Large Print - Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services by keara


									Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services In
the News

February 1 through 28, 2010


Produced by Shirley Burton, Brett Freeman and
Dana Tallon For Oklahoma Department of
Rehabilitation Services, Public Information Office.

If you have any questions please call 405.951.3478.

This publication is issued by the Department of
Rehabilitation Services as authorized by the
Commission for Rehabilitation Services. Copies
have not been printed but are available through the
agency website. Two printout copies have been
deposited with the Publications Clearinghouse of
the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

Inside Cover
The Oklahoman: February 1, 2010 - Page 4a


City teen's next journey takes on Grand Canyon


A l0th-grader from Oklahoma City is one of 10
students nationwide selected for an educational
adventure program this summer.

Andrew Williams, a sophomore at the Oklahoma
School for the Blind in Muskogee, will participate in
"Leading the Way: Rim to River 2010," which pairs
sighted students with visually-impaired students.
They'll hike the rim of the Grand Canyon and raft in
the Colorado River, among other activities, during a
15-day excursion this summer.

Williams has already distinguished himself as a
leader with a knack for adventure through his
activities and hobbies, which include camping,
sculling and the academic team. He said he's eager
to tackle new challenges he will encounter during
Page 1A
the trip, excited to meet students from other areas
of the country and to learn about the environment.

During the expedition, he will be required to take
charge at different points and lead his peers.

Photo of: Andrew Williams Oklahoma School for the
Blind sophomore

"It brings you out of your comfort zone;' Williams
said.”It makes you become an advocate for

During Leading the Way, students will also
complete a service project and learn about the
environment. They will have an opportunity to meet
world-renowned athlete Erik Weihenmayer — the
only blind man to reach the summit of Mount
Everest — at a retreat in May.

Williams' vision is 20/200, which means he can see
at 20 feet what a person with normal vision can see
at 200 feet. He also has albinism, which means his
eyes don't absorb light very well, and nystagmus,
an involuntary eye movement condition that makes
it difficult to focus.

Page 1B
Faye Miller, who is serving as Williams' school
sponsor, said Williams has an innate sense of

"Andrew is going to be successful no matter what
he does because he's got great drive and
determination," Miller said. "He knows what he
wants for himself.”

Williams, who serves as 4-H president at school,
had once asked Miller for help with a 4-H project he
was organizing.

Miller gave him basic directions about how to plant
peanuts, and Williams used that information to
create an activity for his fellow students.

During his trip this summer, Williams is required to
prepare an activity for the adventure group based
on research he will conduct leading up to the trip.
He said he plans to develop a game teaching about
the effects of human encroachment on animals.


Andrew Williams is working to raise about $2,000
for tuition and airfare for the "Leading the Way: Rim
Page 1C
to River 2010" adventure program. He is planning to
speak to several community organizations next
month. He is also selling T-shirts that say
"Oklahoma School for the Blind Global Explorers
Braving the Rapids of Life." The shirts sell for $15
each. Anyone who would like to help can contact
Williams' school sponsor, Faye Miller, at (918) 781-
8200, extension 8220.

Page 1D
Tulsa World: February 1, 2010 - Page 13a

Explorer undaunted by vision limits
A near blind teenager is going to hike and raft the
Grand Canyon.

BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer

MUSKOGEE — Having low vision and albinism
may require a sighted guide and extra sunscreen at
times, but Andrew Williams will let nothing stand in
his way of a 15-day adventure in the Grand

The Oklahoma City teenager is one of 10 students
in the country who have been accepted to Global
Explorers' "Leading the Way Rim to River"
expedition in July.

"Being allowed to do this is amazing," said Andrew,
16, who attends the Oklahoma School for the Blind.
"I'm just really, really excited."

The trip pairs visually impaired and blind students
with sighted students who will learn how to guide
them as they hike the rim, raft down the Colorado
River and camp.
Page 2A
"A lot of it is about inclusion," Andrew said.

Since his life goal is to be a conservation biologist,
one of the things Andrew said he likes about the
nonprofit organization Global Explorers is its
devotion to the environment. Global Explorers
purchases carbon offsets for the airplane rides,
shuttles and driving.

Andrew said he really wants to see the landscape of
the area, the formations and the slot canyons that
are only accessible from the river.

Long-sleeved clothing, a brimmed hat, dark glasses
and a dermatologist who will dispense a sunscreen
with a very high sun protection factor will help
Andrew weather the sun.

Andrew said he sunburns within 30 minutes of
sitting by a window, but that he's used to taking
precautions. The brighter it is the poorer his vision

But he's probably more prepared than most people
when it comes to physical stamina. Andrew has
been wrestling since the seventh grade, he runs
about an hour a day, and the only extra weight he
Page 2B
has to carry is what will be on his back.

His coach, Rob Culie, said Andrew is probably one
of the most improved athletes on the team. Andrew
points out that his coach loves Navy SEAL

"It's paid off, though," Culie said. He and the
students going to the Grand Canyon have been on
conference calls with each other discussing and
preparing for the trip. They also have homework
assignments on the science and culture of the area.

"He's very interested in biology and botany.
Because of that interest this is a really good fit,"
said his school sponsor, Faye Miller.

In May, Andrew will get to meet the students in
person at a Colorado retreat. They'll be fitted with
life jackets, harnesses, trekking poles and other

At the retreat, they'll also get to meet Erik
Weihenmayer, a motivational speaker, climber and
the first blind man to reach the summit of Mount

Page 2C
"He stepped out there and got mixed in with
everyone else," Andrew said of Weihenmayer.

Williams has raised about $1,700 so far for the
$2,300 trip. Miller said that Andrew seems to have a
flair for fundraising as well. He's been speaking to
groups, calling businesses to ask for sponsorships
and selling T-shirts.

"He has a lot of drive. He's very determined and
knows what his goals are in life and really works
toward those goals," Miller said.

To donate to Andrew's trip or purchase a T-shirt,
call Miller at (918) 781-8200, ext. 8220.

Photo of: Andrew Williams, 16, an Oklahoma
School for the Blind student and wrestler, lifts
weights to strengthen his legs as he prepares for a
15-day excursion in the Grand Canyon, which pairs
10 visually-impaired and blind students with sighted
students. SHERRY BROWN/Tulsa World

Page 2D
Oklahoma Living: February 1, 2010 -Page 11


AgrAbility Project helps those with disabilities stay
on the farm A farming environment can be
challenging for anyone, but especially for people
with disabilities. However, help is available.

The Oklahoma AgrAbility Project can assist
Oklahoma farmers, ranchers and their families who
have been impacted by disabilities and face barriers
to continuing participation in an agriculture-related

"Agriculture is an important industry in Oklahoma,"
says biosystems and agricultural engineering
professor Randy Taylor, co-director of the
Oklahoma AgrAbility Project and Department. "The
Oklahoma AgrAbility Project strives to keep farmers
with disabilities on the job as a productive
participant of this important industry. Though the
project cannot directly purchase assistive
technology, it is designed to help determine a
course of action and link clients with appropriate
funding sources."

Page 3A
If a person has a disability and is experiencing
barriers in the farming industry, assistive technology
devices and services are available and can be
recommended by the Oklahoma AgrAbility Project.

"Oklahoma AgrAbility helps farmers with health
challenges make informed choices about returning
to work with a greater likelihood of success," said
Linda Jaco, Oklahoma AgrAbility co-director.

Any Oklahoma resident with a disability, who is
currently working in agriculture or has a desire to
work in agriculture, is eligible. AgrAbility staff
members can make farm visits to help determine
technology needs through an on-farm assessment.

The on-farm assessment is a comprehensive
evaluation conducted by AgrAbility staff, which
matches an individual's agricultural employment
goals with appropriate ways to achieve them by
reducing barriers through assistive technology.

Assistive technology for people who live in farming
communities includes any kind of device,
modification or service that will help a person with a
disability work and live more independently in a
rural setting. Examples of assistive technology
Page 3B
include motorized lifts, outdoor mobility aids,
modifications to farm buildings or farm tools and
automated gates.

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation
Services may be one option for assistance. Eligibility
is determined on a case-by-case basis. Another
funding option is the Oklahoma Assistive Technol-
ogy Foundation, which helps people with disabilities
purchase needed assistive technology through low-
interest cash loans. Application processes are
required for both of these funding sources.

There is no fee for AgrAbility professionals to
provide on-farm assessments to determine what
assistive technology may benefit you or your farm
operation. The assistive technology costs also are
determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on
the specific device(s) needed by the individual with
a disability.

The Oklahoma AgrAbility Project is a unique
partnership between Oklahoma State University,
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and
OkAT; additional services are provided through
Oklahoma ABLE Tech and the Langston University
School of Physical Therapy.
Page 3C
For more information about the program, contact
Oklahoma AgrAbility at 888-885-5588 (voice/try),
email , or visit the website at .

Page 3D
Sulphur Times-Democrat: February 4, 2010 -Page

OSD To Host Gallaudet University's Midwest
Regional Academic Bowl

The Oklahoma School for the Deaf, headquartered
in Sulphur, will host Gallaudet University's Midwest
Regional Academic Bowl on Feb. 4 -6 for deaf and
hard of hearing students from 16 high schools in 11

Gallaudet University is a four-year university located
in Washington, D.C. for students who are deaf or
hard of hearing. It is the only liberal arts university
for deaf students in the world.

Gallaudet University President Dr. Alan Hurwitz will
be at OSD for the competition. He will welcome
parents and students to a luncheon for invited

Approximately 80 students are expected to particip-
ate in the quiz tournament, which is similar to those
held by high schools and colleges throughout the
country with two exceptions. Questions will be

Page 4A
presented to contestants in American Sign
Language, as well as in spoken and written English.
"Deaf Studies" will be one of the question

OSD sophomore Jane Osborn from Sulphur said, "I
feel excited about the competition because I'd by
asking all of you to contribute to the cause. Haitians
need nonmonetary items such as new or gently
used clothing items, diapers, shoes, first aid kits,
hygiene like to see how much I know. It's a good
experience for the students here at the Oklahoma
School for the Deaf. We don't have to travel
somewhere else, and the OSD team, which is
young, will get some experience."

Matches begin at 8 a.m. on Fri., Feb. 5, and Sat.,
Feb. 6. Four competitions will be held each hour.
The semi-finals are scheduled at 4 p.m. on Sat. with
finals at 7:30 p.m. the same day The competition
and awards ceremonies are free and open to the

"This is the first time that OSD has hosted the
Midwest Regional Academic Bowl," said Tommy
Varner, event chairperson and athletic director,
football coach and a math teacher at OSD. "I think
Page 4B
it's wonderful that OSD is able to get nationwide
recognition for hosting this tournament.

"The Academic Bowl is a top priority for us at OSD.
We are providing top rate facilities and staff so that
everything goes smoothly for the kids."

The Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
High School Students was established by Gallaudet
University twelve years ago. Competitions will also
be held in February and March in Utah, Florida,
New Jersey and Massachusetts. Last year, 80 of
the 400 students who participated advanced from
the regional contests to the national competition
held at Gallaudet University.

"The Academic Bowl brings together deaf and hard
of hearing high school students from all over the
country-from deaf and mainstream schools-to
match wits on a wide range of topics," national
coordinator Sherry Duhon said. "There's no
competition like it anywhere else in the world."

To learn more about Gallaudet University's 2010
Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Students, go to:
Bowl_Home.html. For more information about the
Page 4C
Midwest Regional Academic Bowl in Oklahoma,
contact Tommy Varner at the Oklahoma School for
the Deaf at 580 622-4900 during school hours.

This article also ran in The Daily Ardmoreite

Page 4D
The Oklahoman: February 4, 2010 -Page 117a


Frances Elnora, departed this life on Mon., Feb. 1,
2010 to be with her Heavenly Father. Frances,
known as Elnora, was born in Kiowa, OK on Dec. 7,
1918, to the Rev. Alfred and Frances E. Smith.
While living in Kiowa, Frances attended Lime Stone
Gap Elementary School. She graduated from
Muskogee H.S. in 1937. Her life was changed
forever by the homicide of her mother in 1937.
Elnora worked for the OK School for the Blind until
her marriage to her high school sweetheart, John J.
Trent, in 1942. She and John moved to OKC in July
of 1942 and she remained a resident of OKC until
her death. During WWII she worked for the U.S. Air
Force in OKC and Oakland, CA. She remained a
homemaker until her son, John, began school and
then she entered the workforce. She began working
in the mortgage banking business in 1954 and
worked in this industry for 28 years. During this time
she was employed with OK National Mortgage,
Mager Mortgage, and American Mortgage Co.,
retiring in 1982 from Southern Trust Mortgage Co.
Frances was a devout Christian being converted at
an early age. She worked many years in the church
Page 5A
specializing in working with young married couples.
She was a very outgoing person and made many
friends at work, at church and among those she met.
She was a member of the Pentecostal Holiness
Church for 45 years and 28 years in the Church of
God. She was currently a member of Southern Hills
Church of God in OKC. She is survived by her
husband John J. and one son John W. and wife
Janice of OKC, three grandchildren Jason T. Trent
and wife Terri of Kansas City, MO, Dori Kelley and
husband Frank of Dublin, Ireland, and Daron P. Trent
and wife Traci of Lawrence, KS; four great grand-
children Carson, Julian, Anabel and Dorian; and one
sibling Loretta Shearrer of Muskogee, OK; also
nephew Charles Westfall and wife Terri; and former
daughter in-law Vicki Trent. She was preceded in
death by her parents; two sisters Leona and Mildred;
and two brothers Carl and Wymond. She will be
missed by many friends and loved ones. Viewing and
visitation will be at the funeral home on Thursday
from 4-8 PM, with the family receiving friends from 5-
7 PM. Memorial services will be 10:00 AM Friday at
Southern Hills Church of God, with committal 3:00
PM at Memorial Park Cemetery in Muskogee, OK.

Photo of: Frances Elnora Trent
This article also ran in the Muskogee Phoenix
Page 5B
The Oklahoman: February 6, 2010 - Page 617a

School for the Blind offers open house of its

MUSKOGEE - The Oklahoma School for the Blind
Parent Teacher Organization will host the school's
sixth annual open house and tour from 9 a.m. to 1
p.m. Feb. 19 on the school campus at 3300 Gibson
in Muskogee.

The public, vision care professionals and elected
officials are invited to observe the latest techniques
and technology used to educate students who are
blind or visually impaired.

Visitors can learn about the school's curriculum,
including orientation and mobility training, physical
education and demonstrations of assistive
technology and independent living skills, Parent
Teacher Organization President Linda Graber said.

In addition to operating programs for its students,
the school offers information and services to
students attending other schools, their families,
teachers of visually impaired students and other
interested individuals.
Page 6A
For more information, e-mail Linda Graber at or call the school at (877)

This article also ran in the Muskogee Phoenix

Page 6B
Sulphur Times-Democrat: February 11, 2010 - Page

Varner Named Principal At OSD

by Donna John

Photo of: KaAnn Varner

KaAnn Varner has just been named the new K-12
Principal for Oklahoma School for the Deaf,
according to Superintendent Larry Hawkins.
Hawkins along with members of the Oklahoma
Department of Rehabilitation Services Executive
Team announced Varner's selection last week.

Varner has been serving as interim Principal since
the retirement September 30 by Jack Tucker who
served as K-12 Principal for almost 20 years.

The appointment of Varner as Principal marks the
first time in many years that a person who is deaf
has served in this capacity.

Varner came to OSD in 1997 and taught T1, First
Grade, and Fourth Grade before becoming OSD's
Assistant Principal Fall 2006.
Page 7A
Varner grew up in Ardmore, Alabama, where she
played clarinet and twirled in the band prior to High
School graduation. Varner stated that she received
no special accommodations for being deaf during
her school years and that she attended all regular

She then graduated from the University of
Montevello in 1990 with a BS degree in Education
of the Hearing Impaired. She later earned a MA
degree in Administration from Southern Nazarene
University in Oklahoma City.

Prior to coming to OSD, Varner taught Kindergarten
at EPIC Magnet School in Birmingham,

(See Varner, page 2)

Page 7B
(Continued from page 1)

Alabama before moving to Arkansas School for the
Deaf in Little Rock to teach Third Grade.

While working in a ASD game concession stand,
she met now husband Tommy Varner who was
visiting from Oklahoma. Tommy Varner serves as
Athletic Director in addition to teaching Junior High
Mathematics. They have two Honor Roll children,
Fifth Grader Caleb Varner, 12, and Third Grader
Shannon Varner, 8, both of whom currently attend
classes at Sulphur Intermediate School.

Varner stated that it has been an overall smooth
transition for her to move from the Assistant
Principal to the Principal role. She explained that
the greatest transition has been "for other school
districts in the state to get used to dealing with a
deaf person." Using the Sorenson relay service
(deaf/hearing video/phone relay service) has been
the biggest change for them, she explained.

"It has been good for parents, too, to talk with a
deaf administrator," Varner said. "Little Deaf
become Big Deaf," she said explaining that many
Page 8A
parents seem to think that their child will grow out of
being deaf.

Varner claimed that her personal goal for OSD is "to
maximize each OSD student's educational
potential." "It is surprising to see that there are
many schools and programs across the state of
Oklahoma that do not realize the potential and
opportunities offered by OSD," she added.

"OSD is bound by the same state laws and
requirements as other schools. The only difference
is that everyone at OSD signs. There are no
communication barriers at OSD that impede deaf
and hard of hearing students' opportunities to
excel," Varner explained.

"I want OSD to be "recognized" as the #1 Deaf
school in the US," Varner claimed.

Page 8B
Muskogee Phoenix: February 12, 2010 - Page 1a

Fitness guru: Lifestyle one cause of health care

By Keith Purtell Phoenix Staff Writer

Colorful discs that flew around a room Thursday at
Indian Capital Technology Center are part of fitness
guru Robert Sweetgall's presentation.

The audience was mostly business leaders who
wanted to learn economical ways to keep their
workforce healthier.

The flying discs were a way to get everyone
relaxed, and walking with a pedometer
demonstrated how easy it is to add more healthy
motion each day.

Karen Allen, physical education and health
instructor at Oklahoma School for the Blind, said
she was planning to attend all of Robert Sweetgall's
events Thursday.

"I'm really interested in his ideas about using a
shoestring budget for an employee fitness plan,"
Page 9A
she said. "All the topics are of interest to us. I'd like
to get the kids persuaded to take an interest in this."

Sweetgall said more evidence is emerging that the
health care crisis is a result of our sedentary
lifestyle and profit-based health care system.

"And then, when we do all the epidemiological
studies and ask 'Why are so many children
autistic?' `Why haven't found a cure for cancer?' he
said. "Forty years of trend analysis shows
explosions in this kind of stuff."

Sweetgall said he grew up as a "butterball" and

Photo of: Participants walk in place. Sweetgall
encourages adding healthy motion to each day.


Page 9B
Continued from Page 1A

`Important thing is to keep active'

took a job as an engineer making up to $150,000 a
year. He designed centrifuges for processing
plutonium. But, when a fitness craze swept the
nation in the 1970s, he got involved and left his
previous lifestyle behind. One of the first things he
did was walk across the United States in one year.

Fitness doesn't require something so drastic,

"You like swimming?" he asked. "You like golf, you
like gardening? Just get up and do something. The
important thing is to keep active. It will control your
blood sugars, your body fat, your stress levels, it will
improve your bone and muscular system, it will help
your creativity and intelligence."

Sweetgall also had a low-cost suggestion for the
school system starting their days.

"Start every school day with a 10-minute walk," he
said. "It will reduce behavioral problems and
improve grades."
Page 10A
Since the mainstream health care system is based
on profit, that leaves a small number of people who
have a sincere concern for each other's well-being.

"Your family, employer and you are the only three
people really interested in your health," he said.

Reach Keith Purtell at 684-2925 or kpurtell

Page 10B
Claremore Daily Progress: February 19, 2010 -
Page 1

Lawmakers pass budget bills for FY2010 fix

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Brad Henry and
legislative leaders forged a fix for this year's budget
crisis on Thursday, using federal stimulus funds and
money from a state savings account to prevent
trooper furloughs and ease cuts for education,
health care and prisons.

Special budget committees in the House and
Senate approved several funding bills to close an
estimated $284 million hole in the budget for the
fiscal year that ends June 30. As a result,
supplemental funding will be given to state agencies
that oversee education, health care, public safety,
corrections and rehabilitation services.

While state agencies across the board have seen
their budgets decrease by 7.5 percent this year, the
supplemental funding will lessen the cuts in the
targeted areas.

The funding bills still must be voted on by the full
House and Senate and signed by Henry.
Page 11A
"This is an important step forward and I applaud
legislative leaders of both parties for their hard
work, but it's important to note we still face many
challenges ahead," Henry said in a statement.

The state is facing a general revenue shortfall of
about $669 million, which means collections to the
state have come up short of the amount of revenue
allocated to state agencies at the start of the year.
The 7.5 percent agency budget cuts have totaled
about $385 million, leaving what's left of the
shortfall to be filled.

Under the bills, $223 million would be tapped from
the state's Rainy Day Fund this year; another $223
million would go into a special cash fund for next
year's budget. That would leave about $150 million
in the constitutional reserve fund. Henry, a
Democrat, had proposed spending $485 million
from the reserve fund on this year's budget, but
GOP leaders in the House and Senate wanted to
spend no more than $223 million.

The bills approved Thursday also provide
supplemental funding, using a combination of
stimulus money and Rainy Day funds, for colleges
and public schools, health care, prisons and the
Page 11B
Department of Public Safety.

From the federal stimulus money, about $37 million
was appropriated for common education and $145
million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the
state's Medicaid agency. That leaves about $485
million in stimulus funds available for next year's

The federal health care money, combined with a
supplemental $33 million from state funds, will be
enough to prevent massive rate cuts to Medicaid
providers across the state, said OHCA spokesman
Nico Gomez.

Beginning April 1, the Health Care Authority was
scheduled to reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates
by 6.75 percent to doctors, nursing homes and
hospitals that provide services to low-income
women and children, elderly residents and people
with disabilities.

With the additional funding, the rate cut is expected
to now only be 3.25 percent.

"A deep provider rate cut really puts our providers at
risk and may mean our members don't have the
Page 11C
access to health care services," Gomez said.

Also included in the bills: $3 million for the
Department of Public Safety to prevent trooper
furloughs that were to begin next month, $7.2
million for the Department of Corrections and $1.2
million for the Department of Rehabilitation
Services, which provides assistance to disabled

The funding bills only address the current fiscal
year's budget and not the budget for fiscal year
2011 that begins July 1, when lawmakers have $1.2
billion less to spend than they did last year.

This article also ran in the Enid News @Eagle,
Pauls Valley Daily Democrat,

Claremore Daily Progress, The Ponca City News,
Altus Times, Durant Daily Democrat, The Fairfax
Chief, Stilwell Democrat Journal, The Westville
Reporter, Morris News, Stigler News-Sentinel,
Haskell News

Page 11D
The Seminole Producer: February 19, 2010 - Page

Visually Impaired Seek Increased Education

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Anastasia Pittman
recently spoke to advocates and members of the
visually impaired community about legislation to
expand their educational options, increase their
access to Braille materials and improve on their
testing accommodations.

Crissleen Fowler is the parent of a 5-year-old child
with no eyes that attends Tulsa public schools as a
transfer student.

Fowler said that despite the fact that she notified
the school district long before her child entered it,
they have never made accommodations.

She sent her child to the Oklahoma School for the
Blind for a while, but is trying to look for more

"I'm looking into putting her into a private school
next year, depending on if I can get her adequate
Page 12A
services," Fowler said.

House Bill 3327, by Pittman, would require public
schools to provide a scholarship at the parent's
request for a student to attend a private school if
they could not provide proper education for a
visually impaired student.

Fowler said she supports the legislation and thinks
it would help visually impaired students in the Tulsa
Union school district.

"Union is one of the biggest school districts and
they are the You that choose not to provide any
services," Fowler said.

"I'm just hoping that the children in the district can
get what they need." Logan Steen, an 11th grade
student at the Oklahoma School for the Blind, said
for many years she didn't know she was legally
blind, but couldn't see to read.

She's been attending the school for the blind for two
years and is pleased with the opportunities offered
by the school.

Steen is learning to pay bills, live independently and
Page 12B
balance a checkbook in addition to her academic
school curriculum.

"They (Oklahoma School for the Blind) basically tell
us we can do anything," Steen said. "I think what's
important is that kids be able to make up their mind
on what they want to do and that people show that
they want to help them."

Steen said that she too supports House Bill 3327.

"I think that private schools could be a good options
to help," Steen said. "It just depends on what they
do to provide services."

Koby Cox, a visually impaired high school student
and employee of Nano Pac, Inc., said he thinks
accessible textbooks, graphs and charts are also

House Bill 3328, by Pittman, be challenged in ways
that would authorize the Department of Corrections
to enter into a contract for services of prisoners to
translate and produce Braille books and materials
for blind and visually impaired Oklahomans. Vicki
Golightly of the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and
Physically Handicapped said they have been
Page 12C
partnering with the North Fork Correctional Facility
in Sayre, and would love to see an expansion of
such partnerships throughout the state.

"It has been a very successful partnership, but it is a
partnership that needs to be expanded," Golightly

A third bill by Pittman would specify that the
evaluation of visual impairment for students be
conducted by a multidisciplinary team that would
include a visual impairment certified teacher or
certified orientation and mobility specialist.

House Bill 3331 would also require the state
Department of Education to offer training for school
staff who work with visually impaired or blind

Lastly, it would require special testing
accommodations for visually impaired or blind
students that could include special lighting, printout
of the assessment in large print or Braille, an oral
assessment or the use of assistive devices such as
a magnifier, color overlays, an abacus or a Brailler.

Linda Raleigh, teacher of the visually impaired for
Page 12D
Jenks public schools, noted that some students
need to have their reading tests read aloud and that
she is working with Pittman to amend the bill in

Page 12E
Muskogee Phoenix: February 21, 2010 -Page 1a


Oklahoma School for the Blind faces budget cuts

Photo caption: Eighth-grader Taylor Carey reads
the Braille version of the state writing test guidelines
at Oklahoma School for the Blind. Textbooks in
Braille cost up to $1,300, a burden on tight budgets.

Equipment, book costs much higher for OSB

By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer

With the state fifth- and eighth-grade writing test
less than two weeks away, Oklahoma School for
the Blind middle school teacher Whitney Gamble
keeps her students busy and focused.

"We've been working on this every day of the week
for the past six weeks," Gamble said as one student
reviewed test requirements punched in Braille and
another worked with a large print computer

Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma
Page 13A
School for the Deaf in Sulphur must meet the same
state performance standards and follow the same
state curriculum as any public school in Oklahoma.
Both are accredited by the Oklahoma State
Department of Education.

However, as part of the Department of
Rehabilitation Services, the schools are not funded,
governed or managed the same way as locally-
operated public schools are. Plus, since

Photo caption: Oklahoma School for the Blind
seventh-graders Miranda Young of Muskogee, left,
and Mykala Moore of Glenpool study for the

state-mandated writing test.


Page 13B
Muskogee Phoenix: February 21, 2010 - Page 2a

`The budget crisis is affecting us terribly'

Continued from Page 1A

they rely on an ever-tightening state budget, the two
schools face their own funding crises that could
reach even deeper than those affecting locally-
operated public schools.

Interim OSB Superintendent Larry Hawkins recently
told parents that the school faces a 10 percent cut
in state funding for the rest of the school year. One
result of the cut is that the school will not fill six staff
vacancies: Housekeeper, licensed practical nurse,
material management specialist and three direct
care specialists.

"So far, the cuts have not affected students
directly," said Hawkins, who also is superintendent
at Oklahoma School for the Deaf. "As far as
supplies are concerned, we are not affected so

However, he said the school cannot afford to buy
desperately-needed new textbooks in Braille. Braille
Page 14A
versions of textbooks could cost from $600 to
$1,300 compared to $30 to $60 for regular

Department of Rehabilitation Services spokesman
Jody Harlan said both OSB and the School for the
Deaf are having to cut costs. "Both schools continue
to cut administrative costs and reduce expenses by
leaving staff positions vacant, severely reducing
travel and postponing onetime administrative
purchases," Harlan said.

"The budget crisis is affecting us terribly," said
Muskogee rancher Ray Kirk, vice chairman of the
Department of Rehabilitation Services Commission.
"All or virtually all the money we get comes from the

Kirk said the OSB staff is working to make up for
the staff and supply cutbacks. "People who work out
there are trying to do double duty," he said. "The
staff out there is very dedicated and the parents are
very supportive."

Kirk said the cutbacks also could affect campus
improvements. "We had some inkling from the state
that we could build a new gym, now that's out," he
Page 14B

"We have been trying for several years to get a new
gym," said Linda Graber of Haskell, president of the
OSB Parent Teacher Organization. "They have a
big huge fan to blow air in the summer and no heat
in the winter. They have to have PE classes in
another area."

Graber, who has a 10-year-old granddaughter at
the school, said the library also needs more room.

Harlan said Oklahoma residents can vote to fund
the schools' capital improvements through general
improvement bond issues. Because both schools
serve the entire state, the entire state must vote in
the election. She said $6.75 million in capital
improvement bonds were issued in 2000 to bring
OSB facilities up to code. The school received new
fire alarm and sprinkler systems, upgraded
plumbing and electrical systems, a new roof and
improved access for wheelchairs. Other
improvements included window replacements,
masonry repairs and a renovated stairwell.

On rare occasions, general state appropriations
funded capital improvements, Harlan said.
Page 14C
She said the schools are two of seven divisions
under authority of the DRS commission. Other
divisions include Vocational Rehabilitation, Visual
Services and Disability Determination.

Also, unlike local schools, OSB and OSD are not
funded through local property taxes and are not
governed by a locally-elected board, she said.
"Since the parents of OSB and OSD students are
located across the state, it would be impractical to
conduct statewide school board type elections."

Graber said she doesn't think the general public
would know enough about needs facing OSB to
vote on school bond issues. Instead, capital
improvement decisions are made by the

"The state just tells us they decided to buy this
fence or they decided to buy this bus," Graber said.

"The school is run by the commission members,
through the directors down through the
superintendent," Kirk said.

Page 14D
Muskogee Phoenix: February 21, 2010 - Page 8a


Parkview funding

Oklahoma School for the Blind, also called
Parkview, delivers a much needed service to truly
deserving children, and we think the school should
get the funding it needs to serve those children.

In today's Sunday Extra, the Phoenix reports on
Oklahoma School for the Blind's budget challenges.
The school doesn't fall under the direct
management of the state Department of Education,
but instead the Department of Rehabilitative

Like other state agencies, DRS faces deep cuts
because of the recent recession and continued drop
in state tax revenues, some months as high as 7.5
and 10 percent.

We understand how difficult it is for the state to deal
with severe cuts when many of the services it
provides are essential to a big part of the
population. But visually impaired children are
Page 15A
already starting out life with certain disadvantages
in life. They deserve the extra assistance it takes to
help them cope in a world that is, for almost all of
us, very visually oriented.

If the state is going to cut, cut elsewhere. See that
the children helped by the School for the Blind
continue to get all the help they need to receive a
proper education and the resources to live full lives.

Page 15B
The Journal Record: February 22, 2010 - Page 3a

State leaders tapping into Rainy Day fund

OKLAHOMA CITY - State leaders say they have a
plan to fix the 2010 budget shortfall - and the plan
will keep health programs open, schools operating
and troopers on the road.

In a media announcement issued late last week,
Gov. Brad Henry, House Speaker Chris Benge and
Senate Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said they have
agreed to spend $223.5 million from the state's
Rainy Day fund to offset a $669 million hole in the

The remainder of the FY10 shortfall, the group said,
will be filled with other state funds, federal stimulus
dollars and revenue generated from previously
announced targeted budget cuts to agencies.

Lawmakers said the agreement also would move
another $223.5 million into the state's Special Cash
account for use in the FY 2011 budget.

The governor praised the agreement "By preserving
stimulus dollars for the coming fiscal year, we keep
Page 16A
Oklahoma in compliance with the federal stimulus
agreement," Henry said. 'We also made a
significant commitment on the use of Rainy Day
dollars, earmarking a large share of the reserve
account for pressing budget needs while leaving a
cushion of funds that could be accessed later this
session if necessary."

The agreement will leave about one fourth

of the $600 million Rainy Day fund in the account A
portion of those funds could also be used later if

Legislative leaders said the agreement directs
additional money to education and health care and
preserves a larger share of stimulus dollars for use
later in the session.

"This is an important step forward and I applaud
legislative leaders of both parties for their hard
work, but it's important to note we still face many
challenges ahead," Benge, R-Tulsa, said. "This
compromise helps spread out our reserves to
create as much of a soft landing for state agencies
as possible. Economic projections indicate our state
will recover slowly from this downturn. I hope the
Page 16B
estimates are wrong, but we cannot appropriate
state dollars on the hope of revenues recovering in
the near-term."

Coffee said the agreement continues the 10-percent
monthly allocation cuts to most state agencies.

"This agreement takes a conservative budgeting
approach and limits the Rainy Day fund spending,
which also preserves the Rainy Day fund for future
legislative budgets," Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said.
"It is important to make sure we continue to budget
in a fiscally conservative manner in tough times."

Still, while most agencies saw their funding
reduced, a few will receive supplemental
appropriations to reduce the impact of those cuts,
including Corrections, Public Safety, Education, and
the Health Care Authority.

The additional funds include $7.2 million for
Corrections, $3 million for Public Safety, $54.4
million for common education, $25.6 million for
higher education, $33 million for the state's Health
Care Authority, $50 million for the education reform
(HB 1017) fund, $1.2 million for the Department of
Rehabilitative Services and $700,000 for the
Page 16C
Department of Central Services.

"With this agreement in place, we can now turn our
attention to crafting a budget for FY11," Benge said.
"There is still much work ahead of us, but we stand
ready to make the tough decisions that will be
required to align our state expenditures with our
projected revenues."

Page 16D
Enid News & Eagle: February 23, 2010 - Page 1a

Getting on-the-job training

Project Search to help out Enid students with

By Bridget Nash Staff Writer

A new program for students with disabilities is
starting in Enid.

Project Search is a collaboration of several Enid
organizations and will help high school seniors with
disabilities receive intensive employment training
and job coaching in a hospital environment at
Integris Bass Baptist Health Center.

"Every job that is out there in the community pretty
much happens here at Integris as well," said Judi
Goldston of the National Center for Disability
Education and Training at the University of

Ten students will be accepted into the program and
will receive job training and assistance in finding
employment in the community after the training
Page 17A
period is over.

To qualify for the program students must be at least
18 years old and a high school senior in Enid Public
Schools. They must have completed all graduation
credit requirements except senior English.

Students who apply must have the ability to take
direction, have appropriate hygiene, social and
communication skills, have the ability to take
direction, willingness to change behavior, pass a
drug screen and background check and have all
current immunizations.

Students accepted into the program will report to
work at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center during
school hours. The students will go through an
orientation period before beginning their job

"Each student will go to through three 10-week
unpaid job internships here at the hospital," said

During their internships the students will identify
areas of interest as well as learn important skills
such as building a résumé, interviewing for a job,
Page 17B
notifying supervisors about absences, giving two
weeks' notice and updating portfolios.

When the student has completed the program and
graduated from high school, they will be able to
begin work in the community.

"The goal of Project Search is that everyone, at the
end of this program, will have a job," said Pat Lentz,
of the local 4RKids Foundation.

Partners involved in Project Search include Enid
Public Schools, Integris Bass Baptist Health Center,
Department of Rehabilitation Services and 4RKids

If the spaces available in the program are not filled
with students from Enid Public Schools, students
from surrounding school districts may be

For more information on the program, call Enid
Public Schools' central office at 249-3565.

Photo of: David McCune of Enid Public Schools
speaks to a group of visitors at a Project Search
open house Monday evening. Project Search is
Page 17C
brought to Enid through a collaboration of Enid
Public Schools, Integris Bass Baptist Health Center,
Department of Rehabilitation Services and the
4RKids Foundation. The program is designed to
provide job training for students with disabilities.
(Staff Photo by BRIDGET NASH)

Page 17D
Vinita Daily Journal: February 23, 2010 -Page 7a

Oklahoma School for the Blind faces budget cuts

SULPHUR -- With the state fifth- and eighth-grade
writing test less than two weeks away, Oklahoma
School for the Blind middle school teacher Whitney
Gamble keeps her students busy and focused.

"We've been working on this every day of the week
for the past six weeks," Gamble said as one student
reviewed test requirements punched in Braille and
another worked with a large print computer

Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma
School for the Deaf in Sulphur must meet the same
state performance standards and follow the same
state curriculum as any public school in Oklahoma.
Both are accredited by the Oklahoma State
Department of Education.

However, as part of the Department of
Rehabilitation Services, the schools are not funded,
governed or managed the same way as locally-
operated public schools are. Plus, since they rely on
an ever-tightening state budget, the two schools
Page 18A
face their own funding crises that could reach even
deeper than those affecting locally-operated public

Interim OSB Superintendent Larry Hawkins recently
told parents that the school faces a 10 percent cut
in state funding for the rest of the school year. One
result is that the school will not fill six staff
vacancies: Housekeeper, licensed practical nurse,
material management specialist and three direct
care specialists.

"So far, the cuts have not affected students
directly," said Hawkins, who also is superintendent
at Oklahoma School for the Deaf. "As far as
supplies are concerned, we are not affected so

However, he said the school cannot afford to buy
desperately-needed new textbooks in Braille. Braille
versions of textbooks could cost from $600 to
$1,300 compared to $30 to $60 for regular

Department of Rehabilitation Services spokesman
Jody Harlan said both OSB and the School for the
Deaf are having to cut costs.
Page 18B
"Both schools continue to cut administrative costs
and reduce expenses by leaving staff positions
vacant, severely reducing travel and postponing
one-time administrative purchases," Harlan said.

"The budget crisis is affecting us terribly," said
Muskogee rancher Ray Kirk, vice chairman of the
Department of Rehabilitation Services Commission.
"All or virtually all the money we get comes from the

Kirk said the OSB staff is working to make up for
the staff and supply cutbacks.

"People who work out there are trying to do double
duty," he said. "The staff out there is very dedicated
and the parents are very supportive."

Kirk said the cutbacks also could affect campus

"We had some inkling from the state that we could
build a new gym, now that's out," he said.

Page 18C
Sulphur Times-Democrat: February 25, 2010 - Page

Art Competition Set At OSD Feb. 25

The 2010 Fun Country Area Special Olympics Art
Competition will be held this Thursday, February
25th, in the dance room at the Oklahoma School for
the Deaf in Sulphur.

The art show may be viewed 8:30 —10:00 a.m. with
an awards/certificate program starting at 10:15 in
OSD's auditorium. There are more than 100 pieces
of artwork, including drawings, paintings, and
various crafts. Schools represented are Ada,
Ardmore, Plainview, Tishomingo, Wewoka, and

Page 19
Sulphur Times-Democrat: February 25, 2010 - Page

Deaf Town Hall Meeting Set In Sulphur On
Saturday, March 6

In order to improve services for people with hearing
loss, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation
Services (DRS) is holding a town hall meeting in
Sulphur in partnership with the Oklahoma
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Services. Deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened and
deaf-blind people are encouraged to attend the
meetings and share with staff their ideas about what
needs to be done, what gaps need to be filled and
what service areas need improvement.

A lunch will be served at the meeting at no charge
to participants.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
Saturday, March 6, 2010 at the Oklahoma School
for the Deaf small gym, 1100 E. Oklahoma St.

The meeting is one of a series sponsored by DRS
and ODMHSAS. One final meeting will be held in
Tulsa, Saturday, March 27, 2010 at the Radisson
Page 20A
Tulsa, 10918 E. 41st St.

Meeting have also been held in Oklahoma City and

The meetings are free and open to the public.
Anyone associated with hearing loss is urged to
attend. Ten interpreters for the deaf will be present
at each meeting.

The input from these town hall meetings will be
presented at a three-day state and national forum
held later this year. The recommendations and
solutions to these issues will be coordinated into
strategic plans for DRS Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Services staff, and presented to the governor.

For more information, contact Hope Crumley, DRS
Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 405-
522-7930 or e-mail

Page 20B
Enid News & Eagle: February 25, 2010 - Page 7a


Citizens with Disabilities

Are you a person with a disability? Are you the
family or friend of a person with a disability? This is
an opportunity for you to Voice your concerns and

What... Open Forum on Disability Issues

When... March 2, 2010 — 11:30 — 1:00 PM

Where... Sandra Beasley Independent Living
Center, 705 S. Oakwood Road, Suite B-1, Enid

DETAILS: The open forum will generate ideas,
recommendations, and concerns that may be
included in the 2011-2013 State Plan for
Independent Living as presented to the
Rehabilitation Services Administration by the
Oklahoma Statewide Independent Living Council
and the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation

Page 21A
This FREE program is sponsored by: The Statewide
Independent Living Council - Sandra Beasley
Independent Living Center Oklahoma Dept. of
Rehabilitative Services.

For Additional Information call: 1-800-845-8476 ext:

To schedule a ride to the meeting call: 580-237-

Sign Language interpreters will be provided

Page 21B
Muskogee Phoenix: February 25, 2010 - Page 3a

2009 Oklahoma Certified Healthy Business Awards

The Oklahoma State Department of Health recently
joined the Oklahoma Academy, The State
Chamber, and the Oklahoma Turning Point Council
in announcing 194 award winners in the 2009
Oklahoma Certified Healthy Business Program,
according to a media release.

Several area businesses and schools were listed.

The Oklahoma Certified Healthy Business Program
recognizes Oklahoma businesses that provide
health and wellness opportunities, and work to
improve the health status of Oklahomans. To be
certified, businesses must meet specific criteria,
including providing employee health screenings,
workplace health and nutrition education,
opportunities for physical exercise, management
support for a healthy workplace, tobacco use
prevention activities, and sharing wellness activities
within their respective communities. There were 46
businesses selected for Certificates of Excellence,
79 Certificates of Merit, and 57 Certificate awards.
Page 22A
A new category called the Certified Healthy
Restaurant was added this year. There were six
applications, and all received certification. Healthy
Restaurant application criteria are similar to the
business application but include healthy menu

According to the release, the program was initiated
in 2003, and so far, 688 certificates have been
awarded to businesses statewide. The three
categories are: Certificates of Excellence,
Certificates of Merit and Certificate Awards. Those
categories are broken down into groups by size as
follows: small workplaces of 1-25 employees,
medium workplaces of 26-100 employees, large
workplaces of 101-999 employees, and corporate
workplaces of 1,000 or more employees. Employer
types are grouped as education, for-profit, or non-


The following is the area list:

Cherokee County NSU Fitness Center, Certificate;
Cherokee Nation, Excellence.

Page 22B
McIntosh County Eufaula High School, Merit.

Muskogee County City of Muskogee, Excellence;
Healthcare Solutions Group, Certificate; Muskogee
Emergency Medical Service, Certificate; Oklahoma
School for the Blind, Excellence; Indian Capital
Technology, Merit; Muskogee County Health
Department, Excellence; Cherokee Nation Three
Rivers Health Center, Excellence; Muskogee Swim
And Fitness, Excellence; Yaffe Muskogee,

Wagoner County Wagoner Community Hospital,

Page 22C
Muskogee Phoenix: February 28, 2010 - Page 4a

Kelly B. Todd Center provides place for children to

Founded in 1975, the Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy
and Neuro-Muscular Center "recognizes the need
for children with motor deficits or developmental
delays to be provided the best opportunities for
moving and interacting with their families, friends,
community and environment." Their mission is "to
provide the opportunity and enable children to
achieve skills to better access the world around
them with the greatest amount of independence."

While their focus is on children, the Center provides
physical therapy services to clients of all ages from
infants to adults at no cost to their families. In
addition to working with private clients, The Center
contracts with the Sooner Start Early Intervention
program to provide in home services for infants and
toddlers from birth to three years of age with
developmental disabilities. Under a contract with the
Oklahoma School for the Blind, the Center provides
both residential and day students who have motor
disabilities in addition to visual impairment physical
therapy services at the school. The Center regularly
Page 23A
serves 50-60 patients from Muskogee and the
surrounding area including Tahlequah and Vian. Pat
Pack, physical therapist at the Center, says they try
to make therapy fun and incorporate play whenever
possible. Examples of this are the colorful jungle
gym in the main therapy room and the Wii Fit and
Wii Sports games that target balance and motor
skills. The most recent addition to the Kelly B. Todd
Center's therapy equipment is a climbing wall
funded by a grant from the East Central Electric
Cooperative Foundation. The wall provides a fun
way for both children and adults to improve strength
and increase limb coordination.

An eagerly anticipated addition to the center is the
outdoor therapeutic walking trail funded through a
grant from the City of Muskogee Foundation. While
construction has been stalled by the snow and rain
of the last few months, once the ground dries, the
trail will be completed within three weeks. The
concrete trail will allow clients to practice walking
with walkers as well as provide a smooth surface for
motorized wheelchair practice. In addition, a variety
of activity stations around the trail will provide fun
opportunities for different types of physical therapy
and exercise. Pack said individuals with motor
disabilities have an even greater need to exercise
Page 23B
than most people because of their challenges
associated with movement.

While the Center has only two full-time employees
and one part-time employee, a host of volunteers
from the community help make their work possible.
Although the volunteers do not work with clients at
the center, they provide a vital supporting role in
coordinating the Center's large annual fundraisers.
The annual walk held at Civitan Park offers games,
food, door prizes, music and lots of exciting
opportunities for the whole family to get some
exercise. Other fundraising events include the
annual golf tournament and the Christmas home

For more about the Kelly B. Todd Center, contact
Pat Pack at .

Reach Rebecca Walkup at or 683-4600.

Page 23C
Muskogee Phoenix: February 28, 2010 -Page 16d

Oklahoma School for the Blind forges ahead

The Oklahoma School for the Blind, like many
public schools, has suffered some recent budget

Nevertheless, the 24-hour residential school forges
ahead, working hard to overcome the new
limitations and continue giving the visually impaired
a chance at a better life.

Acting Superintendent Larry Hawkins also is the
superintendent at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf
in Sulphur — partly to defray expenses that may
affect the students.

Though the budget issues have not affected the
students directly at this time, he said, there are six
vacant positions that have been frozen.

The school expects even more cuts in the future,
but they are optimistic about the coming year.

Despite budget worries, students continue to thrive.
Page 24A
The wrestling team recently took second place at
the South Central Wrestling Tournament in New
Mexico, and the school boasts an outstanding
competitive jazz band, said High School Principal
Robert Warren, who is a graduate of OSB.

Students have qualified for the National Braille
Challenge in Los Angeles six times in the last five
years, and one student is participating in the Grand
Explorers program and will hike the Grand Canyon.

"We also have an awesome academic team that
competes with area schools in our conference," said
Carolyn Patocka, elementary principal. "They are
quite successful."

Visually impaired students are the same at OSB as
at any other Oklahoma public school.

How they learn may be a little different. They utilize
assistive technology such as computer screen
readers, audio books, Braillers for note taking and
much more to ensure the students receive all state
mandated education requirements.

However, OSB students receive much more.
Page 24B
The students also concentrate on skills that will
allow them to live independently, including mobility
and orientation training.

For example, Certified Orientation Mobility
Specialist Gina Woods works with students on a
daily basis on their cane techniques and
familiarizing themselves with new areas.

As part of her job, Woods follows the students up
and down stairs and through hallways and takes
them out in public for practice.

Robert Miller, the assistive technology instructor,
works with students on job interview skills in
preparation for graduation, and the school provides
events and activities for the students to bring them
into the local community.

Every year, OSB hosts Future Shock, a program in
which the high school students visit workplace
professionals and college recruiters, and become
prepared for life following high school.

Additionally, OSB hosts a summer outreach
program for adults who have lost their vision later in
Page 24C
The Adult Blind Living Evaluation program hosts
four-week sessions for those adults to live on
campus and learn new living skills that includes
everything from operating a microwave to improved
mobility and orientation.

But because of the recent budget cuts, the school
will only be able to offer four one-week sessions this
summer, Hawkins said.

Still, the program is extremely helpful.

"We've done this in the past and had just wonderful
testimonials from the attendees of these camps,"
Hawkins said.

Neither Hawkins nor the principals plan to allow
budget shortfalls to affect their students.

"Some may think we have quite a big budget for a
little over 100 students," Hawkins said.

However, the school runs three shifts around the
clock and transports students all over the state
every weekend.

"When you look at these factors, our budget is not
Page 24D
out of line," Hawkins said.

The school serves children from 37 counties and
transports them home every Friday afternoon, and
picks them each up again on Sunday.

"We think it's worth it for those kids to get to go
home every weekend," Hawkins said.

Story continued on next page

Page 24E
Sunia Hassan, 14, of Broken Arrow works with her
BrailleNote PDA, one of the many technology
resources the students at School for the Blind can

Page 25
Tulsa World: February 28, 2010 -Page 9d

Speak easy, the deaf will understand

Kaye Hughes didn't have to hear the phone ring.
Muffy would let her know.

Hughes' cat would touch her cheek when someone
called. And when the doorbell rang, Muffy pawed
Hughes' shoulder.

"The funny thing is, she didn't start doing it until
after my husband died — explain that," said
Hughes, who has a phone that flashes a light when
calls come in. Otherwise, she wouldn't know.

Hughes is among the one in every 10 people who
are hard of hearing, according to Total Source for
Hearing-loss and Access. A United Way nonprofit
agency, TSHA provides comprehensive services to
the deaf and hard of hearing throughout Oklahoma
— 27,640 in 2008 alone.

One of the organization's crucial functions is
offering a support system — a lifeline, in some
cases — to a community of individuals who often
feel isolated because of their disability.
Page 26A
To continue offering that lifeline, TSHA will host its
only annual fundraiser, "Souper Sunday," at the
Spirit-Bank Event Center. More than 20 local
restaurants will be serving delicious treats, and a
silent auction will be held.

Cody Francisco will be going, as he has the last 20
years. He enjoys the variety of soups, which
introduce him to restaurants he's yet to visit. But
more importantly, he enjoys seeing hearing and
deaf individuals interact with each other, said
Francisco, who is deaf.

Of the one in 10 people who have hearing loss, one
in six of those are deaf individuals, said Diana
Higgins, spokeswoman for TSHA. Also, among the
65-and-older population, almost one in three has a
hearing loss.

"So if hearing loss doesn't touch you or someone
you love now, chances are good that one day it
will," Higgins said.

Deaf, not blind

"Sometimes, I feel like I have to wear a name tag
that says, 'My name is D-E-A-F," said Francisco,
Page 26B
who has been deaf since childhood.

Growing up, "it was all about being normal," he
said. As a young student, the focus was on his
speech so he could function in a hearing world. He
didn't even have an interpreter until his sixth grade
year — whereupon his grades improved

"Some people think 'deaf and dumb,' " he said.
Some seem surprised he went to college. For the
record, he has a bachelor's degree in social work
and a master's in counseling from Rochester
Institute of Technology in New York. He went to
school there because they have a mainstream
program with the National Technical Institute for the

By the way, being deaf doesn't mean he can't see.
After moving back to Tulsa from New York, he
pulled into a Taco Bell drive through and right on to
the second pick-up window. He gestured that he
couldn't hear to an employee, who retrieved the
restaurant's manager. More gestures followed, the
guy left for a moment and came back with a Braille
menu — for Francisco, who was sitting behind the
wheel of a car.
Page 26C
Don't get him started on the Mexican restaurant
experience when he advised management that 12
hearing-impaired people would be dining there —
and all 12 showed up to see Braille menus set at
the table.

And when you run into him dining out, "talk
normally," he said. We learned that lesson the hard
way — overemphasizing our pronunciation during
the interview, as if that helped. For the record, it

"I love it when people say, `You don't look deaf,' "
she said.”How the heck am I supposed to look?"

Hughes, who wears a hearing aid that you wouldn't
be able to see because of how she wears her hair,
started experiencing hearing loss when she was 38,
she said. She'd answer questions incorrectly, and
some of her friends started telling her she had

"Because I can't hear, I'm not as social as I used to
be because I can't follow everyone's conversation,"
she said. In group situations, "when they know you
can't hear, they don't direct anything at you. They
talk to everyone but you."
Page 26D
Keeping up with conversations at family events,
church groups or company gatherings where
everyone is hearing is taxing.

"Usually, within five minutes of an event, I'm ready
to leave because I can't keep up with everyone's
talking overlapping and saying random things,"
Francisco said.

This can lead to feelings of isolation, as some folks
with hearing loss don't have a place to go, Hughes

All you have is someone else who's been in the
same situation.

That's where TSHA comes in, providing not only
educational support groups and social opportunities
for those with hearing loss, but a bridge between
their world and the hearing one.

Giving a voice

"TSHA helps the hearing community hear the voice
of the deaf community," Higgins said. They
advocate for the deaf man who sat in jail for days
without being told why he was held, and the deaf
Page 26E
hospital patient who doesn't know what the doctors
around her are saying.

The agency can provide interpreting services that
will provide opportunities to know and understand
everything going on, like workshops or concerts,
Francisco said.

They also offer laid-back and fun sign classes, he
continued. For example, Francisco's neighbors
know he's deaf, so they're aware he can't hear
conversations during the summer while they're all
hanging out at the neighborhood pool.

But thanks to TSHA, his neighbors are able to take
sign classes, which helps Francisco feel like a part
of his own neighborhood community.

He and Hughes lend their hands, too. Hughes, for
instance, helps Higgins lead the Tulsa Hearing
Helpers group 10-11:30 a.m. the second Thursday
of each month, she said. Speakers are scheduled,
and anyone can attend to discuss a problem they
have — be they hearing or not.

Soon, Francisco will be a community outreach
specialist for the state, traveling Oklahoma to
Page 26F
educate people about deaf services and culture, he
said. He'll also teach the deaf and hard of hearing
about their rights.

"Just because I'm deaf doesn't mean I can't do," he
said. "It's not as easy as it seems, but we work
really hard living in this hearing world.”

Page 26G


What: TSHA fundraiser with soups from local
restaurants, plus silent auction

When: 3:30-6 p.m. March 7

Where: SpiritBank Event Center,

10441 S. Regal Blvd.

Tickets: $20 in advance for 12 and older, $10,
children 6-11; free for 5 and younger. Tickets at
door $23. To reserve ticket in advance, call 832-

Cody Francisco (left), who is profoundly deaf, and
Kaye Hughes, who is severely hard of hearing,
discuss the challenges that they face on a daily
basis. Both find help at the nonprofit agency Total
Source for Hearing-loss and Access.

Page 27

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