DD Advocate Magazine - Issue 7

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Issue 7 | August 2015

DD Advocate Magazine

Tangible Results County board advocacy secures key budget wins PAGE 10

Saving for the future with the Ohio ABLE Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act at 25

Setting the tone on DD systems transformation




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Issue 7 | August 2015


DD Advocate Magazine

In This Issue


Bridget Gargan PUBLISHER




3 President’s Letter


DD Briefing


6 Ohio ABLE Act breaks fiscal barriers for people with DD

Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities

7 ADA’s 2015 anniversary marks 25 years of change


DD Worldview


8 India: Advocates push for more integration




Joe Russell



Tangible County board advocacy secures Results key budget wins


16 Setting the Tone: How boards can use communications to build public trust in times of change



DD Technology

Betsy Galvin

20 Device opens up new ways for person served to communicate



DD Business

DD News


Lori Stanfa

DD Best Practices

21 UCO expands employment options with File 13 purchase




23 News in a Nutshell DD Words of Wisdom

28 Diane Knupp Issue 7 | Augu st 2015

DD Advoc ate Magazine


Licking DD Director of Finance and Business Operations Gary Smith, State Rep. Robert Sprague, Seneca DD Director of Business Operations Dick Williams, Butler DD CFO Rick Black, and Montgomery DD Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Michael Proulx were photographed by OACB Communications Director Adam Herman for the cover of DD Advocate at the Ohio Statehouse.

Tangible Results County

boa advocacy rd sec key budget ures wins

Inquiries regarding material contained within should be directed to feedback@ddadvocate.com or to: DD Advocate Magazine c/o Erich Hiner, Managing Editor 73 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite B1 Worthington, OH 43085


Saving for the with the Ohio future ABLE Act PAGE 6

The Amer icans with Disabilities Act at 25 PAGE 7

Setting the tone on DD systems trans formation PAGE 16


Issue 7 - August 2015

DD Advocate Magazine is the official publication and registered trademark (™) of the Ohio Association of County Boards – Serving People with Developmental Disabilities (OACB). All content is copyright ©2015 OACB unless otherwise noted. Written permission is necessary to reproduce any material for which OACB is the owner. Every effort is made to ensure accuracy of content prior to publication. OACB is not responsible for inaccuracy that arises after the magazine has published. OACB is not responsible for information contained within advertisements and does not endorse the products or services advertised.

For an up-to-date advertising rate card, visit www.ddadvocate.com. All other inquiries may be directed via e-mail to feedback@ddadvocate.com.

President’s Letter DEAR COLLEAGUES: Over the past several months, I have often heard from colleagues that these are interesting and dramatic times in Ohio’s DD service system. Given the pending mandates for change from the state and federal governments, I have always considered that to be an understatement. Fortunately, the future of Ohio’s county-based DD programs has recently become a little clearer. In June, we learned the federal government will give Ohio and county boards of DD until January 2024 to transfer direct services to private providers with very limited exceptions. Earlier this year, stakeholders were concerned that these changes might be required by January of 2019 – a timeline far too short to transition responsibly. This fundamental systems change will take time to implement properly, which is why the 2024 deadline was welcome news. This mandatory transition is in response to a rule handed down by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last year that prohibits an entity that receives Medicaid dollars for waiver services from providing direct waiver services when that entity also provides case management services. CMS deemed that offering both constitutes a conflict of interest and rejected “firewall” standards for boards. Any entity that continues to offer both could lose its Medicaid funding.

others are not. Many boards in rural counties face a lack of private providers, meaning provider capacity must be built up before the transfer of services can take place. The extra time afforded by the 2024 deadline will be essential to a more natural and, ultimately, more successful transition for the individuals served by county DD boards and their families. Ohio’s DD system is unique from other state programs due to its locally-based funding and implementation. Every county has its own characteristics, and our boards have become well-known for the delivery of supports in the most efficient and innovative ways possible. We are adaptable, and we are tenacious. We will find a way. Adjusting to conflict-free case management will not be easy for some, but I have no doubt that the many passionately committed county board members, self-advocates, and DD service professionals will rise to the occasion in serving Ohioans with developmental disabilities.

Dean Fadel President, OACB Board of Trustees Vice President, Franklin Co. Board of DD


However one feels about these new regulations, one thing is clear: the transition of services must take place. Fortunately, we now know that boards at least have time to get this transition right. While some counties are far along in their transition efforts,


Issue 7 | August 2015







Senator Shannon Jones represents Ohio’s 7th Senate District, which includes Warren County and parts of Butler and Hamilton Counties. Prior to her time in the Ohio Senate, she served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. In this legislative session, she is chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and a member of the Medicaid Committee. In her first contribution to DD Advocate, she explores how the Ohio ABLE Act will help people with disabilities save money for the future.

Marie Barni is general manager of communication at Cuyahoga DD. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ohio University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. Prior to her current position, she served in various K-12 and post-secondary leadership roles and helped create new education models tailored to the abilities of all students, including one that received the Baldrige Excellence in Education distinction. In her first story for DD Advocate, she looks at best practices boards of DD can use to communicate about DD systems change.

Carol Scheiderer has worked at Union DD for the past eight years as the executive assistant to the superintendent. She is responsible for the quarterly “Kaleidoscope” newsletter, board press releases, marketing, and promotional materials. She assists with coordinating the annual report and event planning. Carol is a 2012 graduate of the Union County Leadership Institute. In her first contribution to DD Advocate, she tells the story of a person served who is improving her communication skills with the help of some innovative assistive technology.

DD Advocate Magazine


Transitions County boards of DD have seen many staff transitions, promotions, retirements, and appointments over the last few months. A selection of those personnel changes is below. Have you recently made a big transition at your county board? Let us know at feedback@ddadvocate.com. We’ll be happy to share the news in future issues of the magazine.

Promoted Michael Adkins, former project manager at Summit DD, to the

Robert Morgan, as Delaware DD superintendent. Sherry Steinman, as public information officer at DODD.

position of IT Manager.


Holly Brugh, former director of children’s services at Summit DD, to

Judy Carey began as director of operations at Union DD.

the position of director of services.

Michelle Davenport began as SSA director at Morrow DD.

Stacy Collins, project manager at the DODD Division of Policy and Strategic Direction, to the position of DODD Employment First lead. Joseph DiFranco, former habilitation manager at Summit DD, to the position of senior manager of adult services. Matthew Glidewell, former revenue manager at NEON COG, to the position of program operations director. Kristen Helling, former DODD Employment First lead, to the position of assistant deputy director at Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. Krista Oldiges, former community first director for Champaign DD and Shelby DD, to the position of community and support services director at Shelby DD. Tina Overturf, former early intervention manager at Summit DD, to the position of senior manager of children’s services. Wendy Ricker, former individual support coordination supervisor at Fairfield DD, to the position of SSA director. Sarah Seeberg, former quality services manager at Union DD, to the position of support service director.

Mi’Chael Hoca began as the manager of program operations at Clearwater COG. Kristine Hodge, former interim superintendent at Mahoning DD, as superintendent at Delaware DD. Joseph Howard began as supported employment manager at Stark DD. Randall Huber began as MUI manager at Summit DD. Nate Kamban began as community relations and special projects coordinator at Tuscarawas DD. Gwynn Kinsel began as legal counsel at Franklin DD. Marianne Mader, former SSA director at Lucas DD, as superintendent at Holmes DD. Stephen Mercer began as business manager at Van Wert DD. Bethany Schultz, former SSA director at Clark DD, as SSA director and assistant superintendent at Preble DD. Regina Speas began as early childhood supervisor at Ross DD. Andrew Taylor began as SSA director at Knox DD.

Shana Snow, former maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting coordinator at Coshocton DD, to the position of Help Me Grow project director for Coshocton DD and Knox DD. Andrew Taylor, former SSA at Knox DD, to the position of SSA director. Maryalice Turner, director of educational services at Athens DD, took on the additional role of assistant superintendent. Darann Warner, former facility manager at Summit DD, to the position of senior manager of adult services. Laurie Witt, former Medicaid provider support manager at Lucas DD, to the position of assistant director of business operations and Medicaid. Linda Woodard, former adult options manager at Lucas DD, to the position of assistant director of adult options. Theresa Vernon, former Help Me Grow project director for Coshocton DD and Knox DD, to the position of program initiative director at Knox DD.

Retired Scott Brace, as Holmes DD superintendent. 4

Issue 7 - August 2015

In Memoriam Ben W. Hale (1944-2015) Ben W. Hale, Jr., who served as a board member of Franklin DD for more than 20 years, including two terms as president, died May 28. In addition to his work at Franklin DD, Hale was a founding member and the first chairman of Creative Housing, Inc., a disability housing organization that has served Central Ohio for more than two decades. Known for his tireless advocacy on DD issues, Hale served on many statewide committees and was recognized with the OACB Ray Ferguson Advocacy Award for his extraordinary dedication to enhancing the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

DD Profiles

Meet Erich Hiner: OACB Communications Coordinator



In late summer 2014, OACB was pleased to announce that Erich Hiner (pictured above) had joined its team as communications coordinator. In his role, Erich reports to OACB’s communications director and contributes to the association’s social media efforts, publications, marketing, IT, event planning, and multimedia productions. We decided to sit down with Erich to talk about his background, his first year at the association, and his goals for the future. To learn more about Erich, visit OACB’s online staff directory at www.oacbdd.org.

DD: How are you liking your position now that you’ve had some time to settle in? EH: I’m enjoying it – especially the special projects and events. OACB has many communications-related needs. I have had the chance to write, take photographs, analyze data, format event programs, and more. Taking on the OACBInsider newsletter and snapping photos at our various events have been particularly rewarding. The first response I often get when meeting someone new in the system is, “I get your emails!” or “I saw your photos. Nice shots!” It’s great to know that members find value in my work, especially when you consider that I’m still new to the system and still learning. DD: This is your first position dealing with DD-related issues and topics, correct? EH: That’s right. Prior to joining OACB, I worked in the general and business press as a reporter and editor. I’ve covered politics, the environment, and business. Most of my career

thus far has been spent covering the private water and sewer utility industry. When I got to OACB, I could dissect the finer points of the U.S. municipal utility bond market and give a riveting explanation of proposed changes to residual disinfectant rules for water treatment plants. Needless to say, there was a period of adjustment for me at the association. Fortunately, I have some grounding in Ohio’s DD service system. I’m a native of Geauga County, so I grew up hearing about the work done by the Metzenbaum Center and boards of DD in neighboring counties. I’ve covered many state and federally funded programs in depth, and that knowledge has served me well in learning the ins and outs of DD services. My mother also worked for years at Cuyahoga DD in multiple roles. I grew up with an appreciation for the work that boards do, and I’m glad that I’ve been given a chance to help them do it. DD: What would you say are the most valuable skills and experiences you bring to OACB?

EH: I have a knack and affinity for numbers and spreadsheets. Everything is being digitized these days, and everything is being measured. However, simply having data isn’t the same as being able to draw meaningful conclusions from it. I have experience finding meaning in large data sets, and that puts me in a good position to help improve OACB’s surveys and data-gathering efforts. I also think my writing and reporting experience will come in handy as we continue to release DD Advocate and improve our other publications. On the subject of the magazine, I would add that I’m used to being a journalistic jack-of-all-trades. I’ve worked for a number of small companies at which I’ve worn many hats, and that flexibility has translated well to our publication. I’m also a musician, which means I have experience recording and cutting audio tracks. That will definitely come in handy with some projects we have on the horizon. Lastly, I have an analytical mind. Making sense of systems change is no small task, and I have plenty of practice connecting dots that other people might not see right away. It comes with my professional background. DD: How do you see your role fitting into the wider mission of OACB in the months and years ahead? EH: I see my role as being one that helps keep our system-wide identity intact at a time when that identity is being tested. When one’s industry is going through a period of rapid transformation, it’s easy to settle into a mental bunker and feel like you’re out there fighting alone. I like to think that my communications help remind members that they are a part of something bigger. We’re a community of hundreds of professionals and allies across the state, and we’re all working toward the goal of improving the lives of people with DD. My job is to connect members with OACB and with one another, and I aim to do that at least few times a week via newsletters, social media, and other means. One of my goals is to help perfect and expand our communications offerings, and we’ve already got some things in the works. DD: Do you have any personal goals for your second year at OACB? EH: I want to continue meeting as many people as I can within the system, especially other people who are involved with or interested in communications, writing, photography, or multimedia. I’ve had some great conversations already with members at our annual events, and I’m hoping that will continue. If you spot me, come say hello. I’ll be the one jogging from room to room with a bulky camera.

DD Advocate Magazine



Left: State Rep. Margy Conditt, State Rep. John Dever, State Sen. Shannon Jones, self-advocate Jenny Cunningham, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, and State Sen. John Eklund attend a press conference on the Ohio ABLE Act in April 2015.

DD Briefing


ABLE Act breaks fiscal barriers for people with DD DD Briefing

Above: Self-advocate Jenny Cunningham testifies in favor of the Ohio ABLE Act before the Ohio House Community and Family Advancement Committee in May.

BY SENATOR SHANNON JONES / DISTRICT 7 Jenny Cunningham is a powerhouse. She loves to ski, lift weights and coach gymnastics for Special Olympics. She is one of Ohio’s most tireless advocates for people with disabilities and a part-time employee of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. For the past eight years, the 39-year-old has enjoyed living on her own. Jenny also has Down Syndrome. As an individual who qualifies for federal and state benefits, she faces restrictions that limit her far more than her disability. Until recently in Ohio, she could never save more than $1,500 a month in assets if she wanted to remain eligible to receive her necessary public benefits such as health care and housing assistance. When she incurred inevitable upkeep expenses for her home, Jenny had to borrow from her family to cover them. The financial independence she wanted to achieve was always elusive. Fortunately, change is here. I recently joined with State Reps. Margy Conditt and Jonathan Dever and Sen. John Eklund to sponsor a bill that harmonizes Ohio law with a new federal statute creating ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) savings accounts. Ohio Governor 6

Issue 7 - August 2015

John Kasich signed the Ohio ABLE Act into law on July 16. For thousands of Ohioans living with disabilities, these accounts offer financial control and a higher quality of life. By removing disincentives to save for the future, ABLE allows individuals and families to take control of their financial well-being. ABLE will allow eligible individuals to establish federal tax-advantaged savings accounts similar to 529 education savings accounts. Any money saved in these accounts will not count against the account owner’s eligibility for public programs such as Medicaid and Supplementary Security Income (SSI). Anyone can make a contribution to an ABLE account, which has a maximum contribution level of $394,000, as long as the funds go toward disability-related expenses such as education and assistive technology. The Ohio treasurer’s office has committed to establishing high standards for the institutions that manage ABLE accounts on behalf of account owners. Every component of this bill is geared toward reducing the heavy financial burden that individuals with disabilities and their families carry while also promoting

self-determination. Families with children who have developmental and intellectual disabilities will be able to save for future expenses in the same way these families save for college for their other children. Now that Ohio’s ABLE legislation has been enacted, we join more than 25 other states that have chosen to offer this opportunity to their own constituents. ABLE legislation is being considered in 12 other states as of early August. When she was growing up, Jenny could not be included in her grandparents’ will like her brothers and sisters. Her parents could not save for her education. As an adult, she has not been able to save enough money to keep her home running efficiently. For Jenny and thousands of other Ohioans like her, the opportunity to create an ABLE savings account is a chance to live a life of independence. When we incentivize families to save, we respect their ability to meet their loved ones’ needs better than anyone else ever could. The Ohio ABLE Act supports the kind of change that transforms lives and makes our state a better place to live for people with developmental disabilities and for us all.



DD Briefing

ADA’s 2015 anniversary marks 25 years of change for DD field BY ERICH HINER / OACB On July 26, 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, creating a nationally enforceable body of rules and regulations designed to protect the civil rights of those with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. The signing was a watershed moment for disability-rights advocates, who had been pushing for years to be given the same federal guarantees granted to other groups based on race, sex, religion, age, and national origin. President Bush compared the legislation to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall just one year prior. “Together, we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted. For ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper,” Bush wrote. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The sweeping legislation gave people with disabilities the right to equal treatment under the law in all aspects of life, including employment, government services, and communications. Thanks to the ADA, people who use wheelchairs and other mobility assistance devices can now board public transit and visit publicly accessible buildings. Newly constructed buildings must have ADA-compliant entrances and exits. Qualified job seekers and employees cannot discriminated against in the workplace because of their disabilities. Of particular significance to the developmental disabilities community is the ADA’s Title II, which set the stage for the system-wide change that Ohio’s county boards of DD now face. Title II of the ADA deals specifically with state and local governments, and it states that “... no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of his disability, be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public

entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” This clause of the ADA led directly to another watershed moment in the legal history of DD services: Olmstead v. L.C. In this 1999 U.S. Supreme Court case, two women argued that the State of Georgia’s offering of only institutional care options was a form of discrimination. The high court ruled that Title II of the ADA forbids the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities, and that services must be offered by governments in the most integrated setting appropriate to a person’s needs. Olmstead made clear that viable home and community-based options must exist as an option for people with DD. Enforcement of the Olmstead decision has taken many forms. The court case was the basis of the 2014 decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to forbid the issuance of Medicaid dollars to fund services that have the effect of isolating people with developmental disabilities. The decision – and the historic legislation behind it – also paved the way for Disability Rights Ohio’s 2014 letter to Governor John Kasich, which stated the ways DRO believes Ohio to be in violation of the ADA as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Olmstead. All this has led to the State of Ohio’s draft plan to comply with federal home and community-based services requirements. The plan was released in December and details the state’s intention to create benchmarks for community integration. The plan’s implementation could be required to be complete by 2019 or 2024; a firm deadline has not been set at the time of this writing. As the ADA has improved the lives of people with disabilities, it has necessitated changes to how government agencies serve those people. Exactly how services will look in the future will be decided in years to come.


1990 President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act, creating civil protections for people with disabilities.

1999 The U.S. Supreme Court hears Olmstead v. L.C., ruling that people with developmental disabilities have a right to home and community-based care options when receiving services from government agencies.

2008 The ADA Amendments Act is passed, strengthening the ADA’s employment provisions and increasing the number of people protected by the ADA.

2014-15 • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issues new rules prohibiting waivers from being used to pay for non-HCBS offerings. • Disability Rights Ohio issues a letter to Governor John Kasich alleging that Ohio has not enforced Olmstead-related provisions of the ADA. • Ohio submits its draft transition plan for community integration to CMS in 2015.

2019/2024 Possible deadlines for Ohio to meet federal integration requirements for people with developmental disabilities.

DD Advocate Magazine


India: Advocates push for more integration, less red tape


Editor’s Note: Ohio is home to a thriving DD advocacy community, but it is far from the only place where self-advocates and family members of people with developmental disabilities are using grassroots tactics to affect positive change. In this edition of Worldview, we present a collection of stories from the diverse and populous nation of India, where self-advocates and family members are embracing direct DD advocacy as never before. Please note that India’s norms and customs differ from those of the U.S. These stories contain non-people-first language that some readers may find outdated or offensive by U.S. standards. We have made small changes to punctuation and length, but the content of these stories has not been changed. DD Advocate would like to thank The Hindu, a widely circulated Indian English-language newspaper, for granting reprinting permission for this content.

Self-advocates, family members call for state DD benefits to be streamlined, standardized STAFF REPORT | THE HINDU About 150 parents of children with mental retardation as well as persons with severe disabilities staged a protest at the office of the State Commissioner for the Differently Abled on Wednesday morning and submitted individual petitions to officials there. According to the protesters, there are several issues with regard to the dispersing of the monthly maintenance given to them. “At present, the maintenance amounts given to people with disabilities is disbursed by two different departments. One is for 1,000 rupees [$15.54 USD] given by the revenue department from the department of social welfare, and the other is for 1,500 rupees [$23.30 USD] by the welfare of differently abled persons department. The criteria for availing of the maintenance are different for both departments,” a protestor said. 8

Issue 7 - August 2015

For instance, the revenue department asks for mental retardation to be 60% or above, while the differently abled department asks for 45% or above, Mr. Nambu Rajan said, and there are similar differences for those with severe disabilities. Some residents get the maintenance under one department and others under another. “What we want and have asked for in our petition is for all the maintenance amounts to be dispersed by one department – the differently abled department – and for it to be uniform. Getting maintenance from the revenue department is a hassle, as there are other rules they follow before giving us the allowance,” said K. Murugan, one of the protesters. Another protester said that many of those getting the maintenance from the revenue department hadn’t received it, and wanted

their name to be shifted to the differently abled department’s list in order to get it from there. Also, arrears pending from last year had not been received, she said. “Last year, the amount of maintenance given to those with mental retardation and those with severe disabilities by the differently abled department was increased from 1,000 rupees to 1,500 rupees. This amount is payable from April 1, 2014, and a government order to this effect was released in December. But many of us are still to get this,” a protestor said. A senior official of the State Commission for the Differently Abled said they would consider the petition. “We have assured them that all the pending amounts will be cleared. Only about 250 are pending, and we will clear most of them today,” she said. On synchronising the maintenance distribution, she said a proposal to this effect had been sent to the government in 2013, but had been rejected.


DD Worldview

Left: A crowd of 150 people gathers June 3 at the office of the State Commissioner for the Differently Abled in the coastal city of Chennai to push for standardized and streamlined benefits for people with developmental disabilities.

Crowds rally for autism awareness, integration PHOTO BY S. JAMES, COURTESY OF THE HINDU

STAFF REPORT | THE HINDU Carrying placards with messages such as “Autism is not a word to be feared, it is a child to be loved,” special educators, autistic children and their parents took out a rally from Rajah Muthiah Mandram to Gandhi Memorial Museum where a function was organised to mark World Autism Awareness Day on Thursday [April 2]. “While the general level of awareness has increased in the last few years among people, acceptance by the society and families and neighbours of children is still lacking,” said programme coordinator Andavar P. Jaidev.

“Last year alone, three new schools run by parents of autistic children started functioning, an indicator that there is a felt need for an organised setup to give lifelong support,” he said.

“Statistics indicate that there is one autistic child among 58 children in the country. The number is expected to increase in the future. We need more special education centres and skill training avenues for autistic children,” Mr. Andavar said.

A special school teacher said that children with mild autism could attend normal schools if they undergo training and get guidance with special educators for a few years. It was organised by Association for Parents of Persons Affected by Autism

Several years on, parents’ push for community job placements gaining traction BY LAIGH A. KHAN | THE HINDU People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (PwIDD) can do most jobs, particularly the ones that are repetitive in nature, better than “normal” men and women. And who can have more conviction in their innate ability than their parents? In 2009, 12 parents of children with such disabilities came together to form the Mysore District Parents’ Association for Empowering Developmentally Disabled (MDPAEDD). Six years later, the association is not only more than 80 members strong now, but has also succeeded in placing as many as 47 such youngsters in various companies in Mysuru, including high-precision electronics and information technology (IT) companies. The association, after securing a confirmation from the companies they approach for employing their wards, begins

a training programme that seeks to prepare the batch of identified youths under its Saadhya Employability programme to ensure that they meet the demands of the job. “The training period extends up to six months. A mentor is also identified for the trainees,” said association president Arakkal Basheer. When Vinyas Innovative Technologies provided jobs for 18 developmentally disabled persons in two batches over the last six years, the trainees were taught how to insert capacitors into the slots in printed circuit boards (PCBs). “The training also ensures eye-hand coordination,” said association secretary Ajit Bharathan. Earlier this month, Rishi FIBC Solutions, engaged in the manufacture of jumbo bags used for storage and transportation

Above: Students take part in a rally in Madurai on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day.

(APPAA) and Sparks Vidyalaya, a school for children with autism. A workshop was held where autism, identity, and management of adolescent problems in youngsters with autism were discussed. Randeep Rajkumar, a Tiruchi-based psychologist, talked about issues concerning adolescence and sexual education, and he gave tips on spotting possible abuse.

of powdered, granulated products in bulk, recruited four persons from the association. “Their job will be to fold the large plastic bags and fix a handle. They can do better than normal persons as they are neither distracted nor will they leave their work midway. They are fully committed to their task,” said Mr. Bharathan. A.B.V. Rao, father of 25-year-old Pawan Chandrakanth, who is one of the four persons recruited by Rishi FIBC Solutions, said he had to sacrifice his promotions to support his son. Mr. Rao, who is an assistant manager at South Indian Bank, rejected promotions that invariably come with transfer to a different city. He said he was glad that his son had landed a job. Mr. Bharathan said there has not been even one dropout since their programme started. “The employers are also satisfied with their work,” he added. All stories and photos copyright © 2015, The Hindu. Used with permission. All rights reserved. DD Advocate Magazine




Tangible Results

Above: Licking DD Director of Finance and Business Operations Gary Smith, State Rep. Robert Sprague, Butler DD CFO Rick Black, Seneca DD Director of Business Operations Dick Williams, and Montgomery DD Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Michael Proulx meet at the Ohio Statehouse in June.

County board advocacy secures key budget wins



efore this year’s biennial budget process got underway, many professionals in Ohio’s county board of DD system had come to the conclusion that lawmakers and administration officials would be putting DD services under the microscope like never before. This conclusion was well founded. Throughout 2014, Ohio was the target of increasingly pointed criticism from regulators and watchdog groups about the types of services provided to people with developmental disabilities and the settings in which those services are offered. In March 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) put in place a new rule mandating that states like Ohio dramatically increase community-based service offerings. In July 2014, attorneys from Disability Rights Ohio sent a letter to state officials outlining the ways they believe the state to be violating the Americans with Disabilities 10

Issue 7 - August 2015

Act. The common refrain in these criticisms was that Ohio’s service settings were too institutional, too segregated, and too out of touch to be considered in sync with federal regulations and the wishes of people and families served. A general sense of anxiety prevailed throughout Ohio’s county board of DD system as the state’s biennial budget process began. How would the budget respond to these outside criticisms, and how would people served by county boards be affected? When the budget was finally released on February 2, county boards’ anxiety was replaced with cautious optimism. In fact, Governor John Kasich’s executive budget proposal supported the state’s DD systems transformation plans by promising more than $100 million in new state general revenue funds to jump-start statewide transformation initiatives.

The largest portion of the state’s investment promised to fund approximately 3,000 SELF and Individual Options (IO) waivers over the biennium to reduce waiting lists and decrease the number of people living in Ohio’s institutional facilities. County boards would play a large part in these new waivers’ allocation and distribution. New money was also set aside for a number of other initiatives (see diagram on pages 14-15) designed to increase access to services and promote systems transformation efforts. Unfortunately, county boards’ optimism was short-lived. Far removed from DODD’s budget was a measure that would resume the phase-out of Tangible Personal Property Tax (TPPT) reimbursements to local governments that had been frozen in the previous biennium. Boards realized that nearly $40 million in state revenues alone could be slashed from their bottom lines over two years. Something had to be done.

Calling in the Experts Over the years, Dick Williams has earned a reputation for being a prodigious keeper of numbers – not just as the business manager for Seneca DD, but also as the chairperson of the informal statewide organization of county board business managers. His firm grasp of state funding streams’ effects on county boards of DD made him a natural choice for OACB to help fight against the state’s first TPPT phase-out in 2011. When the resumed phase-out was proposed in this budget, he was again asked to become the face of county boards’ advocacy efforts. Given the large impact the TPPT proposal would have had on county boards’ bottom lines, Williams quickly agreed to lend a hand. He enlisted the help of Rick Black (Butler DD), Gary Smith (Licking DD), and Michael Proulx (Montgomery DD) to spearhead county boards’ advocacy campaign. Led by OACB’s Joe Russell, these four business managers testified in committee hearings, met with key lawmakers, and presented the case for county boards’ being held harmless to administration officials at the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) and the Office of Budget and Management – a key decision-making entity with substantial influence over the budget process. Williams said the state was being “penny-wise, pound-foolish” to be cutting TPPT funds from county boards. “That became our core message when we met with legislators and the administration,” Williams said. “Every TPPT dollar cut would be one less dollar available for federal matching funds on waivers. It was simple math, and I think that’s what made the argument so effective.” Williams and his colleagues calculated that – if all of the TPPT dollars being cut were to be used for Medicaid match – the proposal would effectively force the state to leave more than $60 million in federal funds on the table. Williams added that once this point was made to lawmakers, their interest in maintaining the TPPT phase-out as introduced started to shift. One key legislator in the discussion of TPPT phase-out was State Rep. Robert Sprague, a Findlay Republican who chairs the House Finance Health and Human Services Subcommittee. Sprague’s committee was

Drawing up Plays where the majority of DODD’s major systems change proposals were being considered, giving him a unique perspective on the impact that TPPT cuts could have had on the state’s transition strategy. He said that after hearing county boards’ testimony, he and his colleagues knew some form of compromise was in all stakeholders’ best interest. “It did not make sense to provide more than $100 million in new state funds for the DD system and then turn around and ask for almost half of it back,” Sprague said. “We asked county boards to come back to us with a compromise that would allow the TPPT phase-out to move forward while also meeting the state’s transition objectives.”

In response to legislators’ concerns, the business managers began brainstorming how boards could be held harmless from TPPT cuts without asking the state to exempt county boards from its overall phase-out. After much deliberation, their final recommendation to OACB was to request additional funds in the DODD Medicaid Services Line Item. Doing so would effectively hold county boards harmless from TPPT cuts without highlighting the funds’ relationship to TPPT, while also ensuring the money could only be used for waiver services – giving comfort to lawmakers that their appropriation would support the state’s overall agenda. With a revised proposal in hand, OACB’s Joe Russell started putting together the pieces of a comprehensive advocacy strategy to ensure its adoption.

OACB Board of Trustees | Budget Objectives Lessen the impact of the state’s tangible personal property tax phase-out on the financial well being of county boards.


Prevent the proposed elimination of the “independent service provider” option for people and families looking for waiver-funded services and supports.


Ensure full state funding for 3,000 new Medicaid waivers. While funds were secured, specific implementations details remain under dicussion in workgroups.

Work in Progress

Support proposed reallocation of $300,000 from the county board subsidy line item to Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. (APSI) to improve guardianship services.


Support a 6% increase in homemaker/personal care rates while asking that private providers verify wages. Increases are planned but subject to available funds.

Work in Progress

Support proposed community integration efforts related to intermediate care facilities while ensuring the needs of county board ICFs are met.


Preserve boards’ case management role by checking the state’s ability to put people served into Medicaid managed care. OACB is actively monitoring the situation.

Work in Progress

Remove changes to the budget that gave families and guardians more rights in the decision-making processes of people with developmental disabilities.


Oppose the creation of a developmental center (DC) closure commission that would have reviewed the state’s decision to close the Montgomery and Youngstown DCs.


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Feature Once the strategy was complete, OACB connected county boards with lawmakers to encourage their acceptance of the proposal. Before long, legislators and administration officials gave the business managers’ compromise an informal green light, and the proposal was eventually amended into the substitute version of the budget bill that the House passed in April. The only catch? While county boards had proposed being held harmless for the full $40 million, the House had decided to only include half of the requested sum – $20 million – in their final version of the bill. But, the first and largest hurdle had been cleared because the funds were now in the budget. As advocacy shifted to the Senate, OACB staff and the business managers held one-on-one meetings with legislators and deployed county board superintendents and advocacy chairs to promote the proposal in lawmakers’ districts. Like their colleagues in the House, many senators noted their appreciation for the way in which the funds had been appropriated so as to ensure they would be used for services and not be subject to the outcome of the overall TPPT debate. Unlike their colleagues in the House, however, who had decided to hold local school districts completely harmless from any TPPT phase-out at the very last minute before passing their version of the budget, senators were wary of approving more relief for local governments affected by TPPT cuts. As a result of county board advocacy, the $20 million allocated by the House was not eliminated in the Senate’s final version of the budget when it passed in mid-June. The measure cleared another important hurdle when it was presented as part of the conference report delivered to the governor for final consideration. This agreement by both chambers of the General Assembly to the proposal cleared the way for the governor to sign the budget bill into law on June 30. In the end, OACB’s strategic decision to compromise was rewarded with a deal that kept a portion of county boards’ TPPT dollars protected – both in the current biennium, and, many believe, for the foreseeable future. While Governor Kasich could have line item vetoed the $20 million TPPT appropriation, he did not – a decision many believe had


Issue 7 - August 2015

roots in OACB’s early conversations with the administration’s Office of Budget and Management. School districts were not as fortunate. Kasich vetoed the second year of the schools’ TPPT appropriations, cutting in half the amount of one-time money they had previously expected to receive and ensuring the TPPT fight will likely rage on during the next budget process.

“If you look at the biennial state budget, you can very clearly see the path from the recommendations of the Strategic Planning Leadership Group to the initiatives that were adopted by the Ohio General Assembly.” — DODD DIRECTOR JOHN MARTIN

Breaking Down the Budget While county boards’ victory on TPPT is certainly worth celebrating, it is also important to take inventory of the many other areas of the budget where the tangible interests and objectives of county boards of DD were maintained and strengthened by smart, persistent, and coordinated advocacy from superintendents, advocacy chairs, and OACB trustees. A full accounting of the budget objectives set by OACB’s Board of Trustees and Joint Leadership Team can be found in the table on page 11. The success of Ohio’s DD system in this budget was no accident. In fact, to hear DODD Director John Martin describe it, the foundation for nearly all of the administration’s budget proposals was laid more than 18 months before the governor signed the budget bill into law. That is when stakeholders representing county boards of DD, providers, families, and people with developmental disabilities were invited to take part in DODD’s Strategic Planning Leadership Group (SPLG), a high-level workgroup charged with the creation of a shared vision for the future of Ohio’s DD service system.

“If you look at the biennial state budget, you can very clearly see the path from the recommendations of the Strategic Planning Leadership Group to the initiatives that were adopted by the Ohio General Assembly,” Martin said. Using the SPLG’s report as a blueprint, Martin and his staff devised various initiatives that would make the most of a one-time infusion of state dollars through the upcoming state budget process. Martin said he and his staff planned as if the budget would be their one and only chance to get the resources they would need to begin implementing the SPLG’s vision. “We had to ask ourselves what we could hope to reasonably accomplish in two years and plan accordingly,” Martin said. “There were also ripple effects we had to account for when we started shifting the pieces around. Moving people off of the Transitions DD waiver and out of ICFs meant that we had to have nursing on the IO waiver. We couldn’t just allow that service for some and not for others, so we had to account for that expense on all IO waivers. Every decision had an effect on at least one other decision in some way, so it was a balancing act.” The future of the state’s developmental centers also weighed heavily on Martin’s mind as the budget plan began to take shape. “It’s just not possible to keep that kind of investment and infrastructure when you have a substantial number of people on waiting lists waiting for services,” Martin said. “From a stewardship perspective, it was hard to justify keeping the centers open when our data shows that 80% of people who leave are just as satisfied with their services when they’re in the community.” “Yes, it is a tough decision,” Martin continued. “But we had to make a judgment call on how we should redirect resources within our system to fulfill our primary mission: creating long-term sustainable models where people are best served.” While the largest portion of the new money in the budget was allocated for new or enhanced waiver services, Martin said other parts of the SPLG’s blueprint were funded as



DODD Director John Martin discusses DD-related funding in the biennial budget.

well – such as the community employment initiatives and systems transformation pilot projects housed in DODD’s Office of Policy and Strategic Direction. “Increasing our focus on community integration and on employment has been a goal for our system for a long time,” Martin explained. “What I’m hoping is that, at the end of the biennium, we can look back and say the system’s a better system than it was when we started, that we’re providing services to more people, and that people are getting to really experience life in the community in ways they haven’t before.”

Implementation Strategies Teresa Kobelt, the DODD deputy director tasked with overseeing the implementation of these new programs, said she hopes that the additional funds provided in the budget will help the system build on its current successes and continue the progress already made in several key areas. “Much of our focus in the next two years will be on how we can support those individuals whose job it is to help people make the transition from institutional to community settings,” Kobelt said. “Service and support administrators and direct support professionals are key to this process because they are the ones who will ensure that

quality services are maintained throughout a person’s transition.” To support these professionals, initiatives to support trauma-informed care, expand technology-based early intervention services, and test new service models within facility-based private providers are included in the long list of projects currently slated for creation or expansion in the budget. In addition to new training options for county board service and support administrators, direct support professionals, and early intervention specialists, DODD plans to develop online and in-person training for Qualified Intellectual/ Developmental Disability Professionals (QIDPs) at ICFs. Current training topics planned include person-centered planning and behavior supports. “In this budget, I hope professionals feel they are partners with the department,” Martin said. “We need the entire field moving together if we hope to be successful in the future. Trainings like these are our way of showing them that we are here to help as much as we can.” Also high on DODD’s agenda over the next two years in the ICF world is the modernization of the state’s funding C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 1 4

DD Advocate Magazine



New DD funding in the Community Integration Initiatives

Service Improvement Initiatives



$20.7 million

New IO Waivers (ICF Conversion & Diversion)

$11.1 million

New IO Waivers (Waitlist Reduction)

$4.7 million

New SELF Waivers (Waitlist Reduction)



$21.1 million

6% Waiver Rate Increase

$18 million

Nursing and Behavior Supports

$16.6 million

Conversion of TDD Waivers to IO Waivers

$9.2 million

Intermediate Care Facility Reimbursement

$9 million

Systems Transformation

$6 million

Employment First


C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 1 3

reimbursement model and the development of an “options counseling” program. The latter would ensure that current ICF residents are informed of community service choices available to them after they leave. For ICF residents who are ready to move into community residential settings, the state has set aside money to be used as “bridge


Issue 7 - August 2015

funding” to cover incidental costs that can arise when setting up a new home. Employment First also fared well in the budget, with $6 million being appropriated to fund new programs and community integration models at ICFs, county boards, and private providers. The influx represents a 93% increase between FY2015 and FY2016.

DODD’s partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities will continue to operate as it has over the past two years, but it will not see a funding increase over the fiscal biennium. With so many new programs now underway, and with systems change dominating most conversations in Ohio’s DD world, Martin

FY 2016-17 Ohio budget People with new community-based options: 3,014



These funds will go toward the creation of 1,150 new Individual Options (IO) Waivers. Recipients will be current or future intermediate care facility (ICF) residents who will now have the option of receiving community-based services.


These funds will provide 864 IO Waivers available to any eligible people served. Waivers will go to people on the state’s waiting list of individuals who want home and community-based care but for whom a waiver is not available now.


The state will create 1,000 new Self-Empowered Life Funding (SELF) Waivers. Waivers will go to people on the state’s waiting list of individuals who want home and community-based care but for whom a waiver is not available now.




These funds will increase the standard billable rate of DD direct service professionals paid with waiver dollars. It is hoped that increasing the rate will make the field more attractive to job seekers and increase retention rates. These funds will support the addition of nursing as a new waiver service, giving medically fragile people access to nurses outside of care facilities. It will also help fund a behavioral support add-on for some new waiver recipients. The state will continue to phase out the TDD Waiver, increasing the community-based care options available to people served by moving them to other types of waivers.

= 100 people served


New state funding* for DD initiatives in two-year budget:


The state will put these funds toward a number of items pertaining to ICFs, including waiver conversion costs and a 2% rate increase in FY2017, among other related initiatives.


Roughly $9 million will be spread around a number of initiatives dealing with early intervention, workforce development, intensive needs, ICF transition (bed buy-back, room and board, etc.), options counseling, and more.


Approximately $6 million will be used to support DODD’s current and future employment programs. Initiatives will include community employment support funding for county boards and providers.


$116.4 million


said he understands why people with developmental disabilities, their families, and DD professionals have expressed anxiety over what the future holds. However, he said he hopes that DD service professionals also have a sense of excitement and positive energy about the Ohio DD service system’s changes and direction for the future.

“It may feel like a lot of change, but it’s really a path that the system has been on for 10 to 20 years,” Martin said. “I hope families and professionals see that there is a commitment from our entire field to expand and improve our service delivery system so it better fits the needs, desires, and interests of people with developmental disabilities.”


OACB members who would like to learn more about the two-year budget’s impact on county boards of DD can access a detailed budget analysis in the members-only Document Center feature of MemberConnect, the association’s new membership services portal, by logging in at www.members.oacbdd.org.

DD Advocate Magazine


DD Best Practices

Summit DD Superintendent John Trunk addresses a crowd during a public forum about systems change issues in May 2015.

How boards can use communications to build trust in times of change BY MARIE BARNI / CUYAHOGA DD and ERICH HINER / OACB


Issue 7 - August 2015


Setting theTone


UBLIC EDUCATION ON DD-RELATED ISSUES HAS ALWAYS been a major role of Ohio’s county boards, but it has never been more crucial to our mission than now. The status quo of the past is being upended, forcing our system into uncharted territory. These changes must be discussed. But how?

New rules from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)are requiring county boards to transfer waiver services for people with developmental disabilities to private providers by 2024 (with some exceptions). Many questions have yet to be answered about how and when these and other changes will take effect. Naturally, the people and families we serve want to know how all this is going to impact their lives, and they are turning to county boards of DD for guidance. Local political leaders are also wondering what this could mean for their citizens, and taxpayers are starting to ask what boards’ role will be in the future. So what do we do? Boards of DD need to keep fulfilling their role as communicators to individuals and families, especially in this time of tumultuous change. But how do we communicate the complexities of systems change when so little is certain? And how do we do so in a way that will maintain the public’s trust in county boards? The first step in any systems change communications plan is to realize that such a plan is necessary. People served by county boards need reassurance that their boards of DD will continue to be active participants in the lives of Ohioans with DD no matter what the future holds. That reassurance can only come from steady, well-managed communications that speak with the voice of one’s entire organization. Furthermore, systems change-related communications cannot be viewed as a luxury reserved for larger boards with dedicated communications budgets and staff. County boards could get through systems change in silence, but it would likely come at the cost of public trust and engagement – both of which are essential components of boards’ success. Furthermore, public trust is easier to maintain than recover after it is lost. Communicating often and well in times of change can lead to a reinforcement of the positive public image of county boards and, with luck and a good plan, a boost in public support. The question is not if boards should

communicate about DD systems change, but what their communications should look like when they do. Every county board, regardless of its size, staffing, or resources, must focus on this in relation to its unique needs, goals and circumstances. There is no universal approach, but there are proven best practices that meet changing communications needs.

Effective communications can mean the difference between the public seeing a dark future of uncertainty or a bright future of opportunity for people with developmental disabilities.

Know the Drivers Before tackling the “how” of a communications plan, it is important to remember the “what.” After all, “systems change” is not one topic; it is several related topics every board must take care to articulate properly. The three main drivers of this change include 1) the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, 2) CMS’ rules for home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers, and 3) Ohio’s Employment First initiative. 1) The Olmstead Supreme Court ruling states that people with disabilities have the right to receive services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to meet their needs. In 2014, Disability Rights Ohio sent a letter to the state claiming that Ohio is in violation of Olmstead because the state’s service system favors institutional placement. 2) The first CMS rule that is propelling change states that federal Medicaid funds can no longer be used to pay for waiver services that are provided in institutions

or settings that have the effect of isolating people from the community. The second, referred to as the “conflict of interest” provision, states that an agency charged with connecting families and individuals to care options should no longer be able to direct people to its own in-house services and expect Medicaid waiver dollars to pay for said options. 3) Ohio’s Employment First initiative is designed to make community employment more common and viable for people with DD as opposed to sheltered workshops. These drivers will affect boards of DD in different ways and to varying degrees. Once an organization understands that communications must occur and then outlines what must be said about each issue, the next step is to craft a plan.

Finding Your Five Ws When crafting a comprehensive communications plan for systems change, it can be helpful to fall back on the journalistic standby of the five Ws, which are who, what, when, where, and why. Add “how” to that list, and you have the basic building blocks of a communications plan. Keeping these concepts in mind will help your board decide how to communicate for the best possible results. The five Ws are listed below with some basic thoughts on how to use them. WHY: The first step in crafting your plan is to identify its goal. Are you educating others, building support for something general or specific, defusing a situation, or calling for some sort of action? WHAT: The next step is the creation of the message itself. Be sure to keep it as clear, concise, and simple as possible. Consider making use of supporting materials that are already available, such as documents from the state. WHO: The “who” of your communications plan includes two parts. The first is your audience. Identify your audience, think about

DD Advocate Magazine


why are you communicating to them, and consider how they might react. Consider that every board has many stakeholder groups with their own wants and needs, and tailor your message accordingly. The second part of your plan’s “who” is the messenger. Who will deliver your communication, and why was that person or group chosen? In many cases, the messenger should be someone of authority that can also function as the face of the board. Superintendents are often a good choice. If other staff members will share messages, it is important that they are well prepared, consistent, and have a plan to respond to questions. WHEN: The “when” of your communication plan should include the timing of major messages. How will your messaging coincide with news events and announcements from regulators? It also helps to consider a tiered approach. Should one group of stakeholders be told first, or should all receive the message simultaneously? WHERE/HOW: What media will you use? Electronic communications such as email might be efficient, but they lack the impact of face-to-face dialogue. If you choose to connect your board with stakeholders in a town hall-style meeting or similar event, choose a venue that is accessible and be explicit about the timing and location of all meetings.

“Considering the technology we have and the scheduling constraints we are under, it is easy to rely on written communication,” Petty said. “However, there is just no substitute for face-to-face time with people because it can show me how well they understand something and what their feelings are about a particular issue.” Cuyahoga DD also set up a pre-recorded call-in line that anyone with a telephone could use to get the latest systems change news. The receptionist forwards them to a special extension with a recorded message that is updated regularly. This service is cheap to implement and gives the board something to offer seniors, the visually impaired, and people who cannot use computers. At Stark DD, systems change has resulted in the closure of one of the board’s sheltered employment centers. Stark DD Communications Manager Lisa Parramore said her board thought long and hard about how to frame the need for the consolidation. The board decided it needed to shift to being more of a funder of services rather than a provider of them. Superintendent Bill Green

Notes from the Field County boards of all sizes are facing systems change, which means there is a vast amount of experience to draw on for anyone needing new ideas. Whatever unique situation your board is facing and however many resources you have at your disposal, there are lessons to be learned. Many strategies are scalable to any organization. Given the large population and area served by Cuyahoga DD, Superintendent Kelly Petty has made it a priority to be accessible and give undivided attention to stakeholders. The board is accomplishing this through town hall-style meetings, special forums for provider agencies, and informal “meet with the superintendent” blocks of time at each of its eight adult activity centers and four service centers where the majority of the board’s nearly 1,200 staff work each day.


Issue 7 - August 2015

and his management team analyzed data to determine which site to close and how to implement consolidation. They then outlined a communication plan that stressed openness for people served. “It was decided from the start that the board’s planning processes would be very open, engaging, and inclusive,” Parramore said. “This included the active involvement of our People First groups at each of the centers.” Timing of the announcement was critical to the plan’s success. It was important that everyone heard the details at the same time. To accomplish this, a live simulcast of Green making the announcement was aired and viewed by all individuals and staff at all the board’s sites, and Green called the parents/ guardians of each individual impacted by the consolidation. The board also held public meetings, distributed printed copies of its transition plan, and engaged with reporters to get an article in the local newspaper. For Darke DD, which serves a rural county and far fewer people than Cuyahoga or Stark DD, a key message has been that services will not disappear but simply change. Information Technology/Public Relations Specialist Eric Lee said part of this was accomplished through an aggressive rebranding effort that included the launch of a new board slogan and website. Part of it was also accomplished by engaging with the press. Dark DD Superintendent Mike Beasecker said he compiled information for an in-depth newspaper story on systems change even before any members of the press approached the board. When a reporter from the local paper heard about one of Darke DD’s public forums on systems change, the board was ready with written background information. Beasecker then took part in a follow-up interview to give quotes and add human interest to the piece. He said the strategy worked well.

Above: Tuscarawas DD used the launch of its new newsletter to explore systems change issues in detail. The articles that were published spoke directly to the diverse stakeholder groups served by the board.

“I recommend submitting written information – especially when trying to communicate something so detailed and complex as systems change. It’s so easy for information to be miscommunicated unintentionally,” he said. “It’s important to develop a good relationship with reporters

PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS TIPS Once you have a communications plan, it is important to keep a few things in mind. While these tips are general, they are important for county boards of DD as the system moves through this time of change.


•Be frank about what

will be different after changes to the system take effect.

•Do not be afraid to

say “I don’t know” and stress the importance of this to anyone who will be interacting with stakeholders.

•Share timelines in

which you hope to have more information as well as your plans to share any updates.


•Remember the

diversity of the population boards serve.

•Use media that will

appeal to everyone— no matter how comfortable they are with technology or the Internet.

•Remember that some

people might have trouble seeing, reading, or hearing.


•In times of change, the best defense is a good offense.

•When your audiences know changes are coming, they are less likely to be caught off guard and will be more receptive to future communications.

•Remember that

rumors flourish in the absence of good communications. If rumors develop, consider issuing an official board response to dispel them.


•Systems change is also •Take the time to solicit a difficult time for DD professionals.

•Keeping staff

informed of internal changes keeps up morale and goodwill between employees and management.

so they are amenable to using submitted information.”

newsletter to dive into systems change in great detail (see photo on opposite page).

Shelby DD, which recently resolved to privatize its adult workshop, took a hands-on approach to the press. In addition to a standard news story for the local paper, board officials went one step farther. Superintendent Laura Zureich submitted an opinion piece to the editor explaining the board’s rationale for the change (read the story at http://goo.gl/Qynu2Q).

Hamilton DD has done an excellent job of keeping communications current even when much remains unknown about systems change. In the board’s recent “From the Superintendent” e-newsletter, Superintendent Alice Pavey wrote the following about what CMS’ conflict free case management rule could mean for her board:

For Tuscarawas DD, inclusion in the community has been the foundation for communicating about systems change. The theme has been woven into all aspects of the board’s communications plan. Board representatives highlighted the topic on a local radio show and have conducted regular presentations for local civic organizations. Community Relations and Special Projects Coordinator Nate Kamban said this message of shared community is helping prepare people for changes to come. The board also used the launch of its new “Reaching Up”


“Adult centers will most likely be impacted, though we are still not sure how. Our board and leadership team will continue to study and work through this issue, and it will be a while before we know anything concrete. What compliance looks like is still up for debate, and no decisions have been made.” Note that the takeaway message is not “we don’t know” so much as “we know everything there is to know right now.” Pavey ended the communication with an assurance that Hamilton DD will communicate new developments as they occur.

feedback from others.

•Use that feedback

to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan and to make your audiences understand your board’s messages.

Looking Forward For the DD system in Ohio and across the nation, the current state of change is unprecedented and transformational. It will take years for the pending issues to be settled. Communicating effectively and regularly with a broad array of audiences is important to planning for, implementing, and even celebrating the outcomes of change, especially when this change can substantially impact the lives of people and families served. Part of county boards’ commitment to serving people with DD must be an understanding that we need to be there to guide the public when no one else can. Effective communications can mean the difference between the public seeing a dark future of uncertainty or a bright future of opportunity for people with developmental disabilities. With the right steps and considerations, we can give individuals, families, and the public the information needed to get through this time of change. DD Advocate Magazine


DD Technology

Speaking with Sight: Device opens up new ways for person served to communicate PHOTO COURTESY UNION DD

BY CAROL P. SCHEIDERER / UNION DD Tianna Reams, a 15-year-old girl who is served by Union DD, has had trouble communicating since she was young because of a neurological condition. Now, thanks to a new piece of assistive technology, she has found a way to let her personality shine. At age 2, Tianna was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. Rett Syndrome, a rare condition that falls under the severe autism spectrum, occurs in one out of every 10,000-23,000 female births. Many girls diagnosed with Rett Syndrome lose their ability to walk and talk. As the purposeful use of Tianna’s hands began to decrease, her family began to explore options to make it easier for Tianna to communicate. Paula Smarra, Tianna’s speech therapist at Marysville Schools, mentioned the possibility of an eye gaze-controlled, speech-generating device. It was a lengthy process, but with the help and determination of Tianna’s speech therapist, neurologist, and parents, the family received notification of approval for the device in late 2015. The Tobii eye gaze device is an eye-operated communication and control system that empowers people with disabilities to 20

Issue 7 - August 2015

communicate and interact with the world. It resembles an iPad or tablet but uses technology that picks up eye movements. By looking at control keys or cells displayed on a screen, a user can generate speech either by typing a message or selecting words and pre-programmed phrases. The device can be mounted to Tianna’s wheelchair via a chair mount or used with a table mount. As she looks at it, it detects her eye movement. She is learning to use the device by using her eyes to select a choice, such as what to have for lunch that day. Tianna attended Bunsold Middle School in Marysville, Ohio. She will begin high school this fall at Marysville High School. During her school day, her teacher places two lunch options on the screens, and Tianna makes her choice with her eyes on what she would like to eat that day. She can do sorting activities in which there are puzzle pieces and plastic forks in two different piles. Her teacher holds up either a puzzle piece or a plastic fork and then asks her which pile it goes in to form the choices on her screen. She looks at the one she is choosing to indicate her answer. Tianna’s teachers said the most amazing aspect of this is that the eye gaze device has

helped Tianna express herself in ways she could not before. Since Tianna got her device, her teachers have noticed her personality and sense of humor coming out. Using the device, she has started to joke around with teachers and caregivers. A few times, Tianna has picked the wrong item on purpose, looked at her teacher, and smiled, indicating she was making a joke. “The thing that excites me the most is that Tianna has been given a voice,” Smarra said. Tianna’s mother Cattreena said the device has been a truly wonderful communication tool for Tianna and their family. Tianna is able to communicate her wants and needs more effectively now and is able to interact with her little sister and brother. Tianna’s 4-year-old sister Sophia and 2-year-old brother Xavier are amazed by what Tianna is able to do with her device just by using her eyes. Her whole family is thrilled with the strides she has made. “She is able to fully interact with all of us on her own without much assistance,” Reams said. “Tianna finally has a voice, and it is amazing.”

Left: Managers and staff take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony in June 2015 to celebrate File 13’s relocation to UCO Industries in Marysville.

DD Business


UCO expands employment options with File 13 purchase BY ADAM HERMAN / OACB If you drive a Honda Accord or an Acura RDX, there’s a good chance the purchase of your car helped employ people with DD at UCO Industries in Marysville. For the past two decades, UCO Industries has forged a successful business-to-business (B2B) partnership with the Honda Motor Company as an international supplier of factory-issue vehicle documentation packets. These packets, which contain warranty documents and user manuals, are assembled by UCO employees. About half of UCO’s workers are people served by Union DD, which works hand-in-hand with UCO to develop employment opportunities for people served. UCO routinely delivers products on time, under budget, and in compliance with Honda’s high quality standards – winning multiple quality and delivery awards from Honda over the years. UCO and its employees have demonstrated that they are capable of not just competing but thriving in the crowded B2B services sector. It was for this reason that, with the Honda relationship on solid footing, UCO’s board of directors charged CEO Amanda Eley with identifying new B2B service opportunities after she was hired in May 2014. “After I joined the UCO team last year, it quickly became clear that our employees were ready to take on new challenges,” Eley said. “We wanted to find new business opportunities that would give our employees more chances to shine in the workplace.”

Such an opportunity presented itself when File 13, a secure document shredding company, approached UCO about renting commercial space. Soon, the two companies began acquisition talks. File 13 was financially secure and already had an existing customer base. In addition, it had its roots in helping people with DD. UCO saw a chance to grow the business as well as expand employment opportunities for people with DD. UCO purchased File 13 in April of this year. File 13 was started in 1998 by Doug Ropp, a man with Down Syndrome who received services from Union DD. Over the years, he and his family built File 13 into a highly respected and successful company that now operates in nine central Ohio counties. Eley, who was formerly in sales and marketing for companies in the pharmaceutical industry, knew that the market for commercial file shredding would only increase as businesses in many fields are required to comply with stricter state and federal confidentiality mandates. This high demand would allow UCO to enter a market with great potential for future growth. An added bonus was that File 13’s mission – to provide employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities – was a near-perfect match with UCO’s existing business model and mission. “We were thrilled when we found out that File 13’s owners were open to the idea of selling the business,” Eley said. “But we had to do our due diligence and make sure that this was the right line of work for our employees.”

UCO, which is an OACB affiliate member, asked the association for help in connecting with county boards of DD that operate shredding businesses. In particular, Eley wanted to know how boards have made these programs financially sustainable. She also wanted to hear lessons learned from the field. “During our visits to Sandco Industries in Sandusky County and Triangular Processing in Fulton County, we learned a lot about the practical and financial aspects of running a shredding operation,” Eley said. “Those insights made us more comfortable with the model and helped guide our evaluation process.” For File 13’s existing customers, the newly renamed “File 13 at UCO Industries” offers the same high level of service that has marked the company since its founding. The only major difference in operations is that the company is now located at UCO’s facility at 16900 Square Drive in Marysville. Eley hopes the move will encourage others in the business community to explore working with people with DD. “Hopefully, once other businesses see our success, they too will invest in this valuable segment of Union County’s workforce.”

For more information about File 13 at UCO Industries, call (937) 642-4855, visit www.file13shred.com, or send an email to file13@ucoindustries.com.

DD Advocate Magazine


Left: Members of the Trumbull DD Next Chapter Book Club have dinner during their recent road trip to visit another NCBC chapter in Erie County.

DD Community


Trumbull DD’s Next Chapter Book Club hits the road BY TRACY WALTERS AND JOHN DANES / TRUMBULL DD A group of avid readers served by Trumbull DD is turning their love of books into inspiration and opportunities for community-based activities. Trumbull DD has been an affiliate of an organization called the Next Chapter Book Club since November of 2014. The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) is the largest community-based literacy program for people with developmental disabilities in the world, serving more than 1,500 people every week across North America and Europe. Founded in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio, there are now 34 Ohio county boards of DD that have been trained to offer Next Chapter Book Clubs. The basic premise of NCBC is that anyone can participate in a book club regardless of their reading level. Clubs gather each week for an hour in public places such as bookstores and coffee shops. Participants read aloud and discuss a book of their choosing. Members are supported by one another as well as two volunteer facilitators who are trained to engage with people with a wide range of abilities. Trumbull DD Board member Larry Connelly approached Superintendent Edward Stark about starting a NCBC chapter in Trumbull County after seeing a presentation about it. Stark sent two Trumbull DD employees for NCBC training at the Nisonger Center at the Ohio State University. Trumbull DD’s adult services department organized the first


Issue 7 - August 2015

group of NCBC members. Two more groups have been created since. The first group has nine members who meet every week at Panera Bread in Niles. This is a lively group that loves to joke around, read plays, and go on outings together. The second group has 10 members and also meets weekly at Panera Bread in Niles. This group is made up of serious readers who love to read and discuss all types of books on various topics. At the end of a story, they are always anxious to pick out and start the next book. The third group has eight members who meet once a week at Brain Freeze Frozen Yogurt in Champion. This group is the newest of the three and likes to read stories about animals and sports. This is a light-hearted group that enjoys getting together, socializing, and reading at a slower pace. Although the main members of all three groups attend one of the Trumbull workshops, some people in the community who are not receiving county board services have attended meetings too. The first of these groups was recently inspired by the story “Road Trip” by Thomas Fish and Jillian Ober to take an actual road trip to Westlake, Ohio. The story is about two friends taking a four-hour road trip to New York City to visit another friend. The trip comes to a sudden halt when one of the characters has a seizure and is taken by ambulance to the hospital.

As the story progressed, so did discussions about seizures, ambulance rides, and the importance of taking care of oneself. The group decided to look at the trip the characters took on a map. They unanimously decided they wanted to take a trip as well. Another NCBC chapter in Erie County was contacted in November and agreed to meet at the B Spot restaurant in Westlake, Ohio. The anticipation for the road trip had built to frenzy as the group waited for the winter weather to break. The two book clubs finally took their own “Road Trip” on May 27. The 90-minute ride to Westlake was almost as much fun as meeting their five new friends. The two groups enjoyed getting to know each other while having dinner. The NCBC has become a catalyst for community integration opportunities for the other Trumbull NCBC groups as well. The first group loves reading plays, and now has plans to see “The Wizard of Oz,” which is being presented by Purple Cat. The Purple Cat offers alternative day habilitation programs in Mahoning County. The other groups recently read a story about baseball, and its members are planning to go to a baseball game together. When a story inspires the group to do something new in the community, Trumbull DD supports them. The board plans to expand opportunities and experiences for people served in community settings.

News in a Nutshell Athens Athens DD’s Passion Works Studio artists were recently commissioned by the City of Athens and The Athens News to create designs and artwork on cigarette disposal and newspaper boxes that are now located throughout downtown Athens. The board’s Beacon School sent 19 students to the Regional Special Olympics track and field events, earning 39 medals. Beacon School Adaptive Physical Education Instructor Gloria Whipple retired after 35 years of service, and the school’s swimming pool was dedicated with her name. As PersonnelPlus continues to increase supported community employment services, the ATCO day program is also implementing several initiatives aimed at community integration and inclusion, including volunteering at a local homeless shelter, providing community health education and wellness activities, and participating in Hocking College’s horseback riding program. Steve Kramer, Athens DD’s director of finance and operations, participated in the Athens City Commission’s “Challenged By Choice” event where community members assumed various disabilities for a day to increase disability awareness. In other news, service and support staffers have been a part of a waiver pilot county board/provider team for the past two years looking at ways to implement a weekly reimbursement rate and improve person-centered planning. Lastly, Athens DD held a public forum on the CMS Transition Plan and conflict-free case management with OACB Executive Director Bridget Gargan as the featured presenter. The board is committed to gaining public input as it moves forward with making changes to come into compliance with federal regulations.

Butler The Best Buddies Friends Choir of Miami University recently performed a joint concert with the University’s a cappella groups. The Best Buddies Friends Choir, which includes people served by Butler DD, is an entirely inclusive choir for adults with and without intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are members of the Miami University Chapter of Best Buddies. Founded in the spring of 2013, the group meets weekly to practice. In the one-hour rehearsals, they


sing, dance, get to know one another, and form lasting friendships. Throughout the year, they perform at various Best Buddies and community events. In the spring, they sang the national anthem before a Dayton Dragons baseball game.

Carroll Carroll DD has been successful with recruiting private providers to perform all non-medical transportation. St. John’s Villa, Family Disability Services, and Mayle Homes now provide transportation for all people served on waivers. Individuals also have new choices of day habilitation providers. Carroll County residents on waivers may choose day services from Carroll Hills Industries, St. John’s Villa, The Farm, and Mayle Homes. Data for fiscal year 2014 shows Carroll County had approximately 34% adults in county-run day services and roughly 66% in privately run adult day services.

Champaign George Truelove, who receives services from Champaign DD, has had repeated success in his community employment positions. George just completed his second year working for Sodexo at Urbana University, and he recently picked up a second seasonal job at the Champaign Berry Farm. Champaign DD is thankful for employers like Sodexo and the Champaign Berry Farm for offering employment opportunities in the community in all seasons for people served.

April 26. More than 800 participants raced and were covered with safe, eco-friendly, colored powder. There were stations along the route that threw different colors on the participants. In addition to the colors during the run, there were prizes for the top finishers in age groups from under 14 to 70 and over, as well as prizes for some fun categories. Participants were able to walk or run, and more than 80 volunteers helped set up, take down, throw colored powder, pass out water, and more. The event’s organizers hope the race will help people in the Clark County community to become passionate about people living with developmental disabilities. Next year’s race is scheduled for April 24, 2016.


For three years, the Regional Storm Water Collaborative has hosted a Rain Barrel Art Event in partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This year, individuals served by Clermont DD decided to submit artwork. People served by Clermont DD worked on a submission entitled, “The March of the Elephants.” The sketch was submitted in January, and it was one of 51 entries chosen. The artists worked diligently on their project to help raise awareness about the importance of collecting rainwater and looked forward to their barrel being on display at the Cincinnati Zoo. On April 23, Clermont DD’s rain barrel (along with the 50 other entries) was auctioned off at the Zoo’s “Party for the Planet” event.

Clark The Clark DD Levy Committee hosted its first annual Dye Hard 5K on Sunday,

DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell Crawford


Governor John Kasich recently appointed James F. Plasencia of Bucyrus, who receives services from Crawford DD, to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. His term will end on December 31, 2017.

Melanie Sonner, who has a cognitive disability and receives services from Delaware DD, has recently taken several large steps toward meeting her employment and personal goals. She began volunteering at a local day care center in October 2014, and she proved herself to be dependable and responsible as a teacher’s assistant. She was offered a paid position in March 2015. Sonner enjoys working with children. She also enjoys working with and being accepted by her coworkers. Sonner recently started in the Early Childhood Program at Columbus State. It is a one-year certificate program. Sonner has always wanted to be a pre-school teacher, and she is getting closer to her goal thanks to her determination and support from the board and her providers.

Cuyahoga Cuyahoga DD recently launched a new community engagement pilot initiative for individuals at the board’s adult activity centers. This initiative uses a person-centered community discovery process to help redefine what day services could (and should) look like for individuals with developmental disabilities. Participating individuals spent two weeks in the community exploring their interests, learning what is available, and capturing their discoveries with pictures and videos. A book of visual supports was then created to help inform future choices. Cuyahoga DD is analyzing data on challenges (i.e. cost, transportation, and staff attitudes) and successes, such as increased independence and mastery of new skills.

Darke Kyle Eichelberger, who is served by Darke DD, is working one full-time job and one part-time job. He is excelling at both. Kyle’s journey to reaching his goal of employment began in high school through OACB’s Bridges to Transition program. He participated in the Summer Youth Career Exploration and Work Training program provided by Darke DD. During the summer youth programs, he toured local businesses, learned about local jobs, and worked at local employers to test his skills. During his senior year, he began one-on-one classes to learn résumé writing, interviewing skills, and time management skills. He was hired for a part-time position at Little Caesar’s in December of 2013. In the fall of 2014, Darke DD notified Kyle of open interviews with new Greenville employer Rural King, where he now has a full-time job. Rural King HR Manager Kris Hurd said Kyle is punctual, reliable, and agreeable.

Erie Heather McFarlin, who receives services from Erie DD, spoke at the OACB 2015 Spring Conference with her SSA Chad Kelly. Heather and Chad talked on the first day of the conference in a panel about successes in person-centered planning. They discussed positive outcomes in Heather’s life and how Heather worked with the board to plan for and achieve those outcomes. Representatives from Erie DD also presented with Clearwater COG on how all eight counties in the council of governments have collaborated to develop person-centered planning processes, tools, and supports.

Fairfield Fairfield DD wrapped up another DD Awareness Month with its annual Celebration of Possibilities. More than 400 people sold out the Crossroads Event Center in Lancaster for the 7th annual event on March 26. The evening focused on celebrating individual achievements and community partnerships. Nationally known comedian Kathy Buckley entertained the 24

Issue 7 - August 2015

crowd, and a rendition of the song “Bang Your Drum” closed down another successful event. In other news, Fairfield DD Planning Coordinator Karissa Carpenter recently completed the Fairfield Leadership program with the Lancaster Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce. She is one of several board employees pursuing numerous professional development opportunities.

Franklin Franklin DD has approved the consolidation of its two schools into one with the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. Students from the Northeast School will move to West Central School, and the Northeast School building will be repurposed to serve adults who have significant challenges. In other news, the Franklin DD Self-Advocate Advisory Council recently hosted a Legislative Advocacy Day with close to 200 people in attendance. Self-advocates provided suggestions to the six Ohio state representatives who attended. The board’s Self-Advocate Advisory Council meets with the superintendent on a regular basis to provide input and plan special events, including an annual conference for self-advocates.

Gallia Gallia DD’s Guiding Hand School conducted its annual graduation ceremonies for its preschool and school-age students in late May. The school’s 2015 graduating class included 11 preschoolers and two adult students. The preschoolers celebrated by performing songs for a crowd of parents and school staff, and each received a diploma to mark the occasion. The school’s two adult graduates were Beau James Holcomb, 21, and Karastan “Karrie” LeighAnn Olson, 22.

Their accomplishment was covered by the local newspaper, which printed a photo of the graduates in their caps and gowns on the newspaper’s front page. (Reporting and photo courtesy of Dean I. Wright at the Gallipolis Daily Tribune. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

Guernsey Guernsey DD is pleased to announce that as of July 2015, the board enrolled 21 individuals on the Self-Empowered Life Funding (SELF) waiver, which gives people served and their families more control over services and providers than other waivers.

Hamilton Hamilton DD has launched a blog called “Employment Spotlight” that features stories and employment resources about and for people with disabilities. The blog is located at www.hamiltoncountydd.wordpress.com.


care facility, as part of a wider effort to support individuals with developmental disabilities living in smaller settings. Citing changes in funding for larger residential settings, the Henry DD board decided to help Clinton Home residents move into other, smaller places this summer. The Clinton Home has been in operation since September 1982, providing housing for up to eight individuals with developmental disabilities. Long-term funding for the current residents of the Clinton Home will be provided through a combination of state and federal funds, decreasing the impact on local levy dollars. Clinton Home residents Josh and Andy (pictured above) are excited to move into a smaller home that has no stairs. They and their guardians chose C.O.R.E.E. as their provider and are moving ahead with plans to paint and decorate their new bedrooms.


A public service video was recently developed to showcase the benefits of early intervention as part of the Hancock County Autism Focus Group’s “Don’t Wait and See” campaign. The video was created to encourage the public to seek help at the first signs of developmental delays rather than waiting to see if their children will grow out of them. The video featured Madelynn Whitman (pictured above) who is the mother of a child served by Hancock DD. Studies have shown that early intervention is key to assisting families by working with their infants and toddlers to develop methods to aid in their child’s development. About 23% of the babies and toddlers served by Hancock DD did not need special services by the time they finished the program. Additionally, baskets filled with informational materials are being distributed to area pediatricians and family physicians so doctors can help spot cognitive delays early.

Henry Henry DD/HOPE Services recently decided to close Clinton Home, an intermediate

In April, Knox County commissioners appointed Valerie Hawk, who receives services from Knox DD, to a vacant position on the board. Valerie is passionate about anti-bullying causes and is interested in organizing board events that will allow children with and without developmental disabilities to interact with one another. Valerie is the first person served to sit on Knox DD’s board.

Lucas Lucas DD recently sponsored a Goalball tournament to raise awareness of and support for people with visual impairments and disabilities. Goalball is a team sport designed for blind athletes. Sighted players wear blindfolds. The object of the game is to prevent a ball from reaching one’s goal. The ball has a bell inside, requiring players to use their hearing to intercept it. This year’s tournament was the second such event held in Lucas County. The tournament was sponsored by Lucas DD and the Sight Center of Greater Toledo; 16 teams took part.

Madison For the fifth year in a row, Madison DD is offering its Bridges to Transition Program. Among this summer’s participants in the Madison County Bridges Program are (pictured below) Eric Stedding, Kody Price, John Zeeck, Michaela Williams, John Knapp, and Duncan Gholson. The program is spearheaded locally by Madison DD Organization Services Director John LaCivita and Community Inclusion Manager Jenn Coleman. This summer, Bridges plans to serve up to 30 transition youth from ages 14 to 22. Students will engage in services such as career exploration, summer youth work experience, summer job placement, job seeking skills training, and individual work adjustment. This year’s six graduating seniors will begin job placement services. Providers in the Madison County area this summer will be United Rehabilitation Services and The Alpha Group—joining Capabilities, Inc. from 2014. This will mark the first time Madison DD will serve as the financial agent.

Lorain On May 8, Lorain DD’s Murray Ridge School held its annual prom. This year’s theme was “Meet Me In Paris.” The event was attended by more than 250 people who came to celebrate the graduating seniors in this year’s class. Staff worked after school for weeks to decorate the gymnasium for the event. Additionally, a professional photographer was on hand to take photos, a photo booth was donated for candid shots, and a DJ provided music free of charge. These professionals donated their services to the school, and all additional funds for the prom were raised through donations from bake sales, T-shirt sales, and various raffles and dining events during the school year.

Mahoning Mahoning DD recently expanded its employment department under the direction of Employment Director George Gabriel and Superintendent Bill Whitacre. This program creates foundations for integrated employment by emphasizing diverse employment training, social integration opportunities, functional training experiences, and extensive assistance with finding and maintaining employment.

DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell Trainees participate in a 10-week vocational preparatory program to learn basic work skills and take part in many planned community integration experiences to expand social skills. A lawn and grounds training program offers program participants valuable work experience while earning minimum wage. Upon completion of the program, Mahoning DD offers assistance with seeking and securing gainful employment as well as follow-up training to ensure the long-term success of the individual working in the community. This year’s lawn and grounds training crew is pictured below.

Berry Special Olympics Soccer Tournament during the Troy Strawberry Festival in June, McCabe helped the board promote the event. He visited local radio stations Troy Community Radio and WPTW to talk on-air with morning show hosts. McCabe was invited back to record a public service announcement that aired dozens of times in the weeks before the tournament. Troy Community Radio’s hosts were so impressed with McCabe and enjoyed having him in the studio that they extended an open invitation to Jason “the Voice of Riverside” McCabe to come back any time to promote the organization’s events in the future.


Medina Medina DD and Superintendent Annette Davis-Kramp were named to the Wadsworth Older Adults Foundation’s Senior Advocate Hall of Fame on May 7, 2015. This award is presented to agencies and individuals that demonstrate exceptional involvement in the community and make a significant difference in the lives of older adults in partnership with the Office for Older Adults. Medina DD has been very active in the success of the Wadsworth community’s senior center café – The Soprema Café – which is used as a job skills training site that provides low-cost, high-nutrition meals for local seniors and functions as a community gathering place.


Jason McCabe, an individual served by Riverside Developmental Disabilities (Miami DD) has been helping the board promote recent events by visiting local radio stations. When Miami DD was preparing to host the


Issue 7 - August 2015

Montgomery DD recently inducted five people into its Developmental Disabilities Hall of Fame and recognized seven individuals and organizations with the Erin Ritchey Memorial Award. These awards recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding efforts in a wide variety of areas, including advocacy, art, personal accomplishment, community service, and more. In other news, members of the Montgomery DD’s Spire Arts vocational artists program were selected to showcase their painting skills May 8 as part of the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s “Art in the City” event, which celebrated art and artists throughout the community.

Paulding Paulding DD would like to recognize Ron Schmidt of Paulding and the Flat Rock Creek Masonic Lodge #580 of Payne for their recent donation to the Paulding County Special Olympics Program. In the picture holding the donation check are Ron Schmidt, secretary of Flat Rock Masonic Lodge #580, and Staci Haney, Paulding DD office manager and Special Olympics coordinator.

Preble In May, the Eaton Community School’s East Elementary and Preble County Educational Service Center preschool teams traveled to the 2015 OACB Spring Conference in Columbus to hear Dr. Richard Solomon, the founder of PLAY. Project, speak about the importance of early intervention for little ones with autism. Team members included an elementary school principal, preschool director, kindergarten and preschool teachers, aides, therapists and Preble DD PLAY Project home consultants. After his presentation, Dr. Solomon spent the next couple of hours meeting with members of the Preble DD PLAY Project initiative to discuss the plan of moving PLAY Project into kindergarten for the 2015-16 school year.


Ottawa Ottawa DD and the Ottawa County United Way sponsored the first-ever community basketball tournament for DD Awareness in the spring at Oak Harbor High School. Five teams took part, and each was matched with members of Ottawa DD’s Special Olympics team. The evening featured a half-time show by the Harbor Lights Bataan Group, raffle items, baked goods, concessions, and a prize drawing. There was also special recognition given to five Port Clinton high school students who assisted two individuals with disabilities during a fire at Rose Acres this past January.

This past spring, the eight-member Richland Newhope Dance Troupe was featured during the “Bringing the Elements Together Art/ Talent Exhibition,” an event sponsored by Richland Newhope to mark Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The dancers also performed at the Ohio State University-Mansfield (OSUM) campus in April and then participated in a special Arts Initiative performance at the main campus in Columbus in June. The troupe was formed in 2010 and has performed throughout Ohio.


family members and friends in attendance to support them and celebrate their accomplishments. After the ceremony, they were honored with a reception. The staff at the Opportunity Center have enjoyed watching all the graduates grow over the years and wish them all continued success.


This past spring, Ross DD organized the board’s first formal prom. The majority of the materials for the prom were donated, including dresses, tuxedos, decorations, and snacks. More than 150 dresses were donated. The event could not have come together without such generous community support. Adena High School students spent most of the day of the event decorating and volunteering as escorts for the Pioneer Center students. Board staff were welcoming of the students’ help and participation. The board hopes to hold the event again in 2016.

Sandusky The Council for Developmental Disabilities of Sandusky County is a nonprofit that was formed in 1959 as a family support and advocacy group. Eventually, it evolved to support Sandusky DD’s efforts. In May, the Council sponsored its inaugural Kentucky Derby themed event and raised nearly $20,000. The Council plans on continuing these efforts to better expand its financial support to various programs and services coordinated through Sandusky DD. The board also hosted the Sandusky County Commissioners for a visit at the end of March, which was Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Shelby DD’s service and support administration and community first departments have merged together under the new name of community and support services. Staff have agreed on a vision statement for the new department: “Working together to achieve positive outcomes for people with disabilities.” Krista Oldiges, formerly the community first director for Champaign DD and Shelby DD, is now the director of the newly created department.

Stark This summer, Stark DD once again partnered with the Arc of Ohio-Stark County to offer a day camp for children and young adults between the ages of 4 and 22 with developmental disabilities. The camp provides social and recreational opportunities and serves as a respite for parents during the summer when their children are out of school. The camp has also provided an opportunity for college students studying special education to gain experience working with children with developmental disabilities. Stark DD also continues to spotlight Employment First through the work of the Local Leaders Implementation Program. One initiative, the Stark County Employment Collaborative, pulls together more than 100 business professionals to offer professional development, job lead sharing/job seeker matching, networking, and a more cohesive approach to engaging local businesses.


Seneca In early May, Seneca DD’s School of Opportunity graduated four young adults. The 2015 graduating class consisted of Megan Butler, Mitchell Long, Nicholas Long, and John Smith. The graduates had many

In April, Tuscarawas DD partnered with two companies (Arizona Chemical and Schoenbrunn Landscaping) to prepare a garden for individuals served. Arizona Chemical provided a volunteer team and purchased the necessary supplies. Garden center staff and landscape architects from Schoenbrunn Landscaping prepared

a professional architectural drawing of the garden and shared their expertise as the volunteers prepared the plot. Along the same lines, Tuscarawas DD celebrated with the first class of PACE U (Personal Achievement and Community Employment) graduates in May. This program, which began in September 2014, provided three 10-week-long worksite rotations at local retail stores in the county.

Wayne Wayne DD would like to congratulate Carla Zollinger, a student at the board’s Ida Sue School, for being named the 2015 regional recipient of the R.A. Horn Outstanding Achievement Award. The award is presented to one exemplary special education student from each of Ohio’s 16 state support team (SST) regions. This award was established by the Ohio Department of Education. Wayne DD would also like to congratulate Judy Thompson, speech/language pathologist at Ida Sue School, for being named the 2015 Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator for the SST9 Region. The Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award is presented to one educator from each of Ohio’s 16 SST regions who has made extraordinary contributions to the education of students with disabilities.

Williams Williams DD recently launched its new website, which offers individuals, families, providers, and the community up-to-date information regarding board services. The website is located at www.wmscodd.org.

Wood Wood DD would like to congratulate local Special Olympics athlete Jason Rupert, who recently traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The 24-year-old athlete won a silver medal in his division for the 400-meter aquatic freestyle. He was recruited after competing at the National Games in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2014. Wood DD would also like to congratulate Jenny Cook and Dennis Miller of Wood County for receiving APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) Awards at the OAAS/Ohio APSE Awards Luncheon in April.

DD Advocate Magazine


Words of Wisdom Diane Knupp has more than 40 years of

Diane Knupp





in more




services a


industry, as


superintendent of Preble DD. DD Advocate asked Diane several questions about what she has learned from her experience on the job and in life. A selection of her responses is below. Do you have an idea of who we should feature in the next Words of Wisdom? Send us your ideas at



Ohio does a great job of supporting people with developmental disabilities. We need to continue to be proud of our uniqueness and embrace it.

Our own personal fear and inability to embrace change can hinder us. Hire good staff with passion for supporting people with developmental disabilities and then get out of their way. I’M SUCCESSFUL IF WHAT IF I DOWHAT I’M SUCCESSFUL A SENSEME OF HAPPINESS IGIVES DOME GIVES A SENSE AND JOY. OF HAPPINESS AND JOY. Never underestimate the capabilities of people with developmental disabilities. They will prove you wrong every time!


Integrity is precious – never give it away. People think I make tough decisions with ease, but I agonize over them just like everyone else.

Technology is my biggest weakness. I wish email had never been invented! DECEITFULNESS AND DISHONESTY BUILD A FIRE IN MY SOUL. LifI wish I didn’t have to sleep.

I could get more done!

Happiness is family, grandchildren, and close friends.

Life can change in a heartbeat, and you can’t control it.

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Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities 73 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite B1 Worthington, OH 43085 www.oacbdd.org



This magazine was processed for distribution and mailed by people with developmental disabilities employed at SAW, Inc. in Cleveland.

Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A. Your Advocate. Your Trusted Partner.

The attorneys of Hickman & Lowder have chosen to devote their careers to helping children and adults with special needs.

We have been representing families since 1981 and are a recognized authority on legal issues affecting persons with disabilities. Mediation & Litigation Public Agency Advocacy & Training Special Education Law ď‚&#x; Transition Planning Special Needs Estate Planning ď‚&#x; Guardianship

Hickman-Lowder.com I (216) 861-0360 Turning Your Obstacles Into Opportunities

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