Media release


OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and friends will celebrate Deaf-Blind Awareness week, June 26 – July 2, in honor of Oklahomans who are deaf-blind and world-famous author, educator, lecturer and disability advocate Helen Keller.

Deaf-Blind Awareness Week has been observed each year since 1984 during the last week in June, in honor of Helen Keller’s birthday on June 27th.

Made famous by literature, plays and film, Keller continues to be the best-known American who was deaf-blind, although she died 54 years ago.


Following a childhood illness, she learned to read braille and raised print, and to communicate with speech and sign language for the deaf with the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who also had a visual disability.


Deaf-blindness is a condition in which an individual has combined hearing and vision loss, thus limiting access to both auditory and visual information.

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a division of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

DRS SBVI will hold a recognition event on Thursday, June 30, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at SBVI’s Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 300 NE 18th Street in Oklahoma City.


“This will be a time for the public to join members of the deaf-blind community, advocates, clients and DRS staff in recognition of Deaf-Blind Awareness Week,” SBVI Administrator Tracy Brigham said. “Our program will include speakers, client stories and spotlight services provided by SBVI that empower Oklahomans with dual vision and hearing losses to become employed and live full and productive lives.”


“SBVI will also dedicate a memorial tree in honor of retired Deaf-Blind Program counselor Joan Blake, who served Oklahomans for many years and recently passed away in a tragic accident,” Brigham said.


SBVI provides advocacy, information and referral, evaluation, guidance and counseling services, and training in alternative skills for daily living for Oklahomans who are deaf-blind and their families. Tactile, vibratory and other equipment which assists people in communicating and receiving information is available.


“Helen Keller set the stage for the accomplishments of many Americans who turned what could have been obstacles into stepping stones,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “We are proud of the work SBVI staff do in the spirit of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan to empower Oklahomans who are deaf-blind to achieve their goals and dreams today.”


DRS SBVI is currently accepting applications for a deaf-blind program specialist who will coordinate the statewide Deaf-Blind Program and provide direct services to job seekers. More information and the application are available at


For more information about services for Oklahomans who are deaf-blind, contact (918) 606-9353 or email  [email protected].


Contact Teresa McDermott at [email protected] or 405-312-1739 for more information about the recognition event on June 30.