#AdvocacyMatters: Short Term Assistance, Long Term Solutions

February 4, 2022 / #AdvocacyMatters

For many people with disabilities facing challenges, it can be difficult to know where to look for help. Whether dealing with issues about accessibility in housing or accommodation issues, having questions about guardianship, or seeking guidance and help in getting needed assistive technology, solutions can be hard to find and understand. As Ohio’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) organization, a call to Disability Rights Ohio can often uncover answers and information.

All calls for assistance to DRO are processed by our Intake Team and often forwarded to our Short Term Assistance team to offer guidance, resources, and in some cases limited legal representation. Since last July alone, DRO’s Intake and Short Term Assistance teams have provided assistance and resources for approximately 2862 clients and their family members, other advocacy organizations and individuals. These cases ranged from helping clients get needed reasonable accommodations from their landlords or Home Owner Associations, to assisting clients in obtaining medically necessary services and equipment to ensure they could remain in their homes and communities.

Our Short Term Assistance team was also pivotal in the recent formation of the Supported Decision Making Network of Ohio. Last November, Disability Rights Ohio joined University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD), Ohio Self-Determination Association (OSDA), and the Ohio Network for Innovation (ONI) to create a network of over 40 self-advocates, supporters, and professionals from a variety of cities, specialties, agencies, and organizations. Supported Decision Making – an alternative to guardianship situations – allows people with disabilities to retain their decision- making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices.

Understanding the many barriers facing people with disabilities who want to make decisions about their lives, the network has established several workgroups to study and address several basic goals:

  • Develop more awareness and understanding of SDM as a tool to help people with disabilities get the support they need without losing the valuable right to make decisions about their life.
  • Lessen fear of SDM both in terms of safety of the person with disabilities, as well as the effort required.
  • Teach young people with disabilities decision-making skills at an earlier age to they are prepared for SDM and so that they may better advocate for themselves as adults.
  • Decrease the number of unnecessary or more restrictive Guardianships being filed in Ohio.

DRO’s Short Term Assistance team, in collaboration with the network, is also working to develop tools, resources, and trainings to help people with disabilities - along with their advocates and families - develop individual plans to ensure they have the daily help and support they need in a way that respects their wishes and protects their legal rights. Because #AdvocacyMatters we’ll continue to develop these resources, offer these referrals, and provide these solutions.

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