OKLAHOMA CITY – Teresa McDermott from Ada has been named Visual Services administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, effective September 12.
Visual Services provides clear planning and employment services for people who are blind or visually impaired in Oklahoma. The division’s programs also include Transition programs for youth, the Older Blind Independent Living Program and the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
“We are proud to welcome Teresa to the DRS executive team and look forward to her continued success in helping Visual Services clients achieve their goals and dreams,” Interim Director Noel Tyler wrote in an announcement emailed to DRS staff.
McDermott, a former client who is visually impaired, has worked for DRS for 26 years.
VS helped fund McDermott’s master’s degree-level tuition and expenses as part of the same employment program that she will now manage for the state.
McDermott will replace VS Interim Visual Services Administrator Paul Adams of Oklahoma City, who will retire in February 2017.
“Teresa has always served with integrity and character, and always been a great role model for her co-workers,” Adams said. “She goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis and is willing to help others in any way possible.
“She is highly regarded by her staff and peers,” he added. “I believe the future of Visual Services is solid and bright with her at the lead.”
McDermott interned for Visual Services in Ada before accepting her first counselor position in Stillwater. Two years later she returned to Ada where she served citizens with visual impairments as a counselor for 15 years.
She was promoted to program manager and supervised Visual Services’ Transition and Assistive Technology units, and field offices in Ada, Idabel and McAlester for nine years.
During that time, she worked closely with a range of VS staff, including counselors, rehabilitation teachers, assistive technology specialists, vocational evaluators, rehabilitation technicians and orientation and mobility specialists who teach cane travel and navigation techniques.
Along the way, McDermott earned top VS counselor, programs manager and case of the year awards.
“Visual Services has knowledgeable, experienced staff who assist our blind consumers with services that enrich their lives and lead to employment,” McDermott said. “Clients come first. We want to help them make informed choices about their future that help them achieve their employment goals.”
McDermott earned bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling degrees from East Central University in Ada.
She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and has completed two leadership programs, Continuing Leadership Institute for Change Knowledge at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and the National Rehabilitation Leadership Institute at San Diego State University.
McDermott’s hometown is Konawa. She and her husband Dave have been married for 25 years.
DRS annually serves nearly 88,400 Oklahomans with disabilities through career planning, employment, education and independent living programs, and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency governs the Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma School for the Deaf. For more information, phone 800-845-8476 or visit www.okdrs.gov.