Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services
At 37, Diana Mairose may have a soft voice but it speaks loudly and with purpose. It is the vehicle behind which a confident, driven, empathetic, idea person collects believers of her cause. Sitting on the sidelines is not her thing. No, Diana’s friends, peers, co-workers, and public officials will tell you she is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to getting things done. What she gets done enhances lives, strengthens communities, and ensures people of their human rights.
Diana is an advocate support advisor for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services (HCDDS), that promotes and supports opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live, work, learn and fully participate in their communities. In a nutshell, what she does, she told me is, “help people to find their voice, and what they believe in and what they want to do in life.”
She has been referred to time and again as one of the best, most effective advocates in Ohio. She has spoken at conferences and events, in the community and before local, regional and statewide public officials; and she provides her peers with information and encouragement to have a voice…to be included.
Diana is also past president of the Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA) and chair of Advocacy United, a group of professionals and advocates whose mission is to help move people with disabilities into places of power so their voices can be heard.
A driving force behind positive change
That seems to be the theme when it comes to Diana.
She has testified before President Obama’s Election Commission for accessible elections. On behalf of OSDA, she testified before an Ohio State Senate Committee last year about concerns that an amended House Bill would take away opportunities and rights of people with disabilities.
And she is the major reason for the removal of the word ‘handicapped’ from the blue accessibility signs local, and statewide. Diana told me, it was when Ohio changed the name from Mental Retardation Developmental Disabilities Services to simply Developmental Disabilities Services that spurred her quest to change those signs in public places and parking lots. It all began with the Hamilton County Commissioners around the time when the Banks new garage was opening. “I told them the importance of reading symbols and showing respect in the community,” she told me. “After that I took my advocacy idea to the next level. I asked the City of Cincinnati council members to vote yes for the City and for it to also be a budget neutral law. At that time I also helped other counties and cities to remove the word ‘handicap’ from Ohio, and spoke with Eric Kearney about introducing this bill to make it a law.”
That law took several years to happen, but it happened! “I really like the accessible symbol. Symbols help everybody everywhere,” Diana said. “It is a simple way to respect other people. My grandma is 102. Elderly, children and adults with disabilities, family members and friends benefit.
“Advocacy comes from ideas and hopes and dreams. When I see the accessible symbol I smile for a positive change in the state of Ohio.”
Diana has a lot of reasons to smile.