On July 26, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that works to increase the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life, including employment.
Over time, the Americans with Disabilities Act has worked to break down barriers to opportunities for millions of American workers. Increasing access has been an important component of ensuring American workers have the opportunity to contribute their talents, skills, and services.
Access is probably not something the average person thinks about. But, for the more than 42 million Americans with disabilities (more than 10% of Ohioans), access is front and center in their daily lives. Unfortunately, access is often silent and unintentional discrimination.
At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been committed to working hard to promote access—among our staff and with those we serve around Ohio. 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.
Centered around the theme, Increasing Access and Opportunity, commemoration activities around the country will include events, speeches, and new compliance assistance resources. The ADA’s anniversary will serve as a key component of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) observance in October.
The ADA Network has put together various resources to help celebrate, learn, and share information about the anniversary. To learn more, visit https://www.adaanniversary.org/. Consider using the following hashtags in your social media posts: #ThanksToTheADA and #ADA30.
Coming later in July! Don’t miss a special podcast episode of Inspiring Change focused on the 30-year anniversary of the ADA! We’ll talk to 3 people from 3 different generations about their thoughts and personal experiences with the ADA. Mark Seifarth from Columbus has worked on public policy issues at the local, state, and federal level for over 40 years. Diana Mairose is an advocate, artist, and aunt from Cincinnati. D’Arcee Neal is a recent transplant to Columbus (welcome!) via Washington DC, and is an activist and academic who does a lot of work in the intersection of race theory and disability through the lens of popular culture.
July 13-17, 2020 is National Disability Voter Registration Week
Coordinated by the REV UP Campaign, National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) is a concerted effort to get people with disabilities registered to vote, educated about this year’s election, and prepared to cast a ballot in November. NDVRW is held annually the third week of July, just before the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The REV UP Campaign, launched by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) in 2016, is a nonpartisan initiative that coordinates with national, state, and local disability organizations to increase the political power of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. The Campaign focuses on voter registration, education, access, and engagement.
OCALI has created a one-page overview that includes facts and other resources that you can use to help spread the word.
Earn graduate credit with these great courses via Ashland University
AT for Life Skills Learn information about assistive technology (AT) assessment and implementation to support students’ access to employment, independent living, and post-secondary education. Understand how to use AT to support personal organization, daily living skills, environmental access, recreation and leisure, and more!
AT for Academics Learn how to use assistive technology to support access to math, reading, and writing accessible educational materials (AEM).
Learn how to use assistive technology to support access to math, reading, and writing accessible educational materials (AEM).
Behavior Assessment and Planning with Evidence-Based Interventions (BAP) Learn how to use functional behavior assessment and positive behavioral intervention planning to decrease interfering behaviors and teach new skills. These courses are designed to meet the 40-hour training requirement for the RBT credential from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
Choose the age range that best fits your needs: Toddler and Preschool Age, School Age, or Transition Age
Social Narratives: Now Available in Spanish! To help people with disabilities and those that support them, the OCALI Autism Center has created examples of social narratives to use at home during the COVID-19 crisis. Social narratives teach the individual appropriate social practices that can also help regulate behavior. The Autism Center’s social narratives — now available in Spanish — can help teach safe practices and socially appropriate behavior during the COVID-19 crisis.
Med-Ed Connections Resource Guides These free resource guides are designed to support families as they manage, access, and share medical and educational information concerning their children—at all ages—who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. The guides build understanding and connect important medical and educational information to make more informed decisions, so that their children can grow and live their best lives.
These are all words we are very familiar with these days—quickly adapting our professional, personal, and home lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are also words our OCALICON team has been grappling with as we continue to plan for OCALICON 2020.
Throughout the planning process, your health and safety have remained our first priority.
In light of this and with the ever-changing federal and state-issued guidelines, we do not have complete confidence we will be able to safely gather 3,000+ people in a face-to-face environment.
This doesn’t mean we’re canceling OCALICON.
If you haven’t heard the news, we’re excited to announce that we are transitioning OCALICON to a completely virtual experience this year.
While there are still many details to work out, our team is excited at turning the planning upside down and thinking completely outside of the box on how to deliver a ‘best in class’ professional learning event. And, as everyone has come to expect from us, this event will no doubt include our creative, fun, and unexpected flair.
We know you will have questions.
We welcome them. We ask you to give us some time to work out the details, and we will continue to keep you informed as decisions are made. In addition to informing you by email, we will also be sharing updates on our conference website and social media platforms.
In this time of transition, we want to hear from you. Send us an email with questions, ideas, or concerns. We value your input and your voice.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these changes together.
That’s a wrap for school year 2019-2020. And what a year it has been. Like many of you, the unexpected and rapid transition to working from home, remote learning, and social distancing caught us by surprise. As we made the transition with our own staff, there were a lot of bumps and learning along the way. From trying to sort out how to connect staff remotely, how to support collaboration between project teams, how to use new technology, how to deliver and present content in an online format, and the list goes on and on. We’re sure that many of these things are all too familiar to many of you, too.
While we were all learning together (or flying by the seat of our pants, in most cases), our commitment to supporting our collective community has remained at the heart of everything we do. We are here to support you with accessible materials, online learning, and other resources to ensure that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them have what they need.
You might be taking a mental health break, planning your next vacation, or just getting ready to enjoy a more relaxed schedule—but we want to remind you that we are here to support your professional 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 14 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 staff members have compiled some of our newest resources to get you started.
Access—it’s not something the average person thinks about. But, for our students with disabilities, access is front and center in their daily lives. Unfortunately, access is often silent and unintentional discrimination. Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impairedis a free, self-paced training module designed to build confidence and comfort for anyone communicating or connecting with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. By completing this module, users can earn up to 2.5 hours of Continuing Education Credit.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In the coming weeks and months we will be working to create and share accessible resources to support continued conversations and actions about race, disability, and the ongoing fight for equality. Here are a few you can access today:
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 new suite of resources are 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 new Early Care and Education Seminars.
Need Graduate Credit?
Check out these online resources that offer the opportunity to earn graduate credit.
The Family Center Resource Gallery provides a variety of resources in different formats to support families with a loved one with autism. Resources include a basic introduction to autism, guide to Ohio resources, building social skills, and learning from others.
Check out the schedule of upcoming webinars from the UDL Center! Topics include: Designing for the Least Restrictive Environment in General Education, Inclusive Practices That Support Learners With Significant Cognitive Disabilities, and many more!
Case Studies to Support Transition
Need support in using Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment methods to assist your team in better understanding a student’s current and future skills and knowledge?
The Lifespan Transition Center has a great collection of case studies you can use to guide your team’s planning process!
In April, OCALI’s Inspiring Change podcast launched a new series of episodes to capture the thoughts, reactions, and stories from parents, OCALI staff, educators, and other professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re trying to capture these moments as they happen, as people are reacting and adapting and processing and trying to figure things out,” said host Simon Buehrer. “There’s a lot of trial and error and DIY-ing going on right now in almost every aspect of our lives, and we wanted to share what’s happening, how people are juggling and managing these complexities and disruptions, and also champion their personal victories – those moments of triumph and success during unprecedented times. These bright spots help us connect and inspire us to keep going during an era of uncertainty and social distancing.”
You can check out the “Voices, Visions & Victories” series at ocali.org/podcasts. Or wherever you get your podcasts.
Each year, Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) conducts a survey to hear from families who have a loved one with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or other disabilities. This year’s survey, which will go live on May 20–June 5, will focus on family experiences related to COVID-19. Sharing your experiences and feedback can help ensure resources are accessible, especially where they will do the most good.
The IWGA represents multiple state agencies who meet regularly to review policies, learn from current research and data, and identify opportunities to better communicate and coordinate Ohio’s autism efforts.
Watch for more details by following OCALI’s Office of Policy on Twitter at @OCALIPolicy or visiting https://iwg-autism.org/.
This was a school year like no other. When schools and colleges transitioned from an in-school to a distance learning environment in mid-March, many of our lives were turned upside down. For some, like my son Connor, who is a college student on the autism spectrum, it was a challenge to adapt to the online environment. The good news: we made it. Let’s celebrate our students’ achievements and milestones during this unprecedented time and look forward to what’s next.
For youth with disabilities, the next steps might be unclear. With more time at home, we have an opportunity to prioritize discussions about how our young people will work and support themselves as adults. Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) can provide services remotely to help them identify their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and career goals to help them build a foundation for future success. We can help provide a realistic understanding of the time, effort, and expense required to achieve their goals.
OOD can assist youth with disabilities, beginning at age 14, through career exploration, skill development, and strategies to get a job after graduation (www.OODWorks.com). In-person meetings may not be possible right now due to COVID-19; however, OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors stand ready to serve and are eager to work together with you and your young person remotely. We can help students explore their options, whether they are in the beginning stages of career exploration, desire to work right away, or launch their career after the pandemic subsides.
If you have a college student with a disability, make sure you connect with us. Our Ohio College2Careers program, at 15 public colleges and universities in Ohio, ensures students with disabilities have the support they need to complete their degree and/or credential, earn higher wages, and meet the demands of tomorrow’s labor market. If your student isn’t attending one of the participating colleges, OOD may still be able to provide support for attaining and maintaining employment.
OOD professionals have been creatively supporting individuals with disabilities during this time. Staff have supported students remotely through mock interviews, coordination of virtual job interviews, and connection to essential employment opportunities. Our Division of Employer and Innovation Services’ Urgent Jobs List and process is in place to connect job seekers to essential businesses with urgent hiring needs. Despite these challenging times, in the first six weeks of coronavirus in Ohio, OOD placed a total of 319 Ohioans with disabilities into a broad range of jobs.
Parents, caregivers, teachers, and mentors all play an important role in setting the expectation of work. Have you had a conversation about employment with your young person? It’s a great time to start talking. I encourage you to reach out to get connected with OOD for support and assistance with these conversations.
If you’ve been joining OCALI on Facebook for our daily 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series, Patty, Rachel, Maggie, and Kelli should look familiar. For the past six weeks, they have been newscasters sharing tips, resources, strategies, and funny stories in short, easy-to-understand video clips on a variety of topics—from learning about accessibility features in Zoom and how to use descriptive language using alt text and audio description to establishing routines and sharing self-care tips.
The 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series was part of OCALI’s larger virtual #HereToHelp campaign designed for families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals who support people with disabilities.
“With the rapid and unexpected transition to remote learning and families working from home, the OCALI team was looking for innovative ways to connect people with accessible materials, online learning, and other resources,” said Shawn Henry, executive director at OCALI. “When we launched the campaign, our goal was to ensure that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them were supported during this pandemic. It’s been exciting to see so many people accessing and using our resources, many of which are free.”
“We also wanted the campaign to provide something fun for people to look forward to each afternoon—with quick, easy, and approachable strategies and resources to access live or at your leisure,” shared Kelli Yeagley, community engagement and project specialist.
In case you missed the videos or resources, you can still access everything on the #HereToHelp webpage. There, you will find 100+ resources specifically curated for educators/professionals and families/caregivers, including tips to support accessible, remote learning environments and strategies.
In everything we do, we are striving to connect a community of people—from educators, service providers, parents/families, people with disabilities, community leaders, policy makers, and more. When we collaborate and work together, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that benefit our collective thinking, practices, work, and ultimately, impact.
“Our staff has always been good at collaborating,” said Jan Rogers, program director, Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center. “Planning and developing this campaign virtually provided our staff an opportunity to think differently about how we work together and communicate with each other in new ways.”
“Google Meet and Zoom became great friends during the past few months,” adds Jen Bavry, program director, Family and Community Outreach Center. “It truly was an amazing effort by our staff to quickly gather the information needed for educators and families and organize those into an easily digestible format.”
Our last new 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video will air on May 20. If you missed an episode or want to watch one again, check out our video gallery. We will also be re-running all episodes throughout the summer. The team is also busy planning for the next phase of the campaign, so stay tuned for more information!