The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

March 16, 2013

Disability awareness event ahead

Enid residents are encouraged to wear green April 3 during People with Disabilities Awareness Day at the state Capitol.

An estimated 800 Oklahomans with disabilities and advocates are expected to participate in the event. More than 577,000 Oklahomans — almost one in six — have disabilities, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services chose the theme “We are Oklahoma TOO” to emphasize that Oklahomans with disabilities include family, friends who have the same hopes, dreams, concerns and desire for success as their fellow residents.

For 19 years, this event has provided people with disabilities and their advocates an opportunity to visit with legislators and their staff about critical services that impact the quality of their lives and opportunities to reach employment and other goals.

Many participants find out who their legislators are in advance at www.capitolconnect.com/oklahoma and call for appointments. The state Senate phone number is (800) 865-6490. The state House phone number is (800) 522-8502.

“To stand united, we encourage participants to wear green, if possible,” DRS Executive Director Michael O’Brien said. “When decision makers at the state Capitol see a lot of people in the halls or rotundas all wearing disability awareness green, our efforts have an even greater impact.”

Last year, 664 people registered for this free event, which features more than 70 exhibitors on the second- and fourth-floor rotundas and performances by the Oklahoma School for the Blind Jazz Band and Oklahoma School for the Deaf Performing Arts Company.

Everyone is encouraged to pre-register online at www.okdrs.gov/pwdad/2013 to allow time to prepare materials in advance. Late registrations will be accepted the day of the event.

Parking will be available on the south side of the state Capitol at 2300 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City. Accessible parking is located at the base of the south steps. Overflow parking is available at the Jim Thorpe Building west of Lincoln Boulevard.

Awareness Day participants may enter the building at the accessible southeast entrance on the first floor. Every Capitol visitor is required to pass through a metal detector and run all purses and bags through an X-ray scanner.

Those who have pre-registered will go through registration beginning at noon on the first floor. Legislative visits begin at 12:30 p.m. Experienced volunteers will be stationed in the halls to help first-time visitors who need help finding their legislators and others who need assistance.

For information, go to www.okdrs.gov/pwdad/2013 or call (405) 951-3478 or (800) 845-8476.

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