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Kaleidoscope, Lisa Armstrong (Interview)

Interviewed by Marcos Colon


I conducted my interview with Lisa Armstrong, the Director of Communications at the UDS Disability Services located in Akron, Ohio and editor at the services’ publication, Kaleidoscope, a magazine aimed at exploring the disabled experience through art and literature. The UDS itself is a disability services non-profit that helps adults and children with disabilities.

Kaleidoscope is just one aspect of the United Disability Services of Akron, Ohio. Could you tell us what services you offer in your community?

SOCIABILITIES provides a variety of social, recreational and therapeutic activities for people age 18 and over. Participant input, choice making and self-direction are encouraged in every activity. For more information, contact Lana Stryker, director of adult day services, at (330) 762-9755 or 138 individuals served in 2020.

BRAVO! helps participants explore community resources, develop community integration and social skills, and enhance personal abilities with a sense of accomplishment gained through a variety of volunteer experiences. For more information or to schedule BraVo! volunteers contact Heidi Imhoff, program supervisor, at (330) 762-9755 or 51 individuals served in 2020.

PRE-VOCATIONAL SERVICES assists adults age 18 and older by improving work habits and developing new job skills within a friendly production environment. Personal care attendant services are also coordinated through this program. For more information, contact Lana Stryker, director of adult day services, at (330) 762-9755 or 157 individuals served in 2020.

COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES provides people who have a wide variety of abilities at all skill levels with the support and guidance needed to assist them in finding employment. For more information, contact Kristen Campagnano, Community Employment manager, at (330) 762-9755 or 164 people served in 2020.

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES provides services in a variety of settings including shared living and semi-independent living depending on the needs and preferences of the individuals served. For more information, contact Laurie Freedman, director of Respite and Community Living Services, at (330) 762-9755 or 18 individuals were served in 2020.

ALL-STAR TRAINING CLUB is a unified sports program for children and adults with or without disabilities where everyone, regardless of ability, is encouraged to participate on the field of athletic competition. For more information, contact Laurie Freedman, director of Respite and Community Living Services, at (330) 762-9755 or 615 participants in 2020 for in-person sports, plus additional participation in remote activities.

JUDITH A. READ LOW VISION SERVICES provides services to children and adults in Northeast Ohio who are experiencing visual difficulty that cannot be corrected by medical treatment, surgery or conventional glasses. The clinic also offers a variety of low vision aids and a bioptic driving program.

For more information, contact Dr. Cheryl Reed, director of Low Vision Services, at (330) 762-9755 or 237 patients in 2020.

THE TOY & RESOURCE CENTER loans developmental toys and resource materials to anyone working with a child birth to six years of age with special needs or a child developing typically. Membership is open to individuals and organizations including parents, teachers, therapists, students and childcare centers. A division offering specialized adaptive switches, toys and computer software is also available. For more information, contact Audrey Sentz, toy library supervisor, at (330) 762-9755 or 287 children/families served in 2020.

TRANSPORTATION SERVICES provides transportation for adults attending the adult day services, and organizations and other community groups under contract. In- and out-of-county, non-emergency medical transportation is available for those who qualify through the Department of Job and Family Services. For more information, contact Brian Joyce, director of Transportation Services, at (330) 762-9751 or 59,561 passenger trips totally 540,618 miles in 2020

COMMUNITY RELATIONS educates and informs the community about agency services through tours, presentations, a community newsletter, brochures and participation in community events as well as coordinates the agency’s volunteer program. The department also publishes Kaleidoscope magazine, which explores the experience of disability through literature and the fine arts. For more information, to volunteer or schedule a tour contact Lisa Armstrong, director of communications, at (330) 762-9755 or

The Covid-19 pandemic dramatically impacted services in 2020. UDS staff found creative and innovative ways to safely provide services including virtual, one-on-one and small groups during these unprecedented times and will continue to do so in 2021.

How did Kaleidoscope get its name? What does it represent based on the mission of your press?

The name Kaleidoscope represents diversity and the beauty created when a myriad