Council Project History

Fourth Generation

With the 2000 reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, “priority areas” were changed to “areas of emphasis,” and new areas were defined. The areas of emphasis include Quality Assurance; Education and Early Intervention; Child Care; Health; Employment; Housing; Transportation; Recreation; and Formal and Informal Community Supports. The Council responded by changing the Committee Structure of the Council by first dropping the Systems Coordination and Community Education Committee (with an eye toward assuring that all Council activities were reflective of systems coordination and community education issues), then ultimately collapsing all former “priority area” committees into a single Project Development Committee to assure that all State Plan goals, objectives and activities were being considered in a single committee. Projects continued to evolve in this generation to assure greater “statewideness” and more systemic change in nature. Council investments in these projects and activities were often larger and more long-term.

Business Leadership Network/Job Fit, contracted with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Executive Services Corps of Central Oklahoma

The Business Leadership Network is a national model that seeks to educate local businesses of the value of hiring persons with disabilities. The Council worked with the Executive Services Corps to coordinate the original Business Leadership Network; and worked with the Department of Rehabilitation Services to develop a website that both job seekers and businesses could access. This site allowed job seekers to post resumes, search for jobs, and match their skills to available positions. Human Resources managers could post jobs and search available resumes.

Tech Now! and Cache High Tech Connections, contracted with Bethany Public Schools and Cache Public Schools

The national High School-High Tech program was brought to Oklahoma by the Council. The first two programs were funded in Cache and in metro-Oklahoma City. The metro-Oklahoma City program worked originally in five schools. Over the course of five years, Cache eventually became part of Tech Now, and Tech Now continues to expand.

Tech Now Inc. is a program designed to encourage students with disabilities to explore post-secondary education and careers related to technology. Today, there are 36 sites across the state in both high schools and junior high schools. The curriculum includes classroom instruction, field trips to local technology-related businesses, mentorship from local business leaders, and computer project competitions. Students participating in the program are eligible for scholarships and cash awards provided by local businesses, the Oklahoma Department of Career Technology, and the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education.

Funding for the program is now provided by local school districts, as well as through the State Department of Education, the State Department of Rehabilitation Services, and federal grants. Council staff serve on the non-profit’s Advisory Board and assist with fund development and program expansion.

SoonerCare Health Education Partners, contracted with the Center for Learning and Leadership at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

With the roll-out of SoonerCare, the state’s managed health care program, the need was identified to assist enrollees about their rights and responsibilities related managed care. SoonerCare Health Education Partners improved the knowledge of the managed care system of health care providers, primary care providers, Oklahoma Health Care Authority (the state’s Medicaid agency) service representatives, Exceptional Needs Coordinators, self-advocates and family members.

Youth Service Worker Training Programs, contracted with the National Resource Center for Youth Services

This project developed training for Oklahoma’s community-based youth service agencies and other community-based service agencies providing services to children and youth to build their capacity to work with children and youth with developmental disabilities.

OASIS Update contracted with OASIS, Oklahoma City

OASIS is the statewide information and referral system for persons with disabilities. While comprehensive, the Council determined the need to update the information provided in their data base, and supplement it with local, generic services that could be of assistance to individuals with disabilities – such as church food pantries and utility assistance programs. Over the course of three years, all data was updated and the Council funded sub-contracts in Tulsa and McAlester to identify and include such generic services.

Home of Your Own/Home Ownership Options for Persons with Disabilities, contracted with the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies

home logo

Based on the national home-ownership model “Home of Your Own,” Affordable Home Ownership Options for People with Disabilities was an activity funded through the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA). The program developed home-ownership readiness training, down payment/closing cost assistance programs, and weatherization/rehabilitation programs for potential home owners. Additionally, OACAA built relationships with the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority, banks and mortgage companies to assist home buyers with disabilities. Though the Council no longer provides funding for this program, most of the products have been incorporated into the core services of Oklahoma’s community action system.

Workforce Center Access Project, contracted with the University of Oklahoma’s National Center for Disability Education and Training

This program provided training and technical assistance to the state’s Workforce Centers to assure each met the requirements for programmatic and physical accessibility for persons with disabilities as the federal Ticket to Work program went on-line.

Environmental Design Prototype, contracted with the OSU College of Environmental Sciences, Stillwater

This project produced a study, “The Impact of the Near Environment on People’s Psychological Well Being,” and conducted a literature review of current standards, products and facilities for persons in temporary congregate living situations. As part of the research, students in the college designed model residential homes for youth with mental health situations who were making a transition from institutional care to a less restrictive environment. These designs, including blue prints and suggestions for furnishings and fixtures, were provided to Oklahoma’s service providers at no cost and several more “home like” homes with important durability and safety features have been built.

Dreamnight at the Zoo, contracted with the Oklahoma City Zoo

Dreamnight is an international event, held each year on the first Friday evening in June. The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens is the only Oklahoma zoo participating and the Council has helped to design and sponsor this event since it began in 2005. In addition to providing access to families of children with disabilities, the Council funded disability awareness training for zoo employees that is now part of new employee orientation. Additionally, the zoo wrote and published a Dreamnight at the Zoo manual, working with zoos from across the country to compile important information. This has been disseminated to all Councils on Developmental Disabilities and has been presented at national conferences of zoo professionals.

Sooner SUCCESS, contracted with the Child Study Center of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

This project supports the effort to establish a coordinated collaboration of formal and informal service providers and families at the county level. Council funding supported salary for six county coordinators, all of whom were parents of children with disabilities or special health care needs. Sooner SUCCESS will eventually expand to all 77 counties in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Court-Appointed Advocates for Vulnerable Adults (CAAVA), contracted with the Aging Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services

CAAVA meets a significant need by training citizen volunteers as adults for vulnerable adults with and without disabilities. These advocates, assigned by district court judges ad litem for vulnerable adults in civil court proceedings (typically guardianship), assure that the rights of such adults are preserved and protected, while helping to assure that they are safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Justin A. McCurry Library and Resource Center

Through the years, the state's DD Act partners, the Council, the Disability Law Center and the Center for Learning and Leadership had amassed a large collection of print and electronic media. As a Redlands Partners collaboration project, all material was housed in a single location (at the Council office) and this became the Justin A. McCurry Library and Resource Center. Print materials may be checked out to any member of the public, and video resources may be viewed at the Council office.

Emergency Preparation for Persons with Developmental Disabilities and Emergency Response Personnel

Another collaboration of the Redlands Partners has been the work related to emergency preparation in Oklahoma. Oklahomans have experienced significant natural and man-made disasters, and with these projects, all operated in-house, persons with disabilities and emergency response personnel are better prepared to handle such situations. Among the work completed under this banner are the distribution of thousands of Red Cross Disaster Preparation for People with Disabilities books, the distribution of more than 10,000 laminated tip cards for first responders to emergency personnel in more than 22 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, and the participation of professionals in the field of developmental disabilities in the State’s Department of Emergency Management advisory councils.

Youth Leadership Forum

The Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a week-long summer camp for rising high school juniors and seniors with disabilities. YLF, an in-house project of the Council, provides training in leadership, career and post-secondary education exploration, public speaking, and working with policymakers.

Master of Social Work Stipend Program

This former in-house program of the Council promoted career exploration for graduate students in social work by providing a stipend for practicum experiences at non-profit organizations and state agencies serving persons with developmental disabilities.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Housing Study, contracted with the Aging Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Oklahoma ranks second in the number of children being raised by grandparents. Many of these children have disabilities. The Council has worked closely with the Aging Services Division of OKDHS to identify and help meet the needs of these families and conducted this study to determine housing-related needs of this population.

Direct Support Professionals Project, contracted with Tulsa Community College

As part of the overall strategy to train and support qualified direct support professionals, the Council worked with Tulsa Community College to create a certificate of educational attainment that can be taken at Tulsa Community College. The training required of these professionals can be transferred into college credit hours, which will encourage these professionals to continue working on a college degree, thus increasing their career advancement in the field of developmental disabilities.

Adopt-A-Stop, contracted with the University of Oklahoma

The project was intended to address transportation needs of Oklahomans with disabilities by working with the University of Oklahoma to design accessible bus stop structures and concrete pads using criteria required by the City of Oklahoma City. This project experienced a dramatic personnel change, and while some design prototypes were produced, there was no work on collaboration models within city government or the private business which provided the bus stop structures.

Oklahoma Alliance for Youth, contracted with the National Center for Disability Education and Training/University of Oklahoma

Funding from the Council was used to assist with capacity building and outreach for this existing project focused on youth empowerment and youth leadership.

Therapeutic Horticulture Garden Project/Sensory Gardens, contracted with Oklahoma State University

The Botanical Gardens at Oklahoma State University are a large part of the university campus, as well as a study site for horticulturalists and gardeners, both professional and avocational. Throughout the two years of this project, a sensory garden was built to demonstrate the many textures, smells, sights and sounds of gardens; and gardening classes for people with physical disabilities were established.

ME! Transition Success, contracted with the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment at the University of Oklahoma

This contract helped the Zarrow Center to write and test a curriculum designed for high school students with IEPs. In working through the curriculum, students would better understand their disability, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and learn crucial goal attainment skills to increase their overall level of self-determination.

Longitudinal Study of Council Projects, contracted with Oklahoma State University

With 20 years of project experience, the Council wished to study the long-term success of the Council's current and former projects. This contract commissioned this two-part study. Part One was a survey of all former Council projects; Part Two was a more rigorous study of several of those projects to identify what made those projects particularly successful or unsuccessful. Very happily, all projects were successful at some level! This report is available for viewing at the Council's office.

Download Impact Study
Final Report - PDF
Appendices - PDF

Emergency Management Equipment Dissemination

The Council worked with county emergency management professionals in all 77 counties of Oklahoma to assess the needs for each county in terms of establishing emergency shelters and assuring their accessibility for those with disabilities. The Council then provided to each county such pieces of equipment, such as portable ramps, large button phones, accessible cutlery, plates and cups for people with disabilities, and the like. This project was highly praised by emergency management professionals throughout Oklahoma, and the Council remains involved with these emergency managers as questions about accommodations for people with disabilities are discovered.

SibShops, contracted with the OUHSC Child Study Center

SibShops is a national model for supporting and educating siblings of children with disabilities. Oklahoma is committed to supporting local SibShops projects throughout the state, and this contract supported a Statewide Coordinator, a first nationally for the SibShops "movement."

Oklahoma Early Access Autism Screening Project, contracted with the OUHSC Child Study Center

As the diagnostic rates for autism continue to grow, this project established mobile clinics for screening and diagnosis for developmental delay and disability, including autism. As children were screened, referral was made to local services and specialists. As this program progressed, local "teams" were trained to continue work in those areas targeted for screening visits, leaving in place a local source for screening and referral.

Camp of Champions, contracted with Cameron University, Lawton

Camp of Champions is a well-established camp for young children with disabilities in southwestern Oklahoma. The Council provided funding for two years to support the tuition of campers with disabilities.

Person-Centered Thinking Learning Community, contracted with the Center for Learning and Leadership.OUHSC

Based on the work of Michael Smull and Mary Lou Bourne, this project is designed to promote the concepts and ideals of true person-centered thinking and person-centered planning. To that end, this project supports the training certification of Oklahoma trainers and funds plan facilitation meetings for individuals with developmental disabilities living and working in the community. A major component of this project is the partnership with BIOS, a large provider in Sapulpa. This provider has fully adopted this model of person-centered planning for all clients.

Oklahoma Self-Advocacy Network, contracted with the Center for Learning and Leadership

In 2011, the U.S. Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities convened a series of regional meetings for its "sibling" agencies and leaders of the state's self-advocacy organizations and networks. As a result of this meeting, Oklahoma's team developed the Oklahoma Self-Advocacy Network. The self-advocate leaders of this group set goals for the coming years of the organization, including training programs and a campaign to end the "R word." The Council supports this work financially through our sibling agency, the Center for Learning and Leadership. It's project director is a self-advocate and graduate of both Partners in Policymaking and the Youth Leadership Forum.

The Council office holds cabinets and bookcases full of additional information about these former projects; if you’d like more information about any project, please contact the Council office.