DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services Consumer Success Story
Virginia Kelley is a single mother of two who experienced hearing loss. The problem had become so severe that it was beginning to threaten her job as assistant to Bexar County's Economic Development Chief David Marquez. Phone calls were the worst as she had to routinely ask people to repeat themselves.
In April of 2006, Ms. Kelley was diagnosed with otosclerosis, a disease that damages the tiny bones in the middle ear, which transmit sound wave vibrations to the fluid of the inner ear. Of those who get otosclerosis, 10 percent will suffer progressive hearing loss. As with Ms. Kelley, the loss is often so gradual that people do not realize it's happening until others point it out.
Although the 40-year-old Beaumont native had insurance, Ms. Kelley still considered a trip to the doctor's office an extravagance. Upon the advice of her boss Mr. Marquez she contacted the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, which runs the state's vocational rehabilitation program through its Division for Rehabilitation Services. The program helps those with disabilities who want to work, prepare for, train for, or, as in Ms. Kelley's case, keep a job.
"This program is so important," Ms. Kelley says. "There are so many people who are forced to be on public assistance because of a disability. I was almost one of those people. My boss is a very understanding man, but my hearing was so bad that I couldn't answer the phone or communicate with colleagues. Everyone was quite frustrated, including me!"
The first step toward restoring Ms. Kelley's hearing was to have her go through several tests to determine her eligibility. Upon receiving the results, Ms. Kelley's vocational rehabilitation counselor Patricia Crutthirds was surprised by the magnitude of her hearing loss. A hearing aide was an option, but it was only a temporary solution. Ms. Crutthirds told Ms. Kelley that an innovative surgery could possibly fully restore her hearing. After evaluating the risks, Ms. Kelley decided to have the procedure.
Counselor Crutthirds coordinated the medical appointments, surgery schedule, and payment information for Ms. Kelley, and in July of 2006, hearing was restored to one ear, with surgery scheduled for the second ear in early 2007. Since returning to work, Ms. Kelley has received a promotion and the offer for additional training.
"Before my surgery, I was about to lose my job. Today, I am attending management trainings and preparing to go to college," Ms. Kelley exclaims. "The possibilities are for me are endless and I have DARS to thank. If you really want to help people with disabilities, tell them about DARS."