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Tulsa Tech Empowers Students with Disabilities to Succeed in Diverse Career Path

Tulsa Tech is the region’s leader for high school and adult students to gain the skills for success in their career, wherever they may be within their individual path. The district strives to be flexible to meet the needs of each student and client in training methods through curriculum and industry-standard equipment, regardless of any disabilities they may have. The eight current deaf/hard of hearing students across the district are a testament to that effort.

Tulsa Tech’s Student Disability Services is dedicated to collaborating with and empowering students with disabilities to become successful in the workplace. They are also committed to ensuring each student receives the accommodations needed to succeed while at Tulsa Tech and beyond.

Four of the eight current deaf/hard of hearing students use American Sign Language interpreters, which are provided by Student Disability Services, to help communicate and learn. They translate for students during class and lab, mock interviews, student organization competitions, field trips, assemblies, work base experiences and internships. The district also offers assistive technology like amplification systems and digital stethoscopes.

This flexible approach to teaching skills for the workplace is showcased by the wide variety of programs these students are undertaking, including our Automotive Service Technology, Medium/Heavy Diesel Technician, Health Science Technology, Machining, Pharmacy Technician, Practical Nursing and Welding programs.

Machining Instructor Aaron Runk has had three different students with three different disabilities in his classroom, and all three found ways to thrive while learning.

“I was nervous at first with having a deaf student, but I had previously made a lot of training videos and that helped me feel better prepared,” Runk said. “If the student didn’t understand something the first time, they could always replay or rewind the video. My current and previous students that have used the training videos have always been the furthest ahead in the class because they could self-pace themselves and were my best students.”

Tulsa Tech student, Zach, stands next to machining equipment

Zach Dallen has already earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, but struggled to find a job, so he decided to attend Tulsa Tech for Machining and will conclude his training in May. 

“I love working with the machines,” Dallen said. “It is hands-on with a lot of different machines. My instructor, Mr. Runk, helps me understand the process of machining and coding, he is very easy to understand and I’m very grateful to him. I’ve been really impressed with Tulsa Tech. The instructors are very helpful and I’m grateful for the interpreters that help me.”

Roberto Hernandez Campos has been interested in cars since he was four years old. Now he has been learning about brakes, steering and suspension, and the electrical components of vehicles, and will finish his Automotive Service Technology program in October with a dream of working for Porsche.

Roberto, a Tulsa Tech student, stands with pickup truck

“I really like how the instruction is easy to understand,” Hernandez Campos said. “We work on the computer and then we go out to the shop and do hands-on work. I really like that part because I can learn a lot by doing it and watching other people do it.”

“The teacher is really helping me learn how to fix cars, and I’m learning and studying lots of new things, which is preparing me to be able to go to work. I really have enjoyed my time here.”

Jairo Valentin enjoys fishing, ranch work and welding, and he’s enrolled at Tulsa Tech to help him get the training he needs for his career.

“I learned about Tulsa Tech and the Welding program from a friend,” Valentin said. “I was told that they would help teach me, so I applied, was accepted, and will be done in May. I’ve learned TIG (tungsten inert gas), MIG (metal inert gas) and Stick welding techniques, learned how to do the math required and how to read blueprints.”

Jairo, a Tulsa Tech student wearing welding mask

Valentin feels like the program isn’t much different for him than it is for any of his classmates because the instructor gives demonstrations, showing rather than merely explaining new techniques. And while the instructor is speaking to the class, his interpreter is signing for him, and he uses texting to communicate easily with his instructor and classmates.

“The Welding program is great because you can learn what you need to learn, then get the skills and experience you need to work in the real world,” added Valentin.

Overall, Tulsa Tech provides tailored support and resources for all students, which ensures that everyone can pursue their educational and career goals with confidence. Through the tireless effort of faculty and staff, the district continues to live its mission of educating people for success in the workplace.