DD Council Connection - August 2017

logo of dd council connection newsletter bannerWelcome to the August 2017 edition of the DD Council Connection newsletter!

DD Council Connection is a way for the Ohio DD Council to introduce to you our amazing Council members, grantees, staff and entire statewide community of self-advocates and others who work tirelessly on behalf of people with disabilities and their families. We hope you enjoy this e-newsletter. Please share your thoughts, story ideas and calendar submissions with us at DDCInfo@dodd.ohio.gov.

This month's articles include:

Ohio DD Council releases transportation study

More than half of the people with disabilities responding to a statewide transportation survey indicated that they had to wait at least 30 minutes or longer to be picked up for a ride. Approximately half (51%) of the survey’s 534 respondents with disabilities stated they had to wait 15 minutes or longer for rides they depend on.

These findings, and many others, are part of a study released by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council). The study was completed by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine, Government Resource Center and included survey responses from more than 2,200 Ohioans in 63 counties across the state. Survey participants included people with disabilities, family members, transportation providers and advocacy organizations.

Mark Seifarth, chair of the Ohio DD Council, said he was impressed with the study’s findings, indicating that it confirmed what many people with disabilities have been saying about transportation challenges.

“We continuously heard from people with disabilities that transportation was their number one concern,” said Seifarth. “This study finally puts many of those anecdotal concerns into a more coherent collection of data and information.”

Seifarth added that community inclusion and participation for people with disabilities could not be achieved without a reliable transportation system for people with disabilities.

Carolyn Knight, executive director of Ohio DD Council, said the information included in the study is a gold mine for policymakers.

“I think a big step we can take immediately is to help people with disabilities understand the transportation options available to them,” said Knight, referencing a finding that only 11% of people with disabilities utilize public transit. “When you look at the percent of people who know their rights compared to the percent of people who know their options, it’s a glaring discrepancy.”

The Council has dedicated resources to research studies that will help legislators and administration officials better understand the unique needs and challenges of people with developmental disabilities.

The most recent study, “Transportation Challenges for Ohioans with Disabilities” was funded through a competitive grant and received in-kind technical support from Disability Rights Ohio and Services for Independent Living.

Council Member Spotlight: Kimberly Stults

Kimberly Stults is from Bellevue, Ohio in Sandusky County. A parent advocate, Stults has served on the Council for six years and shares how the Council changed her perception on advocacy and making a difference in the life of her daughter and other people with developmental disabilities. Meet Kim by clicking on the video below:

Want to apply to become a member?

If you are interested in applying for appointment to the Ohio DD Council, visit ddc.ohio.gov/Council-Members/New-Member-Application.

Grantee Spotlight: Empowering Self Advocates

As a part of its Self-Advocacy goal in the Five Year Plan, the Ohio DD Council (ODDC) awarded the Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA), Services for Independent Living (SIL), and Best Buddies each a grant to empower self-advocate leaders with developmental disabilities by increasing skill development and providing opportunities to be effective leaders.

In alignment with the DD Act, self-advocacy is one of the goals of the ODDC’s Five Year Plan. The DD Act requires every Developmental Disabilities Council address these three areas:

(I) Establish or strengthen a program for the direct funding of a State self-advocacy organization led by individuals with developmental disabilities;

(II) Support opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities who are considered leaders to provide leadership training to individuals with developmental disabilities who may become leaders; and

(III) Support and expand participation of individuals with developmental disabilities in cross-disability and culturally diverse leadership.

The goal of this initiative will allow Ohioans with developmental disabilities to have an increased united, diversified voice that is recognized and respected by elected officials, stakeholders, policymakers, and people with developmental disabilities and their families.

One of the primary purposes of the Ohio DD Council is to offer grant opportunities. Driven by the Council’s Five Year Plan, the grants seek innovative advocacy, capacity building and systems change activities. These activities are designed to contribute to a coordinated system of services, supports and other assistance that is centered around and driven by individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Ohio's STABLE Program receives national recognition

Being first in the nation to have established an ABLE account program, the Ohio STABLE Account received the "Champions of Equal Opportunities Award" from the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). The NACDD recognized the STABLE Account for its "outstanding leadership and dedication to policy that supports opportunities for people with developmental disabilities."

“The State of Ohio Treasurer’s Office made creating the STABLE program a top priority. The office recognized the importance of financial security and stability for the disability community,” said Diane Cox, member of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council.

STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Cox’s son, who has a disability, has a STABLE account – and it has been able to give the family a sense of security.

“The STABLE account allows us to save for our son’s future just like we save for our daughter’s future,” said Cox. “It provides us with the peace of mind that Ben will have a safety net should we become unable to care for him, and to also know that he won't be disqualified for Medicaid benefits should he need them.”

The national honor was presented at NACDD's annual conference in July where the STABLE team had the opportunity to present and speak to many self-advocates and members from DD Council from other states about the ability to save and invest with STABLE Accounts.

To learn about STABLE Accounts, visit https://www.stableaccount.com/#eligibility.

County Boards of Developmental Disabilities give back to their communities

Celebrating Always There is a statewide yearlong campaign to recognize the 50th anniversary of the creation of Ohio’s county boards of developmental disabilities which was October 25, 1967. In July, many county boards of developmental disabilities participated in the Always There Week of Service to give back to their local communities. The following are activities done by just two of the many counties that celebrated during the week of July 17, 2017.

Pike County Board of Developmental Disabilities Adopts Community Parks for Clean Up

Pike County Board of Developmental Disabilities (PCBDD) went across the county cleaning and maintaining local parks as part of the Always There Week of Service.

Sixteen volunteers from PCBDD and Canal Industries, a nonprofit day program for adults with developmental disabilities, worked numerous hours on various landscape projects to give back to the community.

Hitting “all four corners” of the county, PCBDD and Canal Industries planted flowers at the welcome signs in the village of Beaver; weeded and planted flowers at ballparks in Waverly; trimmed back plants and weeded at the Veteran’s Memorial at Western High School in Latham; and landscaped areas around Canal Park in Akron, the baseball stadium that is the home of the RubberDucks, a AA minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

PCBDD wanted to show their appreciation, during the Week of Service, for the support they have received from Pike County throughout the years.

Always There is a statewide, yearlong campaign to recognize the 50th anniversary of the creation of Ohio’s county boards of developmental disabilities on October 25, 1967.

Guernsey County Gives Back to Animal Shelters, Women and Elderly

Hosting the Canned Food and Pet Food Drive, Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities (GCBDD) collected two truck loads of non-perishable food items, leashes, dog food, collars, towels and more. Donated by the community, the items went to local shelters in the County.

Canned food items were given to Feed My People, a local nonprofit church-based food bank that cooks hot meals for those in need for fifty cents a meal. All dog food and pet related items were given to the local animal shelter.

Additionally, GCBDD hosted an entire week of activities to give back to the community.

The staff split into three teams and competed in a “penny war,” a two-week competition to see who could collect the most pennies. By the end of Week of Service, $578 was collected and proceeds went to Women Interest in Children (WIC), a Cambridge nonprofit.

The GCBDD’s self-determination group, Independent Stars, teamed up with community members including the Twisted Soulz MC Cambridge Chapter motorcycle group, and spent the month of July collecting $20 sponsorships to purchase no-sew blankets for children in foster care across the county. They raised $580 and the Stars assembled the blanket kits with volunteers from the Guernsey County Senior Center.

Wrapping up the week, they cleaned up a local park and were later joined by the American Red Cross for a blood drive that collected 17 units of blood.

For more information about the Always There campaign, go to www.alwaysthereforohio.org/.