I am the director of Assistive Technology of Ohio -- Ohio's AT Act Program. I've been working in the field of assistive technology for Pople with disabiliteis since 2000. Prior to this, I worked in the field of workers' compensation, coordinating return-to-work programs for Ohio's injured workers. I am also a former member, and former chairman, of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. My wife, Jill, and I live in Worthington and are the proud parents of six children.
Today we are happy to present part 2 of our interview with Carolyn Knight, Director of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. The Ohio DD Council is a statewide board made up of Ohioans with developmental disabilities (or family members), disability service providers, and professionals from disability state agencies. The Council takes federal money and sends it out in the form of grants to entitities in our state that are working to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
How does that happen? Where do the ideas for these grants come from? Today, Carolyn talks about the process by which Council sets the agenda and turns innovative ideas into grants that go out into the community. She also talks about a particular grant that is opening up new housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
We are grateful to Carolyn for her time and her lifelong commitment to helping Ohioans with disabilities. Please take this opportunity to learn more about this wonderful program that constantly seeks out new and innovative ways to improve the lives of Ohioans with DD.
I have been working in the disability field in Ohio since 1991. I started working as an intern at Goodwill Rehabilitation Center on Edgehill Drive here in Columbus that fall and I have been around ever since. I eventually moved on and worked as a social worker in the mental health field for a community mental health center in Columbus. I also spent several years working as a rehabilitation counselor in the workers’ compensation field, including running my own business for a few of those.
Upon coming to Ohio State, I was fortunate to be appointed by Govenor Bob Taft to serve on the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. I spent six wonderful years on the Council. I wound up being the chair of the Employment committee and, in the last two years, the chairman of the Council at large. It was an amazing experience. In all of the experiences I’ve had in my career, none was more valuable than the time I spent on DD Council.
What is DD Council? When I worked in other areas, I could not have answered this question. But it is an amazing group of people (31 in all), made up of people with disabilities (or family members), providers of services to people with disabilities, and professionals from state agencies that touch the lives of people with disabilities. They serve on this Council that is charged with sending out grants into the community to try and establish innovative programs to improve the lives of Ohioans with developmental disabilities.
They are brave. They will try things on a local level no one has tried before, without fear of failure. Througout the years, so many statewide (even nationwide) initiatives that have been implemented to help Americans with developmental disabilities started with a small DD Council grant. They pursue the art of the possible. They are an indispensable part of the disability community, but one that many people may not be aware of.
Today we share the first part of a 3-part interview with Carolyn Knight, director of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. In this first interview, Director Knight talks about what a DD Council is, who is eligible to serve on it, what the mission of the Ohio DD Council is, and what they hope to accomplish with the grants that are established by Council.
Parts 2 will be published on December 17 and Part 3 on December 18. We thank Carolyn for her time and her lifelong commitment to improving the lives of Ohioans with developmental disabilities.
Since the start of the Covid19 pandemic, people in “at risk” populations were advised to take extra precautions to avoid getting the virus. According to the Center for Disease Control, this list includes the following conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, people with compromised immune systems, people who are obese, women who are pregnant, smokers, people with sickle cell disease, and those with diabetes.
According to a recent research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, this list should include one more condition: people with Down’s Syndrome. The Mayo Clinic notes that people with Down’s Syndrome can have the following complications: heart defects, gastrointestinal defects, immune disorders, obesity and leukemia – all of which would put them at higher risk should they contract Covid19. So, although the risk factors often shared by those with Down’s are on the list, the syndrome itself has been left off. The researchers suggest that perhaps that needs to change.
The study, which focused on the first six months of 2020, analyzed data in QResearch, a sweeping, longitudinal primary-care database that has been compiled in England since 1998. According to the study, a person with Down’s Syndrome who contracts the Covid19 virus was 4x more likely to require hospitalization and 10x more likely to die from complications caused by the virus, compared to people who do not have Down’s.
We all need to take care of each other. All of us know of families in our communities who have members with Down’s. If you need another reason to engage in the proper health protocols – washing your hands, maintaining social distance, and wearing a mask – think of them.
In part 2 of our interview with OOD Director Kevin Miller, he describes the reaction of the consumers – Ohioans with disabilities – to the pandemic. One day they are making progress toward their goal of a job – a career – and the next they are sidelined by a virus spreading all over Ohio, the country, and the world.
In this discussion, Director Miller talks about how every link in the chain — the employers, the providers, the OOD professionals, and the consumers, had to come together and adapt in order to keep moving forward.
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.
Welcome to the newest creation from Assistive Technology of Ohio – the Ohio Disability Blog!
Assistive Technology of Ohio (AT Ohio) is part of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. We are Ohio’s Assistive Technology Act program and all of the service we offer help people learn about the ways that technology can improve the lives of Ohioans with disabilities. Technology can play such a major role in helping people with disabilities succeed in school, compete in the workplace and lead more independent and inter-connected lives.
On the Ohio Disability Blog, we hope to:
Educate Ohioans about the latest developments affecting people with disabilities.
Spotlight new and emerging technologies that help people with disabilities in the areas of education, employment and community living
Highlight Ohioans who are on the frontlines, helping improve the lives of Ohioans with disabilities, every day.
We hope to become Ohio’s online home to discuss issues of upmost importance to Ohio’s disabilities community. And for us, that includes everyone: people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities – everyone. They can also come from every disability-related system in Ohio: Developmental Disabilities, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Aging, the Veterans Administration, Workers’ Compensation… you name it.
We will be utilize some the best and most experienced talent in the state on disability issues. We will be interviewing Ohio’s disability leaders. And we will be letting you know how you can get involved and engaged in helping improve the lives of Ohioans with disabilities.