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November 10, 2003

Session to focus on services provided for deaf

From: Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, IA - Nov 10, 2003

DAN ESHELMAN , Staff Writer

The Council Bluffs area office of the Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is currently investigating new ways to enhance assistance provided to members of deaf and hard of hearing populations.

As part of this effort, the agency is researching methods to increase employment outcomes for individuals with hearing impairments.

A forum has been scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 18, to review services available from the agency and to solicit input from people who could benefit from the help. Suggestions for specific types of assistance will be discussed.

The session will begin at 7 p.m. at the First Assembly of God Church, 3320 Harry Langdon Blvd.

"Any member of the community who is deaf or hearing impaired and whose life might be touched through such discussion is invited to attend," said Sally Prange, rehabilitation supervisor with the agency's Council Bluffs office, which covers eight counties in southwest Iowa.

She noted that with the presence of Iowa School for the Deaf in the community, Council Bluffs has "one of the state's largest populations of deaf and hard of hearing individuals."

Some people with hearing impairments, she said, have utilized services of the agency to find jobs, and "many have become successfully employed as a result."

The agency, Prange said, "would like to make a stronger commitment to helping them obtain and retain employment."

When people become employed, she said, "they become contributors to society, and the entire community benefits, whether a person is disabled or able-bodied."

The state's division of vocational services "plays an important role in this process for the disabled person," she said.

Through the work of graduate degree-level counselors, a variety of services are provided to assist individuals in selecting achievable vocational goals, taking into consideration aptitudes, interests, personalities, previous experience, limitations and strengths, and the realities of the labor market in which people choose to reside.

Once a vocational goal is identified, Prange said, services are tailored to an individual's particular situation and focus on the best way to help the person secure a job.

After at least 90 days of "stabilized and satisfactory employment," she said, "the case file is close upon mutual agreement between counselor and the newly employed worker."

Since some of the populations served by the division have unique needs, such as people with hearing impairments, the agency "strives to meet those needs in a quality manner," Prange said.

©Daily Nonpareil 2003