OCALI NOW | Issue 31 • September 2021

A group of hands meeting together in the middle
Helping hands

Creative, Collaborative, and Connected Partnerships

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI

Better together.

Two heads are better than one.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

We’ve all heard these sayings or we’ve used them with our colleagues and teams. Whether it’s creating internal partnerships between staff, or connecting with external organizations locally, regionally, or globally, there’s no question that harnessing our strengths, ideas, and perspectives are powerful ways to scale innovation, tackle tough problems, and expand impact.

At OCALI, inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that all people with disabilities deserve to have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives—at school, home, work, and in the community. We believe that we are better when we collaborate with our staff and partners. When we work together, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that benefit our thinking, practices, and work. Collaboration and strategic partnerships in the education, technology, health care, social service, government, and policy sectors have been the foundation of our organization’s growth and impact.

We have taken what we have learned about partnerships and applied it to OCALICONLINE—the premier autism and disabilities conference. Over the past 15 years, this conference has grown and evolved into something that we are really proud of—an experience that is designed to connect and inspire people across the lifespan, across agencies, and across the world.

OCALICONLINE 2021 will showcase the best-of-the-best from some of our fellow collaborators and partners – organizations who are similarly inspiring change and promoting access in their own corners of the world, in their own ways, and from their own perspectives. We sought them out for their exemplary work in the field of disabilities, and because we know they are each at the leading edge of science and practice.  These partners bring fresh insights and content to our line-up of sessions, and we can’t wait for you to connect with them. 

This year, we welcome:

As you think about ways to expand your own partnerships, I encourage you to consider the following:

Creative partnerships

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard

When organizations embrace creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, it opens the doors to thinking big and outside of the box. When it comes to inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities, we should all be striving to break down traditional barriers and explore things that others may not have yet seen as possible. Seek out like-minded organizations who share your commitment to celebrating creativity and innovation. Together, you will push your thinking and work toward new limits.

Collaborative partnerships

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Collaboration and strategic partnerships are fundamental for growth and impact. Together, with our partners, we are using data, research, and evidence-based strategies to shape policy and practice designed to inspire change and promote access for people with disabilities—something we couldn’t do without collaborative partnerships.

Connected partnerships

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa

From educators, service providers, families, people with disabilities, community leaders, policy makers, and more, when you connect and engage with people and organizations, you create a community of people who are working toward a similar mission and outcomes. Staying connected through regular communication, events, etc. helps establish and strengthen relationships. 

We hope you will consider joining us virtually at OCALICONLINE 2021, November 16-19. To learn more and to register, visit ocalicon.org.

Employment First logo; young father holding baby with young mother sitting behind him
It Starts with Families

It Starts With Families

Families are an important asset in the equation of ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives. And, we know when families have access to information and resources, they are more empowered to support and care for the family member with disabilities.

The Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Employment First Taskforce and its member agencies, have created It Starts With Families, a guide that provides research on the contributing factors and impact families with loved ones with disabilities face. The guide also includes important definitions and links to supporting resources.

This guide is part of a larger, cross-agency professional learning experience planned for spring 2022, designed for local professionals working to prepare, involve, and empower families of students with disabilities as they transition from secondary education to adulthood.

Ultimately, the guide and training are designed to support local professionals serving individuals and their families to:

  • become familiar with the research around families,
  • learn how to better design family engagement strategies, and
  • to reach all families, and build trust, rapport, and successful partnerships with families through culturally responsive practices.

We hope that this guide helps you to commit to Ohio’s mission of developing and implementing universally designed approaches that will ensure all families have the necessary knowledge and skills regarding transition education and services and are involved in all aspects of transition planning.

Questions? Contact ItStartsWithFamilies@dodd.ohio.gov.

What’s New at OCALI

Butterfly logo with Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners

NEW! Ensuring Access to General Curriculum for ALL Learners

Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for All Learners provides educators and other specialists with the strategies, research, and support resources to effectively design instruction and assessment in a way that provides universal access across courses, lessons, and learning activities. Organized in 10 chapters, this series was created for educators, by educators and is grounded in research and evidence-based practices. The free, video-based learning series explores practical, easy-to-use strategies and resources that are designed to ensure ALL learners have access to the general curriculum.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series

NEW! InspirED Episodes

October 21, 4-4:30 p.m.
The Power of Family and Community-Based Partnerships to Support the Whole Child

All students, especially those most vulnerable need support and guidance. The Ohio Department of Education’s strategic plan and whole child framework are designed to connect and address needs most central to a child’s development. Because we know that Ohio’s schools and educators can’t do this alone, partnerships play an essential role in supporting students. Hear from Ohio educators and community organizations as they discuss creative partnerships that are having a positive impact on Ohio’s schools, educators, students, and families. 

November 11, 4-4:30 p.m.
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for All Learners

Effectively designing instruction and assessment in a way that provides universal access across courses, lessons, and learning activities is essential for ALL students. Learn more about the strategies, research, and support resources to effectively design instruction and assessment in a way that provides universal access across courses, lessons, and learning activities. Created for educators, by educators Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for All Learners is a new, FREE video-based learning series designed to ensure ALL learners have access to the general curriculum. 

Considerations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners in the General Education Classroom A Free Interactive 3 part learning series

NEW: Ask Abbey: Considerations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners in the General Education Classroom
October 6, 13, & 20, 4 p.m.

This interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies to increase academic success, social interactions, and more for learners who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the general education environment. Join us for one or all three. Learn more and register.

A group of people meeting together at a table in a professional setting

NEW: 2021-22 Educational Identification of Students with ASD Virtual Training Series

The process to identify and serve students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) requires a well-trained and experienced evaluation team. From creating your team to administering quality assessments to accurately interpreting findings and communicating with parents and families, it is critical to have the knowledge and skills to best support students with ASD. OCALI is pleased to host the Educational Identification of Students with ASD Training Series for the 2021-2022 school year. This introductory training series, with 10 two-hour sessions, is designed for school-based evaluation teams that want to learn about the process for educational identification of students with ASD.

Inspiring Change Podcast from OCALI with microphone logo
Inspiring Change Podcast

NEW: Inspiring Change Podcast: Episode 22
“May the Power Be With You:” The Margaret Burley Family Impact Award

Since 2016, OCALI has awarded the Margaret Burley Family Impact Award to a parent or professional who has made a significant impact on the lives of families of those with disabilities. But who is Margaret Burley? And why is her work, impact, and legacy important enough to memorialize and honor through this annual award? We discuss this with Donna Owens, OCALI’s former director of the Family and Community Outreach Center and unofficial resident historian.

Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair

Virtual Assistive Technology (AT) Vendor Fair: September 29

Assistive technology (AT) are tools and supports that provide access to the curriculum and aspects of everyday life for individuals with disabilities. The AT Conference and Vendor Fair’s mission is to build capacity in the regions by providing learning opportunities about the latest assistive technology to provide to access the curriculum for individuals with disabilities. Join us for a FREE one-day virtual event where vendors will share a variety of virtual sessions showcasing state-of-the-art assistive technology and remote learning options. Experience 1:1 vendor consultations and explore from the comfort of home. Learn more and register.

Challenging Behavior: Expect Success
Challenging Behavior: Expect Success

Addressing Challenging Behavior Webinar Series

Every person is unique and has different strengths, talents, and skills. When addressing challenging behaviors for people with complex needs, it is essential to individualize the process in order to develop effective intervention plans. This 14-part webinar series is based in positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS), functional behavior assessment (FBA), and behavior intervention planning. The series explores the belief system and a systematic process essential to understanding and addressing challenging behavior. It also includes team-based strategies that focus on matching evidence-based interventions to a target behavior, after in-depth exploration of the individual’s strengths and challenges. This series is ideal for anyone supporting school-age children, adolescents, and adults. Inclusive of the components of PBIS, this training can support educational teams working with students in need of Tier 3 support.

The Journey: A free webinar series

2021-2022 Journey: Webinar Series

The transition from school to adult Life is an ongoing journey. Youth with complex and unique needs often require teams to have access to a variety of tools, resources, and people to plan and prepare for the future. This webinar series is designed for teams assisting youth with complex support needs and their families to better navigate the process of the own journey to adulthood.