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 hearing status, 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 Society for Deaf Children (ASDC)
Phone: (800) 942-2732
ASDC began as a parent-helping-parent organization. Currently, ASDC provides information for people who must make decisions for deaf children: parents, families, providers, educators, legislators, and advocates. ASDC provides support, encouragement, and current information about being deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) to families with children who are D/HH. It also provides information and resources to professionals, including educators. You may be able to contact this organization for perspective on emotional, medical, health and educational needs.
National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
Video Phone: (301) 328-1443
This advocacy organization is dedicated to safeguarding the civil rights of people who are D/HH. Established in 1880 by and for people who are D/HH, and shaped by leaders in the deaf community, it provides information and resources related to accessibility, education, employment, healthcare, mental health, rehabilitation, technology, telecommunications, and transportation.
Ohio Center for Deafblind Education (OCDBE)
Phone: (614) 897-0020 (Lynne Hamelberg, Outreach and Family Information Specialist)
OCDBE is a federally funded project, currently housed with the University of Cincinnati, in Columbus. OCDBE provides services in Ohio to people, birth through 21 years, with deafblindness, including collaborative technical assistance to families, educational personnel, and service 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 D/HH please contact:
Phone: 614-633-8415 (Mobile, Voice/Text, Tabby Belhorn, Parent Mentor working with Ohio School for the Deaf)
Ohio Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children (OEC)
Sarah Buoni, Program Specialist, Low Incidence Disabilities
Phone: (614) 466-2650
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 Hands and Voices: ASTRa
Phone: (844) 644-6481
Ohio Hands and Voices is a network of parents, family members, and professionals with a strong commitment to the D/HH education community. Advocacy Support and Training (ASTRa) is a service offered. They provide advocacy support, training, and consultation for professionals and families. They specifically address the unique educational circumstances of students who are D/HH and the special education laws applicable to them. These parents as professionals are also familiar with common medical conditions and the needs of children who are D/HH. They may be able to assist you with suggestions for accommodations in a school setting.
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.