November 2023 Newsletter

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

Happy holiday season from the Oklahoma ABLE Tech team!

Please note, the Oklahoma ABLE Tech offices in Stillwater and Oklahoma City will be closed for winter break from December 22, 2023 – January 1, 2024. Our offices will reopen on January 2.

Additionally, if you have not returned AT you have out on loan, please get those packages in the mail! We need all devices returned as soon as possible to complete our annual inventory. If you need a new return label, email the Device Loan team.

Assistive Technology (AT) Highlights 

These two switch-adapted devices might spark some holiday gift ideas, and the two seating, positioning, and mobility devices are some that may make your holiday gatherings more comfortable!

  • Smooth Moves Sloth: This toy is switch-adapted (with 2 ports!) and dances, talks, and sings. The sloth also connects to other Linkimal pals, and they can create a synchronized music and light show! 
  • Card Shuffler: This is a switch-activated card shuffler, which is perfect for an after-lunch game of cards. Simply plug in a switch of your choice, and shuffle one or two decks of cards. It's great for people who may not know how to shuffle or those with mobility impairments.
  • Floor Sitter with Base: This seating device comes in multiple sizes and can be especially helpful during times when families gather together and outnumber the furniture. With the sitter and base, everyone can be included, and caregivers can have free hands!
  • Prop A Pillar: This device props up little ones to help with trunk support while they gain strength. It has detachable toys, too, and the customizable supports can encourage tummy time.
The Prop-A-Pillar, switch-adapted card shuffler, floor sitter with base, and Smooth Moves Sloth are arranged on the floor in front of a small silver Christmas tree. The sloth is sitting in the floor sitter.

Oklahoma is a 2020-24 Accessible Educational Materials State!

The group of Oklahoma AEM delegates poses in front of an American flag and a US Department of Education flag.
From left to right: Cora, Angela, Kristen, Tiffany, Josh

Cora James and Kristen Coleman (Oklahoma State Department of Education), Angela Streater (Byng Public Schools), Tiffany Jenkins (Decoding Dyslexia), and Joshua Hawkins (Oklahoma ABLE Tech) recently attended a collaborators’ meeting at the US Department of Education in Washington DC coordinated and conducted by the National AEM Center and Applied Engineering Management Corporation (AEM Corp). For two days, representatives from the National AEM Center, AEM Corp, and multiple states (Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Oregon) discussed and finalized the development of five Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) connections as part of an initiative to standardize AEM-related data collection and use.

This was the first phase of the project that, once fully established, will enable Oklahomans to gather and track important data regarding AEM use in the K-12 setting. The Oklahoma team contributed positively to the collaboration and will continue to pursue effective methods of collecting and using AEM-related data.

For more information about AEM, check out the resources on our Accessible Educational Materials webpage.

Device Loan Success Story 

A toddler sits on the floor with his back to the camera, leaning close to the screen of his AAC device.Ledger has experienced speech delays for most of his life. He was diagnosed at 2 years old with Autism and a severe speech delay. He began speech therapy at preschool and was recommended to ABLE Tech by the school’s Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).

Ledger’s mom contacted ABLE Tech and Ledger got his hands on a NovaChat 8 Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to trial through the Device Loan Program. The family trialed multiple devices before settling on the NovaChat 8, which Ledger seemed most comfortable using. At 3 years old, Ledger quickly got the hang of things and started using the device right away for simple commands. His family was blown away by the things Ledger wanted to say!

Ledger’s family worked with ABLE Tech’s SLP, Averie Lucas, for several months to ensure Ledger kept access to an AAC device while they worked with their insurance company to acquire a device for Ledger.

Ledger’s mom said, “I remember when it was time to turn in our first loaner, and insurance was dragging on, I was literally sad at the feeling of removing his ability to communicate! Averie worked quickly to secure another loaner for us, she was so wonderful to work with. My son is making strides in acquiring language, but he still has a long way to go. I really have to give credit to ABLE Tech as being a big part of his early success. I can't say enough good things about this company, their mission, or the people they employ. I am forever grateful to them.”

An elderly woman wearing a sling on her left arm reads the screen of the blood pressure monitor on her right wrist.
97-year-old Ana received a wrist blood pressure monitor to help her manage her high blood pressure.

Give the Gift of Independence!

The holidays are the perfect time to spread some cheer, and what better way than to help someone live more independently by donating gently used Durable Medical Equipment (DME) to ABLE Tech's Device Reutilization Program? Currently, the waitlist is full of people waiting for blood pressure monitors, grab bars, and shower chairs.

This program is 100% donation-based — which means without community contribution, we don't have a robust inventory. There are more than 600 people on the waitlist right now, making this the perfect time to make a donation and change someone's life.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech's Reutilization Program staff retrieves donated devices and works with vendors to repair equipment to ensure peak performance. All donated durable medical equipment (DME) is sanitized, refurbished, and reassigned to the best-matched Oklahoman in need. Complete the Authorization for Donated Equipment form to schedule a free drop-off or pick-up.

Financial Education – Managing Medical Debt

When you are already dealing with a health crisis, managing medical debt and collections can cause added stress. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) makes the following recommendations:

  • Check your bills for accuracy:
    • Look closely to make sure the items listed are accurate and you received the treatments listed.
    • Make sure the bill is yours and shows the correct name, insurance, and billing address.
    • Ask the provider for a plain language explanation for items on the bill that are unclear to you.
    • Ask debt collectors to verify the debt and provide you with information about the collector and the bill being collected – the CFBP has sample letters to help you communicate with collectors.
  • Explore financial assistance options:
    • If you cannot afford the bill, talk to your medical care provider about payment options - nonprofit hospitals are required to offer financial assistance programs, and many other providers are willing to work out payment arrangements.
    • Contact state or local social services for more assistance.
  • Avoid scammers:
    • Don’t pay a person or service who promises to keep medical bills off your credit report.
    • People who want to charge you an upfront fee for resolving your debt and credit issues should be avoided– the CFBP provides tips for recognizing a credit repair scam.

Do you have questions about financial education resources or need to purchase AT? Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s low-interest financial loan program can help. To apply for a loan, go to the ABLE Tech Financial Loan page, or visit the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT) website.

Digital Accessibility Tip - Make the Holidays a Little Jollier for Your Colorblind Friends

Once we start seeing red and green everywhere, it’s a good indication the holiday season has arrived. Thought to have been inspired by the colors found in holly leaves and berries, these colors commonly represent Christmas throughout the U.S. However, not everyone sees these colors in the way that someone with trichromacy (normal) vision does.

Up-close holly leaves and berries with a filter showing how someone with green colorblindness would see it.

The picture of the holly featured in this section shows how someone with deuteranopia (green-blind) may see holly. Notice there is very little difference between the color of the leaves and the berries. The holly doesn't seem as festive when the colors look the same, right? Let's fix that.

This year when you're creating your holiday card, add some other colors than you normally would, or use a different color scheme altogether! Blues and yellows are often much more visible, for instance, as shown in this fun "rebranding Christmas" project. You can also use a cool app called Chromatic Vision Simulator (Google Play or Apple Store) to scan your holiday decorations or cards to see what the experience might look like. Learn more about color blindness at the We Are Colorblind website. This site is amazing for learning about colorblindness but also for providing tools to help those with colorblindness.

P.S. Registration is open for TechAccess Oklahoma 2024!

Blue graphic that reads "TechAccess Oklahoma 2024. What do you want to learn?" A vector of notable Oklahoma City buildings and landmarks spans the bottom of the design.

ABLE Tech's Digital Accessibility team is busy booking speakers, and we're so excited to share those with you soon! We still have a slot or two to fill, and you can help! Share the topic you'd like to see a session about and help us make the conference in February the best one yet!

Save your spot at Oklahoma’s premier digital accessibility conference and mark your calendars for February 27-29, 2024. Together, let’s Take the Leap into Digital Accessibility!

ORC Update - Successful Oklahoma Transition Institute

The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is part of the Oklahoma Transition Council (OTC) and the planning committee of the Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI).

The 2023 OTI took place on November 14 and 15 at the Glenpool Conference Center, and the theme this year was “Creating Connections.” There was a great turnout of over 300 participants, including parents and guardians, special education teachers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and school staff.

The keynote speaker for the first day was Hasan Davis, and his presentation was “Calling all Hope Dealers.” The second day had a panel of parents, job coaches, and employers of people with disabilities. Some of this year’s breakout sessions were:

  • Building transition programs in your school and community
  • Improving transition resources in rural areas
  • Social Security benefits & transition age youth
  • Peer-led disability advocacy training
  • Enhancing work skills
  • Mental health in the workplace

For more information about the OTC and the 2024 OTI, please visit the OTC website.

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 Update - New Facilitator Training

SERC is excited to offer a new training as a one-day course. This training will provide an overview of facilitation, including facilitator qualities and skills, key functions of a facilitator, the facilitator’s role before, during, and after a meeting, along with a toolbox of practical facilitator strategies and techniques to use during a meeting. This training will provide helpful resources to those who want to sharpen their skills along with tools to use when facilitating difficult meetings. It will also benefit districts wanting to develop in-house facilitators for Individualized Educational Plan meetings.  

The training will be offered in person with regional classes in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The course will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This training is available at no cost through SERC’s partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.  

FY24 Facilitation Training Schedule and Registration

For more information about SERC training courses, please contact Rob Keiter at rob.keiter@okstate.edu or (405) 569-3105.

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. 

AT Workshop 3 Recap

On November 9, Oklahoma ABLE Tech staff conducted the final session of a recurring, three-part workshop series designed to develop participants’ knowledge, skills, and competencies related to Assistive Technology (AT). In Part 3 of the series, participants learned how to write AT/Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) in the IEP and summarize the AT/AEM implementation process.

There were over 60 attendees including in-service teachers, parents, administrators, and related service providers from across Oklahoma. 

Participants shared many positive remarks about Part 3:

  • “I like having a mapped-out procedure for any step-by-step process and this was presented throughout.”
  • “This training took out some of the fear of AT assessments and implementation of AT devices.”
  • “I will consider the need for assistive tech more often with my students moving forward.”
  • “I have already started trialing devices; next, I will write them into IEPs with all this helpful information.”

Mark your calendars for the Funding Workshop scheduled for December 7, 2023.  Participants will develop an understanding of how to incorporate AT/AEM into grant applications, apply information learned to select, plan, and write strong grant applications, and develop a list of grantors and grant resources.

The Funding Workshop will be offered virtually via Zoom. Learn more and register on the AT Support Team Workshop webpage!  You need NOT have attended Part 1, 2, or 3 to attend the Funding Workshop.  We look forward to seeing you in December! 

For additional information or if you have questions, contact Dr. Joshua Hawkins at Oklahoma ABLE Tech.

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
  • Gretchen Cole-Lade, State Leadership Training Specialist
  • Leslie Dady, Administrative Operations Specialist
  • Lisa Dobson, SAS Program Coordinator
  • Shannon Esmeyer, SERC Administrative Assistant
  • Shelley Gladden, State Level Program Manager
  • Brent Greyson, Instructional Design & Accessibility Specialist
  • Peyton Haley, Accessible Communications Coordinator
  • Terri Harris, Senior Administrative Support Specialist
  • Josh Hawkins, State Leadership Program Manager
  • Averie Hinchey-Lucas, Speech-Language Pathologist Specialist
  • Stephanie Hesser, Financial Loan Program Specialist
  • Rob Keiter, SERC Program Coordinator
  • Angie Larison, SAS Accessibility Specialist
  • Lyssa Prince, Digital Accessibility Program Manager
  • 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.