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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: April 17, 2008

Sen. Ron Justice
Sen. Ron Justice

Senate Unanimously Approves Measure for Regional Service Center for Deaf

The State Senate gave unanimous approval Wednesday to a measure to establish the Oklahoma School for the Deaf regional service center on the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) campus in Chickasha. House Bill 1546 is authored by Chickasha Republicans Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. Susan Winchester.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Justice. “Not only would this center be able to provide more services to deaf and hearing impaired students than are currently available, but having the day school would also provide a unique training and education opportunity for those studying deaf education by giving them hands on experience.”

Under provisions of the legislation, if the Department of Rehabilitation Services has any funds left over from the monies appropriated to it by the Legislature for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, the agency would use $941,000 to fund the operations for the regional service center.

“This is a project that has been a long time in the making. The completion of the Deaf Education Lab School will be a tremendous addition to the USAO campus and will provide much needed assistance for the families of Oklahoma,” said Winchester, who has been championing the legislation for this project since 2002.

By partnering with USAO, the Jane Brooks School for the Deaf and the Jane Brooks Foundation, the service center would be able to provide a number of services to deaf and hearing impaired students and their families including a childhood and elementary day school and a variety of support services. It would serve families within an approximately 40-mile radius including parts of Lawton-Ft. Sill and the Oklahoma City metro.

“Because we’ve been working on this project for so many years, the facilities are already in place at the university. We just need the Legislature and Governor to take this last step for Oklahoma’s deaf and hearing impaired students,” said Justice.

Established in 1945, USAO’s deaf education program has been nationally recognized for its quality in teacher education and support of the deaf community. The Oklahoma School for the Deaf (OSD) is the single largest employer of graduates from the Deaf Education program at USAO and the university supplies more teachers for OSD than any other university.

HB 1546 will now return to the House for final approval.

For more information contact:
Senator Justice's Office:  (405) 521-5537

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