At OCALI, we are grateful to be part of a community of people who are just as committed to inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities as we are. It’s what fuels our team and the work that we do every day.
Throughout September, we encourage you to explore these free resources. By sharing them, you may help others understand how they can better promote access in their schools, workplaces, and communities.
There are over 300 signed languages? September 23 is International Day of Sign Languages. Celebrate by learning to sign your name in American Sign Language.
High-quality captioning provides access and information to over 30 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including young readers and individuals who are learning English as a second language? Be sure to use captions, and make sure they’re accurate.
Something as simple as taking turns can improve access? Whether you are working face-to-face or virtually, setting up rules for how and when people communicate makes things easier for everyone.
As we continue to watch the COVID-19 pandemic evolve across the world, one thing we know for sure—the 2020-2021 school year will look different—for students, families, teachers, and administrators. Depending on the district, some, most, or even all instruction will be delivered online.
As an organization committed to promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities, OCALI and the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children are partnering to support educators, education professionals, families, and others during this pandemic and in a new, remote learning environment with the creation of—InspirED Virtual Learning Series.
Our vision for this virtual learning series is to fill a need and help educators, administrators, and families find the information and resources they need to support learning and successful outcomes for their students or children during a very unique time of learning.
Initially, the learning series will consist of 15 Zoomcast sessions or recorded, facilitated conversations that are approximately 30 minutes each. Over time, additional sessions will be added to the library. All content will focus on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking users with appropriate resources and tools. Learners will have the ability to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each learning session.
The series will kick off with three Zoomcast sessions hosted by OCALI and Ohio Department of Education staff:
September 24: Accessible Educational Materials (AEM): An All-Access Pass to Success
September 29: Welcome to Homeroom! Tips for Creating a Learning Environment at Home
October 1: Supporting Positive Behavior at School and at Home: Strategies to Reduce Interfering Behaviors, Part I
Virtual Assistive Technology (AT) Vendor Fair: September 29
Assistive technology (AT) are tools and supports that provide access to the curriculum and aspects of everyday life for individuals with disabilities. The AT Conference and Vendor Fair’s mission is to build capacity in the regions by providing learning opportunities about the latest assistive technology to provide access to the curriculum for individuals with disabilities. Join us for a one-day virtual event where 20+ vendors will share a variety of virtual sessions showcasing state-of-the-art assistive technology and remote learning options. Experience 1:1 vendor consultations and explore from the comfort of home. Learn more and register.
New & Updated AIM Modules
New: Motor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Learn about the body systems which work together to give us motor contact and about typical motor development. This module also highlights some of the most common motor differences we see in individuals with autism.
Updated: Assessment for Identification
Quality assessment is the key to accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Assessment is also a foundation of a strong intervention plan. This is no quality evaluation without trained and experienced team members. Learn more in this newly updated module.
The Journey: A Free Webinar Series
To support County Boards of Developmental Disabilities in helping youth with complex needs and their families navigate the journey to and from school to adult life, the Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI has created a free webinar series, calledThe Journey, designed to support topics, such as:
Planning for transition, and
The webinars highlight different websites, videos, printable documents, and other resources. Additional webinars are planned for the following:
There’s still time to submit your nominations for the Margaret Burley Family Impact and Kathe Shelby Leadership Awards! Do you know someone who has done extraordinary work to support and improve outcomes for people with autism, sensory disabilities, and/or low-incidence disabilities? Don’t let them go unnoticed! Nominations are due by September 30, and can be completed online. Learn more.
Webinar: Multi-system Youth with Autism — Ohio’s System Change Efforts
Friday, September 25, 2020, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PMEDT
Youth and young adults with autism frequently experience co-occurring mental and behavioral health conditions, and are increasingly served by multiple systems in Ohio. These youth are more likely to visit an emergency department for psychiatric reasons, have more outpatient and inpatient hospital visits, primary care and psychiatric visits, health care claims, and higher health care costs than youth with other disabilities, and are at greater risk of suicide.
In this month’s webinar, the Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) is joined by parent, Mark Butler, and members of the DeWine administration. Panelists include:
LeeAnne Cornyn, Director of Children’s Initiatives, Office of the Governor
Sarah LaTourette, Executive Director, Ohio Family and Children First
Maureen Corcoran, Director, Ohio Department of Medicaid
Join us Friday, September 25 from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM to hear about the challenges faced by Ohio’s families and efforts to make change. Register now.
Resources & Reminders from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD)
DSP Recognition Week is September 13-19. We are encouraging families to share short videos showing their appreciation for their DSPs. They can tag DODD on social media or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trusting the Team Process: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people with developmental disabilities and their teams have been challenged to make adjustments to the routines, services, and supports that help people live and thrive in their homes and communities. In recent weeks, those discussions have become more complex as people balance the increasing opportunities as Ohio reopens with ongoing risks of COVID-19. DODD has guidance for Trusting the Team Process in making these decisions.
Improving Accessibility for Remote Learning Environments
Accessibility of remote learning—it’s not something the average person thinks about. But, for Ohio’s students with disabilities, particularly for those starting the school year in hybrid or completely remote learning environments, access is front and center in everyone’s daily lives. Many educators are now tasked with providing access to educational content online through video or digital documents.
The Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI is committed to ensuring access for all people with disabilities. As educators, students, and families prepare to head back to school, we wanted to share a few easy tips and reminders to improve accessibility for all students—whether that be in the classroom or remotely.
Using Descriptive Language Instruction-based videos and documents tend to have visuals that support learning. Using descriptive language in videos and providing text descriptions of images in documents is incredibly important for many students. Doing so not only increases access, but follows many best practices, such as those in Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Descriptive language and text descriptions support one of the core principles of UDL, by providing multiple means of representation. When you are able to describe information, students are able to get a stronger visual picture of what they are learning and how it is connected to the content. Providing descriptive language, or audio description, increases access for students with blindness or visual impairments, but also supports students using text-based transcript of a video, students with poor or unstable internet that may not have high quality video or images, and students of all learning styles. To learn more about how to use descriptive language, watch OCALI’s short video.
Using Captions Whereas audio description describes visual information, closed captions provide text of the audio or narration. Research has shown that tools, such as captions and audio description, not only increase access for students with sensory impairments, such as deafness or blindness, but also support many students, such as auditory learners, or students learning a language. Text , or captions, of the audio or narration helps reiterate the content and makes it accessible to students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, with auditory processing disorders, learning a language, or are learning in noisy environments with many environmental distractions. In order to provide captions for your students, there are many built-in captioning tools in common instructional tools, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides. To learn about using these tools for both in person and virtual teaching, you can also check out OCALI’s short video on creating captions for online learning.
In addition to considering descriptive language and captions for teacher developed resources, it is important to use external or curricular resources that have also been made accessible. The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), provides free access to thousands of accessible videos for any family or educator who has a student with a disability. Teachers can create class and student accounts, assigning videos to be watched. Videos within the DCMP library offer captions, audio descriptions, and most recently, readings of children’s books using American Sign Language.
To get started, visit DCMP and register for an account. Through email verification, you will have access to educational videos that have closed captions and many that have audio descriptions.
Providing Accessible Digital Materials In addition to adding accessibility to online learning, such as videos and virtual classes, consider providing documents and slide presentations in an accessible format to students. Educators may be interested in learning about accessible educational materials through our Assistive Technology Internet Modules: Reading WATI Part I and Part II. Learn more about upcoming professional development through our BEST Grant, which focuses on students with visual impairments, with one session focusing specifically on Creating Accessible Word Documents in September 2020.
Using Accessibility Features in Virtual Conferencing Platforms Many of you are familiar with Zoom, a popular video conferencing platform. In our new distance learning environment, Zoom’s use and popularity with teachers and students have skyrocketed. Take time to discover accessibility features within the virtual meeting platform that your district has chosen and inform your students of the options available.
Tips on Making the Transition from School to Remote, Home-based Learning for Learners with Complex Needs
School year 2020-2021—it’s unlike anything educators, students, and families have ever experienced. While teachers are typically setting up their classrooms, many families are wondering how to make the transition from school to home-based learning this year. There’s no question that learning will look different this year. Whether your school district is going back traditionally with new social distancing and sanitation requirements, or whether it’s a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, or a completely remote model, educators, students, and families will experience many new ways of learning, connecting, and providing support.
Throughout the spring and summer, the Teaching Diverse Learners Center at OCALI has compiled a list of questions and answers from educators and practitioners across Ohio to address important topics for educators and families who support students with complex needs. Following are some key questions to consider for back-to-school.
How can we help a student understand that home is a place where school-like activities/learning can take place?
Replicating a school-like environment and structure are important to helping students connect their typical perception of school and learning to now being at home for learning. Ideas on ways that families can recreate a school-like environment include:
Send families photos or descriptions of each learning space in your classroom or school building where specific learning tasks take place. Offer ideas on how to recreate similar spaces within the home or yard. Label selected spaces to be matched with transition cues (pictures, objects, etc.).
Send home familiar tools and materials used in school.
Remember that some students will need sensory regulation materials. Sensory regulation is not something that only happens in a specific space or room. Some tools can act as a stimulant and others as a means of calming or focus. Be sure to pair the right sensory tools with the appropriate activities.
Use different rooms or areas in the home and yard for different activities. Create and use photos/symbols of each space to model transitions in time and activities throughout the day. For example, in the morning, the day begins in the bedroom, (with specific picture schedule/task analysis) then to the bathroom (with specific picture schedule/task analysis) then transition to the kitchen (with specific picture schedule/task analysis/choice board), next show and carry the picture of the desk area (with specific picture schedule/task analysis/choice board), followed by a picture of the yard/sidewalk/open space in the home to indicate recess, movement or play (with specific picture schedule/choice board), and so on.
Post pictures of school environments in locations within the home to indicate activities or learning that will take place in each specific location.
Set out tools and materials (in tubs/containers) that go with activities in designated spaces (math manipulatives at a table, art supplies at the counter, games on the coffee table, swing, balls and mini trampoline in the basement, etc.).
What types of learning can families leverage as they work and learn in the home?
Now is the perfect time to think about teaching and learning about daily living and life skills. Identify chores or tasks that are required in the home—Are there any that the child could help with (helping with pets, preparing a meal or snack, cleaning items, picking up items, washing items, loading/putting away dishes, etc.)? Think about taking advantage of the warm weather to make the outdoors a learning lab—listening to the birds and insects, enjoying the sunshine, feeling the grass, finding natural objects, digging in the dirt, etc. Following are additional resources for educators and parents to consider:
How can families communicate new routines and changing timelines with their children, especially those who don’t understand why these changes keep happening?
Use or create a home calendar to communicate daily routines or schedules. Include words or symbols that indicate where learning will take place that day.
Schedule time on the calendar to listen to the news.
Schedule a morning video/phone call with the principal, bus driver, or teacher to hear from them. These can be video recorded and played back each day, if needed.
Use objects, symbols, signs, and/or words to communicate with your child and to label the calendar.
Play a morning or wake-up song that indicates learning at home.
What digital resources can educators suggest/provide to families to replace traditional classroom materials?
Tips for teachers:
Morning meetings/circle time: Teachers can record morning meeting routines within PowerPoint or Google slides, and students can drag and drop symbols or words into each slide to complete the day’s schedule, weather, or date or can use paper materials to do the same.
Teacher read alouds: Use online videos or livestream of storytellers, have teacher audio, or video record stories and mail on flash drive or disc.
Field trips: Explore virtual tours, experiences, and outdoor activities around the home/community.
Hands-on science: Explore science videos, science TV programs, outdoor exploration, etc.
Interventions and therapies: Offer 1:1 conference times, teletherapy, schedule a time watch week, email an outline of task and materials needed for each week, or offer to create and send materials, as needed.
Assistive technology (AT): Exchange the use of high-tech tools for low-tech access. Contact libraries or companies for loaner equipment, mail student-specific AT tools home for use. There are many types of AT that may be used by students on a daily basis.
How can we help families and students maintain emotional and physical health at home?
Try to connect students with other students, if possible.
Try to connect students with other staff members, if possible.
Check in and maintain as much or as few communications as requested by the family.
Offer families access to contact information that they can use in their time of need.
Loosen the reins on expectations. Be kind to yourself and your child by not being so rigid or strict with activities, schedules, etc. Flexibility is key.
Movement during daily activities are important, and scheduling twice as many breaks/recesses as usual is a good idea. Movement can be everyday tasks around the home, which also support functional skill development, such as: sweeping, dusting, yard work, laundry, dishes, cooking, taking a shower/bath, walking the dog, cleaning out animal stall or pet cage/tank, etc.
Don’t forget the arts. Music, dancing, singing, playing games, puppet shows, mini-plays, arts and craft, making sensory materials like playdough or glitter jars, coloring pages, movement activities, stretching, play homemade or real instruments, play piano, make mud pies, go on a nature walk and make art, baggie books or wind chimes with found objects, etc.
Increasing Financial Security and Independence through STABLE Accounts
Last month, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill’s enactment was a defining moment for our country, and the ADA has drastically improved equality of opportunity for people with disabilities. July also marked the fifth anniversary of Ohio House Bill 155, which authorized the creation of the STABLE Account program.
Now is the time to build on the legacy of those important pieces of legislation. August is #ABLEtoSave Month, which is dedicated to increasing the awareness and usage of ABLE accounts nationwide.
Following passage of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, Ohio’s STABLE Account program became the nation’s first ABLE program. During this month of advocacy and outreach, I want to reiterate our commitment to growing the STABLE program and working to further establish specialized investment accounts as a mainstream financial tool.
STABLE accounts are an incredibly powerful tool for increasing financial security and greater independence for people with disabilities. Before, people living with disabilities could only save a total of $2,000 before losing their benefits. However, that’s no longer the case. Earnings on a STABLE account grow tax-free and are not subject to federal income tax, so long as they are spent on Qualified Disability Expenses. Qualified Disability Expenses include education, housing, transportation, healthcare, assistive technology, basic living expenses, and many other items.
Our team started off 2020 by venturing to every corner of the state to share the benefits of STABLE accounts. While COVID-19 required a quick pivot to virtual outreach, it didn’t slow down our efforts. Since May, we have seen a record-breaking day, a record-breaking week, and two consecutive record-breaking months, adding 839 new accounts in June alone.
We are proud to now serve nearly 18,000 STABLE account-holders who have made over $150 million in total contributions. Today, our program accounts for 25 percent of account-holders nationally – proving that Ohio leads the way in creating opportunities for people with disabilities.
Opening a STABLE account is easy – it only takes about 20 minutes and can be done from the safety and comfort of home. For more information, or to sign-up, please visit the STABLE Account website athttps://www.stableaccount.com, or call our team directly at 1-800-439-1653.
The Buckeye State is fortunate to have an ever-growing advocacy network that does a tremendous job of ensuring people with disabilities have every opportunity to thrive, and I’m proud of the work our STABLE team does every day to support that goal. Together, we’re breaking down barriers to build a more inclusive state that benefits from the talents of all Ohioans.
What’s New at OCALI
Introducing … OCALICONLINE 2020! The nation’s premier autism and disabilities conference is back! OCALICONLINE is November 11-13 – available through a laptop, tablet or smartphone near you.
It’s everything you know and love about OCALICON, now in an online format.
Featuring over 100 world-class sessions on important topics and issues across the lifespan – plus inspiring keynotes each day. Numerous networking opportunities will be offered throughout the conference – and a chance to connect with exhibitors, too. More details and information will be announced in the coming weeks.
Welcome to the community. There’s a place for you here. Registration is now OPEN!
FREE Training: Assistive Technology Academy: Starts September 10
This multi-session, interactive and technology-based training program is designed to build foundational competencies in order to deliver Assistive Technology (AT) services to individuals with an array of disabilities and age groups. Learn more about this free training for county boards of developmental disabilities at https://ataem.org/at-special-projects-and-grants/AT
New Module: Responding to Trauma and Supporting Resilience
This module focuses on understanding trauma and how it impacts and influences children. Professionals will learn to recognize possible signs of trauma and identify practical strategies to build resilience along with connecting and engaging families with resources and supports. Explore now. https://cycsuite.org/m/210
New Podcast Episode!
Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of the ADA
July 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by the first President Bush in 1990. We talk to D’Arcee Neal, Diana Mairose, and Mark Seifarth – three people from three different generations – about what the ADA means to them, what it does for them, where it misses the mark, and their recommendations going forward as the journey continues. Listen now.