An Actionable Guide to Running for Office as a…

By Ed Carter

Photo credit: Pexels.com

An estimated 12.6 percent of Americans live with a disability, according to the Hill. However, people with disabilities remain drastically underrepresented in politics. If you are living with a disability and considering running for office, you can help enact a positive change. That said, if you have zero previous political experience, taking this step can be daunting. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as you might expect.


Planning is the key to success when entering any election campaign, whether it’s a city council position or a senate seat. Read on to learn how you can run for political office as a person with a disability.


Build a team to support your campaign


Harvard explains that campaigns usually employ many different people, including fundraisers, speechwriters, field organizers, communications consultants, and more. Don’t have money for a huge team? Don’t stress. Many people volunteer for these roles at the local level. You may find that individuals who identify with your cause and message will be happy to support your campaign.


Whether you’re running a business or a campaign, effective communication is critical to your success. When discussing directives and strategy with your team, communicate clearly and consistently. 


Familiarize yourself with the issues


Politics is all about enacting change. If you want to make a change in your community, you have to figure out exactly what needs to be changed. Get involved in your local community to see what issues are at stake. Attending city council meetings is a good start. The National League of Cities explains that city councils are responsible for passing local resolutions and ordinances, regulating public health and safety, and more.


You can also find out what’s important to your community and the people in it by getting out there and talking to the general public. Make an effort to get involved by attending local happenings, like festivals, county fairs, and charity fundraisers. 


Get your message out to the voting public in person and online


As you inform yourself about the issues affecting your community, you can start formulating your response to them. What solutions can you offer if you’re elected to office? What changes are needed in your view? These kinds of questions will help you craft compelling campaign messages. CallHub explains that great political messaging will engage supporters. It also usually clearly contrasts the opposition’s point of view.


Once you’ve formulated clear messages, it’s important to share them with people. These are the values and beliefs that resonate with your campaign and will attract voters to you. There are many ways to share messages, from giving political speeches to participating in debates. Scholastic offers tips for writing great political speeches that can help you formulate your ideas succinctly and powerfully.


In addition to sharing your message at events, take advantage of digital platforms. Social media can be a great way to connect with voters. This is especially true if you want to reach persons with disabilities who may not always be able to attend in-person meetings. Sprout Social provides best practices for using social media in politics. For example, they recommend engaging people with live video streams.


If you’re preparing to run for office as a person with a disability, you have a chance to make a real change. Follow the above tips to help guide a successful election campaign.

Datability can dramatically improve your data collection for IEP in special education and learning disabilities. Schedule a free 14-day trial today!


Apps For People With Disabilities To Help You Land…

From enhanced data tracking for students, to wearables, technological advancements are giving individuals with disabilities a chance to interact with the world in an easier and safer way. For many, that also means being able to enter the job market in a new and exciting way. Thanks to specific apps for people with disabilities, barriers are being eliminated and individuals are able to land their dream job.

The key to taking advantage of these technological achievements is having a reliable smartphone. That way, you can download the apps and be sure they are going to be available when you need them the most. A reliable smartphone is also necessary for potential employers and new coworkers to get in touch with you when needed. If your current phone is less than reliable, it may be time for a new one. Check out the iPhone XS Max, a super-fast phone with a great battery life to get you through your day both at work and at home. If you want something with similar capabilities on a smaller budget, look at the Google Pixel 3A. It also has a massive battery life and plenty of processing power for even the most demanding apps. You can get a great deal on your new phone if you do a trade-in with your old one, or consider upgrading your plan to unlimited, which can save you hundreds!

Don’t overlook common accessories that can make your phone easier to use, too. One such addition is a Popsocket. These handy little gizmos make it easier to hold your phone, and they fold out of the way when not in use. They are very affordable, and they come in a variety of styles to reflect your profession and personal flair.

Similarly, you might consider adding an armband carrying case or lavalier-style wallet to slip your phone into when not in use. These options keep your phone close by so you can maintain communications with clients and colleagues while you’re on the go.

Once you have the smartphone you need to outfit it with appropriate apps that can help set you up for success. You can start with these next 3 apps.

Helping People With Disabilities Find Jobs With These 3 Apps

Here are three best apps that are leading the pack when it comes to breaking down barriers and helping people with disabilities find jobs.

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is an app designed for the visually impaired. The free app matches those with low or no vision with volunteers who can be their eyes for them. The visually impaired individual requests help with their smartphone. They are then connected with a seeing volunteer through a video call. The volunteer can help the user with a variety of tasks including reading expiration dates on groceries or picking out a shirt to match their pants, among other things. There are more than three million volunteers currently signed up with the service around the world. That means wait times are low and getting visual assistance takes only moments.


People with hearing disabilities may struggle to understand speakers in certain situations. For instance, they may be able to hear in a one-on-one conversation, but find it difficult to hear when there are outside noises. Or they might struggle in a conference room when the boss is laying out that year’s strategy. Enter Ava. Developers designed the app to be a portable translator. It assists the user by turning speech into text when the phone is held up to the speaker. It may be the perfect solution for those struggling in the work environment due to hearing loss and impairment.


For wheelchair users, getting to their job can be a struggle. If their job takes them outside of their normal route, it can be even harder. Wheelmap is here to help. This app has a worldwide, searchable map of wheelchair-friendly locations. So if work or play takes you somewhere you aren’t familiar with, a quick search on the app will give you the information you need to get around comfortably. The map is crowdsourced and updated, meaning you’ll get the information from other wheelchair users. No longer will wheelchair users need to worry about the accessibility of a location before they arrive. That can take a lot of the doubt and worry out of getting out and about.

Final Thoughts

These three apps are just the beginning. There are hundreds of apps available in both the Apple and Android stores that can increase accessibility and eliminate barriers. On top of these, there are plenty of other applications that can help maximize efficiency for people with disabilities. No matter what your specific physical or mental challenge may be, it’s worth checking out your options to see if there is an app designed to help you in your career pursuits.


How To Get A Job With A Disability &…

Young adults with disabilities may find that starting a career in business is a great option for the future. Starting your own successful business often begins with a solid education and a quality internship. If you’ve been wondering how to get a job with a disability, the journey to starting your own career in business often starts with choosing a degree program that spurs your interest and offers long-term career options.

How To Get a Job If You are Disabled: Start With A Degree

As you think about a career and potentially starting your own business, you may be wondering how you can get a job if you are disabled. For starters, consider the varying degrees that can help you reach that goal. Degrees that will likely produce a lucrative career are often related to information technology (IT).

An IT degree can be earned online and will enable you to learn about information technology and how it applies to data analytics or cybersecurity. IT degrees offer the additional benefit of being quite lucrative with the average salary being between $67,000–$104,000 per year, depending on the specific area of tech.

Earning a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) is bound to open a variety of options with great financial benefit. Mechanical engineering degrees are a profitable pursuit, yielding a salary of approximately $88,000 annually. Degrees in STEM fields are often highly sustainable and transfer well from one company to another.  

A science degree can offer a vast selection of career options such as environmental science. Scientific fields are ever-growing and can make a difference globally. The estimated salary range for positions in the field of science is $35,000–$325,000 annually, depending on the type of position and the area you live in. Often, these fields offer fascinating internships that bolster career options.

Getting an Awesome Internship

Finding the right internship can impact your career for years to come. For young adults who are completing a degree program, internships are an important factor in career success.

Prior to applying for internships, do some research to determine which programs offer the greatest percentage of transfer to positions within the company. Think about the variety of experiences you can have at a prospective internship, and what new skills you can learn at the company. Some internships even offer a stipend or hourly pay rate which may sweeten the deal.

Remember that as you apply and interview for internships, you are also interviewing them. What can the company offer for on-the-job experience? Be prepared to answer questions about your own interests and passions, and what drew you to this work.

Landing Your First Job

After the internship is complete and you prepare to enter your chosen career, landing your first job will be an exciting endeavor. By this time, you will have completed your degree and internship and will be ready to roll.

As you prepare and apply for entry-level jobs within your field, it may help to spiff up your resume. List your college experience and degree specialty, as well as outlining your internship responsibilities. Consider drafting a work philosophy or aspects of your learning and work experience that have positively impacted you.

Job interviews can be anxiety-provoking. Practice your interview skills and think about common questions you may expect and others you may not anticipate. Many companies will ask about your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to working life. Try to have a response in mind that is honest and forthright, while offering your methods for working around these difficulties and capitalizing on your strengths.

Launching a Consulting Business

At some point in your career, when you have developed experience and industry knowledge, it may be worthwhile to think about a consulting business. Consulting as an experienced professional can offer vast rewards, including lucrative compensation and increased flexibility in a work schedule to accommodate additional interests and passions.

Final Thoughts

Young adults with disabilities often have a unique perspective and life experience that is important to the workforce, but they might not know how to get a job with a disability. By utilizing your experiences and perspectives, earning a degree, and becoming a leader in your chosen career, you can make a powerful difference in the world.

To go from earlier education, to a degree, to a career, set yourself up for success by making good use of the technological advancements that are available to you like Datability or smartphone apps. Utilizing software can help people with disabilities achieve their goals and ultimately become thriving members of society.


10 Best Practices for Improving and Expanding Social, Emotional,…


By Nathan Levenson, District Management Group on 6/8/2018  

While there is much debate about why an increasing number of children come to school with significant social, emotional and behavioral (S, E & B) needs, nearly all districts report the number of children with these challenges is on the rise.

In order for students to meet developmental milestones, learn, grow and lead productive lives, it is critical that their social, emotional and behavioral issues be addressed. Research indicates that children and youth with mental health problems have lower educational achievement and greater involvement with the criminal justice system [1]. Improving and expanding S, E & B supports not only helps the students who have these challenges but can benefit nearly every student and adult in a school.

75% to 80% of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them.Click To Tweet

All schools — urban, suburban and rural; large and small; and regardless of socioeconomics — have students with social, emotional and behavioral challenges. However, in some of these communities, students receive the counseling they need, classroom routines promote positive behavior, and most strikingly, students with problematic behavior are able to stay in class and seldom disrupt their peers. What is the difference between these schools and typical schools? The distinctions can be hard to notice because the difference isn’t in the amount they spend, the programs they bought, or the dedication of their staff. The people, tools and talents themselves aren’t all that different but the way in which staff work and deliver intervention is different — the more effective districts have created a coherent, collaborative plan grounded in a systems-thinking approach and incorporating best practices.

Here, we focus on 10 key, interconnected best practices to help you and your team effectively and comprehensively create a system to meet the social, emotional and behavioral needs of students. These practices fall into three major categories: Leveraging the talents of current stafffocusing on prevention and supporting local partnerships.

Leverage the Talents of Current Staff

1. Streamline meetings and paperwork to increase the time staff can spend with students.

Process mapping, reviewing who attends which meetings and setting guidelines for desired time with students can often significantly increase the services provided to students by current staff.

2. Allow staff to play to their strengths; assign roles based on strengths, not titles.

Identify staff’s unique skills and match job responsibilities to these areas of expertise. For example, some psychologists may have expertise in behavior management while others may have expertise in assessment and case management.

3. Facilitate teamwork with common planning time.

A wide array of people in a variety of roles are often involved in supporting the social, emotional and behavioral needs of students. Allow them to come together weekly to review student progress and adjust support strategies.

4. Support classroom teachers with in-the-classroom support from staff skilled in behavior management.

In-the-moment coaching, in-the-classroom observations and specific recommendations from behavior specialists can help classroom teachers meet the needs of their students.

Focus on Prevention

5. Focus on prevention by identifying and managing behavioral triggers.

Identify why a student acts out and develop specific strategies for averting these triggers to prevent outbursts before they happen.

6. Increase access to staff with expertise in behavior management.

To effectively focus on prevention, schools need access to experts trained in identifying and reducing behavioral triggers. Given tight budgets, seek to hire staff with expertise in behavior management when doing replacement hiring and/or seek to build a centralized behavior team that can provide support across many schools.

7. Align discipline policies to support a commitment to prevention.

It is important that the discipline code has the flexibility to support a focus on prevention, that loss of learning time is minimized, that suspensions are avoided for nonviolent infractions and that unconscious bias is mitigated.

8. Stay focused on academic achievement.

Many “behavior programs” seem to undervalue the importance of academic learning and student achievement. Core content is often taught by special education teachers instead of subject expert teachers, and curriculum is sometimes watered down; lowered expectations can exacerbate troubling behaviors.

Support Local Partnerships

9. Seek local partnerships.

Often, local mental health agencies, nearby nonprofit counseling services, universities and sometimes even for-profit practitioners can provide social and emotional services at little or no out-of-pocket costs to students or the district.

10. Actively support local partnerships.

Local partners can provide much-needed services, so it is worth making an investment in managing and facilitating these relationships to ensure their success.

Working Together to Improve Your School’s Behavioral Climate

With social, emotional and behavioral issues posing a growing challenge for schools, and with budgets tight for the foreseeable future, schools will need a new and comprehensive approach to meet the needs of students. While neither easy nor quick, these best practices can help to better serve students. This work, however, will need leadership from the top, systems thinking, support for teachers and principals and perseverance. If parents, staff, school leadership and district leaders work and plan together, much progress can be made in addressing this difficult challenge.

Read the full District Management Journalarticle “10 Best Practices for Improving and Expanding Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Supports.” 

1 “Children’s Mental Health: Facts for Policymakers,” National Center for Children in Poverty, November 2006, http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_687.html

When re-validating your school’s approach to meeting the social, emotional and behavioral needs of students, consider how having a common digital system for managing RTI/MTSS and special education programs can provide greater visibility into the whole child while reducing the paperwork burden for staff.

Nathan Levenson

Nathan Levenson is a noted subject matter expert in the areas of special education and of resource use in public school districts. Nate’s experience as a superintendent, school board member, and private sector CEO allows him to bring a unique perspective to his work in education leadership. As Managing Director at District Management Group, Nate works closely with superintendents and their leadership teams to create practical solutions to pressing challenges. He has authored numerous books including A Better Way to Budget: Building Support for Bold, Student-Centered Change in Public Schools


How to Leverage Your IEP Service Tracking System for…

SPECIAL EDUCATION By Theodora Schiro, on 9/21/2020

Why does progress monitoring matter?

School districts need to monitor student progress to assess student outcomes, submit mandated state and federal reports, and in many states, claim Medicaid reimbursements. But progress monitoring can also be used to help identify and support requests for additional staffing needs or pinpoint professional development gaps.

Getting the most benefit from the progress data you collect and report on depends on how you leverage your service tracking system or other systems you have in place to manage it.

Use systematic progress monitoring to improve student outcomes

Accurate and detailed progress monitoring is critical to student success. You need accurate data to:

  • Guide instruction
  • Make decisions about student growth
  • Communicate progress on IEP goals
  • Determine effectiveness of providers and programs

Creating standardized procedures for progress monitoring and using consistent tools for progress data collection is much more efficient than allowing all service providers to use their own preferred methods or disparate systems.

Every provider should follow the same steps for each student:

1. Clearly define the concern.

Be sure to use specific language. The target behavior should be alterable, meaning the student’s performance can be changed. Be very specific: Identify when and how long the behavior occurs. Give examples: Is it observable? Can you see it or hear it? How would you measure it?

2. Determine how progress will be measured.

Teachers and service providers have to measure a wide range of student responses. Data might include the duration or length of time a student stays on task or the frequency a specific behavior is observed. To describe the action accurately, use common rubrics or rating scales.

It’s also important to include data on how much assistance was provided to the student by counting and reporting the number of cues given.

3. Decide where you want to start and where you want to end up — the baseline and the goal. Use charts to collect data and track progress.

Establish a baseline, usually the average of at least three data points or comparison with typical performance standards. Then determine precisely what goal a student must meet to determine success. Using a SMART model helps identify a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goal.


  • The student will demonstrate correct production of the /l/ phoneme in all positions of words at the sentence level with 75% accuracy independently by 9/30/2020.
  • By March 2020 when properly positioned, given light touch physical cues and verbal cues, the student will use a switch (jellybean, etc.) to engage in preferred cause/effect operations to initiate and/or continue activities modeled to her (ex. Switch toys, computer interface switch with computer access), on 4/5 opportunities over 3 consecutive sessions.

Produce true data-driven IEP progress reports

Use a simple chart to track progress. It should include a baseline data point and the goal data point. Connect the baseline point to the goal data point to create an aim line representing the student’s estimated or expected growth rate.

Collect and review data regularly — determine the schedule by identifying the IEP progress reporting periods and annual review dates. Use the data to make decisions on frequency and duration of services.

Are the provider’s strategies working, or do they need to be adjusted? Does the student’s goal need to change prior to the next annual review?

Would providers benefit from professional development in specific areas of concern?

Does the data present a need for additional staff to support student success?

Fiscal and regulatory impact

In many states, a quality progress monitoring system also demonstrates fiscal responsibility as it is necessary for both compliance and Medicaid reimbursement. Systematically implementing progress monitoring can make a significant difference in the revenue a district can collect through Medicaid reimbursements to support ongoing student services.

Medicaid impact

“Documentation of each individual or group session must include the following information…. Student’s progress toward established goals.” — Medicaid Certified School Match Coverage and Limitations Handbook, Florida

“LEAs must maintain documentation of the student’s response and progress resulting from the claimed service. This documentation must be updated no less than quarterly.”  — Handbook for LEAs, Illinois

“The Progress Summary is a written note outlining the child’s progress that must be completed by the provider every three months from the start date of treatment or when medically necessary. The purpose of the Progress Summary is to record the longitudinal nature of the child’s treatment, describe the child’s attendance at therapy sessions, document progress toward treatment goals and objectives, and establish the need for continued participation in treatment.” — LEA Provider Manual, South Carolina

  • Services must improve a condition, not just maintain it. To be reimbursable, regular progress monitoring data is required to show that services impact student achievement.

Revenue impact

  • Sometimes providers have their own way of collecting data to document student progress. If they also use the data for IDEA documentation, state reporting, and Medicaid reimbursement, entering it separately for each function leads to unnecessary duplication of effort and takes time away from students. If providers document services for Medicaid claims in one place and progress monitoring data for IEPs is collected elsewhere, they’re doing the work twice! Wouldn’t it be better if they spent their time servicing students instead of doing more paperwork?
  • What if you could collect all the data in one place and use it for compliance reporting, Medicaid reimbursement, and progress monitoring for IEPs?  Imagine how that would reduce the workload, increase documentation, and drive up Medicaid revenue.

IDEA impact

“The Progress Summary is a written note outlining the child’s progress that must be completed by the provider every three months from the start date of treatment or when medically necessary. The purpose of the Progress Summary is to record the longitudinal nature of the child’s treatment, describe the child’s attendance at therapy sessions, document progress toward treatment goals and objectives, and establish the need for continued participation in treatment.” – LEA Provider Manual, South Carolina

  • Progress on IEP goals must be reported at least as often as parents are informed of their non-disabled student’s progress. Is that data easily accessible in your service tracking system?

Are you using the right service tracking system?

Does your service tracking system work for you, or are you working for it? You might be spending more time and effort than you need to. With standardized procedures and a quality tracking system, every provider in your district enters progress monitoring data at the end of each session directly into your service tracking system.

This has several benefits:

  1. Improved visibility: Reports are automated and every provider’s documentation is captured in the same way. All users can see the reports along the way and make adjustments in services without waiting until the annual review of the IEP.
  2. Parent engagement: A quality tracking system can even improve parent engagement. Any time a parent requests an update on their child’s services, you’ll have the data at your fingertips and consistent quality of reporting across providers.
  3. Audit protection: Your IEP service tracking system may also affect your audit results. Ideally, it should give you peace of mind, not keep you up at night worrying that negative findings could affect funding.

But don’t overlook the most important benefit: STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

Your system should be built not only around compliance with state reporting and IDEA requirements but also best practices that result in improving student achievement. Reports should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Which intervention strategies impact student progress the most?
  • Which therapy types might need extra support?
  • Are the goals short or long term?
  • Are the goals the right length?
  • Are students meeting goals in the right time frame?
  • Are the goals attainable?
  • Do goals need to be adjusted to make them more attainable or more challenging?
  • Do you have enough data to determine ESY eligibility?

With the right system, you will have all the data you need to make the best decisions for your students and your district. Simplify the documentation, management, and tracking of student services and strengthen compliance with Frontline’s Service Management software. Learn More 

Theodora Schiro

Theodora was a teacher and school administrator for over 37 years. After leaving the public education world, she started a new career as a freelance writer. She enjoys writing content that helps businesses and service organizations thrive.


What Is A Trial?

While providing Datability Web training to school districts, I often get asked about trials; What are they? When do you use them? How are they scored? The simple answer is, a trial is one instance of the skill you are trying to teach. For example, if you were trying to teach someone to button their shirt, you could count one button as a trial. Assuming a shirt has 5 buttons, a student buttoning 1 button would be 1/5 trials and could be scored as 20%. But what if the student has mastered buttoning 5 buttons? Now you could count a whole shirt as 1 trial. So essentially, a trial is anything you want it to be as long as it’s defined in the goal. How are you scoring your goals? Leave your comments below and don’t forget to visit www.DatabilityWeb.com.


Writing Measurable Goals

I travel to a lot of districts to teach educators how to use Datability Web and, even though my goal is to teach features, I inevitably get asked the question, “How do I write a good goal for (fill in the blank)?. Truth be told, it’s something I struggle with as well. As special educators, we usually understand what our children need but it’s often hard to put it into a measurable bite-sized nugget. Personally, I subscribe to the S.M.A.R.T methodology, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. A quick google search will bring up many videos on this methodology. I think the key is to get granular with what you’re trying to teach and figure out the real issues that you’re trying to correct. For example, is your student’s inability to do algebra really because they are unable to solve for x or is it because they don’t have the time management skills necessary to study. And don’t even get me started on essay writing….  As professionals, there’s really no way we should ever have a “Student will write an essay” goal on an IEP. What can’t they do? Is it the planning or is it pulling information? Break down the skill of writing an essay into a task analysis (look up the term) and score each part. Anyway, rant over. I’d love to hear your ideas so feel free to comment and definitely check out www.databilityweb.com and sign up for our free trial.