The Woodward News

March 19, 2013

People With Disabilities Awareness Day set

Charise Smith
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans have disabilities, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

To recognize the daily struggles of the disabled, Woodward residents are encouraged to wear green and attend the People with Disabilities Awareness Day at the state capitol on April 3.

“It is one of the best events at the capital,” said Jody Harlan, communications director for the Department of Rehabilitation Services. “It provides an opportunity for people to talk to their legislators.”

Throughout the last 19 years, over 10,000 people have participated in this event to bring awareness to the daily problems the disabled face. “It affects all walks of life, born, accident; it is a natural part of life,” said Harlan.

This year the goal is to have over 800 people in attendance and for 75 percent of participants to speak with senators and representatives. People With Disabilities Awareness Day gives the disabled and their advocates a chance to talk with decision makers who can help make a difference in their lives.

Along with speaking to their representatives, visitors will also have the opportunity to experience new technology and devices. Seventy exhibitors will have tables set up at the capital to introduce some of the different products available to improve the quality of life for anyone with a disability. Participants will be able to test drive some of these items such as listening devices, wheelchairs, braille devices, and other assistant technology.

“The tables are for people to see things they didn't even know existed,” Harlan said.

The company will be available to talk to visitors about the new equipment and different payment options available. There will also be different giveaway items as well.

“The exchange of information is the main thing,” Harlan said. “We rapidly run out of tables because everyone wants to be apart of it. There is a waiting list because we have so many.”

Entertainment will be provided by the Oklahoma School for the Blind Jazz Band and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf Performing Arts Company who will be performing a song in American Sign Language.

People with Disabilities Awareness Day is a completely free event.

Registration will begin at noon on the first floor and legislative visits begin at 12:30 p.m.