Public Invited to Disability Program Policy Hearings

OKLAHOMA CITY - Proposed rule changes potentially affecting several programs for Oklahomans with disabilities will be the focus of a public hearing held by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council.

The public is encouraged to attend the meetings in Oklahoma City on Feb. 5, Tulsa on Feb. 6 and Lawton on Feb. 7.

Programs affected by the proposed new rules are administered by DRS and include vocational rehabilitation and employment services for Oklahomans with all types of disabilities.

DRS provides a variety of services that help individuals with disabilities achieve employment, personal independence and self-sufficiency. The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council advises DRS on development of policies and plans for rehabilitation services.

Proposed policy changes effect the following chapters: Chapter 1 - Administrative Operations, Chapter 3 - Management Services Division and Chapter 10 - Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services.

The changes include housekeeping items such as removing the references to the Independent Living Program, which is no longer operated by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, or adding language to clarify the Division of Visual Services may serve individuals with sight threatening progressive conditions or functional limitations due to sight loss. As well as an updating agency and program names to remove obsolete references.

Other changes include definition updates, removal of extended evaluation language and removal of homemaker employment outcome language to reflect recent federal law changes.

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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.

Read more from original post here.