Oklahomans to Celebrate Deaf Awareness Week Sept 20-26

Woman uses sign language to talk to six elementary-age students.

OKLAHOMA CITY ─ September 20 marks the start of Deaf Awareness Week, celebrated each year during the last full week in September.

The Oklahoma School for the Deaf and Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing participate in various activities and awareness campaigns to celebrate the annual event.

Both programs are administered by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Rehabilitation Services commission elects officers to serve Oklahomans with disabilities

OKLAHOMA CITY –Lynda Collins from Mannford was elected to her second term as chair of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services.

Collins is the first retired agency employee, first Native American and first woman ever elected chair of the commission.

She is a former client of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, which is governed by the commission she now chairs.

Edmond resident Steve Shelton was elected to a fourth term as vice chair of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services.

10th Oklahoma Transition Institute to help stakeholders prepare youth for employment and independence

OKLAHOMA CITY – Families and employers are encouraged to participate in the 10th Oklahoma Transition Institute with educators, employment counselors and other partners dedicated to helping Oklahoma youth with disabilities prepare for employment and independent life after high school.

The OTI is scheduled for October 12 through 14 in the Marriott Conference Center at National Center for Employee Development located at 2801 East State Highway 9 in Norman. Conference days are October 13 and 14. Advance registration is required.

Oklahomans recognize 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act July 26

Americans with Disabilities (ADA) 25 1990-2015

Oklahoma City ─ July 26 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation which prohibits discrimination and guarantees the civil rights of people with disabilities.

When President George H. W. Bush signed the legislation in 1990, he said, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin issued a proclamation declaring July 26, 2015 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day in recognition of 15.8% of the population or more than 594,400 Oklahomans with disabilities.

The ADA focuses on equal access to employment, state and local government services, businesses that provide goods or services to the public and telecommunications, as well as education, transportation and inclusion in other aspects of community life.

“The ADA promises those of us with disabilities will have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else – something which was not protected by law before this law was enacted,” explained Joe Cordova, executive director for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services executive director.

Cordova, who is blind, was once a client of the DRS counterpart agency in New Mexico.

“We have made a lot of progress in terms of electronic accessibility,” Cordova added. “Physical accessibility to buildings has been very good. Even access to programs and services has improved, but the one area where we have the most room for significant progress is employment.”