DD Council Connection - February 2021

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:


Deadline is February 28! DD Council Seeks Feedback on Five-Year State Plan Draft

The Ohio DD Council is seeking public comment on its Five-Year State Plan by February 28, 2021. The State Plan lists projects that the Council plans to fund to address the needs identified by people with developmental disabilities, families and stakeholders across the state. Projects are proposed in the following areas:

  • Children and Health
  • Community Living
  • Employment
  • Leadership Development
  • Outreach
  • Public Awareness
  • Public Policy

Here’s how you can submit your comments:

The comment period will end on February 28, 2021.

Review the draft and submit your input here: https://ddc.ohio.gov/state-plan-comments. Translated versions of the Executive Summary, State Plan and Public Comment Survey are also available in Spanish and Somali are available for download on the web page.


Former DD Council Members Chosen for State’s Tech Ambassadors Program

Two former members of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council have been chosen as Tech Ambassadors for a new program showcasing how adaptive technology helps create independence and enhances the lives of Ohioans with developmental disabilities.

The Ohio Tech Ambassador Network is a program through the Southern Ohio Council of Governments (SOCOG) and Robert Shuemak and Marci Straughter will serve as two of the five tech ambassadors around the state, sharing their adaptive technological experiences as part of this project.

During Shuemak’s six years on the Ohio DD Council, he served on several committees and was the Vice Chair of the Council. He also assisted with the creation of the Assistive Technology Committee and was the committee’s first chair. Before he came off of Council, he talked about an idea of having statewide technology ambassadors. Council staff shared the idea with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities who went on to fund the grant that was awarded to SOCOG to establish the Tech Ambassador Network.

Diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy ataxia impacting his mobility, as well as having a visual impairment, Shuemak uses several adaptive technology devices to help with his daily life. These include a computer with a screen reading software which allows him to read all written text on the screen. He also uses an external keyboard for typing documents, emails, and other tasks on the computer. He utilizes the i-Phone 11, with multiple accessible apps that assist with dictation, navigating the community, reading and recognizing text.

“Alexa has become one of the most accessible devices that I use daily. She is able to operate my microwave, remind me to take my medications, set alarms and I use her for spelling and word definitions,” Shuemak says.

Shuemak is employed by the Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. As a Tech Ambassador, he plans to mentor people on what his life’s journey through accessible technology has been, and how others may be able to use some of his experiences to not get discouraged. “I hope to educate, encourage, and motivate people with disabilities to reach their goals of independence and self-sufficiency,” Shuemak adds.

A six-year Ohio DD Council member, Straughter served as Vice Chair of the Council as well as the Chair of the Technology Committee during her tenure. Straughter has epilepsy and hydrocephaly, which impacts her vision and mobility. She uses quite a variety of adaptive technology including smart door locks, a smart thermostat, and a smart smoke detector that, if activated, alerts Straughter, 911, and her provider. She also utilizes Alexa, Echo Dot, Amazon Cube, in addition to having a Ring doorbell.  Her communication is through her iPad, iPhone and laptop computer which all utilize voice technology.

“It was hard for me to open my door lock because of weakness in my hands. Using the smart door lock, I can open my lock from my phone. I feel safe being alone because of the cameras on my Ring doorbell that shows me who is at the door,” explains Straughter.

Straughter, who works for her provider Ohio at Home, plans to share her personal experiences through the Tech Ambassadors virtual peer-to-peer mentoring sessions that will run through June 2021. “You don’t have to be scared to try technology. I will talk to them (during the mentoring sessions) about how to use technology to be more independent and not have to have staff right there all the time. I want to teach about remote support and different technology in their home and show people that they can be more independent,” adds Straughter.

SOCOG’s Tech Ambassador program’s main goal is that together, we can educate and empower Ohioans with developmental disabilities by embracing technology. During March, they will begin holding virtual regional meetings for the public. To learn more about this program, please visit their website at https://ohiotechambassadors.org/.


Governor Appoints New Members to Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

Governor Mike DeWine has appointed three new members to the Ohio DD Council. The new appointees from across Ohio fill several open positions on the Council. They include:

  • Annette L. Wood of Akron (Summit County)
  • John Banchy of Cincinnati (Butler County)
  • Jodi L. Young of Columbus Grove (Putnam County) 

In addition, the Governor re-appointed Pamela Green of Cincinnati (Hamilton County) for another Council term.

The Ohio DD Council is one of a national network of state councils, committed to self-determination and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. The Council has over 30 members of which 60 percent represent people with developmental disabilities, and parents and guardians of people with developmental disabilities. The remaining members include representatives from state agencies, non-profit organizations and agencies providing services to people with developmental disabilities. Learn more about the mission and vision of the Ohio DD Council at https://ddc.ohio.gov/About/Overview-of-DD-Council.


Save the Date for Ohio’s TechSummit 2021

Save the Date announcement for the TechSummit 2021TechSummit is an annual conference with a focus on technology as it relates to Ohioans with developmental disabilities.

With funding from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council and sponsorship and support from Assistive Technology of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, this year’s TechSummit 2021 will be held virtually.

This is the third annual TechSummit event and we encourage you to mark your calendars and forward this information to friends and family. Many have benefitted from this conference. See what one attendee had to say below:

“...All of the presentations were great and I appreciated all the content. It helped me get more familiar with what kinds of options are present for our individuals. This is also true, with being able to meet with the vendors. It was great to make connections and learn directly from them. What I most appreciated from this conference was being able to hear directly from individuals and families about how [assistive technology] and [remote support] has helped them...;” – TechSummit 2.0 attendee

For the most up to date information, visit: https://go.osu.edu/nisongertech

Questions? Contact Jordan Wagner, Coordinator, Technology Project at the Nisonger Center Technology Project, 357F McCampbell Hall, 1581 Dodd Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 688-3155, jordan.wagner@osumc.edu.