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Opening Doors To Opportunity, video transcript

Intro To DRS Transcript

1st man: Most people with disabilities just want to be treated like everybody else. They want to have the same opportunities.

2nd man: We want what everybody else wants. You know we want to be accepted.

3rd man: People with disabilities want freedom. We want to be able to self-sufficient and not have to depend on a lot of services for help.

4th man: Want an opportunity to be back in the workforce to provide for their families, to help their own personal image. Trust me, it’s no fun to sit at home.

5th man: I had trouble getting employed. So I chose to go through voc rehab. They helped me go to school, get a degree, find a job and now, I am on my own.

4th man: To get back into society and be productive, I needed to be trained. DRS provided me that opportunity.

1st woman: People with disabilities want to be able to have access to anything especially their personal and professional goals without any barriers.

Voice over (VO): That’s where the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services can help.

VO: This state agency, known as DRS, assists over one hundred thousand Oklahomans with disabilities each year. As a result, people graduate, go to work, qualify for disability benefits and become more self-sufficient members of their communities.


For example, Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services help Oklahomans with disabilities prepare for good jobs in the careers of their choice.

These divisions operate programs that help people adjust to blindness and hearing loss by learning new skills that lead to independence.

Disability Determination reviews medical records to see if applicants are eligible for Social Security disability benefits because they are not able to work.

The Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee and Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur help residential students, those who commute and summer school students achieve their educational and career goals.

Both schools offer outreach services to families, local schools and their students who are blind or deaf across the state.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services operates dozens of programs that help Oklahomans lead more independent and productive lives.

DRS and Vocational Rehabilitation

Jason Price, VR Program Manager: After receiving VR services, I have gone from a social security recipient to an independent tax-paying home-owning citizen. So my life has improved tenfold.

VO: Vocational Rehabilitation introduces or reinstates people with physical or mental disabilities into the workforce.

As a result, employed clients become taxpayers, reducing their need for disability benefits and social services.

Dale Oard, Owner, All-Star Adverting and Promotions: It just makes you feel like you’re actually contributing to society. You’re actually go to be creating taxes and everything, paying taxes. Instead of feeling like you’re a burden.

VO: A person is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services if he or she has a physical or mental disability that is a substantial barrier to employment. The individual must be able to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services which are required to prepare for and find a job.

Kelly Criser, OSD Kindergarten Teacher: VR helped me with paying for my college tuition, VR helped pay for my certification test, VR also had a career placement program that was available to me.

VO: VR services primarily consist of career counseling, vocational education and training, medical services to improve employment opportunities, special technology and job placement.

Stacye Alfred, VR Specialist: We use informed choice to help that client determine what’s best for them and to try to find jobs that are in job market are realistic for that person.

Charles Kelley, Maintenance Sam's Club: When I was in a wheelchair I didn’t think that I would be able to walk again. I was down a lot but my counselor really helped me, kept pushing, helped me out a lot on that.

VO: Vocational Rehabilitation also offers a head start on work experience for high school students with disabilities employment assistance from Services for the Deaf and free recruitment, job-related training and information about tax credits for employers.

Greg Gattis, Manager Sam's Club: Our employees with disabilities are very eager, very focused. They want to prove themselves. They want to show that they are just as capable as anyone else.

DRS and Visual Services

James West, crew leader, Michael Green Custom Homes: It’s given me a lot more confidence. My career is a lot better now. I went from struggling on jobs because my vision was so bad.

VO: Many Oklahomans who are blind or visually impaired turn to Visual Services for assistance through vocational rehabilitation, employment and other programs that encourage confidence and independence.

Tim Murphy, welder: They helped me in every way you could think of. How to put dishes away. How to remember where things are, little things that you never think about until you walk around with a blindfold on.

VO: Visual Services offers the same type of assistance as DRS’s Vocational Rehabilitation division career counseling, vocational education and training, medical services to improve employment opportunities, special technology and job placement. However, vocational rehabilitation is customized to help Oklahomans with visual impairments adjust to vision loss and develop skills needed to get or keep quality jobs.

Monique Stith, VR Counselor for Visual Services: Our primary purpose is employment. Once they become employed, the clients become taxpayers. Then they are able to pay into the system and get off of disability benefits, which gives them their autonomy and control back and the power to make choices and be advocates for themselves and for others as well.

VO: Clients are eligible if visual impairments make it difficult to work. They must be able to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services, which are required to prepare for and find jobs. Most services are free.

West: Well today I feel more confident. I am definitely more successful the depression is over with.

VO: Visual Services helps high school students get valuable vocational training and work experience and assists business owners who are blind in operating food service businesses in government buildings.

Michael Spencer, Owner, M&J Snack Bar: It gives you a support system. It gives you counselors. It gives you business consultants. It gives you the tools that you need, so it’s kind of hard to fail.

VO: Recruitment assistance is free to employers along with information on tax credits and training on the latest adaptive technology to help employees get the job done.

Spencer: It’s uplifting to know that you can make that change. You can go from the sighted world to a person with disabilities and have all the tools you need to still be successful

VO: Visual Services offers’ free classes and training at home to help clients adjust to vision loss and regain independence.

Pamela LaViolette: I was just sitting at home hoping somebody would come along and help me. I don’t have to do that now. I can get up do it myself.

VO: Visuals Services operates the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which mails thousands of free recorded books to patrons and provides free braille textbooks to public school students.

Kathleen Kennedy, OLBPH patron: We heavily, heavily, heavily rely on these books on tape so that we can listen to our books, get all the information we need, all the education that we need to continue to move forward.

DRS and Disability Determination

VO: The Social Security Administration pays disability benefits to Oklahomans who can’t work due to a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.

Bruce Smith, Professional relations Office: We look at each case on an individual basis and make sure that we make the correct decision on it. Because we do know that people's lives depend on it.

VO: Disability Determination is a division of the state Department of Rehabilitation Services. But the program is funded by the federal government to determine eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. Disability examiners and consulting physicians or psychologists work as a team on the medical review process. They decide whether or not applicants are disabled or blind based on medical evidence and federal rules and regulations.

Christy Washington, DD Specialist Level 4: In the event that the consumer’s medical records don’t have enough information or not the type of information we need, our agency will pay for a private exam in the community. So we can get the information we need to help the consumer.

VO: Children are evaluated based on their ability to perform age-appropriate activities. Cases are re-evaluated periodically to make sure that individuals receiving benefits are still disabled.

Washington: Here at DDD, the process of making all our medical records come in electronically has help to speed up the process and to be able to make decisions more quickly and efficiently.

Larry Jones, Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist: The thing I like about the Disability

Determination Division is the fact that their employees are really well trained and understand exactly what they are doing. They’ve had a remarkable accuracy rate, in fact it’s over 96% in the last year. They take over 50,000 cases a year from the offices around the state of Oklahoma.

VO: Disability Determination helps Oklahomans cope with loss of income due to disability. As a result, they gain more independence and make a better life for themselves and their families.

Smith: As a result of finding an allowance not only do the people receive benefits – the people that apply – sometimes their family members and it will raise the quality of life for the whole family not just the person who applies and is allowed.

DRS and the Oklahoma School for the Blind

Laquanna Sango, Senior: I love OSB things like – everything. I like everything about it, the food, the teachers, the way they help us, our accommodations.

VO: Located in Muskogee, the Oklahoma School for the Blind, also known as Parkview School, offers education programs, free of charge, for children with vision loss.

Students may live on campus during the week, commute from home or attend summer school programs.

Russell Rowland, Sophomore: What I like about going to school here is that the teachers – not only do they assist us but they teach us how to be independent in college. The school also provides us with the technologies that we will be needing in college. They teach us how to use them.

VO: Children from preschool age through high school benefit from small class sizes and individual instruction from highly skilled and dedicated educators.

Faye Miller, OSB teacher: OSB is the perfect environment for students with vision loss, because we have the expertise and we have the equipment here at our school to provide them with individualized instruction and really work on areas of concept development that they may not get using traditional methods.

VO: Students follow a fully accredited academic program and get instruction in areas specifically designed for people with vision loss.

Sango: I like the teachers. I like the teachers because they help us and they are sensitive to our needs. They help us with whatever problems we go through.

Valarie Wilson, OSB Life Skills Teacher: I’ve seen them grow from being kind of shy and backwards about their impairment to actually standing forth and saying this is what I need and this is what I can do just give me the chance.

VO: The Oklahoma School for the Blind provides thousands of free outreach services each year for students attending local public schools and their families.

Qualified staff provide evaluations, in-service training for teachers and recommendations for classroom modifications that help students reach their full potential.

Renee Miller, OSB Outreach: The outreach services here at the school for the blind, provide consultation, resources, and support services for individuals, professionals that work with students that are visually impaired.

Jana House, mother of Lauren, OSB Student: With the help of OSB, we feel like she’s been able to make leaps and bounds already. With their continued help, we know that she will be able to be a successful person.

DRS and Oklahoma School for the Deaf

Wendi O'Connor, Senior: I like being a student here at OSD because it is really easy for me to communicate with other people.

VO: The Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur provides educational services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing, free of charge.

Students may live on campus during the week, commute from home, attend satellite schools or participate in summer school programs.

Ross Price, 7th Grade: It’s better here. It’s more fun. The communication. Everything is cool. They have games, basketball, baseball. We have lots of fun. I really enjoy it. It’s better than before.

VO: Fully accredited educational programs and support services address students’ intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth.

Roxy Stallings, Sophomore: I came here. I am just happy. I think it’s a good thing for me.

VO: The Oklahoma School for the Deaf offers free early intervention, evaluations and equipment distribution programs to help students attending local public schools and their families.

Staff provide consultation regarding modifications to improve learning environments.

Traci Prince, Director of Student Assessment and Program Development: Family support, we have videos, we have books that we can loan them. We have a lending library. We have an equipment program where the student can receive services for telephones. We have a children’s hearing aid program as well as a caption media program that they can access for services for their child either at home or through the public school.

Carolyne Paradiso, parent of Kathleen, OSD student: Sometimes when they're in a public school setting despite the best efforts of the school they don’t always have a peer group. They don’t have a sense of community. So at OSD that’s one thing they get – is a community. Plus they still have a tie to home and that’s real important.

VO: Opening doors to opportunity. That’s the mission of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. With dedicated staff who understand and care about the people they serve. Programs and services designed to help people lead more self-sufficient and fulfilling lives. DRS staff open the door to success, but each person deserves the credit for walking through it to achieve their dreams. Contact the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services toll-free at 800-845-8476 or on the World Wide Web at

Copyright 2008 Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.