Jeri Sue Lynn-Cooper was born in 1958 in Tulsa, OK, to the parents of John and Norma Lynn. At birth, doctors informed her parents she was mongoloid which at that time was a derogatory term for a mentally retarded person, would never reach the mentality level of a five year old, and would be dead before her twenties. They also advised them to put her in Hissom, an institution for the mentally retarded in Sand Springs. Her parents said no and took her home. They believed in God and knew everything would be all right.
Jeri attended the Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSB) in 1969 in Muskogee, OK. There, hearing aids were placed on her and it totally opened up a whole new world. It was quickly determined that Jeri wasn’t mentally retarded but rather legally blind and hard of hearing. (During the 50’s hospitals did not test at birth for Deafness or Blindness). She excelled at OSB and graduated in 1976.
After graduation at the age of 17, she moved to Oklahoma City to begin her own life. It quickly became obvious to her that others didn’t really understand folks who are visually and hearing impaired because she had just come from a school where everyone was accepted as they were, and disabilities weren’t an issue. Many thought she was drunk and that was acceptable. When she would tell them she wasn’t drunk but legally blind and hearing impaired, they would back away. Feeling isolated and wanting to belong, Jeri started a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol that would last about 20 years. Jeri spent those years lost and unsure of what she wanted to do in life. This created many wrong choices and abusive relationships. In 1994 in her late 30’s, she had hit rock bottom. She told her sister she was sick and tired of being DeafBlind and making so many mistakes. She had knee surgery and told her sister she hoped she wouldn’t wake up. Little did she know, God wasn’t finished with her yet.
After surgery and with nowhere to go but up, she finally came home, back to her roots. Jeri stopped a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol and often calls herself the prodigal daughter. She enrolled at Northeastern State University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Development Psychology and later her masters in Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. She went on to be certified in DeafBlind Rehabilitation through Northern Illinois University.
Jeri was hired by Visual Services under the Department of Rehabilitation Services in 2009, and six months later she became the DeafBlind Specialist of Oklahoma. Jeri loves helping others and truly understands what being DeafBlind is all about. Today, she is totally blind and profoundly deaf, but with two hearing aids she is able to understand one on one communication. She often tells others that her Mom was her Ann Sullivan who many know was the great teacher of Helen Keller. Jeri gives thanks to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then a thumbs up to her Mom because without them, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“Today, I want to help others the same way I have been helped. With patience and encouragement from my Mom, and God’s Word, my aspiration is to inspire and promote that spirit of empowerment so others can transform their stumbling blocks into stepping stones.