October 2023 Newsletter

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

National Family Caregivers Month, celebrated each November, is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers nationwide.

Celebrating family caregivers in the upcoming weeks enables all of us to:

  • Raise awareness of family caregiver issues
  • Celebrate the efforts of family caregivers
  • Educate family caregivers about self-identification
  • Increase support for family caregivers
  • Reduce feelings of isolation

Caregiver Action Network is the organization that spearheads the celebration of NFC Month nationally. Each year, the Caregiver Action Network makes materials available for general use, including the theme, a social media kit, etc., and coordinates with the Administration for Community Living and other organizations across the field. The 2023 NFC theme is #CaregiversConnect.

Assistive Technology (AT) Highlights 

Since November is National Family Caregiver Month, our AT specialists selected devices that may be especially helpful in a home caregiving setting! 

  • Leg Lifter - This can be used by the caregiver (or the individual, depending on their mobility) to lift a person’s leg and increase the ease of transfers. 
  • Caregiver Pager with Call Buttons - This device has two call buttons and two different sound settings. The pager can be clipped onto a belt, and the buttons have a lanyard so that they can be worn around the neck.  
  • Uplift Power Seat - This is a portable lift seat. It raises the user in slow, controlled movements to help them transition to a standing position safely. This could help a caregiver transfer a person with less strain on the caregiver.  
  • iEat Feeding Robot - This device is designed for individuals who do not have use of their hands or arms. It is a device that will feed an individual, which can lighten the load of a caregiver.  
AT rests on the countertop. There is an Uplift Power Chair in completely lowered position, a Leg Lifter with loops on either end, a Caregiver Pager with Call Buttons, and an iEat Feeding Robot with a spoon attached resting on a dinner plate.

SoonerStart Success Story 

Logan County 

Dean is a handsome and happy two-year-old boy with developmental delays. A developmental delay refers to a child who has not gained the developmental skills expected of them, compared to others of the same age. Delays may occur in motor function, speech and language, cognitive, play, and social skills.  

Dean and his family have been working with SoonerStart and Oklahoma ABLE Tech to help Dean reach his developmental milestones. Before receiving SoonerStart services, Dean had difficulty with self-feeding and using utensils. Dean’s SoonerStart team introduced his family to a piece of assistive technology (AT), the EasiEater Spoon and Fork. The EasiEater utensils are lightweight, curved, and easy to grip. The fixed curve in the utensils helps make the hand-to-mouth motion easier.  

Thanks to the EasiEaters, Dean now self-feeds with ease. The family’s next goal is to transition from the EasiEaters to regular utensils! 

To learn more about SoonerStart or AT for infants and toddlers with disabilities, visit our SoonerStart Collaboration webpage. 

Dean is a young boy with brown hair. He sits in his hair chair and smiles as he grasps the EasiEater fork with both hands. On the tray of the high chair, there is. a piece of. a cracker.
Dean is sitting in his high chair. He is looking at the blue EasiEater fork as he pulls ramen noodles that are in a clear container towards his mouth. On the white high chair tray, there are several noodles and crackers spread across the surface.

ORC Update

The Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) would like to remind all parents, guardians, and teachers with transition-aged students of these two excellent transition resources: 

18th Annual Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI) 

This year's theme is Creating Connections, so we hope you can join us. It will be an in-person event at the Glenpool Conference Center at 12205 S Yukon Avenue in Glenpool, Oklahoma, on November 14-15, 2023. Registration this year is $50, and you can register online!

2023 Oklahoma Transition Folders 

The ORC, the Department of Education (OSDE), and the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) partnered again to create updated Transition Folders. There are three different versions, available in English and Spanish: 

  • Elementary School 
  • Middle School 
  • High School 

Each folder lists specific resources that will help students, guardians, parents, and teachers navigate the transition process. 

View and download the digital versions on the ORC website. To order printed copies, please email Renee Sansom Briscoe at  rsansom@okdrs.gov.

SERC Update

As we celebrate National Caregivers Month, the Special Education Resolution Center (SERC) would like to highlight the work of a valued partner, The Oklahoma Parents Center (OPC). The Oklahoma Parents Center is the federally and state funded parent training and information center for all parents of special needs children in the State of Oklahoma. They operate primarily under a grant program from the U.S. Department of Education which funds parent training and information centers in every state and territory under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

The main objective of the OPC is to inform and train parents to support and advocate for their children with disabilities in public schools. Their mission is immense as there are approximately 121,000 children identified in special education within our state! 

OPC teaches parents the rights of their children and provides resources to parents to help them understand their child’s disability, training on what services can be available to their children under the law, tips on parenting, and many more things! 

Last year, the OPC reached 4.8 million people through social media, provided 89 training sessions on various topics, provided 13,278 technical assistance calls, disseminated 54,241 total materials on various topics, and attended 200 meetings in support of parents of children with disabilities. OPC also provides regional and state conferences with exceptional speakers on current topics of interest. They work in close collaboration with the Oklahoma State Department of Education - Special Education Services (OSDE-SES). OPC Director Sharon Long says OPC could not do all that they do without the incredible support from OSDE-SES. 

If you know a parent of a child with special needs who needs a wonderful resource, please direct them to the OPC website!

New SERC Facilitation 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 IEP 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.  

2023 Facilitation Course dates, locations, and registration links: 

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. 

Financial Education – How Financially Smart Are You? 

Are you looking for information related to financial education? Check out the FDIC’s Money Smart website. The site hosts 14 games and related resources about everyday financial topics to help you learn about your financial education strengths and weaknesses. 

If you have questions about this resource or need to purchase assistive technology (AT), Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s low-interest financial loan program team is available for assistance. Contact them at 405-252-1012 or staff@okatfoundation.org. 

To apply for a loan to help you buy needed AT, visit the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Financial Loan webpage or the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT) website. 

DME is AT, too! 

Having the right tools and equipment can make all the difference when it comes to an individual achieving and maintaining independence. These tools, called assistive technology (AT), often become an extension of the individual and are invaluable in everyday life. AT encompasses a broad range of products, systems, and services that are designed to enhance the independence, autonomy, and overall well-being of individuals with disabilities. It includes any tool or device that helps someone overcome barriers or limitations resulting from their disability.

Durable medical equipment (DME) refers to various medical devices, equipment, and supplies that are intended for repeated use by individuals with medical conditions or disabilities. These devices are primarily used to improve or maintain a person's functional abilities and quality of life. Both AT and durable medical equipment (DME) make it easier to perform daily living activities if a person has an injury, disability, or medical condition.

In many cases, durable medical equipment can serve as assistive technology by providing support and enabling individuals with disabilities to perform daily activities more easily. For example, a wheelchair or a mobility scooter is considered DME that assists individuals with mobility impairments in moving around more independently. Similarly, devices such as orthotic braces, prosthetics, and walkers can also be classified as both DME and assistive technology. These assistive devices help individuals with physical disabilities to improve their mobility, balance, and overall functionality.

AT makes life in general easier, while durable medical equipment is intended to withstand repeated use and is most often related to a medical condition or disability. While DME is prescribed by a physician, it can take on the appearance of AT because it helps someone gain or maintain independence. It is important to note that while DME serves a specific medical purpose, assistive technology has a broader scope, focusing on enhancing overall independence and quality of life. However, the line between these two categories can sometimes be blurred, as many durable medical equipment devices inherently serve as assistive technology by improving functionality and promoting independence.

If you need DME or have gently used DME to donate, contact the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Device Reutilization team at 405-967-6010, atreuse@okstate.edu, or visit the program webpage

Save the Date for TechAccess OK 2024 

TechAccess Oklahoma, Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s annual digital accessibility conference, is going hybrid this year! Join us either in-person or online as we leap into digital accessibility February 27-29, 2024. Get it? 😉 The in-person conference will be held at Rose State College in Midwest City, and the online version will be streamed on Zoom. 

Tech Access OK logo.

AT Workshop 2 Recap 

On October 12, Oklahoma ABLE Tech staff conducted the second session of our recurring, three-part workshop series designed to develop participants’ knowledge, skills, and competencies related to assistive technology (AT).  

In Part 2 of the series, workshop attendees examined the process of conducting an AT assessment. Staff were thrilled to offer Part 2 in a hybrid format, allowing participants to join virtually and in person in Stillwater, OK. Participants who joined in person had hands-on experience with multiple AT devices. 

There were over 50 attendees including in-service teachers, parents, administrators, and related service providers from across Oklahoma. Participants shared many positive remarks about Part 2, including:  

  • “The in-person workshop was so helpful. The presenter had amazing energy and covered the material so well. Then the hands-on training in the afternoon was a huge plus! Really enjoyed the in-person workshop.” 
  • “It was helpful to see what all you had and how to use it for different students.” 
  • “Information was so helpful and presented so well! Hands-on with the equipment was also helpful to see the wide variety of equipment available!” 
  • “I enjoyed all of it, but the interactive part using the SETT was a good example of how to go through the form.” 

Mark your calendars for Part 3, scheduled for November 9, 2023. Participants will learn how to write AT/Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) in the IEP and summarize the AT/AEM implementation process.  

Part 3 of the AT workshop series will be offered virtually via Zoom. Learn more and register on theAT Support Team Workshop webpage!  You need  NOT  have attended Part 1 or 2 to register for Part 3.  We look forward to seeing you in November!  Check out the video below, Common Errors in AT Documentation, for a preview of what will be covered during Part 3. 

For additional information or if you have questions, contact Dr. Joshua Hawkinsat 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
  • Shelby Sanders, Assistive Technology 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.