Breaking Barriers

Jeri was featured in the latest edition of Breaking Barriers!

DRS’ Jeri Cooper was named the 2020 winner of the Charlyn Allen Award at the Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists Virtual Conference on Nov. 12.

The award honors outstanding vision rehabilitation therapists whose dedication, skill, compassion and encouragement helped both their clients and colleagues. Charlyn Allen worked in the field of rehabilitation teaching for the state of Missouri for approximately 35 years and exemplified dedication and service. This award is presented annually.Cooper, who is a rehabilitation of the blind specialist, is from Tulsa and is herself Deaf-Blind. As an infant, Cooper did not respond well to light and sound.

“Doctors wanted her to admit me to Hissom Mental Institute because they said I was ‘Mongoloid,’ never would reach a mentality of 5 years of age and wouldn’t live past 20 years old,” she said. “Mama refused, and with her faith in God, she took me home. To me, she became my Anne Sullivan.”The obsolete medical term Mongoloid referred to a specific type of mental deficiency, associated with the genetic disorder now known as Down syndrome.

She attended the Oklahoma School for the Blind from 1969 to 1976 when she graduated. She was a Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired client and has said working for DRS is her dream job.“Jeri is a treasure,” SBVI Administrator Tracy Brigham said. “She is small in stature but mighty in action. She takes every challenge head on and doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to getting results for DRS clients. She is very passionate about our work and is always ready to lend a hand wherever needed.

”In nominating her for the honor, co-worker Sharon Shipe wrote, “As a vision rehabilitation therapist and Deaf-Blind Specialist, Jeri goes above and beyond to help those she serves with compassion and respect.“Perhaps her greatest gift is her ability to inspire others to believe in themselves. Jeri often shares how her mother is the person in her life who never gave up on her in spite of dire predictions of her future from medical professionals. I feel Jeri honors her mother by doing everything in her power to help persons who are Deaf-Blind believe in themselves to be all they can be,” she wrote.

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