The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services provides disability services and programs for Oklahoma people facing employment barriers.
“The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services has two career planning and employment programs for Oklahomans with disabilities,” said DRS Communications Director Jodie Harlan. “Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired” assists the blind or visually impaired. Vocational Rehabilitation Services for all other types of disabilities.
Harlan said both departments offer vocational rehabilitation services.
“In state fiscal year 2022, DRS served 11,458 clients through VR and SBVI programs and 184,082 clients through all disability programs,” she said.
Applicants are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services from VR or SBVI if they have a physical or mental disability that is a barrier to employment.
“They have to need services to get, keep, or get promoted at work,” Harlan said. “There is no doubt that they could benefit from our services in terms of employment outcomes.”
Harlan said the main goal is to be employed in the community at the same pay as other non-disabled workers doing the same job.
“Clients work with their counselors to develop individualized employment plans that outline the specific goals and services required to obtain or retain employment in their chosen career,” she said.
In a December press release, DRS shared the story of a Shawnee woman’s VR career journey.
Amy Jenkins was hired by ONE Gas in 2005 as a temporary customer service representative and has held a series of 17 years of responsibilities, including contract analyst and assisting commercial and industrial customers with their natural gas purchases. I got promoted.
Jenkins is now the company’s process improvement consultant, helping determine which technology projects will benefit the company most and modeling departmental data to produce accurate and consistent reports.
“My background in communications can be combined with data analysis and modeling, so I can really dig into what’s going on and add a little spice to the data,” says Jenkins.
Jenkins uses a wheelchair and has a form of muscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes peripheral nerve damage and loss of sensation in her arms and legs. She has qualified for career her counseling, tuition assistance and other employment services with VR.
VR helped Jenkins with his education at Eastern Oklahoma State University and his BA in Agricultural Communications from Oklahoma State University. ONE Gas provided funding for a master’s degree in business administration from Oklahoma Christian University.
“Vocational rehabilitation also helped me assess my skills and understand what kind of work I wanted to do,” Jenkins said.
Clients will receive service from their nearest office based on their postal code. Harlan said you can visit https://www.okdrs.gov/office-locator or call 800-487-4042 and follow the instructions to be transferred to the office closest to you.
VR serves people in Tahlequah with other types of disabilities at the 1295 Skills Center Circle in Tahlequah. The main number for this office is 918-207-5962. SBVI serves the visually impaired in Tahlequua here at 733 S. 32nd St. in Muskogee. The main number for this office is 918-781-4150.
VR applications are available online at https://oklahoma.gov/okdrs/job-seekers/general-information/app-for-service.html. Staff are available if applicants prefer to complete it in the office.