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Join Us June 27 to Celebrate Jeri Cooper Act

Join DRS Visual Services staff and friends for the DeafBlind Awareness Celebration on Wednesday, June 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the south lawn of the state capitol at 2300 N. Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City. 

We encourage all DeafBlind advocates and Support Service Providers (SSPs) to attend and show their appreciation for the enactment of HB-1244 (Lepak/Griffin), the Jeri Cooper Act, which will provide more availability of SSPs for individuals who are DeafBlind in Oklahoma so they can participate more fully in society.  

Pictured at the signing of the legislation are Representative Mark Lepak, Governor Mary Fallin, Jeri Cooper, Visual Services rehabilitation teacher and DeafBlind specialist with one of Jeri’s SSPs, Clayton, who is behind her. 

For more information about the Deafblind Awareness Week Celebration, select this link for a media release and more information: http://www.okdrs.org/mr/2018/deafblinddongore

Thoughts on ProTactile (PT)

Guest Post by Jasper Norman

I am too humble to share earlier till now. I realized this may help people understand where I come from. I want to THANK YOU Jelica Nuccio and Socorro García for whole support and believed in me. I grateful for Tactile Communications (TC) happening in DeafBlind Community! I can’t images what would we DeafBlind would do without TC!  If you wish to have me visit your school please email me: JasperNormanPT@gmail.com.

Published on Mar 23, 2018
1st Grade Students at California School for the Deaf, Fremont prepared a presentation for an ASL Festival at school. The theme of the ASL Festival was “Deaf Heroes with Intersectional Identities.” The class used information from DeafBlind Latinx ProTactile Teacher/Activist, Jasper Norman. The class learned about the DeafBlind community from Jasper’s biography he provided the class and by meeting and interacting with a DeafBlind person in our CSD community.

(Video Description: First grade students are taking turns signing the biography of Jasper Norman. All of the students are wearing the same plain black t-shirt and standing in front of a plain background. There are images throughout the video in the corner of the screen to support the ASL. The video is in black and white.)

We chose Jasper Norman as our DeafBlind hero.  Jasper is Latinx and he is DeafBlind. Jasper is tall and thin with short curly dark brown hair and wears glasses. He has a mole by his mouth and has hair on his chin. He has brown skin and brown eyes.  We aren’t showing a picture of Jasper because of “sight privilege”.  Sight privilege is your ability to easily see while people who are blind do not have that privilege.  All Blind people can see differently.  DeafBlind is one identity.  It is not Deaf and Blind separate, it is written and signed together: DeafBlind.  Now that we explained sight privilege, we are ready for our presentation.

Jasper’s family is from South America.  His mom is from Medellin, Columbia and his dad is from Vina De Mar, Chile.  Jasper was the first person in his family to be born in the USA. Jasper was born in Mount Kisco, New York. His parents found out that he was Deaf when he was two years old. They were shocked and didn’t know what to do!  In South America, there wasn’t a lot of information about Deaf education. They didn’t know how to teach a Deaf child. When Jasper was three years old, he started attending New York School for the Deaf.

When he was thirteen years old, Jasper found out that he has Usher’s Syndrome.  Usher’s Syndrome can vary from person to person.  Some people can’t see anything on the sides, only the area in front of your face.  Jasper couldn’t believe that he had Usher’s Syndrome and was in denial.  He didn’t want to accept it.  During elementary school, Jasper felt fine socially. However, in high school, kids picked on him and bullied him.  In high school, most of Jasper’s teachers were white. Jasper would share his experiences from his culture and his home, but his teachers disagreed with him.  This made Jasper feel colonized.  Everyone was picking on him and Jasper felt like he had to always protect himself.

In 2002, Jasper graduated from New York School for the Deaf.  He still felt like he was struggling with his identity and decided to move to Seattle, Washington.  In Seattle, he analyzed himself and explored his DeafBlind identity.  As time went on, Jasper met many other DeafBlind people and realized that DeafBlind people are smart and skilled.  He was amazing and felt relieved!  Finally he was able to accept himself as DeafBlind.  He started to learn something called ProTactile or PT.

(Video des of two DeafBlind women: AJ Granada and Jelica Nuccio explaining PT: http://www.protactile.org/2016/03/pro…  for transcript-
(Jelica Nuccio: That’s right, aj. And I wanted to add—I am DeafBlind and Ushers. Aj is also DeafBlind and Ushers. We both live in Seattle, and most of the people who have contributed to the development of these practices also live in Seattle. Some come from outside of Seattle as well. We want to thank those people. You might notice that aj and I are taking turns and tapping each other’s knees as we communicate [aj pats Jelica’s knee emphatically]. That is part of PT. Now, aj, can you explain why we call these things “pro-tactile”?
aj granda: Yes, absolutely. Many people have asked me why we call it “pro-tactile”. Well, when we put pro- before another word, we usually mean that we support whatever that second word stands for. Tactile, you might think means tactile reception of signs. So many people assume that what “pro-tactile” means is essentially “support tactile reception”.
Jelica Nuccio: But that’s not it! [aj taps Jelica’s knee hard, two times, in agreement].
aj granda: Right. It doesn’t mean that at all. In the DeafBlind world, people do not all use tactile reception. Many people do, but we are not saying that people have to do that. That’s your decision. Remember what tactile really means is “touch”. “Pro-tactile” really means that we value touch for purposes of communication. During this presentation, Jelica and I have been giving each other tactile feedback the whole time, tapping on each other’s legs, and hands, and shoulders, and arms. That is pro-tactile.
Jelica Nuccio: Yes, and when you start from there—from a place of valuing touch for communication, this leads you to the DeafBlind way. So for example, Deaf people communicate a lot using facial expressions and the particular ways that they do that is part of their culture [aj taps emphatically on Jelica’s knee]. Even if one Deaf person uses Visual ASL, and the other one does not, they are still both visual people, who respond to visual cues as communications. We know there is a lot of diversity in our community in terms of communication, and that is fine. The only thing that matters is touch. Without a mutual understanding of the value of touch, there can be no communication. [Jelica points to aj’s hand, where it is tapping excitedly on her knee]. What aj is doing right now is a perfect example. That is how I know that she is listening and how she feels about what I am saying. When Deaf, sighted people communicate with each other, they know that the other person is listening because they nod their heads, their jaw might go slack in amazement, their eyes might widen. DeafBlind people miss out on that kind of information [aj continues to tap on Jelica’s knee enthusiastically, and also signs YES repeatedly on Jelica’s knee]. Hearing people say “hmmmmmm…” when they are listening to one another and this accomplishes the same function as facial expressions for Deaf people. But when Deaf people are talking to hearing people, they don’t attend to those sorts of noises. They focus on the hearing person’s facial expressions and body language and that is how they establish a connection with them. That is how they get a sense of who that person is and how they can relate to them. Deaf people have visible ways of doing that. Hearing people have audible ways of doing that. Being pro-tactile means recognizing that DeafBlind people have tactile ways of doing the same things. When aj taps my leg in certain ways at certain times, it tells me something about what kind of person she is and I have a sense of how we are relating to one another. Touch is our way of being present with one another. It’s about touch. It’s that simple!
aj granda: Yes, although, its simplicity can be deceiving. To reiterate what Jelica has just said— you can see that I am nodding my head right now. Does Jelica know that I am nodding my head? How do you know?
Jelica Nuccio: Head nodding is not natural. [aj taps Jelica’s knee rapidly several times]. That [pointing to aj’s hand] is natural.
aj granda: [nods head and taps Jelica’s knee in the same rhythm]. The head nodding and knee- tapping match. They serve the same function [Jelica nods and smiles at the camera]. If you’re going to nod your head, you have to tap on the knee of the person you are nodding at the same time. Otherwise, they don’t know you are agreeing with them. That is the kind of thing that allows us to share information with one another, and that is being pro-tactile is all about)

Jasper studied PT really hard and finally graduated from Tactile Communications.  Now, he travels all over to teach others about PT.  Jasper’s goal is to continue traveling to teach the world about PT and how DeafBlind really cherish and value PT.  This summer, he will go to Europe, again, to teach about PT.

Our class would like to thank Jasper so much for sharing his story with us. He really taught us the importance of touch for DeafBlind people.  Now we will show you a picture of Jasper. What does the picture look like? It is a picture in black and white.  Jasper is smiling and standing in front of white bricks.
Jasper has a black t-shirt on. Jasper has a necklace with braille on it and a heart.  Here is his picture.  Jasper lives far, so unfortunately we weren’t able to meet him. Hopefully in the future we can meet.

#jaspernormanpt #protactile #deafblindlatinx #tactilecommunications #chilean #colombian

Deafblind Awareness Event, June 27

Helen Keller Awareness Week is June 25-29, 2018 so we hope that you will celebrate with us!

You are invited to the DeafBlind Awareness Celebration June 27 Wednesday from 10 am to 12 noon. We will gather on the south lawn of the Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, and we will hear a few words from this year’s Helen Keller Representative and then the proclamation will be read by Governor Fallin.

This is a time to celebrate and Thank Governor Fallin and DRS and all Oklahomans for allowing DeafBlind individuals to be empowered by the services available to DeafBlind Oklahomans! Also to thank Governor Fallin for the signing of the Support Service Provider bill, HB1244, also known as the Jeri Cooper Act!

If weather permits we will walk around the Capitol in celebration!

More details will be posted as time gets closer.
Please come and be a part of this first time ever event!

A New Book by Carl Moore

A dear friend, Carl Moore, authored a book which was published a couple weeks ago. His incredible testimony provides inspiration for us all.  Here is a link on Amazon for his book, “God Answered Me in Tough Times: My First Deaf Missionary Trip to Kenya, Africa in 2006.”

Jeri Cooper

https://www.amazon.com/God-Answered-Tough-Times-Missionary/dp/1973628821/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1527714934&sr=1-1&keywords=God+Answered+Me+in+Tough+Times

Governor Signs Jeri Cooper Act into Law

The Oklahoma legislative year was busy with events including the teacher walk out. One important event though flew under the radar. To correct that, DRS is proud to announce that Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1244, also known as the Jeri Cooper Act on April 30.

Not only does this bill acknowledge the hard work and advocacy that Jeri Cooper, Visual Services’ rehabilitation teacher and DeafBlind specialist, has done for our clients who are DeafBlind,  but it opens the door to funding support service providers.

“I cried when Rep. Mark LePak told me that he named the bill the Jeri Cooper Act. I used to work for his wife and he told me that he’s been telling my story for about 10 years,” Jeri Cooper said. “I was very humbled and touched that somebody would do that.”

SSPs are professionals who provide visual, auditory and environmental information and communication assistance to people with vision and hearing loss.

“People have no idea how SSPs empower DeafBlind people. Without a SSP you are so isolated,” Cooper said. “SSPs give us information about our surroundings so we don’t miss conversations and other important things.

“When I go to a meeting without a SSP, I am quiet because I miss things but when I have a SSP, I take part more. I am outgoing and enjoy socializing. Because of my SSP, I recently met and talked with a person at a conference who had her hair braided in multiple braids and each braid was a different color.  It was fascinating and fun without my SSP I would have never known,” Cooper said.

DRS Director Noel Tyler predicts many individuals will benefit from the new law and learn from Cooper’s experiences.

“When I heard there would be a Jeri Cooper Act, I was not surprised. Jeri’s story is inspiring. DRS is lucky to have Jeri on our team,” Tyler said.

The act was authored by Lepak and Sen. A.J. Griffin. It requires, subject to the availability of funds, the State Department of Rehabilitation Services
to:

list of 5 items
◾ establish a program to broaden the availability of support service providers in the DeafBlind community;
◾ develop a mission statement for the program and promulgate rules necessary for its implementation;
◾ provide grants to providers and organizations that offer services for the DeafBlind community;
◾ develop a certification requirement and training program for said providers and organizations; and
◾ use a request-for-proposal process to award grants, which are capped at $300,000.
list end

Cooper is a successful Visual Services client who herself is DeafBlind. DRS helped her earn several degrees, including a master’s degree in rehabilitation teaching for the blind and certification in DeafBlind rehabilitation. She became a DRS employee in 2009.

This June, Cooper plans to celebrate the passing of this law in connection with Helen Keller Awareness Week with a walk around the Capitol.

Read the act in its entirety:
http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2017-18%20ENR/hB/HB1244%20ENR.PDF.

Shop Amazon Smile to Support Jeri’s House

If you’re like most of us, you have bought a thing or two from Amazon. If you’re like some households, then the majority of your purchases are delivered to your door via Amazon. Why not make an impact in the DeafBlind community by supporting Jeri’s House with the things you are already buying? According to their website: AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. We recommend Jeri’s House as that charitable organization of choice! The donations can really add up with the things you are buying. Here’s how to use Amazon Smile:

How to Shop Amazon Smile

1. Visit smile.amazon.com. We recommend bookmarking this page so you’ll land on the smile page every time you shop.
2. Sign into your account if you’re not already, and search for Jeri’s House as your charity of choice. Once you make this selection, you will receive an email confirmation. You are now ready to support Jeri’s House in your everyday purchases!  Or use this shortcut to go directly to Jeri’s House search result https://smile.amazon.com/ch/81-5032992
3. Shop as normal. Most items are eligible for an Amazon Smile donation, but they will let you know is something is not. Shop as usual, and watch the donations add up! (Note: If you use the regular Amazon.com site, no contribution will be made.)

How to Shop Amazon Smile on Mobile

One of the drawbacks to AmazonSmile, is you have to make your purchases through the AmazonSmile site. Purchases through the regular Amazon site and their mobile site won’t give a donation. Fortunately, there’s a work around.

If you regularly shop Amazon through your mobile browser, simply navigate to smile.amazon.com instead of the App! It will be a very similar experience to what you are used to.
If you regularly shop Amazon through the Amazon app you could add items to your cart via the app but finish the checkout process on your Safari browser. (Just make sure you are at smile.amazon.com before you checkout.) Or you could take the following steps on your Apple device:

Shortcut to Use Amazon Smile on the iPhone

1. Visit smile.amazon.com in Safari.
2. Next, hit the share button at the bottom middle of your screen.
3. Now click add to Home Screen. You have just created a shortcut to the Amazon Smile page to easily navigate here from the homepage.
4. Use the shortcut you just created the next time you shop on Amazon.

Enter to Win an iPad 9.7″

 

Drawing: April  13, 2018

Enter to win an iPad 9.7in

  • Wi-Fi 32GB – Space Gray
  • 8-megapixel camera
  • 1080p HD video recording

iPad donated by NanoPac, Inc.
http://www.nanopac.com

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!

1 Ticket for $5 ~OR 5 Tickets for $20

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PRESENT TO WIN!  Drawing will be held on FaceBook live on the morning of April 13th at Nanopac’s office.

You can purchase tickets by contacting Jeri Cooper. Donate Button

Click here to download the raffle flyer in PDF format.