OCALI NOW | Issue 40 • August 2022

Planning for Transition Assessment, checklist image with people
Planning for Transition Assessment

How to Use Partners and Data to Help Students Set, Refine, and Achieve Post-School Goals 

Schools and agencies have an overlapping responsibility to serve and engage with transition youth. Because many youth with disabilities are eligible to receive services from one or more agencies while in school, it is important to plan as a multi-agency team. By doing this, agency professionals and schools are able to come together to meet with the student and family to collaboratively fulfill their separate responsibilities, which helps to properly sequence supports and help the youth toward their adult life goals. 

Age-appropriate transition assessment, often called AATA or simply ‘transition assessment’ is defined by the Division on Career Development and Transition, DCDT, of the Council for Exceptional Children, as “an ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, personal and social environments.” 

The purpose of transition assessment is different than the purpose of assessment for eligibility or progress monitoring. Transition assessment focuses on what the youth can do, their strengths, and assets. Transition assessment also compares the youth’s current profile of Preferences, Interests, Needs, and Strengths or Skills (PINS) to what they need in order to accomplish their adult life goals, which will help the team develop skill development goals, training opportunities, transition services, and other supports to help the youth prepare for their adult life. 

The transition assessment planning process is designed to address five basic questions:  

  1. What are the youth’s adult life goals?  
  1. What are the youth’s PINS? 
  1. How well-aligned are the youth’s current skills to the set of skills needed in the future? 
  1. What other or additional information does the team need to know?  
  1. What assessment tools, methods, and strategies will be used to address the assessment questions?  

For schools, collecting data from the transition assessment is a required part of the Individuals Education Plan (IEP) beginning no later than age 14. However, it is not always clear what data should be collected or how to interpret and use the data. 

That is where the new, online AATA Planning Guide can help. The guide was designed to support IEP team members and transition-age students in thoughtfully and intentionally planning for transition assessment.  The tool begins with an introduction section that focuses on building a multi-agency team to support the youth.  

“We hope this tool will help guide educators, youth, families, and other team members through the transition assessment planning process, making it easier to identify goals, build that full youth profile from all perspectives, and document ‘the gap’ for a student,” shares Alex Corwin, Director, Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI. “In the end, we want to help the student and their team successfully navigate to the adult life goals and vision 

Two ways learn more: 

  1. Join us virtually at 4 p.m. tomorrow, August 25, for a new InspirED episode on Planning for Transition Assessment. Learn more and register
  1. Visit https://www.ocali.org/project/AATA to view a brief video and explore the AATA Planning Guide. 

OCALICONLINE 2022 All-star Keynote Trio

OCALICONLINE 2022: Bigger and Better Than Ever 

We are just three short months away from hosting OCALICONLINE 2022 – the world’s premier autism and disabilities conference. And while every year is special, this year, we celebrate our ‘Sweet 16’ birthday and our largest gathering ever. Nearly 16,000 – yes, 16,000! – of your peers and colleagues have already signed up – from 50 states and 49 countries, including many first-time attendees from Pakistan, Barbados, Micronesia, Gambia, Iran, Estonia, Tunisia, and many others. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome everyone to this amazing virtual gathering November 15-18, 2022. Whether you are already registered or are thinking about attending for the first time, here are a few things we’re excited about and hope you will be, too.  


  1. All-star keynote trio: Tuesday, November 15, 12:30 p.m. EST   

OCALICONLINE 2022 opens with a dynamite panel discussion featuring Judy Heumann, Temple Grandin, and Haben Girma, all three of whom have been at the forefront of leading and inspiring change for people with disabilities. They’ll share their perspectives on current challenges and opportunities and discuss future possibilities and what it really means to be a part of a community. This panel session alone will be worth the price of registration!   


  1. Dynamic presenters and diverse content   

With a record number of presenters (nearly 500!) and sessions (nearly 300!) from around the world, there is content for every age and every milestone across the lifespan. From early childhood to school-age to adulthood, OCALICONLINE sessions feature the best-of-the-best in research, best practices, and resources that support the lifelong needs of individuals with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. We’ll also feature content from our collaborative partners. Check out the Session Sorter to preview all the content! You can even make your own schedule!  


  1. Refresh and recharge  

Need a quick break or a chance to unwind? Check out the OCALI Channel – your streaming destination for continued learning, discovery, and aha moments! In between sessions, you’ll get updates and announcements courtesy of the OCALICONLINE 2022 hosts, the Good Life Ambassadors, plus cameo appearances from the conference team, and “views from the top” as we check in with leaders from OCALI and the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children. The OCALI Channel also features content from all 10 OCALI Centers – including clips and highlights from OCALI’s numerous video and audio projects and series – as well as coffee and energy break adventures to get you back in the game. Starting Tuesday, November 15, the OCALI Channel runs continuously through the end of the conference on Friday, November 18.   


  1. Celebrating moments of impact for 16 years  

Over the past 16 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 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.  


Space Is Limited – So Hurry!  

If you’re not registered, what are you waiting for? Due to the overwhelming demand, space is limited. Don’t wait! Register before September 15, and save $50!  

We Love What We We Do - OCALI Is Hiring
OCALI is Hiring!

OCALI is Hiring an Online Professional Development Specialist!  

We are a mission-driven team committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. Learn more about our search for an Online Professional Development Specialist. 

Find out why we love what we do.

What’s New at OCALI

InspirED: Planning for Transition Assessment August 25

August 25, 4:00-4:30 p.m. 
NEW: InspirED: Planning for Transition Assessment 

Explore OCALI’s new online Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment Planning Guide to support the process for students with disabilities to set post-school goals, find meaningful graduation pathways, and more.

The Journey: A free webinar series

August 29, 2:30-3:00 p.m. 
NEW: The Journey: How to Decide? Alternatives to Guardianship 

As youth with complex needs transition to adulthood, many families consider applying for legal guardianship. Learn more about options families and allies can use to continue supporting their loved one.

Band Together Central Ohio
Band Together Central Ohio

September 11, 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Band Together Central Ohio

Join us for an Autism Open Mic to celebrate the talents of our Central Ohio Autism community. Individuals with autism are invited to participate at The Gahanna Sanctuary on the second Sunday of every month from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Registration is recommended. 

Deaf Education Network

September 12, 9:30 a.m.
Deaf Education Network: Fall Meeting 
The Deaf Education Network Fall Meeting’s goal is to connect professionals and agencies who serve D/HH learners in the state of Ohio and provide them with the most current resources available around the state.

Improving Outcomes for People with Disabilities

September 13, 12:00-1:00 p.m. 
Improving Outcomes for People with Disabilities: Clinical Care Over the Lifespan and During Transition  

The Core Competencies in Health Care Education for People with Disabilities serve as a foundation for this 10-part series. Each session provides attendees the opportunity to hear from and engage with leaders from a variety of disciplines.

Innovation Spotlight Series – Relationships Matter

September 13, 7:00-9:00 p.m. 
SSI Benefits 

Learn the basics of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and requirements to apply for SSI benefits. 

Professionals Serving Students with Visual Impairments

September 16, 8:00 a.m. 
Professionals Serving Students with Visual Impairments: Fall Meeting 

The Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI supports networking around Ohio through the Professionals Serving Students with Visual Impairments semi-annual meetings. Join us to connect and collaborate! Learn more and register

Virtual Educational Identification of Students with ASD

November 2022-March 2023
Educational Identification of Students with ASD Virtual Training Series 

This introductory training series with 10 two-hour sessions is designed for school-based evaluation teams that want to learn more about the process for educational identification of students with ASD. Register by October 24. Space is limited.


OCALI NOW | Issue 39 • June 2022

Living Your Moments Well with Other People
Living Your Moments Well with Other People

Living Your Moments Well With Other People  

When we talk about building and enriching stronger, more inclusive communities, there are many different ideas, theories, and formulas for how to cultivate, nurture, and sustain them effectively. These efforts can certainly be challenging, complicated—even difficult.

But what if they weren’t? What if our collective efforts as professionals, parents, self-advocates, supporters, and allies, could be strengthened and improved simply by being more familiar with each other? What if we could build better connections, networks, and relationships simply by being more involved and participating in more activities together?  

Could it really be that simple?  

Well, that’s exactly the framework that Tim Vogt, Danyetta Najoli, and Jill Mays set out to discuss and explore in a recent conversation highlighted in the latest episode of OCALI’s Inspiring Change podcast. 

Tim and Danyetta both work for Starfire, a Cincinnati-based organization that has been building better lives for people with disabilities since 1993. Jill Mays is a development and community relations coordinator for PSU in Lebanon, Ohio.  

“If you’re in the space of being interested in building a more inclusive world, either through your work or through your family or through your community or for yourself, remember that strategically, it’s not all going to happen at once,” shares Vogt. “It’s going to take small steps.” 

Tim, Danyetta, and Jill have been studying the building blocks of psychology and research around inclusion, including principles related to familiarity, quality connections, and shared activities. These principles don’t apply only to people with disabilities, but really to everyone. 

The Familiarity Principle 

The familiarity principle states that, as human beings, we prefer people and things that we see or experience frequently. It could be someone you see every day on your way to work, for example. 

“Basically, when you break this principle down, we’re talking about our comfort zones,” says Mays. “Whether it’s people with disabilities or people of different ethnicity, representation really does matter—in the media or just in our lives. It makes a difference if we see people and things around us, because it makes us more comfortable and more familiar.”  

Quality Connections Principle 

Simply put, this principle explores the characteristics of high-quality connections, including a person feeling respected, helped, and engaging in ways that are creative or playful. 

Najoli emphasizes the importance of quality connections and inclusion by believing that a person’s quality of life is almost in direct correlation to the person supporting them. 

“I would love for people to be trained and to learn continually and know that it’s not just a static way to be, but you have to continue to learn and grow,” shares Najoli. “And whatever it is for you that gets you into a space of continually learning. It can be personal coaching, life coaching, or growth and development work—anything to keep a person stretching and growing.” 

Shared Activities Principle 

This principle is designed to build trust and connections through shared interests and activities. 

“For me, I’ve seen when shared interests help level the playing field and people just take off their titles and labels,” explains Najoli. “During the pandemic, I saw this in my neighborhood where we put together a street concert. I thought that was a great way to endorse what I love doing because I was willing to spend time to organize it and gather the artists, and it was great seeing people just play together and enjoy music.” 

Connecting the Principles 

“What if the way to build a connected life was through these small, high-quality experiences that people got to see each other over and over, and they were respecting each other, helping each other, and playing around to invent really cool experiences,” says Vogt. “It just feels like we’ve got a huge opportunity in front of us.” 

Creating an Accessible Community at The Ohio State Fair
Creating an Accessible Community at the Ohio State Fair

Sensory-Friendly Morning Offered
August 3, 10am-1pm 

The Ohio State Fair—from the rides and attractions to the concerts, shows, and the ever-famous food, the Fair is an annual event and tradition for thousands of Ohioans. At this mecca of endless fun and entertainment, fairgoers experience the bright lights, loud sounds, and distinguishable smells—you know the ones, the mouth-watering smells of funnel cakes and french fries to the unique scents coming from the animal barns. While these sensory-stimulating features may not interfere with most fairgoers’ experience, others’ senses may be heightened by these things, impacting their overall Fair experience.  

To ensure all Ohioans can positively experience the Fair, OCALI has partnered with the Ohio Expo Commission to host the Fair’s Sensory-Friendly Morning on Wednesday, August 3 from 10am– 1pm. During these designated hours, fairgoers can experience a sensory-friendly morning where the lights will be lowered and the sounds turned down. For those looking to take a break, they can relax in the OCALI Quiet Room. Located in the Ohio Building, this quiet, air-conditioned space will offer a variety of low-tech and mid-tech solutions to support a variety of sensory needs, including fidgets, weighted lap pads, sensory processing toys, and more. The Quiet Room will be operational every day of the Fair, with additional enhancements provided by OCALI on Sensory-Friendly Morning.  

“By turning down the lights and sounds for just a few hours on a weekday morning, we hope to make the Fair a more pleasurable experience for those who need a break from exploring the many activities of the Fair,” shares Alicia Shoults, Assistant General Manager, Ohio Expo Center & State Fair.   

In addition to the Sensory-Friendly Morning, the Fair will build upon its existing accessibility efforts and feature additional wheelchair/mobility charging stations and technology to connect people who are blind or have low vision to an agent who can help with navigation. These efforts are all designed to expand access and ensure inclusivity.  

“At OCALI, we believe in a world where everyone deserves access to their community,” explains Shawn Henry, Executive Director at OCALI. “These features at the Fair help to create a common experience with unique considerations that allow greater access for all.” 

OCALI and other organizations, including Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, have partnered closely with the Ohio Expo Commission this year to carefully plan these features to improve accessibility. 

“When our mission and vision of inspiring change and promoting access aligns with our partner’s mission of community engagement, we allow everyone the opportunity to live their best lives,” shares Henry. “To make change happen, we need to continue to engage in partnerships where people are willing change the status quo, and that’s what this partnership with the Ohio Expo Commission has been about.” 

Shoults agrees. “We’re thrilled to have such a strong partnership with the experts at OCALI. They have been instrumental in providing guidance that will help us to ensure that the Fair can be enjoyable for as many Ohioans as possible.” 

We Love What We We Do - OCALI Is Hiring
OCALI is Hiring!

OCALI is Hiring! 

We are a mission-driven team committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and support them. Learn more about our open positions for: Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coach, Instructional Design Specialist, Accessibility Support Specialist, and Clearinghouse Librarian.

Find out why we love what we do.

What’s New at OCALI

Blue Post it notes with words: Accept, Love, Empower, Advocate
IWGA Registration

IWGA Registration: July 22

Join Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) as they share the latest updates to Pursuing Quality Lives (PQL). These updates were based on input from autistic Ohioans, their family members, and stakeholders. The webinar will feature people that participated in the development of PQL as well as a panel of State leaders sharing how agency efforts will support the priorities of people with autism and their families. 

The Ohio State Fair entry gate
Sensory Friendly Day at The Ohio State Fair

Sensory-Friendly Day at The Ohio State Fair: August 3 

OCALI is proud to partner with the Ohio Expo Commission to host a sensory-friendly morning on August 3 from 10am-1pm. Explore the midway with lights and volume turned down, ride the rides without flashing lights and music, and take a break in a soothing quiet room. 

Band Together Central Ohio
Band Together Central Ohio

Band Together Central Ohio: August 14 

Join us for an Autism Open Mic to celebrate the talents of our Central Ohio Autism community. Individuals with autism are invited to participate at The Gahanna Sanctuary on the second Sunday of every month from 2-5pm. Registration is recommended. 

Virtual Educational Identification of Students with ASD
Virtual Educational Identification of Students with ASD

November 2022-March 2023: Educational Identification of Students with ASD Virtual Training Series 

This introductory training series with 10 two-hour sessions is designed for school-based evaluation teams that want to learn more about the process for educational identification of students with ASD. Registration for next year’s series is now open. Space is limited.

OCALICONLINE 2022 - November 15-18 logo with silhouettes of various people
OCALICONLINE Nov. 15-18, 2022


Don’t miss your chance to join over 15,000 of your peers and colleagues from all 50 states + 50 countries! Register now for OCACLICONLINE 2022 – coming November 15-18 to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone near you! Closing out the 2022 fiscal year? There’s no better time to register! Send your whole team and amplify the impact across your organization or school

Innovation Spotlight - Relationships Matter logo
Innovation Spotlight Series – Relationships Matter

2022 Innovation Spotlight Series – Recordings Available

This spring, OCALI partnered with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to produce a series of on-demand videos that showcase innovation around the state in person-centered planning, community membership, and employment opportunities for people with disabilities across Ohio.

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:


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.

OCALI Now | Issue 20 | August 2020

Improving Accessibility for Remote Learning Environments

Mom assists daughter with work on laptop computer
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Accessibility of remote learning—it’s not something the average person thinks about. But, for Ohio’s students with disabilities, particularly for those starting the school year in hybrid or completely remote learning environments, access is front and center in everyone’s daily lives. Many educators are now tasked with providing access to educational content online through video or digital documents.

The Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI is committed to ensuring access for all people with disabilities. As educators, students, and families prepare to head back to school, we wanted to share a few easy tips and reminders to improve accessibility for all students—whether that be in the classroom or remotely.

Colored letters spell the word "sparkle"
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Using Descriptive Language
Instruction-based videos and documents tend to have visuals that support learning. Using descriptive language in videos and providing text descriptions of images in documents is incredibly important for many students. Doing so not only increases access, but follows many best practices, such as those in Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Descriptive language and text descriptions support one of the core principles of UDL, by providing multiple means of representation. When you are able to describe information, students are able to get a stronger visual picture of what they are learning and how it is connected to the content.  Providing descriptive language, or audio description, increases access for students with blindness or visual impairments, but also supports students using text-based transcript of a video, students with poor or unstable internet that may not have high quality video or images, and students of all learning styles. To learn more about how to use descriptive language, watch OCALI’s short video.

Closed Caption label

Using Captions
Whereas audio description describes visual information, closed captions provide text of the audio or narration. Research has shown that tools, such as captions and audio description, not only increase access for students with sensory impairments, such as deafness or blindness, but also support many students, such as auditory learners, or students learning a language. Text , or captions, of the audio or narration helps reiterate the content and makes it accessible to students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, with auditory processing disorders, learning a language, or are learning in noisy environments with many environmental distractions. In order to provide captions for your students, there are many built-in captioning tools in common instructional tools, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides. To learn about using these tools for both in person and virtual teaching, you can also check out OCALI’s short video on creating captions for online learning.

In addition to considering descriptive language and captions for teacher developed resources, it is important to use external or curricular resources that have also been made accessible. The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), provides free access to thousands of accessible videos for any family or educator who has a student with a disability. Teachers can create class and student accounts, assigning videos to be watched. Videos within the DCMP library offer captions, audio descriptions, and most recently, readings of children’s books using American Sign Language. 

To get started, visit DCMP and register for an account. Through email verification, you will have access to educational videos that have closed captions and many that have audio descriptions.

Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM)

Providing Accessible Digital Materials
In addition to adding accessibility to online learning, such as videos and virtual classes, consider providing documents and slide presentations in an accessible format to students. Educators may be interested in learning about accessible educational materials through our Assistive Technology Internet Modules: Reading WATI Part I and Part II. Learn more about upcoming professional development through our BEST Grant, which focuses on students with visual impairments, with one session focusing specifically on Creating Accessible Word Documents in September 2020.

#HereToHelp OCALI Presents 4 minutes at 4:00 p.m.

Using Accessibility Features in Virtual Conferencing Platforms
Many of you are familiar with Zoom, a popular video conferencing platform. In our new distance learning environment, Zoom’s use and popularity with teachers and students have skyrocketed.  Take time to discover accessibility features within the virtual meeting platform that your district has chosen and inform your students of the options available. 

To learn more about specific features in Zoom and how to use them, check out this short video.

Tips on Making the Transition from School to Remote, Home-based Learning for Learners with Complex Needs

Person works at a desk, taking notes while watching a presentation on a large computer monitor
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

School year 2020-2021—it’s unlike anything educators, students, and families have ever experienced. While teachers are typically setting up their classrooms, many families are wondering how to make the transition from school to home-based learning this year. There’s no question that learning will look different this year. Whether your school district is going back traditionally with new social distancing and sanitation requirements, or whether it’s a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, or a completely remote model, educators, students, and families will experience many new ways of learning, connecting, and providing support.

Throughout the spring and summer, the Teaching Diverse Learners Center at OCALI has compiled a list of questions and answers from educators and practitioners across Ohio to address important topics for educators and families who support students with complex needs. Following are some key questions to consider for back-to-school.

How can we help a student understand that home is a place where school-like activities/learning can take place? 

Replicating a school-like environment and structure are important to helping students connect their typical perception of school and learning to now being at home for learning. Ideas on ways that families can recreate a school-like environment include:

For Educators

  • Send families photos or descriptions of each learning space in your classroom or school building where specific learning tasks take place. Offer ideas on how to recreate similar spaces within the home or yard. Label selected spaces to be matched with transition cues (pictures, objects, etc.).
  • Send home familiar tools and materials used in school.
  • Remember that some students will need sensory regulation materials. Sensory regulation is not something that only happens in a specific space or room. Some tools can act as a stimulant and others as a means of calming or focus. Be sure to pair the right sensory tools with the appropriate activities.

For Families

  • Use different rooms or areas in the home and yard for different activities. Create and use photos/symbols of each space to model transitions in time and activities throughout the day. For example, in the morning, the day begins in the bedroom, (with specific picture schedule/task analysis) then to the bathroom (with specific picture schedule/task analysis) then transition to the kitchen (with specific picture schedule/task analysis/choice board), next show and carry the picture of the desk area (with specific picture schedule/task analysis/choice board), followed by a picture of the yard/sidewalk/open space in the home to indicate recess, movement or play (with specific picture schedule/choice board), and so on.
  • Post pictures of school environments in locations within the home to indicate activities or learning that will take place in each specific location.
  • Set out tools and materials (in tubs/containers) that go with activities in designated spaces (math manipulatives at a table, art supplies at the counter, games on the coffee table, swing, balls and mini trampoline in the basement, etc.).

What types of learning can families leverage as they work and learn in the home? 

Now is the perfect time to think about teaching and learning about daily living and life skills. Identify chores or tasks that are required in the home—Are there any that the child could help with (helping with pets, preparing a meal or snack, cleaning items, picking up items, washing items, loading/putting away dishes, etc.)? Think about taking advantage of the warm weather to make the outdoors a learning lab—listening to the birds and insects, enjoying the sunshine, feeling the grass, finding natural objects, digging in the dirt, etc. Following are additional resources for educators and parents to consider:

For Educators

Resources can offer ideas for academic connections (language arts, math, social sciences and social skills) to life skills per grade-level, like life skills curriculum resources, which includes skill development in communication, consumer sciences, safety, recreation and leisure and more. Other resources to check out, include: Project WET, Discover Water, Project WILD (book and activity list, books about animals, and ideas at home for parents), Project Learning Tree, and Camp Nuhop’s online at home outdoor education modules.

For Families

Look at lists of life skills by subject area and grade-level for more ideas on how learners can assist with tasks at home.

How can families communicate new routines and changing timelines with their children, especially those who don’t understand why these changes keep happening?

  • Use or create a home calendar to communicate daily routines or schedules. Include words or symbols that indicate where learning will take place that day.
  • Schedule time on the calendar to listen to the news.
  • Schedule a morning video/phone call with the principal, bus driver, or teacher to hear from them. These can be video recorded and played back each day, if needed. 
  • Use objects, symbols, signs, and/or words to communicate with your child and to label the calendar.
  • Play a morning or wake-up song that indicates learning at home.

What digital resources can educators suggest/provide to families to replace traditional classroom materials?

Tips for teachers:

  • Morning meetings/circle time: Teachers can record morning meeting routines within PowerPoint or Google slides, and students can drag and drop symbols or words into each slide to complete the day’s schedule, weather, or date or can use paper materials to do the same.
  • Teacher read alouds: Use online videos or livestream of storytellers, have teacher audio, or video record stories and mail on flash drive or disc.
  • Manipulatives: Virtual manipulatives, using common household alternatives to count, sort, etc.
  • Field trips: Explore virtual tours, experiences, and outdoor activities around the home/community.
  • Hands-on science: Explore science videos, science TV programs, outdoor exploration, etc.
  • Interventions and therapies: Offer 1:1 conference times, teletherapy, schedule a time watch week, email an outline of task and materials needed for each week, or offer to create and send materials, as needed. 
  • Assistive technology (AT): Exchange the use of high-tech tools for low-tech access. Contact libraries or companies for loaner equipment, mail student-specific AT tools home for use. There are many types of AT that may be used by students on a daily basis.

How can we help families and students maintain emotional and physical health at home?

For Educators

  • Try to connect students with other students, if possible. 
  • Try to connect students with other staff members, if possible.
  • Check in and maintain as much or as few communications as requested by the family.
  • Offer families access to contact information that they can use in their time of need.

For Families

  • Loosen the reins on expectations. Be kind to yourself and your child by not being so rigid or strict with activities, schedules, etc. Flexibility is key.
  • Movement during daily activities are important, and scheduling twice as many breaks/recesses as usual is a good idea. Movement can be everyday tasks around the home, which also support functional skill development, such as: sweeping, dusting, yard work, laundry, dishes, cooking, taking a shower/bath, walking the dog, cleaning out animal stall or pet cage/tank, etc.
  • Don’t forget the arts. Music, dancing, singing, playing games, puppet shows, mini-plays, arts and craft, making sensory materials like playdough or glitter jars, coloring pages, movement activities, stretching, play homemade or real instruments, play piano, make mud pies, go on a nature walk and make art, baggie books or wind chimes with found objects, etc.

Increasing Financial Security and Independence through STABLE Accounts

Ohio State Treasurer - Robert Sprague
Guest Article By: Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague

Last month, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill’s enactment was a defining moment for our country, and the ADA has drastically improved equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. July also marked the fifth anniversary of Ohio House Bill 155, which authorized the creation of the STABLE Account program.

Now is the time to build on the legacy of those important pieces of legislation. August is #ABLEtoSave Month, which is dedicated to increasing the awareness and usage of ABLE accounts nationwide.

Following passage of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, Ohio’s STABLE Account program became the nation’s first ABLE program. During this month of advocacy and outreach, I want to reiterate our commitment to growing the STABLE program and working to further establish specialized investment accounts as a mainstream financial tool.

STABLE accounts are an incredibly powerful tool for increasing financial security and greater independence for people with disabilities. Before, people living with disabilities could only save a total of $2,000 before losing their benefits. However, that’s no longer the case. Earnings on a STABLE account grow tax-free and are not subject to federal income tax, so long as they are spent on Qualified Disability Expenses. Qualified Disability Expenses include education, housing, transportation, healthcare, assistive technology, basic living expenses, and many other items.

Our team started off 2020 by venturing to every corner of the state to share the benefits of STABLE accounts. While COVID-19 required a quick pivot to virtual outreach, it didn’t slow down our efforts. Since May, we have seen a record-breaking day, a record-breaking week, and two consecutive record-breaking months, adding 839 new accounts in June alone.

We are proud to now serve nearly 18,000 STABLE account-holders who have made over $150 million in total contributions. Today, our program accounts for 25 percent of account-holders nationally – proving that Ohio leads the way in creating opportunities for people with disabilities.

Opening a STABLE account is easy – it only takes about 20 minutes and can be done from the safety and comfort of home. For more information, or to sign-up, please visit the STABLE Account website at https://www.stableaccount.com, or call our team directly at 1-800-439-1653.

The Buckeye State is fortunate to have an ever-growing advocacy network that does a tremendous job of ensuring people with disabilities have every opportunity to thrive, and I’m proud of the work our STABLE team does every day to support that goal. Together, we’re breaking down barriers to build a more inclusive state that benefits from the talents of all Ohioans.

What’s New at OCALI


Introducing … OCALICONLINE 2020!
The nation’s premier autism and disabilities conference is back! OCALICONLINE is November 11-13 – available through a laptop, tablet or smartphone near you. 

It’s everything you know and love about OCALICON, now in an online format.

Featuring over 100 world-class sessions on important topics and issues across the lifespan – plus inspiring keynotes each day. Numerous networking opportunities will be offered throughout the conference – and a chance to connect with exhibitors, too. More details and information will be announced in the coming weeks.

Welcome to the community. There’s a place for you here. Registration is now OPEN!

FREE Training: Assistive Technology Academy: Starts September 10

This multi-session, interactive and technology-based training program is designed to build foundational competencies in order to deliver Assistive Technology (AT) services to individuals with an array of disabilities and age groups. Learn more about this free training for county boards of developmental disabilities at https://ataem.org/at-special-projects-and-grants/AT

New Module: Responding to Trauma and Supporting Resilience

This module focuses on understanding trauma and how it impacts and influences children. Professionals will learn to recognize possible signs of trauma and identify practical strategies to build resilience along with connecting and engaging families with resources and supports. Explore now. https://cycsuite.org/m/210

New Podcast Episode!

Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

July 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by the first President Bush in 1990. We talk to D’Arcee Neal, Diana Mairose, and Mark Seifarth – three people from three different generations – about what the ADA means to them, what it does for them, where it misses the mark, and their recommendations going forward as the journey continues. Listen now.