CLAREMORE, Okla. − The Claremore Support Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired will celebrate the organization’s ninth anniversary on Wednesday, September 21.
People with visual impairments and their families are invited to attend. The celebration begins at 10 a.m. at the Claremore Community Center, 2301 N. Sioux. There is no charge to attend the meeting. Lunch will be served.
Nearly 50 members regularly attend the support group meeting, which is believed to be the largest group for people with visual impairments meeting in the state.
Participants come from Catoosa, Chelsea, Collinsville, Verdigris, Oologah, Pryor and other neighboring towns as well as Claremore.
Visual Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, sponsors the monthly meetings, which are regularly held on the third Wednesday at the same time and location.
In September, Rebecca Bryant from Nowata, who is a graduate of the Kansas School for the Blind, will be the featured speaker.
Bryant, who is totally blind and a fluent Braille reader, will share her life experiences growing up as a blind child and the process for developing skills needed to become independent. She travels with a guide dog named Amelia, who will accompany her to a new job at Alphapointe call center in Kansas City.
“Rebecca is an outgoing, very independent woman who is a very good advocate for supporting people with vision loss, as well as for herself,” Bryant’s DRS Visual Services counselor Melissa Partee said. “She is very determined to be successful in her life choices, as well as her career. Her vision loss does not hold her back.”
Bryant will include advice for others with visual impairments in her presentation the support group.
“Things are harder for us because it seems we have to prove ourselves to some people who think we don’t have the ability,” Bryant explained, “but we just have to overcome that and do what it takes to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
“No matter what your situation or circumstances are, you should always try to do what is important for you,” she added. “For example, when I wanted to take an emergency medical technician board exam in Kansas, I asked for a reader and received no other special treatment, but that was enough for me to become the first and only blind certified emergency medical technician in the state of Kansas.”
“What I hope to do is motivate people to set their own goals and accomplish them,” Bryant said.
Bryant’s rehabilitation teacher Charley Tipps from DRS’ Visual Services will entertain with special musical selections on his keyboard during with Claremore Support Group’s celebration.
“The Claremore area has an exceptionally high population of blind and visually impaired folks of all ages, which has been the real surprise during the nine years the support group has been going,” Tipps said. “Everybody enjoys the group and participates in a wide variety of activities — it’s never the same thing one month to the next.”
Visual Services provides career planning, employment assistance and services that enable Oklahomans with vision loss to regain or maintain maximum independence and self-sufficiency. The division operates the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which provides free audio books to people who are not able to use standard print. To contact the nearest DRS Visual Services office, call 800-487-4042.
For more information about the Claremore Support Group for the Blind or Visually Impaired, Claremore support group coordinator Sue Speer at 918- 342-5462 or Charley Tipps 918-551-4909.