OSBF guides youth with exceptional needs through the justice system

The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) 2011 Fellows Class will premiere a video series titled O.P.E.N. Court (Orienting Young People with Exceptional Needs about Court) on Oct. 2 at the Dawson Recruiting Agency in Columbus. The three-video series will inform youth with developmental disabilities about what they can expect if and when they become involved with the juvenile justice system.

The first video introduces a fictional teen named Henry, who is accused of stealing an iPad from a store. The second and third videos follow Henry to court as he learns about court procedures and appropriate court behavior. Filmed at the Delaware County Juvenile Court, professional actors and volunteers tell Henry’s story.

Although these videos can apply to all young people, they target the emotional and practical issues often faced by young people with developmental disabilities. Andie Ryley, an autism specialist who worked with the Fellows class to produce the videos, says, “The Fellows have done ground-breaking work. Nothing like these videos exists. They provide a guide for teachers, parents, attorneys, social-service professionals and court personnel in working with these youth during a stressful situation.”

In addition to the videos, the Fellows created an accompanying discussion guide and communication tip sheet, resource links, court-related vocabulary terms and supplemental graphics to familiarize caregivers and facilitators with best practices as they strive to protect the rights and responsibilities of young people before and during their “day in court.”

This premiere showing of the video series is the culmination of two years of hard work by OSBF 2011 Fellows and specialists in the field of developmental disabilities. The videos and supplemental materials will be accessible through the OSBF’s website on Oct. 2 to facilitators who lead youth with exceptional needs through the legal process.

For additional information about O.P.E.N. Court, contact Beth Gillespie at bgillespie@osbf.net.



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