Oklahoma Watch: Will state’s makeover of developmental disabilities wait list be fair to families?

As the number of people waiting for developmental disabilities services has reached an all-time high, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services is considering abandoning the first-come, first-served approach to the developmental disabilities services waiting list.

Instead, it would prioritize the list according to need, meaning families who have waited for help for years could be moved back in line while others are shifted to the front.

But how that system would work, and whether it would be fair and effective, is unclear. DHS officials said the change will take years to implement. The agency has made relatively little progress during the past two years.

In the meantime, the waiting list for government-paid services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities continues to grow, hitting a record 7,560 this year.

Personnel changes at DHS and the agency’s attention to other matters, however, have delayed changing the first-come, first-served approach, a DHS official said.

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Oklahoma City Deaf Blind man Creates Gardening service of a small company with the experience of a big company

Oklahoma businessman, Michael Vontress started his own gardening company after working with the Sight Hearing Encouragement Program.  Vontress has Usher’s Syndrome combined with retinitis pigmentosa which has effected his sight and his hearing.

After becoming a client with the Sight Hearing Encouragment Program he began working at others jobs with the help of the organization's job coach, Timothy Oakes.  Vontress was able to acquire a state job through the organization and stayed at the job for some time.  The company he worked for then let Vontress go and he had to consider going back to the typical 9-5 or venture outside the box and gain more independence. He utilized his learning from his job coach and resources from Department Rehabilitation Services (DRS), and realized that he could make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Vontress loves working outdoors and expressed that he has a green thumb and a fondness for nature.  He decided to take a step out of the norm and ventured into the business world.  He established his company, Lawn and Garden by Michael.

"There's nothing better than owning your own business." Vontress stated.  "I can now do what I love and have the confidence in doing it."

Vontress specializes in planting various types of flowers and plant life, care-taking of foiliage and maintain lawn and landscapes of residential and commercial areas.

You can reach Vontress and his services at:

Lawn & Garden by MIchael

(580)-263-9979

vontressmichael@gmail.com


 

Mustang investment advisor named spokesman for Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week

Daniel Meek, investment advisor and accountant from Mustang, relied on assistance from Visual Services’ employment programs to adapt to his vision and hearing disabilities. Meek was asked to represent deaf-blind Oklahomans during Deaf-Blind Awareness Week by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

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Working miracles: New program to provide help to blind/deaf Oklahomans

FOR people who are both deaf and blind, the world can be a daunting place. It’s dark and quiet, and not many people know how to communicate with someone whose senses are limited.

In the U.S., about 70,000 people people live in a dark, quiet world, according to Helenkeller.org. Cassandra Oakes, of Bethany, is one. In 2010, Oakes and her husband, Tim Oakes, started a program to help others who have lost their vision and hearing: Sight-Hearing Encouragement Program — or SHEP.

“I want to teach them to come out of their closets, come on out of their predicament, come out of being mad at the world, come out of that negative energy,” Oakes said.

Through the program, service support providers (SSPs) spend time with their blind/deaf companions, taking them shopping or to lunch or to run errands. They describe the sights and sounds their companions are missing.

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