James West, crew leader, Michael Green Custom Homes: It’s given me a lot more confidence. My career is a lot better now. I went from struggling on jobs because my vision was so bad.
Voice over (VO): Many Oklahomans who are blind or visually impaired turn to Visual Services for assistance through vocational rehabilitation, employment and other programs that encourage confidence and independence.
Tim Murphy, welder: They helped me in everyway you could think of. How to put dishes away. How to remember where things are, little things that you never think about until you walk around with a blindfold on.
VO: Visual Services offers the same type of assistance as DRS’s Vocational Rehabilitation division career counseling, vocational education and training, medical services to improve employment opportunities, special technology and job placement. However, vocational rehabilitation is customized to help Oklahomans with visual impairments adjust to vision loss and develop skills needed to get or keep quality jobs.
Monique Stith, VR Counselor for Visual Services: Our primary purpose is employment. Once they become employed, the clients become tax payers. Then they are able to pay into the system and get off of disability benefits, which gives them their autonomy and control back and the power to make choices and be advocates for themselves and for others as well.
VO: Clients are eligible if visual impairments make it difficult to work. They must be able to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services, which are required to prepare for and find jobs. Most services are free.
West: Well today I feel more confident. I am definitely more successful the depression is over with.
VO: Visual Services helps high school students get valuable vocational training and work experience and assists business owners who are blind in operating food service businesses in government buildings.
Michael Spencer, Owner, M&J Snack Bar: It gives you a support system. It gives you counselors. It gives you business consultants. It gives you the tools that you need, so it’s kind of hard to fail.
VO: Recruitment assistance is free to employers along with information on tax credits and training on the latest adaptive technology to help employees get the job done.
Spencer: It’s uplifting to know that you can make that change. You can go from the sighted world to a person with disabilities and have all the tools you need to still be successful.
VO: Visual Services offers’ free classes and training at home to help clients adjust to vision loss and regain independence.
Pamela LaViolette: I was just sitting at home hoping somebody would come along and help me. I don’t have to do that now. I can get up do it myself.
VO: Visuals Services operates the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which mails thousands of free recorded books to patrons and provides free braille textbooks to public school students.
Kathleen Kennedy, OLBPH patron: We heavily, heavily, heavily rely on these books on tape so that we can listen to our books, get all the information we need, all the education that we need to continue to move forward.
Copyright 2008 Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.