Access for All

With the help of a Teaching Tolerance Educator Grant, this teacher created a space where DeafBlind students could be themselves and teach the larger school community about DeafBlindness.

Wendy Harris wanted to start a DeafBlind club at her school. 

An educator for the deaf and blind, Harris noticed that her DeafBlind students at the Metro Deaf School in St. Paul, Minnesota—one of the top schools for the deaf in the United States—were missing out on some key academic and social experiences. The club, she imagined, could fill those gaps and also raise the overall cultural competency of the school.

Read the original article here.

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Hiring deaf employees can be incredible for your business

Top three reasons why you should hire deaf employees

Thousands of highly educated and qualified deaf and hard of hearing individuals are continually looking for jobs, but because of the prejudice among most of the employers out there, their applications are ignored most of the time or their interviews are withdrawn upon learning about their hearing loss. In this situation, the employers, as well as the deaf and hard of hearing candidates, lose out on an excellent opportunity to help each other become better.

There are three top reasons why organizations should hire deaf and hard of hearing employees:

1. Deaf and hard of hearing people spend almost all their lives trying to adapt to their environment as best they can, and that ability help to augment their hearing loss which often make them determined and flexible when faced with various challenges. Their out-of-the-box creativity and problem-solving skills can bring unique solutions to the organizations.

2. Hiring deaf and hard of hearing employees can bring to your team a whole new perspective in serving others. And, if your organization happens to serve a lot of deaf consumers, having reliable employees who are responsible and hardworking can be a fantastic addition to your business.

3. Deaf and hard of hearing employees can be an excellent addition to your company as a part of the diverse workforce that you may want for your business which also provides the opportunity to enrich the culture of your business.

Read more at original article here.

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Oklahoma ABLE Tech Device Demonstration and Device Loan Program

Oklahoma ABLE Tech and its statewide partners operate an assistive technology (AT) device demonstration center and short-term loan program to increase access to and utilization of AT for individuals with disabilities. The program is available to Oklahoma residents with disabilities, their family members, and the professionals that support them.

Demonstrations give individuals the ability to see, touch, and try AT to help them in the decision-making process by providing:

  • Hands-on exploration of devices

  • Information on the latest technology

  • Low-tech solutions and adaptations

  • Vendor sources

The short-term loan program provides individuals the opportunity to borrow AT to:

  • Make an informed decision before purchase

  • Ensure compatibility between the device and user

  • Have back-up equipment while waiting for repair

  • Have a device while waiting for new equipment

The equipment inventory offers a wide range of AT, including devices and equipment for: speech communication, computer access, hearing, vision, daily living, environmental adaptations, learning/development, recreation, mobility, seating and positioning. ABLE Tech staff also provides guidance on funding resources for AT equipment.

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HB-1244 UPDATE as of April 21, 2018

HB-1244 is moving.  The bill, known as the Jeri Cooper Act, is scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Monday, April 23rd.  On Monday, the Senate meets at 1:30 p.m.  It is expected Senator Griffin, the  Senate author, will move to restore the bill’s title, which was stricken in committee.  This move means the bill will be in exactly the same form as the House-passed version, so that if approved by the Senate, the bill can go directly to the Governor for signing.  A PDF copy of the bill is attached.


Remember you can watch/listen to the Senate floor activity by going to www.oksenate.gov and selecting the link for Live Floor Proceedings. 


Also be aware that legislative agendas are subject to change.  If for some reason HB-1244 is not voted on Monday, it could come up later in the week.


We expect state agency funding bills to be introduced this coming week, so legislative attention will shortly be focused on budget for all agencies besides Education.  Soon after the agency appropriations have been cleared, legislators will hope to adjourn.


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How Fitness Helped This Woman Cope with Going Blind and Deaf

Rebecca Alexander was just 12 years old when she was told that she'd completely lose her vision by the time she was an adult. After she had trouble seeing the chalkboard in class, her parents decided to take her in for a series of tests. She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes vision impairment. 

She continued on, not understanding the magnitude of what it would mean to lose her eyesight by the age of 30. "It's nearly impossible for a 12-year-old who can pretty much see to understand, let alone try to comprehend what it would mean to be losing my vision," Alexander said on Megyn Kelly TODAY while promoting her new book, Not Fade Away.

Read more at the article here.

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#SolidarityOEADeafAccess

OAD sent an open letter to Oklahoma Education Association in solidarity with other organizations and grassroots. This letter comes after prior solidarity efforts mentioned in their organizations vlog. 

March 28, 2018
Alicia Priest, President
Oklahoma Education Association

This is an open letter to the Oklahoma Education Association.

Dear President Alicia Priest,

On behalf of the organizations listed below, we stand in solidarity to extend our gratitude to the Oklahoma Education Association with respect to our collaborative efforts regarding effective communication with our community.

This community includes, but is not limited to, Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard of Hearing individuals, interpreters, professionals, parents, students, and other stakeholders who are wholly supportive of education in Oklahoma.

Our organizations and grassroots associations representing the interests of Oklahomans recognize the respect OEA demonstrated toward our community. Our coalition shares the same vested interest of ensuring that highly qualified, certified interpreters and Deaf Education teachers positively impact Oklahoma’s educational system. In order to establish a cooperative legacy, we are inviting OEA to collaborate with us to bridge a distinct alliance between associations. This collaborative effort will go a long way in benefiting the future of our communities.

We look forward to working with you. If you agree, we kindly request that you respond back at your convenience. Once again, thank you for stepping up, coordinating with us, and engaging in our concerns.

Sincerely,

Presidents/Leaders, on behalf of our organizations/grassroots:
Renee’ Sites, Oklahoma Association of the Deaf (OAD) 
Anne Byrd, Oklahoma Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (OKRID) 
Donna Fine, Deaf Grassroots Movement United-Oklahoma (DGMU-OK)
Tiara Oakes, Sight-Hearing Encouragement Program (SHEP)
Andrew Pitchford, Central Oklahoma Association for the Deaf and HoH (COADHI)
Christina Williams, Oklahoma Black Deaf Advocates (OKBDA)
Jennifer Grigsby-Fannon, Oklahoma City Association of the Deaf (OKCAD) 
Caroline Crawford, Enid Association of the Deaf (EAD)

Capitol event shows ‘people with disabilities can succeed’

Parker Simpson is a freshman in high school. He makes straight A’s and is the starting quarterback of his football team. He’s on the academic team and hopes, one day, to be an electrical engineer.

Simpson also has major hearing loss in both of his ears and is one of the many students who attend the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur.

At the Capitol last week, Simpson and other students from OSD gathered to raise awareness for individuals with disabilities for People with Disabilities Awareness Day in hopes of spreading a simple message: disabilities aren’t definitive.

“People with disabilities can succeed, work and do just about anything if you give them a chance,” said Larry Hawkins, superintendent of OSD.

According to a 2016 report, Oklahoma has one of the highest percentages of people with disabilities along with many states in the South. Gallaudet University estimated that 3.1 percent, or 71,442 individuals ages 18-64, are deaf in Oklahoma. This year marked the 24th consecutive year People with Disabilities Awareness Day had been held at the Capitol, and in 2018, supporters of both OSD and the Oklahoma School for the Blind hoped to converse with lawmakers about the expansion of employment resources for individuals with disabilities.

After Gov. Mary Fallin signed a proclamation declaring March 13 as People With Disabilities Day on the southern steps of the Capitol, Simpson delivered a speech about his struggles with hearing loss and the service that OSD provided that allowed him to succeed academically.

Click here to read more from original article

New Deaf/Hard of Hearing Car Visors in Oklahoma

Look whats new! Car visors for police interaction!! DRS partnered with OAD and also DGMU-Ok last fall to create these. These will replace the current visors. 

These for Oklahoma residents, can be picked up at DRS Deaf Services in OKC and Tulsa. We thank DRS, for including us in input and also for creating and ordering these for our community. 

DRS information and location pick up:
Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
2401 NW 23rd Street, Suite 51
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
Office: (405) 522-7930 Email: SDHH@okdrs.gov 

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Deaf Students Education Services

The Department provides additional guidance about part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (section 504) as they relate to the provision of appropriate education service to students who are deaf.  This guidance is issued in response to concerns regarding Departmental policy on the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students who are deaf. Many of these concerns were expressed in the report of the Commission on Education of the Deaf.  This guidance is intended to furnish State and local education agency personnel with background information and specific steps that will help to ensure that children and youth who are deaf are provided with a free appropriate public education.


#TakeBackDeafEd


State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith

Louisiana Department of Education

Governor John Bel Edwards

Support Services Provider/Jeri Cooper Act of 2017

This morning HB-1244, the Support Services Provider Act of 2017 (also being called the Jeri Cooper Act) passed in the House Public Health Committee on a 6-0 vote. Members who voted for the bill were Representatives Bush, Derby, Lawson, McEntire , Ritze and Sean Roberts. The committee substitute bill that passed is attached. Lepak’s bill directs DRS to establish a grant program to expand availability of Support Service Providers for Oklahomans who are deaf-blind. The program would only be implemented if and when funds are available. An annual funding cap of $300,000 is set in the bill – but no specific funding sources are designated. The measure is essentially enabling legislation that would make action possible at such time funds are made available. Next stop for the bill is the House floor. To thank Rep. Lepak and Public Health Committee members for their support of this legislation to assist deaf-blind Oklahomans, go towww.okhouse.gov. Then select the Representatives menu item, and scroll to the name of the appropriate Representative. On this main list of Representatives, beside each name you will find an “Email” box to click on for sending email. However, this feature may not work on your system – it does not work on mine. Instead, you should be able to send an email by clicking on the Representative name, which will take you to the Member’s bio page where you will again find an “Email Me” box. Click on this one, and a web form will come up.

To read the full copy of the Jeri Cooper Act please click here.

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