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Newsletter Volume 11 Issue 1
Newsletter (Volume 11, Issue 1)
OFFICE OF DISABILITY CONCERNS
WILL'S CORNER, OKLAHOMA
(Serving the Disability Community of Oklahoma)
Volume 11, Issue 1
The Office of Disability Concerns
The Office of Disability Concerns sounds like a rather unique organization that is difficult to get your mind around if you have thought about calling this office with a particular need. Disability concerns are a rather broad topic, and people legitimately want to know how they can use this organization to benefit themselves, their friends and family members.
Can we help you pay your utility bill? Can we build a ramp to your front door? Can we appeal an adverse decision from Social Security, the Department of Human Services or any other social service organization? The answer to these three questions is, “no”. But, don’t throw our number out yet.
The genius of the Office of Disability Concerns is that we can empower you to address your problem yourself. We walk that line between real social service and personal responsibility. It’s the old adage, “You can either give a person a fish or teach that person to fish for themselves and provide their own fish.”
If you called this office expressing that you needed a ramp built to your front door, you might receive the number of some private, non-profit organizations which do that kind of thing. This office might tell you to expect a waiting list and to adjust your expectations accordingly. We might talk to you about the standards for the slope of a ramp so you would know what to ask for. (Many times ramps are too steep and are unsafe for people with disabilities to use.)
If you called complaining about what you considered poor response to your application for Social Security disability, we might talk to you about the average time in the state of Oklahoma that a person has to wait before getting a decision on the application. We would probably tell you how you can reach the Disability Examiner who is actually reviewing your case if you have further information to submit on your claim.
The Office of Disability Concerns has a unique window on the whole social service sector in Oklahoma. We know social services. We know realistic time frames. We know how to advocate to get your needs met, and believe me, that is a skill which has to be developed.
Many people have very little idea how social services work in Oklahoma. They become disabled or someone near them becomes disabled, and they figure they’ve paid into some program during their working years or they’ve paid their taxes, and “What do you mean somebody’s not going to provide that public transportation I need?”
We may suggest you move closer to a bus line if public transportation exists in your community. (Many communities in Oklahoma do not have public transportation.) We may tell you that a for-profit organization exists which can transport you, but there is a charge for that service. Many times people do not have realistic expectations for social services.
This office published The Little Book of Advocacy to teach people how to advocate for themselves. With this state publication, we are trying to put people’s self advocacy on firm grounding and to tell them how they can appeal adverse decisions in various social service agencies. People have very real needs, but many times they do not know how to go about getting those needs met.
We identify common needs which people with disabilities have and educate people who do not have disabilities on the needs of people with disabilities. Our office identified a need in public schools for disability awareness training for kids who do not have disabilities. When people begin to look at disability as just another part of life, they lose their fear of people with disabilities. Everybody benefits.
This office sponsored a conference for architects to educate architects on the needs of people with disabilities for accessible construction. We are still far from having accessible buildings and housing in Oklahoma and the nation as a whole. Where better to begin than with the people who actually design buildings?
Under the direction of this office law-enforcement personnel began to be trained on the different types of disability and what law-enforcement personnel can do in serving that growing segment of our population.
The reality is that sometimes law-enforcement personnel misinterpret a person having a seizure for public drunkenness. That is very much a reality in Oklahoma today. We teach law enforcement questions they can ask to determine if a person is having a seizure rather than being publicly intoxicated. Does that need to be done? You bet it needs to be done.
The State Legislature established the Olmsted Task Force to study how individuals with disabilities could be given more choice in whether they wanted institutional or community services. Would you rather be served in an institution or in the community in which you lived if you developed a disability? Many of us do not even think about this until we actually acquire a disability.
Our agency newsletter gives you up-to-date information on trends in social services in our state. We tell you about that program in the Oklahoma Health Care Authority which is moving people out of nursing homes and back into the community. This is new, cutting-edge service in Oklahoma, and you might not know about it even if you keep up with the traditional media of television and newspapers.
Our website (www.odc.ok.gov) will tell you about events going on in our state and who to contact if you would be interested in attending. We’re also going to tell you the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for doorway widths and how much pressure you should be able to put on a grab bar for it to be up to code.
Where can I get an accessible parking placard? Is the placard good for just one of my automobiles? What if I’ve lost my parking placard? The questions are endless. We are one, central place you can go for information on almost anything that impacts the community of people with disabilities. The Office of Disability Concerns provides one-stop shopping.
We have a website. We have a toll-free telephone number (800-522-8224). We will answer your call, and we will talk with you at length about your needs using our experience to broaden your own. When you don’t know anybody else to call and you don’t have anybody else to talk to, call us. If that service is out there, we’ll tell you about it. If it’s not, we’ll tell you that too. When you make that telephone call, you won’t be the same person again.
The O.U. College of Dentistry
The O.U. College of Dentistry in Oklahoma City is a good resource for comprehensive dental services for Oklahomans who have dental needs. It is a teaching school where dentists in training provide all types of dental service under the supervision of licensed dentists.
Does that mean that these dental services are of lesser quality? The answer to that question is “no”. The O.U. Dental School is the provider of choice of many people who hold private insurance and can take their business anywhere.
Potential patients must schedule a screening appointment to evaluate their needs. The patient will be examined by a student and attending faculty member. Call 405-271-6056 to schedule an initial screening appointment. (Screening appointments are for at least a month in advance.)
Dental hygiene (teeth cleaning only) can be scheduled at 405-271-7326. Calls for dental hygiene-only screenings are accepted Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The O.U. College of Dentistry is a provider for a limited number of insurance companies. Staff will file your insurance claim even if your carrier is not a contracted company. If you are not covered by dental insurance, payment plans are available.
There is a pediatric dental clinic for children. Call 405-261-2360 to schedule a screening appointment. The screening fee is $8.00 and cash only is accepted.
The O.U. College of Dentistry provides specialty in certain areas of dentistry. Orthodontics is a specialty available in correcting tooth and jaw positioning.
Surgical skills related to the head and neck area can be provided by dental residents in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Gum disease is treated by students in the Graduate Periodontics Program. In all these specialties a consultation is necessary to determine if patients are appropriate for the program.
The O.U. College of Dentistry is an integral part of the entire dental community, both locally and nationally. It is a member of the American Dental Association and the Oklahoma Dental Association.
The facility is located at 1201 N. Stonewall in the Health Sciences Center off N.E. 13th Street in Oklahoma City. Free parking is located in the parking garage to the northeast across Stonewall. For general information on the College of Dentistry and to schedule an initial screening, call 405-271-6326. Hours of service are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Oklahoma Medicaid Insurance (Sooner Care) does not pay for dental services for persons over 21 years of age. The lack of affordable dentistry sometimes causes people to neglect their teeth. The College of Dentistry charges between one third and one half of the going rate for services if you are shopping for good services which are also affordable.
Legal Aid Outreach Clinics
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma has 22 offices statewide including their satellites. It is a private, non-profit organization that helps people with legal information and sometimes represents people in court. These services are free of charge for those people who qualify for those services.
Legal Aid serves low-income and senior citizens with civil legal problems. Income guidelines are based upon the federal poverty guidelines. Legal Aid receives aging grants in most counties which allow them to serve people age 60 or older regardless of income. Services may be limited for seniors who are over the general income/asset guidelines.
The various Legal Aid offices have lawyers on staff that are licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. They cannot do criminal work. If you are involved in a criminal case and cannot afford an attorney, you may request an attorney be appointed to represent you.
However, Legal Aid may be able to assist in civil cases. Legal Aid provides services that include the following types of cases: family law, consumer law, housing issues, garnishment, guardianship, wills, Social Security and other civil legal problems. Legal Aid may assist you with information on Oklahoma law, or they may represent you if they decide they could be of help that way.
The Legal Aid law offices located in Oklahoma and Canadian Counties in central Oklahoma work in conjunction with other private, non-profit groups to staff legal clinics for the public. Walk-ins are welcome.
A free, legal clinic is conducted every third Saturday of the month between 9 a.m. and 12 noon at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. Many attorneys volunteer their time together with Legal Aid staff to provide applicants with legal advice or other legal assistance. (Epworth United Methodist Church is located at 1901 N. Douglas Boulevard.)
Reaching Our City offers a variety of programs to match the identified needs of the working poor of the N.W. 10th Street corridor. It includes a legal aid clinic among a wide variety of other social services under the sponsorship of the New Life Community Church of the Nazarene. The location of the clinic is 7710 N.W. 10th Street in Oklahoma City.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma maintains another free clinic at a local battered women’s shelter. This clinic is strictly regarding domestic violence and is specific to the women who live at the shelter.
Two Legal Aid free clinics are staffed right in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. One clinic is available on the days that eviction cases are heard in the courthouse. Clients who cannot afford an attorney may seek assistance from Legal Aid on the day their case is actually heard in court. The main focus of the clinic is to assist persons who receive public housing or section 8 benefits that are facing eviction.
The other clinic is held during the protective order docket in the Oklahoma County Courthouse. Legal Aid attorneys can provide legal advice or representation at the protective order hearing. The attorneys can assist applicants with filing a protective order as well as providing legal advice or information regarding domestic violence issues.
Sometimes clinic staff may be attorneys volunteering their time, and sometimes Legal Aid staff is involved. Some clinics have particular parameters and particular eligibility requirements.
If you would like to know more information about the free legal clinics sponsored by the Oklahoma City Legal Aid office, contact Cindy Goble at 405-488-6823. You may also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want more information and you are outside of Oklahoma or Canadian Counties, you may contact your local Legal Aid office. Contact information for your local office may be found on the Legal Aid website at www.legalaidok.org. There is also a link on the Legal Aid website to OK Law (www.oklaw.org) where you can go for free legal information on various topics.
Office of Disability Concerns Elementary Disability Awareness Project
By Kara Morrow
Disability Program Specialist
The Office of Disability Concerns began a Disability Awareness program geared for elementary children at Edgemere Elementary. We began the program on September 14 and it ended on November 9th. The purpose of the program was to bring awareness regarding the vast range of disabilities and to educate children that people with disabilities are like everyone else. The program was scheduled so that each Monday for nine weeks, a speaker or speakers from a different part of the disability community went to the school to meet with the kids and give them information regarding their particular specialty. They also brought handouts, films, or hands-on projects so that the kids could have an experience of what it is like to have a particular disability.
The first week, the Oklahoma Parents Center went to perform the puppet show which the kids really loved. The puppets are life-sized (about the size of a kindergartner) and have either obvious or hidden disabilities. It is a very interactive show where the children actually participate and speak to the puppets. The program is centered on how to interact with a person who has a disability which mirrors our own etiquette training for adults.
The second week, Hope Crumley from the Department of Rehabilitation Services/Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing taught the kids sign language. This was one of the most popular events of the program. The kids loved learning the signs and were using them for the next few weeks. The teachers also enjoyed this part of the program and some of them continued to refresh their memories during the following weeks.
Week three Cathy Morris from Special Olympics went to educate them about the athletes and programs of Special Olympics. She let them know how diverse the program is and she showed them a film of the competition and events. The children were very impressed with the athleticism of the participants and learned that people with disabilities can be excellent athletes.
Week four Wilfredo Santos-Rivera who is an Oklahoma City School Board member spoke with the kids about learning disabilities. Week five we had representatives from Sabolitch Prosthetics show the kids how prosthetics are made and used. They really were interested in the technology and a little in awe when she started putting the arms and legs on the table for display. It was great for the kids to be able to see and touch the technology. This is something they see on television but it is truly amazing to see these limbs or prosthetic devices up close.
Week six Ani Severtsen and Pam Holloway from the Department of Rehabilitation Services/Visual Services came and spoke to the kids about visual impairment and blindness. Ani was able to show the children some technology for determining what color clothes are with a device that reads it and says out loud the color of the garment. They also brought some goggles that mimic low-vision or other types of vision disabilities. The kids were able to experience what it is like to have a visual impairment. They also demonstrated using a cane and Pam brought Vanna, her service dog. Vanna was a big hit with the kids and Pam took her out of the harness so they could pet her after the program was over.
Week seven Suzanne Taylor and Natalie Williams from Autism Concepts, Inc. spoke with the kids about autism and set up sensory stations so they could get a better idea what children with autism experience. Some of the sensory stations were taste and touch and the purpose was to let students know that autism is a sensory disability. What the rest of us take for granted may be over-stimulating for a person with autism. They seemed to enjoy this program very much.
Week eight Amy Clouber with the Oklahoma department of Health and Traci Castles with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services spoke with the kids about emotional disabilities and general mental health. They taught them relaxation exercises which the teachers also participated in. This was actually a very successful program and the kids asked very good and very meaningful questions. As a result of this program, we are developing a parents night program that will involve giving the parents some resources and tools on how to cope with difficult children and what is and is not normal developmental behavior for the ages of elementary children.
Our last week Jenifer Randel with the Council on Developmental Disabilities brought over several of her co-workers for a mini-obstacle course which was geared for the kids to experience some of the limitations people with disabilities live with every day. This was a lot of fun for the kids and they even got to race Chuck Roberts in a wheelchair. This was an excellent way to end the program because Jenifer tried to tie everything we had done throughout the nine weeks together.
The overall program was a success. The kids really enjoyed learning about disabilities and were respectful and receptive. Our hope is that the Office of Disability Concerns will be able to get this program in a slightly shorter version into all Oklahoma City Public Schools.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
February 5-6, 2010 The Oklahoma Dental Association and the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Charitable Foundation will sponsor the first annual free dental clinic at the Tulsa Convention Center. There is no income requirement. Call 405-848-8873 at the Oklahoma Dental Association for more information.
March 4-5, 2010 The National Association of Mental Illness, Oklahoma chapter is sponsoring a conference for advocates for people with mental health disabilities. The conference will be at the National Center for Employee Development, 2801 E. Hwy. 9 in Norman. Call 405-230-1900 for more information.
March 8-9, 2010 The Development Disabilities Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will sponsor the Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities at the Norman Embassy Suites Hotel. Contact Sheree Powell at 405-521-4972 for more information.
Department of Rehabilitation Services public hearing
February 8, 2010 in Oklahoma City 4-6 p.m. 3535 N.W. 58th Street, 2nd floor conference room.
February 9, 2010 in Lawton 1-3 p.m. 2609 S.W. Lee Boulevard, large conference room.
February 10, 2010 in Tulsa 1-3 p.m. 8740 E. 11th, conference room for Total Source for Hearing Loss.
If you have an event coming up relating to disability, let us know at 800-522-8224 and we’ll help you publicize.