News and Announcements

Read about the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council) and other disability-related news and announcements. Please also "Like" the Ohio DD Council on Facebook and stay in touch with us on Twitter to get more news and updates.

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

On 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:

Read Council's latest newsletter

April 30, 2018: The April edition of the Ohio DD Council's monthly newsletter, DD Council Connection, is now available. This month's articles include:

Click here to read the entire newsletter

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.”

DD Council's Executive Committee meeting announcement

The Executive Committee of the Ohio DD Council will meet on Wednesday, March 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ohio DD Council's office. Click here for the agenda.

The Future is Now! Series Kicks Off in Hamilton County

Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services is pleased to present The Future is Now, a free multi-part series designed to help older caregivers and their family members make plans for the future. Throughout the series, families get help to create a letter of intent. A letter of intent is a non-legal document that captures family desires and goals for the future. Creating a letter of intent can help families gain peace of mind that comes with having a plan.

Each session offers an opportunity to learn about important topics to create the letter of intent, such as:

  • Naming hopes, dreams, and worries for the future;
  • Strengthening and expanding personal networks of friends and supporters;
  • Identifying the desired future living arrangements; and
  • Making the most of public benefits over the lifespan.

These sessions are designed for families that include a member with a disability whose caregiver is age 60 or older. All members of the family are encouraged to attend, including caregivers, the family member with a disability, siblings, and close family friends.


Sessions will be hosted by a family member and a person with a disability who have had training and experience planning for the future. Participation will be limited to ten families.

Breakout sessions, co-led by an advocacy team will be offered for the family members with a disability. Caregivers will have their own session. An expert speaker will present on specific topics during each session. Family members will have a chance to ask questions and interact with one another.


You have three options to choose from:

  • Option 1: Two Saturdays (April 14 and 21) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Starfire, 5030 Oaklawn Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
  • Option 2: Four Thursdays (June 7, 14, 21, and 28) from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Starfire, 5030 Oaklawn Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
  • Option 3: Two Saturdays (September 15 and 22) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Community Matters, 2104 St. Michael Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45204

To register, contact Dawn at 513-559-6814 or

Download the event flyer here: The Future Is Now - Future Planning Sessions for Families with an Older Caregiver

This project is funded by a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilites Council

Registration open for Ohio's TechSummit - Come and see what's possible for you through technology!

April 4, 2018: The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and The Ohio State University Nisonger Center will hold a TechSummit on June 15, 2018 from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. At the TechSummit, you will be able to:

  • Sample devices designed to support people with developmental disabilities.
  • Try out technology built to assist people who want more independence.
  • Hear from families about the apps they use most.
  • Learn about supports available for accessing technology at home or on the job.

The event is free for the general public and $50 for professionals. It will be held at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris, 409 Altair Parkway, Westerville, OH 43082.

Click here for more information and to register

Click here to download the event announcement

Read the latest edition of the DD Council Connection newsletter

March 29, 2018: DD Council Connection is a way for the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council to introduce to you our Council members, provide updates on the work we do and the grant projects we manage, and inform you on the activities and initiatives of Ohio's community of self-advocates and others who work on behalf of people with disabilities and their families. This month's articles include:

Read the complete newsletter here: DD Council Connection - March 2018

DD Council member sworn in as member of the Highland County Board of DD

March 27, 2018: The Times-Gazette in Highland County recently highlighted one of DD Council's newest memberPicture of Michael Richards being sworn in as member of the Highland County Board of DDs, Michael Richards. In addition to becoming a member of the Ohio DD Council, he was also sworn in as a member of the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities.This appointment marks the first time someone with a developmental disability has served in this capacity on the Board.

Read the article here: Torch passed on at Highland County Board of DD

In February, Michael, along with five other individuals, were appointed to serve on Council by the Governor. In addition to Michael, we also welcome Brenda Brandon of Ottawa County, Morgan Gattermeyer of Butler County, Rhonda Rich of Miami County, Michael Denlinger of Hamilton County and Matt Harrison of Darke County. Congratulations to all!

Celebrate CommUNITY during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to create awareness about developmental disabilities, teach the importance of inclusion within every aspect of life, and to share the stories of individuals with a disability to show that a successful life is possible! The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council has chosen Celebrate CommUNITY as the theme for 2018.

Visit our DD Awareness Month web page, our Facebook page and our Twitter page throughout the month to discover resources, stories and more from around the state and the country on how people with disabilities have become a part of their community.

We encourage you to participate in DD Awareness Month, too! Send us your own resources, stories and pictures by email to And don't forget to post information to your own personal social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you do, be sure to use the hashtag #DDAwareness18 to join in on the conversation with the rest of the country!

Announcing the 2018 SIL Leadership Academy Session!

Posted March 2, 2018

Services for Independent Living (SIL) is excited to announce that there will be three sessions of the Leadership Academy this year as part of a renewal grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. The Leadership Academy is designed to help people with disabilities gain skills needed to participate on community boards of directors, committees, taskforces, and coalitions in a meaningful way. The goal of the academy is to increase the number of persons with disabilities prepared to engage in community leadership roles.

Session I will begin on April 4, 2018 and is an eight-week class. Session II will be an “Immersion Class” with two classes held every week for four weeks during the month of June, beginning on June 5, 2018. Session III is scheduled to start on October 18, 2018, and is an eight-week class. The training sessions will be followed by hands-on “internship” experiences in the community. Click here to download a flyer to share with others who may be interested in applying to the Leadership Academy.

The SIL is currently accepting applications for all three sessions. Applications for Session I are due by March 20th. Space is limited so interested participants are encouraged to early. If you would like an application and/or if you have any questions, please contact Laura Gold via email at or via telephone at 216-815-0015 (please leave a detailed message).

The Leadership Academy is funded by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.

ODE announces schedule of regional meetings for public input review to Ohio’s Draft Strategic Plan

Posted March 2, 2018

According to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), regional meetings will begin this month for the public to review and respond to Ohio’s Draft Strategic Plan. The meetings will be held from March 14 through April 17, covering different regions of Ohio. The strategic education plan is intended to create a unified system that results in success for each student. Philanthropy Ohio, in partnership with the State Board, will host the meetings. According to Philanthropy Ohio, "the Plan will be Ohio’s roadmap for taking innovative approaches to meet the state’s major education challenges. It identifies a clear, statewide goal for preK-12 education, along with enabling strategies and tactics that explain how the goal will be achieved."

Read more, including dates and locations of meetings, here: Regional meetings planned for review and response to Ohio’s Strategic Plan

ReachOut e-Diversity News - February issue is now available

February 8, 2018

The February ReachOut e-Diversity News is now available. Articles include:

  • The Relationship Between Culture and Language
  • Getting on the Same Page: Defining Cultural and Linguistic Competence
  • 5 Benefits of Conducting a Cultural Linguistic Competence Self Assessment
  • New Initiative: Community of Practice

The purpose of Reach Out e-Diversity News is to promote interagency collaboration and coordination that result in agencies providing culturally competent services to the unserved/underserved populations in Ohio. The newsletter is produced by The Outcomes Management Group, Ltd. and is funded all or in part by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council.

Read the newsletter here: ReachOut e-Diversity News - February 2018

New assistive technology online video series is hosted by former Council member

The Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services (HCDDS) recently announced the debut of a new three-part web-video series, "How I See It." The series is hosted by advocate Robert Shuemak, a former member of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council and chair of the Assistive Technology & Communication Committee. Robert, who is an Advocate Support Advisor at HCDDS uses a talk-show style format that focuses on how accessible technology can help people with and without disabilities in their everyday lives. 

For the first episode, consultant and advocate Heather Sturgill discusses the smart home technology she uses to make her home more accessible. You can watch the video from the HCDDS website at or on YouTube at New episodes, all about 10 minutes long, will be released every two weeks on the HCDDS YouTube Channel, and all episodes include closed captions.

2018 DD Awareness and Advocacy Day Registration is OPEN!

January 23, 2018

DD Advocacy and Awareness Day logo

UPDATE: As of February 8, 2018, registration is now closed.

Registration is now open for the Developmental Disability (DD) Awareness and Advocacy Day. Don't miss out. This event always fills up fast! The event will be held Wednesday, March 7, 2018 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus.

Registration Information

To register, you MUST have an email address. If you don't have one, you can use a family, advocate or co-worker's email address. Duplicate email addresses cannot be used - each registrant must have their own unique email address.

Click here to register for DD Awareness and Advocacy Day


Contact Shane Schaefer of the DD Awareness & Advocacy Day Planning Committee at 614-224-6772 or

Please also follow event updates on the event's Facebook page at

Event Speakers

The following are the people scheduled to speak at the opening ceremony on March 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

  • 10:00 - 10:05
    Shari Cooper, Welcome
  • 10:05 - 10:15
    Christine Brown, Introduction by Jeff Davis
  • 10:15 - 10:25
    Wallace Peck, Introduction by Sharon Dorsey
  • 10:25 - 10:35
    Ed McClain, Introduction by Dana Charlton
  • 10:35 - 10:45
    Josh Anderson, Introduction by Suzie Burke
  • 10:45 - 10:55
    Director Martin, Speaker Wrap Up
  • 10:55 - 11:00
    Shari Cooper, Closing

The Waiting List is broken.
It's time to FIX THE LIST.

January 22, 2018

Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families have made it clear: our state's waiver waiting list needs work.

That is why the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council joined a coalition of people with developmental disabilities, family members, and organizations representing guardians, county boards, and providers who believe it's time to Fix The List.

You Spoke Up, We Listened

People with developmental disabilities and their families have repeatedly told us that Ohio's waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers is overly complex and in need of simplification. The current waiting list confuses people with developmental disabilities and their families, misleads advocates, and hinders efforts by policymakers to direct resources to where they are needed most.

That is why DD Council has joined a coalition to modernize Ohio's failed waiting list. This coalition includes groups representing people with developmental disabilities, parents, families, advocates, county boards of DD, providers, and the State of Ohio.

Through the efforts of this coalition and informed by the feedback of people with developmental disabilities and their families, we believe that a new approach to the way Ohio's HCBS waiver waiting list operates is needed. It's time to Fix The List.

Resources for Parents and Families

Are you a person with a developmental disability, a parent, or a family member who has questions about how Ohio is planning to Fix The List? Click here to see a list of groups that can answer your questions, and visit for up-to-date information.

Follow Our Progress

Coalition Members

  • Advocacy and Protection Services, Inc. (APSI)
  • The Arc of Ohio
  • Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB)
  • Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities
  • Ohio Developmental Disabilites Council
  • Ohio Olmstead Taskforce
  • Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA)
  • Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA)
  • Ohio Superintendents of County Boards of Developmental Disabilites
  • People First of Ohio
  • The YMCA

Learn about becoming a Direct Support Professional in Ohio!

The Ohio Provider Resource Association, in collaboration with the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities have launched a new campaign to bring awareness to the need for Direct Support Professionals. Check out the 30 second ad below and be sure to visit to learn more about opportunities to become a DSP in Ohio.

Meeting announcement: DD Council's Executive Committee to meet on January 11

January 10, 2018

The Ohio DD Council's Executive Committee will meet on Thursday, January 11, 2018 from 11am - 12pm. The location of the meeting is at the DD Council office at 899 E. Broad Street in Columbus in the 3rd Floor Conference Room. The subject of the meeting with be about the Revolving Door/Conflict of Interest Policy. You can contact DD Council at 614-466-5205 if you have questions.

Ohio DD Council updates its "Guardianship in Ohio" booklet

January 2, 2018

The Ohio DD Council has updated "Guardianship in Ohio," a booklet that offers a comprehensive overview of guardianship and alternatives in Ohio. The information is written for families who have a child with a developmental disability but may be relevant for others who need to navigate the often confusing and intimidating world of probate court and guardianship.

Logan Philipps and Bill Root, principal attorneys with Resch, Root & Philipps, LLC, are the authors of this booklet, supported by funding from the Ohio DD Council.

Download the book here: Hard copies are also available upon request - call the DD Council office at 614-466-5205 to place an order.