Visually impaired couple win statewide award in Oklahoma

Elaine Boykin and Jay Doudna are longtime advocates for the disabled
By Brett Jones, For The Oklahoman Published: April 26, 2014
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Unfolding a wallet, Jay Doudna slips a ticket book from one of its pockets. The tickets are worth a dollar each, but to he and his wife, Elaine Boykin, they represent an almost priceless freedom.

“We can go out to dinner,” he said. “We can go to the doctor.”

Doudna and Boykin are visually impaired and rely on public transportation to get to work and to lead otherwise independent lives. The tickets they tear from the pad are from Oklahoma City’s Share-A-Fare cab service program, which allows them to buy the coupon books at a 40 percent discount from the city.

They can pay for their cab rides using the coupons accepted by two cab services, giving the couple the freedom to move about the city without organizing their lives around a bus schedule.

Programs such as Share-A-Fare are critical to the couple because transportation needs remain the number one issue facing the disabled, Boykin said. A certified vision rehabilitation therapist and programs manager with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Boykin has been an advocate on issues facing the disabled since graduating college in the mid-1970s. She is the current president of the Oklahoma Council of the Blind.

“I have been in this city since 1976, and we are still working on some of the same issues regarding transportation that we have been working on since I moved here,” she said. “The issues include city bus service and the fixed-route system, and fighting to get that system to expand its services late into the evenings and to keep it at a decent price.”

A Pennsylvania transplant, Doudna works as a studio technician at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and he too is a former OCB president. He and Boykin have been advocates on issues affecting the disabled for decades — long before they married seven years ago. Doudna said being an advocate on issues that impact one’s life is critical because needed services can disappear if lawmakers believe there is little interest.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Doudna said. “Whatever it is in your district, it is at risk if you don’t advocate. If you don’t advocate for what you use, you may not have it one day.”