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In Memory of
This past year our Council lost a very special person, Hugh McCrabb. Hugh served as a council member since 2005. Hugh served as the Director of Technical and Occupational Activity for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. His enthusiasm came from creating opportunities for self-improvement for thousands of Oklahomans through education and sports. His humor extended throughout his many activities and involvement with family and friends. The impact that he has left behind will leave a lasting positive influence on lives for many years.
Hugh will be greatly missed by those who loved him and worked with him. To his family, a special Thank You for sharing such a wonderful person with us.
3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824
(405) 951-3482 V/TTY
(405) 951-3532 Fax
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.
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:
Ų To encourage the personal and vocational growth and development of individuals with disabilities
Ų To promote barrier-free access for persons with disabilities; and
Ų 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.
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
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
Duties as Cited in the Act
v 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.
v 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).
v 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.
v Conduct a Review and Analysis of the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation services and consumer satisfaction.
v 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.
v Coordinate the work of the Council with the activities of other disability related councils.
v 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
Chairperson – BJ Nevels
v The Executive Committee discussed the Order of Selection implementation with the Department of Rehabilitation Services Division Administrators. The ORC recommended the DRS staff look at options and implement procedures to avoid going into an Order of Selection. Many years of flat funding and the ever increasing costs of providing services created a financial crunch for DRS. On January 19, 2007 DRS found it necessary to place all new applicants who were categorized as Severe or Non-Severe on a waiting list as they implemented the Order of Selection. At this time, DRS continues to serve individuals with the Most-Severe disabilities. The ORC appreciates the effort of the DRS staff to stay out of the Order of Selection as long as possible, as well as their commitment to serve their consumers.
Policy and Legislative Committee
Chairperson – Milissa Gofourth
v The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with DRS Public Information Office with “Independence for All” on Disability Awareness Day 2007 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.
v 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, during the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) 2007 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.
v ORC staff and several ORC members participated in the CSAVR spring conference in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the fall conference in San Antonio, Texas. While in the D.C. area, visits were made ‘On the Hill’ in D.C. and informational packets, prepared by the Policy and Legislative Committee were shared with the Oklahoma delegation. Packets contained position papers on the Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Assistive Technology Act and AgrAbility. Additionally, information was shared regarding the impact of Oklahoma’s clientele on Return of Investment (ROI).
v One of the Policy and Legislative Committee’s key legislative initiatives has been to work with DRS staff Legislative Coordinator to increase relationships with local legislative staffers in Oklahoma. Together, ORC members and DRS staff met with all US Congressional district offices and provided staffers with packets of information on services and resources available to them. This has been an overwhelming success as we now have a wonderful working relationship with legislative staffers in Oklahoma and have been called upon several times as a resource to assist them with constituent issues.
v The Policy and Legislative Committee continued its involvement with the DRS Customer Service Improvement (CSI) 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 in proposed policy changes. Several Policy and Legislative Committee members chaired subcommittees or lead research studies. Additionally, a new subcommittee was formed known as the Chapter 10 Policy Issues. The goal of the work group was to review and better align the Department’s policies with the Rehabilitation Act’s regulations.
v The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with the DRS Legislative and Policy staff in the creation of an Advocacy Tool Box, which is located on the ORC’s website. This Tool Box assists novice advocates in finding their representatives, how to contact representatives, how to discuss issues with them, and how to create fact sheets. ORC staff continues to maintain this website, which also hosts DRS’s Alert Project and has the latest information regarding legislative Public VR concerns. This Advocacy Tool Box has been presented at several conferences.
v The Policy and Legislative Committee assisted the 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.
v The Policy and Legislative Committee and ORC staff attended training on HB1340, also known as the Persons with Severe Disabilities Employment Program. The ORC will continue to provide information to individuals and agencies about this legislation that was created to assist individuals with disabilities obtain employment with government agencies.
v Since the Reauthorization of the WIA did not pass, the Policy and Legislative Committee will continue to educate US Legislators on the importance of this law.
Planning and Program Committee
Chairperson – Doug MacMillan, Jr.
v In the FFY07, consumer satisfaction results of the Department of Rehabilitation Services showed that 79.3% of consumers were satisfied or highly satisfied with vocational rehabilitation (VR) or visual services (VS), which was a decrease from last year; 88.5% felt that the VR/VS staff treated them with courtesy and respect; 74.9% believed they were informed of the services that were available; and 66.2% of the consumers were satisfied that the services helped meet their needs for employment.
- 77,571 Oklahoman’s with disabilities and their families turned to DRS for assistance through vocational rehabilitation employment, independent living, residential and outreach educational programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
- As a result, 2,223 Oklahomans with disabilities joined or re-joined the workforce through career counseling, education and purchase of specialized equipment.
- DRS provided vocational rehabilitation and employment services to 21,955 individuals.
- DRS expanded services to Spanish-speaking citizens with disabilities through a new Hispanic community services office. All public brochures and phone referral systems are in Spanish as well as The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped publications
v The Planning and Program Committee met with the agency Policy Development and Program Standards Unit (PDPS) to discuss surveys and data they produce. The ORC recommended DRS outsource the Needs Assessment in an effort to get a fresh perspective on the needs of their consumers. Their recommendation was included in the DRS State Plan for FFY08. The first year will be the development of the survey, the second year the survey will be conducted, and the third year will be the analysis of the information and the development and implementation of plans to address the needs found. The PDPS unit will continue to provide copies of the report to the ORC.
v 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. The survey results had a 79.3% overall satisfaction with consumers. However, the report also revealed there were a couple of areas that could be improved. DRS has implemented procedures to improve counselors staying in contact with the consumer throughout the entire VR process and counselors being more available to consumers when they are contacted.
Transition and Employment
Chairperson – Kim Nickerson
v The Transition and Employment 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. Committee members will serve on the interview team.
v The ORC supported DRS summer transition camps by providing lunch totes for all the student attendees.
v The Business Employment Service Team (BEST) provided the Transition and Employment Committee an overview of their procedures to assist consumers in preparing for employment outcomes. The BEST staff explained how they develop relationships with businesses for future employment placements. It was recommended that the BEST unit communicate with DRS staff on a regular basis regarding employment opportunities and labor market information.
v The Transition and Employment Committee members were requested to assist 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.
v The Transition and Employment Committee are also active on the Oklahoma Transition Council and participate as Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI) team members. Therefore, committee members are in a position to encourage DRS to maintain an active role in the Oklahoma Transition Council. Committee members 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. Each OTI team discussed issues and ideas to determine their projects and work tasks. Transition regional meetings were held at eight locations around the state for the teams to update the progress on their plans. OTI teams are expected to meet as needed to complete their plans.
Customer Services Improvement Committee
The DRS Customer Service Improvement Committee (CSI) is made up of members representing the agency, the Client Assistance Program (CAP), and the ORC. This 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 5, 2007 in Oklahoma City, February 6, 2007 in Lawton, and February 7, 2007 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The proposed policy changes developed in FFY07 will go to public hearing and be accepted or rejected by DRS Commissioners in FFY08. The following proposed policy changes were submitted by DRS Administrators for public hearing, but do not imply the approval of the ORC.
AWARE-Case Management System
Once the AWARE case management system is on-line, the ORC will request training on how the system works; what reports can be generated; and what type of information will be available from the new system.
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 also 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. DRS and the ORC co-hosted Public Hearings on the State Plan, which were held on April 26th in Oklahoma City; April 27th in Tulsa; and April 30th in Lawton.
The Council continues to support the mission and goals of Oklahomans for Public Transportation (OPT) and partners as an advocate for increased public transportation throughout Oklahoma. The OPT was formed in December 2003 to advocate for increased public transportation throughout Oklahoma. The mission of OPT is to “expand and enhance public transportation services and pedestrian access to communities so that all Oklahomans have the freedom to travel where and when they want.” 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 Council 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 efficient service that can be accomplished through the coordination or consolidation of human service transportation resources.
Impartial Hearing Officers
ORC has worked with DRS on the recruitment of more impartial hearing officers. DRS would like to increase their pool of impartial hearing officers.
The Council continues to receive confidential hearing reports from the agency on all impartial hearings. The reports are reviewed by members of the Executive Committee.
People with Disabilities Awareness Day
“Independence for All” was the theme for Disability Awareness Day 2007 at the State Capitol in keeping with the Oklahoma Centennial Celebration. Over 380 people attended this ORC and DRS co-sponsored annual event. This year a component to the event included a Legislative Advocacy Training for participants before they met with their 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.
The purpose of Disability Awareness Day is to make State Senators and Representatives more aware of the employment and education needs of 480,000 Oklahomans with disabilities. The ORC’s donation of buttons helped legislators and staff identify DRS supporters and disability advocates during office visits. This event was a huge success because so many other supporters of the agency and people with disabilities participated.
Meet The Candidate Forum
The ORC partnered with another advocacy group to plan, develop and co-host the first ever “Meet The Candidate” forum. More than 18 candidates from the Oklahoma City metro area were invited to speak to a group of individuals with disabilities. Prior to the event candidates were provided with information on five of the top disability issues and 2005 US Census information regarding Oklahomans with disabilities. There were 15 candidates and more than 65 constituents in attendance. It was a great opportunity to provide education to the candidates on issues that the disability community face daily. Several candidates suggested we provide further training on key disability issues to the newly elected officials. It was an extremely successful event with standing room only and the candidates and attendees were happy to have this opportunity.
Vocational Rehabilitation Staff Forums
To better understand the experiences of VR participants and the work of VR staff, the ORC attended three staff forums. These forums were an invaluable opportunity for DRS administration and DRS staff to communicate directly on any issue that concerned them. The discussions included issues on funding, transportation, the direction of the agency, workforce development planning, systemic barriers for upward promotion in the agency, rural and urban services being so different, and lack of choices of services in the rural areas.
National SRC Effort
The ORC will continue to be actively involved in the national State Rehabilitation Council’s (SRC) development of the National Coalition for State Rehabilitation Councils. This organization will create a strong national advocacy voice for the public vocational rehabilitation system and would allow 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.
During 2007, with appointments by the Governor, the Council had 22 members representing persons with disabilities, advocates, service providers, former and current VR consumers, employers, State Independent Living Council, Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development, Department of Education, Client Assistance Program, Native American VR Program, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services Counselors. The Council had 19 members, 3 being ex-officio, nonvoting members from DRS. Of the voting members, the Council had 56% 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 is committed to meeting the mandated membership requirements as outlined in the Rehabilitation Act.
The Council met quarterly during FFY07, which is in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act requiring four meetings per year. Meeting dates were:
November 16, 2006,
February 15, 2007
May 17, 2007
August 2, 2007 (Strategic Planning Retreat)
August 16, 2007
Sub-committees met as needed throughout the year to complete their tasks outlined in the ORC Strategic Plan.
Other Projects and Activities
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. The need for services will not diminish in the future when you consider there are reportedly 20 million people with disabilities in our country and factor in an aging workforce and a projected skilled workforce shortage. It is evident that we have significant work ahead of us. We must align our efforts and deliver services in the most effective and efficient method possible. The ORC is prepared to do our part to ensure success in the future.
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Members
Office of Disability Concerns
Program Development Manager
Oklahoma League for the Blind
Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma ABLE Tech
Doug MacMillan Jr.
OK One-Call System
Oklahoma City, OK
Hugh McCrab - Deceased
Oklahoma State Regents for High Education
INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehab Hospital
Associate State Director
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Special Education Services
Oklahoma City, OK
Delaware Tribe Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Del City, OK
Apache Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Coordinator, Employment & Training
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, Inc.
Department of Rehabilitation Services
Oklahoma City, OK
3535 NW 35th Street, Suite 500
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4248
December 3, 2007
Dear Council Members and Friends,
We are rapidly approaching the end of another year and it is now time to reflect on our accomplishments as we look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that the future will provide. The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council values and plans to continue to build upon the positive working relationship with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. I am even more excited about the expanding roles for the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council members and our involvement with the agency.
As a council, we have had many individuals that termed out or were not reappointed this year and along with that we welcomed many new members to the council. To the individuals who left the council, we want to say thanks for a job well done and for the sharing of your time and commitment to individuals with disabilities. We also want to welcome the new members and encourage each of you to get involved as we continue to pave new paths to the improvement of delivery of vocational rehabilitation services for Oklahomans with disabilities.
The need for services will not diminish in the future when you consider there are reportedly 20 million people with disabilities in our country and factor in an aging workforce and a projected skilled workforce shortage. It is evident that we have significant work ahead of us. We must align our efforts and deliver services in the most effective and efficient method possible. The ORC is prepared to do our part to ensure success in the future.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve on the council for many years with a number of individuals who have come and gone but each person individually provided much insight and contributions to the membership of the council. Thank you for allowing me to be part of a dynamic and dedicated team of professionals who strive to improve the quality of life for Oklahomans with disabilities.
B.J. Nevels, Chair
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
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