Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities September Focus E-newsletter

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

What's Inside:

OOD Awards Challenge Dollars for Service Expansion

OOD announces the selection of vocational rehabilitation partners and providers who will receive opportunity dollars – a total of more than $280,000 in funds. These dollars are one-time funds available to develop new programs for individuals with disabilities. The driving themes of those selected include a focus on connecting students with disabilities to higher wages and in-demand occupations, partnering with technology and trade industries, expanding services to rural areas and supporting the attainment of nationally recognized credentials for staff to provide supported employment services and work incentives consultations.


“Our providers in the community are vital to our goal of ensuring that individuals with disabilities receive quality employment services,” said OOD Executive Director Kevin L. Miller. “This reinvestment to local providers and businesses would not be possible without the transformative business practices executed by them and OOD staff to make certain all Ohioans with disabilities receive the needed services to find employment and gain independence.”


The following vocational rehabilitation providers and partners received the funds:

  • Food for Good Thought - to develop summer youth sites in the information technology industry
  • Capabilities - to develop summer youth work experience sites in the technology and trade industries, and to develop a new program to assist students with disabilities in identifying career interests to better prepare them for post-school employment
  • The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities - to engage businesses in northeast Ohio to participate in local hiring events for people with disabilities

See the full article.

Marion City Schools Honor OOD for Successful Transition Program



OOD and other area partners, including Marion Goodwill and The Alpha Group of Delaware, were honored this week at the Marion City Schools Board of Education meeting for their involvement in making their transition program and work study program successful throughout the first two years of implementation. OOD counselors who work with Marion City Schools students are Shannon Fletcher, Katie Loyer and Karley Wake. Congratulations!

Entrepreneur Who is Blind Runs Food Service Operation



Yvette Shackelford is a successful Business Enterprise Program (BEP) operator. Check out this video and see how Yvette manages her food service business.


BEP is a federally-funded program that provides people who are legally blind with employment opportunities as managers and operators of food service facilities in federal buildings and road side rest areas.

Senate Bill Proposed to Create State Rehabilitation Council

director miller


Director Miller testified on Senate Bill 144 this past week. The bill takes three separate entities (Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities, Consumer Advisory Committee and OOD Commission) already in place and makes them one concise council. Currently, the three entities consist of 45 members. The new proposed State Rehabilitation Council would have 15 members and allow for greater access, awareness and follow a model that has been used across the country, while also saving taxpayer dollars.

Microsoft Chooses OOD Youth with Autism as First Intern in New Initiative

An OOD job seeker with a software development employment goal was the first person in the country to be offered a paid 10-week internship at Microsoft for next summer. This opportunity came as part of Microsoft’s autism hiring initiative, which was established to identify individuals on the autism spectrum for high level technical positions at Microsoft and to provide an alternative hiring process that respects the differences in communication styles and comfort levels.


The OOD youth applied to participate in Microsoft’s initiative and was selected to participate in a week-long hiring program at the company’s corporate campus in Redmond, Washington. Thanks to OOD’s vocational rehabilitation services, the young job-seeker was well-prepared for his experience at Microsoft and was selected to work there during the summer of 2018. The summer internship also has the possibility of turning into a full-time job.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month



Celebrated in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is held to educate disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. In recognition of NDEAM, OOD will spread the word across the state about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.


OOD will host four job fairs for agency job-seekers and employers that are specifically looking to hire individuals with disabilities. The job fairs will be held in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. OOD will also premiere a series of videos about hiring individuals with disabilities. These videos will contain interviews with companies such as Sauder Woodworking Company and CVS who offer best practices, tips on hiring individuals with disabilities and why hiring individuals with disabilities is good for your business.  


In addition, OOD will recognize employers with Opportunity Awards that will honor companies who hire individuals with disabilities. The award categories include the Champion of Opportunity Award, Committed to Opportunity Award and Creating Opportunity Award.

Division of Disability Determination Presents at National Event

OOD’s Division of Disability Determination (DDD) staff recently presented a demonstration of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) new Disability Case Processing System (DCPS) at the National Association of Disability Examiners annual meeting in Detroit. DDD is piloting the system and was the first disability determination service to process a claim using the new software. The audience from across the country included the SSA acting commissioner and several SSA deputy and associate commissioners.

Lean Principles Continue Pushing Efficiencies



Four OOD staff recently received Lean Six Sigma belts for their projects that increased efficiencies throughout the agency's systems and processes. Pictured above from left to right are Division of Disability Determination Disability Claims Supervisors Justin Helinski and Rita Gram and Employer and Innovation Services Manager Steve Tribbie who received their Green Belts. Disability Claims Manager Fred Schindler received his Black Belt.

OOD Services Help Individual Live Independently

Ike Pointer was familiar with many aspects of vision loss, because he could only see with his left eye since childhood. In recent years, however, he began to notice a decline in his usable eye and this worried him. He had worked for many years as a driver and on the loading dock at a health care facility. He knew he had a lot more to lose than just his eyesight; he could lose his independence and his ability to work. Eventually, he decided to have surgery on his eye and the results were not what he had hoped.


At age 58, Ike was not ready to hang up his hat just yet. He went to the Cleveland Sight Center, where he was referred to OOD's Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) and began receiving services through the agency’s Independent Living Older Blind program. Ike received a cane, magnification devices, tactile markers, lighting aids and talking appliances.


Today, Ike continues to work with BSVI’s vocational rehabilitation services where he learns about navigation and independence skills. Every day he tries to go out alone and he hopes to one day be able to reenter the workforce. “I know there is a place for people in my situation out there. I just have to find it,” he said.

A Link in the Chain: Eric Zirger



Eric Zirger has been a disability claims adjudicator in OOD’s Division of Disability Determination (DDD) since March 2014. DDD is responsible for processing social security disability claims. The Social Security Administration (SSA) forwards claims from the local office to DDD where staff adjudicates (make the medical determinations) the claims. Eric reviews and interprets medical records for assessments and calls claimants. “It’s a really good feeling when you feel like your work is directly helping somebody receive medical care or get a check in the mail that’s going to keep them from being homeless,” said Eric. He received a 2017 Excellence in Service Award for his commitment to building better programs and improving services for OOD claimants.

10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls


On September 22nd, the Ohio Department of Aging will hold its annual 10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls to raise awareness about falls and to help older residents reduce their risks. Every year one third of older adults will fall and are the leading cause of emergency room visits. Age-related eye diseases can increase the chances of experiencing an immobilizing fall. OOD’s Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired offers services through its Independent Living Older Blind program to promote the independence and self-sufficiency for qualifying Ohio citizens.

Connect to OOD

Connect to OOD on TwitterFacebook and YouTube to see items like this post about how a sing-along brightened the day of residents at a private facility for adults with developmental disabilities. #ConnectToOOD #OODWorks



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