March 13-April 15 is Deaf History Month:
Heritage Months Offer Opportunities to Address Access and Equity
Guest blog: Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI
Opportunities to build our understanding of equity and access, and what that looks like for each person, includes reflecting on our history. Having the chance to participate in activities that acknowledge and celebrate various groups through heritage months provides a space for students, families, educators, and community members to explore the contributions made by many represented and underrepresented groups. Building more inclusive environments means that we are intentional about offering a wide range of representation as we work to understand the experiences of one another. Honoring the diverse backgrounds, the unique identities, and the lived experiences that make up who we are as a society.
For students and staff in the classroom, an opportunity to raise awareness about these complex experiences comes with sharing the achievements, struggles, and perspectives of group members and connecting it with the experiences of others. As stated in the Ohio Department of Education’s strategic plan, Each Child, Our Future, “Ohio’s greatest education challenge remains equity in education achievement for each student. The path to equity begins with a deep understanding of the history of discrimination and bias and how it has come to impact current society.”
Planning with intentionality to explore what we know about a culture helps to dispel misconceptions and expand our knowledge base so that students and staff are prepared to learn and help each other succeed.
One example of such an opportunity is Deaf History Month, which is celebrated from March 13-April 15. This month came to be through the collaborative work of the National Association of the Deaf and the American Library Association (ALA). The conversation started in an effort to make libraries more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing within communities by providing resources to learn about deaf culture, American Sign Language, and the deaf community. Since then, this effort has expanded to offering collections, exhibits, programming, and more at local libraries, the State Library of Ohio, and The Ohio Digital Library.
In addition to offering reference materials and library resources, activities to engage students and staff in sharing their perspectives about access and equity can support connection. Because the number of people who are deaf or hard of hearing is a small percentage of society, a person’s only experience may be through what they’ve seen on TV, in the movies, or on social media—showing one person, in one place, at one time, which limits perspective. The reality is that being deaf or hard of hearing can look different in many ways.
Guided by the belief that increasing access to information promotes understanding, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI created a training module, Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired. This free, self-paced training module offers a collection of evidence-based strategies and scenarios at home, school, and in the community that can be used with students, families, and staff any time.
“Life is about connection and we do not want anyone to miss the opportunity to connect,” shares Shawn Henry, OCALI’s Executive Director. “This module is designed to help people gain confidence when connecting and communicating with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired anytime and anywhere.”
Celebrating cultural heritage through initiatives like Deaf History Month offers that opportunity to connect. They encourage our exploration of the contributions and rich identities of groups who make up our nation. They give us a chance to explore what can be done to increase access and equity in our schools and communities all year long.
In celebration of Deaf History Month, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI is pleased to share several free resources, including:
- Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired, a self-paced training module
- Sign Language Resources
- Communications Planning Guide for Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Learn more at https://deafandblindoutreach.org/.
OCALI Holds First Advocacy Day Meetings and Webinar
During the month of February, the OCALI Office of Policy coordinated one-on-one meetings for OCALI Advisory Board Members with Ohio representatives and senators, as well as a webinar for members of the Ohio General Assembly.
Advisory Board Members and OCALI staff engaged in conversations with a dozen lawmakers to help them better understand how OCALI can serve as a resource to them and their constituents. The meetings included engaging conversations and information about actions legislators can take to help families and professionals in their communities.
“While each meeting was different based on that particular legislator’s district and perspective, they were all enlightening and helpful for us to gain a better understanding of how to help policymakers as they consider and pass legislation,” said Teresa Kobelt, MSW, LSW, Director, Strategy, Innovation, and Forecasting, OCALI’s Office of Policy. “In turn, we were able to increase awareness about OCALI’s tools and resources that can help their constituents.”
A webinar was also held on February 24, which was attended by 25 legislators and staff. The program provided an overview of challenges facing people and families who are living with disabilities in Ohio, particularly over the past year, and information about specific OCALI resources, such as InspirEd, ASD: Strategies in Action, and #HeretoHelp.
OCALI is hoping to make OCALI Advocacy Day an annual event to continue to engage with members of the Ohio General Assembly about timely policy items that impact people with disabilities across the state.
2021 Transformation Series: #MovingForwardTogether
This year, the Provider Transformation Summit is transforming into the 2021 Provider Transformation Series – a collection of resources and online events that assist providers, county boards, families, individuals, and others to think about and move from facility to community-minded supports.
This change in format allows the concept of transformation to be considered from multiple points of view, as well as giving us all a chance to come to a fuller understanding of what makes actual provider transformation successful. Many times, it is not about making big moves, but the daily actions providers and others take toward supporting people where they are to where they want to go.
During the pandemic, everyone involved in the service system had to reinvent supports and the way they are provided in order to maintain health and safety, as well as to support meaningful routines. This lived experience helps all of us appreciate the necessity of transformation and how it starts and succeeds with attention to how programs are organized and perceived by the DSPs and managers running them, as well as the individuals and families who depend on them.
The 2021 Provider Transformation Series has been designed to allow everyone interested in the subject matter a variety of formats and styles so individual and organizational needs and expectations can be met. It provides an opportunity for stakeholders to gather and share ideas, strategies, and practices that will assist them as they move through the systems change process and help improve person-centered planning, community membership, and employment opportunities for individuals across Ohio.
The 2021 series features two great offerings to help support your continued transformation journey:
Transformation Talks will be posted in late March 2021.
Transformation Tuesdays registration is NOW OPEN!
What’s New at OCALI
InspirED Virtual Learning Series: Register for March & April Sessions
Register for upcoming sessions, including:
· March 25: Telepsychology: Tips and Tools for Online Assessments
· April 8: Accessible Solutions for Online Learning: Considerations for Learners who are B/VI
All sessions are at 4 p.m. If you miss a session or want to go back re-watch or check out other sessions, check out the InspirED Video Gallery. Here, learners can access all previously aired sessions, which include interactive transcripts, audio description, and session materials. This gallery is also a great resource to share with colleagues and others who may benefit from the information.
Don’t forget learners have the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. Did we mention that this is a FREE way to get professional development hours?
Save the Dates: Ask Abbey: Engaging Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Through Music, Art, and Gym
A Free, Interactive Learning Series: April 14, 21, & 28, 4 p.m.
This interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies on how to include learners who are deaf or hard of hearing in gym, art, and music classes. Each session will incorporate considerations to ensure each learner is safe, engaged, and challenged. Each 30-minute session will include a 10-minute webinar with simple tips and strategies, followed by 20 minutes of live Q&A with Abbey Weaver, an itinerant teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing in Ohio. The sessions are free, but registration is required. Certificates of completion are available for the series. Join us for one or all three.
Registration will open soon.
Want to advance your Assistive Technology (AT) knowledge? Qualified employees of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities in Ohio have the opportunity to received $1,400 in scholarships to build their capacity for AT service delivery and earn AT Professional (ATP) Certification.
The Rewind podcast series features speakers, sessions, and stories from OCALICON – the premier autism and disabilities conference. Check out the latest episode: Baked Into the Process: Advancing Equitable Outcomes Through the Lens of Social Justice.
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.
Learn about the main body systems that impact motor control, identify aspects of typical development, and understand motor differences that can impact people with autism throughout the lifespan.
Expand your knowledge of AAC Assessment to determine and recommend augmentative and alternative communication devices, aids, and strategies for adults with a developmental disability.
To support County Boards of Developmental Disabilities in helping youth with complex needs and their families navigate the journey to from school to adult life, the Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI has created a free webinar series, called The Journey, designed to support topics, such as:
· Creating structure,
· Improving self-determination,
· Planning for transition, and
· Supporting literacy.