Weekly Focus, July 24, 2015

An update and information report for doctors who provide consultative exams for OOD’s Division of Disability Determination
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

Kevin L. Miller, Executive Director

July 24, 2015

The mission of the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency is to ensure individuals with disabilities achieve quality employment, independence and disability determination outcomes.

What's Inside:

ADA OOD DODD Event 7/23/2015
Mark Seifarth, OOD Director Kevin Miller, Jim Lutz, and DODD Director John Martin with a Proclamation on the ADA from Governor John Kasich

Celebrating 25 Years of the ADA

Throughout the month of July we have been highlighting and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This Sunday, July 26, will mark 25 years since President George H.W. Bush signed the act into law on the White House Lawn.


To highlight the importance and impact of this milestone, OOD and the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) held a joint press event on Thursday at the Capitol View Café, located on the 19th floor of the Verne Riffe Center in downtown Columbus.


DODD Director John Martin noted that the shift in the developmental disabilities system, both here in Ohio and nationally, was driven by the ADA. The system is shifting from a facility-based system to one that favors community inclusion, which has benefitted both individuals with disabilities and the community.


Mark Seifarth, Chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, began working on ADA legislation in its infancy, and kept a copy of the original ADA legislation (as Introduced in the Senate) as a keepsake. Seifarth, an individual with a developmental disability, shared how  the ADA has shifted mindsets.


“The ADA did two things: It changed opportunities, and it changed expectations,” Seifarth said. “We expect people to be independent in the community. We expect people, to the extent they wish to, to have a job. We expect people to be able to go where they want to go, to live with who they want to live.”


Director Miller outlined the role of OOD in helping individuals with disabilities find employment and independence.  He also noted the evolution of vocational rehabilitation from services focused on returning veterans from World War Two to a focus on the wider disability community.


Jim Lutz, Business Enterprise Operator of the Capital View Café, recalled the challenges in finding a job after he graduated from college. Lutz, who is blind, earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, but faced simple obstacles such as finding reliable transportation. He was connected with OOD’s Business Enterprise Program, and immediately knew this was the opportunity for him.


“My first year as a manager, I made more money than I did in the three years I worked in a department store,” he said. “I came out of college, like everyone else, with thousands of dollars in debt. Today, those debts are gone. This opportunity has been life changing.”


Both Director Miller and Director Martin lauded the progress that has been made and the positive impact of the ADA on Ohioans. They also noted the need to move beyond just physical barriers towards true community inclusion and participation. There are still individuals with disabilities who want to live and work in their communities, and are not yet able to do so.


For more on the history of the ADA and to read additional personal reflections, please see a special joint OOD and DODD publication which can be found here.

OOD Celebrates the ADA

Road to Freedom

OOD staff participated in events in Columbus and Toledo marking the ADA anniversary.  On Monday, July 20, The Ability Center sponsored 2015 ADA Awareness Day at the Toledo Zoo.


On Thursday, July 23, the ADA 25 Columbus Planning Committee hosted an ADA Anniversary event at the Columbus Commons.  OOD had tables at both events which featured the ADA Legacy Tour Bus.


In addition to the media and public events discussed above, OOD is taking time to mark the ADA anniversary as an agency.  Central Office and Division of Disability Determination staff met this afternoon to celebrate.  Director Miller spoke about the positive impact of the ADA and also highlighted the important work OOD staff do every day to further the inclusion and integration of individuals with disabilities into the community.  The Director also read from a proclamation offered by Governor John Kasich.


Elizabeth Sammons, OOD Program Administrator, recounted her personal experience growing up as an individual with a disability and the impact of the ADA.  Janine Salloum-Ashanin, Deputy Director of Human Resources, discussed the impact of the ADA on employers.


Field offices across the state are also taking time to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA.

Elizabeth Sammons Wins ADA Essay Contest

ADA 25 Columbus

The ADA 25 Columbus Planning Committee also announced an essay contest in honor of the ADA anniversary and OOD’s Elizabeth Sammons was one of two winners announced earlier this week.


Sammons' essay, entitled Independence Walk, reflects on her experience at age 8 having to prove to a police officer that she was not a “community hazard” and thus could be trusted to walk to a bus stop (something she needed to do to attend the local public school).  That experience stays with her as she seeks to mentor others and help individuals with disabilities achieve employment and independence.


Mary Hiland, former executive director of the American Council of the Blind of Ohio, was also an essay contest winner.  Sammons, and a representative of Mary Hilland, read the respective essays at a reception on Wednesday at Columbus State Community College.  The essays will also be included in a commemorative booklet and will be read on the VOICEcorps reading service radio program Morning Exchange and published in disability-related media. 

Joe Blundo’s column this week covered the contest and the stories of the two winners.  The column can be read online here.


Joe Blundo’s column this week covered the contest and the stories of the two winners.  The column can be read online here.

Job Ready Status by County

Individuals in Job Ready Status* Statewide: 3,885


(For larger map and county details please click here)

Job Ready Status by County


*Job Ready Status: Have received Vocational Rehabilitation services and are ready and seeking employment.

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