DD Council Connection - June 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:

Stimulus Funds and STABLE Accounts

If you received a COVID19 stimulus payment through the federal CARES Act, you might have questions on what you can do to avoid the payment being counted toward your eligibility for some public assistance programs. Although the payment is not counted as income right away, after a year, whatever is left will count toward your $2,000 SSI and Medicaid asset limit if you leave it in a regular account. However, if you save it in a STABLE Account, it won’t count toward your $2,000 asset limit at all.

You can put all or part of your stimulus payment into a STABLE Account. That way, you don’t have to worry about spending the money right away if you don’t need to. Transferring stimulus funds into a STABLE Account also allows these funds to be kept separate from other personal funds that count toward the $2,000 resource limitation of public benefits eligibility. Plus, it will have the same flexibility and protection as other money in your STABLE Account.

Want to learn more? Read a list of Frequently Asked Questions from the Ohio Treasurer's Office, which manages Ohio’s STABLE Account program: Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Stimulus Payments and STABLE Accounts

Additionally, check out this video from the Hamilton County Board of DD who hosted a webinar for the STABLE Account and Community Funds Management Foundation on special needs planning: Trusts and STABLE Accounts

Consumer Satisfaction Survey is Coming Soon

Each year, the Ohio DD Council is required by the federal DD Act to examine its goals and determine customer satisfaction with Council supported or conducted activities. To help Council achieve this requirement, the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University conducts a Consumer Satisfaction Survey. They are in charge of assessing and reporting the results of the survey to Council.

If you are a grantee receiving funds from the Ohio DD Council, your grant may have been chosen to be a part of this year’s Consumer Satisfaction Survey. If it was, you should have received a notification by now. (See the list of grants chosen at the end of this article.)

Please help Nisonger get survey responses! Lindsay Seidl from the Nisonger Center will be conducting the survey by phone, email or video conference. If she hasn’t already contacted you, she will be soon. What she needs from you is the names and ways to contact stakeholders who are participating in your project or those who are receiving information from your project to assist them in their work. These stakeholders can be people with disabilities, family members or professionals. Please let these people know Lindsay’s name and why she will be contacting them so they will feel comfortable to participate.

The survey used was developed by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) and focuses on the following objectives:

  • To provide Council with meaningful information;
  • To satisfy the Office of Management & Budget Performance and Results Act requirements;
  • To provide information to plan for systems change; and
  • To document Council’s effectiveness.

The survey period will begin in July and end in November of this year. If you have any questions, please contact Fatica Ayers at Fatica.ayers@dodd.ohio.gov.

Consumer Satisfaction Projects to be Surveyed in 2020

  • Bridging the Gap Reach-Out e-Diversity Newsletter (Outcomes Management Group)
  • DD Awareness & Advocacy Day (Ohio Provider Resource Association)
  • Empowering Self-Advocates (Ohio Self Determination Association)
  • Healthy Lifestyles for People with Disabilities (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital)
  • Money Matters (Lucas County Board of DD Community Inclusion Department)
  • Sustaining and Expanding Accessible and Affordable Transportation for People with Disabilities Anytime (Hocking Athens Perry Community Action)

Council Launches New Web Series: Ohio DD Talks!

The Ohio DD Council premiered its newest web series, Ohio DD Talks!, on June 22. The series features Council members, agency leaders and people with developmental disabilities, family members, and community members who will share their stories as we navigate everyday life in Ohio.

The monthly series will be featured on the Council's Facebook and YouTube channels and new episodes will be released on the second Monday of every month.

The first episode, “Life During COVID-19,” features Council Members Morgan Gattermeyer and Dara Walburn, both self-advocates who share what they have learned during quarantine and what they are looking forward to. Watch the episode here.

In addition to the episodes, Council wants to collect your stories and perhaps even have community members on the series. Would you like to contribute? Please share your story using our website form.

COVID19: How Has it Affected You?

It's been nearly five months since the pandemic made an impact on people living in the United States. So many things have changed and people have had different experiences, both good and bad, in dealing with their daily lives.

  • Are you 18 or older?
  • Do you have an intellectual disability or a developmental disability?
  • Are you interested in sharing how you have been doing during the last several months?

If you answered YES to these questions, please participate in a study of the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University. All you need to do is take a short survey online now and at two other times (so three times total). Your survey answers matter. They will help Nisonger Center gather information to share with others on how to help you during tough times.

The survey asks questions about your experiences with services and supports in your home life, work life, and healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Input from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD)about their experiences during this time is important so that practitioners, employers, and others can understand how to better support people with I/DD.

If you have questions, please contact Margaret.rosencrans@osumc.edu.

This is a national survey for families of adults (ages 18+) with I/DD. You can take the survey here: https://redcap.osumc.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=F9KKPHND9R

Ohio Aging and Disabilities Transportation Coalition Hosts Transportation Webinars

Is transportation for all a civil right? That is just one of the many questions the “Vital Connections: Civil Rights and Public Policy Issues Affecting People with Disabilities in Pursuing Inclusive, Accessible Transportation” webinar set out to answer earlier in June.

The webinar was offered by the Ohio DD Council, in conjunction with the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo.

Prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, bus, rail and air transportation were inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. With many people with disabilities unable to drive themselves, public transportation was a vital pillar in the writing of the ADA. When the ADA passed, public transit became the most regulated system – on paper.

In practice, changes to make public transit accessible to all is still a barrier to many with disabilities. A study funded by the Ohio DD Council in 2017 found that, while only 16% of respondents with disabilities owned a car, 70% responded that they arrange their own transit or get a ride from family or a friend rather than use public transit. Many areas throughout the United States don’t even have public transit and those that do find the systems are struggling to make accessibility changes due to funding.

Katie Hunt-Thomas, a disability rights attorney for The Ability Center presented the webinar and covered the key points of the ADA as it related to public transit, including:

  • Cannot discriminate against a person with a disability based on their disability
  • Must communicate effectively with riders
  • Must train employees on the law and disability awareness
  • Must offer reasonable modifications of transit policies
  • Must build transit facilities and bus stops to be accessible

In addition, the ADA requires any fixed route system to have a comparable paratransit service for people with disabilities who are unable to use fixed route systems because of their disability.

The webinar also covered the current COVID-19 pandemic and the rules for public transit are clear:

  • Paratransit agencies can encourage riders to only take essential medical trips but cannot deny rides for other trips.
  • During the pandemic, if fares are suspended on fixed line buses, they must be suspended on paratransit busses.
  • If an agency closes the front door of its buses to encourage social distancing, it must still allow riders with disabilities to use the ramp or lift at a front entrance.

For more information and details about the impact of COVID-19 and accessibility to public transit, please check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

If you find your public transit service unacceptable and unable to meet your accessibility needs, Hunt-Thomas suggests you contact your legislators to designate part of a tax to go to a state public transit fund.

She cites three states where that has worked including part of New Jersey’s casino tax going to their Senior Citizen and Disabled Resident Transportation Assistance Program, Indiana’s portion of sales and use tax for their Public Mass Transportation Fund, and Florida’s tax on vehicle registrations used for the Transportation Disadvantaged Trust Fund.

Hunt-Thomas shared a new booklet during the webinar, offered through The Ability Center, that is available to answer key transportation concerns and questions for people with disabilities and covers:

  • Rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Expanding funding for public transportation
  • Disability Issues in Transit Technology

The booklet is offered as a free download on the Ability Center website.

Ohio DD Council Starts New Blog, Ohio DD Digest

To continue sharing and welcoming stories of Ohioans with developmental disabilities, the Council launched Ohio DD Digest, its newest blog series that will feature stories, articles and guest entries from self-advocates, families, agency leaders and more.

One of the blog entries is “What’s In Your Drawer?” by self-advocate and former Ohio DD Council Chair, Mark Seifarth.

As each of us deals with stay-at-home – virus/illness, loss of job, loss of/no health insurance, working during the virus, death & dying, love/separation/loss, sunshine, outdoors, opening windows, and perhaps deepening love in time of separation – I have been pondering with my spouse (as we were apart for 3 months and together for now) what people reach for in time of trial and what one builds upon.

For me, I reach back to many experiences of challenge, fear, & joy, while trying to be open to new experiences to learn, help others, and ask for help. There are many experiences open for discussion that I draw upon in challenging times. I will cite one or two in just a bit.

Read Mark’s full blog post here