The Ability Center of Greater Toledo (ACT) set a goal in 2020 to become the most disability-friendly community in the country. Mallory Crooks, Director of Public Relations for the Ability Center explains that being disability-friendly is much more than physical accessibility. “To be truly disability friendly, we need to change mindsets,” she says.
One tangible marker of progress is that people with disabilities are reporting more comfort going out into the community. Toledo’s signature institutions like the Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo Zoo are hiring experts in disability. The City of Toledo also recently created a Mayor’s Office on Disability, a first-of-its kind initiative in Ohio.
Crooks explains, “We can’t make the most disability-friendly community in the country within the four walls of the Ability Center. We need to educate folks in the community to change their own programs and to make their own establishments accessible.”
ACT offers an array of services, referrals to resources, disability-friendly events calendar, advocacy, and community outreach. Therapy dogs offer support and companionship to children and adults with disabilities. Reading programs called the Dream Project for schools and libraries raise awareness, and programs with agility dogs increase social skills, physical capability, and increase confidence.
Programming for children includes assistance navigating resources, programming for birth to age 12 and their families, and independent living skills programming for youth and young adults.
The Ability Center can assist families and individuals to find the right resources for their needs.
Sunshine offers a variety of activities for people with developmental disabilities that are also open to the public. Goats, bunnies, pigs, donkeys, miniature horses, barn cats and llamas provide learning and hands-on experiences for individuals who love to connect with animals. A sensory room is available and equipped with a ball pit, bubble columns, and fiber optics; the Sunshine gym is also available with adaptive equipment. Sunshine Studios is an art studio that welcomes people of all abilities, incomes, and artistic skill levels
The Board of DD provides evaluations, assessments, and early intervention services aimed at supporting parents and caregivers while enhancing a child’s development through everyday learning opportunities. Assistance can be found for families navigating a new system of services and resources that are available to them.
Help me Grow provides services to families whose children ages birth to age three who have either a developmental delay, or a medical condition that puts them at risk for delayed development. Developmental areas addressed include vision, hearing, nutrition, cognition, communication, fine and gross motor skills, as well as social-emotional and adaptive techniques. Early Intervention professionals work with you and your child to identify strengths and needs, addressing concerns as early as possible with services right where you live, play and spend your day.
UT has the first bachelor of arts degree program of its kind in the U.S. It is a program to enhance understanding of disability as a unique identity, history, and culture. An online graduate certification in disability studies is also offered for 12 credit hours. Professionals earning this certification can lend new expertise to businesses and organizations to become more inclusive.
Sibshops groups are for typically developing brothers and sisters ages 8 – 15 who have a sibling with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other disabilities.
Free transportation on buses with lifts, ramps, and attentive staff is available to all registered TARPS customers on TARTA’s regular bus line. TARTA Flex service transportation is also provided for $3 each way.
Inclusive Parks and Playgrounds
Perrysburg Inclusive Playground
Rotary Community Park
26350 Fort Meigs Rd., Perrysburg
Secor Barrier Free Playground
100001 Central Ave., Berkey
Doneghy Inclusive Garden
Toledo Botanical Garden
5403 Elmer Dr.
Glass City Riverwalk
Glass City Metropark
983 Front St.
Sensory bags are available and include noise-canceling headphones, whiteboard with marker, sensory and fidget tools, a social story, misting fan, and straws. There are also sighted guide tours, accessible rides, and ASL interpreters.
Specialized tours for sight-impaired visitors and those with dementia. TMA is also a Certified Autism Center.
Dance classes are offered for young people with autism and Down Syndrome.
The DREAM Project ensures books for all ages that are inclusive of people with disabilities. ASL classes for teens, disability etiquette training, sensory and mindfulness activities, and Rhythm & Rhyme Storytime for children of all abilities.
Disability Specific Resources