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October 2018 Blog Post

A New Blog Post from Niko Boskovic

My experience at the September APSE conference was one of those experiences you don’t forget anytime soon. For one thing, it was in Seaside, and I absolutely love the Oregon coast. For another, I had the surreal understanding of watching my mom get really nervous before it was time to go up on stage. She was giving off this fluorescent yellow glow that would burst out in spurts at random times as she was trying to manage her anxiety. It was both hilarious and sweet to see how much she cared.

My relationship with the coast is based on a few factors: there’s the smell of the ocean, the cooler temperature, the fresh air that makes me happy, and of course, the amazing seafood that we will undoubtedly eat. I think I would happily move to a small coastal town and live there forever. I wish I had the rural childhood my mom did because it sounds like she was outside all the time! Now for outdoor fun, we have to drive somewhere, which is just silly.

Anyways, the conference was a lot of fun, even though it took weeks to prepare my speech. The way I write is to transcribe everything that I have prepared in my head onto paper. In other words, I mentally write a speech or a school assignment in its entirety that later I spell out so slowly and tediously with my para or my mom. Only when I can get it down on paper do I consider it complete and finalized. The idea of revisions is so ludicrous because I already worked all the kinks out in my head. Knowing that I have it all in my brain is both a comfort and a curse because of how long it takes to communicate it. At least I have a way to do that now.

Giving a conference speech was an amazing experience, and not one that I take lightly. It is important to me that I share my thoughts and experiences in a way that is sincere and truthful, yet has a message of hope for our community. We are changing the way we talk when it comes to disability because when we express the unfair treatment we have gotten in education, employment, and housing, our issues have become more mainstream with every political candidate.

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Planning My Way to Work

Planning My Way to Work Update

Planning My Way to Work is a guide designed to help students, adults, their families and professionals navigate services and community resources, both during the transition from school to work and in adult life. Until recently, we have mailed free copies when an order is placed.  Unfortunately, the guide is no longer available by mail.

The good news is that we are working with representatives from Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Education, the Office of Developmental Disability Services and other stakeholders to update the transition guide.  The new guide will reflect changes to DD services and new pre-employment transition services required under the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). We are also refreshing each section to make the guide more accessible to students and their families.  We hope to complete the new guide by summer 2019.

In the meantime, you can download the current version in English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese. You can also download the English guide by section below.  Email info@ocdd.org to request downloads by section in Spanish, Russian or Vietnamese.

Section 1 includes an introduction to the guide and an overview of the transition planning process and your planning team.

Section 2 describes how to develop critical self-determination skills.

Section 3 presents facilitated person-centered planning as a tool to identify your gifts, strengths and capacities.

Section 4 details the contents of your individual education plan (IEP) as well as your rights, transition services and diploma options.

Section 5 discusses finding your community’s natural resources for work and community  experiences.

Section 6 talks about developmental disability services, how to apply for them, the eligibility process and the individual support plan (ISP) to receive these services.

Section 7 describes Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services, eligibility, steps to getting a job, and your rights and responsibilities in VR services.

Section 8 summarizes Social Security benefits, benefits planning and programs to keep your benefits while you earn income.

Section 9 explains what happens legally when you reach the “age of majority.” This section helps you and your family prepare for this milestone.

Section 10 includes resources to help you meet your housing and independent living goals, including transportation.

Most sections end with a list of resources. Each list includes websites and other Internet resources that have hyperlinks in that section.

An Appendix includes tools for noting information about your transition process.

Oregon ABLE Accounts

Financial empowerment for people with disabilities

In 2014, Congress signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience or ABLE Act into law.  The ABLE Act allows states to create financial empowerment programs that encourage people with disabilities to save money – without losing their state or federal benefits.  Oregon and several other states have implemented ABLE programs to help people with disabilities save.  Oregon’s program was approved by the legislature in 2016 and is managed by the Oregon 529 Network.  Since then, about 1,800 Oregonians have saved over $7.5 million in their own accounts.

Oregonians who own ABLE accounts can save up to $100,000 without losing their state or federal benefits.  They can use this money to pay for living expenses – like education, housing, transportation and medical costs.  The accounts are low cost, take about 15 minutes to set up and are easy to access.  It’s also easy for family and friends to contribute to a person’s ABLE account.  While these accounts benefit most people with disabilities, those who have a Social Security representative payee have not been able to access them, until recently.

The IRS allows a parent, guardian, or Power of Attorney to manage ABLE accounts for people with disabilities; however, rep payees who are individuals or organizations are not included.  The Oregon program offers limited Power of Attorney to individual rep payees.  This allows them to help people manage their accounts.  You can find the limited Power of Attorney form and learn more here: https://oregonablesavings.com/alr-info.

There isn’t currently a way to allow organizations limited Power of Attorney.  The Network is working on solutions to address this barrier.  In the meantime, we hope to see many more people with rep payees access Oregon’s ABLE savings plans.  Learn more about the Oregon ABLE savings plan at oregonablesavings.com.

Mission and Vision

Our mission is to advance social and policy change so that people with developmental disabilities, their families and communities may live, work, play, and learn together. Our vision is that all communities welcome and value people with disabilities and their families.

Guiding Principles and Beliefs

1. We believe disability is a natural part of the human experience.

2. We believe people with developmental disabilities and their families...

Define their own families and sources of support.

Are successful when they make informed choices and control their lives.

Are most effective when they work together for social and policy change.

Are more likely to succeed when we expect them to succeed.

3. We believe communities...

Are welcoming when everyone is valued.

Are better when members act together.

Thrive when everyone contributes.

4. We believe support service systems are most effective when...

Families are supported to raise children in stable and loving homes.

People are supported to live the lives they want in their communities.

Supports are based on individual strengths, goals and community.

They are accountable to the people they serve.

OCDD: Live TogetherWork TogetherLearn TogetherBetter Together

OCDD works toward a world where all communities welcome and value people with disabilities and their families.

Our Stories

People with disabilities are at the heart of OCDD’s mission and work. Watch the videos below to see how these talented Oregonians contribute to the communities where we all live, work, and play.

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