DD Council Connection - May 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:

A Tribute to Sue Willis

picture of Sue Willis, former Ohio DD Council memberThe disability community, family, friends and many others are mourning the loss of one of the most influential advocates for disability rights in Ohio. Sue Willis, a long-time friend and former member of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council passed away on Monday, May 11, 2020.

Sue was the Director of the AXIS Center for Public Awareness of People with Disabilities. Last year, she completed her terms as a Board Member of Disability Rights Ohio and a Member of the Ohio DD Council. With a career that spanned decades, Sue’s efforts always worked to bring people together to advance the cause of people with disabilities.

She had a long and valuable history with the Ohio DD Council. In 1992, she received a grant that focused on public awareness from Council. This also made her the first grantee recipient to be a person with a disability.

Through the grant, she established and was Director of the AXIS Center where she created public awareness materials, conducted presentations, and planned conferences. She also published Council’s first print newsletter, DD Quarterly, from 1992 – 2006. This statewide publication was quite popular, reaching out to 22,000 readers.

Sue was involved with other grants too, most notably her role in planning the successful technology conferences funded by the Ohio DD Council in 2013 and 2015.

Sue was an official Member of DD Council from 2013 to 2019, as the designated representative from Disability Rights Ohio. During that time, she was chairperson of the Employment and Leadership Development Committees. She also established the Clear Language Subcommittee, which was a passion of hers. The subcommittee focuses on making Council’s materials easy to understand through the principles of plain language and person first language.

Share a Favorite Memory about Sue

We want to take time to honor Sue and celebrate her life. Ohio DD Council has opened up a form for individuals to share their fondest memory of Sue Willis. The disability community lost a true leader and we can keep her light shining bright as we keep advocating on behalf of Ohioans with disabilities.

SIL Opens Applications for Virtual Summer Leadership Academy Session

Logo for the Services for Independent Living, inc.Services for Independent Living (SIL) is now accepting applications for its Virtual Summer 2020 Leadership Academy “Immersion Session”. The Leadership Academy is a course designed to help people with disabilities gain skills needed to participate on nonprofit boards, community coalitions, task forces, and/or system change committees in a meaningful way. The goal of the academy is to increase the number of persons with disabilities prepared to engage in community leadership roles.

The Summer 2020 “Immersion Session” will begin on Monday, July 6, 2020 and end on Thursday, July 30, 2020. Classes will be held twice weekly on Monday and Thursday afternoons from 1 pm to 4 pm. All classes will be held virtually.

Upon completion of the Leadership Academy, SIL will work with participants to identify areas of interest and potential leadership opportunities.

The Leadership Academy is made possible as part of a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.

The deadline for applications is June 15, 2020.  Because space is limited, we encourage interested applicants to apply early. If you have any questions, please contact Laura Gold at lgold@sil-oh.org or 216-815-0015 (please leave a detailed message).  If you require the application and/or flyer in an alternative format, please let Laura know.

Download the applications here, and please share with others: SIL's Leadership Academy

Ohio Aging and Disabilities Transportation Coalition Hosts Transportation Equity Forum

Logo for the Ohio Aging & Disability Transportation CoalitionThe Northeast Ohio Transportation Equity Forum on June 3 will give an overview of disability rights with regards to transportation. The online presentation will also share how disability rights play into current "hot topics". In addition, tips will be provided on how professionals and individuals with disabilities can advocate for additional public transportation.

Speaker Katie Hunt Thomas is the Disability Rights Attorney for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, a Center for Independent Living in northwest Ohio with the mission to assist people with disabilities to live, work, and socialize within a fully accessible community.


Please contact Kathy Foley at least a week prior to the event to request an accommodation. Connect with her at: kfoley@sil-oh.org or by calling 216-731-1529.

COVID-19 Needs Assessment Provides Valuable Insight

Cover photo for the COVID-19 Needs Assessment bookletThe Adult Advocacy Centers (AACs) recently surveyed 134 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities regarding the impact that COVID-19 has had on their lives. The results of this needs assessment are now available in an online publication.

The intent of the needs assessment looked specifically at how, for people with disabilities, the difficulties caused by the pandemic for the general public have been compounded as the pandemic has made it even harder for them to meet their personal care and medical needs.

The “COVID-19 pandemic has combined a severe concern for public health with a disruption in supply chains, resulting in shortages and public anxiety. Although it is undeniable that these hardships exist for individuals with disabilities, the specific effects have not been measured,” according to the report.

It is the hope of the AACs that organizations who serve people with disabilities will use this information to better plan for future emergencies and disasters. Summaries of the survey responses are listed in the report, followed by a conclusion and suggested next steps.

The Adult Advocacy Centers acknowledged consultants Shari Cooper and Adonna Wilson-Baney for their work on this project, and extended their gratitude to the many self-advocacy groups who helped spread the word about the survey and to all of those individuals who took the time to participate.

Read the report here: COVID-19 Needs Assessment, Spring 2020