Tyra hadn't received the education she needed. Our advocacy got her into the right program. #AdvocacyMatters

August 16, 2019 / #AdvocacyMatters

Tyra, a refugee from Zimbabwe, smiles as she stands in front of an English Language Institute banner at Gallaudet University

When her family resettled in Ohio as refugees from Zimbabwe two years ago, Tyra looked forward to receiving the quality of education she was unable to access for years in exile because she was deaf. She and her family began working with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) to find a program that would teach her American Sign Language (ASL), help her catch up on her education and prepare her for college or a job.

Initially OOD recommended the local Hearing & Speech Center, but Tyra and her family felt that she needed more intensive help than that program could provide. They got in touch with the English Language Institute (ELI) of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., which teaches English as a second language, ASL and cross-cultural studies over an academic year so that students become proficient in English and qualify for admission to Gallaudet or other universities. The catch was that OOD's evaluation of Tyra prevented OOD from supporting her admission to the ELI.

Tyra and her family reached out to Disability Rights Ohio for assistance in creating a new post-secondary transition plan that would allow her to enroll at the ELI. A DRO advocate met with OOD and argued that the evaluation had underestimated Tyra's knowledge and abilities because of her language barrier. The ELI also performed its own assessment and accepted her.

Eventually OOD agreed that Tyra needed the more formal training offered at Gallaudet and agreed to pay for the program. This week, she arrived in D.C., ready to study with nearly 40 other students from around the world.

Under our Client Assistance Program (CAP), DRO advocates for and protects the rights of people with disabilities who are receiving services from OOD. Read more about the CAP in our Self-Advocacy Resource Center.


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