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February 2012 marked the beginning of the First Session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature and with it came many bills that impact people with
disabilities. A number of these bills have already become dormant and are effectively dead for the year, but a few remain that are of particular interest to persons with disabilities.
SB 1119 would require school districts to provide parents of children with visual or hearing impairments with information concerning the programs available at the Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf. The bill also requires that school districts providing special education services to students with auditory or visual impairments shall develop procedures to ensure that staff assigned to work with students have effective access to resources provided by the School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf. The bill has passed the Senate Education Committee, and has been referred to Appropriations.
HB 2418 would require passenger vehicles sold in Oklahoma to have a handle mounted above the driver side door for help getting in and out of the vehicle. The bill was intended to help drivers with disabilities. Although HB 2418 initially failed to pass in the House Transportation Committee, it was brought up again and a committee substitute bill was adopted on a 10-6 vote. The new version provides that no passenger vehicle shall be sold in Oklahoma unless the dealer offers to equip such vehicle, at the dealers expense, with a handle above the door. HB 2616 would amend the existing sales tax exemption for certain medical equipment and devices when they are paid for by Medicaid or Medicare. A substitute bill passed committee, as the bill no longer exempts general purchases of durable medical equipment from sales tax, but only amends the section of law exempting Medicare and Medicaid purchased items from the tax. The motion passed the house and was sent to the senate. To find out more about current legislation, visit www.oklegislature.gov and use their new feature allowing you to search by bill number to find all information on the measure.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has partnered with Oklahoma ABLE Tech to provide the Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program (OKDMERP). The program is designed to reuse valuable DME no longer needed, and reassign it to an Oklahoma County resident in need. Priority will be given to SoonerCare members, but any Oklahoma
resident is eligible with a completed application packet.
The program will do what we call the “Four R’s”: Retrieve, Refurbish, Repair and
Reassign. This means if someone is wishing to donate equipment, we at OKDMERP will retrieve it, clean and sanitize it, refurbish it, repair it by a qualified DME vendor if necessary, and
reassign it back to an Oklahoma County resident at no charge to them, regardless of their income or insurance coverage.
The following types
of equipment will be
donations or will
This program began on April 2, 2012, and will be located in Oklahoma City.
With the addition of this new and exciting program ABLE Tech has welcomed two additional staff members, Katie Woodward and Brian Sargent.
Katie Woodward is the Program Manager for the Oklahoma Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program. She is completing both Business Administration and Finance degrees from Oklahoma State University. For the past seven years she has worked for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Community Development Division, Citizen Empowerment Team, where she was a Project Manager for several federal and state grant programs. Katie grew up in Edmond, and moved to Guthrie in 1994. She has one son and one daughter.
Brian Sargent is the Site Coordinator for OKDMERP. He will be responsible for the retrieval, sanitation, refurbishment, and reassignment of durable medical equipment. Brian previously was a sports reporter for newspapers in Tahlequah and Norman, and a general assignments reporter for an Oklahoma City newspaper. In 2007 Brian coordinated and was responsible for The Oklahomans coverage of the Oklahoma Centennial Celebration. Brian grew up in Stillwater, and attended Oklahoma City University where he completed coursework in mass communications. He lives in Oklahoma City with his son, Cody.
For more information on this program please contact:
Katie Woodward, Program Manager
The Oklahoma AgrAbility Project, an Oklahoma ABLE Tech partner, is proud to announce the winners of this year’s AgrAbility FFA Contest. The contest invited FFA chapters from across the state to help an agriculturalist in their home town address and overcome a barrier to farming caused by a disability.Amber-Pocasset FFA Chapter received first place and a $1,000 prize. Their project created an elevated planting system designed to eliminate the need to stoop over to garden. Mrs. Boyd, for whom the project was created, said, “I won’t have to worry about falling and not being able to get back up with these planters. I truly appreciate the ag chapter for building these and remembering the older citizens of the community.” Second place was awarded to the Okarche FFA Chapter, who created a unique rolling design meant to aid a local farmer in loading a ‘popper,’ a transportation device for show pigs. Their design allowed the popper, which can weigh up to 300 lbs, to easily slide into the back of a truck. Bethel FFA Chapter was awarded third place. They created a specialized walker designed to benefit a local rancher with Parkinson’s. The walker was created with large wheels and reinforced piping, a functional design meant to withstand rugged terrain. The winners were chosen for their original designs, the impact the project had on the individual, and the quality of their reports. AgrAbility hopes to continue partnering with Oklahoma FFA Chapters in teaching not only the value of community service, but also raising awareness of unique challenges farmers and ranchers with disabilities face.
SoonerStart Providers suggested that this two year old boy from Tulsa County have access to an iPad2 to see if he would be able to use it as a communication device. His family utilized ABLE Tech’s Short Term Device Loan program, and they were able to borrow an iPad2 for four weeks. Prior to using the iPad2, this boy’s primary way of communicating was through crying or signs, and he was not consistent with choice making. However, during his trial with the iPad2, he was able to demonstrate he could communicate his wants and even make choices using the iPad2. Because of the ABLE Tech loan program, they were able to try out different devices before making a purchase, and because he had such great success with the iPad2 his parents were able to submit a request to insurance to cover the cost of the device.
The ABLE Tech Device Loan program improves access to assistive technology. Oklahomans with disabilities or their families can utilize the program to make an informed decision before purchasing, ensure compatibiliy between the device and the user, have back-up equipment while waiting for repair, or use a device while waiting for new equipment. The short-term loan program is easy and free to use. Loan duration is four to six weeks and is available to anyone in Oklahoma. ABLE Tech AT centers are available throughout the state at partnering locations. Our AT inventory contains over 2,000 devices, so call us today to see if we have what you are looking for! People with disabilities and their family members, as well as professionals working with persons with a disability are eligible to participate in this program.
In March, Region 3 of the Parent and Information Training Centers hosted a Webinar on PTI working effectively with state agencies. Oklahoma was asked to talk about the relationship between its stakeholder groups. Oklahoma is highly praised as a state in which stakeholders come together on issues of mutual purpose and work together. SERC continues to support these efforts by collaborating with state organizations to improve the quality of the education of children with disabilities across our state.
Presenters representing Oklahoma were Rene Axtell, Assistant State Superintendent for Special Education (OSDE), Cynthia Bernardi-Valenzuela and Mark Sharp (OSDE), Sharon House (Oklahoma Parents Center), Andrea Kunkel (CCOSA) and Jo Anne Blades (OSU/SERC).
SERC is working with school districts and parents to continue training efforts to build capacity at the local level for effective collaboration. Several trainings are offered this spring.
Art Cernosia, a nationally recognized consultant in special education, conducted a hearing official training. Hearing officials are also attending professional development at the National Association of Administrative Law Judges on location at the National Judicial College. Others are attending the LRP’s National Annual Institute of Legal Issues in Education Children with Disabilities.
Two Doctoral students from OSU are working with SERC over the next year to assist in support and research for Due Process and Mediation programs. We are excited to have this collaboration with a higher institute of learning.