The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

November 16-18 | Columbus, OH

The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

November 16-18

Columbus, Ohio

2016 OCALI Awards


2016 OCALI Awards - Jon Peterson

The 2016 OCALI Awards recognize the impact, leadership, and accomplishments of individuals with autism, sensory disabilities (including visual impairments, blindness, hearing impairments, deafness, and those who have dual sensory impairments), and/or low-incidence disabilities as well as the parents and professionals who contribute to their development 
and success.

We’re grateful for these pioneers, innovators, and champions who make things happen.


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2016 OCALICON Awards – Organization for Autism Research

I mentioned this yesterday. And Joanne Gerenser came up to speak about the partnership we've had with the Organization for Autism Research. Mike Maloney is the executive director of the Organization for Autism Research, which is OAR for short. We've had a wonderful partnership, and they've had their scientific council meeting and read through, I believe, Mike mentioned, 140 proposals with their scientific council. And it looks like some of the scientists are tired. They've done a great job. I know they worked very, very hard. OAR is based in Arlington, Virginia, and for the last 15 years has been working to apply research to the challenges that we see every day, and also look at finding solutions.

OAR has three clear objectives. They need to raise money to fund the research to change lives. The organization is result of a shared vision of unique life experiences of the founders, parents and grandparents of individuals with autism. It remains the only national organization with a singular mission of promoting applied research, dissemination of evidence based information. I, myself, turned to OAR very often, to their resources. And obviously, their research. They are truly an organization that is there to support you sitting in these seats today. So I'd like to extend a welcome to Mike Maloney and those from OAR who have joined us on stage to accept the award. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

- I'm just going to say a few words. It's for the-- the award for research and impact.

Thank you Shawn. I'm going to be very brief. There's two things I want to do. The first thing, I just want to tip my hat and salute OCALI, Shawn, Jill, the OCALI staff, all the volunteers for putting on this amazing, outstanding conference. Very well done to all of you.

[APPLAUSE]

The other thing is I just want to say thank you for the recognition, the honor here that we just received. It's very significant. Sean mentioned 15 years. It's actually going to be 15 years on December 13th. So in just a couple of weeks, we'll celebrate our 15th birthday. And when we started out, many of the people that were up here were with us at the beginning. It was our hope that at some point in time, we'd be able to be delivering the types of resources and information for which Sean and OCALI have recognized OAR today. As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And that's what OAR is. It's a collective. There's no one person that's caused these results to happen. It's been a team effort for 15 years. We're honored to do our part. And thank you for the honor of our early birthday present. And our present to you on December 13th, you'll see a brand new OAR website, which hopefully will serve the community even better for the next 15 years to come. Thank you very much. 

Organization for Autism Research (OAR) – Excellence in Research and Impact
Arlington, VA

Excerpt from nomination - "Led by parents and grandparents of children and adults on the autism spectrum, OAR set out to use applied science to answer questions that parents, families, individuals with autism, teachers, and caregivers confront daily. As such, OAR is the only national autism organization whose mission is the promotion of applied research and the subsequent dissemination of evidence-based information." 


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2016 OCALICON Awards - Joy Zabala

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[APPLAUSE]

Bring it down, so I can hear me. I'd like everyone to take one second to think about people in the industry today, in today's world. Think about the movie industry, actors, computer industry, country music industry, and the comedy industry. Take a second to think about the big people you think about.

OK, under the movie industry, you might have thought about Johnny Depp, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt. Computer industry, the big hitters Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Country music, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson. Comedy industry, Jimmy Fallon, John Belushi, Adam Sandler.

When I think about assistive technology, if you know the industry, I think about Dr. Joy Zabala. She developed the SETT program, Student Environment Task Tool. She developed the QIAT leadership, and she's the co-director at the AEM Center at CAST. This year's Educational Leadership Award goes to Dr. Joy Smiley Zabala. Joy.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING] 

Joy Zabala – Excellence in Educational Leadership
Lake Jackson, TX

Excerpt from nomination - "Dr. Zabala is a strong supporter of universal design for learning (UDL) as the foundational support for the education of all students and of accessible technologies and materials as complementary supports for those students who require them for active participation and achievement in UDL environments." 


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2016 OCALICON Awards – Jerry Whittaker

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Jerry Whittaker is someone that I know that is the most above-and-beyond person I think I've ever met. He goes above and beyond with every student that he has helped, whether in his career as a speech and language pathologist, or in his retirement job, working with ORCLISH, OCALI, CISAM, and then OCALI again.

For OCALI, recently, he's developed a large-print template and macro system that you use in Microsoft Word to help streamline the production of large print. And the background work that he has put into this has been incredible. He sat there for 12 hours at a time programming, just to get one piece to work.

So above and beyond is what Jerry really does. And he doesn't-- he's not a big fan of recognition. So I nominated him for this award, because he did need recognized for all the work that he's done. So with that being said, I'd like to present Jerry with the 2016 OCALICON Award.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[APPLAUSE] 

Jerry Whittaker – Excellence in Innovation for Technology and Access
Westerville, OH

Excerpt from nomination – "Jerry Whittaker has dedicated over 50 years of his life to serving students and adults with low-incidence disabilities. Am amazing and dedicated professional, he works long hours to develop or improve resources that he shares with teachers or transcribers serving students with visual impairments and reading disabilities." 


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2016 OCALICON Awards – Jerod Smalley

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Good morning.

Good morning.

It's good to see you all again. I have a very distinct honor and pleasure to introduce to you Jerod Smalley, who is this year's winner of the Family Advocacy Award. Jerod Smalley is from right here in Columbus. As a father of two sons with autism, Brady and Tyler, Jerod is an active, passionate and dedicated father, public figure, and community leader.

One of his biggest contributions in recent years, The Autism Puzzle is a regional two-time Emmy-winning award series on WCMH TV, NBC4 in Columbus. The series features local stories that showcase some of the challenges and achievements of individuals with autism and their families, and helps connect individuals and families to available resources and a support system of leading public and private organizations.

Jerod has also served as co-chair for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Columbus, one of the most successful fundraising walks in the nation. As the NBC4 sports director, Jerod has been named Best Anchor by the Ohio Associated Press in 2010 and 2011, and Best Sports Broadcaster from 2007 to 2009. He has taken the opportunity as an accomplished broadcaster to serve as a true community leader and champion for individuals with ASD and their families.

I'd like to say that I met Jerod a few short minutes ago and I already count him as a friend and a supporter for families all across the state, and we welcome him to the stage. Please help us recognize Jerod Smalley.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING] 

Jerod Smalley Margaret Burley Family Impact Award
Columbus, OH

Excerpt from nomination – "As a father of two sons with autism, Brady and Tyler, Jerod is an active, passionate, and dedicated father, public figure, and community leader. One of his biggest contributions in recent years, The Autism Puzzle, is a regional Emmy award-winning series that features local stories that showcase some of the challenges and achievements of individuals with autism and their families."


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2016 OCALICON Awards – Jon Peterson

We are now going to give out the Lifetime Achievement Award. This goes to someone who has really spent his life serving his fellow man.

Representative Jon Peterson is a recognized champion across the autism community, both here in Ohio and nationally, as a pioneer in policy change. From 1999 to 2009, Representative Peterson served in the House of Representatives, working tirelessly to advocate for children and adults with autism spectrum, as well as providing a voice for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, those with mental illness, and children who are facing food insecurity and hunger.

In 2003, Representative Peterson chaired the Ohio Autism Taskforce. The taskforce-- as Jon traveled the state and listened to parents and professionals-- hit every region of the state. They returned with 43 recommendations to the Ohio General Assembly that would help improve the lives for families and individuals across the state.

As a parent of a daughter with autism, Representative Peterson understands the pleas of parents for the options to better serve their child's needs, as they pressed for changes that were vitally needed across the state. Within these recommendations, one was the Autism Scholarship Program, which has served thousands of students across Ohio.

In addition, Representative Peterson worked closely with the Ohio Department of Education to establish OCALI. Representative Peterson has served as chair of the OCALI advisory board and co-chair.

In honor of his advocacy efforts, the Ohio General Assembly and the Kasich administration enacted in 2011 the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program, expanding the educational choices for students with special needs.

Even today, Representative Peterson continues to serve the community as a pastor and as a treasurer in Delaware County. I can tell you that you would not be sitting in the chair you're sitting in today-- I would not be standing here today-- if it wasn't for Representative Peterson's tireless work-- his efforts, his care for the community.

For me, he's been a mentor, a life coach, a friend, someone I've leaned on at all times. And he always picks up the phone and has that wise word to say of support. And that support is always thinking about the individuals and their families.

So Jon, I can't thank you enough for your contributions and your support. Please help me welcome Representative Jon Peterson to the stage for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Grandpa Peterson, in the middle of the coldest winters in Wisconsin, would go out to the barn to milk the family cow. And Bessie would turn around and say, thanks, boss, for that warm hand.

And thank you for the generous welcome. Now I told Sean years ago, you never give a pastor and a politician a microphone, because you're bound to be here for a while. But I will be brief.

And let me say to begin, not only is it a particular joy here, but a special pleasure to see here this morning two of my personal heroes. They have been an inspiration to me-- Margaret Burley and Sandra Williams.

Over 20 years ago, our youngest daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with autism. And that began for us an incredible journey. And as you can imagine, there were days of struggle. There were days of tears. There were days of great challenge.

But significantly, there were also days of great victories. Days of significant accomplishment. Great days of joy. And I count this as one of those great days of joy. I stand here with a joyful heart to see all of the good work that you do to serve persons that are particularly challenged.

I am joyful, also, that over 10 years ago-- as we sat in living rooms, as we sat in coffeehouses and Bob Evans, in legislative hearing rooms, in public forums across this state and across this nation-- that the dreams and realities, or the dreams and visions, that were formed and shaped have become a reality. And you speak to that clearly and cogently by your presence here today. And you are making such a significant difference.

If my daughter, Hannah, were here today, she would-- in her own way-- say, thank you. But today, Hannah is preparing for exams. She is a senior at Ohio University, preparing for graduation.

[APPLAUSE]

And any success that she has had is not only attributable to the hard work that she has done, but to the significant efforts of all of those who have supported her along the way. So I say, thank you on her behalf. And thank you for this significant recognition today. I am humbled beyond words. Thank you so much.

[APPLAUSE] 

Jon Peterson – Lifetime Achievement Award
Delaware, OH

Excerpt from nomination – "From 1999-2009, Jon Peterson served in the Ohio House of Representatives working tirelessly to advocate for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, as well as providing a voice for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, those with mental illness, and children facing the crisis of daily hunger. As a parent of a daughter on the autism spectrum, Peterson understood the pleas of parents for options to better serve their child's needs and pressed for changes that would provide the vital supports for these individuals and their families."