In March of 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine sent almost every state of Ohio employee home due to the pandemic. A new day had started, and it came about quickly. State employees, many of whom had been going to work in a downtown office for 20 years, were now being asked to not come in at all. Although they couldn’t come in, the work of state government needed to go on — perhaps now more than ever. To the greatest extent possible, Ohio’s governmental agencies needed to be on the ready to continue to serve her citizens, even the midst of a pandemic.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) is Ohio’s state-federal vocational rehabilitation program. The professionals at OOD are charged with coordinating the types of educational and vocational services Ohioans wtih disabilities need to become employable and, ultimately, employed. The pandemic affected every link in the OOD chain — the employers who would be hiring, the providers offering the training, the people with disabilities receiving services, and the OOD professionals who were coordinating it all. Everything changed. Everything had to be done differently, and everything had to be done of the fly.
In a special 3-part interview, OOD Director Kevin Miller walks through the challenge of providing VR services to Ohioans with disabilities in the middle of a pandemic. In part 1, Director Miller talks about the impact it had on the agency, and how the vocational rehabiltiation professionals had to find new ways to continue to provide services to Ohioans with disabilities… people who were, in many cases, at special risk should they contract the Coronavirus. We thank Director Miller for his time and his message. Please enjoy part 1 of our interview with OOD Director Kevin Miller.