By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –The 24th annual People with Disabilities Awareness Day (PWDAD) will be held from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13 at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City. The event is hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (OKDRS) joined for the second year by Oklahoma People First.
This year’s theme “Go All In” is a call to clients, families and supporters to get behind the effort to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from finding jobs and leading independent lives.
The day will begin at 10 a.m. with the People First Developmental Disabilities Rally on the Capitol South Plaza. Registration and check in for PWDAD will begin at noon on the first floor.
PWDAD offers people with disabilities and advocates a chance to talk with decision makers who can preserve or expand services that make a critical difference in the lives of disabled Oklahomans. Last year, more than 775 people participated in this free event.
“People with Disabilities Awareness Day 2018 is fast approaching on March 13, and I encourage all Oklahomans with disabilities, their families and their supporters to meet with lawmakers to share their stories,” said DRS Director Noel Tyler. “Their stories offer amazing insights and messages of strength that lawmakers will want to hear. These are people who want be taxpayers, have careers and lead independent lives.”
At 12:30 p.m. exhibitor booths located on the second and fourth floors will offer the latest disability information. Starting at 11 a.m. volunteers will be available to help exhibitors unload at the Capitol west entrance and get through security. Exhibitors can go directly to their table and their supplies will be delivered to them.
Visits with state legislators will begin at 12:30 p.m.. Volunteers will be available to take participants on legislative visits and provide other assistance if needed.
State legislator information can be found online at or call to make an appointment: Senate: 800-865-6490 or House of Representatives: 800-522-8502.
At 3 p.m. the Awareness Day Awards Ceremony honoring several Oklahomans and state organizations will take place outside on the Capitol South Plaza.
Event speakers will include Parker Simpson, a freshman at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, and senior Trinity Lewis of the Oklahoma School for the Blind. They will relate their experiences as students and the many services unique to their schools that are preparing them for higher education, careers and independent lives.
“Many times, when people acquire a disability in their lifetime they don’t know what’s possible, and they don’t know that there are services out there,” said Tracy Brigham, OKDRS administrator for Visual Services. “When they find out about OKDRS and Visual Services, they are excited because they have hope.”
Visual Services annually helps more than 1,800 Oklahomans who are blind or visually impaired to reach their goals for employment and independence.
“We encourage everyone to wear green, if possible, to show unity,” Tyler added. “When decision makers at the state Capitol see us in the halls or rotundas all wearing disability-awareness green, our efforts have an even greater impact.”
Participants should park and enter on the south side of the state Capitol. Accessible parking is located at the base of the south steps. Overflow parking may be available at the Jim Thorpe Building west of Lincoln Blvd.
The state Capitol is currently undergoing a major renovation. To accommodate this construction, please stay up to date on the latest Awareness Day news by checking for updates at www.okdrs.org/pwdad.
Pre-registration for Disabilities Awareness Day is encouraged, either online or by calling 405-951-3478 or 800 845-8476. Registrations will also be accepted the day of the event.