News and Announcements

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council Recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Poster advertising October as National Disability Employment Awareness MonthOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and the Ohio DD Council encourages you to participate! The purpose of NDEAM is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM. The 2018 NDEAM theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

For specific ideas about how you can support National Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit Suggestions range from simple, such as putting up a poster, to comprehensive, such as implementing a disability education program. Regardless, all play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities — every day of every month.

Have you checked out our newsletters lately?

Did you know that the Ohio DD Council publishes several newsletters? We invite you to subscribe to them to stay up-to-date on activities of the Ohio DD Council, including outreach efforts of the Council to the un- and underserved, as well as informational updates on disability-related news and proposed policy changes. Stay informed! Click here to read and subscribe to our newsletters.

Council's Continuation Grant Reviews Set for November

The Executive Committee of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council will meet on Thursday, November 1, 2018  beginning at 10:00 a.m. to review all continuation grant applications for 2019. Click here to review the meeting agenda.

Resources for Finding Assistive Tech Lending Libraries in Ohio

Map of Ohio with color coded counties organized by six different regions.Through a grant with the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI), the Ohio DD Council has published a list of lending libraries across the State of Ohio. These libraries provide access to assistive technology, medical equipment and adaptive toys to support people with developmental disabilities.

The list of Ohio Lending Libraries is available online as an interactive online Google map and other downloadable formats. People can use the map to search lending library programs statewide or in specific regions, based on their needs.

OCALI assessed and compiled this information through an Ohio DD Council grant that concluded earlier this year called "Identification of Assistive Technology Loan Programs in Ohio." The goal of the grant was to develop a comprehensive list of assistive technology lending programs/libraries throughout Ohio and the services each provides so people with developmental disabilities can more easily explore assistive technology options.

Choose from the following to search for Assistive Technology Lending Libraries in Ohio.

Guide to Assistive Technology Lending Libraries in Ohio (2-page PDF document)

Assistive Technology Loan Programs in Ohio - Statewide and Regional (40-page PDF document)

Statewide and Regional Lending Libraries in Ohio (Excel spreadsheet) 

Online Interactive Map of Lending Library Locations (Google Map)

For more information about this project, including updates and how to suggest additions to the list, go to: Guide to Assistive Technology Programs in Ohio.

Applications being accepted for Data and Policy Research Grantblue circle with the words Apply for a Grant in the middle

July 23, 2018: The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council announces a new Notice of Funds Available (NOFA). The Council is seeking applications for a research grant on disability policy related matters. More information can be found within the NOFA.

Applications for this project are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, October 5, 2018. The awarded project is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2019 and run until December 31, 2019.

Questions should be directed to Paul Jarvis at

Ohio DD Council Offers Free Publications!

July 23, 2018: Did you know the Ohio DD Council offers free publications that provide valuable, helpful information for Ohioans with disabilities? Council has published nearly 50 different publications covering many topics, including transportation, employment, housing, self-advocacy, and more.

A picture of the covers of three different publications written by the Ohio DD Council.

Here are some of our most frequently requested publications:

Alphabet Soup: A Guide to Disability Related Acronyms
Employment First Initiative: Community Employment
Guardianship in Ohio
Guidelines for Working with Your Personal Care Assistant
Transition to Independence

Check out Council’s complete list of publications at You can search for publications by title or topic. All publications are available to download and print. Many are also available in a printed booklet format. Instructions on how to request pre-printed copies is included with those publications that are available in that format.

"News and Announcements" provides information about the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council) and other disability-related information. For more latest news and updates from the Ohio DD Council, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also download a list of links to all of our social media sites and newsletters.

Graphic image of a circle with the words Council Member Spotlight in the middle.

July 17, 2018: Our former and current Council members are strong advocates in the community; and we always like to share what they are doing in their own community to advocate for people with developmental disabilities.

Michael Richards is Appointed to County Board on DD

One of our new members, Michael Richards, was named as a board member to the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Richards becomes another self-advocate to be appointed to a board. What makes this even more special is that this appointment marks the first time someone with a developmental disability has served in this capacity on the Highland County Board.

“We always encourage our members to get involved in their local DD boards because most do not have a person with a disability sitting and representing the interests and advocating for issues that also affect people with disabilities in their county,” said Carolyn Knight, executive director of Ohio DD Council. “We are excited about Michael’s new appointment, and we know that he is a great addition to the county board and will bring a great wealth of knowledge to make Highland County more inclusive.”

Read an article about Michael's appointment from the Times Gazette here: Torch passed on at Highland County Board of DD

Former Council Chair Featured on Podcast on Disability and Employment

Women In Government released a new podcast on disability and employment called  “Employer Perspectives for Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities”. The third in a series, the episode features Mark Seifarth, past chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Maryland Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes, Tennessee Senator Becky Duncan Massey and Kathy Burris of CVS Health.

Moderator Sheree Sample-Hughes led the panel in talking about effective employer policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing qualified individuals with disabilities.

One of the points Seifarth made was about the importance of having people with disabilities at the table when making policy recommendations and decisions on how to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“In the disability community, it’s nothing about us without us. And, you have all these folks that sit down and decide they’re going to figure out how to hire people with disabilities and nobody with a disability is sitting at the table,” said Seifarth. “There’s a problem with that. That’s like trying to build a building and not hiring and not having anyone at the table that knows how to build a building. So, we really need to look at all those ways you can include people with disabilities in all sections, in all functions as you’re going down the line.”

Listen to the entire podcast here:

Or read a transcript of the podcast here:

The podcasts are part of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) initiative to help state legislators effectively address policy barriers that may hinder the employment of people with disabilities. Through these collaborations SEED is dedicated to ensuring that state policymakers have the tools and resources they need to develop policies related to disability-inclusive workforce development.

Grant Spotlight: OCALI Supports Schools to Ensure Post-Secondary Success

Picture of the word Grants laying on top of a computer keyboardJuly 10, 2018: Through the Ohio DD Council, OCALI, or the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, received a grant titled “Realizing Employment First for Youth: Evidence Based Practices and Predictors of Adult Success.”

The pilot program called “What Works for Work”, studied how evidence-based practices and predictors that supported school-based teams help achieve post-secondary success – or life after high school - for students with developmental disabilities.

The grant support school-based teams, “find successful methods that would improve transitions into employment, independent living skills and community living,” said Madeline Rosenshein, OCALI consultant and grantee.

Through research focused on transition youth, it was found that certain evidence-based practices and predictors, if implemented during the school years, can improve adult outcomes, which includes employment.

The practices created structured processes for a student to find success. Methods such as chaining (linking steps towards an outcome); prompting; and using mobile technology were proving to be successful for the students.

From September to June, OCALI hosted four whole-day sessions for teachers to learn the curriculums to help their students succeed while in school, and how to achieve success after leaving high school.

“The curriculum provided tools for the school-based teams to see the needs of the student and how to define them, and also focus on the most important need first, which differs for each student,” added Rosenshein. “Additionally, this also empowers our students because we are focusing on their individual need and working with them directly to be successful.”

The curriculum also provided more ways and methods for interventions due to the evidence-based format.

Through this grant, OCALI has also been able to provide a broader understanding of how improved transition outcomes are an integral part of school improvement and positive behavior supports.

Click here to see a list of our grant projects 

Ohio becomes Technology First state for Ohioans with developmental disabilities

Picture of Governor John Kasich signing the Executive Order establishing Ohio's Technology First Initiative

May 24, 2018: Past and present members of the Ohio DD Council, along with many others in the disability community, were invited to attend an event at the Statehouse to witness Gov. John Kasich sign an executive order naming Ohio a "Technology First" state. This order recognizes and calls for the need for improving access to technology for people with developmental disabilities in order to live, work, and attend school more independently within their communities.

The executive order establishes a Technology First Council to bring together state agencies, providers, people with disabilities and other stakeholders. The Technology First Council will have six months to complete its assessment and provide recommendations. The overall goal is to ensure technology will be considered as part of all service and support plans for people with disabilities.

Council member Marci Straughter poses in picture with Milo the robot

Director John Martin of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities thanked the Governor for supporting the Department's ongoing efforts to improve remote supports through the use of ever-evolving technology. Director Martin also recognized the Ohio DD Council and The Arc of Ohio for their projects and initiatives in recent years to support the use of technology by people with disabilities. Click here to read more about DD Council's grant projects that focus on assistive technology.

Among those in attendance at the signing were current Council member Marci Straughter (pictured to the left while posing with Milo the talking robot). Marci is also chair of DD Council's Technology & Communication Committee. Robert Shumak, former Council member and the previous chair of the Technology & Communication Committee, was also present. It was during Robert's term on Council that the Assistive Technology Committee was originally established. Also at the signing were Executive Director Carolyn Knight and Kim Crishbaum, Council's Technology & Communication Committee staff person.

For details about Ohio's Technology First initiative, click here to read the signed Executive Order.

Read other coverage about Ohio's Technology First Initiative:

The importance - and problem - of transportation for Ohioans with disabilities

The Ohio DD Council is constantly revisiting the issues of transportation through research done by its grantees. The need for reliable and accessible transportation for Ohioans with disabilities is never ending. For example, the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC), through a grant from the Ohio DD Council, studied the question of access to transportation for Ohioans with disabilities. The GRC reported its findings in a report that was published in July 2017. Overall, the study found that obtaining safe, affordable, and appropriate transportation options can be very difficult for Ohioans with disabilities. For a quick look at the key findings, read the Ohio DD Council's Transportation Study Impact Sheet. The study’s results point to the need for further research, including an examination of the feasibility and effectiveness of proposed improvements and innovations. For more information, read the complete report here: Transportation Challenges for Ohioans with Disabilities. picture of the transportation impact sheet

Currently, the Ohio DD Council is funding a grant called, Sustaining & Expanding Accessible and Affordable Transportation for People with Disabilities Anytime. The grantee seeks to find ways to offer accessible and affordable transportation services for people with disabilities whenever needed, regardless of time of day or location. The grant also is researching solutions for what can be done when accessible and affordable transportation isn’t available. You can read more about the grant here:

What is your opinion about transportation?

As the Ohio DD Council continues to work through its grantees and partners on ways to improve transportation, we encourage Ohioans with disabilities to provide input whenever possible. What will transportation look like in the future? What are your needs? What do you think will be the needs of people with disabilities in the years to come?

Currently, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) would like your input by taking a survey about the future of transportation. The responses from the survey will assist ODOT in updating Ohio's long-range transportation plan, called Access Ohio 2045.

Please take some time to complete ODOT's survey here so that they hear about the needs of Ohioans with disabilities:


Governor John Kasich Appoints New Chair to Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

April 9, 2018 (Columbus, OH) – Governor John Kasich has appointed Joanna Spargo as the new chairperson to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council). Spargo, of North Canton, OH, begins her service to promote equal opportunities for the statewide disability community.

Joanna Spargo
Ohio DD Council Chair

picture of DD Council's new chairperson, Jo Spargo

The Malone University alumna started her work in the disability field right after college. As a social worker, she started helping people with developmental disabilities move into apartments in the local community. She built her career with REM Ohio, and now is the executive director of the State-wide provider agency that offers an array of services for people with disabilities, job seekers facing employment challenges, and individuals with other complex needs.

Leading a provider agency, Spargo wants to bring attention to the Direct Support Provider (DSP) crisis in Ohio. Understanding and bringing value to DSPs is one of the many things she would like to achieve while on the Council.

Adding to her many roles, Spargo is also a mother of two children, one who has disabilities. Becoming a parent opened up a new world for Spargo, which empowers her advocacy even more for parents of children with disabilities.

“It’s a whole different world and parents are navigating this alone,” she said. “This experience with my son brought to light many issues that parents go through, and how we can support them in various areas such as healthcare, education, and more.” 

Through her diverse roles and experience, she hopes to support Ohio DD Council’s great work, but also continue to enhance collaboration and outreach to areas that are in need of services. She wants to use this platform to make sure underserved and unserved communities are also heard and represented well.

“We want to tap into our Council’s resources and reach across Ohio to those underserved and unserved areas. What connections do our members, advocates, or families have and how can we work together to make sure everyone’s voice is heard?”

There is amazing energy in the Council, and we are going to continue collaborating to see how we can keep expanding our impact across the State,” added Spargo.

“We welcome Joanna with her extensive knowledge of the needs and abilities of those with disabilities,” said Carolyn Knight, executive director of Ohio DD Council. “Her professional experience as well as her strong advocacy for her children is invaluable as the Council continues to foster full community inclusion of those with developmental disabilities in Ohio.”