Deaf person appointed chairperson to two boards Tom Kober, currently the Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) director of purchasing/accounts payable as well as a 10-year employee, has recently been appointed chairperson of both the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) and the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC). South Dakota has traditionally been ahead of the curve in regards to disability rights, and has proven this true again by appointing a deaf individual to lead both boards in tandem.
Tom is married to Lori A. Kober, who, like her husband, is also deaf. She is a funeral director at Iverson-Siecke Funeral Home, Vermillion.
The BVR�s purpose is to serve as an advocate for all persons with disabilities seeking to reach their employment goals and aspirations through vocational rehabilitation services. Members of the BVR are appointed by the governor. Kober�s appointment as chairperson makes him responsible for scheduling all meetings of the BVR and performing all such duties relative to the office. Some of those duties are to review, analyze, and advise the designated state unit regarding the performance of the responsibilities of the Unit under Title I (title) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended (Act); develop, agree to, and review state goals and priorities; and to evaluate the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation program and submit reports of progress to the commissioner. Kober was reappointed to the board but this is his first chairmanship, which runs to June 30, 2008.
The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) serves the same constituents as the BVR, but specifically for those needing independent living services. Members of the SILC are also appointed by the governor. As the chairperson of the SILC, Kober presides over all meetings and also acts as a representative when dealing with other organizations or in the public forum. This is Kober�s second appointment to the SILC chair, which terminates July 1, 2007.
�Recently I was in Texas for the State Rehabilitation Regional Conference and I mentioned to other state administrators that I am chair of both the SILC and BVR,� said Kober. �Their reply was ?wow, you have two hats for the state of South Dakota boards?� They were surprised to hear of my dual role, and South Dakota should be recognized for my appointments. It seems that I am the only deaf person in America who who holds the chairmanship for both state boards.�
Kober is also the South Dakota Association of the Deaf president, in his second term, which runs through July 2007.
�Tom Kober is the epitome of an involved corporate citizen and one who has always gone above and beyond to further the rights of disability groups, and deafness in general,� said Ben Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. �We are proud of Kober�s leadership and proud of South Dakota for cultivating a political environment in which all people, regardless of disability, have an equal voice.�