December 2023 Newsletter

Newsletter banner | Oklahoma ABLE Tech | Making Life Accessible for Oklahomans of All Ages and Abilities

Blue graphic with white decorative borders and yellow fireworks with text that reads "Hello, 2024!"As we say goodbye to 2023, we're stepping into a time of new chances and fresh ideas. The new year isn't just about changing the calendar, it's a time for us to feel excited about new goals and dreams. Let's celebrate this new beginning and start this journey together, full of hope and excitement for what's to come in 2024!

Assistive Technology (AT) Highlights 

January is Braille Literacy Month and January 4th is National World Braille Day and Louis Braille's birthday! To celebrate, our AT specialist, Louise, gathered some of her favorite braille devices!

The Perkins Brailler, Braille Alphabet Tiles, Bumpy Rolls Away, and BrailleBuzz sit on a black shelf against a metal wall.

  • Braille Buzz - This device helps teach braille! It is designed for little hands, but can be used by individuals of any age.
  • Braille Alphabet Tiles - These are soft, velvety, squishy domino-type tiles. They have a letter in the English alphabet with the corresponding letter of the Braille alphabet on them. If individuals prefer a different texture, we also have hard tiles: Reach & Match Alphabet Tiles.
  • On the Way to Literacy Bumpy Rolls Away Tactile Book- This is a storybook with tactile elements on the page to encourage young readers. Other book options in our inventory include "The Littlest Pumpkin" and "Giggly Wiggly Snickety Snick".
  • Light Touch Perkins Brailler - The Perkins Brailler is used to emboss paper; it is the most widely used mechanical braille writer. Think of it like a braille typewriter. This version requires less pressure to press the keys which makes typing faster. It also can be used with wide braille paper!

 Braille AT in Exchange Inventory

Oklahoma ABLE Tech's Device Exchange Program can help you donate, sell, or locate equipment, such as wheelchairs, modified vehicles, lift chairs, and computer software, for a reasonable price. The program is a person-to-person exchange, which functions like the newspaper classifieds and provides listings of pre-owned equipment. Currently, we have some braille devices available through the exchange portal! You can request either device by logging into NATADS!

  • HIMS Braille Edge 40 Braille Display: Braille EDGE 40 is not only the most reliable high-performance refreshable Braille display, but it also helps you manage your daily activities. Create and save notes or read books and documents with the notepad. Use the scheduler to remind you of important dates. It measures 12.2"W x 4"D x 0.9"H and weighs 1.73 lbs.
  • Refreshabraille 18 Braille Display & Keyboard: This unique Refreshabraille 18 display sets a new standard in functionality, flexibility, and portability. Measuring only approximately 3 X 5 X 1 inches and powered with state-of-the-art battery and energy management firmware, Refreshabraille 18 is an ideal braille display and braille keyboard for mobile devices like notebooks, smartphones, and PDAs. It serves as an excellent reading environment for desktop computers as well.

To learn more about the Device Exchange Program or how to list devices in the system, visit the Device Reutilization Program webpage!

Spring Workshop Series Dates

Mark your calendars for the Spring 2024 Assistive Technology (AT) Workshop Series!

• Part 1 - Consideration of AT - January 18 via Zoom
• Part 2 - Gathering Information and Trialing Devices - February 15 in person or via Zoom
• Part 3 - AT in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Implementation - March 28 via Zoom

Oklahoma ABLE Tech workshops are designed for educators, related service providers, and administrators needing a wide range of AT knowledge. These FREE sessions will take participants from theory to practice with hands-on activities to learn the steps for providing AT to students in schools. Register for the three-part workshop series on our AT Support Team Workshops webpage.

Home Modification Loans and Microloans

Do you need a loan for home accessibility modifications or assistive technology (AT)?

The home modification loan is a loan of up to $10,000 that can be repaid over a maximum term of 7 years, depending on the amount and home improvements completed. Examples of items that can be financed include ramps, walk-in showers, and smart home AT purchases. Home modification loans for applicants who are not low-income may be processed through BancFirst of Stillwater, have a maximum amount of $25,000, and a term of 5 years.

The microloan is a loan of $3,000 or less that can be repaid over 36 months. This product allows for additional flexibility in credit criteria and debt-to-income ratio. Examples of items that could be financed with the microloan include lift chairs, handheld magnifiers, or iPads used as assistive technology.

All loans have an 8% interest rate. To learn more about these products or to apply for a loan, go to ABLE Tech's Financial Loan Page or visit OkAT's website.

Stillwater Smart Home Open House Save the Date

ABLE Tech is excited to announce the opening of the Stillwater Smart Home Demonstration Space located at the Seretean Wellness Center on the OSU Campus. Similar to the recently opened Oklahoma City site, the Device Demonstration Program allows individuals to compare the features and benefits of a particular assistive technology  (AT) device. The space can also give you the ability to see, touch, and try multiple devices to help in the decision-making process by providing hands-on exploration of devices, information on the latest technology, low-tech solutions, and adaptations, along with funding and vendor sources.

Please RSVP on the Microsoft Form for additional details, including parking and event activities!

Date: February 13, 2024
Time: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

P.S. Please plan to bring a small supply of unopened incontinent briefs or a blood pressure monitor to donate to the program.                                                                                                       

TechAccess Oklahoma Speaker Sneak Peek

We have a great program in the works for TechAccess 2024, and we're so happy to announce a couple of our speakers!

Karl Groves is the current CIO of Level Access and the founder of multiple accessibility-focused companies, and he is a well-known figure in the accessibility community. His talk titled "I never knew a website could hurt someone." will cover how some users experience actual pain when using a website that hasn't been designed accessibly.

Some of you may know our second speaker, Rob Carr, of WebAIM! Rob is the creator of TechAccess Oklahoma, and we are happy to have him back at the conference to give a talk titled "Creating Sustainable Knowledge in Accessibility: Professional Development and Support" covering accessibility training programs.

Visit the TechAccess website to see more about Karl and Rob and their presentations and register for the conference in person or virtually!

New Accessibility Courses Released

Three new courses were released this month! Accessibility in MS Word for both PC and Mac will teach you how to create an accessible document from scratch using MS Word. Accessibility Testing: Basic will teach you a few basic web accessibility tips and a framework for testing a website for accessibility.

See these new courses in the ABLE Tech Course Catalog!

ORC Update - People with Disabilities Awareness Day

Every year, People with Disabilities Awareness Day is an opportunity to increase awareness of Oklahoma services that support individuals with disabilities. The 2024 People with Disabilities Awareness Day is going to be awesome! Are you ready?

Mark your calendar for noon to 4 p.m. on March 5, 2024, at the Oklahoma History Center, located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, Okla. City, OK 73105. 

Invite everyone you know to join you, then stop by the ORC booth while you are there! Email if you have any questions.

ORC's mission is to facilitate consumer education and empowerment, to assure services are of high quality and lead to the employment of individuals with disabilities within Oklahoma. To learn more about ORC, visit their website. 

SERC Staff Update

After 18 years, the Special Education Resolution Center is saying, "Goodbye" to Jo Anne Blades, the long-time Assistant Director/Program Manager. We appreciate all the years of service and expertise Jo Anne dedicated to building SERC. Jo Anne has positively impacted students and families, schools, organizations, and agencies statewide. She has been a constant on the other end of the phone for individuals facing challenges and needing to understand a situation related to a child's educational supports and services. She has been quick to give an encouraging word. Jo Anne was, and is, a teacher and mentor to many. Her passion for helping people, coupled with her clear communication style, has been, and will continue to be, effective in building and sustaining productive, collaborative relationships. Jo Anne will assist the program in a part-time capacity as she transitions into retirement from Oklahoma State University.

Jo Anne is light-skinned with short blonde hair. She looks at the camera and smiles with her arms at her sides.
Jo Anne Blades
Allison is a light-skinned woman with shoulder-length brown hair. She is looking at the camera and smiling.
Dr. Allison Fennell-Conch

And now we would like to say, "Hello!" as we warmly welcome the energetic Dr. Allison Fennell-Conch as the new SERC Program Manager. Allison brings 12 years of experience in special education. Originally credentialed as a speech-language pathologist, Allison has broadened her expertise in working with school teams and families to provide services to children with special needs and learning differences. In Allison's new role, she will train stakeholders, work collaboratively on projects with partners across the state, and assist families and schools in accessing programs of alternative dispute resolution.

We hope everyone will send warm wishes to Jo Anne and Allison as they start their new adventures!

SERC’s mission is to help school districts and parents resolve disputes at the earliest stage possible. To learn more about SERC, visit their website. 

Partner Feature - The Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Center 

AIM Center Logo with Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped underneath it.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech collaborates with many organizations and agencies in Oklahoma as we work towards our goal of “making life accessible to Oklahomans of all ages and abilities.” The Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Center with the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is one such partner. As stated on their website, “The [AIM Center] maintains a central depository of braille and large print textbooks and other specialized instructional materials for loan to Oklahoma students who cannot use regular print. The AIM Center serves children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who attend public and private schools in Oklahoma, or receive services from Sooner Start.”

To learn more about eligibility criteria and the types of materials that the AIM Center provides, please visit their website or call 405-521-3514 or 405-521-4672 TTY/TTD.

ABLE Tech Staff Visit Tulsa

On December 4, Josh, Shelley, Allyson, Louise, Cam, Amy, Averie, and Peyton went on a tour of Tulsa!

They visited the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, the Special Education Resolution Center, and Medical Supply Network Incorporated. Oklahoma ABLE Tech is excited to create new connections and keep fostering existing partnerships!

Amy, Louise, Allyson, Cam, and Averie pose on a brightly colored outdoor playground fixture.

Oklahoma AT Center Locations and Partners

Oklahoma ABLE Tech and its partners operate device demonstration and loan programs to increase access to AT.

  • Bethany Children's Health Center
    Bethany, 405-789-6711
  • Handicapped Vehicle Services Unlimited
    Tulsa, 918-622-8400
  • Indian Nations Council of Governments,
    Area Agency on Aging

    Tulsa, 918-579-9477
  • Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma,
    Area Agency on Aging

    Wilburton, 918-465-2367
  • Moore Autism Center
    Moore, 405-735-8478
  • Newby-Vance Mobility
    Guthrie, 405-518-0167
  • NewView Oklahoma
    Oklahoma City, 405-521-4880
    Tulsa, 855-811-9699
  • Norman Regional Rehab Services
    Norman, 405-307-1786
  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
    Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired

    Oklahoma City, 405-951-3400
  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
    Vocational Rehabilitation

    Oklahoma City, 405-538-7986
  • Oklahoma State Department of Health
    Pediatric Audiology Program

    Moore, 405-794-1591
  • OSU – Department of Communication
    Sciences & Disorders
    Stillwater, 405-744-6021
  • OSU - Esports Arena
    Stillwater, 405-744-5173
  • OSU - University Counseling Services Reboot Center
    Stillwater, 405-744-5458
  • SoonerStart
    Oklahoma City, 405-271-8333
  • Speech Pathway, LLC
    Oklahoma City, 405-652-9683
  • United Access
    Oklahoma City, 888-939-1010

 OSU Department of Wellness - Accessibility Programs Staff

  • Todd Misener, Assistant Vice President and Chief Wellness Officer, OSU Department of Wellness
  • Allyson Robinson, Director of Accessibility Programs
  • Jo Anne Blades, SERC Assistant Director
  • Austin Bricker, Reutilization Senior Administrative Support Specialist
  • Richard Buntin, Fiscal Operations Specialist
  • Cameron Cheek, SAS Interpreting Coordinator
  • Carolina Colclasure, ORC Program Manager
  • Leslie Dady, Administrative Operations Specialist
  • Lisa Dobson, SAS Program Coordinator
  • Shannon Esmeyer, SERC Administrative Assistant
  • Allison Fennell-Conch, SERC Program Manager
  • Shelley Gladden, Assistant Director, Assistive Technology Core Programs
  • Brent Greyson, Instructional Design & Accessibility Specialist
  • Peyton Haley, Accessible Communications Coordinator
  • Josh Hawkins, Assistant Director, Assistive Technology in Education & OSU Student Accessibility Services (SAS)
  • Averie Hinchey-Lucas, Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Stephanie Hesser, Financial Loan Program Specialist
  • Rob Keiter, SERC Program Coordinator
  • Angie Larison, SAS Accessibility Specialist
  • Lyssa Prince, Assistant Director, Digital Accessibility
  • Natalie Rohwer, Financial Loan Program Coordinator
  • Lindsey Romero-Kopenhagen, SAS Program Specialist
  • Louise Ruleford, Program Specialist
  • Brian Sargent, Reutilization Site Coordinator
  • Adam Thiel, Digital Accessibility Coordinator
  • Amy Woods, Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Kimberly Young, Reutilization Program Specialist
  • Michele Young, Fiscal Grant Manager

Please call 800-257-1705 for more information. The Oklahoma State University Department of Wellness is the lead agency for Oklahoma ABLE Tech. ABLE Tech is funded through the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and maintains coordination and collaboration efforts with partners throughout the state of Oklahoma.