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OKLAHOMA REHABILITATION COUNCIL 2008 ANNUAL REPORT


3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824
(405) 951-3482 V/TTY 
(405) 951-3532 Fax
www.okrehabcouncil.org
thamrick@drs.state.ok.us

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Special Thanks to Director Linda Parker Director Linda Parker will be retiring from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services December 31, 2008 after 13 years of dedicated service to the agency and 35 years to the state. Her accomplishments include managing a staff of 900 with a budget totaling $139 million. Her services to the agency are greatly appreciated. She will be missed. Director Parker began her state service with the Disability Determination Unit. During her tenure with that unit, she was promoted to a series of positions, including examiner supervisor, programs supervisor and programs assistant administrator. She also managed the Quality Assurance and Disability Hearings Unit and coordinated activities for the Receiving and Transmitting Unit, the switchboard, the Case Control Unit, Medical Claims Processing and Teletype and Computer Services. In 1996, Parker was appointed director of the Department after working her way up through the ranks. She served as DRS’ first administrator for the Administrative Services Division. Her contributions have been recognized by many professional organizations, including a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Social Security Administration, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Society for Public Administration, and the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association and the Commission for Rehabilitation Services, which governs the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. She has served as a board member for Project Woman and several disability councils, including the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council and the State Independent Living Council, and was a board member of the Governor’s Transformation Advisory Board, Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. Director Parker, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council wishes you success and happiness in your future endeavors. The DRS Commission held a nationwide search for applicants to fulfill this position. In August 2008 it was announced that Dr. Mike O’Brien was offered the position of Director for the DRS agency. He will come on board as Director Designee in December 2008 and
will take the position of Director in January 2009.

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3535 NW 58th Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824
December 17, 2008

Dear Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council:
I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council - ORC since 2001 to September, 2008 as I completed my last term. During this time, I served as Chair for 2 years and Vice Chair for 1 year. I have met so many individuals serving on the ORC during my services that has provided invaluable insight and contributions to improve the lives of Oklahomans with disabilities. We all experienced periods of frustration and concerns as we fulfilled the obligations of serving as a member of the ORC appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma. We dealt with everything from priority group opening and closing, economic trends and changes in policies and guidelines. One of the most important things we all agreed on was the right to disagree and have respect for those differing points of view. In retrospect of past years on the ORC, as the saying goes, “we’ve come a long ways baby”. Over the years we also lost members due to unexpected circumstances and we still miss and remember their contributions. I hope that the members that I had the honor to serve with on the ORC really understand the effects of your contributions and that you do have an impact on Oklahomans with a disability. Whether it was through a policy revision or just a question that you asked, you and your fellow council members are to be commended for a job well done! I submit this with the utmost respect for the members that I served with from 2001-2008.
B.J. Nevels
Member from 2001-2008
Chair-2006-2008
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

 

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500 

 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73112-4824

(405) 951-3482 V/TTY   (405) 951-3532 Fax

www.okrehabcouncil.org

thamrick@drs.state.ok.us

Mission

The mission of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is to facilitate consumer education and empowerment, to assure services are of high quality, and lead to employment of individuals with disabilities within Oklahoma.

Purpose

In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which reauthorized the Rehabilitation Act and changed the Rehabilitation Advisory Council (RAC) to the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Section 105, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is to advise the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) regarding the operation and delivery of rehabilitation services.

The major purpose of the Council is laid out in the Rehabilitation Act, Section 105, which includes, among other items, the following:

  •       To encourage the personal and vocational growth and development of individuals with disabilities
  •       To promote barrier-free access for persons with disabilities; and
  •      To ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities in their communities.

This document contains information highlighting the working partnership and accomplishments of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, and other stakeholders. 

Structure

DRS contracts with Seretean Wellness Center at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for the provision of the staff support services for the ORC as set forth in Section 105 and Section 4.2 of the State Plan of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  The Director of Sponsored Programs at the Seretean Wellness Center hires, supervises, and evaluates a full time Program Manager position for the daily operations of the council.  In addition, OSU manages all contractual financial obligations of the council.  In turn, DRS provided in-kind services of office space, phone and computer access to the council staff. 

To request additional copies or alternate formats of this publication or for more information about the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council please contact:

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

3535 NW 58th Street  

  Oklahoma City, OK  73112-4824

Voice: (800) 569-7974

www.okrehabcouncil.org

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

Duties as Cited in the Act

  •      Review, analyze and advise the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services regarding the performance of its responsibilities, particularly those related to eligibility (order of selection); the extent, scope and effectiveness of services provided; and the functions of State agencies that affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment outcomes.
  •      In partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, develop, agree to, and review state goals and priorities and evaluate the effectiveness of the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program and submit reports of progress to the commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
  •      Advise the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services regarding activities authorized to be carried out and assist in the preparation of the state plan and amendments to the plan applications, reports, needs assessments, and evaluations.
  •     Conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation services and consumer satisfaction.
  •      Prepare and submit an annual review to the Governor and the Commissioner of RSA on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within the State.
  •      Coordinate the work of the Council with the activities of other disability related councils.
  •      Establish working relationships between the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Centers for Independent Living within Oklahoma.

Establishment of the ORC

The Council was established in 1993 as mandated by the 1992 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 102-569).  The ORC was originally established as the State Rehabilitation Advisory Council (SRAC) to advise the designated State agency regarding its performance in providing vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities.  The passage of the 1998 Amendments to the Act changed the Council’s name to the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council.

Year in Review

Executive Committee

Chairperson – BJ Nevels

  •      During FY 07 the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, as a result of a budget shortfall, had to implement Order of Selection on Priority Groups II (significant) and III (less significant).  In January 2008, the Executive Committee met with the Department of Rehabilitation (DRS) Division Administrators to discuss the financial need to close Priority Group I (most significant).  This meant all applicants were placed on a waiting list until the Order of Selection was rescinded.  DRS staff continued to provide vocational rehabilitation and employment services for the 13,803 clients on existing Individual Plans of Employment.  In addition to closing all Priority Groups, the agency implemented additional budgetary limits on various expenditures such as travel, hiring, and agency equipment.  Counselors were encouraged to seek all comparable benefits available to clients.  Additionally, enrollment in higher education was restricted to no more than 12 semester hours and no summer school.  Clients could seek exemptions to these limits based on individual circumstances.  Priority Group I was closed on February 26, 2008. 
  •      On September 16, 2008, Priority Group I (most significant) reopened.  The waiting list of approximately 1,286 for both VR and VS clients Priority Group I were to be contacted first prior to making a public announcement.
  •      There are approximately 1,172 individuals with significant disabilities and 986 with a less significant disability on the waiting list.

Policy and Legislative Committee

Chairperson – Milissa Gofourth

The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with DRS Public Information Office with Disability Awareness Day 2008 at the State Capitol.  The theme for 2008 was “One in Five” meaning one in every five Oklahomans has a disability, most individuals having more than one disability.  Policy and Legislative Committee members provided training to participants on legislative advocacy, as well as facilitating communication while visiting with their legislators.  Some ORC members had exhibit booths at the event for their organizational affiliation connecting them with the Council.  

  •      The Policy and Legislative Committee continued its collaboration with DRS in the implementation of the Consumer Success Story.  The purpose of the Consumer Success Story is to allow the consumer to voluntarily share how DRS has helped them gain independence. Upon case closure, Rehabilitation Techs across the State are responsible for dissemination and collection of the success stories, which are then sent to DRS’s Public Information Office, and copies are shared with the ORC.  The ORC utilized this information, which was shared with Congressional members in Washington, DC, at the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) 2008 spring conference during legislative session visits.  Although many informational brochures and fact sheets were included in the legislative packet, the consumer success stories from their voting constituents had the most impact. 
  •      ORC staff and several ORC members participated in the CSAVR spring conference in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the fall 2007 conference in San Antonio, Texas.  While in the D.C. area, visits were made ‘On the Hill’ and informational packets, prepared by the Policy and Legislative Committee were shared with the Oklahoma delegation.  Packets contained information on the various DRS programs, as well as US Census Bureau information regarding prevalence of disabilities in Oklahoma, statistical information regarding the number of clients serviced by DRS, and position papers on the Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) including the Rehabilitation Act.  Additional information was shared regarding partnering programs including Oklahoma ABLE Tech and Oklahoma AgrAbility Project. 
  •      One of the key legislative initiatives has been to work with the DRS staff Legislative Coordinator to increase relationships with local U.S. Congressional District offices in Oklahoma.  This was achieved through a collaborative effort with ORC members and DRS staff.  Congressional staffers were provided with packets of information regarding DRS services and resources available to their constituents.  This was an overwhelming success and established an enhanced working relationship in which legislator staffers call upon the ORC for information on disability related issues.    
  •     The committee continued its involvement with the DRS Re-Engineering Committee, which reviewed and analyzed agency policy to make appropriate recommendations for change to the DRS Commission.  The Committee met regularly and had a significant impact with proposed policy changes.  Several Policy and Legislative Committee members chaired subcommittees or led research studies.  A continuing goal of this work group is to review and better align the Department’s policies with the Rehabilitation Act’s regulations.  Another benefit from this collaboration, of allowing the ORC and Client Assistance Program involvement from the beginning, has been a better understanding of barriers clients are facing with proposed changes to policy.
  •      The committee continues to update the Advocacy Tool Box located on the ORC’s website.  This tool box assists novice advocates in finding their legislative representatives, how to contact representatives, how to discuss issues with them, and how to create fact sheets.  ORC staff continues to maintain this website as legislative members change and as issues arise.  This Advocacy Tool Box has been presented nationally at conferences.  Several other SRCs have adopted this Advocacy Tool Box and host it on their websites.
  •      The committee assisted DRS in its preparation of the State Plan.  Committee members sought input from a variety of agencies and entities that DRS collaborated with on an ongoing basis.  Committee members reviewed, edited and provided format recommendations to DRS prior to its submittal to the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).  Additionally, the ORC co sponsored three public hearings on the State Plan prior to its submission to RSA.  Flyers were developed and mailed and many contacts made in an attempt to increase awareness and attendance at the Public Hearings.

Planning and Program Committee

Chairperson – Doug MacMillan, Jr.

  •      In FFY08 DRS reported the following FY07 data to the ORC,
  •       2,247 Oklahomans with disabilities joined or re-joined the workforce through career counseling, education and purchase of specialized equipment.   Within this number 1,897 were individuals with significant disabilities.
  •       DRS provided vocational rehabilitation and employment services to 10,955 individuals.
  •       DRS renovated and expanded the Disability Resource Guide.  The guide shares disability information on the local, state and national level comprised of more than 3,000 entries.  The guide is available on-line at www.okdrs.gov.  It includes information on housing and legal issues, as well as, where to find adaptive clothing or equipment, or just acquire information on specific diseases or conditions.
  •      Comprehensive Needs Assessment

The ORC expressed concerns to the agency that previous comprehensive needs assessment (CNA) instruments have not been comprehensive.  Therefore, the ORC recommended that DRS outsource the CNA in an effort to get a wide-ranging perspective on the needs of Oklahomans with disabilities.  This recommendation was included in the DRS State Plan for FFY08.  Realizing the Agency had been under an Order of Selection, due to a fiscal shortage, the ORC instead recommended the agency consider cost saving methodology of reviewing CNAs from other states and developing a CNA for Oklahoma. 

  •      Evaluating Rehabilitation Services in Oklahoma:  An Analysis of Program Impacts and Benefits/Costs

DRS collaborated with the College of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma to have an analysis of the program impact and benefits study.  The report presented the findings of a new impact study and benefit-cost analysis of DRS.  The research and evaluation unit within The University of Oklahoma Outreach conducted this evaluation. 

The results suggest that for every dollar invested in DRS services, on average, 2.3 dollars are returned to the public in increased taxes and reduced public assistance, if individuals continue to experience the earnings increase for ten years after case closure.  If the average individual continues to experience the same earnings gain over an estimated 30-year work lifetime, 5.3 dollars will be returned to taxpayers for every dollar invested.  For every dollar invested in DRS services, on average, participants receive $15 in benefits over their work life.  Thus, the ratio of participant benefits to dollars invested is 15 to 1.

  •      Consumer Satisfaction Survey

The Rehabilitation Act requires that the State Rehabilitation Council assess vocational rehabilitation services for effectiveness and consumer satisfaction.  Each year the ORC works with DRS on the consumer satisfaction survey.  Surveys were mailed to 2,268 randomly selected individuals who had received vocational rehabilitation services.  The survey was returned by 411 individuals with a return rate of 18.1%.  The FY08 survey results had a 77.6% overall satisfaction with consumers, which was a 1.7% decrease from the previous year.  The survey statements experiencing the greatest increase of 2.5% in agreement were the following three areas:  “I participated fully in the development of my Individual Plan for Employment”, “I was informed of the services that were available”, and “I was happy with the way I was treated”.  The survey statements experiencing the greatest decrease were the following three areas:  -1.7% drop in “Overall, I am satisfied with the services I received”, -1.1% drop in “The Vocational Rehabilitation and/or Visual Services staff returned my telephone calls in a timely manner”, and -1.4% drop in “My counselor assisted me in connecting to other agencies and services that I needed.”  DRS has required counselors to make contact with each client every 90 days at a minimum in attempt to address this consumer satisfaction problem area. 

Other findings were positive, and neutral comments praised the variety of services offered, service provision methods, contract services providers, and DRS staff.  Consumers often thanked specific staff and attributed program progress and success to them. 

Negative comments focused most often on a general lack of contact or action by staff, feelings of disrespect on the part of DRS staff toward consumers, disappointment regarding costs of services or slow service provisions, as well as an overall frustration with the inability to obtain gainful employment upon completion of the program.

Transition and Employment

Chairperson – Kim Nickerson Osmani

  •      The committee recommended for DRS to hire an Educational Consultant.  This individual will inform and involve stakeholders and DRS staff on transition issues throughout the State.  The Transition and Employment Committee collaborated with DRS in the development of the Educational Consultant’s job responsibilities, the interviews of candidates and the selection process.  Committee members will assist the new position in any way possible.  The new Educational Consultant will act as DRS staff liaison to the Transition and Employment Committee.
  •      The committee members again assisted the DRS transition units with their section of the State Plan.  A great deal of time and effort was provided to assist in the creation of goals, objectives, and activities to improve future transition services.
  •      The committee continued their participation with the Oklahoma Transition Council, a multiagency collaboration with the lead being DRS and the State Department of Education.  The purpose the Council is to promote enhanced transition outcomes for secondary and post-secondary youth with disabilities.   In addition, the committee participated in the Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI) as team members.  Therefore, committee members are in a position to encourage DRS to maintain an active role in the Oklahoma Transition Council.  Committee members and ORC staff participated in the planning, development and implementation of the annual statewide Transition Institute.  OTI teams were assigned to regions statewide according to geographical location and school districts and are expected to meet as needed to complete their plans.  OTI teams are invited to present their projects at ORC quarterly meetings. The 2008 OTI statewide meeting grew to more than 500 participants and more than 30 teams participating.

Other ORC Initiatives

  •      Assistive Technology Ad-hoc Committee

During the ORC Strategic Planning meeting in May of 2008, members addressed concerns regarding the quality of assistive technology services provided throughout the state.  After a lengthy discussion the Visuals Services Administrator asked the ORC to study the issue through an ad-hoc committee. 

Membership of the committee includes four ORC members, the ORC Program Manager, three VS AT Specialists, three VR AT Specialists, and other DRS staff.  The committee began by studying the barriers that clients face when receiving assistive technology services including evaluation, procurement, training, and on-going support.  Based on the broad array of assistive technology, the committee has narrowed the discussion to concentrate on computer access.  The committee’s intent is to provide DRS with their findings and possible recommendations.

  •      DRS Re-Engineering Committee

The DRS Re-Engineering Committee consists of DRS staff, the Client Assistance Program (CAP), and the ORC.  The Re-Engineering Committee is charged with reviewing policy issues for the agency.  The committee met on an as needed basis to provide the agency with proposed policy revisions.

The ORC sought community input from program participants, advocates, employers, educators and other stakeholders through three Public Hearings. They were co-hosted by DRS and the ORC on February 4, 2008 in Oklahoma City, February 5, 2008 in Lawton, and February 6, 2008 in Tulsa.  ORC made the following comments on the proposed policy changes for FY08:

  •      Definitions: The ORC supports the deletion of “Core Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services” within the definition and throughout the policies.  This policy change will align DRS policy with the Rehabilitation Act Federal Regulation. The deletion of the word “supportive” services as part of the definitions for Maintenance and Transportation, supports the alignment to the Federal Regulations.  
  •       Overview of Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services: The language changes throughout the Department’s policies from severe to significant are a positive move toward alignment with the Rehabilitation Act. 
  •      Quality Assurance caseload reviews: The ORC compliments the addition of the Quality Assurance policy to reflect the need of the Quality Assurance Unit to ensure uniform application of policies to all consumers and the ability to identify training needs. 
  •       Private transportation: The ORC strongly opposes the proposed change on the transportation payment to clients from 100% of the state travel reimbursement rate to a negotiated rate up to 50% of the rate.  The state travel reimbursement rate is established to allow individuals that use private vehicles an allotment that would cover the cost of fuel, routine maintenance, and repairs based on miles traveled.  The Federal Regulations to the Rehabilitation Act §361.5(b)57 states, “Transportation means travel and related expenses that are necessary to enable an applicant or eligible individual to participate in a vocational rehabilitation service, including expenses for training in the use of public transportation vehicles and systems.”  To reduce the payment will negatively impact the consumer’s ability to fully participate in their plan.  In 2002, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) conducted a statewide survey to explore the nature of transportation needs and problems experienced by citizens with disabilities and to learn how transportation issues affect their lives, including their ability to work.  Of the 3,856 surveyed, a majority (58.3%) of respondents considered transportation to be a major or significant problem in their lives.  Additionally, the term “negotiates” used in the policy, assumes the consumer has the ability to communicate their needs in order to reach an effective compromise or agreement.  This places an undue burden on many consumers that are not skilled in advocating for their needs. 
  •       Self-Employment/Business Plans: By allowing the provision of assistive technology to be separate from start-up costs and equipment will enhance the opportunity for individuals to seek a self-employment outcome. 
  •       DRS Monitoring: To have the counselor evaluate the outcome performance of a self-employed consumer to be based on the abilities to perform activities for 90 days instead of earning at least minimum wage for 90 days is more appropriate for self-employment conditions of success.
  •      State Plan

Annually, members of the ORC perform an important role in assisting and advising DRS with preparation of the state plan for vocational rehabilitation and supported employment.  The state plan is a document that assures the federal government that DRS will operate its vocational rehabilitation and supported employment program in accordance with provisions of the plan, as well as, federal statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements.  Approval of the state plan results in allocation of federal funds for the DRS programs.

ORC’s input is vital in the preparation of the state plan as its recommendations encompass those issues, policies and practices they deem paramount to successful operation of the state/federal partnership.  During ORC meetings, members receive updates about DRS programs and activities through presentations and reports from DRS staff.  This communication further serves to strengthen the partnership. 

Due to the restructuring from RSA, DRS took on the large task of revamping their entire state plan.  ORC spent considerable time participating in the development of each step in creating this new document, which included the development of goals and objectives.  Several of the ORC committees met with DRS staff to assist in the development of specific areas within the state plan.  ORC made several recommendations regarding the state plan, most of which were accepted.  ORC’s attachment 4.2 (c) of the state plan was adjusted to include goals and objectives.  Attachment 4.2 (c) was the instrument used in creating the ORC’s FFY08 strategic plan and assignments for each committee.  During FY08, DRS and the ORC co-hosted public hearings on the state plan, which were held on May 19th in Tulsa; May 20th in Lawton; and May 21st in Oklahoma City.  All public hearings are held at facilities that are accessible and are on public bus routes.  The public hearings were held during the RSA monitoring visit that they attended in Lawton.  There was a good turnout of consumers who testified as to the impact DRS services has had on the success of their lives. 

  •      Transportation Coalition

The council continues to support the mission and goals of Oklahomans for Public Transportation (OPT) Advocacy Group and partners as an advocate for increased public transportation throughout Oklahoma.  ORC staff and council members continue to work with various committees and groups to educate and inform state officials of this immense barrier to individuals with disabilities.

The ORC continues to work on the United We Ride Project.  The Oklahoma United We Ride council has been appointed by the Governor to coordinate the most appropriate and cost effective service that can be accomplished through the coordination or consolidation of human service transportation resources.

  •      Annual Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol

“One in Five” was the theme for Disability Awareness Day 2008 at the State Capitol.  Over 420 people attended this ORC and DRS co-sponsored annual event, about 40 more than 2007.  During the 2008 event, a component included a training by ORC members on Legislative Advocacy for participants before they met with their legislative representatives.  Thanks to the training, consumers and disability advocates had the opportunity to confidently inform their legislators about disability issues and concerns.  In addition to co-sponsoring the event, ORC members and staff participated on the planning committee and served as legislative leaders and guides. 

“One in Five” or 480,000 Oklahomans has at least one disability.  The purpose of Disability Awareness Day is to make State Senators and Representatives more aware of the employment and educational needs of Oklahomans with disabilities.  To build interest in the upcoming day, ORC members delivered constituent’s success stories to the legislator’s office prior to the event.  ORC provided attendees with a button which identified the “One in Five” theme of the event.  This assisted legislators and staff to identify DRS supporters and disability advocates during office visits.  The success of this event is evidenced by the amount of support and attendance shown by individuals with disabilities and other agencies. 

  •      Meet The Candidate Forum

The ORC partnered with the Heartland Council of the Blind to plan, develop and co-host the second “Meet the Candidate” forum.  More than 26 candidates from the Oklahoma City metro area attended to speak to more than 100 attendees focused on disability issues.  The 2008 forum had 8 more candidates than the previous event.  Prior to the event, candidates were provided information on the top disability issues, as well as, 2005 US Census information regarding Oklahomans with disabilities.  Several candidates suggested the ORC provide further training on key disability issues to the newly elected officials.  Candidates valued the event by expressing their desires to receive future invitations.  They recognized the importance in communication with this constituent group on disability related issues.  

  •      National SRC Effort

Historically, the ORC has been a strong supporter and actively involved in the National Coalition for State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC).  NCSRC created a strong national advocacy voice for the public vocational rehabilitation system and allows the SRCs the opportunity to establish a mechanism for ongoing training and sharing best practices.  Oklahoma is a member of the National SRC Steering Committee, serves as treasurer, and works on several sub-committees.  ORC presented, at both the spring and fall meetings held before the CSAVR national meetings, on best practices of creating a working relationship with the designated state unit and how to collaborate on the creation of the state plan.  The ORC was also involved in writing the best practice document on collaborating on creating the state plan which will be available on the NCSRC website in 2009.

  •      Social Security Training and Webinar

During 2008, the ORC held a training on “Understanding Social Security Work Incentives and More” for staff from various agencies that provide information and referral regarding social security issues, as well as, for all U.S. congressional district office  staff.  Quality training was provided by the Area Work Incentive Coordinator of the Social Security Administration, as well as, the Professional Relations Coordinator from the Social Security Disability Determination Division.  Success is evident by the evaluation score of 4.9 on a scale of 5.0.  A participant comment included, “Outstanding training.  Instructors were all excellent and extremely knowledgeable.  Their willingness to take questions throughout was also exceptionally helpful, and I think it gave us all a better grasp on the complex subject matter.  I certainly benefited from the questions others asked and the responses to my own questions.  What I learned will be especially helpful as I deal with consumer inquiries and legislative issues bearing on SSDI, SSI and other related work incentives matters.”

Due to limited seating at this event, many DRS staff were unable to attend.  In an effort to meet a great need in the agency for social security training, ORC is hosting the same training via webinar to all VR/VS counselor or teacher staff, all staff with the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Programs and graduate students in the master’s degree program for vocational rehabilitation.  The 2009 webinar will allow all participants to take the course at their own work station, saving the agency money on training and travel expenses. 

  •      RSA Monitoring Visit

Oklahoma’s monitoring visit with Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) was held in May 2008.  ORC maintained involvement during the entire monitoring process, which included conference calls prior to the visit, initial meeting with all stakeholders, as well as the exit meeting.  In addition, ORC met with RSA during the site visit regarding various projects and initiatives of the ORC.  The ORC will assist the agency to address any technical assistance area RSA deemed needing attention.  

  •      Council Structure

During 2008, the ORC fulfilled all membership requirements of Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act with appointments by the Governor.  The Council had 18 members, 3 being ex-officio, nonvoting members from DRS.  Of the voting members, the council had 60% representation from persons with disabilities.  The council members are a cross-section of individuals with disabilities who have a stake in vocational rehabilitation services.  Members serve three-year terms. 

The council structure includes Chair, Vice-Chair and three members at-large as executive committee members.  Each member of the executive committee holds the position of chair on a committee.  As a request of the ORC, the agency has assigned a staff liaison to each committee that acts as content specialist to that committee.

  •     Quarterly Meetings

The council met quarterly during FFY08, which is in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act requiring four meetings per year.  Meeting dates were:

November 15, 2007

February 21, 2008

May 1, 2008 (Strategic Planning Retreat)

May 15, 2008

August 21, 2008

Sub-committees met as needed throughout the year to complete their tasks outlined in the ORC Strategic Plan.

  •      Additional Projects and Activities
  •       ORC staff continues to work with the Director and Deputy Director of Appointments with the Governor’s office on council appointments. Oklahoma has a small waiting time for appointments to be processed.
  •      ORC members and staff continue to attend in the Statewide Independent Living Council quarterly meetings.
  •       ORC members held a yearly retreat to create the Strategic Plan for activities that were outlined in the FFY09 DRS State Plan Section 4.2 (c).  This strategic plan included goals, objectives, activities, tasks and committee assignments.
  •       ORC responded to requests for information regarding DRS services and to consumer complaints, referring them to the appropriate services manager, to the Client Assistance Program, appropriate agency, or support group.
  •       ORC members attended the Governor’s Council on Workforce & Economic Development meetings and participated in all DRS commission meetings.
  •       ORC met quarterly with DRS administrators.
  •       ORC conducted ongoing membership recruitment at public events. 
  •       ORC staff continues to present at the New Employee Academy so new staff will be introduced to the mandates and responsibilities of the ORC as outlined in the Rehabilitation Act.
  •        ORC worked closely with the Client Assistance Program, Native American VR Programs, State Independent Living Council and other advocacy groups.
  •        ORC members and staff attended and exhibited at various disability related workshops and conferences throughout the state. 
  •       ORC staff attended disability related trainings, workshops and conferences throughout the state. 
  •      ORC staff serves on the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Assistive Technology Advisory Council and participates in meetings.
  •      ORC staff serves as a board member on the Projects for Emergency Medical Services for Seniors (POEMSS), attends meetings, serves on several sub-committees and chairs educational conference committee.  POEMSS hosted its 3rd annual educational conference for professionals and others working with individuals who are elderly or have a disability.  The POEMSS members also presented to several advocacy disability groups throughout the state.

Closing

In closing, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council continues to value its partnership with the state agency and actively works to be recognized and utilized by DRS as a resourceful advocate.  The membership of the Council is committed to learn the systemic issues faced by DRS and how they impact the quality of successful employment outcomes for persons with disabilities.  Fiscal year 2008, had many challenges in continuing quality services due to fiscal problems, which resulted in the closing of all priority groups for eight months of the year.  The need for services will not diminish in the future when you consider the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 54.4 Americans with disabilities.  It is evident that we have significant work ahead.  The ORC will continue to align efforts to ensure Oklahomans with disabilities receive services in the most effective and efficient method possible.  

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Members

Cathy Bates
Advocate
Yukon, OK

Marilyn Burr – Member-at-large
CAP Director
Office of Disability Concerns
Norman, OK

Glenda Farnum
Advocate
Oklahoma City, OK

Cindy Gallup
Social Worker
Stratford, OK

Milissa Gofourth - Committee Chair
Program Manager
Oklahoma ABLE Tech
Stillwater, OK

Kathleen Kennedy
Advocate
Edmond, OK

Sterling Krysler
Krysler Consulting
Oklahoma City, OK

Doug MacMillan Jr. – Committee Chair
Executive Director
OK One-Call System
Oklahoma City, OK

Hailey Mathis
Advocate
Tuttle, OK

B.J. Nevels - Council Chair
Veterans Administration
Norman, OK

Kim Osmani– Vice & Committee Chair
Associate State Director
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Special Education Services
Norman, OK

Tim Parrish
Fleet Administrator
Teppco Oil
Oklahoma City, OK

Jon Ringlero
Director
Delaware Tribe Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Norman, OK

Kathleen Kennedy
Advocate
Edmond, OK

Katrina Shaklee
Asst. Director of Disabled Sports and Events
University of Central Oklahoma
Edmond, OK

Sabrina Ware – Member-at-large
Coordinator, Employment & Training
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, Inc.
Tulsa, OK

Sue Williams
Vocational Rehablitation Specialist Visual Services
Weatherford, OK

Linda Parker
Director
Department of Rehabilitation Services
Oklahoma City, OK

 

OSU - Seretean Wellness Center Staff

Theresa Hamrick                                              
ORC Program Manager                                       

Linda Jaco
Director of Sponsored Programs