OCALI NOW | Issue 34 • January 2022

In Focus: Post-secondary Transition in Ohio; four people sitting
Amy Szymanski, JoHannah Ward, Joe Petrarca, and Alex Corwin recording their InspirED episode

In Focus: Post-secondary Transition in Ohio

Research shows that comprehensive and thorough transition planning for students with disabilities leads to better post-school employment, education, and independent living outcomes. Transition planning requires input, not only from families, but also relationships with agency partners, schools, and teams.

“It’s important that professionals are part of the team as the student transitions into adulthood so they can best understand their adult life goals, where they’re currently at in their skill development, and how to best support them as they enter adulthood,” explains Alex Corwin, Program Director, Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI.

Each year, states are required to report on the progress towards indicators to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Special Ed Programs. For the past two years, Ohio has scored in the needs assistance range—not exactly where we want to be compared to all the other states. To improve this outcome, there is an intentional focus on post-secondary transition in Ohio.

“We have an opportunity to assist our students through our State Systemic Improvement Plan which we’re in the process of writing,” shares Joseph Petrarca, Associate Director, Office for Exceptional Children, Ohio Department of Education. “We are going to align our partnerships with our state systems of support, and we are developing an early warning system that uses data that will assist districts and IEP teams for students at risk of not graduating.”

Impact of the Pandemic & Relationships

Like other services and supports, the pandemic has impacted the way many Ohio school districts provide post-secondary transition services. The variation in mask and quarantine protocols have changed the way districts have been able to engage and develop relationships with students, businesses, and community organizations.

“A lot of agencies still aren’t doing anything face-to-face, which is totally fine and their decision,” explains Ryan Murphy, Special Education Director, Fairless Local Schools. “But, I think it has hurt us in the relationship side of things. When you’re having conversations with families, you have to have that relationship built with them to be able to engage in the services.”

Maurice Taylor, Student Services Director, Mahoning County Career & Technical Center agrees, saying, “It’s that human connection, and our families and students need that and they need to build those relationships in order to set students up to be successful. It’s also important for our students to actually see and touch things and be around something that they’re interested in, and in some cases it’s been hard to do that.”

Innovative Thinking

During the pandemic and into this school year, Ohio school districts are getting creative on how to bridge gaps in building relationships and opportunities to engage, as well as address rising costs.

“Our outside agency partners have been creative, and they have been able to get kids placed in jobs, they were able to work through transportation issues, and that has caused us to become more innovative and creative,” says Murphy. “We have had to be creative to continue to give kids experiences despite having limitations. Additionally, as costs have risen from the pandemic, we have had to explore various grants, which have helped to fund some projects.”

Get the Details

These are just a few of the topics explored in the recent InspirED Virtual Learning Series episode, In Focus: Secondary Transition in Ohio. Watch the full recording to hear more from representatives from the Ohio Department of Education, OCALI’s Lifespan Transitions Center, and two Ohio schools share details about Ohio’s plan to improve secondary transition planning for Ohio students, along with secondary transition planning practices, insights, and resources.

ATIM Assistive Technology Internet Modules - Take New Courses chalkboard sign
ATIM offers new courses

Assistive Technology for Adult Life

Accessibility is often the key to independence. Because each person’s needs are different, it is important to carefully assess what assistive technologies (AT) are necessary and how to effectively use them.

Designed for educators, professionals, families, persons with disabilities, and others of all ages, Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) guide users through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, glossaries, discussion questions, and more.

The AT&AEM Center at OCALI is excited to share four new Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) that guide users through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, glossaries, discussion questions, and more.

AT Assessment Strategies for Adults: Part I

This module describes the role AT can play in the lives of adults with developmental disabilities and begins the discussion of assessment strategies that may be used to determine AT needs. Part I of this two-part module focuses on how AT can help people become more independent, more active participants in their own lives, and reduce the amount of support they need. Specific topics in Part I include an overview of AT devices and services, identification of the need for AT, and clarifying the individual’s strengths and obstacles to independence.

AT Assessment Strategies for Adults: Part II

Part II of the module describes the actions that Individual Service Plan (ISP) teams can take to evaluate the value of specific assistive AT devices and services a person may need. It also addresses ways to include AT in an ISP, and provides a brief overview of possible sources of AT funding. The final section of the module addresses ways a team might begin to develop a plan for a person’s AT use in everyday routines and activities.

Assistive and Smart Home Technology for Independent Living

AAC Assessment: Adults with DD

A team-based assessment process is required to determine the appropriate tools which best match the needs of individuals with communication challenges. This module provides users with information about the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assessment process for adults with developmental disabilities (DD), the variety of communication supports, and the selection criteria for communication devices and apps.

Looking for a Graduate Course?
The new modules have been bundled with existing ATIM to create a new graduate course, Adults with Developmental Disabilities, offered through Ashland University. This new online course provides participants with an overview of assistive technology assessment, implementation, and intervention strategies for adults with developmental disabilities. Participants in will learn about the AT assessment and implementation processes for all areas of AT, as well as special considerations for AAC users. Additionally, participants will learn about AT for independent living, workplace accommodations, driving and transportation, and gain an understanding of transitions from school-age to adult services. Course registration is open December 13, 2021–March 28, 2022.

What’s New at OCALI

InspirED Virtual Learning Series logo
InspirED Virtual Learning Series

Join Us February 17, 4pm
New InspirED Session: Surrogate Parent for a Child with a Disability

Some students do not have a parent to represent them in special education matters and need someone acting on their behalf. In this session, explore best practices, key concepts, and resources to increase knowledge, understanding, and skills to serve as or support a surrogate parent in Ohio.

Yes We Can!Journey Towards Independence - New Interactive Video Series
Yes We Can! Journey Towards Independence Interactive Video Series

February 23, 4 pm
Yes We Can: Journey Towards Independence: Work Hard, Play Hard

Join Michelle and her guide dog, Tonne, for a new, interactive video series designed to share how she lives an independent, quality life as a person who is DeafBlind. Each 30-minute episode will include pre-recorded segments, followed by a live dialogue with Michelle. The next episode explores how technology can provide access and engagement for people with disabilities at home, in schools, and in the community. Learn about what assistive technology (AT) Michelle uses, and how it has been helpful to support her access, participation, and independence.

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series
The Journey: Free Webinar Series

February 28, 2:30 pm
New Journey Webinar: Charting the LifeCourse

Charting the LifeCourse is a simple and effective framework to help individuals and families of all abilities and all ages develop a vision for a good life, think about what they need to know and do, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. In this session, you will learn how to use Charting the LifeCourse tools to: Engage students and their families in transition assessment and planning, Acquire data to assist in completing the IEP, ISP and IPE, and Ensure that education and service planning aligns with each youth’s desired outcomes for adult life.

Ask Abbey & Friends: Word Recognition Toolkit for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners - A Free Interactive three-part learning experience
Ask Abbey & Friends Word Recognition Toolkit for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners: Free interactive learning experience

March 2, 9, & 16, 4 pm
Ask Abbey & Friends

Expanding off of our original Ask Abbey series, this new interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies on how to increase word recognition skills for learners who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Reading research highlights the importance of phonological awareness, and more specifically phonemic awareness, as an integral component of successful literacy instruction. Students whose primary language is visual still need access to this set of skills to fully unlock the English code and become proficient readers.

10 minutes with Barb and Ron
10 Minutes with Barb and Ron

10 Minutes with Barb and Ron and #UDLChat

Join Barb and Ron for 10 minutes of light and fun chats infused with a perspective on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). These videos are geared toward parents, educators, college students, and administrators. Also check out the #UDLchat, which occurs every 1st and 3rd Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern on Twitter.

Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair
Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair

Virtual Technology Vendor Fair

Need professional development seat time? 24 different sessions are available from the AT Conference & Vendor Fair. A ½ hour of seat time is available for each session.

Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners

Check out this video-based learning series that explore practical, easy-to-use resources designed to ensure ALL learners have access to the general curriculum.