OCALI NOW | Issue 26 • March 2021

Deaf History Month - March 13th - April 15th, 2021

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: 

Learn more at https://deafandblindoutreach.org/.

OCALI Office of Policy Legislator Webinar - Free tools and resources to support families, educators, and providers serving people with disabilities

Photo of the Ohio Statehouse

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: Building Innovative Service Models

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:

  1. Transformation Talks
  2. Transformation Tuesdays

Transformation Talks will be posted in late March 2021.

Transformation Tuesdays registration is NOW OPEN!

What’s New at OCALI

Get InspirED Thursdays at 4pm - Join us for FREE Upcoming Webinars - March 18, March 25, April 18 

Info + Registration at: OCALI.ORG/PROJECT/INSPIRED

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.

Wait Time For A Brief Bunny Break - Discover Our New & Updated Resources Below - Photo of a baby bunny resting its paw on a pink colored egg

RESNA Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) Certification Scholarship: Deadline is March 31

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.

Rewind: A New Podcast Series

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.

10 Minutes with Barb and Ron

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.

Newly Launched AIM Course: Motor Differences

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.

Newly Launched ATIM Module: AAC Assessment: Adults with DD

Expand your knowledge of AAC Assessment to determine and recommend augmentative and alternative communication devices, aids, and strategies for adults with a developmental disability.

The Journey Webinar Series: 2021 Dates

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.

Visit the archive of previously aired webinars and register for upcoming sessions.

OCALI NOW | Issue 25 • February 2021

Baked Into the Process: Advancing Equitable Outcomes Through the Lens of Social Justice

What is social justice? What does it mean for education and for educators? Why is it important to promote equitable outcomes for students? And how do we infuse socially-just practices into school-based services that promote equitable and positive outcomes for young people?

These are some of the questions that Dr. Charles Barrett explores in the first episode of Rewind, a new Inspiring Change podcast series that features conversations and connections from OCALICON—OCALI’s premier autism and disabilities conference. Rewind is the audio showcase of some of OCALICON’s best moments – starting with Dr. Barrett’s 2020 presentation.

Dr. Barrett is a nationally-certified school psychologist, as well as a writer, musician and teacher from Northern Virginia. He’s a passionate educator, committed to meeting people where they are, and understanding, serving, and supporting the individual needs of children and families.

His work is anchored by a focus on justice and equity, which represents his unwavering commitment to advocating for populations that have been marginalized by systemic oppression. In this episode, Dr. Barrett helps define and describe the framework of social justice, including why it’s important and how we do it.

“Social justice is a lens that really informs how we think about students in many ways,” shares Barrett. “It’s a systemic framing. Social justice is not a condiment. It’s not ketchup or mayonnaise or pepper or salt that we sprinkle onto something after it’s already made or after it’s been prepared. Social justice is really a central ingredient that’s baked into the process. It’s our thinking that informs what we do and how we do it.

Follow Dr. Barrett | Twitter: @_charlesbarrett | Instagram: @charlesabarrett

InspirED Video Gallery

Text of Blog Post is the Full Video Transcript
CC Version: https://youtu.be/ij8aVKzKgI0
Video with Audio Description Coming Soon!

Each week, the InspirED Virtual Learning Series Zoomcast brings you strategies, resources, and practical advice to help navigate this unique time in learning.

But…maybe 4 p.m. on Thursday, doesn’t always exactly work for you.

Take a breath! Don’t worry…We’ve got you covered!

The InspirEd Video Gallery features all of the previous sessions on-demand, and it’s updated weekly so you can access the series when it’s convenient for you!

Catch up on sessions you may have missed. Share in the learning by rewatching sessions with co-workers or family. Access resources specific to each topic. And earn professional development credit.

It’s all in the InspirED video gallery at ocali.org. And the best part is…you’re in control!

Now, doesn’t that feel good?

Be informed. Be empowered. Be InspirED!

Assistive Technology: Matching a Person’s Needs with AT Features

logo for Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials Center at OCALI

According to the World Health Organization, assistive technology (AT) is defined as products whose “primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence to facilitate participation and to enhance overall well-being. They can also help prevent impairments and secondary health conditions.”

The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 describes an AT device as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” The Tech Act also describes an AT service as “any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device.”

Given the goal of increased independence for people with developmental disabilities and the demonstrated impact that assistive technology solutions can have on facilitating that independence, it is important for persons with disabilities, families, service coordinators, and others to have a basic understanding of and an appreciation for the use of AT and other accommodation solutions. 

The AT Continuum
It is important to keep in mind that AT is not concerned with the remediation of a disability, but with overcoming access and performance barriers in ways that help people with disabilities complete desired tasks. Self-help, employment, socialization, inclusion, and community living can be made more accessible using AT.

Without technology that promotes access, connectivity, and community participation, people with developmental disabilities may not be able to receive services in the same way as people without disabilities. Because AT is used to overcome barriers to participation, AT devices are not categorized by disability type, but by the task and functional capabilities that are supported. It should be noted that some AT devices are simple and readily available in the marketplace. Others are more complicated and require electricity, electronics, and other technology supports.

Person-centered Planning
When person-centered planning is used to develop an individual’s adult’s Individual Service Plan (ISP), the information collected can be directly applied to AT assessments. ISPs identify an person’s adult’s goals and next-steps, and these can be applied to finding AT to help the individual accomplish them. Any AT assessment consists of four basic steps: 

  1. Frame the question to ask, “What, specifically, does the person want to do?”
  2. Clarify strengths and obstacles to accomplishing this goal or activity.
  3. Generate solutions and try AT tools and strategies. 
  4. Select and document the AT tool/system in an ISP.

Person-centered planning can guide a team as they begin to explore ways that AT can help an individual accomplish ISP goals.

A Framework to Guide the AT Assessment Process
Once an individual and their support team have set goals for increased independence and/or reduced support in a specific area, they will also begin to look more deeply into the person’s strengths and barriers related to this area. One commonly used strategy for guiding a team’s AT discussions related to a person’s use of AT, is the use of the SETT Framework.

The SETT Framework is based on the idea that, in order to identify an appropriate system of AT devices and strategies needed for a person to make progress toward goals, collaborative teams that include the person, family or caregivers, and selected professionals must first develop a shared understanding of the individual’s strengths and barriers. This understanding includes the customary environments in which the person will participate and the tasks that the person needs to be able to do, or learn to do, more independently and with less support. 

SETT was originally developed for AT processes in schools and it is an acronym for Student, Environments, Tasks, and Tools. Since it was developed, the ideas and principles of the SETT Framework have been used in a wide variety of other settings. SETT can easily be used during AT discussions by ISP teams for adults. When SETT is used in this way, the S represents Self instead of Student. The questioning approach inherent in using the SETT Framework provides a starting point for helpful conversations about AT devices and services.

Importance of a Clearly Defined Process
Using SETT (or a similar framework) as a guide for discussions about AT can be important for the eventual integration of AT into a person’s life. A clearly defined process can keep the team from going off on tangents exploring possible AT solutions that do not fit the reality of the person’s needs, abilities, or environment. It can counteract the tendency to start working on misidentified problems based on unconfirmed assumptions about the person’s skills or abilities. It can help the team remain focused and stay on track. Using a systematic approach based on effective communication strategies can be reassuring to the person, the support team, and advocates. 

Although everyone who participates on an ISP/support team is an advocate for the person’s progress, there are often varied opinions on how to support that progress. Multiple perspectives are vital, but the use of a structure or framework to help guide discussions and develop consensus can be valuable during an AT assessment.

New Modules to Support the Assessment Process and Independent Living
The Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI recently launched a series of Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) to support the assessment process and independent living for adults. These free modules, along with many others, guide users through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, and more. Fee-based professional development certificates and graduate credit hours are available. Check out these new modules designed for adults, along with the complete module list:

  • AT Assessment Strategies for Adults: Part I
  • AT Assessment Strategies for Adults: Part II
  • AAC Assessment: Adults with DD
  • Assistive and Smart Home Technology for Independent Living

Matching a Person’s Needs with AT Features
An important part of the AT assessment process is matching a person’s needs with AT features. SIFTS is a quick and easy web-based survey tool developed to support decision-making teams who need assistance in matching a person’s needs and strengths to AT features. Questions about a person’s needs and abilities are presented and the answers provided lead to suggestions of specific AT features for the identified domain. The list of AT features has embedded text, picture, and video supports to assist teams in building their knowledge of AT, as well as their capacity to implement AT assessments.

To learn more about assistive technology and supporting resources, visit https://ataem.org/.

What’s New at OCALI

The Journey Webinar Series: 2021 Dates
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. 

Visit the archive of previously aired webinars and register for upcoming sessions.

New Adult Domains Added to SIFTS
The AT&AEM Center at OCALI recently launched a series of SIFTS specifically for adults in need of assistive technology (AT). SIFTS is a web-based tool designed to guide AT decision-making teams in matching a person’s needs with AT features. From children to adults, SIFTS can be used by parents, students, consumers, and professionals serving people with disabilities. Explore SIFTS and check out our first adult domains around Communication and Physical Access surveys at https://sifts.ocali.org/. Watch for more adults SIFTS to come.

Updates from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities

OCALI NOW | Issue 24 • January 2021

Be InspirED in the New Year:
Free Professional Learning Opportunities to Support Successful Engagement of Diverse Learnings in Remote Learning Environments

The second half of the 2020-2021 school year is officially underway and many Ohio school districts continue to remain in remote learning environments. While remote learning isn’t new for most, there are still things to learn about how to improve access for all learners, strengthen student engagement, and more.

In September 2020, OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, launched the InspirED Virtual Learning Series. The vision for this virtual learning series has been to fill a need and help educators, administrators, and families find the information and resources they need to support learning and successful outcomes for their students or children during a very unique time of learning.

The learning series consists of Zoomcast sessions or recorded, facilitated conversations that are approximately 30 minutes each. All content is focused on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking the users with appropriate resources and tools. Topics range from using accessible educational materials (AEM) to developing a growth mindset to planning for learners who are deaf or hard of hearing, supporting multicultural families of children with disabilities, supporting PBIS in virtual environments, and more. What participants have had to say:

“I enjoyed these short, focused presentations and can easily share them with staff.”

“I thought this was nicely organized. I enjoyed receiving information from various professionals, rather than just hearing one opinion.”

“This was very informational, even as an instructional assistant. I can have a better outlook now on how to help the children in the areas they need help in.”

“Great video series. Looking forward to seeing more.”

Did 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.

Need professional development hours?
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?

What’s coming up?

Check out these upcoming sessions for January and February:

  • January 21: Online Instruction Based on Communication Mode
  • January 28: Why Checklists, Especially Now When the World is Up-Side Down
  • February 4: Maximizing Accessibility and Learning with Slide Presentations
  • February 11: Ready, Set, Action! Simple Strategies to Support Learning, Build Connections, and Offer Balance in an Ever-Changing World
  • February 18: Surviving the Pandemic with PBIS
  • February 25: Coming soon

The BEST Version of YOU in the New Year: Everyday Tips to Promote Self-Care

Unpredictability, flexibility, and uncertainty have all been part of our personal and professional lives since the pandemic hit last spring. With all of these changes to our daily lives, routines, and activities, maintaining a balanced life and taking care of yourself, while taking care of others in your care, might continue to seem out-of-reach. And trust us, you’re certainly not alone. However, being at YOUR best is important for you and those in your care. This means giving attention to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As we head into the New Year, let’s look at four simple tips that anyone can use and do every day to promote better self-care.

1. Hydrate

This may sound easy and familiar, but it still might be a challenge to do daily. Drinking plenty of water regulates the body, prevents fatigue, and promotes clear thinking. And, with all that many of us are juggling right now, having better concentration and focus are definitely needed. The common belief is that you should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Easier said than done, right? If you struggle with drinking water during your day, here are a few things to consider. Find a fun, reusable water bottle. Add natural flavor, such as sliced lemons, oranges or cucumbers. Use a tracking app or create your own tracking sheet. No matter what approach you try, adequate water intake is essential to your well-being.

2. Music Matters

For those days when you are feeling exhausted, anxious or overwhelmed, consider tuning out the world and turning up some music. Research confirms that music can be effective for relaxation and stress management. Listening to upbeat music can make you feel more positive about life, while a slower tempo can offer a more soothing, relaxing option to release daily stress. Consider creating a self-care playlist with a variety of songs – a few upbeat, a couple slower-paced, and, of course, don’t forget a few of your favorites, especially those you love to sing-along with!

3. Breathe

When moments of stress and anxiety start to build, introducing breathing techniques can help balance your energy, refocus your thoughts, and provide relaxation. There are a few different breathing practices to explore. Here one simple one that uses a shape to guide you. Start by imagining a square. Each step in this breathing practice is a corner of the square. As you count to four with each step, move from one corner to the next. Start at the top left corner and inhale for the count of four, then hold for the count of four, and exhale for the count of four and hold for the count of four. Repeat these steps a few times to calm your mind and body. Want to try a few other breathing techniques, check out the breathing cards in the Autism Center’s Resource Gallery.

4. Recognize Your Feelings

It’s important to recognize your feelings and to know that those feelings are ok. Go easy on yourself. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head or things just break down – send positive vibes to yourself – I believe in you! You got this! You are beautiful! Also, take a moment to focus on the positives – the little things that brought a smile to your face each day – maybe it was making your child laugh, capturing the attention of a student who has been struggling with remote learning, or successfully launching your first Zoom meeting. Create a weekly positive vibes journal, jot down one thing each day. At the end of the week take a minute to reflect and celebrate these moments!

This content is also available in video format in a previously aired episode of #HereToHelp.

What’s New at OCALI

The Journey Webinar Series: 2021 Dates
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. 

Visit the archive of previously aired webinars and register for upcoming sessions.

Learning Media Assessment (LMA): An Introduction
A Free Webinar: January 27, 1-2 p.m.
As educators continue to navigate this pandemic, particularly in remote learning environments, understanding students’ individualized needs is an important component of the learning process. For students who are blind or visually impaired, it is even more important to understand how they receive information for learning. This introductory, one-hour webinar is designed to teach the basics of a learning media assessment, why it matters, the process, and resources to support teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs), families, administrators, related service providers, and general educators. Learn more and register: https://deafandblindoutreach.org/meetings-events.

Ask Abbey: Developing Literacy Skills for Learners Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
A Free, Interactive Learning Series: February 3, 10, & 17, 4 p.m.
This interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies to increase auditory skills, visual language skills, and reading and writing print for learners who are deaf or hard of hearing. 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. A certificate of completion is available after completing the series. Join us for one or all three. Learn more at https://deafandblindoutreach.org/meetings-events.

New Adult Domains Added to SIFTS
The AT&AEM Center at OCALI recently launched a series of SIFTS specifically for adults in need of assistive technology (AT). SIFTS is a web-based tool designed to guide AT decision-making teams in matching a person’s needs with AT features. From children to adults, SIFTS can be used by parents, students, consumers, and professionals serving people with disabilities. Explore SIFTS and check out our first adult domains around Communication and Physical Access surveys at https://sifts.ocali.org/. Watch for more adults SIFTS to come.

Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council Seeks Public Comment on 2022-2026 Five Year State Plan
The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council) is seeking public comment on its Five-Year State Plan that will take effect from 2022-2026. Review and provide your feedback on the Five Year Plan here: https://ddc.ohio.gov/state-plan-comments.

Resources from Our Partner, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD)

OCALI NOW | Issue 23 • November + December 2020

Photo of Shawn Henry, A message from our executive director (animated text)

2020: A Year of Gratitude, Grit, and Greatness
(Including Some Grief and Groaning Along the Way)

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI

I don’t think I would be alone in saying that most of us are ready to tie a bow on 2020. From experiencing a global pandemic to political and social justice unrest, and learning how to “Zoom,” social distance, and work and learn from home, this year was a year of unprecedented change and uncertainty. What everyone quickly learned was that life became different because our world became different—personally and professionally.

As I reflect back on the year, there are three words that come to mind—gratitude, grit, and greatness.

Gratitude

In the face of so much uncertainty, I believe the antidote is gratitude. But, expressing gratitude is something we have to continuously practice to perfect. Our thoughts can very easily turn to all of the challenges we’ve faced, particularly in a year like this. It seems everywhere we turn, there is another negative news story, another barrier to success, another roadblock in our way. So, at a time when it is so easy to have an attitude of, “Are you kidding me? Not another problem!,” we must choose to have an attitude of gratitude.

I am grateful to work with a team of professionals who are committed to a mission. I am grateful for our many partners in education, technology, healthcare, business and community, policy, and government. I am grateful that we are living through a time in history that we will someday tell stories about, that our grandchildren or great nieces and nephews or other children in our lives will ask us about. It’s not an easy time by any means, but it is definitely a historical time—and we need to appreciate that.

We must choose to find the things to be thankful for. And we must choose to express that gratitude to those who have supported us along the way.

Grit

While many things were constantly changing around us, one thing remained constant for our team—and that was OCALI’s unwavering commitment to inspire change and promote access for people with disabilities. Supporting our community and bringing hope and inspiration to the people we serve, became more important than ever. We just had to rethink how to deliver on that mission.

I have never been more proud to serve our staff and to witness their hard work, dedication, innovation, and passion for serving people with disabilities and our collective community. Despite being physically separated and challenged to think big and outside of the box, our team found new ways to keep our important work moving forward—always laser focused on ensuring educators, professional, and families had access to accessible materials, online learning, and other resources during the pandemic. I can honestly say that some of our best and most creative and impactful work happened this year.

I recently came across this quote from former NFL player, Jerry Rice, and I think it summarizes how grit and perseverance contribute to moving forward—particularly when faced with adversity: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

Greatness

Greatness is defined as the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent. Greatness is also about making an impact and serving others with our passion, talents, and skills. When I think about each member of our team at OCALI, I see greatness all around me. I see people working and serving beyond themselves. I see countless hours and enormous amounts of energy spent ensuring that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them have what they need, particularly during this unique time. I see barriers and adversity being turned into advantages and opportunities.

Throughout the year, it would have been easy to fall victim to our circumstances. And if I’m being honest, it’s not always easy to choose the right mindset. But, once we realize that we have a choice when faced with adversity, we quickly learn that we are in control. Achieving greatness is not limited to who you are, what you do, where you live, or how you grew up. Anyone can do great things.

Grief and Groaning

While I try to remain hopeful and optimistic, I would be remiss to think that we haven’t experienced some grief and groaning along the way this year—myself included. Whether that be from home schooling our children or not being able to play sports or participate in extra-curricular activities, or being quarantined because of the virus, our lives have been inconvenienced in many ways. But these inconveniences pale in comparison to the grief that many of us have felt—grieving the loss of family members or friends who have succumbed to this dreadful virus. Our hearts ache for those who have lost loved ones and we want you to know that we are here for you. THIS COMMUNITY is here for you.

Looking Ahead

The roller coaster ride of 2020 has certainly had its ups and downs and twists and turns. And while I am so proud of our staff and partners and everything we have accomplished this year, we are far from where we want to be, which means there’s more work to be done. That’s why we will continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling. We will continue to work together with our partners because we know that we cannot do it alone. When we collaborate, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that expand our thinking, practices, and work. And, ultimately, our impact.

As we prepare to tie a bow on this year and this unique time in history, remember: Be grateful and grind like no one else. Take time to grieve and groan as you need to—we’re all human.

So long 2020. Great things await!

OCALICON 2020 featuring the Inclusive Leadership Institute (Inclusive replaces "Special" which has been crossed out by a red line)

Making the Switch:
How OCALICON Transitioned from an In-Person to a Virtual Event

Like most events in 2020, OCALI made the decision to transition OCALICON from a face-to-face event to a completely virtual event.

While the format would be different, the conference planning team was committed to designing the same high-quality, best-in-class professional learning event that included the fun, creative, and collaborative energy that people had come to expect.

The team knew things would be different because our world is different. But “different” opened the door for new ideas and new ways of doing things. “Different” presented the team with “opportunities”—opportunities to think big and outside of the box.

Hear from the OCALICONLINE planning team and feedback from attendees, as they share about this year’s conference experience, including some funny stories, touching moments, lessons learned, and tips for others planning virtual events.

What were you most nervous about in making the transition from an in-person event to a virtual event?

Are we allowed to say ‘everything’? There was so much we were nervous about because there were so many unknowns. Initially, there were nerves about whether we were even making the right call to transition to online-only. We made a decision in May about an event in November, and some wondered if that was premature. Fortunately, time proved that right because the highest number of COVID cases in Ohio to that point hit the very week of the conference. But after the decision was made, implementation questions took center stage. Things like: How do we project attendance? How do our expenses change? How do we continue to create connections? What about exhibitors? Like the rest of the world, we were flying by the seat of our pants, making rapid-fire decisions and compressing our entire implementation process down to several months. But, we knew no matter how many questions and uncertainties we were being faced with, we had to figure out how to give this event our very best because educators, service providers, parents, and policy makers needed the content and expertise our staff, speakers and presenters provide.

As an organization committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities, how did you ensure accessibility needs were met in an online environment?

Accessibility is our top priority, not only as an organization but also within the context of OCALICON—it’s at the forefront of all that we do. There were several areas where accessibility played a significant role:

1)    Preparing presenters. In some ways, our presenters are an extension of our reputation as an event, which means if we expect everything we create as an organization to be accessible, then we should expect the same of our presenters. To prepare them, we coached them on making accessible presentations and handouts, explained the importance of describing what’s on their slides as a way to provide audio description for those who are blind or visually impaired, and instructed them on how to use Zoom chat in a way that was most helpful for those who are simultaneously using screen readers or watching a sign language interpreter.

2)    Partnering with our event production company. We teamed up with Markey’s Rental and Staging, an event production company that we historically used for our in-person event to help us bring OCALICONLINE to life. We worked closely with them to make sure that every single session was captioned and that they were able to place interpreters within the necessary sessions, using picture-in-picture functionality. We spend a lot of time educating our contractors and partners on our needs and what it actually means to make something accessible. If they can develop a deeper sense of what we are actually trying to accomplish and really understand why it matters so much, then we find that they also get on board with our mission and commitment to meeting the needs and expectations of everyone involved. 

3)    Developing the online platform. We have an in-house team of all-star web developers, and OCALICONLINE would have been non-existent without them. They are well-versed in creating and designing accessible websites, evaluating everything from color contrast to alt text in images to font sizes to running tests with screen readers to make sure everything is being tagged and coded properly. When you have an event that is 100% online and your website is your primary means of access, if you have people who can’t navigate it or it’s not user-friendly, you’ve lost them. The people we serve are too important to us for us to let that happen.  

Your conference tagline is, “Welcome to the community. There’s a place for you here.” How did you maintain that sense of hospitality and community in a virtual setting?

One of the questions we began asking ourselves almost immediately after making the decision to flip the format was, “How can we still create a tangible experience in a completely virtual environment?” That’s where the idea of creating a hospitality kit sprang forth. We decided we would create a custom-curated, locally-sourced thank-you box for all of our presenters, and an abbreviated version of that for all of our general attendees. We knew we were asking A LOT from our presenters this year, and we wanted to make sure they knew how grateful we were and that we cared about them. We also wanted our attendees to feel valued, so we created a fun little surprise that we sent to them through the mail – which also helped create buzz leading up to the event. We sincerely care about every attendee that participates in OCALICON, and we wanted people to know that and be able to hold something in their hands that was a tangible expression of our sincere gratitude and appreciation. Especially in 2020.

Once we had put something tangible in their hands, during the live event, we wanted to provide them with direct connections to our staff. We hosted OCALI Central, which was an all-day Zoom meeting managed by our staff. Staff members floated in and out all day, facilitating conversations and connecting with attendees around any questions they might have. People want to know there is a real person on the other end of the computer or the phone, so we place a high value on putting our attendees in direct contact with our staff and experts. As an organization, we want to be in the trenches as much as possible with the people we serve. So any opportunity where we can connect and chat with the community, we’re going to do it. We crave the networking and interaction just as much as our attendees!

Give us some ‘behind the scenes’ scoop. What is something unexpected that happened during the event that caught you by surprise?

From an event production standpoint, there was one moment when Markey’s lost power and internet connection, which caused most of our sessions to stall out for a bit and our own hearts to skip a beat. Markey’s had teams in Louisville, Indianapolis, and Columbus, but the main hub was in Indy. Their building lost power, and since they were the source for streaming all of our sessions, if they went down, it was going to cause some major ripples. Thankfully, the outage was short-lived and most attendees likely weren’t even aware. We worked through what seemed like a hundred-and-one contingencies for scenarios like that, but it just goes to show that you can’t predict them all!

From an event design standpoint, we were all a bit surprised at how well the networking sessions went. We knew networking was one of the hallmarks of the in-person event, but how well was that going to translate to the online version? Would people even participate or say anything? We ended up hosting 111 separate networking sessions over the course of 2.5 days, and we as the conference planning team were floored by the level of interaction and engagement in those sessions.

Last, but certainly not least, was seeing Temple Grandin present from what appeared to be her kitchen table. Besides a wonderfully engaging, enlightening, and humorous keynote session, you also got a little peek into Dr. Grandin’s personal life. She has a poster of the Hubble Telescope and a cow on her refrigerator! That was a special treat that you wouldn’t get in the in-person event. I think everyone who attended will remember that forever because you can’t necessarily duplicate candid and intimate moments like that in-person.

What advice or tips do you have for others who are considering planning a virtual event in 2021?

A primary piece of advice would be that you’ll need to build in a lot of preparation and rehearsal time. In many ways, the virtual event is more like broadcasting, so it’s important to think and prepare like a broadcaster. You need to be sure to stay on script and on schedule. Testing is also important – you don’t want to wait to go live the day of the event and just hope it all works out. Can your system or platform handle hundreds, if not thousands, of simultaneous users? What’s your backup plan if something goes down? We worked closely with our web development team to discuss, test, and run simulations as part of our event preparations.

Beyond that, the list of tips and advice could be endless, but maybe the best advice is actually to ignore everyone else’s tips and advice. If you know your attendees and you know your event, then you’re the only one who is going to know best how to provide what they need in the format they need. The people you serve are the people you need to listen to the most, even more so than any sort of industry expert.  There was a heightened sense of information overload right from the onset of the pandemic, with industry experts specifically within the event and hospitality industries doling out all their predictions, advice and “10 Steps to a Better Virtual Event,” which, in some ways, aren’t all that helpful, and sometimes just got flat out overwhelming. The bottom line is that we marshaled the skills and assets we knew we had, acquired the ones we didn’t, and dove into the deep end of the pool, hoping that someday we’d be able to fill our lungs with air again. 

What Attendees Had to Say

“I thought the planning committee did an excellent job!  I’ve participated in quite a few conferences since all the virtual stuff has been happening and OCALICONLINE has been the absolute best one so far. I am so impressed by the quality of the setup, ease of access, and variety of sessions.”

 “The online option was great for me. I am visually impaired so it created a great option for someone with anxiety related to transportation and navigating sessions.”

 “Despite the online nature of this year’s event, I really felt like a community was created and fostered. Thank you to all of the OCALI team for all of their hard work and dedication to pull this off!” 

 “This conference was extremely well run and exceeded my expectations for an online event. Having the networking sessions kept the personal and interactive touch in an online format. I also loved the variety in sessions and having the opportunity to catch missing sessions on demand is a definite perk!”

 “I absolutely loved attending OCALICONLINE 2020! Thank you, everyone, for your hard work in organizing this iconic conference. To make this happen in the middle of a pandemic was a fantastic feat. I have nothing but compliments for the presenters, and loved the meet and greets I attended. Very well done.” 

To check out the program from this year’s event and to watch for details on OCALICON 2021, visit https://ocalicon.org.

What’s New at OCALI

InspirED Virtual Learning Series from OCALI

InspirED Virtual Learning Series: January Sessions
As we continue to watch the COVID-19 pandemic evolve in Ohio, one thing we know for sure—the 2020-2021 school year looks different—for students, families, teachers, and administrators. With a shared vision for promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities, OCALI and the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children are partnering together to launch InspirED. This free virtual learning series is designed to help educators, administrators, and families find the information and resources they need to support learning and successful outcomes for their students or children during a very unique time of learning. Check out our upcoming sessions, which air on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. You can also catch previously aired sessions in our video archive. Learners have the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. 

Mark your calendar for these upcoming sessions:

  • January 7: Transition Planning
  • January 14: Strategies to Support Early Learning and Well-being in Changing Times
  • January 21: Online Instruction Based on Communication Mode
  • January 28: Why Checklists: Especially Now When the World is Upside Down

Learn more and register.

The Journey A Free Webinar Series from the Lifespan Transition Center at OCALI

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series, 2021 Dates
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, four-part webinar series, called The Journey, designed to support topics, such as:

  • Creating structure,
  • Improving self-determination,
  • Planning for transition, and
  • Supporting literacy.

Visit the archive of previously aired webinars, save the dates for new 2021 sessions.

New AIM and ATIM Courses

Check out these new Autism Internet Modules and Assistive Technology Internet Modules and earn grad credit. Certifications of completion also available.

AIM: Motor Differences: Learn about the three 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.

AIM: Girls on the Spectrum: Learn strategies to support girls on the spectrum during their school years, risks of incorrect or missed diagnoses, the benefits and challenges of ‘camouflaging,’ and strategies to improve outcomes.

ATIM: ATIM is designed to provide high-quality information and professional development on assistive technology (AT) for educators, professionals, families, persons with disabilities, and others. Explore modules covering a variety of topics.

[Video] Barb and Ron having a lighthearted conversation. “Same great content, [sort of] new channel! 10 minutes with Barb & Ron – New Episodes + Full Archive. NOW AVAILABLE AT OCALI!”

Subscribe at YouTube.com/OCALIofficial

OCALI NOW | Issue 22 | October 2020

OCALICONLINE 2020: We’re Saving You a Front Row Seat

By now, we’re sure you know that OCALICON, the nation’s premier autism and disabilities conference, is transitioning to a completely virtual experience this year.

OCALICONLINE 2020 will be the same great event you know and love, simply in an online format. This transition has created a number of changes—for our planning team, and our participants, attendees, exhibitors, volunteers, and presenters. 

For those already registered or those thinking about registering soon (hint, hint: our early bird rate ends Friday, October 16), we thought you might have some questions about what to expect this year.

  1. Are you offering on-demand sessions?
    Yes! Most breakout sessions will be recorded and available following the conference. Attendees must register by November 9 in order to gain access to the live event and/or the on-demand content. Access to the live event on November 11-13 and on-demand content will not be available for purchase after November 9. Please refer to the Schedule-at-a-Glance to view which sessions will be available on-demand. On-demand content will be available through the first week of January 2021.
  2. Will there be opportunities to connect with people in real time?
    Yes! We know how much OCALICON participants look forward to meeting each other every year, and recognize the power of connecting and engaging with presenters, other attendees, OCALI staff, and others while at the conference. That’s why we also have a number of opportunities to connect with people in real time. From dedicated times for networking sessions, presenter meet-n-greets, and connecting with OCALI staff in our virtual “OCALI Central” hub, there will be lots of opportunities for real time, real person engagement. Most breakout sessions will also include a live chat option, which gives you the opportunity to interface directly with presenters, ask your questions, and share your own thoughts and experiences.
  3. With content being offered online, how will you ensure that it’s accessible?
    As an organization committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities, accessibility is at the very top of our priority list. We want to make sure that everyone has the ability to fully attend and participate in OCALICONLINE! For starters, all registrants can request specific accommodations and/or supports through the designated field on the registration form – such as an ASL interpreter. Our conference planning team and OCALI staff have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure our content and technology platforms, as well as the entire design of the event are accessible. We’re also collaborating with presenters to ensure their presentations are both engaging and accessible. For example, we work with presenters to help them understand the importance of audio description to help attendees who are blind or visually impaired understand any presented visual content – like a slide or infographic. This could include reading the words on a slide or describing the details or information shown in an infographic. Captions will also be provided for all breakout sessions, which can help support attendees who are deaf/hard of hearing, as well as those who may not be a native English language speaker or who might be watching in a sound-sensitive environment. Designing with inclusion in mind benefits everyone!  
  4. Will I be able to earn credit/CEUs?
    Yes! We are pleased to be able to offer an opportunity for earning continuing education credits and/or graduate credit through a variety of professional organizations and licensing boards. Graduate credit is available through Ashland University and Kent State University for an additional fee. CEU applications are currently being submitted for OCALICONLINE. Approved agencies and hours will be posted as they are approved.
  5. Once I register, how do I access the live event?
    You will login to your OCALI Pass account in order to access the conference. Please log in to your account in advance of the conference to ensure you know your password and are ready to go first thing on November 11! Sessions will be provided through the Zoom platform, however, you do not need a Zoom account or app to access OCALICONLINE sessions.

For additional questions, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Our team views these changes as opportunities to think outside of the box, and we’ve had a lot of fun thinking about new ways to make OCALICONLINE engaging, relevant, and meaningful. While many things have changed (and continue to change), our commitment to deliver a world-class learning experience that inspires change and promotes access to opportunities for people with disabilities remains the same.

We hope you’ll join us this year on November 11-13, 2020.

Welcome to the community. There’s a place for you here.

Learn more and register now! Hurry! Early Bird Registration closes Friday, October 16!

Join Us for a Free Webinar With Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism and Employment First Task Force

Friday, October 23 from 11 a.m. -12 p.m.

This month marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Over half of young adults with autism are unemployed and unrolled in higher education in the two years after high school—this is lower than any other disability group. And, by the age of 25, more than 50 percent of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have never obtained paid employment.

Join Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism and Employment First Task Force to discuss this important topic. Hear from Chloe Rothschild, autism advocate, writer, and presenter about her own transition and employment experiences, as well as members of the DeWine administration on the ways they are partnering to improve employment outcomes for Ohioans with autism.

Panelists include:

  • Chloe Rothschild, advocate, writer, presenter
  • Kevin Miller, Director, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities
  • Kim Hauck, Deputy Director, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities
  • Paolo DeMaria, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education
  • Stephanie Siddens, Senior Executive Director, Ohio Department of Education

The webinar takes place Friday, October 23 from 11 a.m. -12 p.m. and is facilitated by OCALI’s Office of Policy. Register now.

For additional resources on transition planning and provider training, visit Ohio’s Employment First website

What’s New at OCALI

InspirED Virtual Learning Series: October Sessions
In mid-September, OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children launched the InspirED Virtual Learning Series. This free professional learning series is designed to fill a need and help educators, administrators, and families find the information and resources they need to support learning and successful outcomes for their students or children during a very unique time of learning.

The learning series features Zoomcast sessions or recorded, facilitated conversations that are approximately 30 minutes each. All content is focused on increasing the successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking users with appropriate resources and tools. Learners have the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each learning session.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming sessions:

  • October 15: Myth Busting Transition Assessment
  • October 22: Top 10 Tips to Develop a Growth Mindset in a Virtual World
  • October 29: Access in a Virtual Environment: Proactive Planning to Support Effective Communication for Learners Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Learn more and register.

We’re Open: OCALI’s Lending Library
OCALI’s Lending Library is available for online browsing and order requests with no-contact delivery. The OCALI Lending Library is available to any person over the age of 18 residing or working in the state of Ohio. To create a Lending Library account, please submit your information using the registration form. Once your application has been processed and your account has been established, we will notify you via email. Browse our resources.

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 virtually for the 2020–2021 school year. This introductory training series, with 10 two-hour sessions (November 2020–March 2021) is designed for school-based evaluation teams that want to learn about the process for educational identification of students with ASD. Learn more and register.

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series
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, four-part webinar series, called The Journey, designed to support topics, such as:

  • Creating structure,
  • Improving self-determination,
  • Planning for transition, and
  • Supporting literacy.

 The webinars highlight different websites, videos, printable documents, and other resources. Additional webinars are being planned, so save the dates for the following:

  • October 26, 2:30-3 p.m.: Transition Assessment and Transition Planning for Youth with Lifelong Needs
  • November 30, 2:30-3 p.m.: Self-Determination and Youth with Complex Support Needs