OVR Services: An Overview and Specialty Services

Russ Goddard, Luis Fontanez, Jr., Martha Futhey, Shelley Haupt, Michael Vore
 
Learn how the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) supports individuals with low incidence disabilities through the multiple programs within OVR, including services for the deaf and hard of hearing youth population and specialty services provided through the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS). There is an emphasis on how OVR can support their quest toward competitive integrated employment after high school.
 
Credits: Act 48, ACVREP, Psych
Audience: Special Education Teachers; Teachers who work with students who are blind or visually impaired; Teachers who work with students with hearing loss; Teachers who work with students who are Deaf-Blind; Teachers/other professionals who work with students who have sustained a traumatic brain injury; Speech Therapists; General Education Teachers; Supervisors/ Administrators; Assistive Technology Specialists; School Counselors; School Psychologists; Parents, Guardians, Family Members; Paraprofessionals

Speaker Bios: Russ Goddard works for the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation as the Statewide Coordinator of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind Services. In his position, Russ provides technical assistance to OVR field staff and central office staff with issues related to the provision of services for deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind OVR customers. He also worked in his capacity as the program director for the Summer Academy for High School Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for the past three years. Russ has a total of 20 years of experience in vocational rehabilitation, first as a rehabilitation counselor for the deaf and hard of hearing in the state of Ohio, then continuing in the same capacity for PA OVR before being promoted to his current position. Russ himself has a hearing loss, bringing into this presentation a wealth of personal and professional knowledge about educational and transition services for high school students with hearing loss.
 
Luis Fontanez, Jr. is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who specializes in the vocational rehabilitation of individuals living with blindness and vision impairment. In addition, Luis has four years of experience in IT specializing in accessibility, assistive technology, advocacy, and outreach.
 
Martha Futhey is a Social Worker for the Altoona District of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Service.  Martha works with the Children’s Program which services individuals from birth through the age of fourteen.  Her responsibilities include assisting families in learning about their child’s vision issues, and making referrals for appropriate vision evaluations and for instructional therapies and support through the Children’s program as well as other relevant community resources. Martha has been with the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services for the past fifteen years.

 
Shelley Haupt, VRT works for the Altoona district office of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. In this position, Shelley travels to clients’ homes to provide instruction that increases independent living skills and visual therapies of an individual with blindness or low vision.  She has 20 years of experience as a teacher, working with children with autism, working as a CareerLink workforce specialist and working in adult education.  Shelley has participated in OVR’s annual Summer Academy program at Penn State over the last 5 years where she has delivered instruction on cooking and food preparation to high school students with visual disabilities. Shelley will provide information on vision rehabilitation therapy services and will demonstrate adaptive equipment and techniques used to enhance independent living skills and visual therapies. 
 
Michael Vore, OMS works for the Altoona district office of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. In this position, Michael travels to clients’ homes to provide instruction on the skills necessary to remain oriented and to travel safely, efficiently and as independently as possible in their environments. Michael started working for BBVS in 2018 and has since participated in OVR’s annual Summer Academy and Junior Summer Academy amongst other programs providing services to individuals in all life stages. Michael will provide information on Orientation and Mobility services and will demonstrate skills, techniques, and equipment used during Orientation and Mobility training.