Veteran helps other vets succeed at college/career tech through Veterans Upward Bound

Ada, OKLA. – Transitioning from military service to the academic world can be overwhelming for veterans. They trade a structured environment for a new avalanche of choices. Many also juggle families and jobs, or have service-connected disabilities.

Gary Spikes has been there, done all of that – plus he has hearing and vision loss, and has used a wheelchair in the past because of degenerative disc disease.

Veterans Upward Bound Director Mary Meeks hired Spikes as an academic counselor three months ago.

National Federation of the Blind Braille instruction July 28-August 8 at DRS Library for the Blind

A group of people with white canes outside

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The National Federation of the Blind of Oklahoma will partner for the second year with the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the Visual Services division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services to bring a fun, summer day camp experience to children, ages five to fourteen, who are blind or have low vision.

Students must pre-register for the two-week Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning program – or BELL for short – which builds participants’ self-confidence, positive attitude and Braille skills.

Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week spokesperson’s productivity, ambition pay off at Cintas

Two men smile for the camera

OKLAHOMA CITY – All Peter Broussard really wanted was a chance -- a chance to work hard, fit in at the job and take care of his family, like everybody else.

At Cintas, Broussard, who is deaf and blind, is just one of the guys on a team that rewards productivity and ambition.

Cintas employs 30,000 “partners,” the term they call all employees. The Cincinnati-based corporation, provides products and services that help companies keep their employees and facilities safe.

Thirteen graduate from the Oklahoma School for the Deaf

OSD class 2013

SULPHUR – Thirteen students from the Oklahoma School for the Deaf received diplomas May 21 in a commencement ceremony in the OSD gym, at 1100 East Oklahoma Street in Sulphur.

The OSD 2014 graduating class included Amber Marie Cooper of Lane, Rodolfo Apolinar Jr. of Ardmore, Nathan Christopher Coon of Paoli, Erika Nicole Gillihan of Sulphur, Ty Blake Jenkins of Sulphur, Alex Christopher McCool of Choctaw, Nico Angelo McCormick of Moore, Melissa Susie Pace of Sulphur, Amy Lenn Pena of Altus, Morgan Renee Ponder of Tulsa, Haylee Tess Reynolds of Swink, Trynecka Olivia Sheffey of Pauls Valley and Breanna Lynn Winfree of Guthrie.

“This has been a great group of students. I look forward to seeing what this group of graduates accomplish," KaAnn Varner, OSD superintendent.

Twelve graduate from Oklahoma School for the Blind

OSB seniors pose for graduation photo

MUSKOGEE — Twelve seniors at the Oklahoma School for the Blind received their diplomas Thursday during a commencement ceremony in the OSB auditorium, at 3300 Gibson Street, in Muskogee.

The OSB 2014 graduating class includes Justus Cheyenne Atwood of Eufaula, Moddasy Renee Bateman of Pryor, Taylor Grace Carter of Lawton, Riley Dalton Fly of Edmond, Bryce Anthony Kesterson of Sapulpa, Briar Scott Lostlen of Enid, Montana Rain Nichole Lowrey of Tahlequah, Mykala Sierra Moore of Glenpool, Brandon Walking Bear Northcross of Chandler, Sara Virginia Rawlings of Muskogee, Miranda Louise Young of Muskogee and Aubry Alyn Weatherly of Lawton.

“I would like to wish our graduates the best future possible as this is a very special achievement in everyone’s life. I hope each of our seniors will spend a moment reflecting on how much they have learned in life and where their dreams for the future will take them,” James Adams, OSB superintendent, said.

iPad loan from Library for the Blind lightens educational load for visually impaired Southmoore student

three women with an iPad

OKLAHOMA CITY – Any high school student would rather use an iPad in class instead of a regular, old textbook. For Southmoore junior Katie Loman, who has a visual disability, a 1.45 pound iPad not only customizes print size, it liberates her from juggling more than 60 pounds of text books.

Students with visual impairments generally use three large print books for each standard print book. Braille students use seven to ten volumes.

Braille Challenge® to test students’ skills Feb. 28 at Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee

A Braille Challenge contestant smiles

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Twenty-seven students who are blind or visually impaired are registered to compete February 28 in the Oklahoma Regional Braille Challenge® sponsored by the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee.

Last year, OSB eighth-grade student Richelle Zampella advanced from this regional competition to place second in the sophomore division at the national Braille Challenge® in Los Angeles.

She is the first person from Oklahoma to place at the national level in this competition.

Innovative job training project benefits Tulsa high school students

Two men in front of a school bus

TULSA, Okla. – Fourteen Tulsa students are one step closer to job success, thanks to an innovative training program that introduces them to work and a paycheck while they’re still earning high school credits.

Casey Middleton, age 26, got his start as an apprentice in the Tulsa Bridges Project, a successful partnership for 15 years between the state Department of Rehabilitation Services and Tulsa Public Schools.

High school students in the program work 10 hours each week at the TPS’ transportation department in jobs that range from auto mechanic to office administration.

Their paychecks come from TPS with funds reimbursed by DRS through the Vocational Rehabilitation program.

High performers like Middleton may be hired permanently by TPS, which manages one of the largest fleet centers in the state with more than 300 buses and other vehicles.

“The work these students do for us frees up journeyman-level staff to get more vehicles back on the road,” Shop Lead Clay Taylor said.

Like other Transition programs developed by DRS, the Tulsa Bridges Project helps students eligible for special education services transition successfully from school to work situations.

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