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Youth Self-Advocacy and Empowerment

Advocating for Myself
Learning how to advocate for yourself could help you at school, at your job and in your community. Advocating for yourself means knowing what your needs are and speaking up for yourself to get your needs met. It takes practice! To hear tips from other students with disabilities who have learned to advocate for themselves in high school, at work, and at college, watch the videos in the collection below.

YEP! featuring Michael and Kristina

Michael talks with Kristina about Self Advocacy and Empowerment. 
Kristina is currently a homeschooled student in her senior year. When she’s not in the classroom, she enjoys singing, drawing, acting, playing instruments, making clay sculptures, exploring the sciences, and playing board and video games with close friends. After graduation, she aspires to attend college with a major in biology, using both her knowledge and faith for God’s glory.  Kristina believes that everyone has a voice, and everyone’s voice needs to be respected. Everyone has the right to be heard no matter what their situation is, and the right to make their own decisions in life. So, no matter what your abilities or your passions are, be strong in your faith, and diligent in your efforts.

YEP! featuring Michael and Sam

Michael talks with Sam about Self Advocacy and Empowerment.
Sam is a sophomore in high school. He attends all regular high school classes with extra support from a personal tutor. He enjoys working out, playing piano, drums, and playing video games. Sam likes to be active by playing basketball, pickleball, swimming, biking, or anything outdoors. He also loves eating at restaurants, traveling and hanging out with his grandparents and friends.


"Learning new things is hard for me, but I start each day with a positive attitude trying my best! Sometimes, people are not kind to me or I know they do not believe in me, but I overcome this negativity by smiling and thinking something positive about myself. You can try this and I think it will help you too!"

YEP! featuring Michael and Kya

Michael talks with Kya about Self Advocacy and Empowerment.
Kya has a passion for educating others on disability awareness and diversity acceptance. She does so by creating videos on her own YouTube channel entitled “Wheels & Wisdom” which helps to break the stigmas and misinformation about individuals with disabilities. Kya is also involved in Kya’s Krusade which is a resource center that specializes in serving families affected by Arthrogryposis and other less-publicized physical disabilities.

YEP! featuring Michael

Michael is a high school graduate in Northeast Ohio, who is preparing to attend community college in fall of 2023. Quick wit and humor are integral to his approach in life. He has been engaged in several alternative learning environments since 4th grade.

He has found support and empowerment with the help of OCECD throughout the last seven years. Michael has been influenced by hearing the stories of others' and realizing that sharing his journey has provided him an opportunity to grow emotionally and mentally while bringing hope to other families in similar situations.

"When you believe in yourself, it's easier to speak up for what you need." - Michael

Find the Captain in You

High school students Nathan and Justin host a morning talk show with special guest, Captain Self-Advocacy. Watch as Captain Self-Advocacy rescues a student who is struggling to participate in his own IEP team meeting.

Disability Resources: A Student Perspective

Matt, Hilary, Roberto, Amanda, Patrick, Luke, and Santana are all college students with different disabilities. In this video, they share their stories about how their disabilities have affected them in college and how they got help from the Disability Resources Office. They also give their advice for high school students about how to advocate for yourself.

411 Disability Disclosure

Disclosing your disability is a very personal decision. It means making an informed decision when or if to tell someone about your disability. Your decision will affect you at school, at work, and in your social life. In this video, Nellie, Alex, Nick, and Mimi talk about how they made their own decisions to disclose their disabilities, and how it changed things for them.

Youth Self-Advocacy

The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities has an exciting new resource to share for transition age youth! We have created the first installment of our “Youth Empowerment” comic series. This series will focus on empowering transition age youth to become self-advocates. We hope this resource will inform youth about youth empowerment, self-determination, self-advocacy and more. Stay tuned for more adventures in “Youth Empowerment”!

Download Issue #1
 - My Adventures in Youth Empowerment
Download Issue #2 - Why Self-Advocacy is Important to me!
Download Issue #3 - Why Self-Advocacy is Important to me continued!

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IEP Checklist for Teens

Use Your IEP Meetings to Learn How to Advocate for Yourself Self-advocacy is a key step in becoming an adult. It means looking out for yourself, telling people what you need, and knowing how to take responsibility. No one is born knowing these skills. Everyone has to learn them. Ready to begin learning?

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A Guide for Transition Age Youth and Their Families

An Introduction to Transition

Transition refers to the process of moving from high school to the adult world. Beginning at age 14, all students who have IEPs are required to have transition goals developed each year during their IEP meeting.

There are two required transition goal areas: employment and post-secondary education/training.

Youth Resources

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Who should read this transition guide? 
If you are a youth between the ages of 16 and 21 with a disability, we wrote this guidebook for you and your family. During transition, the period of time when you move from high school to adult life, it will be important for youth and their families to take an active role in transition planning.

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OCECD offers the interactive "It's My Turn" (IMT) and the "Goals Planning Success" (GPS) self-determination trainings available for students age 14 to graduation to help guide students in fulfilling their hopes and dreams after high school.

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Online educational games are popular resources for many parents and teachers. For deaf middle and high school students, there are very few accessible online games and resources. That’s why Deafverse, the first-ever American Sign Language (ASL) accessible online game for deaf teenagers, was developed by a team of deaf creators and educators at the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes.
Learn More

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Ohio Youth Leadership Forum
Today, young people with disabilities have more options and opportunities than at any other time in our nation’s history. Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities’ Ohio Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a five-day career leadership training program for 11th and 12th grade high school students with disabilities.

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Communication cards 
for individuals who are Deaf or HOH.
Disclaimer: This visor card does not waive the user’s right to effective communication under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Do you have a communication Disability?
If you have a diagnosed communication disability, you can voluntarily enroll in a database that connects to the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS). Learn More

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Do you want to learn about transitioning to adult health care?
Youth, young adults, and families: Do you want to learn about transitioning to adult health care? These tools can help you learn about moving from pediatric to adult health care.  Learn More

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STABLE Account empowers individuals and families. Accountholders can save and invest without losing benefits such as Medicaid or SSI. Learn More

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Rise Up
This guide was developed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) for transition-aged youth from 14 to 21. Throughout this guide, you will find helpful information about situations you may go through as you become an adult. This guide is meant to be read as you need it, so you can feel confident to take on any problems as they come.

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Map It: What Comes Next?

This is a free, online, interactive training designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The training utilizes three questions: 1. Who Am I?, 2. What Do I Want?, 3. How Do I Get There? Video vignettes signed in ASL with spoken English and written transcription, self assessments, and a series of interactive questions guide students as they identify their goals and develop strategies to achieve them.

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Ohio College2Career
OOD offers Ohio College2Careers (Ohio C2C) at 15 public colleges and universities to ensure college students with disabilities have the support they need to complete their degree and/or credential, earn higher wages, and meet the demands of tomorrow’s labor market.

Latest News

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YEP! The Youth Empowerment Project

This video series is focused on youth interviewing other youth about their experiences with self-advocacy and empowerment. 
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New On-Demand Trainings Available

Catch up on trainings you may have missed or would like to watch again. OCECD understands we all have busy schedules and providing this content On-Demand allows you the flexibility to get the information you need, when it works 
best for you.  
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Horn Walter Burley Awards 2022

Ohio public schools, community schools, career centers, and county boards of developmental disabilities are encouraged to recognize the accomplishments of Ohio educators and students with disabilities by nominating them for these annual achievement awards.  
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OCECD Newsletter

OCECD - 50 Years of Service and Support!

The Ohio Coalition is 50 years old! Let's Celebrate! This is the perfect time to reflect on our history, achievements, and look to the future. How does one celebrate a fifty-year milestone? For some, it is with a big party! For others, it is with gifts. In wedding anniversaries, the 50th is known as the golden anniversary. 
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