DD Council Connection: July 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:

Renee Wood receives NCIL Advocacy Award

Perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek, former Chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) Renee Wood in talking about advocacy said, “Actually, I think revolution in the streets would be most effective, but I’m too old, and people don’t look kindly on that, so advocacy is the only tool we got right now to create change.”

Wood was recently awarded the National Council on Independent Living's (NCIL) Region Five Advocacy Award for her efforts in advancing independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through her advocacy work. Wood, herself, has cerebral palsy.

The Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) in Gahanna, OH, nominated Wood for the award and shared that Wood, while Chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, helped to bring their independent living philosophy to the Developmental Disability Network. Wood is currently a member of the Ohio SILC and Chair of the Ohio Olmstead Task Force. As Chair of the Olmstead Task Force, she brings together individuals, organizations, and state agencies to discuss and advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities for all in Ohio.

Jeremy Morris, Executive Director of Ohio SILC, said, “Representatives from each state in Region Five (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) voted on all nominees for the award, and Renee was chosen as the winner. Several individuals in Ohio recommended Renee be nominated because of her tireless work in disability advocacy.”

“I feel much honored by the recognition for my work.  Of course, I was surprised – I just do my work because it’s my passion to promote equality for people with all types of disabilities, so I would do this no matter what,” Wood said.

About her advocacy efforts, Wood explained, “What we need to work on is the underlying cause of all these systemic issues (transportation, housing, health care, direct workforce crisis).  The fact is people with disabilities are not seen as equal in society.  We may be included now, but inclusion is not equality.  Inclusion is tolerating our presence in the same space with those who are not disabled, but tolerance is not acceptance.  When someone is equal, their gifts and talents are recognized and valued.  Their talents are not just recognized but sought after.  Equality means people with disabilities are not just present but belong and have dignity.”

A Toledo, OH resident, Wood continued,” I believe when people with disabilities are valued as equals, everything else will start to work itself out, because the community will finally have the will and a reason to change these systemic issues.  The disability community may still have to be the experts in how to build an accessible community for all, but at least the need by the greater community will be there, as well as the financial investment to achieve it.  Until our equality is recognized and valued, we will continue to advocate for slices of bread at various locations and have to claim the crumbs they bestow on us as victory.”

“Renee is the prime example of what a true disability rights advocate is all about,” said Wood’s lifelong friend, Tim Harrington, Executive Director of The Ability Center in Sylvania, OH. Wood and Harrington met as classmates in kindergarten and then spent all eight years of elementary school together.  He has seen Wood accomplish her dreams…and then some! “Renee’s knowledge of disability rights and best practices in serving individuals with developmental disabilities is amazing. When Renee gets involved in a cause, she is all in! She is absolutely fearless,” Harrington shared. He notes that Renee’s passion for disability rights comes from a lifetime of obstacles, but a life well-lived. “She is a woman of grace and beauty from the inside,” Harrington added.

Wood has set a mighty goal to accomplish in her lifetime. “I hope I leave the next generation of disability rights advocates a firmer foundation on which to advocate from.  My goal was not only to lead them a little closer to what the world can be, but hopefully, also, to have built a foundation high enough that they can peer over the horizon and catch a glimpse of what a world of equality would look like for themselves,” Wood said.

Ohio DD Talks - Episode 2: The Power of Advocacy

This month is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Council Members Marci Straughter and Michael Denlinger, both strong self-advocates, talk about their path to self-advocacy, what they have learned and why it's important to speak up for themselves and those around them.

Watch the second episode and share your story here: https://ddc.ohio.gov/News/Ohio-DD-Talks

Attention SSAs: Boost your AT IQ—for FREE!

Do you work for a county board of developmental disabilities and are looking to expand assistive technology (AT) knowledge for yourself or your teams? The AT&AEM Center at OCALI can help!

OCALI received a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council that is designed to help build the capacity for AT service delivery through the county board system. With this funding, OCALI is able offer a variety of training opportunities, online resources, and more. 

FREE Training Opportunities

Whether you’re looking to expand your own AT knowledge and skills or those of your teams, these two trainings are a great place to start!

Assistive Technology Academy: Starts September 10

This multi-session, interactive and technology-based training program is designed to build foundational competencies in order to deliver Assistive Technology (AT) services to individuals with an array of disabilities and age groups. Learn more: https://ataem.org/at-special-projects-and-grants/ATA

Serving Persons with Complex Communication Needs: AAC Communicators at Work, Home, & Community Training Series: Starts August 12

This multi-session virtual training series is designed to teach Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) strategies and skills and how to integrate technology into work, home, and the community, as a way to improve communication, and ultimately improve a person’s quality of life. Learn more: https://ataem.org/at-special-projects-and-grants/AAC-Training-Series

Space is Limited: Register Now

The trainings are free, however, registration is required. Space is limited, so register now to reserve your spot.

Approved by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) for Continuing Professional Development Units