DRS Careers: Disability Determination Technician
What a Disability Determination Technician Does
Positions in this job family provide skilled adjudicative and administrative support to professional Disability Determination Division staff responsible for determining eligibility for disability benefits for applicants throughout the state of Oklahoma under the provisions of the Federal Social Security Administration.
“Being a part of the DDD team means being within a group of individuals who are working hard to enhance the lives of others. Our main purpose is to assist those who are in need within our community as well as surrounding areas. Working within the team one must practice patience and be acceptable to changes when they arrive. A Disability Determination Technician performs a wide variety of tasks and functions. Training is provided with each new task, and open dialogue is encouraged to ensure each team member has the resources necessary to provide a quality product.” —AGJ, Disability Determination Technician
Qualification Requirements for a Disability Determination Technician:
Requirements at the entry level consist of one year of technical clerical office work, public contact work or an equivalent combination of education and experience. At the full performance level, applicants must have one year of experience in the Social Security Disability Program at a designated state agency, in addition to the requirements at the entry level.
DRS Careers: Disability Determination Specialist
What a Disability Determination Specialist Does:
Positions in this job family perform complex professional level work, interpreting and implementing provisions of the Federal Social Security Act to determine eligibility for disability benefits for applicants throughout the state of Oklahoma. Incumbents obtain, evaluate and analyze all pertinent information to prepare a legally defensible disability determination to approve or deny benefits.
“As a disability examiner, there is always a sense of fulfillment in my work. The knowledge that the people we serve are facing some of life’s most difficult challenges provides a sense of urgency and authenticity. The opportunity to read and understand healthcare records in order to make disability decisions, continually calls me to grow in my understanding of disease processes, terminology, and current treatment methods. This, coupled with the demands of making disability decisions in a timely and accurate manner, mandate that I remain organized and maintain self-motivation. My job as a disability examiner gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel as though I am making a difference in my small place in the world.” ––BNK, Disability Determination Specialist
Qualification Requirements for a Disability Determination Specialist:
Requirements at the entry level consist of a bachelor’s degree; or an equivalent combination of education and experience, substituting one year of professional or technical disability determination experience in the adjudication of Social Security disability claims in a designated state agency for each year of the required education. At the full performance level, applicants must have one additional year of professional level experience in adjudicating disability determinations for the Social Security Administration in a designated state agency, in addition to the requirements for the entry level.
DRS Careers: Disability Determination Medical Consultant
What a Medical Consultant Does:
- Under administrative supervision, provides medical consultation concerning the determination of eligibility for disability benefits under the Social Security Act.
- Performs disability case reviews of allegations of physical and/or mental illness on initial and reconsideration applications; determines the type of medical information needed to adjudicate the claim and evaluates medical information on each case in order to assess the nature of the medical problems; determines the specific laboratory work or other medical testing required; evaluates cases in accordance with Social Security rules and guidelines in order to determine if the case meets eligibility requirements; assesses the level of case severity and determine the degree of work-related physical and/or mental restrictions; and completes all appropriate medical and administrative forms.
- May provide routine training to non-medical staff on related Social Security policy and procedures.
“Medical Consultants learn the complex SSA law and policy regarding the medical disability determination program during a month of intensive classroom training followed by mentorship of each case they work for 6 months. The MCs have individual cubicles and work much of their day reading evidence and completing written documents. We attend program training and informational meetings. These positions are well paid and offer very flexible work hours. When MCs leave the office we do not have the pressures that often come with clinical practice-being on call, completing insurance company credentialing and authorizations, completing progress notes and billing processes. Several of the consultants hold the position of Lead Psychological Consultant or Medical Consultant. Their additional duties include training and mentoring the large group of well-educated and experienced professionals; training other professionals in the DDD and assisting administrative staff in achieving our goals to provide accurate disability determinations on a timely basis to fellow Oklahomans.” —KSK, Psychological Consultant –CBP, Medical Consultant
Qualification Requirements for a Medical Consultant:
- Current licensure to practice medicine in the State of Oklahoma.
- Knowledge of the theory, principles and practices of medicine, of health care delivery systems, of ambulatory care, of clinical anatomy, of laboratory medicine and clinical procedures, of physical diagnosis, and of behavior dynamics of physical disabilities.
- Skill in taking medical history, performing physical examinations and in correlating medical data with other resources, and with oral and written communication.
DRS Careers: Rehabilitation Technician
What a Rehabilitation Technician Does:
Positions in this job family are assigned responsibilities for performing skilled and complex technical work assisting professional rehabilitation staff in providing rehabilitation services to individuals with blindness or visual impairment.
“A Rehabilitation Technician for Visual Services means participating in multiple roles. You are on team with a counselor, and other professional staff to provide services to clients to help the clients gain and/or remain independence. In this role, multi-tasking, computer technology, medical terminology, flexibility and self-starter are a plus. At times you provide one on one customer services to clients, vendors and other staff. A Rehabilitation Technician is assigned to at least two counselors to provide support staff duties. You will be assigned a mentor to assist with day to day work task which included specific training such in policy and procedures, gathering data, and scanning documentation just to name a few. ” —T.J., Rehabilitation Technician, DRS Visual Services
Qualification Requirements for a Rehabilitation Technician:
Requirements at the entry level consist of one year of experience in office technical clerical work. At the full performance level, applicants must have two years of technical clerical work in a vocational rehabilitation program.
DRS Careers: Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist
What a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist Does:
Positions in this job family are assigned responsibilities for performing complex professional work in program consultation and monitoring; in guidance and counseling; client training; and specialized job placement for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with blindness or visual impairments. Assigned responsibilities also include evaluating client work capacities, providing assistive technology services and administering tests to determine vocational aptitudes, interests, abilities, and potential of clients.
“A typical day when working with a client with a disability is to keep in mind that my role as a counselor is to assist consumers with disabilities to maximize their quality of life within an environment often filled with obstacles and barriers which might prevent them from goal attainment. I work with the person as a whole in a wide variety of areas including guidance and counseling, vocational evaluation and interpretation, coordination of services, assisting in plan development in order to return to work. I also serve as a case manager and address issues pertaining to social and family involvement. I need to be able to identify the most appropriate level of functioning at any point in time during the life of the case as it pertains to the goal of employment. Finally, and most importantly, when involved with a consumer, I must demonstrate compentence and ethical principles outlined in the code of ethics.” —G.M., Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, DRS Visual Services
Qualification Requirements for a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist:
Requirements at the entry level consist of a bachelor’s degree in vocational rehabilitation, vocational evaluation, or counseling; OR a bachelor’s degree and one year of experience in a disability related field. At the full performance level, applicants must have a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or human resources with a rehabilitation counselor major that has been awarded by a program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE); OR any master’s degree and is eligible to sit for the certification/licensure exam specific to the professional job duties such as the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE), or the Professional Vocational Evaluator (PVE) certification.
DRS Careers: Rehabilitation of the Blind Specialist
What a Rehabilitation of the Blind Specialist Does:
Positions in this job family are assigned responsibilities for performing complex professional work which involves working in partnership with individuals who are blind or severely visually impaired who may have multiple secondary disabilities in their homes, communities and work environments, by providing instruction in alternative techniques for independent living and by providing in-depth counseling to consumers and their families in addressing challenges created by their blindness. Assistance is provided to consumers in obtaining information needed to make informed choices, which provides access to services that increase opportunities to live independently, increasing opportunities for employment.
Assigned responsibilities include a comprehensive assessment of the consumers’ current level of independence in daily living, communication, orientation and mobility (ability to travel safely in their environment), and job readiness skills, and developing a comprehensive rehabilitation/independent living plan.
I finished my undergraduate degree in education and special education. As I prepared for graduate school, I seriously considered where I might fit in the world. I had been blessed with a fine mind, but as a blind person, a woman and a member of a minority, I knew it might be difficult to find just the right job in which I could excel. And, as a petite woman, would I be taken seriously?
I’m a people-person and I love teaching and helping others. Because I’ve been blind most of my life, I’ve had many teachers of the blind; teachers who were excellent and teachers who were ineffective. Because of my personal traits and this experience, I decided to train to be a Rehabilitation Teacher. I completed my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Teaching.
Some traits I’ve found helpful in my career are compassion, patience, creativity and thinking outside the box. What works with one client may not work with another. I can’t always just go by the book.
I’m very honest and direct with my clients. I build trust by listening. I learn the problems they are having, how they feel about them and the solutions they would like to see.
A Rehabilitation Teacher must wear many hats and provide many kinds of support for their clients. At times, I’m called to be a friend, a parent, a psychologist or a social worker. By listening to my clients and treating them as individuals, I learn when to hold their hands, when to push and when to stand my ground.
A Rehabilitation Teacher must always be professional. We deal with individuals who are facing problems they may not have had before or problems they have dealt with their entire lives. We must understand the difficulties they face and their feelings about them. Because clients ask for help and give us their trust, we have a special responsibility to them. We help them find the resources and training they need to live their lives as they desire. We help them accept their situation and give them hope to improve it. For example, individuals who are applying for services may require a piece of equipment to keep their current job, or they may need to learn other skills like braille or computer skills to return to the workforce. Also, management of personal needs is crucial to developing independence. For example, being able to take your own medication, telling time and preparing meals safely are very important to independence. We provide skill-based training to older individuals who are losing their vision due to eye diseases and would like to stay in their own homes as long as possible.
On a regular day, I prioritize my activities by what will help my clients most. I focus on the benefits I can provide. I return calls, make appointments, visit clients, determine needs and goals, and provide training and counseling. I do my best to work with my clients as a team. They need to be involved in decisions that affect them. I help my clients manage their expectations and be realistic about their situation. Other activities I fit in as I can. I do paperwork, research products, recommend and order products and write narratives of what I do each day for my clients. I report monthly on my activities. Time management is key.
I have found Rehabilitation Teaching a wonderful career. I have flexibility in planning my day, my work is never boring and I feel good knowing that I help people. —A.S., Rehabilitation of the Blind Specialist, DRS Visual Services
Qualification Requirements for a Rehabilitation of the Blind Specialist:
Requirements at the entry level consist of a Bachelor’s degree in orientation and mobility, rehabilitation teaching or a bachelor’s degree and one year of experience in a disability related field. At the full performance level, applicants must have two years of experience in rehabilitation teaching or orientation and mobility, in addition to the requirements at the entry level. All applicants at this level must be eligible to sit for certification for either Vision Rehabilitation Therapist or Orientation and Mobility Specialist through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) or the National Orientation and Mobility Certificate (NOMC), or the National Certification in Literary Braille or Unified English Braille (NCLB or NCUEB) from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, or have one additional year of experience in a closely related field teaching blindness skills.
DRS Careers: Orientation and Mobility Specialist
What an Orientation and Mobility Specialist Does:
Orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists teach individuals with visual impairments to travel safely, confidently and independently in their environment. They work with infants, children and adults usually on a one-to-one basis in a home, school, hospital or in the community. Orientation and mobility specialists are different from physical therapists, because they focus on people with vision loss.
Would you like your classroom to be as big as the world? Do you like working outside? How does working with individual clients to meet their goals of becoming more independent sound? Orientation and mobility may be the career for you. Orientation and mobility specialists work with individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Orientation skills help you determine where they are in space and where they want to go. Mobility skills help you get to where you want in a safe and efficient manner, as independently as possible.
No work day is ever the same and you work with students of all ages. In one day you may teach lessons in the school, at a local grocery store, outside at a residential area, then go downtown to find a business, and end the day with travel on public transportation. Your lessons may include spatial concepts, mobility cane techniques, social skills, environmental concepts and traffic concepts. You might also be teaching shopping skills or helping your student use a low vision device. —F.M., Orientation and Mobility Specialist, DRS Oklahoma School for the Blind
Qualification Requirements for an Orientation and Mobility Specialist
To become a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), you must complete special training from an approved university program and the certification requirements from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).
DRS Careers: Teachers
What a Teacher Does:
Teachers are responsible for providing learning experiences by utilizing School curriculum, IEP goals and objectives and other appropriate materials and activities. Duties include preparing lessons plans and reports; keeping records of student behavior and attitude needed to provide an orderly productive classroom environment; ascertaining learning needs of students; establishing evaluation techniques for assessment of progress; and participating in extracurricular activities.
I am the Reading Specialist and a Braille teacher at the Oklahoma School for the Blind. I absolutely love reading and working with students! I would like to share with you part of my routine and day in the Reading Room.
At OSB, every child is on an Individual Education Plan; and I have created goals for each student I serve. These goals reflect information I have obtained from a variety of reading assessments to assist each student with undeveloped areas of reading and to remind me of specific areas to work on while creating lesson plans.
I choose to teach using nonfiction reading low readers, purchased from a variety of companies. I emboss copies for my Braille students and make large print copies for my limited vision students. Using these readers I create a list of 10-12 vocabulary words we use to make sentences and summaries. Teaching for my students requires multiple types of tactile activities. For my limited vision students I create flip books using word families and for my Braille students I use braille note cards that they keep in a ziplock bag. It is vital for my students to be organized and responsible to take care of their teacher made materials.
For my beginning Braille class I have created each student weekly note cards with new signs and words. This is very time consuming but my Braille students need study materials to review and study. In our beginning Braille class we read and write every day. I spend probably 30-45 minutes a day grading Braille. Sometimes it is a challenge to interpret what they were trying to think or trying to write.
My most favorite thing to do is read aloud to my students. Struggling readers need to have fluent reading modeled to them. I love interjecting emotion and excitement into the stories. We always discuss important details, characters, author’s purpose, and setting to build listening comprehension skills.On Monday and Wednesday evenings I tutor students who need a little extra reading time to develop fluency skills. My greatest challenge is not teaching students to read, but teaching struggling children to love reading! —R.D.B., Teacher, Oklahoma School for the Blind
Qualification Requirements for a Teacher:
While there are several alternatives for achieving certification, the traditional path requires the following:
- Graduated from an accredited institution of higher education that has an approved teacher education program for the certification area sought;
- Successfully completed a higher education teacher education program approved by the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability (OEQA);
- Meets all other requirements as established by the Oklahoma State Board of Education;
- Successfully passed the three required competency examinations; and
- Has on file with the Oklahoma State Board of Education a current clear Oklahoma criminal history record search from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation as well as a current clear national criminal history record search from the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
- Applied to Teacher Certification and submitted the appropriate processing fee
DRS Careers: Direct Care Specialist
What a Direct Care Specialist Does:
Positions in this job family are involved in providing direct care and supervision to clients with developmental or other disabilities. This includes basic health care and assistance with health care needs, assisting clients with life skills, including living, vocational, recreational, and educational skills, reviewing treatment plans for appropriateness, and supervising implementation of care and treatment plans. Other positions are assigned responsibilities involving paraprofessional guidance and instructional work in an institution, shelter, group home, or school.
The duties of a Direct Care Specialist who works the 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm shift in the Oklahoma School for the Blind are as follows:
12:00 pm-12:30 pm: Playground/Rec Center/Cafeteria Duty
12:30 pm-4:05pm: Substitute for Teachers in Class rooms. Work as a classroom Aide for Teachers
4:05 pm-10:00 pm: Work in Dorm settings with students. Assist students in the Cafeteria at supper. Supervise students during Recreational Activities. Assist students with personal hygiene, laundry, and homework. Direct Care Specialists also do 15 minute checks on their students. Direct Care Specialists also keep log books of any incidents or anything of importance that happens during their shifts. —C.B., Direct Care Specialist, Oklahoma School for the Blind
Qualification Requirements for a Direct Care Specialist:
Requirements at the full performance level consist of one year of experience working with children or adults in a treatment facility for disabled individuals or working with children or adults in a residential or school setting.
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