oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services

Four Vocational Rehabilitation Teams to Present at National Disability Conference in
Kansas City, Mo.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Four teams, including vocational rehabilitation leaders from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), will present Oct. 13 and 14 at the national Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Conference presentations are the high point for those assembled as experts share innovative practices that help high school-age students with disabilities transition from high school to post-secondary education and employment.

“The fact that DRS staff have been asked to make multiple presentations at the DCDT conference suggests the work we are doing in Oklahoma is leading the way,” DRS Director Michael O’Brien, Ed.D said. “Typically, states are fortunate if they are asked to send even one presenter.

O’Brien summarized the four conference presentations with presenters’ names, employers and hometowns:

1) Brighter Futures in Transition: An Employment Readiness Summer Program for Young Adults with Disabilities

BFIT is a summer transition program designed to help students with disabilities get pre-employment skills training and paid work experiences necessary to make a successful transition from high school to employment. The program combines classroom training in eight major areas and hands-on work experience. BFIT is geared to build on tools gained in school, maintain structure through summer, and create a smooth cycle into postsecondary employment.

Presenters: Janie Fugitt, Transition Specialist, DRS Visual Services, Oklahoma City; Terry Berryman, Transition Specialist, DRS Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Oklahoma City;

2) Oklahoma Project SEARCH: A Job Readiness Program for Young Adults with Disabilities

Project SEARCH arranges internships with host companies that provide soft skills and occupational development to prepare students with disabilities for successful employment with other companies. Conference participants will get information about creating their own Project SEARCH programs; identifying the best program model design (high school transition vs. young adult); and exploring funding options.

Presenters: Kimberly Osmani, Transition Coordinator, DRS, Norman; Judi Goldston, State Coordinator for Project SEARCH, University of Oklahoma, Purcell; Kristen Wiley, Business Liaison, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Oklahoma City; Shanel Armstrong, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Oklahoma Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, Oklahoma City; Daesha Brinson, Instructor, Metro Technology Centers, Edmond, OK

3) Teaching Students to Attain Their Transition Goals

This pilot program teaches skills to students with varied disabilities that help them reach transition goals, while learning to use assistive technology (AT) to access curriculum and increase their levels of school success. The goal attainment intervention taught students how to develop a plan to attain their goals. Support and feedback enabled the students to implement their plans to attain transition goals, evaluate results, and make needed adjustments to the plans. This pilot demonstrates how a depreciation formula can be used to provide appropriate AT to youth with disabilities.

Presenters - Jodie D. Martin, M.Ed. Graduate Research Assistant, OU Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, Norman; Dr. Jim Martin, Zarrow Family Professor, OU Zarrow Center, Norman; Melisa Kifer, Special Education Teacher, Stillwater Public Schools, Stillwater; Kimberly Osmani, Transition Coordinator, DRS, Norman

4) Cross-Organization Collaboration: One State’s Example of How It Works

Research shows collaboration between schools, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and other community partners lead to increased post-school outcomes for students with disabilities in transition programs. However, reductions in federal and state special education dollars and turnover in state and local personnel and programs have created extreme challenges in capacity building practices and policies for that benefit students with disabilities. This presentation highlights one statewide transition team’s collaborative efforts to maintain an intentional presence for transition education and services. The Oklahoma Transition Council has demonstrated collaborative funding and efforts at the state level that local Transition teams can replicate, including professional development opportunities, technical assistance and strategic team planning.

Presenters: Dr. Paula Kohler, National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) Kalamazoo, MI; Jennifer Coyle, NSTTAC, Kalamazoo, MI; Dr. Jim Martin, Zarrow Family Professor, OU Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, Norman; Kimberly Osmani, DRS, Norman

In 2010, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services served 84,942 Oklahomans with disabilities through employment, vocational rehabilitation, residential and outreach education, independent living services and the determination of medical eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. For more information, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476. The number is accessible by telecommunications equipment for the deaf.