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.

Featured

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

OCALICONLINE 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 38 • May 2022

Teacher and student holding blocks with data graphic of bar charts - headline is Special Education Profile Data
Special Education Profile Data: Solving Problems of Practice through Data Analysis

Special Education Profile Data: Solving Problems of Practice Through Data Analysis 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) established a series of special education “indicators” to measure each school district’s services and results for students with disabilities. The Ohio Department of Education works with stakeholders to set annual targets – or goals – for how districts should perform on these indicators.  

Every year, districts receive a Special Education Profile that shows whether they are meeting their goals, over time, for students with disabilities. The design of the Special Education Profile helps districts use data about services and outcomes for students with disabilities to keep improving their special education programs. These data give schools answers about kindergarten readiness, achievement levels, access to general education environments, preparedness for life beyond high school, services for children with disabilities, and equitable outcomes. 

The primary basis of each district’s 2021-2022 Special Education Profile is the final special education program data that districts submitted through the state’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) for the 2020-2021 school years. The Special Education Profile also reflects a district’s performance on each indicator for up to four previous years. (Source: Ohio Department of Education) 

  

Results for Students with Disabilities 

The Special Education Profiles notify districts of their performance on the key indicators set forth by IDEA. Profiles also inform districts of any activities they must complete based on these indicators. The report includes data only about students with disabilities, unless otherwise shown. 

  

Solving Problems of Practice Through Data Analysis  

In the May 19, 2022 InspirED episode, Shawna Benson from the Teaching Diverse Learners Center at OCALI and Andrea DiFrancesco, Education Program Specialist – Urban Support from the Ohio Department of Education model the use of a data collection template that can be populated with Special Education Profile and other data sets as a tool for problem solving. They explore a sample problem of practice that challenges the service provision for learners with disabilities. Other relevant examples could include topics such as disproportionality, LRE across subgroups, access to Tier 1 instruction across subgroups, graduation outcomes across subgroups, language and literacy outcomes across subgroups, etc.  

Get the Details  

These are just a few of the topics explored in the recent InspirED Virtual Learning Series episode, Revisiting Special Education Profile Data: Solving Problems of Practice Through Data Analysis.


BEST Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers logo
BEST – Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers

Free Summer Braille Series & Other Online Resources   

For 17 years, Ohio has been the recipient of a braille training grant from the Federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, known as the Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST).  

The BEST project is a statewide program of professional development and technical assistance dedicated to braille literacy, braille instruction, braille materials, and braille technology in Ohio schools. The goals of the BEST project include: 

  • Enhancing the competency of preservice and in-service educators, paraprofessionals, and others to provide braille literacy instruction and support across all academic areas including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); 
  • Enhancing the competency of pre-service and in-service educators, paraprofessionals, and others to efficiently and effectively acquire and create braille materials; and 
  • Increasing educators’ and others’ ability to apply strategies learned in the BEST project trainings and other activities to more effectively manage the braille needs of their students through the support of follow-up technical assistance or resources. 

As part of the BEST Grant’s goals to support the implementation of braille instruction and braille technology, the BEST Grant is providing professional development trainings and webinars in the following areas: 

STEM: These online training sessions will help you to learn how to teach and provide access to STEM subjects for students who use braille. 

Reading/Writing: Learn braille and how to effectively teach braille to students to access reading and writing activities with these online training opportunities. 

Accessible Documents & The Production Of AEM: These online training sessions offered within this category will focus on the creation and development of accessible documents along with utilizing tools and features within applications to support the production of accessible educational materials. 

Register Now 

Registration is free, but attendees must register in advance. The events have a limited number of participants. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis.


What’s New at OCALI

OCALI Multi-System Navigation Center; We are Hiring!
OCALI is Hiring! Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coaches

OCALI is Hiring! Multi-System Youth and Family Regional Coaches 

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 work with youth with complex needs (MI/IDD) and their families in their homes.

Computer screen with We Are Hiring text and OCALI Logo
We are Hiring!

Transition to Adulthood Consultant

OCALI is seeking a full-time, experienced Transition to Adulthood Consultant. Essential to this position is the belief that all people can contribute, that youth with disabilities belong in the community and workforce and have the right to engage in opportunities to create a meaningful life.

Unlocking the English Code Free Webinar
Unlocking the English Code

June 2, 9am-12pm: Unlocking the English Code: Assessments for Learners Who Are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind/Visually Impaired   

Identify layers of assessment and how data from each layer can be used for learners who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired. 

STABLE Accounts Parent & Family Virtual Workshop - Happy family of four with young girl in wheelchair
STABLE Accounts Workshop – Learn the Basics & How to Get Started

June 14, 7 pm: STABLE Accounts Workshop   

June 14: Register and learn how STABLE accounts help individuals with disabilities save for eligible expenses, invest for future needs, and keep their benefits. 

InspirED Virtual Learning Series logo
New InspirED Episode

June 16, 4-4:30 pm.: New InspirED Session 

Be At Your BEST – The Ohio Braille Training Grant Program 

For 17 years, Ohio has been the recipient of a braille training grant from the Federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, known as the Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST). The BEST project is a statewide program of professional development and technical assistance dedicated to braille literacy, braille instruction, braille materials, and braille technology in Ohio schools. Learn more about upcoming trainings and resources available.

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

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

OCALICONLINE 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 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 31 • September 2021

A group of hands meeting together in the middle
Helping hands

Creative, Collaborative, and Connected Partnerships

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI

Better together.

Two heads are better than one.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

We’ve all heard these sayings or we’ve used them with our colleagues and teams. Whether it’s creating 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.

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. We believe that we are better when we collaborate with our staff and partners. When we work together, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that benefit our thinking, practices, and work. Collaboration and strategic partnerships in the education, technology, health care, social service, government, and policy sectors have been the foundation of our organization’s growth and impact.

We have taken what we have learned about partnerships and applied it to OCALICONLINE—the premier autism and disabilities conference. Over the past 15 years, this conference has grown and evolved into something that we are really proud of—an experience that is designed to connect and inspire people across the lifespan, across agencies, and across the world.

OCALICONLINE 2021 will showcase the best-of-the-best from some of our fellow collaborators and partners – organizations who are similarly inspiring change and promoting access in their own corners of the world, in their own ways, and from their own perspectives. We sought them out for their exemplary work in the field of disabilities, and because we know they are each at the leading edge of science and practice.  These partners bring fresh insights and content to our line-up of sessions, and we can’t wait for you to connect with them. 

This year, we welcome:

As you think about ways to expand your own partnerships, I encourage you to consider the following:

Creative partnerships

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard

When organizations embrace creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, it opens the doors to thinking big and outside of the box. When it comes to inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities, we should all be striving to break down traditional barriers and explore things that others may not have yet seen as possible. Seek out like-minded organizations who share your commitment to celebrating creativity and innovation. Together, you will push your thinking and work toward new limits.

Collaborative partnerships

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Collaboration and strategic partnerships are fundamental for growth and impact. Together, with our partners, we are using data, research, and evidence-based strategies to shape policy and practice designed to inspire change and promote access for people with disabilities—something we couldn’t do without collaborative partnerships.

Connected partnerships

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa

From educators, service providers, families, people with disabilities, community leaders, policy makers, and more, when you connect and engage with people and organizations, you create a community of people who are working toward a similar mission and outcomes. Staying connected through regular communication, events, etc. helps establish and strengthen relationships. 

We hope you will consider joining us virtually at OCALICONLINE 2021, November 16-19. To learn more and to register, visit ocalicon.org.

Employment First logo; young father holding baby with young mother sitting behind him
It Starts with Families

It Starts With Families

Families are an important asset in the equation of ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives. And, we know when families have access to information and resources, they are more empowered to support and care for the family member with disabilities.

The Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Employment First Taskforce and its member agencies, have created It Starts With Families, a guide that provides research on the contributing factors and impact families with loved ones with disabilities face. The guide also includes important definitions and links to supporting resources.

This guide is part of a larger, cross-agency professional learning experience planned for spring 2022, designed for local professionals working to prepare, involve, and empower families of students with disabilities as they transition from secondary education to adulthood.

Ultimately, the guide and training are designed to support local professionals serving individuals and their families to:

  • become familiar with the research around families,
  • learn how to better design family engagement strategies, and
  • to reach all families, and build trust, rapport, and successful partnerships with families through culturally responsive practices.

We hope that this guide helps you to commit to Ohio’s mission of developing and implementing universally designed approaches that will ensure all families have the necessary knowledge and skills regarding transition education and services and are involved in all aspects of transition planning.

Questions? Contact ItStartsWithFamilies@dodd.ohio.gov.

What’s New at OCALI

Butterfly logo with Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners
Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for ALL Learners

NEW! Ensuring Access to General Curriculum for ALL Learners

Ensuring Access to the General Curriculum for All Learners provides educators and other specialists with 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. Organized in 10 chapters, this series was created for educators, by educators and is grounded in research and evidence-based practices. The free, video-based learning series explores practical, easy-to-use strategies and resources that are designed to ensure ALL learners have access to the general curriculum.

InspirED Virtual Learning Series

NEW! InspirED Episodes

October 21, 4-4:30 p.m.
The Power of Family and Community-Based Partnerships to Support the Whole Child

All students, especially those most vulnerable need support and guidance. The Ohio Department of Education’s strategic plan and whole child framework are designed to connect and address needs most central to a child’s development. Because we know that Ohio’s schools and educators can’t do this alone, partnerships play an essential role in supporting students. Hear from Ohio educators and community organizations as they discuss creative partnerships that are having a positive impact on Ohio’s schools, educators, students, and families. 

November 11, 4-4:30 p.m.
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. 

Considerations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners in the General Education Classroom A Free Interactive 3 part learning series

NEW: Ask Abbey: Considerations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners in the General Education Classroom
October 6, 13, & 20, 4 p.m.

This interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies to increase academic success, social interactions, and more for learners who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the general education environment. Join us for one or all three. Learn more and register.

A group of people meeting together at a table in a professional setting

NEW: 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.

Inspiring Change Podcast from OCALI with microphone logo
Inspiring Change Podcast

NEW: Inspiring Change Podcast: Episode 22
“May the Power Be With You:” The Margaret Burley Family Impact Award

Since 2016, OCALI has awarded the Margaret Burley Family Impact Award to a parent or professional who has made a significant impact on the lives of families of those with disabilities. But who is Margaret Burley? And why is her work, impact, and legacy important enough to memorialize and honor through this annual award? We discuss this with Donna Owens, OCALI’s former director of the Family and Community Outreach Center and unofficial resident historian.

Virtual Assistive Technology Vendor Fair

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

Challenging Behavior: Expect Success
Challenging Behavior: Expect Success

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.

The Journey: A free webinar series

2021-2022 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.