SIDNEY — Blaine O’Leary, of Sidney, recently represented Ohio as one of a five-person panel at the 2018 Reinventing Quality conference for the equality and diversity of people with disabilities in Baltimore.
The subject of the July conference was Building an Infrastructure that Promotes Equality and Diversity.
O’Leary, who was selected by Gov. John Kasich to sit on the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council in 2015, jointly presented Ohio’s plan of Creating and Managing a Culture of Quality: Engaging Stakeholders to Build a Robust Critical Incident Prevention and Response System. Other members of the panel who presented the topic included Scott Phillips and Connie McLaughlin both with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Steve Beha with Arc of Ohio and Blaine’s stepmother Betsy O’Leary.
The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is one of a national network of state councils that is committed to self-determination and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.
“It was completely an honor. I‘m representing the state of Ohio, but not only the state of Ohio, but I can be an inspiration to other states to come up with other ways to ensure other people (with disablities) in other states have less reports and prevent (negative incidents) from happening,” Blaine O’Leary said.
O’Leary, a 2013 Fairlawn High School and Upper Valley Career Center graduate, is a self-advocate, meaning someone with developmental disabilities, who presented as a stakeholder of personal experience. But he also works for the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities as an advocacy specialist. He supports other individuals who receive services and has received training at the state level in regards to advocacy.
“Blaine is such a good guy,” Phillips said. “He spoke both from a personal perspective and from his role as a representative he serves in the Ohio system.”
The panel’s 45 minute presentation was given to approximately 70 people from various agencies across the country, O’Leary said. It was one of numerous other sessions scheduled between July 30 and 31.
“I was excited and a little nervous,” O’Leary said as he was about to present. “The best part was helping people realize there is more than one way of reporting an MUI (major unusual incident).”
Phillips said of O’Leary, “He has a good understanding of the system. He’s been to D.C. and spoke to legislators. It’s a complicated system. It’s nice to have individuals like Blaine to represent individuals supported in Ohio.”
“If you don’t have individuals’ feedback from family going through it, you can’t make decisions,” Phillips continued about how the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities determine its system of prevention and protection.
According to the Reinventing Quality conference agenda, a 2017 report on the states’ status of health and welfare assurances revealed that few states have a “robust, consistent approach to educating families about critical incidents, including abuse neglect and exploitation. The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has taken a very active forward-thinking approach to engage with many stakeholders — including families, self-advocates, local Arc associates and providers — to educate families using multiple communication methods.”
“The keys to Ohio’s progress have been maximizing social media and using multiple distribution channels (while also including stakeholders in designing and reviewing communication prior to launch),” the conference agenda said. “Linking education to lessons learned from a robust critical incident management data system has been extremely beneficial. Collaborative working relationships with a focus on prevention and protection have enhanced opportunities to effectively support individuals in Ohio.”
Earlier this year in April, O’Leary also represented Ohio on behalf of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council as one of a 30-member state delegation to the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. The April policy seminar gave participants the chance to discuss key issues with each other and with their representatives on Capitol Hill.
O’Leary’s advocacy continues as the chairman of the Employment Committee of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. He also sits on its Assistive Technology and Communications, Community Living and Public Policy committees. O’Leary has volunteered for Raise the Roof, the YMCA, Special Olympics, Relay for Life and the Shelby County Historical Society. In Sidney, O’Leary is employed by the Spot restaurant.