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.”

McAlester Regional Health Center waits for the right person for the job

Pippins stands in front of a chiller that is more than 12 feet tall and 8 wide.

MCALESTER, Okla. -- Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines inspiration as something that makes someone want to do something; a force or influence that inspires someone. The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services defines inspiration as Alex Pippins, former client of the visual services division.

Pippins entered the vocational rehabilitation program because of his diabetes and desire to go to work. He left the program because he is now successfully employed with McAlester Regional Health Center as a Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) Tech in the plant operations department.

OSB's Richelle Zampella Wins Braille Challenge

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Oklahoma School for the Blind are proud to announce that 9th grader, Richelle Zampella, won first place in the Junior Varsity level at the National Braille Challenge.

In order for Zampella to compete in the national competition at the Braille Institute in Los, Angeles, CA, she had to scored in the top 12 of all the JV, grades 7-9, who competed at regional events. To win first place and the $1,500 prize, she had the highest scores on the four tests:

Ambition opens doors for Deaf-Blind spokesperson

Two women in a gymnasium

NORMAN, Okla. – Five a.m. is not too early for Ryann Fical. Not when she’s going after something she really wants.

In this case, she searched online until she found a summer internship needed to complete her degree in recreational management from OSU.

Fical, who has significant vision and hearing loss, contacted the University of Oklahoma’s Fitness and Recreation Department located near her family’s home in Norman

School for the Deaf Academic Team scores at national competition

SULPHUR, Okla. -- The Oklahoma School for the Deaf’s Academic Team finished in the top 16 in the U.S. at the national Academic Bowl held April 23 through 28 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

This is the first time OSD has qualified to compete at the national level.

Twenty-four U.S. teams qualified to go to Gallaudet University, which is the world leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing students.

School for the Deaf Earns 4th Place at National Battle of the Books

SULPHUR, Okla. – The School for the Deaf earned a fourth place award in the national Battle of the Books competition held at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

OSD team members who competed against three other teams were: eighth-grader Dylan Dickson from Shawnee, sixth-grader April Pennel from Hulbert and seventh-grader Kayleah Chebultz from Sulphur.

OSD reading teacher Kristen McCurdy was the sponsor for the team.

Gallaudet University is the world leader in liberal arts education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing students.