Where Can I Find Support for my Family?
It can be emotional when first receiving your child’s medical diagnosis. Please know that you are not alone. There are many other families experiencing similar circumstances, and there are many groups to support you and your child. The following organizations may be contacted for family support. Some of them are particularly designed to support families, others serve multiple purposes. Most include professionals and family members who are knowledgeable about such topics as special needs, navigating systems, education, legal rights, advocacy, and independent living. We would also like you to keep in mind that there are groups on social media for parents sharing similar experiences, and groups specific to your child’s vision condition, or health needs.
The Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness at OCALI
Phone: (614) 401-2889 (Michelle Motil - Family Support Liaison)
The Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness increases access, communication, and equity for learners who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. The Outreach Center provides professional development, develops needed resources, and works to ensure that learners, their families, and communities have the information, supports, and connections they need to learn, grow, and live their best lives.
The Outreach Center facilitates a better understanding of the Med Ed Connection by providing resources, like this online guide, to help parents and families better understand how the medical and educational systems connect, and which system to engage for various resources.
OCALI’s Family and Community Outreach Center
Phone: (614) 410-0998 (Jen Bavry - Program Director)
The Family and Community Outreach Center at OCALI connects families to the information they need regarding services, supports, training, and resources, including the free OCALI Lending Library. The website includes a section about Ohio’s systems of agencies and supports for people with disabilities and their families. Some of these systems include medical, health, and educational agencies.
American Council of the Blind of Ohio (ACB)
Phone: (800) 835-2226
This is the Ohio chapter of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). The ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life for all people who are blind and visually impaired. This organization has information about special education and legal policies.
FamilyConnect is a website created by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) to give parents of blind or visually impaired (B/VI) children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and find resources on raising their children from birth to adulthood.
Phone: (800) 284-4422
Wherever you live, there’s a community of caring parents who understand how you feel, because they’re going through the same thing. Through their National Tele-Support Network for Parents of Children with Visual Impairment, you can connect with other parents to share resources, experiences, strength, and hope. These free tele-support groups meet weekly and are professionally moderated. Whether you choose to actively participate or just listen, you are welcome and not alone. Enroll in the telesupport program here.
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
Phone: (937) 396-5573
This is the Ohio chapter of the National Federation for the Blind (NFB). This organization is directed by and toward people who are blind and visually impaired (B/VI). NFB has high expectations for individuals who are B/VI. The NFB provides opportunities, tools, resources, and trainings that the whole family can benefit from. Some highlights include technology, canes, braille/audio products, scholarships, camps, and youth opportunities.
Ohio Center for Deafblind Education (OCDBE)
Phone: (614) 897-0020 (Lynne Hamelberg, Outreach and Family Information Specialist)
OCDBE is a grant funded project, currently through the University of Cincinnati, but located in Columbus, providing services in Ohio to people, birth through 21 years, with deafblindness, including collaborative technical assistance to families, educational personnel and services providers through training and information dissemination. They also conduct the deafblind census for Ohio.
Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD)
Phone: (740) 382-5452 (General Contact)
OCECD is Ohio’s statewide nonprofit organization established to support appropriate quality education for children and youth with disabilities. Today OCECD serves families of children of all ages with disabilities in Ohio. It provides families with knowledge about laws, resources, rights, and responsibilities, so that they are better able to work with agencies to ensure that appropriate services are received for the benefit of their children.
In particular, OCECD is known for its Parent Mentor program, in which parents can have direct one-on-one support and guidance with a fellow parent, of a child with a disability, who is specially trained for this purpose. To locate the parent mentor in your area, click here.
For a Parent Mentor with specific expertise in the area of B/VI please contact:
Phone: (614) 806-2651 (Lauri Kaplan, Parent Mentor, Ohio State School for the Blind)
Ohio Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children (OEC)
Phone: (614) 466-2650 (Sarah Buoni, Program Specialist, Low Incidence Disabilities)
The Office for Exceptional Children (OEC) at the Ohio Department of Education provides technical assistance to families, school districts, and educational agencies around issues involved with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).
Ohio’s Network of State Support Teams
(Call the Family Engagement Consultant in your local area for support).
State support teams are local and regional Ohio educators with a history in school improvement, preschool, and special education. The Ohio Department of Education coordinates 16 regional teams that cover Ohio and can respond to your call today. There is no cost to use their services.