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OKLAHOMA REHABILITATION COUNCIL Fiscal Year 2009 ANNUAL REPORT 

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The Prevailing Winds

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

Special Welcome to Dr. Mike O’Brien, Director

Dr. Michael O'Brien, CRC, CVE, became the Executive Director for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services January 1, 2009. He came to Oklahoma with a vast amount of experience and expertise having worked in both private and public rehabilitation. He is currently a Commissioner and chairs the Standards Committee and serves on the Exam and Research Committee for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. He is a three time Institute for Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) National Scholar and a two time Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation Service Award recipient. He is a published author and has more than 120 international, national, regional, and state presentations and publications to his credit. 

In his brief tenure as the agency director, Dr. O’Brien has accomplished the following:

  • Visited with every employee of the five divisions of the agency (approximately 1100 individuals) to share his vision and gather input from the field.
  •  Reorganization of the agency in three critical areas of leadership, training, and structural changes in order to assure informed customer choice.
  •  The structural changes included the creation of the following new teams:
    •  Benefit Planners that are to be co-located within specified Workforce Centers
    •  Cold Case team will reconnect consumers to employment outcomes
    •  Innovation Team will problem solve policy issues and generate new projects
  •  Eliminated all priority group waiting lists.
  •  The agency was one of a handful of Oklahoma state agencies that did not experience a cut in their 2010 state budget.

Letter from the ORC Chair

3535 NW 58th Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824

November 10, 2009
Dear Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council:
I believe that quality rehabilitation services can positively change the lives of Oklahomans with disabilities. Therefore, when I accepted the position as chair of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council I was very motivated to make a difference. 

My focus as chair was to improve the efforts of the ORC through enhanced organizational structure. Under my leadership I believe the ORC has created a more defined systemic approach to their duties. The creation of the Standard Operational Procedures has set a path for the ORC staff, committee chairs and members to guide them through the day-to-day operation. The SOP improves communication, outlines responsibilities with timelines and ensures the agency that ORC is prepared for all of its partnering activities. In addition, the new Director has provided ORC Program Manager and me standing appointments which allows for open discussion on the successes and the challenges the agency is facing. This has created a win/win situation for the ORC and the agency. It has been a privilege to serve as Chair and I look forward to another year in this role.
Sincerely,
Milissa Gofourth Chair, Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

OKLAHOMA REHABILITATION COUNCIL
3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500 . Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824
(405) 951-3579 V/TTY (405) 951-3532 Fax
www.okrehabcouncil.org
thamrick@okdrs.gov

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 and made it a partner with the State agency.

YEAR IN REVIEW COUNCIL STRUCTURE

During 2009, 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 67% 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. The ORC created standard operating procedures to assist members with expectations of members and officers. This will be used in the recruitment of future members as well as orientation of new members.

Quarterly Meetings

In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act the council met quarterly during FFY09 and held an annual strategic planning meeting. Meeting dates were:
November 19, 2008
February 19, 2009
April 3, 2009
May 21, 2009
August 20, 2009

Sub-committees met as needed, but at least once per quarter, throughout the year to complete their tasks outlined in the ORC Strategic Plan.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Chairperson – Milissa Gofourth

  • All priority groups were closed February 26, 2008. On September 16, 2008 priority group one was opened and in early 2009 the waiting list from priority group two began to be served. On May 18, 2009 all priority groups were opened, eliminating the waiting list of 440 individuals. The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council was kept apprised of these changes by the Director.
  • The executive committee worked closely with the Division Administrators to develop a reporting template that summarizes the RSA standards and indicators along with additional client data. This information is reported during the ORC quarterly meeting to keep the council abreast of the number of clients being served and the status of case closures.
  • The executive committee worked closely with the new director to build a positive working relationship to accomplish the necessary tasks of the council. This included the partnership in the development of the Comprehensive Needs Assessment, participation in the submission of the State Plan, involvement with the opening of all priority groups, eliminating the waiting list and revamping the agencies policies and procedures as they pertain to client services.
  • The executive committee developed a Standard Operational Procedure document to assist the ORC in maintaining an efficient and seamless day to day mechanism for communication to the membership and management tool.

POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE

Chairperson – Glenda Farnum

  • The assigned DRS liaison for this committee was the Legislative Coordinator. 
  • The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with DRS Public Information Office with Disability Awareness Day 2009 at the State Capitol. 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 2009 attendance was the largest with approximately 700 attendees. 
  • 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. The ORC utilized this information, which was shared with Congressional members in Washington, DC, at the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) 2009 spring conference during legislative session visits. They are also shared with state legislators at the Disability Awareness Day event.
  • ORC staff and several ORC members participated in the CSAVR spring conference in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the fall 2008 conference in San Diego, California. 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 U.S. 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 legislative 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. A primary focus this year was to do a comprehensive review of all policies to ensure alignment with the Rehabilitation Act. This will take more than one year to complete. ORC was a full  partner in this process. Another benefit from this collaboration of allowing the ORC and Client Assistance Program involvement from the beginning, has been a better understanding of barriers that clients are facing with proposed changes to policy. The ORC sought community input from program participants, advocates, employers, educators and other stakeholders on proposed policy changes through three Public Hearings. They were co-hosted by DRS and the ORC on February 2, 2009 in Oklahoma City, February 3, 2009 in Tulsa, and February 4, 2009 in Lawton. ORC supported the
    following proposed policy changes for FY09:
    •  Basic Eligibility Requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation Services - on the removal of barriers to individuals with alcohol and/or drug addictions which improves services they receive.
    •  Post Employment Services - broadened services and opportunities for those individuals with disabilities needing post employment services. This change assists in reducing delays to post employment services.
    • Transportation (Mileage and Vehicle Repairs) - this policy change created a formula for calculating transportation expenses, allowing for a more equitable travel allowance, meeting each client’s individual needs.
    • Payment of Tuition and Fees at College and Universities - this change aligned the agency policy with the Rehabilitation Act and clarified the use of Pell and other Federal/State aid as first dollar for educational expenses.
    • Purchase of Motor Vehicle (Modification) - this policy was implemented to save time and money for the agency and to provide services to individuals with disabilities on a more timely basis.
    • Special Consideration in State Government Employment for Persons with Severe Disabilities - this clarified directions to staff to assist when approving individuals with disabilities eligible for the Special Consideration Employment program.
    • The Advocacy Tool Box located on the ORC’s website is continually updated. Other states have contacted Oklahoma to model the website format. This tool assists novice advocates learning how to advocate for their issues.
    • The ORC was less involved in the development of the FY09 state plan than in years past. The planning phase of the state plan was impacted by the many changes the agency was implementing, which in effect reduced the number of scheduled planning meetings. However, the ORC did co-sponsor the public hearings on the State Plan prior to its submission to RSA. Flyers were developed and mailed in an attempt to increase awareness and attendance at the Public Hearings. 
    • Re-Engineering Policy Committee – under the direction of the new director, this committee started the task of revamping the agencies policy and procedures manuals. The goal was to fully align policies with the Rehabilitation Act and to eliminate redundancy to assist the counselor in being more efficient.
    • This committee was directed to create a policy that places client service decisions back in the hands of the counselor. 
    • This committee raised the basic living allowance to 200% of federal poverty level and redefined how the agency reviews the client’s resources in cost share matters. 


PLANNING AND PROGRAM COMMITTEE

Chairperson – Marilyn Burr

  • The assigned DRS liaison for the committee was the Project Coordinator for the Vocational Rehabilitation Division.
  • DRS reported the following FFY09 data to the Commission: 
    • 1689 cases had successful closure
    • 1421 cases were closed without employment after receiving services
    • Standard and Indicator 1.2 is 54.3% (Percentage of successful closures compared to closed cases after services that were unsuccessful)
    • DRS received 6,332 new applications 
    • 4,294 plans were written in the year
    • The average yearly earning is $20,250
    • 9,321 clients are currently implementing their plan 
    • Of the reported outcomes of all types, percentage of each closure type (rounded to
      the nearest tenth):
      • 26.1% achieved employment outcomes (1,689 clients)
      • 22.0% closed after services, without employment (1,421 clients)
      • 32.8% closed after eligibility, before IPE development (2,120 clients)
      • 4.5% closed after IPE, before services were initiated (294 clients)
      • 2.7% closed from the waiting list (175 clients)
      • 0.2% closed from Trial Work/Extended Employment (17 clients)
      • 11.6% closed as an applicant (749 applicants)
  •  Comprehensive Needs Assessment. The ORC recommended that DRS outsource the comprehensive needs assessment (CNA) in an effort to get a wide-range perspective on the needs of Oklahomans with disabilities. The agency responded by contracting with an individual with both statistical and rehabilitation knowledge. A survey was conducted in FY09 of a random sample of closed cases, which were selected equivalent to successful and unsuccessful percentages and results reported by the contractor at the August, 2009 ORC quarterly meeting. It included the following findings and recommendations:
  • Key Findings from CNA:
    • Customers who felt that their counselors were responsive to them, empowered them to choose non DRS services providers if external services were needed, and empowered them to choose their job goal were significantly more likely to achieve rehabilitation success.
    • Consumers with the most significant disabilities felt like they were empowered to choose external service providers to a greater extent than consumers with significant disabilities.
    • Customers without a significant disability more often felt that they were able to choose their job goal when compared to persons with the most significant disabilities and those with significant disabilities.
    • Consumers who reported that they were able to get training for work in the community where they lived were significantly more likely to be closed rehabilitated when compared to consumers who received training outside of their resident community.
  • Recommendations from CNA:
    •  DRS should strongly consider assessing consumer satisfaction and need among currently active DRS participants using the same methodology employed in the current assessment. The current assessment included participants whose cases were closed either rehabilitated or other than rehabilitated. 
    • There needs to be increased emphasis on empowering consumers to make informed choices about their job goals, and the community services and external service providers needed to assist them in reaching their goals. This can be accomplished through formal staff trainings and through open encouragement from all leadership levels.
    • Additional customer service training regarding the importance of rehabilitation counselor and rehabilitation technician responsiveness to customers and speed in which their plans for employment are developed may be warranted.
    • There is a need to raise the profile of the Client Assistant Program among rehabilitation counselors, rehabilitation technicians and consumers. This could be done through formal trainings aimed at enhancing staff person’s understanding of CAP’s role and function. 
    • Review of current local service providers and targeted sustained efforts to increase local service providers is needed to increase customer opportunities for choice.
    • Current public transportation systems, especially in urban areas, should be reviewed with an eye toward identifying additional public transportation resources. Greater access to such transportation services will make it easier for consumers to attend DRS appointments, training and employment. 
    • There needs to be greater emphasis placed on counselors and technicians facilitating consumers’ training for work within the community where consumers live. This evidence based “best practice” can be seen as a lesson learned from the current analysis of the data. 
    • DRS is encouraged to review its agreements with all workforce partners to determine if there are barriers in policy that are limiting consumer’s access to local Onestops. Joint trainings between DRS and local Onestops should be conducted to enhance understanding of each others’ role and function, remove the barriers to service access and improve overall Onestop service delivery to
      persons with disabilities.
  • 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 2,411 randomly selected individuals who had received vocational rehabilitation services. The survey was returned by 380 individuals with a return rate of 15.8% which is down from last year. The FY09 survey results had a 76.6% overall satisfaction with consumers, which was a 1% decrease and represents the lowest score received since the overall satisfaction statement was included in FY04. 

    The survey statements experiencing the greatest increase of 3.6% in agreement were the following areas: “I participated in the selection of my employment goal” and “My service providers treated me with courtesy and respect” up 1.5%. The survey statements experiencing the greatest decrease were the following areas: “Services were provided to me in a reasonable amount of time” experienced a 4.4% drop, “the staff helped me clearly understand what the program was about” had a 4.3% drop and “I was informed of the services that were available” had a 3.6% drop. As a
    result, the Director has instructed staff to get services provided as soon as possible and not to take the allotted time allowed under the Rehabilitation Act regulations. 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.
  • Statewide Agenda on Blindness Forums
    In FY08 and FY09 the ORC partnered with the DRS Visual Services Consumer Advisory Committee to initiate a project to identify major needs of blind Oklahomans, plan action to address those needs, and build a network of support for achieving solutions. This effort was intended to produce a short list of goals and generate plans for reaching them. Focus groups were held around the state to hear directly from blind individuals about their major issues and possible ways of addressing them. The final step was a statewide meeting where consumers, professionals and advocates prioritized issues that should be addressed and created an action plan.


TRANSITION AND EMPLOYMENT

Chairperson – Anita Eccard

  • The assigned DRS liaison for this committee was the Educational Consultant. 
  • 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 of the Council is to promote enhanced transition outcomes for secondary and post-secondary youth with disabilities. 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 Oklahoma Transition Institute. The 2009
    OTI statewide meeting had just under 400 participants and 34 teams. Additionally, OTI teams were invited to present their projects at ORC quarterly meetings.
  • The agency reported to the committee on various reporting mechanism available to DRS and the ORC now that all data has been converted to the AWARE system. 
  • The committee received information on the statewide survey on Indicator 14 post school outcomes, from special education students that either graduated or left school. This information provided the committee a mechanism to review agency transition definitions and issues.

OTHER ORC INITIATIVES

  • Strategic Plan - The ORC developed a strategic plan in the spring of 2008 to serve as a roadmap to the standing committees for FFY 2009. It was determined to include the ORC strategic plan within the agencies state plan as part of attachment 4.2(c). This enabled the ORC to enhance its partnership with the agency.
  • Assistive Technology Ad-hoc Committee - During the ORC Strategic Planning meeting in May of 2008, members addressed concerns regarding the quality of assistive technology (AT) services provided throughout the state. An ad-hoc committee was formed and the membership of the committee includes four ORC members, the ORC Program Manager, three Visual Services AT Specialists, three Vocational Rehabilitation 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 narrowed the discussion to concentrate on computer access. The committee’s intent is to provide DRS with their findings and possible recommendations. 
  • Transportation Coalition - The council continued 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 continued to work with various committees and groups to educate and inform state officials of this immense barrier to individuals with disabilities. The ORC continued 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.
  • Virgil Taylor Memorial Scholarship Fund - Virgil Taylor earned the lifetime achievement awards with both the Division of Visual Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services with a career spanning thirty-three years. He was a counselor, program manager and later a field coordinator. Virgil’s final battle with cancer ended peacefully in March, 2008. But his wisdom and knowledge in working with persons with disabilities will be a resource for years to come and his character will remain a model for everyone who knew him. It was the ORC’s honor to partner with the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association to coordinator and host the first annual event to fund a scholarship in his honor at his alma mater, East Central University. This fund assists bachelor’s level students to pursue a career in vocational rehabilitation counseling.
  • 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 comprehensive needs assessment. 
  • Social Security Community Work Incentives Program - The Program Manager of the ORC was invited to attend the Work Incentives Training that DRS hosted for their future benefit planners. Attendees that completed the training have become certified as Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC). This certification allows the Program Manager to provide better information and referral service to calls or emails received by the ORC. 
  • Social Security Work Incentives Webinar Training - The ORC hosted a series of webinar trainings on “Understanding Social Security Work Incentives and More” for the DRS staff. Quality training was provided by the Area Work Incentive Coordinator of the Social Security Administration. The Native American VR staff (Section 121 programs) were included in the training. Participants were happy to receive this training, via the fully accessible webinar, as it met their needs. There were 161 individuals participating that reported an accumulative evaluation score of 4.2 out of 5.0. The webinar training saved the agency money on travel and time. CRC credit of 6.0 hours was approved for this training.


ADDITIONAL PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

  • ORC staff continued 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 continued to attend 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 FFY10 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 and bi-monthly with the Director. 
  • ORC conducted ongoing membership recruitment at public events. 
  • ORC staff continued to present at the New Employee Academy so new staff are 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 served on the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Assistive Technology Advisory Council (the state’s AT program). 
  • ORC staff partnered with DRS staff to coordinate a fundraiser to allow for DRS staff to build more games and prices for the Special Olympic Events. 
  • ORC staff served as a board member on the Projects for Emergency Medical Services for Seniors (POEMSS), attended meetings, served on several sub-committees and chaired educational conference committee. POEMSS hosted its 4th 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 2009, introduced a new director, moved all applicants from a waiting list to plan development and a proactive restructuring of specific units within the agency. There are still many challenges ahead to ensure Oklahomans with disabilities have quality employment outcomes. These challenges include, improve the ratio of successful closures to unsuccessful closures, reduce the number of applicants closed after eligibility, but before IPE development, and increase customer satisfaction. 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

Marilyn Burr, CAP Director, Office of Handicapped Concerns, Oklahoma City, OK

Anita Eccard, Associate State Director, Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma City, OK

Glenda Farnum, Advocate, Warr Acres, OK 

Cindy Gallup, Social Worker, DHS Stratford School System, Stratford, OK

Milissa Gofourth, Program Manager, Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Stillwater, OK

Nancy Garner, Director of Special Projects, Oklahoma Parent Information Center, Holdenville, OK

Tammie Jones, VR Specialist, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Weatherford, OK

Kathleen Kennedy, Advocate, Edmond, OK

Sterling Krysler, Krysler Consulting, Oklahoma City, OK

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

Hailey Mathis, Advocate, Tuttle, OK

Linda Parker until 12-1-2009

Mike O’Brien, Director, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Oklahoma City, OK

Tim Parrish, Fleet Administrator, Teppco Oil, Oklahoma City, OK

Jon Ringlero, Program Coordinator, Delaware Nation Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Oklahoma City, OK

Amy Salmon, Instructor, Hadley School for the Blind, Yukon, OK

Katrina Shaklee, Assistant Director for Disabled Sports and Events, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK

Sabrina Ware, Coordinator, Employment & Training, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, Inc., Tulsa, OK

Sue Williams, VR Specialist, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Weatherford, OK

Oklahoma State University - Seretean Wellness Center Staff: 
Theresa Hamrick
Linda Jaco, Program Manager Director of Sponsored Programs


Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (letterhead) 
Director Michael O'Brien
Commissioners
Ray Kirk
Steve Shelton

October 28, 2009

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Members:
The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (ODRS) is pleased to work in partnership with the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC). The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council share a strong commitment to assist Oklahomans with disabilities become independent through employment opportunities. ODRS appreciates the continuous guidance and support the Council provides on key issues such as the implementation and development process of consumer- focused VR programs and policies. 

As the new Director of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, I feel the Agency is very fortunate that the ORC has assumed an essential role in helping to strengthen the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation programs. As the Agency faces new challenge, the ODRS will continue striving towards our mission to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to achieve productivity, independence and an enriched quality of life. 

Sincerely,
Michael O’Brien, Ed.D.
Director, Oklahoma Department
of Rehabilitation Services
3535 N.W. 58th Street, Suite 500 • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824 • Voice/TTY: (405) 951-3400 • Fax: (405) 951-3529

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (letterhead) 
Director Michael O'Brien
Commissioners
Ray Kirk
Steve Shelton
3535 N.W. 58th Street, Suite 500 • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824 • Voice/TTY: (405) 951-3400 • Fax: (405) 951-3529

November 23, 2009

Mrs. Theresa Hamrick, Program Manager
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services

Dear Theresa:
It is my honor and privilege to write a letter of support for the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council. The partnership that continues between the ORC and the Division of Visual Services is one of the most viable and one of the most vital partnerships that enhance the lives of those we serve. Without this valuable relationship many of the things that we have accomplished would have simply gone un-done.

One of the most outstanding partnerships that the ORC and the Division of Visual Services participated in this year was our “Agenda on Blindness”. The magnitude of this project is only outweighed by the outcomes. Your participation in the group process reflects the commitment of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council to people with disabilities and to people with blindness in particular. Without your support, without your involvement, and without your commitment, this project would not have reached as many people and we would not have had the very large participation of our patrons. “Thank you” seems so inadequate in recognizing what you have done for Visual Services. 

Also, your continued efforts at building working relationships with our Congressional Representatives and Senators have resulted in more open lines of communication between DRS and our Washington Representatives. This is no small accomplish and because of your efforts DRS and ultimately our consumers will certainly be the benefactors.

Being the Administrator of Visual Services, I seek always to be a strong partner with the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council and I look forward with optimism to the long and productive relationship between the Division of Visual Services and the ORC.

Sincerely,
Jane Nelson, Administrator
Division of Visual Services

 

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (letterhead)

October 30, 2009

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

Attention: Theresa Hamrick, Program Manager

Dear Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Members, 

Please accept my sincere appreciation for the contributions the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) has made this year in our joint effort to achieve successful rehabilitation results for Oklahomans with disabilities. ORC has set an excellent example for other state rehabilitation councils that want to be active and effective in fulfilling their role as partners in the rehabilitation system. 

During the past year ORC members have provided valuable consumer perspective and sound advice as participants on our Policy Re-engineering Group which is charged with a major revision of VR administrative rules. ORC has played a key role in Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) activities and will continue to work closely with DVR and DVS on CNA analysis, goal-setting and implementation. The Council devoted an ad hoc committee to the issue of assistive technology services and how to make them more responsive to client needs. This study group has produced findings and recommendations that will help guide our efforts to improve AT resources and the system we have for service delivery. 

I have been especially gratified at the extent of support the Oklahoma ORC has provided for DRS projects such as Disability Awareness Day. The Council has been intensely involved in transition activities and provided major support for the Oklahoma Transition Institute. ORC has organized staff training opportunities that target subjects on which counselors often need to inform or assist clients. The ORC has also done an admirable job of building consumer and community connections, and networking with other disability programs. 

ORC is a valued partner in our efforts to strengthen Oklahoma's vocational rehabilitation program. I look forward to working closely with ORC in the coming year as we focus on improving services and results for individuals with disabilities. 

Sincerely, 

Syedah Islam, Administrator
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 

3535 N.W. 58th Street, Suite 500 • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824 • Voice/TTY: (405) 951-3400 • Fax: (405) 951-3529


All programs administered by and services provided by the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council are rendered on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to disability, race, creed, color, sex or national origin in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council is a grant program through
the Oklahoma State University, Seretean Wellness Center, funded with State of Oklahoma, Department of Rehabilitation Services through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education, #8059006255.

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, 3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824, Tel: (800) 569-7974 • Fax: (405) 951-3532, www.okrehabcouncil.org