Ohio DD Council Connection - April 2018

logo of dd council connection newsletter bannerWelcome to the April 2018 edition of the DD Council Connection newsletter!

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. We hope you enjoy this e-newsletter. Please share your thoughts, story ideas and calendar submissions with us at DDCInfo@dodd.ohio.gov.

This month's articles include:


Council Member Spotlight: Doug Frank Finds His Voice

The Ohio DD Council empowers and encourages its members to “find their voice.” In other words, to develop the skills they need to increase their ability to be effective self-advocates. This not only helps them to participate fully in DD Council meetings, but also increases their ability to participate in their communities as they advocate for their self and for other Ohioans with disabilities.

However, there are circumstances for some members where other supports are needed to help them find their voice and staff of the DD Council work to make sure that appropriate accommodations are available for Council members. Doug Frank, self-advocate and former DD Council member, is just one story of how the DD Council helped a member find and strengthen their voice.

Doug’s Service & Support Administrator (SSA) contacted DD Council in March of 2015. She was assisting Doug and his mother with scheduling a referral for an evaluation for him to receive an Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) device or computer for communication.

She explained that he had been using a homemade alphabet board for years to spell out his sentences. Although that had worked in the past, she and others who assisted Doug knew that the advancements in technology would help Doug to communicate more quickly, easily and effectively. They received a referral from Doug’s doctor, but the closest place that could provide an assessment to where Doug lives in Cincinnati had a six-month wait. She wondered if there were other places for Doug to get an evaluation, even if it meant traveling to a different city.

At around the same time, the Assistive Technology (AT) Committee (now called the Technology & Communication Committee) was a newly established standing committee within the Ohio DD Council. Council staff researched other options and made calls on Doug’s behalf. This led to a referral to the Assistive Technology Center at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. By the summer of 2015, Doug had attended several appointments at the AT Center located in Columbus.

“Doug uses his head for voluntary movements, so he got fitted for the device and the software was pretty easy to use,” said Wylie Roberts, SSA. “But, through the process, we learned he needed a stronger wheelchair to support the weight of the device, which took quite some time to get.”

This led to a long delay due to the Medicaid approval process. Medicaid would only approve paying for repairs and adaptations on his most current chair, which is not the one he uses when he goes out in the community (the one the device needed to be on). After appealing two denials, Medicaid approved the request through his Medicaid waiver in mid-2016.

The whole process took a year and a half. During that time, Doug and his mother made several trips from Cincinnati to Columbus and back, which involved coordinating the trips with his support staff and Doug’s own schedule. Although there was a lot of time and effort spent by all involved, the end result was worth it. Doug finally received the communication device.

Now, Doug’s voice is being heard. “With this assistive technology device, it gave Doug a voice that has been instrumental for his growth, his job, his involvement in the community and his advocacy,” added Roberts.

Meet Doug and listen to what he has to say!

Watch a video of Doug and his SSA Wiley by clicking on the video below, or go to our YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/bsBg467ZX0Y.

Doug’s experience inspires Council grant

During his term on Council, Doug was a member of the AT Committee. His experience inspired the Committee to consider funding a grant that would make it easier for people with disabilities to access assistive technology assessment services. In 2017, the Committee approved funding for a grant, Telehealth Services in Assistive Technology, to the AT Center at The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. The project is currently in progress.

The goal of the grant is to evaluate the effectiveness of providing assistive technology assessments utilizing telehealth technologies. This project will document an assistive technology service delivery program for up to 30 adults with developmental disabilities using a hybrid telehealth service delivery program (in-person and communicating remotely via technology, such as web-based meetings). The outcomes of this project will demonstrate and document the feasibility of obtaining Medicaid reimbursement for this service so that more adults with developmental disabilities have access to assistive technology.


Save The Date – Ohio TechSummit

From tablet and phone apps to in-home remote support systems, the 2018 TechSummit hosted by The Ohio Technology Project offers attendees a chance to learn about different kinds of technology available to support people with developmental disabilities who want more independence in their lives.Picture of the flyer for the Ohio TechSummitt

People with disabilities, their families, advocates and professionals will hear from experts in the disability field from across the country. Advocates and family members will talk about the technology that has influenced their lives.

This all-day event is $50 for professionals and free for adults with developmental disabilities and family members. It will be held at Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris.

For more details or to register, visit: http://nisonger.osu.edu/adult/resources/technology-project/techsummit/

About the Ohio Technology Project

The Ohio Technology Project is made possible by a grant from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to The Ohio State University Nisonger Center. For more information about the project, go to http://dodd.ohio.gov/IndividualFamilies/Pages/AssistiveTech.aspx.


Governor Kasich Appoints New Chair, New Members to Ohio DD Council

Governor John Kasich has appointed Joanna Spargo as the new chairperson of the Ohio DD Council. Spargo, of North Canton, begins her service to promote equal opportunities for the statewide disability community.Picture of DD Council's Chair Joanna 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 statewide 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. In addition, she hopes to 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,” said Spargo. “What connections do our members, advocates, or families have and how can we work together to make sure everyone’s voice is heard?”

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.

Additionally, the Governor has appointed seven new members. Please welcome the following individuals to Ohio DD Council:

  • Brenda Brandon of Oak Harbor (Ottawa Co.)
  • Morgan E. Gattermeyer of Hamilton (Butler Co.)
  • Rhonda J. Rich of Troy (Miami Co.)
  • Michael E. Denlinger of Cincinnati (Hamilton Co.)
  • Matt A. Harrison of Greenville (Darke Co.)
  • Michael E. Richards of Greenfield (Highland Co.)
  • Benjamin Pesich (Delaware Co.)

Ohio DD Council Thanks Members for Their Service

The Ohio DD Council prides itself on the work done on behalf of people with developmental disabilities across Ohio. Driving this work, advocacy and energy are its dedicated Council members. The Governor-appointed members serve two three-year terms, where self-advocates have found their voice and been the catalyst for change.

We thank the members who recently completed their service with Ohio DD Council. While their terms are over, we know their passion, determination and dedication will continue to make Ohio a more inclusive and integrated state for people with developmental disabilities.

Pictures from the March 2018 DD Council meeting

In the picture shown to the left, Executive Director Carolyn Knight and incoming Chair Joanna Spargo wish the best for the outgoing Council members. Pictured from left to right: Former Chair Mark Seifarth; Carolyn Knight; Linda Kunick, self-advocate; Doug Frank, self-advocate; Wiley Roberts, PCA; Chair Joanna Spargo. Not pictured: AnnMarie Denning, self-advocate; Kimberly Stults, parent/advocate; and Jeffrey Turner, self-advocate.

Part of being a Council member is to mentor and support one another. In the picture to the right, Linda Kunick, self-advocate (left), at her last meeting as a Council member, provides words of guidance to one of the newer members, Dara Walburn, self-advocate (right).