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News > Tinker employee doesn’t let disability get in the way of achieving his goals
Tinker employee doesn’t let disability get in the way of achieving his goals

Posted 12/8/2011   Updated 12/8/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Delia Hansen
Directorate of Personnel


12/8/2011 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- Editor's note: This is the first in a four-part series featuring employees at Tinker Air Force Base with disabilities.

Scott Rippetoe is a sheet metal work leader in the 551st Commodities Maintenance Squadron. He has been working at Tinker Air Force Base for the past 30 years. Mr. Rippetoe was born deaf, but has not let his disability stop him from living a full and successful life. He is comfortable with who he is, he has learned to work around his disability.

Growing up, Mr. Rippetoe spent many hours in speech labs learning to speak and read lips. He doesn't wear any hearing aids. With all his training, Mr. Rippetoe is able to communicate effectively and gets along well in the world.

Mr. Rippetoe is not alone; Tinker AFB employs more than six dozen individuals who report themselves as deaf. These individuals are employed in a wide variety of career fields and organizations. With assistive devices, the American culture's effort to break down barriers for people with disabilities, and mainstreaming kids with disabilities into the public school systems, people who are deaf are no longer stifled and can accomplish just about anything hearing people can do. Low expectations for individuals who are deaf have become a thing of the past.

"If you have a disability, you have to work harder to achieve your goals in life," Mr. Rippetoe said. "I am no different than anyone else, I just can't hear."

He offers some good advice on how to interact with anyone with a disability.

"Don't be afraid of anyone with a disability, but treat them how you would want to be treated," Mr. Rippetoe said.

When Mr. Rippetoe was a young boy, he set his sights on learning to fly an airplane. He soloed when he was just 18 years old at the Okmulgee Indian Nations Airport. He has competitively raced motorcycles and has enjoyed water skiing all his life. He rebuilds old cars and builds custom bikes, and participates in local competitions. Today, he also loves playing basketball and watching football.

Mr. Rippetoe and his wife, Rochelle, have three children, Kimberly, Patrick and Arlene. Mr. Rippetoe's passion is old classic cars and motorcycles.



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