Updated Tue, Jul 22, 2014 10:41 am
By Jane Imbody
People with developmental disabilities face many barriers every day – from physical barriers in buildings to systemic barriers in employment.
But it’s the attitudinal barriers that might be the most difficult to overcome. Our attitudes can keep us from understanding and appreciating someone’s full potential and what he or she offers. Too often we focus on what a person can’t do.
The Public Images Network and its parent organization, Ohio Public Images, Inc. (OPI), work to dispel barriers through positive images and awareness efforts. Established in 1983, OPI is a not-for-profit organization that consists of professionals in the developmental disabilities field who have expertise in communication, public relations and outreach. Our mission is to promote positive awareness of people with developmental disabilities by developing effective awareness materials that can be shared by organizations that have a similar mission.
Over the years, OPI has published a guide for law enforcement that was used as a primary resource when the State of Ohio revamped protective laws for persons with developmental disabilities. OPI created a junior high curriculum for disability awareness activities and produced a guide for banks about dealing with customers with disabilities. Our organization also developed an “On the Birth of Your Baby” poster with developmental milestones and, sponsored a statewide disability awareness poster contest for Ohio school children.
Annually, OPI sponsors an awareness campaign with a theme that is used throughout Ohio. The theme is often adopted by other states and sometimes it’s even used globally. The 2014 theme is Ability@Work, which encourages everyone to focus on the talents and abilities of people of all ages and how they make a difference in the community.
With each theme OPI offers a logo and other valuable tools, such as a sample news release, radio spots, and an awareness month proclamation – all free of charge. We make available affordable products that feature the logo, such as t-shirts, pens, and posters. These items are designed to help generate community enthusiasm and knowledge necessary to create an effective public awareness campaign.
Ohio Public Images also sponsors an annual awareness awards competition that recognizes media, organizations, and individuals who have all done something to promote positive awareness about people with developmental disabilities. People who are not affiliated with or influenced by nominees and are not members of the OPI board judge categories. Awards are presented at a luncheon held in March as part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Other recent events we have coordinated include a statewide kickoff rally for DD Awareness Month and a social media seminar.
For more about OPI, visit our website www.publicimagesnetwork.org or our Facebook page.
Jane Imbody is an Ohio Public Images board member and Director of Community Relations for Richland Newhope (Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities). Jane is a 1982 graduate of Ohio University.