BY PHILIP WOODWARD, DHHS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
NCRA President, Kent Millsaps, and NCATP Director, Tammy Koger,
welcome O.J. Brigance to the 2013 Discovering Our Treasures conference.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) NC Assistive Technology Program (NCATP) and the N.C. Rehabilitation Association (NCRA) co-sponsored the Discovering Our Treasures assistive technology and rehabilitation conference and exhibit hall in Concord. Individuals within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DSDHH), Division of Services for the Blind (DSB), Department of Commerce, N.C. Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), private non-profits, for-profit vendors, individuals with disabilities and family members gathered together for three exciting days of learning.
The conference highlights included three general sessions with Lynnae Ruttledge, a worldwide leader/activist on the employment of people with disabilities and presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability and former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA); DHHS Deputy Secretary, Sherry Bradsher, and DVRS Acting Director Elizabeth Bishop, and the closing session with O.J. and Chanda Brigance.
O.J., a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Super Bowl champion and current senior advisor to player development, has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. O.J. and his wife Chanda talked about their personal experience with ALS, assistive technology and how they discovered the “treasures” within themselves and others through their work with the Brigance Brigade Foundation. O.J. and Chanda discussed the importance of rehabilitation and assistive technology that allowed O.J. to continue to participate in his care, his non-profit and continue to work with the Ravens. More importantly, they discussed how finding their purpose and having a positive attitude has allowed them to continue to work and grow as individuals and as a family.
Next year’s assistive technology and rehabilitation conference and exhibit hall is being planned and will be held in the eastern part of our state. More information will be coming at www.ncatp.org or www.ncrehab.org