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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Schools for Deaf, Blind Feel Effects of Teacher Shortage

The Arizona Capitol Times reports that more than 200 teachers currently serve approximately 2,000 children in two schools for the deaf, one school for the blind and at statewide cooperative programs in local public schools.

The Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind has 13 teacher vacancies and will need 21 more teachers if a proposal from Gov. Doug Ducey to provide $1.6 million in additional money to the schools' early childhood program is approved by lawmakers, agency spokesman Ryan Ducharme said.

About half of the agency's teachers will be eligible for early or full retirement within the next five years, Ducharme said.

The schools have used relocation stipends and sign-on bonuses to sweeten the deal for teachers who may want to work for them.

The agency spent $33,500 — more than any other agency — this year on relocation expenses aimed at enticing teachers to come work in Arizona, according to figures from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

This year, 26 agency teachers got a $1,500 stipend to relocate from out-of-state, Ducharme said. New teachers to the agency also get a $1,500 sign-on bonus.

The agency's average teacher pay — $47,636 — is slightly higher than the state's average for teachers overall, $47,218. The majority of the schools' teachers, nearly 83 percent, have master's degrees because of the specialty training required to work with students who are deaf or blind, Ducharme said.

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The strange reason deaf children aren't taught sign language

“For most of these families, their children’s birth is the first time they’ve met anybody deaf. So they go to the early intervention system, which focuses on what they call ‘communication’ — meaning, being able to speak,” Wyatte Hall, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, said through an interpreter. “But ‘communication’ is usually secondary to having language, and language is what is necessary for true cognitive development.”

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Program helps blind women get her life on track

When Heidi Propp was young, she always thought she lived a normal life.

Blind since birth after her optic nerves never formed, Propp relied heavily on her parents for most things. Her parents cooked, did her laundry and drove her around, or she used HandyDart to get from one place to another.

In grade school it never seemed odd, but it wasn’t until she graduated from high school and enrolled at the University of Victoria that Propp slowly began to realize she wasn’t like her peers.

 

“I did not feel good about it [relying on her parents] at all. I wanted to have a normal life just like everybody else … that was a really difficult struggle,” said Propp, who grew up in Langford and lived there for more than 20 years.

“Though it wasn’t my parents’ fault, I felt like my dependence on them held me back socially and professionally.”

In an effort to gain back her independence, Propp was of the first participants to enroll in the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind’s blind people in charge program in 2014, which recently won an award. The only one of its kind in Western Canada, the program has served more than 40 blind, deaf-blind and low-vision adults through a non-traditional model of instruction where blind people are the teachers, planners, directors and administrators.

As part of the two-year program, Propp learned skills such as how to cook, travel, do laundry, take B.C. Transit and picked up financial skills that taught her how to take care of herself.

Read more from original article here - https://www.vicnews.com/news/program-helps-blind-woman-get-life-on-track/

Source: http://https://www.vicnews.com/news/progra...

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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OU's new American Sign Language program inspires communication across campus

On Tuesdays and Fridays in Collings Hall 223, an entire class period goes by without a single word spoken. 

The classroom is completely quiet — at no point do the students speak out loud to professor Gary Davis, and he doesn’t speak out loud to them. 

That’s because Davis is deaf and is teaching his students sign language.

The silence is only ever broken by students’ laughter — usually when Davis pokes fun at a student’s sloppy use of a sign and shows the student the correct sign, much like a Spanish professor correcting the pronunciation of a word.

Davis, an adjunct professor, is teaching one of the first American Sign Language courses offered at OU — a program administrators have pursued for many years that finally came to fruition fall 2017.

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Advocating for Deaf-Blind in the Workplace

Deaf-Blind in the workplace is on the increase globally and should be seen as any other employment. Deaf blindness might imply a complete vacancy of hearing and sight, but this isn’t the case. Many who are deaf-blind have some hearing or vision or both. People who are deaf-blind can learn skills to work around hurdles. With assisting and usable technology, people who are deaf-blind can be employed in any type industry and work.

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Deaf Sensitivity Training For SC Police Department

Back in September, the Oklahoma City shooting involving the murder of a deaf man at the hand of law enforcement sparked a discussion on how law enforcement can communicate with deaf people.

Oklahoma City Police approached thirty-five-year-old Magdiel Sanchez after a hit and run. They suspected the man may be involved with the incident. At the time, Sanchez had a two-foot pipe in his hand. Verbal orders were given to put the pipe down. After the man did not obey he was then shot and killed by the police. Why did he not obey? Sanchez was deaf.

The story of Magdiel Sanchez and his fateful encounter with the OKC Police Department has made its way over to South Carolina where agencies from across the state came to Lexington Police Department for Deaf Sensitivity Training. Law enforcement and emergency operation officers went through training to learn better ways to communicate with people that are deaf. Some of the training included sign language lessons, learning how to talk to deaf people and discussions based on situation. 

Fred Greenspan, president of Deaf Sensitivity Training Seminar says, "Law enforcement does need this. There's really a very large deaf community among us. Thirty or so percent are hard of hearing and or deaf." (source linked in title)

This Deaf Sensitivity Training seems to be helping officers understand how to better handle situations involving deaf citizens. Heather Miller, Horry County Investigator, says she learned being patient is important. 

"Don't jump the gun as best you can. If the situation is deemed safe and under control, slow down and be patient. Make sure we're communicating our messages to one another accurately and if not, take the necessary measures to ensure that it happens," Miller explains. (Source linked in title)

Fred Greenspan wants police departments to make the effort to prevent future situations like the one in Oklahoma City from happening again.

He says, "Try to bring the light here is the problem so they can address that and know about them so they can be aware and attack that issue as it comes along with no problem."