find out what services and support are available through both organizations. Meetings have been scheduled for February. The NFB's presentation will occur on February 22, and the MCBVI will hold a meeting on February 29.

On February 9, representatives from the Michigan Association of Centers for Independent Living (MACIL) participated in an in-service training about the Commission for the Blind. Participants in the in-service learned about the referral process for individuals entering the program the Center, mobility issues, devices available for measuring items in the kitchen, etc. Roger Yake and Laurie Miller, an intern from WMU conducted the training.

The interior upgrades task force will meet beginning in March to make recommendations for improving the environment at the Center. MCBTC will receive new chairs soon to replace the hard plastic ones to make people feel more comfortable while participating in Center-sponsored events.