Yesterday marked the 16th year since Mama went home to be with her Lord and Savior! Still so very weird! There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her! We say our Mama’s give us life? Well, you got that right! Because of her faith in God, prayers, wisdom, perseverance, discipline, protection, guidance, common sense, dedication and love, I am alive and prayfully carrying on her legend through Jeri’s House! So many fond memories, some hilarious, some sad, but all teaching moments in the name of encouraging me to be all I could be! She gave me room to grow and do for myself, whether good or bad, but just like our Lord, was always watching from a distance, and near by if I needed her. She knew that she was not always going to be here to help me or do for me, and that I had to learn to stand on my own feet. I’m eternally greatful for God giving me Norma Lynn as my Mom because I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for her giving her life for me. Sounds a lot like Christ, doesn’t it? she didn’t do everything right, no, not at all! but she had a heart after God! Through that heart of gold, she taught me to live life to the fullest, keep striving forward! Don’t give up! Thank you, Mama! And thanks to you all for always letting me share my heart about my Mama! I’ve got the greatest family! You might think you do but you’re wrong! (smile!) I am truly so blessed! Hugs!
It is with a prayerful heart that we have decided to postpone our comedy Murder Mystery fundraiser September 12, 2020 for Jeri’s House until early next year. This event is meant to be an entertaining and educational experience and to empower DeafBlind! It is an event that you won’t want to miss and it is worth waiting for! So please continue praying for Jeri’s House and check out our website or here on FB for updates! Thanks so much for your support financially but most of all thank you for your prayers!
Keep the faith! Hugs!
Jeri was featured in the Summer 2020 Newsletter of the Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists! See the article below:
Meet an AVRT Member…Jeri Cooper
By Susan M. Dalton, CVRT
While thinking about AVRT members who have done outstanding work in our field but, additionally, have gone above and beyond to make an impact on others, one of the first persons to come to mind is Jeri Cooper. A beautiful lady who radiates warmth and charm, Jeri has dedicated herself to the profession, the clients that she serves, and the overall good of her community. Read on to meet Jeri Cooper as she shares her story.
Jeri currently works as a DeafBlind specialist through the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In her job she travels throughout the state of Oklahoma teaching persons who are DeafBlind how to live independently. Jeri describes her duties as follows: “…to support the consumer as well as their families and our staff by providing resources, advocacy, counseling and guidance, and educate the public about DeafBlind. I also administer the FCC I Can Connect program which provides equipment and training to utilize distance communication for eligible DeafBlind Oklahomans.”
How did Jeri get to where she is today?
When she was young, she always wanted to help others in some way, possibly as a teacher or in other areas. Being a person who was legally blind and hard of hearing she felt she could help others who shared these conditions. A big part of her success comes from the support of her mother, her personal faith and determination. Jeri shares, “My Mama had faith in God and she empowered me to be all I could be, never giving up. Doctors wanted to put me in an institution when I was born because they said I was mongoloid. Mama said, ‘No’ and I still tear up when I think where I would have been if it hadn’t been for Mama. I give her and God thumbs up every time I am able to empower another person in any way. I want to give back to society because I was given so much and was blessed to have the opportunity to live life to the fullest!”
So, Jeri went off to college and earned her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern State University and her Masters at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. She was then certified in DeafBlind Rehabilitation through a program at Northern Illinois University. Jeri Cooper trivia:
During her career, she had a fun encounter with some well-known celebrities. The Oak Ridge Boys contacted her to Braille a book for them to present to the Blind Boys of Alabama. She jumped right in to take on this task and in exchange, got to see their show and go back stage to meet and HUG each one!! What a great compensation for services rendered!
In her leisure time, Jeri’s “absolute most-loved TV show” is The Andy Griffith Show, where she proudly states, “I know every line by heart of every episode!”
Some other favorites… Book: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.Movies: Sound of Music, It’s a Wonderful Life, War Room and Overcomer.If she could have dinner with a famous person, Jeri says, “Oh goodness! Toss-up between Dennis Higgins who is the radio announcer for the Tulsa Drillers AA baseball team, or Joyce Meyer, Bible Teacher. We would go to either First Watch which is my favorite breakfast place, or Goldie’s which is my favorite hamburger place or Rincon Mexican. All good!” Sounds yummy!
What others are saying about Jeri:Elyse Heinrich met Jeri for the first time recently at the AVRT conference in Jacksonville, Florida. She says, “Jeri is such a sweet lady who I was able to say hello to and chat with during a break between workshops. I noticed Jeri using ASL and I was able to communicate directly with her for our interaction, which really made it personal. Turns out, we connected (again) through a mutual contact in the field of DeafBlind. Jeri’s passion and energy for learning, connecting and advocating shone through in her personality the moment we spoke. I am glad to have had the chance to meet her and can’t wait to talk again in person.” AVRT President, Jennifer Ottowitz, one of Jeri’s biggest fans, comments, “I remember Jeri giving a presentation at an AVRT conference on working with people who are deaf-blind. The information she shared was so helpful. She is a true wealth of knowledge. Her openness about her own personal experiences and ‘tell it like it is’ style added greatly to my understanding of the challenges faced by our clients and co-workers who may have a dual sensory loss as well as what we can do to enhance our work with them. I always enjoy connecting with her at conferences. She has a fabulous sense of humor and loves the opportunity to learn new things. She lives by example and is a true role model.”
Since she is now totally blind and severely hard of hearing, she feels that she can closely relate both professionally and personally to others who are DeafBlind. “That’s where my passion is!”
Jeri has great plans for the future, and the personal accomplishment of which she is most proud will be taking place after December when she retires. She’ll be continuing on in the field of DeafBlindness through a non-profit faith-based program she is starting called Jeri’s House. Jeri says that the goal for the residential training facility is, “to empower DeafBlind to be all they want to be.” You can learn more about this at her website: http://www.jerishouse.org
Yes, this IS quite an amazing accomplishment. Looking forward to hearing more about this from Jeri in the future as well.
Jeri’s advice to others:When asked what she would like to share with others in our profession, especially those who are new to the field, Jeri imparts the following words of wisdom: “Be flexible and remember every single consumer is different. Meet them where they are and help empower them to reach their goals, not yours. Sometimes I think we get too focused on what we would like to see them accomplish. It’s not about us, but rather, about them. And, above all, keep the faith!”Amen!
Check out the entire newsletter here: http://www.avrt-blog.com/newsletter/
Close your eyes for a moment. Plug up your ears, too! What do you see? What do you hear? Wouldn’t it be great just to touch someone? Yes! Nothing like a touch from a friend to know you’re not alone! Many Deafblind rely on touch for their environment and although I know we need to be cautious and informed, but we do not need to be over taken with fear and anger to where we lose sight of connecting in a real way! Isolation is a horrible thing and I don’t wish it on anyone. Think about it! Like the old commercial, “Reach out and touch someone!” Hugs!
Thank you, Lord for the privilege of being a Christian American! This says it all!
God Bless the U.s.A.! by Lee Greenwood
If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away
From the lakes of Minnesota
To the hills of Tennessee
Across the plains of Texas
From sea to shining sea
From Detroit down to Houston
And New York to L.A.
Where’s pride in every American heart
And it’s time we stand and say
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.
Today is Helen Keller’s birthday and we celebrate by continuing to let her light shine! She truly is a great role model of overcoming obstacles and changing stumbling blocks into stepping stones through her determination and perseverance!
The first Support Service Provider, Ann Sullivan, empowered Helen by being her “eyes and ears” which opened the world to endless opportunities! I, too, had such an SSP who was my Mom, Norma Lynn! We appreciate so much those who are dedicated to empowering the DeafBlind to be empowered and be all they wish to be!
I am so blessed to have the opportunity and privilege to be a part of so many Oklahomans who are DeafBlind! This disability is no respecter of person! You can be totally sighted and hearing and living life and all of a sudden, contract spinal meningitis and become totally DeafBlind over night. Can you imagine? Or you can be born Deaf and lose your vision or be blind and lose your hearing. It happens, but yet, we overcome! Helen Keller is a testimony to overcoming!
Society thinks that seeing and hearing the world is all it takes, but I believe we miss so much by not realizing the other senses God gave us. One of Helen Keller’s greatest quotes says it so well: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched but rather felt with the heart!”
Thank you for celebrating Helen Keller DeafBllind Awareness week with me and so many Oklahomans who are DeafBlind. I pray it has enlightened you and the next time you meet someone who has both a vision and hearing loss, you will remember, “We want to live life to the fullest just like you!
Below are just a few of Helen Keller’s famous quotes:
“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world”.
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content”.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision”.
In continuing the celebration of Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week, Feeling Through is doing a live stream tomorrow! See the details below!
Making Meaningful Connections!
June 25th at 6pm CT
In honor of Deaf-Blind Awareness Week
Get your FREE e-ticket at feelingthrough.com
A FREE Accessible Live stream Event in 3 Parts:
A screening of the short film Feeling Through
The making-of documentary Connecting the Dots
Live Panel Q & A
DeafBlind simply means a person who has both a vision and hearing loss. It can range from one end of the spectrum from being totally Deaf and Blind to the other end of being low vision and being hard of hearing. Below are some tips to help make you feel more comfortable when interacting with someone having a Dual Sensory loss:
Tips on Interacting with Individuals Who Have a Dual Sensory Loss
The following are tips to consider when when interacting with an individual who has a dual sensory loss.
§ Say the person’s name or lightly touch them on the hand or arm before speaking to them.
§ Do not shout!
§ Speak at a normal volume. You may need to move closer but don’t raise your voice.
§ Speak at a normal rate, unless if you have a tendency to speak fast, then slow down a little.
§ Do not over emphasize or exaggerate your speech.
§ Do not say “never mind” or “forget it”!
§ In an area that echoes, you may need to speak a little softer and perhaps move a little closer to the individual.
§ When repeating perhaps state the sentence in a different manner. For example, instead of “Do you want to go shopping?” You might say, “Want to go to the store?”
§ If possible turn background noise down or off.
§ When in a group setting, try to only have one person speaking at a time.
§ Specify when changing topics.
§ Avoid saying only one word but rather say short sentences to help put the word in context.
§ Talk directly to the person and not around them.
§ Do not answer questions that are directed to the individual.
§ Inform the person when you are moving away or leaving.
§ When using phonetics, use words that are not similar to others. For example, “t” for tango and “P” for puppy.
§ When stating numbers, use single digits. For example, five six rather than “fifty six”.
§ Give directions such as left or right rather than “over here” or tapping on the table or chair.
§ Distinguishing where sounds are coming from is often difficult.
§ When something needs to be repeated, only one person needs to restate it. Multiple voices at the same time makes comprehension very problematic.
Remember, everyone is different so these are tips to consider. You cannot go wrong with simply asking the individual, when in doubt, “How can I help you?”
President Reagan issued a proclamation in 1984 that established the last week of June to be recognized and celebrated as Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week. Helen Keller truly paved the way for so many DeafBlind! Read all about her incredible life from the time she was born in 1880 to her death in 1968 at the American Foundation for the Blind, http://www.afb.org. She accomplished so much, met so many well known people, including Presidents, encouraged multitudes and definitely left a legend not to be forgotten! This week we will submit daily tidbits about Helen Keller and so many other DeafBlind! Celebrate with us! I think this statement below is a good way to start!
Senator Lister Hill of Alabama gave a eulogy during the public memorial service. He said, “She will live on, one of the few, the immortal names not born to die. Her spirit will endure as long as man can read and stories can be told of the woman who showed the world there are no boundaries to courage and faith.”
Proclamation 5355 — Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, 1985
June 26, 1985
By the President of the United States of America
The sights and sounds of the world around us are among the gifts we cherish most. But for approximately 40,000 Americans who are both deaf and blind, seeing and hearing exist only as dreams. Through an accident of birth or illness, these men and women may never gaze at the splendor of a spring garden or listen to the voices of their loved ones. Cut off from what most of us take for granted, people who can neither see nor hear live in a kind of solitary confinement.
This month marks the 102nd anniversary of the birth of an American who found herself in such a prison — and broke out of it. At the age of 19 months, Helen Keller lost her sight, hearing, and speech, and her formative years were spent in utter isolation. But she had two powerful forces on her side: an absolute determination to overcome her handicaps, and the devotion of one person, Annie Sullivan, who recognized the child’s innate abilities and helped her construct a bridge to the world at large.
Today, the scientific and medical communities are showing great determination to build more bridges for deaf-and-blind individuals. Research on disorders that cause deaf-blindness is being conducted and supported on several fronts: by the Federal government through the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, and the National Eye Institute; by universities and other institutions of higher learning; and by voluntary health agencies and numerous groups in the private sector.
America can ill afford to lose the contributions of her deaf-and-blind citizens. Helen Keller became renowned for her writings and her civic spirit at a time when the study of deaf-blindness was in its infancy. Scientific progress will enable the deaf-and-blind to utilize their talents and ideas, and expand their educational and employment opportunities, thereby increasing their contributions to our society.
To focus public attention on deaf-blindness and the hope through research of someday averting this tragedy, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 125, has designated the week of June 23 through 29, 1985, as “Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation to observe this week.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of June 23 through June 29, 1985, as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. I call upon all government agencies, health organizations, communications media, and the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 12:09 p.m., June 27, 1985]
Thank you President Reagan for this proclamation, which is still celebrated today!