DD Council Connection - April 2020

logo of dd council connection newsletter bannerDD 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 event calendar submissions with us at DDCInfo@dodd.ohio.gov.

This month's articles include:

Council Grant Supports LifeTown Program for Children with Disabilities

As one of only two hands-on learning facilities in the entire United States, LifeTown Columbus provides students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD) “learning by doing” opportunities to gain essential life skills. Located in New Albany, school groups come to LifeTown to learn skills needed to live and thrive in their communities.

Last year, through funding from the Ohio DD Council, LifeTown was able to use the funds to offer scholarships to their students who come from low-income school districts, helping to reach out to those in under and underserved areas. LifeTown serves 2,500 students from 13 school districts in learning to lead independent lives.

LifeTown Columbus would not have known about this funding opportunity if not for one of DD Council’s members, Victor Wilson. He learned about the impactful work they are doing through his community. He spoke with leadership of the organization and encouraged them to apply for support of their life skills program from the Council’s discretionary fund. This fund is available to people and organizations who send Council specific one-time funding requests.

“LifeTown does not get enough credit for what it does for Ohioans with developmental disabilities,” said Wilson. Council members are encouraged to reach out to their communities to not only educate people about the Ohio DD Council, but also to see if there are ways that Council can help. Wilson said he was very humbled to be able to help LifeTown. “Neither the grantee nor the grantor knew about the other. I was able to bridge that gap,” explained Wilson.

How LifeTown Works

LifeTown takes the saying, “It takes a village” to heart.  Before students enter LifeTown, they will have had three to six weeks of classroom preparation for acquiring personal and social skills, independent living skills and pre-employment studies. Pre-visit work also includes studying a map of the place and understanding its safety rules.

Students arriving at LifeTown, enter a city with a roadway, streetlights and a town square ringed by various stores and public buildings such as a library, market and bank. Once at the facility, the students navigate their way using their worksheets and map.  In town, they may encounter taking money out of the bank (each student receives $12.00 in cash), visiting a medical facility (while learning communication and health skills) and entering a restaurant (to order from a menu while practicing etiquette skills).

Students are given time to visit various stores to inquire about job openings, apply for the position, and receive on-the-job training as well as to make purchases.  They learn how to use the library and have an opportunity to interact with the pets inside the pet store.

Community members volunteer at LifeTown to role-play various townspeople including a police officer, doctor, banker, librarian and ice cream vendor. In addition, to help students develop their caring-for-others skills, visitors from local daycare centers and senior citizen homes visit LifeTown for this interaction.

Learn more about LifeTown Columbus has to offer by visiting their website at https://www.lifetowncolumbus.org/.

Video Series Explains Use of Technology with Evidence Based Early Intervention

The Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB), through a grant from the Ohio DD Council, produced a video series about the use of technology with evidence based early intervention. The series was produced in partnership with families and practitioners in Ohio.

The eight videos, launched in 2016, illustrate how video, video conferencing and related technologies can improve access to, and the quality of, support for families as well as better enable teams to practice evidence-based early intervention services.

And while the nation adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, the videos are now more important than ever. The series has gained national attention with the Division of Exceptional Children and is being circulated through its Using Telepractice to Support Children and Families newsletter. The videos are also being featured on the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s website.

“Thank you Carolyn [Knight], Kay [Treanor] and DD Council for your forward thinking and belief in this project!,” said Susan Jones in an email to Council. Jones is the Children and Families Consultant for OACB.

The videos cover the following topics.

  1. An Overview of Using Technology to Support Families in Early Intervention
  2. Using Video to Enhance Play, Communication, and Relationships
  3. Using Instant Messaging and Video for Just-In-Time Support
  4. Using Video and Video Conferencing to Enable Team Meetings over Distances
  5. Using Facetime to Enhance Team Collaboration
  6. A Virtual Home Visit with Liam's Family
  7. A Virtual Co-Visit with Straton's Family
  8. Using Video as a Foundation for Reflective Supervision

To view the videos, visit Ohio DD Council’s website.

AT Ohio Lending Library Operates with Virtual Hours

During the COVID-19 crisis, technology is now more important than ever.

Assistive Technology of Ohio (AT Ohio) personnel, while working from home, are finding ways to be available to Ohioans with disabilities to answer questions and address any concerns regarding assistive technology.

AT Ohio is offering daily "Virtual Office Hours," from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on weekdays except for Wednesday. During this window of time, log on to CarmenZoom and have a direct discussion with AT Ohio personnel about your assistive technology needs. On Wednesdays, they hold a free webinar via CarmenZoom on various assistive technology topics of interest during the same time frame.

The link to CarmenZoom changes every Friday, so be sure to check the AT Ohio website or their Facebook page for the new link.

AT Ohio's mission is to help Ohioans with disabilities learn about or acquire assistive technology. AT Ohio is a federally funded nonprofit organization that is part of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. AT Ohio is the officially designated Tech Act program for Ohio. 

Find More Online Events!

The Ohio DD Council’s calendar is a go-to resource for information about events offered around Ohio and online covering topics that may be of interest to people with disabilities, their families and others.

Even though many in-person events have been cancelled due to the meeting and gathering restrictions from the COVID-19 crisis, many events are either being rescheduled or offered online. The calendar is filling up more than ever with webinars, online seminars and other great online events that will provide individuals with disabilities, their families and other stakeholders with information that can help them manage the COVID-19 crisis.

Check out our Events Calendar at https://ddc.ohio.gov/Resource-Library/Events-Calendar.

If you would like to have your event added to our calendar, contact Kim Crishbaum at kimberly.crishbaum@dodd.ohio.gov. Please note that we do not necessarily endorse each event. The information is provided as a service to pass along information that may be of interest to the public.