Oklahoma City – From the State Fair to the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services is honoring deaf or hard or hearing Oklahomans for Deaf Awareness Week.
The purpose of annual celebration, officially September 24 through 30 in Oklahoma, is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people and culture.
The activities encourage people to come together as a community for educational events and celebrations.
The Deaf community is honoring the memory of Sue Galloway, a beloved Oklahoma School for the Deaf retired librarian who served generations of students for more than 25 years.
She passed away on August 22 at age 68.
Galloway was the great-great- great-grand-daughter of Laurent Clerc, the first Deaf teacher of the Deaf in America. Clerc was the co-founder with Thomas Gallaudet and Dr. Mason Cogswell of the American School for the Deaf in Harford, Connecticut. Clerc taught at the school for 41 years.
Galloway’s famous ancestor made her a celebrity by association for many Deaf people nationwide who admire Clerc’s many achievements in deaf education.
On September 21, DRS' Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit hosted a booth and interacted with the public during Deaf Awareness Day entertainment and outreach at the State Fair in Oklahoma City.
SDHH is distributing free visor cards to place in vehicles to help law enforcement officers identify people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. The cards can be used when people are pulled over or in other situations. Cards are available in the Tulsa or OKC offices, or staff will mail cards to deaf or hard of hearing people.
OKC SDHH Office
2401 NW 23rd St. Ste. 51, OKC
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tulsa SDHH Office
8740 E 11th St., Ste. F, Tulsa
Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
During federal fiscal year 2017, ending September 30, the high-performing SDHH unit helped 225 Oklahomans with hearing loss to find permanent employment or provided services, such as assistive technology devices that enabled them to keep their current jobs.
Nearly 20 percent more SDHH clients became employed or reached other self-sufficiency goals compared to the previous year. The average wage for these deaf or hard of hearing clients increased by 10 percent -- the highest in recorded history – although staff spent approximately 10 percent less per case.
“These achievements are even more impressive in the face of the tight budgets many state agencies are facing, yet the SDHH staff continue to produce at a high level, striving to assist as many Oklahomans with hearing loss as possible year after year,” SDHH Programs manager Jonathon Cook said.
In a sense, every day is Deaf Awareness Day at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf.
OSD is fully accredited and teaches the same state-mandated education requirements as other public schools. Staff and students communicate directly using American Sign Language, voice or other communication mode preferred by students.
Many students receive training to assist with full utilization of cochlear implants or hearing aids.
In 2016, 240 residential, commuter and summer school students attended the Oklahoma School for the Deaf at no charge. As the statewide resource center, OSD staff also offered statewide outreach services, including 3,385 consultations and evaluations and 34,447 direct services to students, their families, educators and organizations.
Multiple studies show that the average reading level of deaf student is fourth grade, according to deaf students’ scores on nationally normed tests.
“We are very proud that OSD students’ average reading level is ninth grade due to the emphasis we put on helping students improve their reading comprehension when they come to our school,” OSD Superintendent Larry Hawkins said. “The average reading level of incoming American college freshmen is seventh grade, compared to an eighth grade level for adults in the U.S.”
Contact Oklahoma School for the Deaf at phone (580) 622-4900 or TTY (text telephone) at (580) 622-4900 or email LHawkins@okdrs.gov. On the web, visit http://www.okdrs.gov/students/osd or http://www.osd.k12.ok.us/.