DEAFBLIND AWARENESS WEEK ACROSS THE NATION 2018

Thanks to a lot of hard work Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week (DBAW) got some great attention around the country. The following are just a few of the activities:

  • OKLAHOMA:  Governor Mary Fallin issued a proclamation recognizing DBAW 2018 and the accomplishments of deaf-blind Oklahomans.  This proclamation came shortly after House Bill 1244, also known as the “Jeri Cooper Act,” was passed.  The bill increases deaf-blind Oklahomans' access to Support Service Providers by providing grants for the program through the Department of Rehabilitation Services. The Bill was named in honor of Jeri Cooper, a rehabilitation teacher with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services who is deaf-blind herself.  Jeri was a major advocate for creating a SSP program in Oklahoma.  Accompanying Jeri at the signing were HKNC regional representative, Molly Sinanan and former HKNC student, Don G.

  • NEBRASKA:   A proclamation issued by the Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, was read at a ceremony which included Carlos Servan, executive director of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Mike Foley, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Nebraska.  Others of note in the audience were Brent M., a Summer Youth Vocational Program at HKNC student this past summer  

  • NORTH CAROLINA:  Governor Roy Cooper issued a DBAW proclamation which was read at many events across the state by Ashley Benton, LCSW, Deaf/Deaf-Blind Services Coordinator with the North Carolina Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • KENTUCKY:  Families and long range service plan partners gathered to celebrate the signing of a DBAW proclamation issued by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

  • TENNESSEE: During the Southeast Transition Institute in Knoxville, Tennessee, a proclamation from Governor Bill Haslem was read and presented to the community by Lisa Rimmell,  Tennessee’s new state deaf-blind coordinator through VR.   Since Lisa came on board, there has been a lot of hard work spreading awareness, providing workshops and collaborating on various events.  One of the mentors for the Institute was former HKNC student, Ashley J.

  • PUERTO RICO:  Two staff members from the Deaf-Blind Project in Puerto Rico joined other partners in celebrating the DBAW proclamation.   Over the past year, HKNC has worked with Linda McDowell and Mike Fagbemi from the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) in building relationships and meeting with families.

  • SOUTH CAROLINA:  Big smiles with families and Deaf-Blind Project members showing their proclamation from Governor Henry McMaster.  The mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, Stephen Benjamin, also issued a proclamation.

 

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DeafBlind, but Definitely Not Disconnected

Here’s what JennyLynn Dietrich would like you to know about her:

She’s taken service learning trips to Guatemala and Ghana. She’s a chocolate snob who wouldn’t dare touch the generic stuff. She’s engaged to be married next year. She loves to paint, draw, and perform on the theater stage. And she’s passionate about helping others, pointing them toward the resources that could help them change their lives.

You might learn these things if you just ask her. But Dietrich says people are often too afraid or intimidated by two of her more obvious traits: she is deaf and blind.

One of the main points Dietrich hopes to make in her TEDxSalem talk, entitled “DeafBlind: Blind but Not Blind,” is that people with disabilities value autonomy — they want to be seen as regular productive members of society, just like those without disabilities.

“We don’t want people’s pity,” she says. “We just want to be accepted as equals.”

Born with a rare hereditary condition called Stickler syndrome, Dietrich is fully blind in her left eye and has limited vision in her right. She’s also profoundly deaf in her left ear, but she can hear a bit in her right with a hearing aid. Her preferred method to communicate is American Sign Language. She also uses a form of communication called ProTactile — developed by the DeafBlind community — that involves signing on someone’s hand or using parts of their body to help give visual or emotional cues.

During her early years growing up in Oklahoma, Dietrich attended a mainstream school. It wasn’t until high school that she went to a state school for the deaf. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Ultimately she moved to Seattle to work as a Case Manager at the DeafBlind Service Center. She helped other DeafBlind people by providing services to make their lives easier — including advocacy, information and referrals, education, and outreach — and she ultimately discovered she had a passion for helping others.

One of the most useful resources Dietrich found in Seattle was Support Service Providers (SSPs) — sighted guides who provide DeafBlind people with visual information about their environment so that they can participate in regular mainstream activities such as grocery shopping, reading mail, or banking.

“When I moved to Oregon, it was a challenge because there’s not an SSP program here for people like me to access,” she says. “I’ve been working hard this year to get something like that established here by reaching out to other DeafBlind people in the community and leaders in public service.”

Dietrich came to the Willamette Valley to pursue graduate studies at Western Oregon University. She is no longer a student there, but she is focusing her time on attempting to develop supports for DeafBlind people in the state. She is currently a facilitator for a nonprofit called the Oregon DeafBlind Community Alliance Network, something she hopes will become a larger statewide organization to help provide resources to those who need it.

Advocacy would be a critical part of their work — to help the general public look beyond their disabilities and learn about their interests, their personalities, and their goals.

“Instead of watching us in fear from afar,” she says, “be brave, and come and learn from us by engaging with us!”

Source: http://tedxsalem.us/deafblind-but-definite...

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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#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)

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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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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Raffle for Jeri's House - Enter to Win an iPad 9.7″

Drawing: April  13, 2018

Enter to win an iPad 9.7in

  • Wi-Fi 32GB – Space Gray
  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • iPad donated by NanoPac, Inc.

 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!

1 Ticket for $5 ~OR 5 Tickets for $20

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PRESENT TO WIN!  Drawing will be held on FaceBook live on the morning of April 13th at Nanopac’s office.

You can purchase tickets by contacting Jeri Cooper. 

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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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Ginnie Graham: Broken Arrow brothers honored for being pioneers in self-advocacy for people with disabilities

Going through high school, James Meadours was kept separate in special education classes from his Broken Arrow classmates, never really getting to know them.

After graduating in 1986, he was put in a 10-bedroom group home and felt isolated from the world, being at the mercy of other adults.

Joining a singles group at Christ the King Church changed that.

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