Texas DARS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Success Stories
Sometimes a DARS vocational
rehabilitation counselor comes across a consumer who strikes a
note at the heart of DARS’ mission. John struck that note when
he came to DARS requesting help.
John is a man with a mission…literally. For the past seven years, he has been a saxophonist who plays solo or in a band as part of his religious ministry.
Imagine that music is your life and soul. You make sacrifices and choices that create a path toward your dream. Now imagine that your dream is slowly taken away from you. You realize you may have to give up something that brings you joy and a mission that helps support your family and provides a community service. This is what John experienced when his hearing began to deteriorate.
As a father, a husband, and a musician, John's hearing is vital to his life. When he began having difficulty hearing and understanding his family and his fellow band members, John knew he had to seek help. He had worn hearing aides since 1991, which he purchased out of his own pocket. Since then, both his hearing and hearing aids had begun to fail. Self employed, he had health insurance that he paid for out of his pocket, but which did not cover the cost of new hearing aids. On top of rising insurance premiums, family medical bills, and the price of gas, the cost of obtaining new hearing aides seemed out of his reach.
Family and friends tolerated his miscommunication due to his hearing loss, but he knew his business contacts would not. In October 2006, his Callier Center Audiologist referred John to DARS for help.
John's case was taken by DARS Counselor Dana Dobbs, who said that she was intrigued and impressed by him. “It was the first time in my experience as a counselor that a consumer provided me with CDs of his recorded performances as part of establishing his self-employment information,” Dana explained.
Dana reviewed his case with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist Angela Feltner and DARS Area Manager Bob Dann to ask their opinion about John's case. All agreed it was apparent that without some high-tech hearing aides, he could not maintain employment. As part of her guidance, Dana told John he should begin saving money for future hearing aides because they will be ongoing life expenses.
Once their children reach school age, John's wife plans to get a part-time job to help add to the savings plan for his next set of hearing aids.
Dana described John as having “excellent communication skills and appears to interact well with others. People attach and engage with him easily, and I can see how his ministry would thrive.”
With a strong family support system, a group of friends, fellow ministers and musicians, and his new hearing aides purchased by DARS, John plans to continue his career as a minister and performer. When we last heard from him, John was on tour around the United States and was recording a new CD.
Jane joined the Army in 1977 when she was 20. Before joining
the Army, she was studying to be a dental assistant in her home
town of El Centro, California.
She enlisted for the standard three years, and for the first two years she took a dental assistant assignment. While on active duty, Jane suffered a terrible injury that shattered her elbow, hand, and wrist. Army surgeons placed a metal plate in her arm, along with several pins and screws. Because of her injury, her officers reassigned Jane to work as a records clerk.
After serving her three-year enlistment, Jane was discharged from the Army and received a medical disability rating of 25 percent and a lifetime monthly pension of $275.
Jane’s small Army pension did not cover her medical bills or living expenses. Although she worked several jobs, she lost them and eventually found herself homeless. She sought help from the Dallas Veteran’s Administration and took temporary shelter at the Veterans Domiciliary.
The VA referred Jane to the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. In collaboration with the Veteran’s Medical Branch in Dallas, DARS provided Jane with counseling and guidance to help her understand her limitations and how they would affect her career.
While the VA took care of coordinating Jane’s medical needs, her DARS vocational rehabilitation counselor arranged services she needed to find a job. Jane received assistance in learning résumé writing skills and developing interviewing skills. These lessons taught Jane to accentuate how she could apply her abilities to a trade and overcome the limitations of her disabilities.
DARS also helped provide Jane with a suitable wardrobe for job interviews and daily work. With much encouragement and support, Jane was hired as a customer service representative and has gained new confidence and found her independence. With a good job and her enthusiasm, Jane lives independently in her own apartment, and is a contributing member of her community.