DD Council Connection - March 2019

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:


Supports Matter at this year's DD Awareness and Advocacy Day

Picture of Casper Shahan, Dara Walburn, Governor Mike DeWine, and Matt HarrisonCasper Shahan, Dara Walburn, Gov. Mike DeWine, and Matt Harrison
celebrate 2019 DD Advocacy & Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse

On March 5, disability advocates from across the state came to the Ohio Statehouse in Downtown Columbus to participate in the 2019 DD Awareness and Advocacy Day. The program, held every year in March, is a chance for advocates to bring public awareness about issues like transportation, employment, access to direct support providers, and health care. The event is also an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to meet with legislators and staff to share their story and to advocate for public policy change. More than 400 people packed the Statehouse Atrium this year.

This year’s theme was Supports Matter! Shari Cooper returned for her 7th year as Master of Ceremonies, and the event welcomed state officials Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Treasurer Robert Sprague.

Governor DeWine, recently sworn in as the state’s new leader, welcomed the audience and reminded them that advocacy is an important part of the legislative process.

“I encourage you to talk to us. Send us letters and give us ideas,” said Governor DeWine. “There are still people with disabilities who want to do more, work more and participate more, but there are barriers. While change cannot happen overnight, I want you all to work with us over the next four years to have more and more people with disabilities to reach and live up to their potential.”

Sharing one of the tools that can reduce barriers for people with disabilities was Treasurer Robert Sprague. He spoke about the Ohio STABLE accounts, a financial tool that allows people with disabilities to save money and build assets while keeping Medicaid and SSI benefits.

Self-advocate Travis Desbach, from Circleville, shared that having a STABLE account has allowed him to work, save money and have funds to pay for doctors bills and medications.

Newly-appointed director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Jeff Davis; and Kevin Miller, director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, also spoke to the crowd and encouraged advocates to keep working hard to build a better community.

Joining the list of speakers was also Ohio DD Council member and chair of the Council’s public policy committee Dara Walburn. “Advocacy is important because, with all of us, we can be the difference that spreads hope like wildfire,” said Walburn, who has advocated for herself since the age of four.

And, finally, Dustin Wright, one of the founders of Rest Assured®, and the founder of Disability Cocoon, spoke about how technology is increasing possibilities for people with disabilities. Last year, Ohio became a Technology First state, making it the first state in the country to place an emphasis on expanding access to technology for people with developmental disabilities.

The event was also streamed on the Ohio Channel. You can view the video of the event here: Ohio Channel Presents - 2019 Developmental Disability Awareness Day 

Pictures from the event were taken by Kyle McKay and can be found here: OPRA's Facebook Photo Album 

DD Awareness and Advocacy Day is hosted during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which is celebrated every March. It is funded and organized by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council and Ohio Provider Resource Association, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, and the Ohio Self Determination Association.


Transportation Pilot Program Seeks Participants

In partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU) and Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Smart Columbus is seeking 30 participants for a pilot program to improve independence for transit service users with cognitive disabilities as well as older adults.

The pilot program features a smart phone app especially designed for users with cognitive disabilities. Multimedia prompts will aid in navigating public transit systems. Actual location images and audio prompts will provide notifications such as when to get off at a stop. Caregivers will create the routes using the application or web portal. Real-time location updates and automatic notifications will be available, letting a caregiver know that the commuter has arrived at a destination safely.

Big news for caregivers and advocates. New pilot program wants to improve transportation service for people with cognitive disabilities.

The pilot program will run for one year from April 29, 2019 to April 29, 2020. To participate, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Central Ohio resident with a cognitive disability
  • Occasional user of bus services and would like to increase ridership and/or independence
  • Able to use a smartphone and an app

This pilot program came after an evaluation and field study that provided information about challenges and opportunities residents with cognitive disabilities face in their daily travels. As a result, the Smart Columbus pilot aims to address an important community challenge as part of its vision to empower residents to live their best lives, through responsive, innovative and safe mobility solutions.

For more information, read the Smart Columbus announcement, or reach out to Carmen Digiovine at carmen.digiovine@osumc.edu.


Rachel Rice appointed to Ohio DD Council

Photo of new Ohio DD Council Member, Rachel RiceRachel Rice is the newest member appointed to the Ohio DD Council

Rachel Rice was appointed to the Ohio Developmental Disability Council (Ohio DD Council) by former Governor John Kasich to serve a three-year term on the 30-person board that advocates for people with developmental disabilities across Ohio.

An advocacy assistant with the Warren County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Rice defines her advocacy goal as helping those who cannot speak for themselves and helping who can to learn how to advocate.

As an Ohio DD Council member, she plans to focus on transportation issues and insurance and provider care options for those with disabilities.  “These are the areas that I know people with disabilities are having issues with,” Rice said.

A resident of Franklin, OH, Rice is active with the Human Rights Committee for Warren County and the University of Cincinnati University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UC UCEDD).

Outside of work and her advocacy efforts, Rice participates in the Special Olympics of Greater Dayton (Springboro), CHEERS (a social group for adults with special needs) and enjoys computer games and traveling.


About Council: When does DD Council offer new grants?

Last month, “About Council” highlighted information about the role of being a Council member. This month, we take a look at Council’s grant application process.

The majority of the Ohio DD Council’s grants are offered at the beginning of Council’s Five-Year State Plan cycle. Council makes a concerted effort at the beginning of the planning stage for each cycle to find out from the public what they think are the pressing issues for Ohioans with developmental disabilities. It is from that effort, as well as input from Council members, the Council decides what the priority areas are and ultimately the focus of the grant projects that will be offered.

Our current state plan started in 2017, so the majority of our grants began in 2017 and will end in 2021. However, there are times during the five-year cycle when we offer new grants based on new and emerging issues. There are also grants awarded for terms less than five years. The Ohio DD Council currently administers more than 25 grant projects.

When a grant is offered, the Ohio DD Council issues a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) which describes the purpose and expectations of the grant, and includes a link to the application. Grant review panels follow a formal, detailed process for scoring applications and awarding projects to the best proposal. Also, multi-year grants are subject to an annual review to ensure the grant activities are on-target and in compliance before funding is approved for another year.

To be notified of new NOFAs, please subscribe to receive email notifications for NOFAs.

Another source of funding Council offers is through a Discretionary Fund. Applications for this fund are available for people and organizations who send Council specific funding requests. Requests are reviewed and go through an approval process. Not all requests are awarded. There is an annual limit of $60,000 to the fund, so all requests may not be approved if the funding is used up before the end of the year. Discretionary Fund requests are accepted throughout the year. The application is found at https://www.ddsuite.org/.