These are all words we are very familiar with these days—quickly adapting our professional, personal, and home lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are also words our OCALICON team has been grappling with as we continue to plan for OCALICON 2020.
Throughout the planning process, your health and safety have remained our first priority.
In light of this and with the ever-changing federal and state-issued guidelines, we do not have complete confidence we will be able to safely gather 3,000+ people in a face-to-face environment.
This doesn’t mean we’re canceling OCALICON.
If you haven’t heard the news, we’re excited to announce that we are transitioning OCALICON to a completely virtual experience this year.
While there are still many details to work out, our team is excited at turning the planning upside down and thinking completely outside of the box on how to deliver a ‘best in class’ professional learning event. And, as everyone has come to expect from us, this event will no doubt include our creative, fun, and unexpected flair.
We know you will have questions.
We welcome them. We ask you to give us some time to work out the details, and we will continue to keep you informed as decisions are made. In addition to informing you by email, we will also be sharing updates on our conference website and social media platforms.
In this time of transition, we want to hear from you. Send us an email with questions, ideas, or concerns. We value your input and your voice.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these changes together.
That’s a wrap for school year 2019-2020. And what a year it has been. Like many of you, the unexpected and rapid transition to working from home, remote learning, and social distancing caught us by surprise. As we made the transition with our own staff, there were a lot of bumps and learning along the way. From trying to sort out how to connect staff remotely, how to support collaboration between project teams, how to use new technology, how to deliver and present content in an online format, and the list goes on and on. We’re sure that many of these things are all too familiar to many of you, too.
While we were all learning together (or flying by the seat of our pants, in most cases), our commitment to supporting our collective community has remained at the heart of everything we do. We are here to support you with accessible materials, online learning, and other resources to ensure that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them have what they need.
You might be taking a mental health break, planning your next vacation, or just getting ready to enjoy a more relaxed schedule—but we want to remind you that we are here to support your professional learning and have a variety of resources available—many of which are free and several that offer the opportunity to earn graduate or continuing education credit. You can access these resources any time, in your own home, and at your own pace.
For people with disabilities and those supporting them—families, educators, caregivers, service providers, and others—it is essential to have the latest knowledge, skills, resources, and tools to ensure they can live their best lives for their whole lives. For more than 14 years, OCALI has been a trusted source of providing high quality research, resources, and training.
As you consider your professional learning plans—for yourself or your teams—OCALI staff members have compiled some of our newest resources to get you started.
Access—it’s not something the average person thinks about. But, for our students with disabilities, access is front and center in their daily lives. Unfortunately, access is often silent and unintentional discrimination. Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impairedis a free, self-paced training module designed to build confidence and comfort for anyone communicating or connecting with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. By completing this module, users can earn up to 2.5 hours of Continuing Education Credit.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In the coming weeks and months we will be working to create and share accessible resources to support continued conversations and actions about race, disability, and the ongoing fight for equality. Here are a few you can access today:
If you’re an early childhood professional who needs hours toward your credential, or you want to build your knowledge about early childhood topics, the Center for the Young Child’s new suite of resources are a great place to start. These modules have received the Ohio Approved (OA) designation and are also eligible for Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities continuing professional development (CPD) unit in the area of developmental specialist/supervisor, EI service coordinator/supervisor.
If you’re a developmental specialist who needs hours toward your credential or you are an early care or education professional who wants to build their knowledge around child growth and development, check out the new Early Care and Education Seminars.
Need Graduate Credit?
Check out these online resources that offer the opportunity to earn graduate credit.
The Family Center Resource Gallery provides a variety of resources in different formats to support families with a loved one with autism. Resources include a basic introduction to autism, guide to Ohio resources, building social skills, and learning from others.
Check out the schedule of upcoming webinars from the UDL Center! Topics include: Designing for the Least Restrictive Environment in General Education, Inclusive Practices That Support Learners With Significant Cognitive Disabilities, and many more!
Case Studies to Support Transition
Need support in using Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment methods to assist your team in better understanding a student’s current and future skills and knowledge?
The Lifespan Transition Center has a great collection of case studies you can use to guide your team’s planning process!
In April, OCALI’s Inspiring Change podcast launched a new series of episodes to capture the thoughts, reactions, and stories from parents, OCALI staff, educators, and other professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re trying to capture these moments as they happen, as people are reacting and adapting and processing and trying to figure things out,” said host Simon Buehrer. “There’s a lot of trial and error and DIY-ing going on right now in almost every aspect of our lives, and we wanted to share what’s happening, how people are juggling and managing these complexities and disruptions, and also champion their personal victories – those moments of triumph and success during unprecedented times. These bright spots help us connect and inspire us to keep going during an era of uncertainty and social distancing.”
You can check out the “Voices, Visions & Victories” series at ocali.org/podcasts. Or wherever you get your podcasts.
Each year, Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) conducts a survey to hear from families who have a loved one with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or other disabilities. This year’s survey, which will go live on May 20–June 5, will focus on family experiences related to COVID-19. Sharing your experiences and feedback can help ensure resources are accessible, especially where they will do the most good.
The IWGA represents multiple state agencies who meet regularly to review policies, learn from current research and data, and identify opportunities to better communicate and coordinate Ohio’s autism efforts.
Watch for more details by following OCALI’s Office of Policy on Twitter at @OCALIPolicy or visiting https://iwg-autism.org/.
This was a school year like no other. When schools and colleges transitioned from an in-school to a distance learning environment in mid-March, many of our lives were turned upside down. For some, like my son Connor, who is a college student on the autism spectrum, it was a challenge to adapt to the online environment. The good news: we made it. Let’s celebrate our students’ achievements and milestones during this unprecedented time and look forward to what’s next.
For youth with disabilities, the next steps might be unclear. With more time at home, we have an opportunity to prioritize discussions about how our young people will work and support themselves as adults. Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) can provide services remotely to help them identify their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and career goals to help them build a foundation for future success. We can help provide a realistic understanding of the time, effort, and expense required to achieve their goals.
OOD can assist youth with disabilities, beginning at age 14, through career exploration, skill development, and strategies to get a job after graduation (www.OODWorks.com). In-person meetings may not be possible right now due to COVID-19; however, OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors stand ready to serve and are eager to work together with you and your young person remotely. We can help students explore their options, whether they are in the beginning stages of career exploration, desire to work right away, or launch their career after the pandemic subsides.
If you have a college student with a disability, make sure you connect with us. Our Ohio College2Careers program, at 15 public colleges and universities in Ohio, ensures students with disabilities have the support they need to complete their degree and/or credential, earn higher wages, and meet the demands of tomorrow’s labor market. If your student isn’t attending one of the participating colleges, OOD may still be able to provide support for attaining and maintaining employment.
OOD professionals have been creatively supporting individuals with disabilities during this time. Staff have supported students remotely through mock interviews, coordination of virtual job interviews, and connection to essential employment opportunities. Our Division of Employer and Innovation Services’ Urgent Jobs List and process is in place to connect job seekers to essential businesses with urgent hiring needs. Despite these challenging times, in the first six weeks of coronavirus in Ohio, OOD placed a total of 319 Ohioans with disabilities into a broad range of jobs.
Parents, caregivers, teachers, and mentors all play an important role in setting the expectation of work. Have you had a conversation about employment with your young person? It’s a great time to start talking. I encourage you to reach out to get connected with OOD for support and assistance with these conversations.
If you’ve been joining OCALI on Facebook for our daily 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series, Patty, Rachel, Maggie, and Kelli should look familiar. For the past six weeks, they have been newscasters sharing tips, resources, strategies, and funny stories in short, easy-to-understand video clips on a variety of topics—from learning about accessibility features in Zoom and how to use descriptive language using alt text and audio description to establishing routines and sharing self-care tips.
The 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series was part of OCALI’s larger virtual #HereToHelp campaign designed for families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals who support people with disabilities.
“With the rapid and unexpected transition to remote learning and families working from home, the OCALI team was looking for innovative ways to connect people with accessible materials, online learning, and other resources,” said Shawn Henry, executive director at OCALI. “When we launched the campaign, our goal was to ensure that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them were supported during this pandemic. It’s been exciting to see so many people accessing and using our resources, many of which are free.”
“We also wanted the campaign to provide something fun for people to look forward to each afternoon—with quick, easy, and approachable strategies and resources to access live or at your leisure,” shared Kelli Yeagley, community engagement and project specialist.
In case you missed the videos or resources, you can still access everything on the #HereToHelp webpage. There, you will find 100+ resources specifically curated for educators/professionals and families/caregivers, including tips to support accessible, remote learning environments and strategies.
In everything we do, we are striving to connect a community of people—from educators, service providers, parents/families, people with disabilities, community leaders, policy makers, and more. When we collaborate and work together, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that benefit our collective thinking, practices, work, and ultimately, impact.
“Our staff has always been good at collaborating,” said Jan Rogers, program director, Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center. “Planning and developing this campaign virtually provided our staff an opportunity to think differently about how we work together and communicate with each other in new ways.”
“Google Meet and Zoom became great friends during the past few months,” adds Jen Bavry, program director, Family and Community Outreach Center. “It truly was an amazing effort by our staff to quickly gather the information needed for educators and families and organize those into an easily digestible format.”
Our last new 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video will air on May 20. If you missed an episode or want to watch one again, check out our video gallery. We will also be re-running all episodes throughout the summer. The team is also busy planning for the next phase of the campaign, so stay tuned for more information!
“I think there are folks who are hungry for hope, and a vision for what is possible…” — LeDerick Horne, OCALICON 2019 Keynote Speaker
We couldn’t agree more. In a time when things look different—from the way we deliver school and learning, to the way we do business and work from home, and the way we go about our daily lives—we believe we are all hungry for hope and want to be inspired.
Like most of you, our staff has been looking for innovative ways to work, learn, socialize, and connect. As we all do our part to maintain the health and safety of our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and those we support by staying home, OCALI is even more committed to being a source of support and inspiration.
We Are #HereToHelp Starting April 14, OCALI will launch a new virtual campaign, #HereToHelp. This new campaign is designed for families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals who support people with disabilities. We believe they are critical parts of the equation to ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives—especially during these unprecedented times.
From tips and ideas, to specific resources and strategies, and inspiring quotes and funny stories, our team is excited to connect with and support you in new ways. Information will be shared in short, easy-to-understand video clips from our staff members through OCALI’s social media channels,Facebook,Twitter, andInstagram, and our website. Resources from OCALI and various partners are also on our website to help you stay informed, connected, healthy, and supported.
We don’t want this to be a campaign where we’re sharing things AT you. We want it to be WITH you. That’s why we will be encouraging you to ask questions and share your own personal ideas and experiences with us. Our staff, who are all working remotely, will be monitoring our social media and email channels to respond to your comments and questions.
While we’re all navigating our new ways of life, our staff remains committed to supporting and encouraging everyone who lives with, loves, and cares for people with disabilities. We’re all in this together.
Throughout the month of April, we will be sharing resources for people with autism, their families, and those who work with and support them through our social media channels, includingFacebook,Twitter, andInstagram. Along with our friends at the Ohio Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA), we will be using the hashtags #KnowMoreDoMore, #AutismAwareness, and #AutismAcceptance.
Our Policy Team and IWGA are working to promote April as the time for people to better understand, to accept, and to take action to inspire change and promote access for individuals with autism and those who love, work with, teach, and support them. The Know More. Do More. theme encourages Ohioans to actively seek out resources and information to become better informed about the challenges and opportunities related to autism. By moving beyond just being aware to acceptance and taking action, we can ensure we are all doing our part.
Decades of research shows the importance of early experiences on brain development and how early intervention can reduce the effects of developmental delays. For professionals working in early childhood, it is important to have an understanding and knowledge about how to identify a child who may have developmental disabilities. From knowing what signs to look for, how to effectively talk with parents, understanding the steps to take for timely referrals for interventions, and more, early childhood professionals need information and access to high quality, affordable professional learning resources.
To meet this need and build confidence and competence in early childhood content and approaches, the Center for the Young Child (CYC) at OCALI is excited to launch two new resources, the Suite of Resources for Early Childhood and Early Care in Education Seminars. This cross-agency effort provides consistent professional development to all early care and education professionals, whether someone works in healthcare, childcare, or early education.
“In order to meet the needs of the whole child, we must look at early biological, psychological, and social-emotional development, which are critical elements of lifelong health and wellbeing,” explains Laura Maddox, CYC program director. “Our Center grounds its work in the latest brain science, policy, and research, and our new resources reflect that research and include evidence-based strategies that are easy to understand and practical to implement.”
Whether you’re an early childhood professional who needs hours toward your credential or you just want to build your knowledge about early childhood, check out the following resources:
Ideal for early care and education professionals, these modules will build your knowledge about a variety of early childhood topics. Each module provides information and resources you can immediately use and put into practice. Users have the opportunity to earn a certificate and Ohio-approved credit.
This Child, Each Child Will Grow and Learn This one-hour module emphasizes the importance of understanding and noticing the development of each children. Users will explore using developmental monitoring and screening tools to learn about each child’s strengths and areas of concern, effective ways to share information with families, and how to identify resources to support all children.
We Can Do This, Right Where We Are This one-hour module is a first step in building the confidence and competence of early care and education professionals to welcome all children into various settings. Evidence-based strategies and approaches that create success in inclusive early care and education are presented, demonstrating that practice supports can be used with intention and purpose.
Coming Summer 2020: Responding to Trauma and Supporting Resiliency
“These modules were developed to align with Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards, which were created through a collaborative effort of state agencies,” explains Maggie Gons, CYC early childhood professional development manager. “Each module supports the continued growth and learning of early care and education professionals to promote learning and development as part of Ohio’s quality program standards, Step Up To Quality. In turn, this leads to improved outcomes for children.
This seminar will provide comprehensive information about working with and empowering families, respecting cultural and family systems in professional practice, and using adult learning principles with a focus on existing strengths and capacities to strengthen parent competence and competence. Additionally, content will focus on strategies in natural learning opportunities so that families learn to support their child’s development.
Infant and Toddler Growth and Development This seminar will build users’ knowledge about infant and toddler growth and development information from prenatal and fetal development, with information and resources related to human development, developmental milestones, growth and development domains, and integrating skills across domains within natural environments and activities.
This seminar meets the requirements for Early Intervention content area E01 (Infant and Toddler Growth and Development) and is approved seminar work for Ohio Developmental Specialist certification. The seminar includes six units of instruction and takes approximately 30 hours to complete.
Coming Spring 2020: Disabilities and Risk Factors from Birth This seminar provides in depth information and resources related to physical, medical, developmental, sensory, and mental health conditions and risk factors in young children. The six units include specific content on genetic syndromes, diagnosed conditions, special procedures for children with extraordinary physical and medical needs, and prevention and management.
Coming Summer 2020:Family-Centered Services and Supports
Later this month, all households in Ohio and across the country will be receiving packets from the US Census to complete. The census data is used to allocate one and a half trillion dollars every year, by formula.
It is critical that all households report this data, and especially households with children with disabilities. When we fail to complete the Census accurately, we lose funding for Ohio’s programs – and lost dollars mean overcrowded classrooms, underfunded services, hungrier children, inadequate health care — big problems for most communities, and particularly for children with disabilities. Our kids lose when vital community resources dwindle – and these resources are critical to the success of all children.
If we get it wrong in 2020, today’s preschoolers will lose needed resources for a decade–the majority of their childhood. And the amount of dollars lost would be staggering. We now know that following the 2010 Census, so many young children were missed that states collectively lost over half a billion dollars a year in funding from just five programs: Medicaid, CHIP, foster care, adoption assistance and child care. On average, school districts lost $1695 per year for every child they missed.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg: more than 300 federal programs use census data to determine how federal funds are allocated to state and local governments. These programs cover necessities such as schools, child care, children’s health insurance, roads and highways, school meals programs, housing assistance, and a variety of other areas. There are other consequences too. New schools may not be built because of a lack of accurate data. Businesses may choose not to open grocery stores in underserved areas. Families and communities will not gain their fair share of political representation in elected bodies ranging all the way from school boards to Congress.
There is more information available on the State of Ohio’s website (https://development.ohio.gov/census2020/), but the bottom line is – encourage everyone you know, and especially those with children or children with disabilities to complete the Census – we all count, so we should all be counted!