555 attend DRS People with Disabilities Awareness Day at OK History Center
OKLAHOMA CITY — The 27th People with Disabilities Awareness Day, hosted by Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services on March 8, was live and in person with 555 participants.
The resource fair with 65 exhibitors and a statewide awards ceremony were held for the first time at Oklahoma History Center.
Organizers coordinated 11 teams who visited legislators and elected leaders at the state Capitol prior to the event.
DRS provided Braille and large print materials, certified sign language interpreters and live captions to enable all guests to fully participate.
Commission for Rehabilitation Services Vice Chair Jace Wolfe, Ph.D., and DRS Executive Melinda Fruendt presented People with Disability Awareness Day awards to six recipients before a capacity crowd.
Oklahoma School for the Blind 2021 Student of the Year - Elbin Carrillo, a junior active in Jazz Band, wrestling, Braille Challenge, Cane Quest and Boy Scouts from Oklahoma City, is fluent in Spanish and English.
Oklahoma School for the Deaf Student of the Year - RyJan Reininger, a senior from Midwest City, who excels on academic and robotic teams and plays on football, basketball and track teams.
Vocational Rehabilitation Client of the Year - Wyatt Hubbard graduated from Eastern Oklahoma State College and South Oklahoma State University and is now employed as a radio announcer and DJ at Southeastern Oklahoma Radio in McAlester
Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired Client of the Year - Collier Holland from Oklahoma City works for Quality Logic as a software quality assurance analyst who tests and improves web site accessibility for people with disabilities.
State Agency Partner of the Year - Todd Loftin, deputy superintendent for special education services at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, helps faculty deliver high quality programming and technology for students with disabilities.
Excellence in Communication - Linda Lynn from Edmond is news research editor with 30 years’ experience at The Oklahoman who features help readers understand and identify with people she writes about including those disabilities..
“People with Disabilities Awareness Day gives us an opportunity to engage lawmakers, share critical information with the public and honor high-achieving award winners with disabilities,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “We all work together to remove barriers so that Oklahomans with disabilities can achieve employment and enjoy independent, self-sufficient lives.”
DRS served 82,533 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2021 with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency assists job seekers with disabilities overcome barriers to employment and assists Oklahoma employers to find qualified, job-ready employees who become taxpayers, For more information, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.
For more information
Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director