OCALI NOW | Issue 37 • April 2022

Autism Acceptance Month Stamp Logo - What is Your Tried & True
Autism Acceptance Month – What is Your Tried & True?

Celebrating Autism Acceptance Month

Since 2008, April has been recognized as Autism Awareness Month in Ohio. The intent was designed to bring awareness to autism and to encourage and empower individuals with autism in Ohio and their families.  

Last year, Governor DeWine signed a proclamation to recognize April as Autism Acceptance Month, which states, “the purpose of Autism Acceptance Month in Ohio is to spread awareness, foster acceptance, and identify the public policy improvements needed for people with autism to live fully across all areas of life.” 

The transition from the word awareness to acceptance may not seem like a big deal. But, words matter and the shift to acceptance accounts for accommodating the feelings of others and accepting and celebrating our differences. Acceptance requires taking conscious action and shifting from not only seeing and recognizing that autism exists, but seeking to listen and learn, and then adapting our perspectives and behaviors. Just being aware of autism facts and information will not necessarily lead to acceptance or create inclusive and supportive environments in our schools, communities, and relationships. However, by intentionally moving toward acceptance, we can inspire confidence and a vision for possibilities that motivate us to continue to ensure that people with disabilities can live their best lives for their whole lives. 

Acceptance is also the first step toward inclusion. Inclusion then leads to belonging, which is essential to truly connecting and relating to others. Unfortunately, acceptance and belonging are often the biggest barriers to inclusion that people with autism and their families encounter. At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been working hard to break down traditional barriers for people with autism and other disabilities and explore things that others may not have yet seen as possible. While we have made significant progress, we have more work to do and we continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling. Our words and work must then translate into action. 

The good news is that we don’t have to do this alone. As leaders and practitioners, autistic and disabled people, parents, family members, neighbors, and community members, we ALL play a role in inspiring the change we wish to see.  

Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to seek out opportunities that promote acceptance—for yourself and within your own communities. Following are a few simple ideas to get started: 

Learn more. Explore information and resources about autism. A few websites to check out: 

The Autism Center at OCALI 
The Autism Society of Ohio 
Interagency Work Group on Autism 

Show support. Many organizations are hosting Autism Acceptance Month social media campaigns. You can easily show your support by reviewing and sharing the information and using designated social media tags. This month, OCALI is using the hashtags #TriedAndTrue and #AutismAcceptance as part of a month-long email and social media campaign. Each week, we are featuring tips and strategies that families, educators, professionals, and people with autism have found to be TRIED & TRUE in their lives.  
 
Tried & True means: Something that has proven in the past to be effective or reliable. If you have a Tried and True that you would like to share, please send it to us so we can share it through our social media channels, website, newsletters, etc. 

Connect with others. Acceptance is an ‘everyone’ conversation and we all have the power and ability to support acceptance. Simply showing that you’re genuinely open and interested in learning more about autism, particularly from autistic people or their family members goes a long way. 

Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the unique strengths, challenges, and experiences of each person with autism and their families. Rather than attempting to paint with a broad brush based on a shared label or diagnosis, instead we encourage everyone to thoughtfully engage and inspire. Have meaningful conversations about what is most supportive for each person, in each setting in that moment, and then do those things! By working together to ensure that everyone is supported, accepted, and included, that’s what inspiring change is about.  


Attend OCALICONLINE for Free - Register between April 18-30
Attend for FREE! Register between April 18-30 to attend OCALICONLINE 2022

This Fall, Attend OCALICONLINE—For Free!  

OCALICONLINE returns for a Sweet 16th year, November 15-18, 2022. The premier autism and disabilities conference will once again convene thousands of professionals and parents for four days of learning, discovery, and idea and practice exchange. For the first time ever – and for a limited time – OCALICONLINE registration is free.   

“We want everyone to experience the tangible and transformative effects of inspiration into action,” said Shawn Henry, OCALI’s executive director. “And so everyone is invited to register for free April 18-30. Whether you’re a parent, professional, self-advocate, or family member, don’t miss your chance to learn from national and international experts and network with your peers and colleagues from across the nation and around the world.”  

OCALICONLINE is held entirely online, which means attendees can join from anywhere in the world – the living room, the backyard, the classroom, the airport, the coffee shop, the carpool lane, or wherever. Last year, participants from 43 states and 8 countries participated, highlighting the fact that OCALICON truly does span across Ohio, the nation, and the world.    

With 300+ presenters and partners from around the world, learning sessions highlight content for every age and every milestone across the lifespan. From early childhood to school-age to adulthood, sessions feature the best-of-the-best in their areas of expertise to share research, best practices, and resources that support the lifelong needs of individuals with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them.  

Another OCALICONLINE benefit is the on-demand feature which allows attendees to watch or re-watch content at their own pace and at their own convenience. This option helps support flexible discovery, learning, and development by allowing attendees a chance to experience sessions they might otherwise miss during the live event. The session schedule and information will be posted later this summer. Additional conference details – including CEU and graduate credit information – is available at www.ocalicon.org.  

“Free registration to OCALICON is a golden, no-risk opportunity,” said Henry. “We want as many people as possible to attend. But you gotta hurry! The free registration window closes April 30!”  

Important Details:  

  • Free registration is available for a limited time only and is available only until April 30. Standard rates apply beginning May 1.  
  • Registration includes access to the live event and on-demand recordings.  
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and graduate credit will be available.  
  • You will know you have properly completed the registration process when you receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive a confirmation email, this should be a signal that you have missed a step. If you have any trouble with the process, reach out to the conference team at events@ocali.org.   
  • Help us spread the news! A promotional toolkit is available for you to use – just simply copy, paste, and post!  

Questions?  

Visit our FAQ page or contact the conference team at events@ocali.org.  


What’s New at OCALI

ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder Virtual Training Series - child with beaded toy in background
ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder – Virtual Training Series – Tuesdays in April at 3pm

Tuesdays, 3-4 p.m. in April: ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Make plans to join the Center for the Young Child at OCALI every Tuesday in April from 3-4 p.m. for a new series, ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you’re a professional working with families and young children at risk and/or suspected of ASD, this series is for you. Hosted in partnership with the Center for the Young Child at OCALI and Ohio Early Intervention, this series provides information, resources, and tools professionals can use to help identify autism earlier.

Compilation of four pictures of young children playing and smiling - Free Webinar for InspirED: The Earlier the Better! Recognizing Autism in Young Children
InspirED Free Webinar: The Earlier the Better! Recognizing Autism in Young Children

April 21, 4-4:30 p.m.: New InspirED Session 

The Earlier the Better: Recognizing Autism in Young Children  

The earlier young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are identified, the more opportunity early childhood professionals have to provide services and supports that will benefit children for a lifetime. Gain a deeper understanding of ASD diagnosis and educational eligibility determination, insight into differences in presentation of ASD in boys and girls, and considerations for making decisions about services and supports

Four young people looking at city skyline with text: The Journey: A free webinar series
The Journey: Free Webinar Series

April 25: The Journey Webinar Series  

Family engagement must be intentional and inclusive. Learn about myths of hard-to-reach families and communication tools to organize and improve your school-home communications in this new webinar. 

Summer Braille Courses – Graduate Level Credit Available

Summer Braille Courses 

Receive FREE graduate credit this summer through Ashland University and the BEST Grant with these summer braille courses

Lending Library Logo of rainbow colored book pages opening
OCALI’s Lending Library

OCALI’s Lending Library Maintenance

Starting April 14, OCALI’s Lending Library system will be updated. During this time, you can continue to browse the library catalog, but items will not be available for checkout until April 28.  

10 Minutes with Barb and Ron 50th Episode design with apples in background
10 Minutes with Barb and Ron celebrates their 50th Episode

50th Episode of 10 Minutes with Barb and Ron 

Celebrate the 50th episode of Barb and Ron with us! Congratulations to this fantastic team. Watch now online or check it on our OCALI YouTube channel.  

OCALI NOW | Issue 36 • March 2022

Girl using sign language next to an outline of the state of Ohio with text: Recognizing and Celebrating Deaf Education in Ohio
Girl using sign language

Recognizing and Celebrating Deaf Education in Ohio

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 awareness 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.  

Each year, Ohio Deaf History Month is celebrated from March 13–April 15, and allows us to look back at our past and reflect on how history has shaped our education in Ohio. This month came to be through the collaborative work of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the American Library Association (ALA), and was signed into Ohio law in 2017.  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. In early March 2022, NAD announced a shift in dates for National Deaf History Month, which will now be observed from April 1-April 30, effective this year.   

What We’ve Learned About Language Development  

When exploring language development, it’s important to identify what languages are being used and that there are many different modalities to express and receive language—speaking, signing, reading, writing, or drawing. Early communication skills and language development are strongly correlated.   

“When a child is born, there is a window of time up to age five or six, where children will be able to pick up language, so having the opportunity to pick up that language and have language acquisition at that time is really valuable,” shares Julie Stewart, ASL Specialist, Ohio School for the Deaf. “When we don’t do that, we would consider that language deprivation.”  

When students are able to focus on language, it creates a valuable connection, and it helps them with their expressive functional skills. It’s also important to understand that learning to read and decoding English and hearing spoken language are all different functions. For example, if a student speaks English, it does not necessarily mean that they can read English. That’s why it is necessary to have explicit instruction for all learners, and to understand that all of these skills are independent of each other. Simply put, access for every learner, in whatever format that takes, is essential.  

Not All Students Are the Same  

All Deaf and hard of hearing students are not the same. Sometimes, there are students who prefer to only communicate using a signed language, some who use a spoken language, and some who prefer a mix of both. Sometimes a student’s preference is determined by their environment.   

“I prefer to use American Sign Language, I can see the entire scenario of what’s happening around me and not be distracted by the noise that is in the background,” explains Stewart. “It’s often a very individualized preference.”  

Resources and Support Available in Ohio  

The need for mental health services for Ohio’s students has been on the rise, particularly since the pandemic, including Deaf and hard of hearing students.  

“Trained mental health services for Deaf learners are in high demand right now, and Ohio is building capacity for that need,” shares Jason Franklin, Director of Social Emotional Learning and Child Nutrition, Ohio School for the Deaf. “What we’re seeing is that what worked before is not the same. We need to be flexible and recognize that each child is an individual and may need different supports.”  

Parent mentorship has also been instrumental at the Ohio School for the Deaf and the Ohio State School for the Blind. Both schools coordinate with statewide parent mentors for training, which is designed to empower parents to feel confident and safe to ask any questions.   

If you are looking to be connected to resources in any area of your student’s development, learn more at Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness.  

Get the Details  

These are just a few of the topics explored in the recent InspirED Virtual Learning Series episode, Ohio Deaf History Month: Recognizing and Celebrating Deaf Education in Ohio. Explore Deaf culture by honoring Ohio’s contributions as we celebrate Ohio Deaf History Month.


Employment First 10 years Logo with fireworks graphics
Employment First 10 Year Anniversary

Happy 10th Anniversary, Employment First: Celebrating Every Person. Every Talent. Every Opportunity.

On March 19, 2012, Governor John Kasich officially launched Ohio’s Employment First Initiative to establish statewide collaboration and coordination for community employment to become the preferred outcome for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Employment First Taskforce is charged with expanding community employment opportunities by reducing barriers and aligning state policy. 

Community employment brings so many benefits—from greater independence and wealth building potential to improved self-esteem and personal satisfaction. And that’s just the beginning: Employers and co-workers benefit through more diversity and a broader range of capable employees available; while society at large benefits when all citizens are able to participate in and contribute to their communities in all the ways they can. 

“Over the years, through the work of Employment First and its partners, we have seen an intentional increase in raising expectations for community employment and more and more employers engaging, which has been wonderful,” shares Alex Corwin, program director for the Lifespan Transition Center at OCALI. “There are so many success stories of people with disabilities positively contributing to the community and the workforce, and we want nothing more but for that to continue to grow.” 

Shifting Expectations to Cultural Transformation 

Every person has abilities, skills, and talents to enrich the community and people around us. The Employment First Taskforce envisions a time when every working-age adult with developmental disabilities has opportunity to explore their career options and seek jobs that fit their skills and interests. 

This starts by shifting expectations. Young people with developmental disabilities learn about employment options and planning during their school years. Adults with developmental disabilities should have support teams that assist in learning more about how abilities and interests can match opportunities in with workplace. Every person should expect that community employment is the preferred outcome for working-age adults with developmental disabilities. 

Every agency, school, organization, and individual within Ohio’s developmental disabilities system plays a role by focusing on what everyone can do and providing the best supports and services to enable people to choose and succeed in community employment. We’re transforming to a system culture that creates opportunities and pathways for integration, independence, and full community participation. 

Supporting Successful Transition Planning 

The Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI works to equip communities to support the successful and unique transition of individuals with disabilities to ensure they can live their best lives for their whole lives. The Center does this by being agency-neutral, outcome-focused, and person-centered in offering resources, training, and technical assistance to create successful support systems that incorporate community living and employment. 

“We have partnered with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Employment First Taskforce over the years to create resources that support the transition process,” says Corwin. “By partnering together, along with other agencies, to discuss how to sequence services and supports or talk about best practices in a productive way, we are better able to support youth and adults with developmental disabilities, along with their families, service providers, and employers.” 

Since partnering with the Employment First initiative, the Lifespan Transitions Center has worked with local county boards of developmental disabilities, school districts, youth with disabilities, families, and other agency partners on various projects to promote best practices for transition from school to adulthood. These projects have led to the development of various resources and tools, which can be found on the Employment First website. Resources like the Vocabulary Crosswalk and Agency Navigation Tool, help families understand the language and vocabulary associated with transition, along with the services those partner agencies offer youth with disabilities. The Multi-Agency Planning Tools help agency partners like schools, county boards of developmental disabilities, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, and more plan together in a way that is efficient and seamless for the youth and family to plan and build toward their employment goals.  

“By helping transition-age youth and families explore careers and employment before school, we exponentially increase their chances to obtain community employment as adults and fully realize the Employment First vision,” shares Corwin.   

To learn more about resources you can use to celebrate Employment First’s anniversary, explore this kit with helpful resources: https://dodd.ohio.gov/about-us/communication/DODD-Kits/employment-first-kit

Source: Portions of this article were used from www.OhioEmploymentFirst.org    


What’s New at OCALI

The Journey logo and background features four young people looking at a city skyline
The Journey: A Free Webinar Series

March 28, 2:30 p.m.: Journey Webinar Series: Functional Behavior Assessment for Youth with Complex Needs – Beyond A-B-C

Youth with complex and intensive needs often present with distressed behaviors that are difficult to understand. A Functional Behavior Assessment or FBA is helpful to determine the root cause of these distressed behaviors, however, the assessment must take into multiple factors. Join us for a discussion of the type of FBA that goes below the surface and beyond the typical Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence model.   Resources to assist in this process will be introduced.

Introduction to Functional Listening & Vision Assessments webinar series April 6, 2022 10-11am and 12:30-1:30pm
Introduction to Functional Listening & Vision Assessments

NEW: April 6, 10-11 a.m. & 12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Introduction to Functional Listening and Vision Assessments 

When hearing or vision loss has been identified for a learner, the next important step is to look at how each learner uses their hearing and/or vision in the environments where they live, learn, and play. Join the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI on April 6 for a new webinar series, Introduction to Functional Listening & Vision Assessments.

ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Virtual Training Series April 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 3pm
ID Early for ASD Virtual Training Series

NEW: Tuesdays in April, 3-4 p.m.: ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder  

Make plans to join the Center for the Young Child at OCALI every Tuesday in April from 3-4pm for a new series, ID Early for Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you’re a professional working with families and young children at risk and/or suspected of ASD, this series is for you. Hosted in partnership with the Center for the Young Child at OCALI and Ohio Early Intervention, this series will provide information, resources, and tools professionals can use to help identify autism earlier.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series logo of computer with sun
InspirED Virtual Learning Series

NEW: April 21, 4-4:30 p.m.: New InspirED Session 
The Earlier the Better: Recognizing Autism in Young Children

The earlier young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are identified, the more opportunity early childhood professionals have to provide services and supports that will benefit children for a lifetime. Gain a deeper understanding of ASD diagnosis and educational eligibility determination, insight into differences in presentation of ASD in boys and girls, and considerations for making decisions about services and supports.

Myths & Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism; young children lying on floor looking up a camera
Myths & Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism

New: Myths and Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism 

Intended for district evaluation teams, but also helpful to families, community clinicians, and other partners, this document was created to address the common myths and misconceptions surrounding the educational identification of autism.

Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners
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.

OCALI NOW | Issue 35 • February 2022

Surrogate Parent for a Child with a Disability

Surrogate Parent for a Child with a Disability

Each student with a disability is granted the right to be represented by a parent regarding special education matters by federal and state special education laws. Some students do not have a “parent” to represent them in matters relating to identification, evaluation, and educational placement. Therefore, these students need a surrogate parent—someone acting as the parent on their behalf. A surrogate parent steps in and becomes a part of a team of educators and other professionals to ensure the student’s voice is heard, educational needs are met, and to support their success. The surrogate parent ensures the student has the same protections as all students eligible for special education services.  

The Role of a Surrogate Parent 

Jenny Keesee shares her experience about how she became a surrogate parent.  

“I have a friend who’s been a foster parent for over 30 years, and she asked me to attend an IEP meeting for a child who was in her temporary custody,” shares Keesee. “After I left that meeting, I really felt a desire to help, and I recognized this was a very vulnerable population. Although I couldn’t take a child into my home, being a surrogate parent seemed like a way I could help make an impact on a child’s life in such an important way.” 

Keesee has served as a surrogate parent for children ages 3 to 17, students in preschool, kindergarten through 12th grade, in public schools and in residential treatment facilities, and has represented children who have been moved hours away from their home, and those who continue to go to schools that they’ve always attended. 

“I hope that when I attend these meetings I treat every child with the same thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and concern as I would my own child,” shares Keesee. “I review educational evaluation reports and IEPs, and when I attend these meetings, I’m an active participant. I ask questions, I get clarification, and I hope that I’ve done my best with the information I have to ensure the child has opportunities for success in their education.” 

In many regions of Ohio, there’s a shortage of surrogate parents. Many children who are in need of surrogate parents are in foster care or are homeless youth and have experienced trauma related to being separated from their families or other adverse circumstances. It’s extremely important that these vulnerable children have a caring, concerned person to represent their interests throughout the evaluation and special education process. 

Is Serving as a Surrogate Parent Right For You?  
If becoming a surrogate parent sounds right for you, it is important to consider the following questions:  

  • Are you sincerely interested in children with disabilities?  
  • Are you willing to work with others for the benefit of the child? Having good communication skills and a collaborative spirit will make working with others easier. 
  • Do you have time to devote to getting to know the child and to attend multiple meetings? It can be very time consuming to be a surrogate parent. You will need time in your schedule to review education records and attend meetings. These meetings will typically be scheduled during the school day, so it’s important for you to have access during that time frame. 

New Training Available 
The online training, As a Surrogate Parent For a Child With a Disability, has recently been updated. The training includes 10.5 hours of self-paced content. Each module begins with a video presentation explaining key concepts and resources. That’s followed by activities to extend your learning. Then there are reflection questions for you to think about on your own and quizzes. Each module must be completed in order, but you can pause in your completion of those modules. After completing a module and passing the quiz at the end, the next module will be unlocked for you to access. Learn more at www.OhioSurrogateParent.org.  

“Please don’t rule out becoming a surrogate because you don’t have teaching experience or you don’t have experiences of being a parent of a child with a disability,” shares Keesee. “You don’t need special skills or experience. All you need is the desire in your heart to help a child.” 

Get the Details 

These are just a few of the topics explored in the recent InspirED Virtual Learning Series episode, Surrogate Parent for a Child With a Disability. Explore best practices, key concepts, and resources to increase knowledge, understanding, and skills to serve as or support a surrogate parent in Ohio, as well as learn how the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities and federal regulations apply to the rule. 


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

New Series Launching This Week

Ask Abbey & Friends: Word Recognition Toolkit for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners

Expanding off of the 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. 

Each 30-minute session will include simple tip and strategies, followed by live Q&A with Abbey Weaver, an itinerant teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Ohio and other ‘friends’ who are expert practitioners. The sessions are free, but registration is required. Certificates of completion are available for the series. Join us for one or all three. 

We recently connected with Angelica Gagliardi, Outreach Specialist for the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI and project lead, to find out more about this new series. 

Why was this series created? 
“The series was created as a way to share practical strategies and information with educators in a format that was quick and accessible to them.  We also wanted to introduce educators to the variety of strategies that can be used to help Deaf and Hard of Hearing learners access word recognition skills. Additionally, while the series was designed with Ohio educators in mind, people from all over the country will find useful strategies to incorporate and use right away.” 

Why should someone attend? 
“This series was tailored to the specific needs we were hearing from educators around reading instruction for Ohio’s DHH learners. We found experts in each topic to introduce the system and strategies to attendees and leave them with ways to learn more and grow their toolbox of supports for learners. The presenters are so knowledgeable and passionate and will leave those who attend feeling inspired to try something new.”  

What’s something that people may not know before attending, but will learn after? 
“Every learner that educators serve needs the right recipe of tools and points of access to support their success. I think those who attend will see how the systems and strategies in each session can be used in conjunction with one another to create a set of tools students can pull from as they read challenging text. Many times we feel we need to find ‘the key’ that will unlock the code for readers. This series may shed light on the need to find ‘the keys.’”  


What’s New at OCALI

Computer with screen that says We Are Hiring with OCALI logo on bottom
We are Hiring! Apply to become a Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coach

We’re Hiring!

Looking for a way to make an impact in the lives of young people, while growing a rewarding career? OCALI is hiring professionals with a passion for making a difference as Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coaches in NE Ohio.

wheelchair in office hallway
Healthcare Professionals Virtual Roundtable

March 8, 12 pm
Healthcare Professionals Virtual Roundtable: Improving Outcomes for People with Disabilities

People with disabilities experience consistent barriers to clinical care, preventative services, and good health. Join the Ohio Association of Health Plans, OCALI and an amazing lineup of speakers to build your confidence, skill and ability to improve access and outcomes for people with disabilities.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series computer and sun logo
InspirED Virtual Learning Series

March 17, 4 pm
Ohio Deaf History Month: Recognizing and Celebrating Deaf Education in Ohio 

Culture is defined as “customs, languages, arts, and social achievements of a nation, people, or other social group.” Explore Deaf culture by honoring Ohio’s contributions as we celebrate Deaf History Month. 

The Journey: A free Webinar Series with photo of four teens looking at city skyline
The Journey: Free Webinar Series

March 28, 2:30 pm
Journey Webinar Series: Functional Behavior Assessment for Youth with Complex Needs – Beyond A-B-C

Youth with complex and intensive needs often present with distressed behaviors that are difficult to understand. A Functional Behavior Assessment or FBA is helpful to determine the root cause of these distressed behaviors, however, the assessment must take into multiple factors. Join us for a discussion of the type of FBA that goes below the surface and beyond the typical Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence model.   Resources to assist in this process will be introduced.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series logo of computer and sun
InspirED Virtual Learning Series

April 21, 4 pm
The Earlier the Better: Recognizing Autism in Young Children  

The earlier young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are identified, the more opportunity early childhood professionals have to provide services and supports that will benefit children for a lifetime. Gain a deeper understanding of ASD diagnosis and educational eligibility determination, insight into differences in presentation of ASD in boys and girls, and considerations for making decisions about services and supports. 

Various young children lying on carpet with title: Myths & Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism
Myths and Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism

New: Myths and Misconceptions in the Educational Identification of Autism

Intended for district evaluation teams, but also helpful to families, community clinicians, and other partners, this document was created to address the common myths and misconceptions surrounding the educational identification of autism

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.

Innovation Series: Relationships Matter

2022 Innovation Tuesdays 
Honor our relationships and learn how to improve person-centered planning, community membership, and employment opportunities across Ohio. Learn more and register.

Recite Me logo
Recite Me web accessibility tool

Website visitors can use this innovative cloud-based software to increase accessibility options. Have the text on our website read aloud (including PDFs); change font sizes and colors; access a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus; and much more.

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.

OCALI NOW | Issue 33 • November/December 2021

Manifesting what is to come with Crystal Ball image

2021: The End of the Beginning & Manifesting What’s to Come

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI 

Just when we thought we could get off of the roller coaster ride of 2020, it soon became clear that the ride wasn’t over—we have continued to navigate the twists and turns of pandemic life, professionally and personally. At OCALI, flexibility and the ability to embrace uncertainty have been key to responding to the needs of those we serve and taking advantage of new opportunities that have come our way. Being “strategically flexible” has been part of our model since the very day we were founded, and has enabled us to better provide support. 

What keeps us on task and on track in this twisting path is what I once read termed the “Primacy of Purpose.” The premise is that you can make quick and nimble decisions in the moment, take risks, and try new approaches because you’re not giving directives and tasks—you’re ensuring everyone in your team, your organization, etc. know what the end goal or purpose is. There is also an understanding that there’s not a straight line to get there.  

As I look back at the past two years, 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. We have always been 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 in the past two years.  

Leading By Convening 

Partnerships have played an integral role in our work and growth. Leading by convening partners has been intentional. Whether it’s convening 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. We have also been intentional about engaging the disability community. They are at the center of our ‘why’ and everything we do, and that’s why we connect and listen to them.  

I am grateful for our many partners in education, technology, health care, business and community, policy, and government. Together we are exploring and learning new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling. In 2022, 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. 

Manifesting What’s to Come 

One of my favorite quotes that I often use is from my friend, Jason Barger. He says “Conversations are the currency for change. It all begins with what we are willing to talk about.” 

While there never has been a straight line in serving people with disabilities, one thing was clear prior to the pandemic—and that is that nobody was moving the needle fast enough. There weren’t enough conversations happening. The pandemic caused a disruption and forced us to start thinking and talking differently. Conversations about accessibility became front and center across industries. And, as a result, the needle started to move more quickly—and that is a very good thing.  

Supporting our collective community and bringing hope and inspiration to the people we serve, has never been more important. As we move into 2022, I am encouraging our team to manifest a vision for how we can better serve and support people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. I’d like to encourage people to envision two things:  

  • How can we continue to create an environment of accessibility—in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in our communities?  
  • How can we use technology to create a higher quality of life and increased accessibility? 

I am optimistic that we are at the end of the beginning of this new way of living and that we are starting to get our sea legs again about what the future holds. I believe that as an organization, we will continue to work toward our mission in new and exciting ways. We know that there’s no clearly defined path. But we’re going to doing it. You’re going to do it. And people’s lives are going to be changed—and better—because of it! 

Here’s to bringing life to our vision in 2022 and beyond.  


Yes We Can! Journey Towards Independence interactive video series
Yes We Can! Journey Towards Independence Video Series

Q&A With Michelle Motil, Family Support Liaison at the Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI

Tell us about Michelle. What are a few things that people don’t know about you?  

“Sometimes I get comments that I seem to be an unusually happy and cheerful person. I made the choice to be that way. My sense of humor started out as a coping mechanism, but now it’s part of who I am. I still have hard days, but everyone does. The point is to keep trying and keep going because the only consistent thing in life is change. As for what I like to do, I think I’m a pretty normal person, living an ordinary life with typical hobbies. I enjoy researching the property of plants and how to garden. I love nature. I’m a beachy pool girl when I have the opportunity. I’m an avid reader. I sing and I dance, and I look forward to defeating my opponents at cards.”  

  

What’s one fun fact about yourself?  

“This is definitely something interesting—I went to circus school in Jamaica and I did the trapeze. That was a really cool experience.”  

  

What was the intent behind creating the Journey Towards Independence series?  

“Initially, my boss presented the idea to me, and she encouraged me to think about sharing my journey and how it might be able to help other people. We wanted this series to be personal and interactive, more about the human, real, and practical sides of life. Sometimes those aspects get lost in the formal and professional parts of serving people with disabilities. It’s so important to consider the person and relate to them in real, authentic ways. It was also important to make sure this was a ‘we’ journey and not just a ‘me’ journey because there are so many people involved. I truly believe in learning communities and safe spaces to share and discuss difficult topics—people need to know they’re not alone. I want to give families and professionals examples of how a real person is living independently and give hope and inspiration to their families so they know their child or family member can live an independent, high quality life. I want to show people that even though it can be hard, it can be done, and I can demonstrate what grit and resiliency look like and show how to push forward during challenging times.”  

  

Tell us how the Journey Towards Independence series connects to the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), which includes foundational skills essential for people with disabilities.  

“When a person is deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired, they are missing part of the information. Informal learning takes place through observation with the senses, and most kids learn by example. The ECC addresses these skills that a lot of kids pick up without being taught. These skills are crucial for independent living and they need to be explicitly taught. Each episode of this series highlights 1-2 standards from the ECC, and there’s also the opportunity to talk about it in real-time during the interactive part of the session.”  

  

The December 15 episode is about your guide dog, Tonne. How has Tonne changed/improved your life?  

“Having Tonne has improved my life tremendously. He has helped me to deal with my anxiety in getting out and pushed me out of my comfort zone. By having a guide dog, I am more willing to go out and try new and different experiences. He is my partner and he helps me to get around safely, and I can also get around much faster. From a social standpoint, now that I have a dog, more people approach me when I’m out, which has created more social opportunities.”   

  

In the January 26 episode, you talk about your new living situation and roommates. Give us a sneak peek of that episode.  

“From a socio-emotional and mental health standpoint, it’s nice to have people in the house—just to have the presence of other humans around. Also, when I need help, my roommates are there to help me. This episode talks a lot about the importance of organization and communication, and how that has been important in how we share household duties. Things like, how are we going to organize food, share cleaning duties, pay bills, etc.? This episode highlights my transition and how I’m learning new skills and considerations for daily living.”  

  

How does independent living improve your quality of life? 

“Living independently provides more opportunities for empowerment and for me to make my own choices. Sometimes, when a person with disabilities is living with a family member, choices get made for them instead of with them. When you live independently, there is more room for personal growth and strength, which you may not get relying on a family member. I don’t want people to assume they have to live with their parents or in a facility.”  

  

For families who are supporting individuals with disabilities, what advice would you give them to help their loved ones lead/live a more independent life?  

“The best thing to do is to be a mentor or coach, and to encourage the person to try new things. Try not to do everything for them. Having high expectations is also important. Failing is a learning opportunity. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing good and better until better is your best and good is your better.”  

  

To learn more about the Journey Towards Independence series and to register, visit  https://deafandblindoutreach.org/Yes-We-Can-Journey-Towards-Independence.   

Behind the Scenes at OCALI

Panel of experts on set at OCALI offices for InspirED episode #33
Behind the scenes at an InspirED recording at OCALI

Have you ever wondered how we get all that great footage for our InspirED Virtual Learning series? Well, wonder no more. We have a studio here at OCALI! This is a photo from our recent filming with ODE. If we aren’t in studio, we also rely on tools like Riverside.fm and Zoom to record our guest panelists. Be sure to register for our December 16 InspirED episode on building strong family-school partnerships!

InspirED Virtual Learning Series logo
InspirED Virtual Learning Series

Join Us December 16: New InspirED Session: Building Strong Family-School Partnerships 

Families are an important asset in the equation of ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives. Explore strategies for building partnerships between families and school staff members, including how to nurture these partnerships and navigate the barriers that have been posed by the pandemic.

OCALICONLINE 2021 15 year anniversary logo
OCALICONLINE 2021

OCALICONLINE 2021 On-demand 

Missed some of the live event or want to go back and re-watch a session or two? Registered attendees have on-demand access to content through January 5, 2022.

Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair
Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair

Virtual Assistive 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 logo
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners

Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners 

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

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series logo with youth looking at cityscape
The Journey: A Free Webinar Series

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. 

ATIM Assistive Technology Internet Modules logo
ATIM Assistive Technology Internet Modules

New ATIM Modules 

The Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI recently launched four new Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) modules: 

  • AT for Workplace Accommodations 
  • AT for Driving and Transportation 
  • AT Implementation: Adults with DD 
  • AAC Implementation: Adults with DD
OCALI Multi-System Navigation Center logo
NEW! OCALI’s Multi-System Navigation Center is Hiring

Looking for a way to make an impact in the lives of young people, while growing a rewarding career with a fun, fast-paced organization? OCALI is hiring professionals with a passion for making a difference for unique positions as Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coaches. These Regional Coaches will work with youth with complex needs (MI/IDD) and their families in their homes.

Employment First: It Starts With Families logo with young family and baby in background

It Starts With Families
This new guide supports local professionals serving individuals and families to become familiar with research around family engagement. 

OCALI NOW | Issue 32 • October 2021

OCALICONLINE 2021 15 years logo

What We’re Excited About: OCALICONLINE 2021

We’re just weeks away from hosting OCALICONLINE 2021. And while every year is special, this year, we celebrate 15 years as a catalyst of moving inspiration into action.

With less than a month to go, we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you and others from around the globe as we connect virtually. Over 1,500 of your peers and colleagues have already signed up – from 42 states, Australia, Canada, France, Namibia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. For those who are already registered or if you’re thinking about attending for the first time, here are a few things we’re excited about and hope you will be, too.

Judy Heumann Keynote: Friday, November 19, 12:30 p.m. ET
OCALICONLINE 2021 will feature Judith (Judy) Heumann, a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. She contracted polio in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York and began to use a wheelchair for her mobility. She is now an internationally recognized leader in the disability rights community, and featured in the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, Crip Campreleased in 2020.

Dynamic presenters and presenters, and diverse content
With 300+ presenters and partners from around the world, our learning sessions highlight content for every age, and every milestone across the lifespan. From early childhood to school-age to adulthood, our sessions feature the best-of-the-best in their areas of expertise to share research, best practices, and resources that support the lifelong needs of individuals with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. Check out this teaser video of some of our presenters.

Special events within OCALICONLINE
Interested in learning more about inclusive leadership, or assistive technology and how it can be leveraged for individuals with developmental disabilities or with visual impairments? OCALICONLINE 2021 features a line-up of special events focused on these very topics. With experts from around the world, these sessions will provide you with practical resources and tips for taking your understanding of assistive technology to the next level.

Tuesday, November 16: Inclusive Education Leadership: Bring a team to this extended session on inclusive leadership! Hear from Ohio Department of Education leaders from the Office for Exceptional Children about special education and gifted education updates, key focus areas of supports, and project updates related to Each Child Means Each Child.

Tuesday, November 16: The BEST AT Forum is an opportunity to learn about cross-curricular braille literacy and assistive technologies for students who are blind or visually impaired. Sessions include a wide range of topics, such as learning braille with LEGO Braille Bricks, accessible astronomy, the expanded core curriculum, and much more!

Wednesday, November 17: AT for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Join us for a full day focused on assistive technology supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. Sessions range from advocacy and AAC assessment to smart home adaptations and AT solutions in minutes!

These are not stand-alone events, but are integrated into the conference itself. Attendees wishing to attend these sessions must register for the entire conference.

Celebrating moments of impact over 15 years
Over the past 15 years, we have seen, heard, and witnessed countless moments of impact. These stories are living examples of how those seemingly small moments of inspiration are transformed into action. These stories are of ordinary, every-day teachers, parents, and service providers whose lives were changed because of what they experienced at OCALICON. They’re people just like you. And these are their moments of impact, when inspiration transformed into action. Hear from past participants as they share their special moments of impact

Creative and fun ways to network and connect virtually
Looking for ways to take a quick break or unwind for a bit? Check out the OCALICON Channel. It’s where you can hear updates and announcements from our hosts. It’s where you can catch episodes of Slow TV. The channel will stream continuously during conference hours. And new for this year, are our OCALICONLINE hosts, the Good Life Ambassadors (GLAs). GLAs are dedicated to educating and inspiring the local community on an assortment of topics that promote inclusion and the full participation of people with disabilities in community life. You’ll also have the chance to speak directly with OCALI staff and other attendees. This is your chance to have conversations, exchange ideas, and connect with innovators and practitioners.

There’s still time to register
If you’re not registered, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the premier autism and disabilities conference where thousands of people from around the world come together to learn, network, and share research, best practices, and resources to support the life-long needs of individuals with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder and sensory and low-incidence disabilities. Register now!

October National Disability Employment Awareness Month - Person in wheelchair and business person standing, shaking hands
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Celebrating the Capabilities of People With Disabilities to the American Workforce

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and this year’s theme is America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this theme “reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Each October, NDEAM is designed to recognize and celebrate the contributions and capabilities of people with disabilities to the American workforce.

At OCALI, the Lifespan Transitions Center is proud of its long-standing partnership with Employment First. Employment First is a policy to ensure every individual of working age has an opportunity to seek employment. Agencies are directed to provide a person-centered planning process for every individual of working age to identify their desired employment goal and their place on the path to community employment.

“The foundational elements of Employment First’s framework—agency-neutral, outcome-focused, and person-centered—are directly aligned with our Center’s work and mission,” shares Alex Corwin, Secondary Transition and Workforce Manager, at the Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI. “Our Center partners with all of the Employment First Taskforce member organizations to support successful systems that incorporate community life and employment.”

When supporting communities, there are many questions for those seeking employment and those who support individuals seeking employment. In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Center proudly shares the following free resources organized around some of the most common employment-related questions.

How prepared am I for employment?
Assessing a person’s preparedness is one of the first steps toward seeking employment. The Employment Life Skills Assessment (ELSA) is a free, informal assessment that families and professionals can use to gather information about their family member’s abilities with employability and compare against the employment standards expected of adults. This assessment can help start the conversation for preparing someone to enter or reenter the workforce. Check out the professional version or the family version of the assessment.

I’m ready to start looking for employment. How do I get started?
If you’re seeking information on the path to community employment and how to start looking for a job, the Community Life Guide, which includes two important areas of information and training. The first is community health and safety training, and the second is the Job Seekers Guide, which focuses on job seeking training and community employment. It provides step-by-step instructions and resources on how to get on the path to community employment and find a job that you enjoy.

What happens to my social security, Medicaid, and other benefits when I start working?
If you’re looking for information and resources to help analyze the impact of employment on an individual’s benefits, The Disability Benefits 101 (DB 101) is an integrated suite of online tools, information, and training where people with disabilities can directly access plain-language information about work and benefits and health coverage programs. Three calculators have been developed, including: Work and Benefits, School To Work; and Medicaid Buy-In. This suite of resources is designed for families, job seekers, and professionals and can be used to help analyze the impact of employment on an individual’s benefits. While DB 101 does not replace a comprehensive benefits analysis, it can help to provide a general understanding about employment and benefits.

How do I support a person with a disability with learning new tasks on the job?
As teams prepare youth for the transition to adulthood, developing skills for employment becomes a priority. To teach these skills educators, job coaches and others need effective tools. What Works for Work, is a free, 12-session online resource that uses evidence-based practices on how to support people with disabilities.

Throughout the month and beyond, we encourage you to explore these free resources. By sharing them, you may help others understand how they can better promote access in their schools, workplaces, and communities. For additional resources from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, visit their website.

What’s New at OCALI

Yes We Can! Journey Towards Independence - Photo of Michelle and Michelle hugging her dog
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners

Yes We Can: Journey Towards Independence
A New, Interactive Video Series: October 27, December 15, January 26, 4 p.m.
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, who is eager to share her experiences and connect with viewers. Tying all of these episodes together is the connection to the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), which includes foundational skills essential for people with disabilities. The sessions are free, but registration is required. Certificates of completion are available for the series. Join us for one or all episodes.

Virtual Education Identification of Students with ASD
Virtual Educational Identification of Students with ASD Virtual Training Series

Register by October 25: 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.

The Ohio UDL Collaborative PLC
https://www.smore.com/v4myqhttps://www.smore.com/v4myqThe Ohio UDL Collaborative PLC

November 2: Ohio UDL Collaborative Monthly PLC
The members of the Ohio UDL Collaborative invite you to their monthly, virtual PLC. Join others from Ohio who are implementing UDL and find growth in the conversations to support your UDL journey. This session will focus on variability, mindset, and equity.

Ensuring Access to the General Education Curriculum for All Learners
Nov. 11, 2021 4pm EDT Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for All Learners

November 11: InspirED: 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. 

OCALI NOW | Issue 29 • June 2021

Inspiring Change Podcast Series

The Ongoing Work of Building a Diverse and Inclusive Society 

“When I was 12, I didn’t know about disability. I didn’t know how to play with a boy, like my son,” shares Sheila Graschhinsky in the most recent Inspiring Change podcast episode. Sheila is the mother of four boys and founder and president of Fundación IAN, an organization in Buenos Aires focused on promoting a diverse and inclusive society.  

Sheila’s son, Ian, was born in 2007, and due to a lack of oxygen, he has a motor disability, which impairs him to move, talk, and coordinate some movements. Ian turns 14 this year, and it’s been a long path for the family.  

“Being the mother of a child with a disability, there are a lot of things to learn about,” she explains. “I had to learn about medicine, a lot about laws, and when talking about Ian and all his treatment, I also say that it’s as if I run a small business at home. He has more than seven therapies that I have to coordinate and all the treatments and so forth.” 

From the beginning, the family had to work on not only inclusion, but how to manage their anger when not being included or accepted. Ultimately, the family had to decide to turn their anger into action. 

What does inclusion mean, and how does it happen? 

For Sheila, the answer to both of these questions came through a literal story called, The Gift, inspired by Ian. 

“I remember taking Ian to the rehabilitation center, and in front of that center, there was a school, and I could hear some children laughing at Ian’s disability. After several similar experiences, I crossed the street and knocked on the door of the school. I was very angry and I wanted to speak with the principal. In my head, I remember I had many ideas and insults and not happy things. As I waited for the principal to come, I think that was a transforming moment for me.” 

“As I sat there, I asked myself, what was the difference between those boys at the school and my own knowledge about disability when I was 11 or 12 years? The truth is that there was no difference. When I was 12, I didn’t know about disability and I didn’t know how to play with a boy like my son. I realized that getting angry at the children who were laughing would be no answer to the situation. So I said to Ian, ‘what do you think if we write a book to show those children that you are also a child who has rights, who wants to play, and who can do many things if they help you.’ That’s how the book, The Gift, came about.”  

For an entire year, Sheila took the book with her everywhere, and if she encountered a situation with children who would laugh at Ian or would leave him out, instead of getting angry, she would give the child a book. That’s when they started to see a change.  

“After a child would read the book, the child would get closer to Ian and say hello or ask if he wanted to play. It was very inspiring for us and showed us a path, not only that we had to work with inclusion, not only that we had to manage the anger, but also to be active to get society involved. That’s how we turned our anger into action.” 

Sheila also collaborated with Mundoloco CGI to produce the short animated filmIan, which is based on a real life experience involving Sheila and Ian. The film addresses discrimination and bullying and helps all of us understand why inclusion and diversity are so critically important to our society. 

“We are all made of little pieces of our own experience, of our own lives’ experiences. And when inclusion occurs, when inclusion happens, these pieces mix up together, and you can get some other pieces of a classmate, and you grow as a person, and society grows when including.” 

 
How are YOU building inclusion in your own community? OCALI wants to know! We’re looking for interesting and innovative stories to highlight in future issues of OCALI NowShare my inclusion story

InspirED Logo with screenshot of three presenters from the episode Honoring Families Through the Lens of UDL
InspirED Episode: Honoring Families Through the Lens of Universal Design for Learning

Honoring Families Through the Lens of Universal Design for Learning 

Family involvement is something we all want. However, how do we make it happen? Furthermore, how do we move from engaging families to empowering them, especially during unprecedented times when the connection between homes and schools must be even stronger? 

To build effective programming, we must begin by ensuring that we honor our families and include them as partners for the education of all our learners. Our recent InspirED virtual learning session (from June 16) explores how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can boost connections and engagement to meet the varying needs of families. The session also highlights these connections with Ohio’s strategic plan, Each Child, Our Future

Hear from Andratesha Fritzgerald, Director of Human Resources, East Cleveland Schools and Founder, Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC; Jen Bavry, Program Director, Family and Community Outreach Center at OCALI; and Ron Rogers, Program Director, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Center at OCALI as they share more in this 30-minute session. 

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Take the survey to tell us what you think of OCALI NOW

Tell Us What You Think 

OCALI is committed to inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. 

To gauge our effectiveness and obtain your feedback related to our OCALI Now newsletter, we ask that you complete a brief survey. Your input is important and will help us continuously improve our communications with you.  Please complete this brief survey by July 9, 2021.

Computer screen with text: We Are Hiring and OCALI logo
We are Hiring

OCALI is Hiring 

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. If you share our passion, and want to work with a team of committed and compassionate colleagues, check our newest employment opportunities. We are hiring an Early Childhood Specialist and a Transition to Adulthood Consultant.

Challenging Behavior: Expect Success webinar series

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. 

Unlocking the English Code webinar series

Unlocking the English Code: Literacy for Learners Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing or Blind/Visually Impaired 

Nationally, prioritizing language and literacy development for all learners has been a focus for many educators. This focus requires that educators build their capacity to support evidence-based language and literacy instruction, particularly for educators supporting deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) or blind/visually impaired (B/VI) learners, who access English and print in different ways. To help those who are assessing and teaching literacy for these learners, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI is pleased to offer the recording of our professional learning event designed to explore and connect the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, writing, fluency, vocabulary, communication, language, and comprehension specifically for learners who are D/HH or B/VI. Certificates of completion are available and provided on completion of the recording and accompanying survey. 

Effectively Assessing Learners via Telepsychology webinar series

Administering Telepsychological Assessments 

The transition to remote learning left instructional leaders and educators little to no time to prepare and transition how they deliver instruction. Meeting and assessing the needs of all learners in this online environment has been challenging, particularly for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. To help school psychologists and district and building leaders build comfort and confidence in virtually assessing all learners, particularly those who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) or blind/visually impaired (B/VI), OCALI launched a free webinar series, Building Capacity to Serve All Learners: Effectively Assessing Learners via Telepsychology. Parts I and II of the series explored preparing for and completing telepsychology assessments with learners who are D/HH or B/VI. Expanding off of Parts I and II, Part III is designed to focus on the practical demonstration of specific aspects of telepsychological assessments, including how to administer a standard test battery to learners who are D/HH or B/VI. Check out the recordings. 

InspirED Video Gallery logo with hands touching laptop computer
InspirED Video Gallery now available

InspirED Virtual Learning Series 

The InspirED Video Gallery has recently been reorganized by audience – for families and professionals – and by topic, including: accessibility, autism, early childhood, family and community, PBIS, remote learning, transition, universal design for learning, wellbeing and self-care, along with assessment and data for professionals. As always, all sessions include interactive transcripts, audio description, and supporting materials, and the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. A great way to get FREE professional development hours.  

Last fall, OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children, launched the InspirED Virtual Learning Series. The free learning series consists of 30-minute recorded, facilitated sessions focused on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking the users with appropriate resources and tools. The InspirED Video Gallery has recently been reorganized by audience – for families and professionals – and by topic, including: accessibility, autism, early childhood, family and community, PBIS, remote learning, transition, universal design for learning, wellbeing and self-care, along with assessment and data for professionals. As always, all sessions include interactive transcripts, audio description, and supporting materials, and the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. It’s a great way to get FREE professional development hours.

Group of four young people watching sunset over a cityscape
The Journey: A free webinar series

The Journey: Webinar Series Video Gallery 

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. These webinars are designed for teams assisting youth with complex support needs and their families to better navigate the process of the own journey to adulthood. 

OCALI NOW | Issue 28 • May 2021

OCALICONLINE 2021 15 year anniversary logo
OCALICONLINE 15 year anniversary

Celebrating 15 Years of Inspiration Into Action

OCALICONLINE Returns This November

Inspiration can come in many forms. A conversation, a connection, a bit of information that sparks a new perspective. Sometimes it happens gradually, and sometimes it happens in an instant. Inspiration opens the door to imagine new possibilities. And action breathes life into those possibilities that can bring about real change.

As the premier autism and disabilities conference, OCALICONLINE reaches across disciplines, age groups, and audiences to impact people’s lives for their entire lives. Along with our partners, we bring you world-class speakers and sessions with a variety of experiences and perspectives, so there’s something for everyone. 

Reflections Over the Past 15 Years

OCALICONLINE 2021 marks the second year of hosting the event exclusively online, but the 15th year of providing participants with ample opportunities to transform inspiration into action. As we reflect on the last 15 years, we take stock of not only how far we have come within the field of disabilities and as a conference, but as a society. Much has changed. We look back on the last 15 years knowing we have come a long way, but we look ahead to the next 15 years knowing there is still much work to do.

Everett Bradley is one such person who has seen that change over the last 15 years, ultimately experiencing on a very personal level what it looks like to turn inspiration into action. Bradley joined the conference team for the inaugural conference in 2007, to oversee the numerous volunteers needed to stage the event. His business background enabled him to efficiently streamline and coordinate the volunteers, and his role was largely behind-the-scenes. It wasn’t until his youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism that his trajectory changed. He was no longer just the volunteer coordinator. He was now a beneficiary of the ideas, strategies, and expertise offered through OCALICON.

“The knowledge I learned from OCALICON gave me the courage and strength to start asking questions,” Bradley shares. “Personally, there is no doubt that the conference was the catalyst for my family into understanding my daughter.”

“Everett has been an essential team member from that very first conference in 2007,” says Simon Buehrer, one of the conference coordinators. “We’re thrilled and humbled to hear his personal story of how discoveries and connections he made through OCALICON had a direct impact on his family.”

“That’s exactly why we do this.”

“OCALICON focuses on supporting needs across the lifespan,” says Jill Hudson, another one of the conference coordinators. “So, we hope Everett and his family will continue to benefit from OCALICON as his daughter grows through the schooling years and into adulthood.”

“It’s been such an honor and privilege to be part of this community of professionals, parents, and self-advocates and see it grow and evolve over the last 15 years. It’s important to celebrate all their achievements and accomplishments in 2021 – and even more exciting to think about all the opportunities that are in progress and the possibilities on the horizon.”

New for 2021

The planning team is always looking for fresh new content, ideas, and presenters to keep attendees engaged and inspired. This year, the event will include several new features, including:

  • Expanding the event from three days to four, allowing time for additional content and a modified structure with more breaks between sessions.
  • Hosting an Artist Spotlight, showcasing the talents and skills of people on the spectrum or with a disability—from artists to musicians, filmmakers to poets.
  • Inviting community members from around the state to serve as hosts and emcees.
  • Offering one single closing keynote instead of a keynote every day.

Introducing Our Keynote

Judy Heumann keynote for OCALICONLINE 2021
Judy Heumann

OCALICONLINE 2021 will feature Judy Heumann, a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. She contracted polio in 1949 and began to use a wheelchair for mobility. She is an internationally recognized leader in the disability rights community, and featured in the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary Crip Camp, released in 2020.

“Judy has been leading the charge for disability rights for decades, and it’s an honor to host her,” shared Courtney Yantes, event specialist. “She holds a perspective of not only someone who has been down in the trenches doing the hard work of advocacy and fighting for disability rights, but she’s also been flying up at the highest levels of the government, seeing a much larger picture than most of us will ever see.”  

Join Us November 16-19

For some of you, OCALICONLINE 2021 may be a starting point. Your young child is newly diagnosed, and you’re looking for answers and connections. For others, OCALICONLINE 2021 is a continuation of years spent investing in and raising up a new generation of students. Or you may be a self-advocate celebrating your yearly reunion with peers and colleagues. Whether it’s your first time at OCALICON, or you’ve been with us for all 15 years, each of us has an important role to play in this experience. The knowledge we share and connections we make when we come together as a community, empower each of us to move Inspiration into Action.

Don’t miss OCALICONLINE 2021 November 16-19. Join us online. We’re saving you a front-row seat.

Supporting your personal and professional learning this summer

Supporting Your Personal and Professional Learning This Summer

The 2020-2021 school year has been unlike anything we have ever experienced—transitioning from virtual to hybrid to in-person learning models, managing stints of quarantine, and in many cases, trying to figure out how to meet students and individuals where they were at any given time. It was a year that tested us and pushed us in new and different ways, and yet it was a year that also inspired us to be more flexible, innovative, and creative.

As many educators and parents prepare take a ‘pause’ from the school year—taking a mental health break, planning the long-awaited vacation, or just getting ready to enjoy a more relaxed schedule, we want to remind you that we are here to support your professional and personal learning and have a variety of resources available—many of which are free and several that offer the opportunity to earn graduate or continuing education credit. You can access these resources any time, in your own home, and at your own pace.

For people with disabilities and those supporting them—families, educators, caregivers, service providers, and others—it is essential to have the latest knowledge, skills, resources, and tools to ensure they can live their best lives for their whole lives. For more than 15 years, OCALI has been a trusted source of providing high quality research, resources, and training.

As you consider your professional learning plans—for yourself or your teams—OCALI has compiled some resources to get you started.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series

Last fall, OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children, launched the InspirED Virtual Learning Series. The free learning series consists of 30-minute recorded, facilitated sessions focused on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking the users with appropriate resources and tools. The InspirED Video Gallery has recently been reorganized by audience – for families and professionals – and by topic, including: accessibility, autism, early childhood, family and community, PBIS, remote learning, transition, universal design for learning, wellbeing and self-care, along with assessment and data for professionals. As always, all sessions include interactive transcripts, audio description, and supporting materials, and the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. It’s a great way to get FREE professional development hours.

Ask Abbey: Developing Literacy Skills for Learners Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing Gallery

This interactive 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 includes a 10-minute webinar with simple tips and strategies, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A with Abbey Weaver, an itinerant teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing in Ohio. Certificates of completion for the 30 minute sessions are available and provided on completion of the webinar and accompanying survey.

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.

Assistive Technology Internet Modules (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. Each module guides you through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, a glossary, and much more. ATIM modules are available at no cost. Fee-based professional development certificates and graduate credit hours are available and continuing education credits are coming soon.

Suite of Resources for Early Childhood Professionals

If you’re an early childhood professional who needs hours toward your credential, or you want to build your knowledge about early childhood topics, the Center for the Young Child’s Suite of Resources is a great place to start. These modules have received the Ohio Approved (OA) designation and are also eligible for Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities continuing professional development (CPD) unit in the area of developmental specialist/supervisor, EI service coordinator/supervisor.  If you’re a developmental specialist who needs hours toward your credential or you are an early care or education professional who wants to build their knowledge around child growth and development, check out the Early Care and Education Seminars.

The Journey: Webinar Series Video Gallery

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. These webinars are designed for teams assisting youth with complex support needs and their families to better navigate the process of the own journey to adulthood. If you missed a session or want to go back and re-watch, check out the video gallery. This gallery is also a great resource to share with colleagues and others who may benefit from the information.

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.

From My Perspective

Created by OCALI’s Family and Community Outreach Center, From My Perspective is a podcast featuring people with disabilities, their families, friends, and others in their lives sharing about everyday life, their interests, opinions, and more. Check out the latest episodes on belonging or check out other past episodes.

OCALI’s Lending Library & Know More Do More Campaign Resources

During the month of April, OCALI shared information and resources from our Lending Library by launching the #KnowMoreDoMore campaign. These resources featured different topics, including social-emotional wellbeing, supporting family interactions, early childhood, supporting independence in adolescence and adulthood, and more. The OCALI Lending Library is a great resource to connect you with accessible materials, resources, and technology. We offer Ohioans an extensive collection of FREE books, videos, assistive technology devices, assessment tools, and other resources that are available to borrow and shipped directly at no charge.

OCALI NOW | Issue 27 • April 2021

Autism Acceptance Month. #KnowMoreDoMore. April 2021. OCALI logo across the bottom with colorful border of circles.

Shifting from Autism Awareness to Autism Acceptance

Since 2008, April has been recognized as Autism Awareness Month in Ohio. The intent was designed to bring awareness to autism and to encourage and empower individuals with autism in Ohio and their families.

Earlier this month, Governor DeWine signed a proclamation to recognize April as Autism Acceptance Month, which states, “the purpose of Autism Acceptance Month in Ohio is to spread awareness, foster acceptance, and identify the public policy improvements needed for people with autism to live fully across all areas of life.”

The transition from the word awareness to acceptance may not seem like a big deal. But, words matter and the shift to acceptance accounts for accommodating the feelings of others and accepting and celebrating our differences. Acceptance requires taking conscious action and shifting from not only seeing and recognizing that autism exists, but seeking to listen and learn, and then adapting our perspectives and behaviors. Just being aware of autism facts and information will not necessarily lead to acceptance or create inclusive and supportive environments in our schools, communities, and relationships. However, by intentionally moving toward acceptance, we can inspire confidence and a vision for possibilities that motivate us to continue to ensure that people with disabilities can live their best lives for their whole lives.

Acceptance is also the first step toward inclusion. Inclusion then leads to belonging, which is essential to truly connecting and relating to others. Unfortunately, acceptance and belonging are often the biggest barriers to inclusion that people with autism and their families encounter. At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been working hard to break down traditional barriers for people with autism and other disabilities and explore things that others may not have yet seen as possible. While we have made significant progress, we have more work to do and we continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling. Our words and work must then translate into action.

The good news is that we don’t have to do this alone. As leaders and practitioners, autistic and disabled people, parents, family members, neighbors, and community members, we ALL play a role in inspiring the change we wish to see. 

Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to seek out opportunities that promote acceptance—for yourself and within your own communities. Following are a few simple ideas to get started:

Learn more. Explore information and resources about autism. A few websites to check out:

The Autism Center at OCALI
The Autism Society of Ohio
Interagency Work Group on Autism

Show support. Many organizations are hosting Autism Acceptance Month social media campaigns. You can easily show your support by reviewing and sharing the information and using designated social media tags. This month, OCALI is using the hashtag #KnowMoreDoMore, as part of a month-long email and social media campaign featuring information and resources from our Lending Library. Each week, we are featuring information and resources suggested by the Autism Center, Family and Community Outreach Center, Center for the Young Child, and Lifespan Transitions Center on various topics, including social-emotional wellbeing, early-childhood, supporting family interactions, and independence

Connect with others. Acceptance is an ‘everyone’ conversation and we all have the power and ability to support acceptance. Simply showing that you’re genuinely open and interested in learning more about autism, particularly from autistic people or their family members goes a long way.

Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the unique strengths, challenges, and experiences of each person with autism and their families. Rather than attempting to paint with a broad brush based on a shared label or diagnosis, instead we encourage everyone to thoughtfully engage and inspire. Have meaningful conversations about what is most supportive for each person, in each setting in that moment, and then do those things! It’s much easier to write it down than to actually do the work—especially when someone’s experiences don’t match your own. But, by working together to create truly accessible spaces and ensuring that everyone is supported, accepted, and included, that’s what inspiring change is about. 

Rewind OCALICON podcast series with an image of a microphone

The Smell of the Room is a Fire in My Nose:
A Conversation on Autism and Trauma

Trauma by its very nature is an incredibly personal and individual experience. There are many different forms of trauma and many different ways it can impact, shape, and define who we are and who we become. But, what about people on the autism spectrum—autistic people. What’s different about how they experience, deal with, and live with trauma?

These are the questions that Kim Clary and Kelly Mahler explore in Rewind, a new series within the Inspiring Change podcast 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, the speakers’ sessions, and the stories that make it all happen.

Kim Clary is an occupational therapist in Bellaire, Florida and Kelly Mahler is an occupational therapist in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kelly and Kim push us to expand our thinking beyond what we might consider to be traditional causes of trauma in a conversation about how people with autism experience different types of trauma in different ways, and in ways that ask us to think differently about what trauma is and the impact it can have. Kim further illustrates the effects of trauma by sharing some of her poems and journal entries.

Imagine that you are in the midst of a hurricane outside without protection. That you cannot seek shelter. Imagine that you are in a burning building and cannot leave. Or that your body is covered in angry fire ants. Imagine that you are suddenly attacked, suddenly blinded by sharp daggers in your eyes. Imagine this – is your life. You can imagine it, but I don’t have to. These things are my life.

“What we know about trauma is that it is a response to an event or a series of events that make someone feel unsafe, threatened, or severely distressed and trauma impacts your neurology—both your brain and your body,” explains Kelly. “Trauma also impacts your physiology. It’s important to point out that trauma is dependent on how a person experiences an event.”

“I think that it just goes to show that we really need to be good detectives and always think through a trauma-informed and an autism-informed lens and really figure out what’s going on with each individual person,” continues Kelly. “I think our main goal – besides offering hope and strategies of how to support – is to challenge the way that we’re viewing trauma in the autism field.”

What’s New at OCALI

Ask Abbey: Engaging Learners Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Through Music, Art, and Gym. A free interactive, three-part learning series. Picture of Abbey Weaver in upper right corner.

Register for the last session on April 28! 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 the last session.

Unlocking the English Code: Literacy for Learners Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing or Blind/Visually Impaired. A free webinar May 14, 2021 from 11am-3pm. Register now. Image of teachers and students working together.

Nationally, prioritizing language and literacy development for all learners has been a focus for many educators. This focus requires that we build educators’ capacity to support evidence-based language and literacy instruction, particularly for educators supporting learners who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) or blind/visually impaired (B/VI), who access English and print in different ways.

To help those who are assessing and teaching literacy to these learners, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI is pleased to offer this interactive, virtual professional learning event designed to explore and connect the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, writing, fluency, vocabulary, communication, language, and comprehension specifically for learners who are D/HH or B/VI. 

OCALICONLINE 2021 15 years logo Registration Opens May 3 Celebrating 15 years of inspiration into action November 16-19

Inspiration can come in many forms. A conversation, a connection, a bit of information that sparks a new perspective. Sometimes it happens gradually, and sometimes it happens in an instant. Inspiration opens the door to imagine new possibilities. And action breathes life into those possibilities that can bring about real change.

OCALICONLINE 2021 marks the second year of hosting the event exclusively online, but the 15th year of providing participants with ample opportunities to transform inspiration into action. As we reflect on the last 15 years, we take stock of not only how far we have come within the field of disabilities and as a conference, but as a society. Much has changed. Some for the better, some not for the better. We look back on the last 15 years knowing we have come a long way, but we look ahead to the next 15 years knowing there is still much work to do.

No matter where you are personally or professionally, OCALICONLINE 2021 is the place where you can gather, connect, rest, or regroup.

There’s a place for you here. And we’ve saved you a front-row seat. 

Building Capacity to Serve All Learners: Effectively Assessing Learners via Telepsychology. Part III: Administering Telepsychological Assessments. A free webinar May 20, 2021, 9-10 am. Register now.

The transition to remote learning left instructional leaders and educators little to no time to prepare and transition how they deliver instruction. Meeting and assessing the needs of all learners in this online environment has been challenging, particularly for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired.

To help school psychologists and district and building leaders build comfort and confidence in virtually assessing all learners, particularly those who are deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) or blind/visually impaired (B/VI), OCALI launched a free webinar series, Building Capacity to Serve All Learners: Effectively Assessing Learners via Telepsychology.

Part III: Administering Telepsychological Assessments
Parts I and II of the series explored preparing for and completing telepsychological assessments with learners who are D/HH or B/VI. Expanding off of Parts I and II, Part III is designed to focus on the practical demonstration of specific aspects of telepsychological assessments, including how to administer a standard test battery to learners who are D/HH or B/VI.

Explore, rewatch and share past sessions in the InspirED Video gallery, photos of young adults using computers

Did you miss an InspirED learning session or want to go back re-watch or check out other sessions? Explore 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?

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series. Lifespan Transitions Center logo in lower left corner. Image of four young people overlooking sunset from top of building.

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 explore important topics and feature resources and tools for transition assessment and planning, as well as student instruction and family engagement. Register for the upcoming May webinar:

What I Wish I Knew Then: Parents’ Perspectives Following High School
Monday, May 17, 2:30–3:00 PM
Parents of young adults with complex support needs offer insights and considerations after experiencing life after high school. This panel discussion is an authentic dialogue that provides educators, SSAs, OOD counselors, families, and others awareness about what was most helpful during the school years and what else might have been helpful in order to prepare for the future. 

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

OCALI Now | Issue 21 | September 2020

September is National Deaf Awareness Month

Banner image that reads September is National Deaf Awareness Month
September is National Deaf Awareness Month

At OCALI, we are grateful to be part of a community of people who are just as committed to inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities as we are. It’s what fuels our team and the work that we do every day.

As we celebrate Deaf Awareness Month in September, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI is proud to share several free resources, including:

Throughout September, we encourage you to explore these free resources. By sharing them, you may help others understand how they can better promote access in their schools, workplaces, and communities.

To learn more about the Outreach Center, visit https://deafandblindoutreach.org or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Banner image that reads Did You Know...
Did you know…
  • There are over 300 signed languages? September 23 is International Day of Sign Languages. Celebrate by learning to sign your name in American Sign Language.
  • High-quality captioning provides access and information to over 30 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including young readers and individuals who are learning English as a second language? Be sure to use captions, and make sure they’re accurate.
  • Something as simple as taking turns can improve access? Whether you are working face-to-face or virtually, setting up rules for how and when people communicate makes things easier for everyone.

New: InspirED Virtual Learning Series

InspirED logo

As we continue to watch the COVID-19 pandemic evolve across the world, one thing we know for sure—the 2020-2021 school year will look different—for students, families, teachers, and administrators. Depending on the district, some, most, or even all instruction will be delivered online.

As an organization committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities, OCALI and the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children are partnering to support educators, education professionals, families, and others during this pandemic and in a new, remote learning environment with the creation of—InspirED Virtual Learning Series.

Our vision for this virtual learning series is 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.

Initially, the learning series will consist of 15 Zoomcast sessions or recorded, facilitated conversations that are approximately 30 minutes each. Over time, additional sessions will be added to the library. All content will focus on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking users with appropriate resources and tools. Learners will have the ability to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each learning session.

The series will kick off with three Zoomcast sessions hosted by OCALI and Ohio Department of Education staff:

  • September 24: Accessible Educational Materials (AEM): An All-Access Pass to Success
  • September 29: Welcome to Homeroom! Tips for Creating a Learning Environment at Home
  • October 1: Supporting Positive Behavior at School and at Home: Strategies to Reduce Interfering Behaviors, Part I

What’s New at OCALI

AT Conference and Vendor Fair logo

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 access to the curriculum for individuals with disabilities. Join us for a one-day virtual event where 20+ 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.

OCALI and Autism Internet Modules logos
OCALI AIM Autism Internet Modules logo

New & Updated AIM Modules

New: Motor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Learn about the body systems which work together to give us motor contact and about typical motor development. This module also highlights some of the most common motor differences we see in individuals with autism.

Updated: Assessment for Identification

Quality assessment is the key to accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Assessment is also a foundation of a strong intervention plan. This is no quality evaluation without trained and experienced team members. Learn more in this newly updated module.

The Journey: A Free Webinar Series banner

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 and 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.

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

OCALICONLINE 2020 logo
OCALICONLINE 2020 logo

OCALICON Award Nominations Due September 30

There’s still time to submit your nominations for the Margaret Burley Family Impact and Kathe Shelby Leadership Awards! Do you know someone who has done extraordinary work to support and improve outcomes for people with autism, sensory disabilities, and/or low-incidence disabilities? Don’t let them go unnoticed! Nominations are due by September 30, and can be completed online. Learn more.

Ohio Interagency Work Group on Autism logo
Ohio Interagency Work Group on Autism logo

Webinar: Multi-system Youth with Autism — Ohio’s System Change Efforts

Friday, September 25, 2020, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Youth and young adults with autism frequently experience co-occurring mental and behavioral health conditions, and are increasingly served by multiple systems in Ohio. These youth are more likely to visit an emergency department for psychiatric reasons, have more outpatient and inpatient hospital visits, primary care and psychiatric visits, health care claims, and higher health care costs than youth with other disabilities, and are at greater risk of suicide.

In this month’s webinar, the Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) is joined by parent, Mark Butler, and members of the DeWine administration. Panelists include:

  • LeeAnne Cornyn, Director of Children’s Initiatives, Office of the Governor
  • Sarah LaTourette, Executive Director, Ohio Family and Children First 
  • Maureen Corcoran, Director, Ohio Department of Medicaid

Join us Friday, September 25 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM to hear about the challenges faced by Ohio’s families and efforts to make change. Register now.

Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Logo
Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities logo

Resources & Reminders from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD)

DSP Recognition Week is September 13-19. We are encouraging families to share short videos showing their appreciation for their DSPs. They can tag DODD on social media or send an email to: communications.team@dodd.ohio.gov.

Virtual Transformation Summit Day 2 is September 22. Learn more and register.

Trusting the Team Process: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people with developmental disabilities and their teams have been challenged to make adjustments to the routines, services, and supports that help people live and thrive in their homes and communities. In recent weeks, those discussions have become more complex as people balance the increasing opportunities as Ohio reopens with ongoing risks of COVID-19. DODD has guidance for Trusting the Team Process in making these decisions.