Council Project Highlights

One of the primary purposes of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is to offer grant opportunities to find ways to improve services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilites so they can live more independent and meaningful lives. We currently fund over 20 grants covering a wide-range of areas related to issues experienced by people with developmental disabilities. This page provides highlights of some of our grant.

Building Capacity for Assistive Technology Service Delivery in Ohio

Technology is a part of nearly everyone’s life. For people with developmental disabilities, technology can be a game-changer in how they can live more independently and be a part of their community. A grant project funded by the Ohio DD Council, Building Capacity of Assistive Technology Ohio, went to the next level of how to improve services provided by county boards of developmental disabilities to assist individuals to explore and discover technology that may help them in their daily activities. The grantee for this project was the AT & AEM Center powered by OCALI. 

The goal of this project was to build the capacity of Service Support Administrators (SSAs) and other county board of developmental disabilities personnel to assess and implement assistive technology (AT) services and supports so that more Ohioans with developmental disabilities will learn about and get AT to assists them in leading more independent and self-determined lives.

OACLI ATIM Assistive Technology Internet Modules Free, Online Professional DevelopmentThis project built upon work done on a prior project by the AT & AEM Center that assessed all county boards on their awareness and ability to provide AT assessments. The current project did a follow-up survey to the county boards about their training needs. Focus groups were them held to gather information on current situations and problems to address. 

Once the information was compiled, the AT & AEM Center offered training to work on key items including how the AT system works, how to determine needs and what is offered beyond support modifications for equipment. Nearly 50 people attended trainings. In addition, four new Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) were developed, offering case studies, instruction videos, glossaries and more for persons with disabilities. These modules are also used by educators, families and other professionals. In addition, several current modules that are focused on students were revised to include adults with disabilities. These free ATIM modules are found on the ATIM website

The project also provided a way for SSAs to become certified assistive technology professionals (ATPs) through RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America). This is a national standard of job-based knowledge and experience.

“It was great to have the support of all the county boards. We need to raise awareness of assistive technology and remote support. There are lots of opportunities now,” said Jan Rogers, Program Director of the AT & AEM Center at OCALI.

Through the grant’s activities, several SSAs were certified by RESNA and a core group of SSAs from the training were identified as having the leadership skills to be AT resource experts for other county boards of developmental disabilities.

"Council is extremely pleased with OCALI’s commitment to ensure the success of this project. Many SSAs are now committed to continuing to learn and to reach out to other SSAs throughout the state after the grant ends, with support from OCALI. Most importantly, people with disabilities and families are benefiting from this project because SSAs are now better equipped to assist individuals to live more independently within their communities by the use of assistive technology," said Kim Shoaf, Ohio DD Council, who provided oversight of the grant.

Ohio’s Most Vulnerable Moving Into Better Housing

January 2022: The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) is providing the second year of funding for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the SOAR (SSI/SDI) Outreach, Access and Recovery Ohio program. The program helps move some of Ohio’s most vulnerable community members into better housing opportunities, through access to the Social Security benefits application process. SOAR Ohio provider specialists work on behalf of individuals who are living with disabilities, by representing the Social Security Income/Social Security Disability Income (SSI/SSDI) benefit application claim.

“A SOAR Ohio certified specialist is the advocate who supports the individual in need of a benefits claim and completes all necessary forms and documentation needed by both the Social Security Administration and the Disability Determination Services, explained Amy Lamerson, SOAR Ohio and Housing Now for Homeless Families (HNHF) Director.  “We feel the more professionals and family advocates learn about the free certification training being offered and the positive impact of the SOAR methodology, this will facilitate expert level benefits knowledge, self-advocacy, and Social Security knowledge that is power when it comes to our community members living with disabling conditions.” She added that the SOAR Ohio program is currently holding a 61 percent approval rate on all first time SOAR Ohio assisted SSI/SSDI benefits claims in 101 days or less.

Here is the financial impact that the SOAR Ohio assisted approvals are having in the communities across Ohio for the most recent quarter and the 2020-2021 grant year:

  • 12 individuals (60% approvals) were SSI for a monthly award of an average of $794. These individual benefits totals to a yearly amount of $9,528, resulting in $114,336 in SSI benefits that are providing stability for those individuals over the next year.
  • 8 individuals (40% approvals) for SSDI or both SSI/SSDI for a monthly award of an average of $906. Individual SSDI benefits totals to a yearly amount of $7,248 and a combined total of $86,976 of income stability benefits for those individuals over the next year.
  • For the SOAR Ohio year, 59 total individuals are now receiving SSI with the total benefits income of $422,364 coming back into Ohio’s communities.    
  • For the year, 15 individuals are receiving SSDI benefits for yearly benefits of $280,440 that will assist in housing stability.

“As the staff person assigned the task of monitoring this project, I am not only impressed by the training and technical assistance being provided to anyone in the field wanting to be able to troubleshoot issues relating to people with disabilities being able to obtain their SSI or SSDI benefits, but also the financial impact is tremendous,” said ODDC Policy Analyst Fatica Ayers.

This grant is funded by the Ohio DD Council under its Community Living Committee.

Project TREES (Tools & Resources for Engaging, Empowering & Supporting Families)

December 2021: Project TREES (Tools & Resources for Engaging, Empowering & Supporting Families) is an Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council grant initiative with a goal to increase support for families of children with disabilities through activities that build capacity and systemic change.

They accomplish this through outreach, training, research, technical assistance, supporting and educating communities, interagency collaboration and coordination, demonstration of new approaches, informing policymakers, system design and redesign.

The grantee, the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB), began its work in 2017 by selecting Early Intervention (EI) Teams from seven county boards of developmental disabilities to participate in the project.

“Supporting families is a constellation of beliefs, values, strategies, and relationships that strengthen families during their time in Ohio Early Intervention, enhancing their capacity to flourish and face the future with increased resilience, self-efficacy, well-being and optimism,” explained OACB’s Project TREES grant consultant, Susan Jones.

The EI Teams are from Erie, Highland, Knox, Licking, Miami, Scioto, and Williams counties. Grant funding ends December 31, 2021.

Grant accomplishments include:

  • Creation of a multi-level stakeholder advisory committee. Members included state, regional, and county providers of early intervention services and family members who had received early intervention (EI) services. This made for rich sharing of ideas and in the end, a contract from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities was given to continue the work on several priorities of this project. This group met quarterly throughout the past five years.

  • Development of a cohort of local county EI teams. In this design, local Early Intervention providers could test new ideas and share their work with their colleagues, with the data to support the efficacy. Grant consultants provided the foundational training and ongoing support needed to begin, implement, revise, and produce new practices to improve the EI experience for families. An evidence-based implementation science approach called the IDEAS framework out of the Harvard Center of the Developing Child was used for this body of work. A padlet is being used to share the work of these teams, which you can view here:

  • An addition of State level professional development and advocacy. Each year, grant consultants offered many opportunities to enlighten the Early Intervention field by presenting at state level conferences, webinars and facilitating book studies.  Grant consultants also joined committees and advisories to collaborate on and support other initiatives that benefitted EI families to facilitate implementation with the cohort teams as well as the statewide field of EI.

In the five years during this grant, family support and family-centered practices were fundamental components of Early Intervention in Ohio. Families were able to leave the EI system with deeper connections and roots to navigate their next journey with increased confidence, competence, and self-efficacy, according to the Project TREES team.

This grant is funded by the Ohio DD Council under its Children & Health Committee.