Welcome to the May 2018 edition of the DD Council Connection newsletter!
DD 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. You can also read previous issues of DD Council Connection here: http://ddc.ohio.gov/News-Media/Newsletters/oddc-news.
This month's articles include:
Ohio DD Council Goes to Washington!
Each year, a small group of Council members are selected to participate in the national Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC. This two-day conference provides attendees with the latest information about efforts to change federal disability policy. The seminar ends with a full day on Capitol Hill where participants are given an opportunity to talk with legislators and staff.
This year, the Ohio DD Council sent nine members to attend the conference. Other attendees from Ohio included LEND Trainees from both of Ohio’s University Centers of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (Nisonger Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital), and representatives of the Ohio Provider Resource Association, the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, and the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, along with a few other non-profit groups.
(Left to Right: Betsy O’Leary, Jean Jakovlic, Jo Spargo,
Mark Davis (back), Dara Walburn, Blaine O’Leary (back),
Lori Kershner, Congressman Jim Jordan)
The Disability Policy Seminar included sessions on how to advance a disability agenda, employment policy, community integration, education policy, Medicaid and Social Security, health care policy, and a variety of sessions on effective advocacy. The conference is planned and conducted by The Arc of the United States, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, and United Cerebral Palsy.
Council Chairwoman Jo Spargo attended the conference and participated in a handful of meetings on Capitol Hill. Spargo has attended the conference for a few years and emphasizes the importance of meeting with legislators and sharing personal experiences.
“Capitol Hill meetings are the most valuable part of this trip,” Spargo said. “The legislators and staff we have met on Capitol Hill have been very welcoming and truly want to know what is important to people with disabilities and our families.”
Dara Walburn, newly appointed Chair of the Public Policy Committee, agreed. This year’s trip was her first time attending the conference and she was a little nervous about what to expect.
“It was awesome,” said Walburn. “I was a little sneaky and made my way into several of the other meetings. I can’t wait to go back next year.”
(Left to Right: Elly Walburn, Jean Jakovlic, Ellen Cook, Dara Walburn, Congressman Steve Stivers, Christine Brown, Katherine Ratino, Nicholas Kelly, Dana Kamara, and Mark Davis)
Walburn was able to personally meet U.S. Senator Rob Portman, and Congressmen Jim Jordan and Steve Stivers during her time on Capitol Hill. She came prepared with a full page story of what life is like for her and for others with Williams Syndrome.
Blaine O’Leary also attended on behalf of Council and was not nervous at all to meet with his Congressman, Jim Jordan, and to tell him why Social Security needs to be increased for people with disabilities. O’Leary said he would definitely go back if given the opportunity.
For Jean Jakovlic, this was her first time attending the conference and she thought more time should be spent doing meetings with policymakers than sitting in conference sessions.
“I loved to see our Council members in action as they advocated for changes in current legislation,” said Jakovlic. “I wish that we would have had an additional day on the Hill to continue advocating.”
In addition to discussing current legislation, the members of Council provided federal policymakers with an update on Council outcomes and activities. The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is created by the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000.
Governor Signs Executive Order Making Ohio a Technology First State
On May 24, 2018, past and present members of the Ohio DD Council, along with many others in the disability community, were invited to attend an event at the Statehouse to witness Gov. John Kasich sign an executive order naming Ohio a "Technology First" state. This order recognizes and calls for the need for improving access to technology for people with developmental disabilities in order to live, work, and attend school more independently within their communities.
The executive order establishes a Technology First Council to bring together state agencies, providers, people with disabilities and other stakeholders. The Technology First Council will have six months to complete its assessment and provide recommendations. The overall goal is to ensure technology will be considered as part of all service and support plans for people with disabilities.
Director John Martin of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities thanked the Governor for supporting the Department's ongoing efforts to improve remote supports through the use of ever-evolving technology. Director Martin also recognized the Ohio DD Council and The Arc of Ohio for their projects and initiatives in recent years to support the use of technology by people with disabilities. Click here to read more about DD Council's grant projects that focus on assistive technology.
Among those in attendance at the signing were current Council member Marci Straughter (pictured to the left while posing with Milo the talking robot). Marci is also chair of DD Council's Technology & Communication Committee. Robert Shumak, former Council member and the previous chair of the Technology & Communication Committee, was also present. It was during Robert's term on Council that the Assistive Technology Committee was originally established. Also at the signing were Executive Director Carolyn Knight and Kim Crishbaum, Council's Technology & Communication Committee staff person.
For details about Ohio's Technology First initiative, click here to read the signed Executive Order.
Read other coverage about Ohio's Technology First Initiative:
Member Spotlight: Morgan Gattermeyer
Morgan Gattermeyer is one of the Ohio DD Council's newest members and the first member to represent Butler County on Council. View the video below to learn more about Morgan and how she plans to use what she learns while serving on Council to further her advocacy efforts in the community where she lives and beyond.
Visit our YouTube Channel to see more videos of other Ohio DD Council members.
Are you interested in applying to be appointed as a member to Council? Click here for more information.
The importance - and problem - of transportation for Ohioans with disabilities
The Ohio DD Council is constantly revisiting the issues of transportation through research done by its grantees. The need for reliable and accessible transportation for Ohioans with disabilities is never ending. For example, the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC), through a grant from the Ohio DD Council, studied the question of access to transportation for Ohioans with disabilities. The GRC reported its findings in a report that was published in July 2017. Overall, the study found that obtaining safe, affordable, and appropriate transportation options can be very difficult for Ohioans with disabilities. For a quick look at the key findings, read the Ohio DD Council's Transportation Study Impact Sheet. The study’s results point to the need for further research, including an examination of the feasibility and effectiveness of proposed improvements and innovations. For more information, read the complete report here: Transportation Challenges for Ohioans with Disabilities.
Currently, the Ohio DD Council is funding a grant called, Sustaining & Expanding Accessible and Affordable Transportation for People with Disabilities Anytime. The grantee seeks to find ways to offer accessible and affordable transportation services for people with disabilities whenever needed, regardless of time of day or location. The grant also is researching solutions for what can be done when accessible and affordable transportation isn’t available. You can read more about the grant here: http://ddc.ohio.gov/Grants/Current-Projects/access-afford-trans
What is your opinion about transportation?
As the Ohio DD Council continues to work through its grantees and partners on ways to improve transportation, we encourage Ohioans with disabilities to provide input whenever possible. What will transportation look like in the future? What are your needs? What do you think will be the needs of people with disabilities in the years to come?
Currently, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) would like your input by taking a survey about the future of transportation. The responses from the survey will assist ODOT in updating Ohio's long-range transportation plan, called Access Ohio 2045.
Please take some time to complete ODOT's survey here so that they hear about the needs of Ohioans with disabilities: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Ohio-transportation-trends
Help Us Build Our Online Resource Guide
The Internet provides links to thousands of websites that have disability-related information and resources. However, finding the most reliable information and resources can be difficult. The Ohio DD Council is compiling a "Links to Disability Resources" section on its website at http://ddc.ohio.gov/News-Media/Links-to-Disability-Resources to be a one-stop space for individuals looking for resources, organizations and information on disability-related issues. The list is ever-changing and growing, and we welcome input from the community for resources to include in the list.
Do you have a resource related to developmental disability topics that you would like to suggest? Help us to continue building our online resource guide. Click here to submit your suggestion!