The Federal Quota Program: Providing Materials and Technology for Blind Students

Registration Deadline is January 25

Ensuring access to the right materials and technology for students who are blind or visually impaired is a priority for the Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI.

“It is essential for students with visual impairments to have their materials at the same time as their classmates,” explains Lisa Goshe, teacher for the visually impaired in Columbus City Schools. “It’s an issue of equity. It’s an issue of allowing them to be engaged in their learning. If you don’t have your materials in front of you, how do you engage? It lets students be active learners in the moment and gain the most out of the lesson that’s going on.”

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The OCALI Lending Library: Connecting People with Disabilities with Accessible Materials, Resources, and Technology to Promote Lifelong Learning

Libraries are a valuable resource for sharing and connecting people and communities with free information and resources. Like a traditional library, the OCALI Lending Library offers thousands of free materials, resources, and technology on a range of topics—from transition to social-emotional development, evidence-based practices, and more that are applicable to various disabilities and for all ages—from early childhood to adulthood.

“We offer Ohioans an extensive collection of free books, videos, assistive technology devices, assessment tools, and other resources that are available to borrow on a short or long-term basis and shipped directly at no charge,” explains Samantha Brown, OCALI Clearinghouse Librarian

The OCALI Lending Library collects and shares accessible educational and professional development materials and resources.

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A Look Back at OCALICON 2018

Inspired. Energized. Game changer. Sense of community.

These are just a few words that attendees used to describe their experience at OCALICON 2018. On November 14-16, nearly 2,900 state and national leaders, K-12 education leaders and practitioners, service providers, policy makers, families, and self-advocates from 42 states and eight countries gathered in Columbus, Ohio, at OCALICON. Now in its 12th year, OCALICON 2018 had record-breaking attendance—a 48 percent increase over last year.

“We knew early on that it was going to be our largest event ever. Our first attendee came in 30 minutes after opening registration in April—before we even had a chance to send out the official announcement,” said Simon Buehrer, conference and events manager. “That enthusiasm, energy, and excitement continued and kept building in the months and weeks leading up to OCALICON.”

More than a conference, OCALICON is truly a personal and professional learning experience.

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Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired

Information is everywhere we look—things like eye contact, body language, and environmental cues all contain information. And it’s everywhere we listen, through conversations, alerts, technology, and entertainment. Information shapes our experiences and our experiences shape us. However, when vision or hearing is affected, part of the information is missing, and this can create hurdles.

Access for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired begins with understanding needs for retrieving information. With that information, tools and strategies can be put into place to provide equal opportunities for participation.

Guided by the belief that increasing access to information promotes independence, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness has created the Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired training module.

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Diverse Reports of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Prevalence Rates Underscores Need to Work Together

Last month, an article in the Journal of Pediatrics estimated the prevalence rates of ASD to be 1 in 40.

According to the article, “Although not fully understood, this increase likely results from multiple factors including broadening diagnostic criteria, increased provider ascertainment at earlier ages, increased parent awareness, and an increase in some risk factors such as births to older parents.”

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Elevating the Voice for Disability and Access Across the Lifespan: OCALI’s Office of Policy

Office of Policy

For the last four years, under the leadership of Melissa Bacon, Director of Government Relations and Stakeholder Engagement, OCALI’s Office of Policy has been recognized as a trusted, third-party resource to help policy-makers, business leaders, and other decision-makers link research to real life and real life to policy initiatives that benefit Ohioans.

“Public policy has the potential to significantly impact the lives of people with disabilities and their families,” said Melissa. “When people with disabilities are left out of the process, when best-practices, research, and data don’t include disability, and when funding decisions don’t consider disability, we’re missing an important voice. We want to make sure that people with disabilities and their families are always part of the discussion and their voices are heard.”

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Julie Stewart: Bringing the Classroom Perspective to OCALI’s Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness

Julie Stewart, Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness

No stranger to the classroom, Julie Stewart uses her 12 years of past experiences as a classroom teacher and educational consultant working with deaf and hard of hearing students to help increase successful outcomes in her work at OCALI.

As an Outreach Specialist for OCALI’s Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness, Julie works to connect resources and foster relationships to equip communities to support families and learners where they are, with what they need, when they need it.

“The transition from the classroom to working at OCALI has inspired a lot of professional growth. While I may not have direct contact with students in my current role, I am impacting school environments in a different way. And, ultimately, when schools are positively impacted, students are positively impacted.”

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