ADVOCATE FOR INDEPENDENCE
Empowering People Through Advocacy


November 2020
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A monthly publication from our Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist,
Patrick Ober, JD, PhD
Hello again, CILO supporters and Disability Advocates! Below is our monthly rundown of law, policy, and advocacy issues to know and learn about related to people with disabilities and independent living.


CURRENT DISABILITY ADVOCACY EFFORTS TO KNOW


Direct Support Staff Advocacy

For people with disabilities that live independently, Direct Support Professionals are often a critical piece of that independence. DSP’s provide home, health, behavioral, occupational, and social supports for people with disabilities. In Cincinnati, DSPs are also one of the top 5 fastest growing jobs in terms of demand.
However, DSP’s are a politically and economically neglected profession. This has created an impending crisis for people with disabilities. CILO has worked to bring awareness to the DSP crisis, and organizations across Ohio are now banding together to push for more pay and benefits for these positions, as well as identify how to increase the quality and quantity of staff available to help those in need of support services.
Over 50 organizations and self-advocates (including CILO) have therefore come together to form the Ohio Home and Community Based Services Coalition (OHCBSC). This coalition will advocate for improving both Direct Support Professionals as a job, as well as availability of DSP’s to those who need them. Check out the website to learn about OHCBSC and get the latest updates on its advocacy!


Disability Voting Rights Advocacy

Voting went well in Ohio! However, a few issues did arise across the state, and had troubling implications for people with disabilities when voting:
  1. Confusion over the rules regarding curbside voting availability and procedures for people with health or physical impairments that could not vote inside the polling station;
  2. Accessibility issues, as the absentee voter application form must be printed and mailed in, and cannot be submitted online;
  3. The number of ballot boxes and early voting centers were limited to one site per county, which created transportation and access issues for people with disabilities to submit their ballots in person.

How can you be a better advocate? Bring these issues up on social media, when your friends talk about voting or the election, and share these concerns with local and state policymakers you know or meet. We CAN fix these problems for the next election if YOU help us advocate with and for the disability community!


ALSO: Do you live, work with, or know someone with a disability? If so, we need your help and their help!

Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is asking any person with a disability that voted in the election to fill out a Voter Experience Survey. This survey will help inform which voting advocacy efforts in Ohio and across the country disability rights organizations will focus on fixing via legislation and Board of Elections guidelines. Please send the survey link to any persons with disabilities you know. The more people that fill it out, the better advocates we can be!

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COMMUNITY EDUCATION CORNER

In this final section, we provide some links to articles and information that can help you and your community better understand and appreciate the experiences and lives of people with disabilities. If you have any suggestions for stories to share in future newsletters, please send me an email!

Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD) is piloting an innovative, first of its kind “smart” independent living home. The home is outfitted with new technology to aid individuals with daily living skills and needs, reducing the need for 24/7 staff support. Tenants in the home also utilize smart watches and other wearable devices to ensure the safety and health of each individual when staff are not present. This innovative housing design reduces one-on-one supports, promotes physical, emotional, and psychological independence, and alleviates issues that may arise due to Direct Support Professional staff shortages. Click the link above and watch the video of this new home and learn more about the LADD initiative!

Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services (HCDDS) is also working to provide better independent housing options for people with disabilities. Their new project has purchased housing units in Madisonville and Spring Grove Village; the 16 Madisonville units will provide affordable housing options for people with disabilities that otherwise struggle to pay for independent housing. The Spring Grove units will be used for respite care for individuals in a non-nursing home or institutional setting. Both settings will be valuable additions to affordable and accessible housing options for people with disabilities to live independently in the community.

Finally, Google has improved an Android app called “Action Blocks,” which creates a more seamless experience for people with disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC, devices. Action Blocks “allows users to create a one-touch button that displays on their smartphone home screen to complete actions that typically require multiple steps like calling mom or turning on the lights.” The new updates also allow users to create buttons to speak simple phrases like “yes,” “no” or “excuse me, I have something to say.” The app also now incorporates thousands of picture communication symbols similar to ones used by individuals on their AAC devices. Innovative apps like these can help people with physical, cognitive, or developmental disabilities access more technology and increase their ability to communicate effectively with their community.

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Please reach out with any comments or questions.

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