Thursday, December 19, 2013


Photo of iPhone with
EyeNote App
EyeNote® is a free mobile device application to identify denominations of Federal Reserve Notes (U.S. paper currency) as an aid for the blind or visually impaired.

The EyeNote® application (app) was developed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) for the blind or visually impaired to use as a tool to increase accessibility to Federal Reserve Notes (U.S. paper currency). EyeNote® is built for the Apple iOS to allow the user to scan a bank note and communicate its value back to the user.
The app is available as a free download on the Apple App Store℠. It runs without any special filters or background material. A data connection is not required for the app to work.

  • OneTouch, hand-held operation.
  • Face or back of note to camera.
  • Partial note recognition (note can be handheld).
  • Any circular orientation.
  • No equipment modification, special background materials or special lighting required.
  • Camera flash is not required.
  • No data connection required - all processing on device.
  • Currency designs from Series 1996 and forward.
  • Note can be on a complex background.
  • 2-4 second response time.
  • User selectable spoken output English or Spanish, based on device language setting.
  • Spoken mode also indicates the front or back of note to assist in vending use.
  • Simplified on screen instructions (read aloud when device is set to VoiceOver in Accessibility mode)

Friday, November 29, 2013

TCB Christmas Party

From our President, Jesse:

We will be having our Tulsa Council of the Blind Christmas party on Friday, December 13, 2013 at our regular meeting place, West Tulsa Free Will Baptist Church, 930 W. 23rd Place!

We will start at 5:30 p.m. and will be finished at 8:00 p.m. We will be exchanging gifts.  If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, please bring a wrapped gift with a cost of no more than $10.  The cost to eat is $8.  We need a few people to bring some sides or a dessert.  Please let me know if you are willing to bring a side or dessert.  Please let Julie or I know if you need a ride to the Christmas party.

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Jesse Martinez, TCB President
918 232 7164
Julie Bailey, TCB Vice President
918 231 0202

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Resources!

Innovative Rehabilitation Technology - Products for people with low vision and the Blind including electronic magnifiers, scan and read OCR software, talking devices, PC systems, wireless Braille keyboard, book players, and screen readers. They also offer a library of FREE digital books! (Selections such as Phantom of the Opera, Crime and Punishment, War of the Worlds, Beethoven's Letters, Alice in Wonderland and other classics.

Future Aids: A Store for the Blind - Braille Superstore includes low vision products, housewares, toys and games, gift shop, and Braille books and greeting cards. Braille workshop products are available to help family and friends learn Braille, and there is a Copy Center where you can convert brochures, handouts, menus and other documents into Braille.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Survey - Deadline Nov. 22

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is collecting information about the preferences of blind users who browse the Web on mobile devices. They've created a short survey (15 questions) that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes, and will be available until November 22. Here is the link:

Christmas Shopping - Support ACB

From our President, Julie:

Shop Amazon, Support ACB

Are you starting to make your shopping list for the upcoming holidays? I
have already begun making my wish list and shopping.

One of my favorite online shopping web sites is I no longer
have to shop until I drop; I can relax in my favorite chair and browse to my
heart's content.

I recently learned that I can support the American Council of the Blind
while shopping. That's right! You can shop Amazon and a portion of your
hard-earned money can go to assist ACB. It is really easy. Here's how.

From your favorite Internet browser, simply go to There,
you will find information on ACB's Audio Description Project. There is a
link called "The ADI Associate Link." This will take you to
Amazon, where you can shop as usual. ACB receives a commission on everything
you purchase from Amazon through this link - described DVDs, games,
household products, books, music, and even food. And it doesn't cost you one
penny more to help ACB!

I have an account at Amazon, and they recognize me when I enter using the
ACB links. For the most part, I shop the Amazon main site; however, there is
a link to an accessible site, and I do use it on occasion.

By the way, spend some time on the ADP page; there is a bundle of very
valuable information there for your perusal. You'll find information about
audio-described TV shows, movies, DVDs, and much more.

Happy shopping, and enjoy supporting ACB this holiday season.

- Linda Yacks

Sharon Lovering, Editor

American Council of the Blind

2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650

Arlington, VA 22201

Learn more about us at

Follow us on Twitter at @acbnational

Like us on Facebook at

Tulsa Council of the Blind

From our President, Julie:

Hello to all!

This is just a friendly reminder for the upcoming November 8th TCB Meeting. I
would strongly urge you to make every effort to attend this meeting as
important things are happening!

We will be voting on the 2014 TCB Board and it is important for everyone to
come and let your wishes be known. Just remember that in order to vote, your
dues of $5 will need to be paid before the beginning of the business portion
of the meeting.

We will also be having a guest speaker at this meeting. It is one of our own
members, Marion McFadden. Please come and listen to his tale of how he came
to write his book and his attempts to get it recorded for visually impaired
and blind readers.

The meeting will be at the West Tulsa Free Will Baptist Church in the Family
Life Center located at 930 W. 23rd Place in Tulsa. Dinner will begin at 5:30
pm and the meeting will begin at 6 pm. And conclude no later than 7:30 pm.

If you have transportation difficulties to the meeting, please contact me
and I will do what I can to assist.

See you there!!!

Julie Bailey

TCB President


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disability Treaty

October 25, 2013

The Disability Treaty is Back!


Last December, the U.S. came close-VERY close-to ratifying the Disability
Rights Treaty. Five Senators who voted 'No' stood in the path of the 2/3
vote required to ratify a treaty that protects the rights of people with
disabilities. Last year we lost, in part, because the Homeschool Legal
Defense Association used misinformation and scare tactics with homeschool
parents to out-call supporters of the treaty by a margin of 100 to 1.  We
cannot let this happen again!

The Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities is the vital
framework to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities across
the world. Inspired by our own Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which
served as the model for the Treaty, the CRPD protects the values of
independence, respect, and dignity for individuals with disabilities. 

More than 700 American organizations, from disability groups, 20+ veterans'
service organizations (most recently the American Legion), businesses
associations, and faith-based organizations have pledged their support to
this treaty.  The United States signed the CRPD in 2009. It's time for our
Senators to ratify the treaty.


Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee,
announced his intention to hold hearings and a markup on the Treaty soon. He
is singularly focused and committed to passing the CRPD this year.  Two
hearings dates are currently scheduled for Nov. 5 and 12.  The Senator has
said it is important that the disability, civil rights, veterans, and
business communities come together to overcome the strong opposition.  

Currently 61 Senators out of the 67 needed have indicated support for the
Treaty, including several strong Republicans (McCain, AZ; Barrasso, WY;
Ayotte, NH; Kirk, IL; Murkowski, AK; Collins, ME).  At least 6 more
committed senators are necessary to reach the 2/3rd (67) votes to ratify the
treaty.  We have identified 14 senators, listed further below, we believe
could be persuaded to vote for the Treaty. Our job is to make sure these
Senators understand the Treaty, how important the Treaty is to the
disability, veterans, and business communities, and to get them to commit to
voting "YES" during the Committee markup!  The Treaty will not go to the
Senate floor for a vote unless WE can get firm commitments for the 67 votes

Please take as many of the following action steps as you can to help us
Ratify the Treaty Now.


1.      Sign the on-line I Support the Disability Treaty Petition
<>  now!

2.      Call your U.S. Senators and tell them that you support the
Disability Treaty.  If you have called them before, call them again!

.         Visit the CRPD Action Center
<>  to find out the name of
your US Senators  (scroll down and enter your zip code).  It will take you
through the steps to call and email your Senators; or

.         Dial the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the
office of your Senators

.         Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you
represent (if any)

.         Use the talking points below to state your position and ask for a
commitment to vote for the Disability Treaty (or at least be open to
learning more at the upcoming hearings before saying no)

.         Pass this alert along to other people and coalitions that support
the treaty

3.      Email your Senators directly using the CRPD Action Center
<> .  It literally only takes a
minute! A sample letter is provided. 

4.      Tweet both of your Senators to show your support.  Click here
<>  for
list of your Senators Twitter IDs.  Remember to use #Disability Treaty for
each tweet you send. 

Sample Tweet:  "Let's promote respect for everyone's inherent dignity.
@(SenatorID) I urge you to support passage of #DisabilityTreaty for
Americans with Disabilities."

5.      Come to the hearings on Nov. 5 and 12! We need to pack the hearing
to show support.  If you can't travel to D.C., hold viewing parties and
tweet, call, and email during the hearings.

6.      Tell Us you have acted by emailing
<> .  We need to be able to show that our supporters
are taking action.


* Ratification opens new markets for American products, technologies
and services and will put the US in the best position to export technologies
for people with disabilities worldwide.  Many businesses, such as IBM,
Consumer Electronics Association, Adobe, AT&T and the US Chamber of Commerce
support the Treaty (see more on business support
<> ).
* Ratification helps thousands of Veterans by improving physical,
technological, and communication access outside the US (see Statement by Bob
Dole <> , Senator and Disabled
* Ratification provides the U.S. with the best tools to pressure other
countries to end abuse of people with disabilities, and to make their public
infrastructure accessible to people with disabilities (see the CCD report:
Neglected and Abused Abroad: A Look at the Severe Mistreatment of
Individuals with Disabilities Around the World and How the U.S. Can Help
* Ratification reinforces America's global leadership, putting us in
the strongest position to advance disability rights worldwide and to promote
the rights and values the U.S. established under the ADA, while having no
impact on U.S. sovereignty. 
* Republican and Democratic Attorneys General
<> , and past Counsel
to Presidents (see President Bush <>
letter) support the treaty, finding U.S. domestic law already in compliance
with the principals and rights contained within the treaty.
* The CRPD is budget neutral on federal, state, and local governments.

* This treaty is good for American business and for the world. It will
allow us to bring our knowledge of making a society accessible to the whole
* Reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs) --added to
explain U.S. interpretation and obligations under the treaty -- address all
the issues raised by the opposition.  

For more information, including the text of the Treaty, please see <>  and the
Ratify CRPD Facebook Page <>  that now
has over 4,000 followers.


All Senators, but especially these current targets:

Corker (TN), Ranking member 

Cochran (MS)

Portman (OH)

Coburn (OK)

Flake (AZ) 

Isakson (GA) 

Chambless (GA) 

Fisher (NE) 2012

Johnson (WI) 

Johanns (NE) 

Blunt (MO)

Alexander (TN)

Coats (IN)

Boozman (AR)

We know this is a lot to ask, but if the disability community can't come
together to push the Disability Treaty now, we may not have another chance
for a long time.  PLEASE ACT NOW!

Eric Bridges

Director of External Relations and Policy 

American Council of the Blind

2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650

Arlington, VA 22201

Learn more about us at

Follow us on Twitter at @acbnational

Like us on Facebook at

Helpful tips from VisionAware

VisionAware™ "Getting Started" kit was created to provide hope and help to handle the challenges of vision loss, and to connect you and your family members with specialized services and products available to assist with everyday life with vision loss. For more information, check out the VisionAware Website.

For individuals with vision loss, not being able to read the information on prescription medications is a particularly dangerous problem. Find out about federal legislation with provisions that mandated the establishment of national best practices for retail and other pharmacies to use in providing accessible prescription drug labeling to customers with vision loss. For more information, read, "Talking to Your Pharmacist." 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

TCB Meeting Minutes Oct 2013

October 11, 2013

President Bailey called the meeting to order at approximately 6 pm. Everyone
introduced themselves and we had a total of 22 in attendance.

Darla read the nominating committees Slate of officers for the 2013-2014
year which are Jesse Martinez for President, Julie Bailey for Vice
President, Yvonne Hamm for Secretary, Jeri Cooper for Treasurer, Charles
Gant and Marion McFadden for Members at Large. Everyone was reminded to pay
their dues if they wish to vote and if anyone else wanted to run for any of
the board positions to notify the Nominating Committee. Nominations would be
taken from the floor at our next meeting.

President Bailey announced that Representative Jeannie McDaniel and Senator
Brian Crane would be joining us for our annual White Cane Awareness Walk on
October 15 and Jesse explained the route we would be taking. We are to meet
at Spaghetti Warehouse downtown at 5 pm. After the walk everyone was invited
to stay and eat at their own cost. Fliers will be available to hand out.

Jesse offered some ideas about the Christmas party and it was voted on to
have the Christmas party at the church during our regularly scheduled
December meeting which will be on Friday December 13 from 5:30 to 8. More
details will be coming during our next meeting concerning the food and

President Bailey inquired if anyone had signed up for any of the listserves
concerning our organizations or other blind groups such as American
Foundation for the Blind. she encouraged everyone to link up to one of these
listserves to stay informed of what's happening.

President Bailey informed those who did not know of the passing of charley
Tipps's Father this past week. Our prayers are with their family.

Joe Fallin updated everyone on the Tulsa Transit and encouraged everyone to
contact Jim Bridenstine (918-935-3222) to explain the necessity of the lift
because if the government shut down continued, federal money would no longer
be available and the Lift would not be as we know it now.

President Bailey informed us our November speaker would be Marion McFadden
and he would be talking about his book he just wrote, "Welcome Back, Jimmy".
Everyone is invited to come join us November for this great time!

Jeri discussed the recent OCB convention and the entertaining speaker we had
from the Chickasaw Cultural Center and maybe we could plan a trip there.
Discussion began of various activities and suggestions were given to
participate in for the following year.

Meeting was adjourned at approximately 7 pm.

Submitted by:  Jeri Cooper Secretary

If I were any happier, I'd be twins!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

White Cane Awareness Walk - Oct. 15h

Join us on our White Cane Awareness Walk at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. We'll start the walk at Spaghetti Warehouse (221 E. Brady St, Tulsa, OK), walk around past Channel 6, and then return to Spaghetti Warehouse where we'll eat dinner. We should finish about 7:00 p.m.

Joining us on our walk will be Representative Jeannie McDaniel and Senator Brian Crain. Which one will walk blindfolded this year?!  

Jeannie McDaniel     
Senator Brian Crain
We will be distributing flyers informing the public about Tulsa Council of the Blind and our state organization, Oklahoma Council of the Blind, as well as celebrating White Cane Awareness Day which symbolizes independence and employment for blind and visually impaired Oklahomans! 

For more information, please contact Julie Bailey, President, Tulsa Council of the Blind. j.bailey @

Come walk with us and show your support for the best organization ever!

Free Accessible Videos for October

Updated list! Recently released titles include biographies, counseling and self-help, history, and more. From DCMP (Described Captioned Media Program).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

TCB Meeting, Friday, Oct. 11

Hello to all!

Yes, it's time for another TCB meeting again! The October meeting is this Friday, October 11, at the West Tulsa Free Will Baptist Church from 6 to 7:30 pm.

Brother Russell is cooking this month and the menu will be pork loin, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, and dessert. Remember that if you wish to eat dinner the cost is $8 per person.

Remember, if you are interested in being a TCB officer please contact me at 918-231-0202, Jeri Cooper at 832-7035, or Darla Cook at 585-3955. This is your organization so make it what you want it to be!

See you Friday!

Julie Bailey
TCB President

Monday, October 7, 2013

Quick Tour of the BARD Mobile App for IOS

George McKenzie and Byron Lee have yet another blog post on the Horizons for the Blind website, this one is a "Quick Tour of the BARD Mobile App for iOS":

We read you loud and clear: A Demonstration of the new BARD Mobile App:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Described Captioned Media Program

Logo for DCMP Website
DCMP contains a library of more than 4,000 free-loan described and captioned media titles. This service is free to K-12 students who are deaf, blind, hard of hearing, visually impaired, or deaf-blind.

Topics include the arts, biographies, blindness, business, careers, counseling, deafness, education, geography, health and safety, history, home and family, language arts, literature, mathematics, religions, philosophy, science, social science, sport and recreation, and technology. Once you find a title of interest, you can stream it immediately or order a CD.

The site also includes a learning center that is free to anyone. For more information, see the DCMP website.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Conference Scholarships and TCB Officer Recruiting Begins

Just a gentle reminder we have a few scholarships left for the OCB conference and also need to know if you would like to be an officer for TCB. 

If you're interested in a scholarship, contact Jesse. 

If you're interested in one of the positions on the TCB board, contact Julie, Darla or myself. 

See you Friday!


TCB Meeting-Friday 13th

What a great way to spend your Friday the 13th! Come join us at the West Tulsa Freewill Baptist church located at 930 W. 23rd Place from 5:30 to 7:30. 

We have an excellent speaker from a company called You Buy We Fly, which provides delivery services. We'll also be having assorted sandwiches and other goodies so come ready to be fed in more ways than one!

Vision Aware has something for everyone

Heading into Fall--VisionAware Has Something for Everyone

Read our newsletter online or just keep reading. We listened to our readers and included the entire newsletter below.

Gil's Corner

Do you have several end-of-summer projects lined up? You have come to the right place! Gil the Handyman has created some new articles on using a hammer and drilling. There are many great photos to accompany the information, thanks to Gil’s neighbor. And don’t forget to ask Gil your questions about home repair.

VA Blog News

We are introducing a new feature on the VisionAware blog!—"Readers Want to Know.". This information will be gleaned from the questions people are using in their search terms on the web. Since the earliest days of VisionAware® , questions about cataract surgery consistently rank within the five most popular searches. Find out what these questions are and the answers!
Get the scoop on medical research on the VisionAware blog.
Here are a few teasers to get you started:

Group of the Month

Find out more about support groups. The Lakeshore Visually Impaired Support Group is our featured group this month. Check out their recipe for 50 years of success.

News from our Peer Advisors

The Peer Advisors have been busy posting. Michelle Miller wrote a special blog on support groupsand Lora Felty talks about her summer travels. Be sure to read the part about DisneyLand.
Have you heard of Christine Ha, the chef who is visually impaired and who wowed the nation when she became the Fox Network Master Chef Season 3 Winner? Read about her and her new cookbook. Joe Strechay from Career Connect brings us the scoop.

Odds & Ends

VisionAware has partnered with the National Institute on Aging to develop the newest Go4Life® tip sheet.
Take a quick peek at VisionAware’s "Getting Started" Kit for People New to Vision Loss. There are tips that you can use and share through print or email.
Remember VisionAware needs your donations. The Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation will match every gift to VisionAware, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000! Donate today!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Take Action Now

ORA Members, We are asking you to take action!  We must make our voices heard

Senate Bill 1356 now in the US Senate has many provisions that are potentially damaging to the vocational rehabilitation program and job seekers who have significant disabilities.  This bill could come up for a vote in early September.  There is little time to act, So Act Now to send an email by logging on to each Oklahoma Senator’s web form on their websites.  Calling and faxing are also effective.  Attached are some quick and simple facts about S. 1356 and some examples of email letters.  Contact information for each OK Senator is also provided, as well as an email for the White House disability liaison.  They all need to hear from you and soon.

Attached is all the information you should need along with draft emails and phone messages that may assist you in your contacts.  If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact me.  Please feel free share this information with other advocacy groups.  Thank you. 

Theresa Hamrick, Program Manager
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
3535 NW 58th St, Ste 500
Oklahoma City, OK  73112-4802
Phone: (405) 951-3579 or (800) 569-7974
Fax: (405) 951-3532


Quick Facts
About S. 1356, reauthorization of the Workforce and Rehabilitation Acts

·      S, 1356 breaks up programs under the Rehabilitation Act.
·      The bill takes Vocational Rehabilitation out of the U.S. Department of Education and puts it in the Labor Department under the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), a small agency that has no experience in providing rehabilitation services.
·      The Secretary of Labor would write the federal regulations for VR.
·      VR would be more closely aligned with the One-Stop employment programs for the general public.
·      VR would use the same performance measures and standards used for the other Workforce employment programs for the general public.  These standards could be adjusted state-by-state for populations with employment barriers.  However, new data collection and reporting systems would have to be built at unknown cost to VR agencies. 
·      The bill puts Independent Living programs into the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is also put in HHS.  Both programs are placed in the Community Living division along with Aging and developmental disabilities programs.  A new Independent Living Administration would be created here to oversee IL centers and Part B grants.
·      Vocational Rehabilitation is de-emphasized throughout S. 1356.  The new VR federal program would be called Disability Employment, Services and Supports Administration.  Rehabilitation knowledge and experience would no longer be required of the VR Commissioner. Research through NIDRR would focus increasingly on independent living and less on rehabilitation.  VR counselor credentials are de-emphasized in VR agency personnel plans (CSPD) with agency personnel standards opened up to many employment and business-related fields.
·      The bill emphasized Transition services.  It makes states set aside 15% of their VR funds for Transition, with most going to services, not administration.  Services to youth could begin at age 14 and continue to age 24.  Each VR office would have to have a separate Local Transition Coordinator with support staff.  VR could provide a broad range of transition services to youth and students, with emphasis on career exploration, work experience, training and skills for community participation.
·      VR could pay for extended services in Supported Employment for 2 years, not just 18 months as currently.  VR could pay for 4 years of extended services for youth with significant disabilities.
·      The bill provides NO NEW FUNDING to pay for the expanded youth, supported employment and business relations activities it requires.
·      The bill requires more collaboration and cooperative agreements with other agencies such as developmental disabilities programs, Medicaid waiver programs, and education agencies.
·      Under an Order of Selection, VR agencies could serve individuals who only need equipment or limited services in order to keep from losing a job.
·      The bill promotes VR agency partnerships with employers to increase employment opportunities, respond employer needs, access in-demand occupations, provide work experience and internships, and establish stronger, enduring connections with the employer community.
Quick Messages
About S. 1356, reauthorization of the Workforce and Rehabilitation Acts

Senator Tom Coburn MD
202-224-5754; Fax:  202-224-6008

Senator James Inhofe
202-224-4721; Fax: 202-228-0380

Ms. Claudia Gordon
White House Public Engagement Advisor for the Disability Community

·      Do not move VR from a federal agency that has experience in Rehabilitation to a department that has no experience in Rehabilitation or track record of serving people with significant disabilities.
·      Do not dilute the qualifications for rehabilitation professionals.  The CSPD section in S. 1356  envisions a wide variety of VR agency staff  but de-emphasizes staff qualifications in Rehabilitation fields, instead opening up the field to staff with bachelor degrees and experience (e.g. business, economics, human resources) that is not related to the Rehabilitation field.
·      Do not apply generic Workforce employment program standards and performance measures to VR, which is a very different type of program serving a population with unique needs and barriers to employment.
·      Do not require VR to expand services to youth without providing added funding to pay for it.  If VR has to divert funds from serving adults with disabilities in order to pay for more staff and services for youth, job placement numbers may decline.
·      DO maintain the new focus on development of partnerships with business and employers.  This is the best part of the bill and has the most promise for improving VR results.


Dear Senator (name),

            I am an Oklahoman with a disability.  Despite obstacles, I have been able to work for a number of years due to assistance from our state’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. 

            I oppose S. 1356 because it transfers the VR program into the U.S. Department of Labor, which has no experience in running rehabilitation, training or employment programs that are appropriately specialized for individuals with varied disabilities.  So far, even after 15 years since the Workforce Investment Act was passed, Labor Department employment programs like the One-Stops have made few advances in addressing disability employment needs or obstacles.

            I believe it would be a serious mistake to transfer the VR system out of the Education Department and into Labor.  Please do all you can to take this transfer provision out of S. 1356.

            Thank you for listening.


Dear Senator (name).

As a rehabilitation counselor I work closely with individuals who have many types of disabilities.  I have come to understand the range of obstacles they face to employment, and the many kinds of special skills and services that are needed in order to remove those obstacles.  I am writing you now because S. 1356 contains a provision that would hurt rather help our efforts to equip people with disabilities for employment.

S. 1356 would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which contains the Rehabilitation Act.  This bill is focused on more consolidation and “alignment” of federally funded employment programs.  But in its current form, the bill actually tears disability programs apart, with the potential to make them all less effective.  It separates Rehabilitation, Special Education, Independent Living and Disability Research, putting them into different federal departments and severing the connections these disability-focus programs now have within the Department of Education. 

Please amend S. 1356 to keep the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the Department of Education, where its connection with Special Education is necessary to address the bill’s new mandates for increased rehabilitation services for youth transitioning through school and into the world of work.  Now is not the time to sever that connection in favor of an administrative experiment that has not been studied for possible results or vetted by the disability constituencies affected. 

Thanks for doing what you can to prevent S. 1356 from moving forward without more time to study it and without significant revision.


Dear Senator (name),

I am a current Vocational Rehabilitation client who is deeply concerned about the contents of S. 1356, the HELP Committee bill to renew the Workforce Act and Rehabilitation Act.  I strongly OPPOSE these parts of the bill:

1.    It takes the Rehabilitation program out of the Education Department which knows rehabilitation and puts it in the Department of Labor which has no experience in rehabilitation and a poor record of service to job seekers with severe disabilities.
2.    It applies the same performance standards to Rehab as to employment programs for the general public without disabilities.  This is nonsensical, and shows no understanding of the barriers to employment and complex needs of people with severe disabilities.
3.    It mandates expansion of Rehab services to youth without providing any added funding, which means less funding to help adults enter or re-enter the workforce.  The bill puts more demands on the Rehab system for serving students but does not require more of the Education system.

Please work to take these harmful provisions out of S. 1356.


Dear Senator (name),

I am a person with a disability who has used the Vocational Rehabilitation system with success in the past.  The VR program needs to be preserved and strengthened.  It has truly made a positive difference in the lives of millions of Americans who have disabilities.  I have been a taxpayer for many years because of the employment assistance VR was able to provide me.

S. 1356 was recently passed by the HELP Committee to reauthorize the Workforce Act and Rehab Act.  I’ m sure this bill is well-intentioned, but it does contain many features that I think could hurt job seekers with severe disabilities.  These provisions now in S. 1356 could be harmful to individuals with disabilities and the taxpayers:

-       The bill takes the Rehabilitation program out of an experienced and knowledgeable agency and puts it into a department without any rehab background or knowledge (the Labor Department).  Please do not move the Rehabilitation program from its current place in the Education Department.
-       The bill requires more Rehabilitation agency service to youth and students but provides no money for it.  Instead, it diverts funds away from the broad population needing VR services in order to serve youth.  Serving teenagers is important, but not at the expense of rehabilitation that allows adults with severe disabilities to obtain or return to work.  Any mandate of more services to youth should be supported with new funding.
-       The bill would measure the success of Rehabilitation programs by the same standards used to measure employment programs for the general public.  This shows no understanding of what Rehabilitation is, what is does or why it is needed.  Generic employment and training programs are vastly different from the VR program which removes complex barriers to employment by providing specialized and individualized services.  Generic standards applied to the Rehab program will only pressure the system toward quick job placements in low level jobs.
-       The bill fails to recognize the proven value of specialized rehabilitation services in making employment and career advancement possible for many individuals who have very significant barriers to employment.  Rehabilitation expertise is de-emphasized in this bill.  I am very worried that this shows an intent to merge Rehabilitation into the generic Workforce system which has NEVER been effective for individuals with severe disabilities.

The employment rate for people with severe disabilities is low because of the extraordinary barriers they encounter to working.  These include negative employer attitudes, lack of transportation (a major barrier), disincentives in current benefit programs, the cost of assistive technology devices and training, inaccessible workplaces and the lack of needed job accommodations.  Vocational Rehabilitation addresses these barriers for individuals to the extent it can within funding limitations.  S. 1356 does promote VR and business interaction and this will be helpful as long as we keep Rehabilitation within the Education Department where there is established expertise in this field. 

Thank you for doing whatever you can to remove damaging provisions from S. 1356.  If the provisions noted above remain the bill, I urge you to oppose it.


Dear Senator (name),

Please do not move the Rehabilitation program for people with disabilities out of the Education Department and into the Labor Department.

As many people with disabilities (like myself) have experienced, the employment service programs for the general public through Labor are mostly ineffective in getting us jobs.  Many of the one-stop centers are not even accessible.  The staff may be pleasant but they are not knowledgeable about accessibility and their system is not set up to help us deal with the problems associated with having a disability and trying to work.  Moving Rehab to the Labor Department would be a bad deal for everyone.

Keep Voc-Rehab where the administration and staff know something about disabilities and what specialized services are needed to make employment happen when there are so many obstacles in the way.

S. 1356 moves Rehab to the Labor Department.  Please oppose it unless this part is taken out of the bill.

I am proud to have been working and paying taxes for many years thanks to the Rehab program.  This is a valuable program.  We need to keep it where it is, not move it to an agency that has already shown it is not prepared to help people with severe disabilities get good jobs.

Thanks for  doing what you can about this.


Dear Senator (name)

I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and one of your constituents.  I work with individuals who have disabilities and significant barriers to employment.  This involves understanding the effects of many types of disabilities, and knowledge of the array of resources that could help the person prepare for and obtain employment.

Last year in Oklahoma the Vocational Rehabilitation program was able to put almost 3,000 people with disabilities to work – most of these people had significant disabilities.

You will soon be considering S. 1356, a bill to reauthorize the Workforce and Rehabilitation Acts.  As now written, S. 1356 contains some troubling provisions that could negatively affect the quality and availability of rehabilitation services for Oklahomans with disabilities.

Specifically, S. 1356 moves the Rehab program out of the Education Department, where it has been for decades, into the Labor Department.  I believe this is a bad move because ED is experiences in disability and rehabilitation, but the Labor Department actually has a record of generally poor accessibility in its one-stop programs, as well as a record of not even serving people who have severe disabilities such as blindness or deafness. 

S. 1356 also contains an unfunded mandate by requiring Rehabilitation to expand services to youth in school, serve them in the early teen years and for longer periods of time, but the bill provides no added funding for doing this.  Simply put, this means that VR agencies will have to take money away from helping adults with significant disabilities get jobs and become taxpayers, in order to pay for services to youth that will not be entering the job marker for years to come.  The Oklahoma VR agency currently serves thousands of teenagers with disabilities and we want to continue doing that, but Congress needs to fund it if it wants to require expansion in this area.

In short, I hope you will oppose this bill as it is now, or work to remove the damaging provisions from it.

My sincere thanks for your interest in Oklahomans with disabilities.

(Your name and address)