By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma’s first mobile People with Disabilities Awareness Day is set for March 10, marking the first time Oklahomans with disabilities, their families and supporters can take part in the event from work, home or wherever they are.
In previous years, Awareness Day brought hundreds of Oklahomans to the state Capitol to talk with lawmakers and share their personal stories. This year, due to construction at the Capitol, an onsite event is not possible. DRS encourages supporters to come together online for the event.
The event is hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS).
“People with Disabilities Awareness Day is a critical opportunity to share with lawmakers how Oklahomans with disabilities can become employed and productive taxpayers through services from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services,” said DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt.
“We are committed to helping them live independent lives. We ensure clients with disabilities achieve their desired goals.”
For 25 years, People with Disabilities Awareness Day offers an opportunity for Oklahomans with disabilities to engage lawmakers and share their personal stories about what services are helping them live independent lives and pursue careers.
This year, participants are encouraged to visit the event web site at okdrs.gov/pwdad, register for the event, and click on communications tools for ways to engage lawmakers.
Facebook users can stay up to date on the event by visiting the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services Facebook page. When posting on social media, participants are encouraged to use hashtag #PWDAD2020 in their messages.
Oklahomans are encouraged to reach out to their legislators through calls, emails or if possible, in-person visits. Those who are uncertain who their lawmakers are, they can visit oklegislatue.gov/FindMyLegislature. Click here for more tips on how to better engage with lawmakers.
It was recently announced that Tracy Brigham, DRS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBVI) administrator, has been elected Treasurer of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind. NCSAB officers will serve through December 31.
Brigham’s staff at SBVI provide statewide career counseling, vocational education and training, assistive technology and medical services. These programs help nearly 1,300 Oklahomans achieve career and independent living goals every year.
“The mission of NCSAB is to promote specialized services for individuals who are blind and visually impaired so they can achieve employment and independence,” Brigham said.
“In addition to informing the public about the benefits of available services, the organization conducts or sponsors research on blindness, and advises the U.S. Department of Education and Rehabilitation Services Administration regarding policy and program development and inter-agency cooperation that impact services.”
Last year, DRS served 82,787 Oklahomans with disabilities with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
The agency helps job seekers with disabilities face barriers to employment, such as inaccessible worksites, lack of transportation or the need for specialized equipment or training.
For more information, visit okdrs.gov or call 800-845-8476.