Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

A special public meeting of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Services Board was held on May 21, 2019. Secretary Jerry Oleksiak presented Shannon Austin to serve as the new Executive Director of OVR. The board of directors unanimously elected Ms. Austin to hold the position effective May 25, 2019.

Ms. Austin currently holds the position of District Administrator with OVR/Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At BBVS, she has been responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring complex vocational rehabilitation programs in Vocational Rehabilitation, Independence Living for Older Blind, and Specialized Services Child. She strives to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace and has been committed to creating and maintaining effective working relationships with employers, community partners, and professional organizations to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and minority communities. Ms. Austin expressed her desire to “move the needle in the state” to increase employment opportunities, including positions beyond entry level jobs, and promote movement of the ADA.

Secretary Oleksiak also took the time to thank Ryan Hyde for ten months of service as Acting Executive Director at OVR. Mr. Hyde served during a difficult time, particularly with the budgetary issues OVR is facing. The board members appreciate his efforts fulfilling these duties temporarily, in addition to his own position.

ODP Announcement 19-053 announces the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) are relaunching the Positive Approaches Journal, written by and for professionals who provide supports and services to individuals with mental and behavioral health challenges, intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities.

The Positive Approaches Journal seeks to improve lives by increasing knowledge and capacity of professionals that provide supports and services to individuals currently utilizing services within the ODP and OMHSAS systems. The articles will be written using the guiding principles of Everyday Lives, Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP), System of Care, and the Resilience and Recovery Movement in mind. Through case studies, articles, interviews, and related academic sources, the Positive Approaches Journal will strive to feature resources, observations, and advancements that are relevant and timely to professionals and supporters of human service systems.

The new version of the Positive Approaches Journal will include Data Discoveries, useful data presented in ways that are interesting and customizable. Data presented will be focused on a topic related to each issue theme. This “new” journal will be published quarterly and will be available in digital form online. Please submit any questions via email.

Join us at the Disability Rally
Tuesday June 11, 2019 • 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Capital Rotunda

The Arc of PA is organizing a disability rally, “INCLUDE ME! HIRE ME! HEAR ME!” to be held at the Capital Rotunda on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. This invitation extends to people with disabilities, family members, disability organizations, and advocates.

RCPA is joining these additional participating groups:

  • The Arc of PA and 33 Local Chapters
  • PA House Autism & Intellectual Disability Caucus
  • Disability Rights PA
  • Institute on Disabilities Temple University
  • PAR
  • Self Advocates United as 1
  • Speaking for Ourselves
  • UCP PA & Local Chapters
  • Vision for Equality

For more information, contact The Arc of PA at 717-234-2621 or via email.