Council Project History

Third Generation

Council projects of the third generation are characterized by the systemic efforts of the grants. By the mid 1990s, the Council was writing more strategic goals and objectives for its State Plan. Although all previous projects had been successful, no longer was the Council interested in simply filling gaps in services. These projects, again, falling under the four federal priority areas of Child Development, Community Living, Employment, and Systems Coordination and Community Education, were broader in scope and concentrated more heavily in true systemic change and capacity building.

Third Generation Specific Priority Areas

Child Development

Community Living


Systems Coordination and Community Education

Child Development Priority Area

Transition from School to Work Project, contracted with Oklahomans for Independent Living, McAlester

Oklahomans for Independent Living (OIL) is a Center for Independent Living in a rural part of Oklahoma. Historically, little effort had been made to assist students in Pittsburgh County to move from school to work. Through coordination efforts with high schools, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Department of Human Services, Kiamichi Vocational-Technical School, area providers, the local Chambers of Commerce, local business owners, and others, OIL was able to assist 25 students per year plan for life beyond high school.

Keeping Families Together, contracted with the University Affiliated Program of Oklahoma (now the Center for Learning and Leadership)

A model program carried out by the University Affiliated Program, “Keeping Families Together” provides assistance to families which include infants with developmental health care needs. Families are assisted and strengthened through a common sense, coordinated effort of training and resource development focused on keeping families together. The program is designed to keep infants from being institutionalized because their families are not ready or able to take them home from neonatal intensive care facilities. Activities included training for health care professionals, training for a state-level resource team, and development and training of alternative family environments.

Learning Together at Home, contracted with Idabel Public Schools

Learning Together at Home contracted with Idabel Public Schools McCurtain County, in extreme southeast Oklahoma, has long been one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged counties. Because of its isolation, there is a large population of children considered “at-risk” for developmental delay. Learning Together at Home is a school-readiness model which trains parents to work on preschool skills with their 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, with the goal of preventing placement in special education classes. The curriculum is based on a national model, HIPPY, but was extensively rewritten so schools with limited budgets could participate in the program. The curriculum was distributed to all schools in Oklahoma with active Head Start programs.

Family Services Coordinator, contracted with the Lee Mitchener Tolbert Center, OUHSC

Sooner Start, the state’s early intervention program for infants and children age birth to 36 months, has been a strong link in the chain of services for persons with disabilities. This project furthers Sooner Start’s commitment to family-centered care by creating the position of Family Services Coordinator. The Family Services Coordinator is primarily responsible for keeping Sooner Start families apprised of current issues and policies that may affect their services. This is accomplished through the publication of a newsletter, extensive family contacts across the state, and the coordination of parent networks.

Community Living Priority Area

“Living in the Freedom World”, contracted with the University of Minnesota

In the late 1980s the State of Oklahoma began the deinstitutionalization of The Hissom Memorial Center, one of the three large public intermediate care facilities for persons with mental retardation (ICF/MR). The closure was the result of a court order and was a huge and controversial undertaking. Wanting to assure that the outstanding results of that closure were highlighted, the Council contracted with the University of Minnesota to produce a monograph and video featuring the lives of persons who had previously lived in public and private ICFs/MR. The video received an “honorable mention” at the prestigious Chris Awards in Columbus, Ohio; and has been distributed throughout the United States, as well as Russia, Japan and Australia. The video continues to be the Council’s most requested publication and clips from it are now part of the Minnesota Governor’s Council’s “Parallel Lives” on-line history of developmental disabilities services in the U.S.

Network of Master Trainers for Aging and Developmental Disabilities, contracted with The Nigh Institute/University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond

This multidisciplinary collaborative project developed an extensive training curriculum for consumers and professionals in the fields of aging and developmental disabilities. The curriculum was designed specifically to assure professionals in the field of aging had general information about issues related to developmental disabilities, and vice versa. Partnering in this effort were The Nigh Institute for State Government, The Donna Nigh Foundation, the Department of Human Services Aging Services Division and Developmental Disabilities Services Division, Oklahoma Community-Based Providers, Oklahoma People First, and the Long-Term Care Authority of Tulsa.

Demand-Response Transportation Model, contracted with The Gatesway Foundation, Broken Arrow, Red River Transportation Model, contracted with The Power Shop, Duncan, and Community Transportation Model, contracted with Oklahomans for Independent Living, McAlester

These three transportation models helped the Council to determine best practices in community public transportation. The Broken Arrow model was essentially an accessible para-transit service. The established routes connected with the accessible Tulsa Transit bus lines so individuals with disabilities who wished to work, shop, or visit friends in Tulsa had a ride. The Duncan model helped an established transportation system, Red River, become more accessible to persons with disabilities. Lifts were purchased and installed and dispatchers were trained in how to assist persons with disabilities to get to their destinations. The McAlester model demonstrated that collaboration among agencies and organization can assure people with disabilities can get to their destination of choice. Existing vans, with and without lifts and other accessibility features, were organized and a central dispatch assured any person (with or without a disability) needing a ride could get one. The City of McAlester provided funding for gas and vehicle maintenance.

Spirit of Families Together (SOFT) Project, contracted with Grand Lake Mental Health Center Inc., Nowata

SOFT is a family support model which worked with persons with cognitive disabilities or with a dual-diagnosis of both cognitive and psychiatric disability; the goal of the project was to support families to prevent out-of-home placement in congregate settings for either cognitive or psychiatric disability. The project served the extreme northeastern counties of Oklahoma (Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, and Washington), where there is a large population of American Indians, particularly Cherokee. Because of the high percentage of American Indians, SOFT personnel worked hard to assure that assistance and supports were delivered in a culturally responsive manner; staff members were trained in the Cherokee language.

Work-Study Program, contracted with Cushing Public Schools, Cushing

This contract with the Cushing Special Services Coop provided assistance to 29 school districts in five rural counties of Oklahoma: Payne, Creek, Pawnee, Okfuskee, and Lincoln. Transition from school to work for students with disabilities was the main goal of the project, and students in the program were provided with traditional job supports – training, job coaching, resume building, and the like, all based on the Elsmere Project model.

A Better Choice (ABC), contracted with Whitebead School, Whitebead

Neither parents nor teachers at Whitebead School, a small public school serving grades K-8, understood why children with disabilities who grew up in Whitebead needed to be bused to the local educational co-op for middle school. They didn’t believe it made sense to remove these children from their friends and siblings, so school administrators withdrew from the Pauls Valley Co-op and used Council funding to assure that the children had appropriate supports, including accessible computers, on-staff occupational, physical and speech therapists, and a respite room for the children. In spite of the project promoting child development, this project is very deliberately placed in the Community Living priority area.

Oklahoma Aging Advocacy Leadership Academy, contracted with the Aging Services Division, Department of Human Services, Oklahoma City

The Council helped fund the development of a 10-month advocacy training program in partnership with the Aging Services Division of the Department of Human Services. This program identifies, trains and develops caring people with and without disabilities to become informed leaders about issues affecting those in later phases of life.

Persons accepted and graduated from its training are empowered, committed advocates for their own and later generations to help Oklahoma’s older population with and without developmental disabilities.

Project Access, contracted with Ability Resources, Tulsa, and the Department of Rehabilitation Services training – contracted with Nanopac, Tulsa

With the wealth of information on the Web, the Council wanted to ensure that physical access to computers was available throughout Oklahoma. Ability Resources, a Tulsa Center for Independent Living, surveyed libraries throughout Oklahoma about their computer systems and accessibility. Following the survey, the Council placed 56 computers with accessible hardware and software in local libraries throughout the state. In addition, the Council sponsored five training sessions throughout the state for library staff so they knew how to operate the accessibility features.

Employment Priority Area

I-TEMP, contracted with TransVoc Inc., Tulsa

I-TEMP is an employment service that specializes in assisting persons with disabilities to get and keep jobs consistent with their interests, skills, and abilities. Key to the success of this project was the partnership with local businesses. These partnerships enabled I-TEMP to place persons with disabilities so both the employer and employee could test the waters before making a job permanent.

Sheltered Workshop Conversion Project, contracted with SHOW Inc., Sapulpa, and ARC Industries Inc., Bartlesville

SHOW Inc. had been moving in the direction of closing out its workshop “slots” and serving their clients in community-based jobs. Funding from the Council helped to convert the last 26 workshop clients and move those persons into jobs in Sapulpa.

ARC Industries used Council funding to convert several sheltered workshop slots to community-based employment. This project was particularly effective in raising the profile of persons with disabilities in Bartlesville through extensive public relations efforts.

Supported Training and Employment (STEP) Program, contracted with the Panhandle Area Sheltered Workshop, Guymon

The Oklahoma Panhandle is arguably the most remote part of the state. The three counties which make up the Panhandle (Cimarron, Texas and Beaver) are rural, sparsely populated, and receive minimal state agency services. In fact, prior to this project of the Council, there were no integrated employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in this region. With Council assistance, community integrated employment was modeled for the first time.

Valley Laser, contracted with Garvin County Community Living Center Inc., Pauls Valley

Cartridge King is a national supported employment model which trains persons with disabilities to work in the field of computer toner cartridge recycling. Using that model, Valley Laser was created to provide clients with the opportunity learned how to recycle and resell several kinds of computer printer cartridges. Valley Laser has won several state contracts for their product. Based on the skills of several workers, Valley Laser also trains workers to be computer printer repair technicians.

Access Careers, contracted with Ability Resources Inc., Tulsa

Ability Resources is the state’s largest Center for Independent Living. The project was a collaborative effort of Ability Resources, local Tulsa businesses, local social service agencies, and the Department of Rehabilitation Services. Access Careers provides services in the areas of job development and placement, career guidance, training necessary for job retention, literacy training, resume writing, and the like. The project, working with a business roundtable, assisted individuals with disabilities to try jobs available in the community, both to learn practical skills and test interests, skills and abilities.

“Count Us In” Job Fair, contracted with Community Service Council, Tulsa

As part of the larger “Count Us In” community awareness effort in Tulsa, this job fair was specifically designed for persons with disabilities and community employers looking to hire persons with disabilities.

Vermiculture and Composting Micro-enterprise, contracted with Green Country Community Mental Health Services, Muskogee

Originally designed as an entrepreneurial demonstration project, this project evolved into a training project which provided an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to develop and improve work skills in the areas of accountability, decision making, responsibility, and commitment to work schedules.

Systems Coordination and Community Education Priority Area

The Habilitation Center/Joseph Harp Correctional Facility, contracted with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Oklahoma City

One of the most unique systems change projects that Council undertook was the project which served minimum- and medium-security offenders with cognitive disabilities at the Joseph Harp Facility in Lexington, Oklahoma. The Department of Corrections saw a need to provide some specialized training to assure that, once released from prison, these individuals had the academic, social, and work skills to help prevent a return to the criminal justice system. The Council helped the Habilitation Center to complete assessments and develop academic, social, and work skill curricula. Joseph Harp now houses all minimum- and medium-security offenders determined to have developmental delay or disability.

Oklahoma Assistive Technology Consortium Network, contracted with the Community Partnership Development Foundation, Stillwater

The Community Partnership Development Foundation was a consortium of several advocacy and provider organizations in northeastern Oklahoma. OATCN’s goals were to assist persons with disabilities already living in the community to access already-existing recreational and educational opportunities. The project worked with several community colleges in northeast Oklahoma to make their curriculum more accessible and appealing to persons with disabilities.

El Centro Ensenado, contracted with The Power Shop, Duncan

The City of Duncan, like other rural parts of Oklahoma, recognized a growing population of Spanish-speaking agricultural workers and their families. As a way of providing state agency services – not just for those with developmental disabilities, The Power Shop staffed an office called El Centro Ensenado (The Learning Center.) Not only were staff bilingual, they were able to convince state agencies to print brochures about their services in Spanish for the first time. In addition to linking people to needed services, El Centro Ensenado also helped match people with available jobs in the community, notably a Spanish-speaking dispatcher with a disability at the Red River Transportation Service, another collaboration between the Council and The Power Shop.

Inclusion Now for School and Work, contracted with the Community Services Council, Tulsa

The goal of this project was to create a local model of inclusive elementary education and use that model to work with other area schools to achieve education throughout Tulsa. In addition to helping one elementary school to be completely inclusive of children with disabilities, the project spread the word about inclusion by hosting breakfast meetings for principals, providing technical assistance, and providing a best practices newsletter.

Access Roundtable, contracted with Ability Resources Inc., Tulsa

Roundtable discussions were hosted by Ability Resources and facilitated by the Statewide Independent Living Council in six locations throughout the state. Those participating were state agency personnel, local social service agencies, and consumers. Consumers were able to discuss their needs and agency personnel were able to explain their agency’s services and supports. From these discussions, barriers and gaps in services were identified and a final report was broadly disseminated.

Oklahoma Respite Resource Network Marketing, contracted with Naukam Marketing, Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma Respite Resource Network (ORRN) is a multi-agency collaboration which provides respite vouchers for families caring for children and adults with disabilities. This program has garnered well-deserved national attention. The Council provided initial funding to market ORRN to families and providers.

ArcLink, contracted with TARC, Tulsa

ArcLink is a national web-based information and referral system affiliated with the Arc of the U.S. This site allows users to format a personal profile based on their service needs, age, income, and ZIP code. The information provided then matches the eligibility criteria and service location so users can easily sort through potential services. The Council provided funding for the research and uploading of the Oklahoma page. Annual support for the site is provided by the DHS Developmental Disabilities Services Division.

Partners in Policymaking, originally contracted with TARC, Tulsa, and now an in-house Council project.

Oklahoma Partners in Policymaking follows the national model developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities. This advocacy training course, taught one weekend per month for nine months, provides self-advocates, parents of young children with developmental disabilities, and other advocates and providers with state-of-the-art training related to services for people with disabilities, inclusion in all aspects of community life, and building positive working relationships with policymakers.

Conference Support, various contractors throughout Oklahoma

During this generation of project development, the Council developed instructions to staff related to sponsoring or co-sponsoring Oklahoma conferences with a focus on people with disabilities. This sponsorship continues today and has included annual sponsorship of the Oklahoma Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities, the Autism Symposium, Oklahoma Association of Persons in Supported Employment, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Conference, the State Conference on Aging, and the Oklahoma Statewide Conference on Autism.

Consumer Involvement Fund and Professional Development Fund

Prior to development of the projects listed above to support Oklahomans with autism, the Council was asked by a group of five parents of children with Autism with a request to provide travel assistance to attend an early conference of the Autism Society of America. Their goal was to bring back information on best practices for education. This travel resulted in the development of both Project PEAK and the Parent Training Program. Today, the Council has a formal line-item budget for such travel - one for self-advocates and family members; another for field professionals and teachers. Eligible individuals and families may apply to the Council once every two years for such support, which is provided as reimbursement for travel expenses. The Council requires short reports and copies of important materials from each traveler, as well as letters from the traveler to his/her elected policymakers in the Oklahoma Legislature and U.S. Congress.