Due to poor eyesight, Carlene, from Tulsa, quit her job with O’Reilly Auto Parts where she had worked for 13 years. She sought out help from DRS and Grace Jordan and Tracy Brigham both helped Carline with orientation and mobility training, counseling and guidance, transportation training, adaptive equipment, and job readiness training. O’Reilly’s called Carlene back and asked her to return because they really wanted her back. Tracy stepped in again and helped Carlene get established. Carlene says, “I needed help adjusting to losing my eyesight. The devices I have to use for daily living are great and DRS was a life saver.”
Michael, an Okemah resident with a vision disability, needed help in finding employment after his family’s farm was shut down. Michael wanted to help the family so he contacted DRS to help him look for janitorial work because he thought he could find a job like that in Okemah. Lisa Colbert, DRS, counseled Michael and helped him apply online for an opening at Walmart. She advised him on how to handle the interview and also found him a job coach. Michael got the job and loves it. His co-workers enjoy having him as part of their team. Michael is unable to drive due to his vision but he is saving for a cornea transplant so he can get his license back and be more independent. He commented, “DRS has improved my life and the lives of my family because it shows me things for the future. I have been in my job for one year and I still have my cows.”
Arlene - VR
This Edmond resident recently received services from DRS to assist her with hearing loss. Arlene is self-employed as a nanny and she, and her clients were frustrated because she just couldn’t hear. She would have to ask, “Now, what did you say” over and over again. Jill Oliver, DRS counselor, helped Arlene purchase hearing aids and a Bluetooth device to utilize in the car with her cell phone. Jill also set up some appointments for Arlene to receive counseling services from Fine Hearing Care in Edmond. Arlene states that “DRS helped improve my life and my family’s because it gave me confidence. I was always worried about missing something. Now, my husband and I can both hear and we aren’t screaming at each other!”
Robert - VR
Robert is Arlene’s husband and he, too, was helped by Jill Oliver of DRS. Robert needed assistance for both his hearing and his vision – his hearing was less than 50% in both ears and he has dry eyes and couldn’t see to read. Robert works as a gate attendant at Hayburn Lake and he found it very hard to communicate with people – and vice versa. Jill set Robert up with Fine Hearing Care, Edmond, and with Dr. Gorley, Edmond, for vision care. Just like his wife, Robert received hearing aids and a Bluetooth device. He says, “DRS helped improve my life 100% – my wife and I communicate better now and I have my job. I am very grateful for DRS.”
Charles - VR
Charles, of Lawton, was seeking employment and received valuable services from DRS and his counselor, Heidi Layton. Charles came to DRS to get assistance in obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry / Education and to become a teacher. With DRS’ help, Charles received his degree from Cameron University and completed his internship at Cache High School, Lawton Public Schools. DRS helped Charles in a number of ways: assessing his vocational aptitudes, helping him obtain transportation using the Lawton Area Transit Services (LATS), providing information and referral services and aiding with his teacher certification. DRS also helped Charles with some daily living and personal needs: an accessible ramp for his home, having someone to talk to about his goals, and receiving counseling and guidance.
Charles is currently working at Eisenhower High School, Lawton Public Schools. Using his personal financial resources, Charles received his Master’s degree and is now employed as a Chemistry teacher for grades 9-12. Charles is very grateful to DRS and says, “DRS has improved my life because, as a teacher, I feel useful and my financial situation has improved.”
Shawn - VR
Shawn, from Meeker, Oklahoma, received services through DRS for her right leg below knee amputation. She benefited from DRS and Brenda Gossett’s attention. Shawn’s prosthetic leg “was worn out and falling apart” and making her job at Comfort Inn as a breakfast attendant much harder than it needed to be. Shawn has a second job as a hostess at LaDonna’s Grill and Catering in Meeker. These two jobs meant more than a 40-hour workweek and Shawn was concerned she might not be able to continue. “I heard about DRS,” she says, “called the number, and Brenda saw me immediately.” Brenda set Shawn up with services from Hanger Prosthetics for a new prosthetic leg, Shawnee Workforce Center for counseling, and she also had a hearing test. Although Shawn could be helped with hearing aids, right now, that isn’t possible. Shawn stated, “My life has improved greatly because of the DRS process. It helped me stay active and maintain my jobs. I am very appreciative of DRS – it has always been good to me.”
Keri - VR
Keri, of Cache, Oklahoma, received employment services from DRS and her counselor, Traci Lozada. Keri had a job but she wanted something more permanent and long-term so that she could provide a better life for her daughter and herself. After Keri sent her resume to Traci, Traci let her know there was a position opening at the Galt Foundation, a professional staffing service, in Oklahoma City. Keri got the job as a receptionist and because Galt and DRS coordinate their services, Keri learned a lot about being a rehabilitation tech and how the process flows to, and from, DRS. In time, Keri applied for an opening with DRS and she has worked in the Lawton office since November 2015. Keri states, “Traci has been very involved with my case. She let me know of job openings and checked on me all the time as well as providing me a clothing allowance for interviews. Traci was a great counselor.” As for DRS, Keri says, “DRS has provided me with a steady income, benefits, the ability to pay off my car and save money for a future home for my daughter and me.” Keri has a positive message that has helped her continue to be successful: live life positively and surround yourself with positive people.
Phillip - VR
Tulsan Phillip received services from DRS due to his progressive hearing loss. He is totally deaf in one ear and the other ear needed an eardrum replacement and hearing aids. Phillip works as a driver at Hertz and really loves his job. However, increasingly, he was having a hard time finding jobs because he couldn’t hear over the phone – an essential tool of his work as a driver.
Sandy Keesee, from DRS, helped Phillip receive the eardrum replacement surgery in January 2015 from Dr. John Mowry and then she helped him get the hearing aids. She also helped him connect with companies for position openings and he receives job fair notices. Phillip states, “DRS helped improve my life and my family relations because now I can communicate better. Learning the texting capability on the cellphone has helped me – it’s wonderful!” He continued, “Although the surgery didn’t improve the function of my ear, it certainly improved my health.”
Audrey - Deaf and Hard of Hearing
DRS counselor, Sandy Keese, assisted Audrey, from Tulsa, with her disabilities related to hearing loss. Audrey received occupational training at Paul Mitchell where she received her Cosmetology Certificate. She now works at Dapper, Inc., in Tulsa. Sandy also provided Audrey with counseling and guidance, clothing, and a referral to Jackie Scholl for adaptive equipment such as a hearing aid for her right ear, re-programming her old cochlear implant and eventually, getting a new cochlear implant.
Due to her improved hearing and communication skills, Audrey is excited about working at Dapper and building a deaf customer base. And, her employer is excited to welcome a new, diverse population to his establishment. Audrey commented, “Sandy was so helpful. I have gained more confidence and look forward to reaching out to Tulsa’s deaf community.”
Ashley - Transition
Ashley, from Claremore, received services through DRS for her disabilities related to her hearing loss in her right ear as well as her mild cerebral palsy. She had great assistance from her counselor, Terri Schrader, who assisted her by providing supported employment, counseling and guidance, clothing, and assessments, information and referral. Ashley stated that she “used her Social Security monies for transportation to get to and from vendors and work.” She is now working at Walmart in Owasso doing janitorial / maintenance work and she likes her job.
Ashley had barriers of hearing and communication. She was very nervous and she didn’t know what she wanted to do or how to plan for her future. Ashley had assistance from her job coach, Johnna Brown, through Supported Employment with Futures for Tomorrow, paid for by DRS. For 90 days, Ashley was assisted by her job coach and she is very grateful for this time. Her boss, Miranda McIntosh, Thad Maximus and Chris Kanoze, further trained her.
Regarding Terri, Ashley commented, “Terri did a lot of work and helped me out a lot. The opportunity that DRS gave me made things a lot better for my family. We are not stressed and now I can pay for my own car and help with my family.”
Devon - VR
Devon, from Tulsa, received services through DRS for the disabilities related to his right hand and amputation that occurred as a very small child. He has undergone at least 15 surgeries to his hand in his childhood and adult life. Terri Schrader, DRS counselor, greatly assisted Devon by providing information on colleges and universities he might attend and building his self-confidence and life skills. Devon completed a Physiology Degree at OSU, a Bachelor of Science and Nursing from OU and a Master’s Degree from OU in Family Nurse Practitioner, Counseling and Guidance.
He now works at his “dream job” – the Utica Park Clinic (UPC), an outpatient facility in Tulsa associated with Hillcrest HealthCare System. Devon sees patients on a daily basis and treats people for their current health conditions. He says, “Knowing how much that surgery helped me, I want to help others with their afflictions or illnesses.” Devon received services from DRS, Workforce Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. He states that “I had many counselors over the years, but Terri was very resourceful and I am grateful for DRS and the opportunities that I was given.”
Angie - Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Angie, from Bixby, Oklahoma received services through DRS for her disabilities related to her profound hearing loss. She had great assistance from her counselor / Program Manager, Jonathon Cook. Her counselor assisted her by providing counseling and guidance, clothing, transportation, telecommunications, information, referral and job placement. She also received humidifiers for her ears as well as adaptive equipment such as a Comfort Contego. This device is an amplifier that hooks up to her phone and provides excellent sound quality without time lag.
Angie received assistance with her resume through DRS as well as building up her confidence and self-esteem. She is now working full-time as a Program Assistant for the Interpreter Referral Program at Total Source for Hearing-loss & Access (TSHA) in Tulsa and absolutely loves her job. In October 2015, she was chosen to be 1 of the 5 individuals nationwide to be a part of the MED-EL (Austrian Hearing Implant Company) study, in which she received a device offering more natural hearing. Although not approved yet by the FDA yet, Angie stated, “My hearing is beautiful.”
Success Stories are continued below in a little different format...