Employment for people with disabilities is a growing trend and researchers and staff from the College’s Institute on Community Integration are spreading the word. For example, on June 19-22, Kelly Nye-Lengerman presented four sessions at the National APSE (Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst) conference in Portland, Oregon. They were: “Full Speed Ahead: Promoting Youth Readiness for Employment and Education with PROMISE”, “How Are We Doing with Implementing Good Practice in Employment Supports?”, “Power of 5: Moving the Needle: The Words We Use Matter”, and “Bringing Employment First to Scale: State of the Science.” Meanwhile, on June 22, Jeffrey Nurick (pictured) was in Duluth as a panelist on the discussion, “Living the Dream: Employment First in Action,” at the Minnesota Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference.
Anab Gulaid, a public health expert in CEHD’s Institute on Community Integration, was a panelist for Vaccine and Autism: Myths and Facts, a recent town hall forum held to address Somali parents’ concerns about the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, autism, and the measles outbreak affecting the Twin Cities’ Somali community.
Held on July 8 at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the forum was hosted by the Humphrey School and the Voice of America news network, which broadcast the two panel discussions – one in Somali and one in English – to its worldwide audience. The gathering, which was covered by numerous media (e.g., Minnesota Public Radio, Fox 9 News), was prompted by the measles outbreak tied to low MMR vaccination rates among Minnesota’s Somali community.
See video of the panel discussion in English (which includes a short segment on autism research by CEHD faculty Jed Elison and Jason Wolff) and the other panel discussion in Somali (which includes Anab Gulaid).
Hosted by the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office for Technology Commercialization, the event at the McNamara Alumni Center recognized 220 University inventors whose technology had been licensed or patented between July 2014 and June 2016. Hewitt’s award was one of only four Innovation Awards presented, all of which recognize the accomplishments of outstanding University innovators who have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, are actively engaged in developing new innovations and transitioning those technologies to the commercial market, and have made an impact on society.
DirectCourse is an online training curriculum designed to empower support and care professionals to help people with intellectual, developmental, physical, and psychiatric disabilities, and older adults, lead meaningful lives within their communities. During last year alone, it provided more than 6 million hours of training to over 500,000 learners in 41 states and abroad.
Hewitt has led the research, development, and management of DirectCourse over the past 15 years, working with a team of staff at ICI, its business partners at Elsevier, and its community roots. “I am delighted that this award recognizes an ‘invention’ that was created by and for the community in alignment with our university’s land grant mission to promote education and collaboration that advances knowledge which benefits communities, the state, and the world,” Hewitt told the gathering. “DirectCourse was not created in a laboratory on campus: the community was its laboratory and this has made all the difference. The learning provided by DirectCourse has had an immediate and lasting effect on hundreds of thousands of direct support professionals and the people with disabilities they support.”
The photograph (at top of post) was taken at the awards ceremony. Pictured, from left to right, are Bill Waibel (Elsevier), Barb Kleist, Jennifer Hall-Lande, Macdonald Metzger, Mark Olson, Barbara Cullen (Elsevier), Merrie Haskins, Susan ONell, Claire Benway, Kelly Nye-Lengerman, Amy Hewitt, Dan Raudenbush (Elsevier), Kristin Dean, David R. Johnson, and Bill Tapp (co-founder). Click here for more information about the awards and a short video.
On December 6, Kelly Nye-Lengerman from the College’s Institute on Community Integration received the AUCD Young Professional Award during the AUCD annual conference in Washington, DC. This award is presented to professionals in the disabilities field under the age of 40 who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families through their work as a bridge between the academic sector and the community.
In October, Anab Gulaid from the college’s Institute on Community Integration was invited to join the National Advisory Committee for the Diversity & Inclusion Training Action Plan (D&I-TAP), a one-year project funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the project is to research, develop, and disseminate a D&I-TAP for the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), of which ICI is a member. Gulaid’s committee duties began in November.
Martha Thurlow, director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the college’s Institute on Community Integration, participated in the White House Convening on Better, Fairer, and Fewer Assessments in Washington, D.c., on Dec. 7.
The convening brought together about 100 representatives from states, districts, and schools, as well as researchers, and assessment developers. The purpose was to discuss how to improve assessments and reduce the burden of redundant assessments, consistent with the Obama Testing Action Plan released in October 2015.
Thurlow (pictured here, center) participated in a panel discussion on better, fairer, and fewer assessments. Representing the “fairer” aspect of the convening, she responded to questions from Gene Wilhoit, director of the National Center for Innovation in Education, and the audience. Thurlow also collaborated with Jose Blackorby of CAST in a breakout session focused on increasing accessibility.
“It was a great opportunity to ensure that the development of innovative assessments and efforts to reduce the number of assessments continue to ensure that the results are fair to all students, including those with disabilities and those who are English learners,” noted Thurlow.
NCEO provides national leadership in designing and building educational assessments and accountability systems that appropriately monitor educational results for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are English Language Learners. NCEO receives funding from the federal government, states, and other organizations.
On October 9, Brian Abery (left) and Renáta Tichá (center) from the College’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) began a two-week visit to Armenia to launch Enhancing the Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Armenia: University of Minnesota – Armenian State Pedagogical University Partnership, a project that is part of ICI’s Global Resource Center for Inclusive Education. Funded by UNICEF Armenia, the partnering universities are collaborating to ensure that inclusive education practices that were proven in the U.S. can be adapted to Armenia and their usability and feasibility understood in that central Asian country. Rafik Mansour (right), Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, opened the conference where the partnership was launched, as reported in local media, including The Armenian Post. Susan O’Connor (second from left) and Christopher Johnstone (second from right) also work on the project.
The Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment and Related Disabilities Program (MN LEND) at the College’s Institute on Community Integration will present its fall forum, “Litigation: Advancing the Rights of People with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities” in St. Paul on November 17. The keynote speaker is the Honorable Donovan W. Frank, U.S. District Judge for the District of Minnesota, and long-time champion for the rights of people with disabilities. He will be joined by a panel of local and national legal experts to discuss how litigation is framing and moving forward the human and civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities:
- Greg Brooker, First Assistant U.S. Attorney
- David Ferleger, Attorney with Supreme Court and federal court experience
- Pamela Hoopes, Attorney, Legal Director at Minnesota Disability Law Center
- Shamus O’Meara, Attorney, Managing Shareholder at O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A.
- Roberta Opheim, State of Minnesota Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. “MN LEND focuses on improving access to and equity of high quality assessment, services and supports for all children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families,” says Amy Hewitt, MN LEND training director. “Litigation has always been key to transforming systems and moving forward the disability rights movement in the United States. We are so fortunate to be able to bring together such an esteemed group of professionals for our MN LEND forum.”
The forum will be on Thursday, November 17 in the Grand Hall at the TIES Event Center, 1644 Larpenteur Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55108. The program, with a light lunch at the start, runs from 12:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m., followed by an ice cream reception.
The event will also be filmed and posted on the MN LEND website in the LEND Webinar Archive for later viewing.
The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the Institute on Community Integration has been awarded a five-year, $10 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, to continue its knowledge development and technical assistance work focusing on participation and performance of students with disabilities in relation to state and districtwide assessments.
With this new funding, which began October 1, 2016, NCEO will work with its long-time partners, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and add two new partners, AEM Corporation and WestEd, in its efforts to meet new objectives. Among the new areas of focus is supporting states in their efforts to support districts to improve results for students with disabilities. In addition, NCEO will collect, analyze, synthesize, and disseminate evidence-based information on such topics as inclusive, technology-based, formative, and summative assessments, as well as the use of assessments for instructional decision-making purposes and to ensure implementation of State Identified Measurable Results (SIMRs).
NCEO will continue to provide leadership on the inclusion of students with disabilities, English learners (ELs), and ELs with disabilities in comprehensive assessment systems. It will examine the participation of students with disabilities and ELs with disabilities in national and state assessments and the reporting of assessment information on these students. It will also continue to seek ways to bridge general education, special education, English as a Second Language or bilingual education, and other systems as they work to increase accountability for the results of education for all students, and ultimately, their improved outcomes.
“It is great to have an expanded focus in the five-year grant to continue NCEO’s activities,” says NCEO director Martha Thurlow. “We will work more closely now with states as they support their districts to increase participation in and improve performance on all assessments.” Her colleague, NCEO senior research associate Sheryl Lazarus, agrees, adding, “The new award will support improved instruction and assessment of students with disabilities, resulting in better outcomes and more students being prepared for college and careers.”
The Institute’s Check & Connect program has reached south of the equator. The comprehensive student engagement intervention is being implemented in Australia and New Zealand. Check & Connect director Jean Echternacht and ICI director David R. Johnson were warmly received in August when they spent nearly three weeks “down under” promoting it. “It was rewarding to see how a relationship-based, evidence-based model developed at the University of Minnesota is being implemented with fidelity so far from home,” says Echternacht. Last fall, Check & Connect mentors from Australia and New Zealand presented at the program’s 25th anniversary conference in Minneapolis. Echternacht and Johnson returned the favor by co-presenting at conferences in both countries last month. “More than 100 people who were informed and interested in Check & Connect attended our presentation at the New Zealand Schoolwide Conference on Positive Behavior Supports; we were invited to speak there because they implement Check & Connect as part of PBS,” says Echternacht. They also discussed Check & Connect with officials from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, which has used it in high schools for the past three years and began implementing the model in middle schools this fall. And Echternacht packed another ICI export in her luggage: “I brought along Expanding the Circle, a transition curriculum originally designed for American Indian students, to help with their indigenous students, and the Ministry staff were delighted.”
The Check & Connect program at the Institute on Community Integration has received a five-year, $750,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) for a new project, “Using Check & Connect to Improve Graduation Rates in Minnesota for Black and American Indian Students with Disabilities.” Check & Connect is a comprehensive intervention developed at the Institute that is designed to enhance student engagement in school and with learning for marginalized, disengaged students in grades K-12 through relationship building, problem solving, capacity building, and persistence.
In this project, Check & Connect will serve as a targeted or intensive intervention that will complement MDE’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), coordinating and collaborating with existing practices and supports such as response to intervention (RtI) and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). The project goal is to ensure a comprehensive approach that leads to increasing graduation rates for Black and American Indian students with disabilities in four Minnesota school districts: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Osseo.
“We look forward to the benefits that African American and American Indian students with disabilities will experience both academically and socially working closely with Check & Connect mentors in these four districts,” says project director Jean Echternacht. The project’s ICI staff include Jana Hallas, Eileen Klemm, Maureen Hawes, Tri Tran, and Rachel Freeman.
To promote inclusive education in Armenia, the Institute on Community Integration is building a sustainable partnership with Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU), the only university in that central Asian country that trains both general and special education personnel. Armenia is making education more inclusive, triggering a critical need in the country for training, knowledge dissemination, and technical assistance to assist with this endeavor. This has paved the way for a new ICI project called Enhancing the Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Armenia: University of Minnesota – Armenian State Pedagogical University Partnership. The 20-month, $150,000 project is funded by UNICEF Armenia and began May 16, 2016. Renáta Tichá is principal investigator and Brian Abery is co-principal investigator.
In this project, the partnering universities will collaborate to ensure that inclusive education practices proven in the U.S. can be adapted to Armenia and their usability and feasibility further understood. The collaboration will conduct gap analysis of current needs and inclusive practices in ASPU’s education and special education coursework, introduce ASPU faculty to inclusive practices in Minnesota, and build an online learning community (Inclusion Portal). Staff from the two universities will visit each other’s countries, and ICI filmmaker Jerry Smith will produce a film for the project that documents Armenia’s progress towards inclusive education. “This project is a wonderful opportunity to share expertise and experiences of inclusive education between our two countries, and to build a strong partnership between ICI and a pedagogical university in Yerevan, Armenia,” Tichá says. The project is part of ICI’s Global Resource Center on Inclusive Education.
Federal funding for the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (MN LEND) at the Institute on Community Integration has been renewed and increased through a new five-year, $3.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that began July 1. “This renewal will allow continued opportunities for collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Human Services, Minnesota Disability Law Center and a number of non-profit agencies in areas that support policy innovation, service delivery, translational research, and other dissemination activities,” says Joe Reichle, MN LEND director.
Over 250 education leaders from seven nations attended the first International Summit on Inclusion and Response to Intervention on June 8-10, a milestone gathering organized by the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) and Avinashilingam University for Women in Coimbatore, India. Funded by the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative and held at Avinashilingam, the summit brought together international presenters to discuss engaging all children, including those with disabilities, within schools and communities. The organizers (pictured here with key presenters from India) — ICI’s Dr. Brian Abery and Dr. Renata Ticha, and Avinashilingam University’s Dr. Premavathy Vijayan and Dr. G. Victoria Naomi — have collaborated for the past three years on a project between India and the U.S. fostering use of the Response to Intervention (RtI) education framework. A culmination of that project, the summit presented multiple perspectives on inclusion and RtI. “Participants will take back to their organizations a wealth of information about these approaches to education,” says Abery. “We hope these discussions will stimulate lasting systemic change in how children with disabilities are educated.” Presentations will be available for viewing on the summit Website next week.
Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande (Institute on Community Integration) has been selected as Minnesota’s 2016-18 Act Early Ambassador by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. This marks the start of her second two-year term as the Minnesota point-of-contact for the CDC’s nationwide “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” (LTSAE) program to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. “Over the past five years, Minnesota’s Act Early team has partnered with state agencies, early childhood and parent organizations, and cultural organizations from diverse communities to share the message of “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” with thousands of parents of young children,” says Dr. Hall-Lande. “We greatly appreciate this additional support to further grow our efforts in our communities across the state.” On April 18 she took the message of “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” to the “Mom Enough” Podcast, where she was interviewed by mother-daughter co-hosts Marti & Erin Erickson on the topic of “Early Identification and Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Resources That Change a Child’s Life” (listen here).
“Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization” is a newly released film from the Research and Training Center on Community Living in CEHD’s Institute on Community Integration. The film explores the principle of normalization, an idea that challenged fundamental assumptions about people with intellectual disabilities, and the iconoclastic professor whose intense, multi-day workshops trained thousands of human services professionals in the theory and practice of this idea. His book Normalization, published in 1972, became wildly popular and provided a theoretical blueprint for community inclusion as the deinstitutionalization movement was gaining strength. His formulation of normalization swept through the field of disabilities and had a significant effect on the design of services and supports in North America and internationally, representing a sea change in thinking at a time when it was considered normal to warehouse nearly 200,000 Americans with intellectual disabilities in large institutions. “Today, there are still institutions for people with intellectual disabilities, and it is time for a new generation of leaders to rediscover the principle of normalization,” says the film’s director, Jerry Smith. To learn more, visit the “Valuing Lives” Web site.
Dr. Seth Pollak of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will discuss “Child Poverty and the Income-Achievement Gap: Insights from Cognitive Neuroscience” and Dr. Megan Gunnar from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development will present “Poverty, Allostatic Load and the Stress Neuraxis: A Mechanism or a Bridge Too Far?”
The live Webcast from this sold-out forum at the University of Minnesota will take place on Thursday, April 28, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. Central Time. For more information and to register for the Webcast see http://lend.umn.edu/misc/
The MN LEND Forum is an annual event sponsored by the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (lend.umn.edu) of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota. The interdisciplinary MN LEND training program prepares future leaders who will serve children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, other neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, and their families in healthcare, education, human services, and policy settings.
As President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act on December 10, Martha Thurlow was meeting with several states to ensure that students with disabilities who are English learners are appropriately identified and served. It’s this kind of careful, ground-level work that the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been doing for over 25 years with one goal in mind: improve the nation’s ability to educate students with disabilities and help them succeed.
While national education policy and school-level practice have evolved in recent decades, NCEO partners with states, educational associations, federal government, and others to support educational assessments and accountability systems that appropriately monitor educational results for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are English Language Learners (ELLs). As Director Martha Thurlow notes, “NCEO’s work has contributed to dramatic shifts in attention to the educational success of students with disabilities.”
This past year alone, NCEO staff have traveled the country, conducting research, training, consultations, and information-sharing on needs ranging from accommodating test-takers with disabilities to including ELLs with disabilities in assessments. Some of the center’s activities include:
- Research. NCEO is conducting a half-dozen projects and research studies that collect data on the participation and performance of students with disabilities, ELLs, and ELLs with disabilities in K-12 state and district accountability assessments around the U.S. An example of this is the Alternate English Language Learning Assessment (ALTELLA) project. ALTELLA is a collaboration of five states that will apply lessons learned from the past decade of research on assessing ELLs and students with significant cognitive disabilities to develop an alternate English Language Proficiency assessment for ELLs with significant cognitive disabilities.
- Training and Presentation. NCEO regularly presents its findings — and trains others how to use the results. Last April, for example, Laurene Christensen and Vitaliy Shyyan presented “Choosing Accommodations for Assessments Based on Common Core State Standards” at the Council for Exceptional Children conference in San Diego. This April, Sheryl Lazarus will co-lead a workshop on formative assessment at the Council for Exceptional Children conference in St. Louis.
- Consultation. NCEO has a national network of people who assist states and other agencies as they consider assessment issues. This is important because federal legislation requires that students with disabilities be included on state assessments, but many states struggle to implement this requirement so they seek NCEO’s expertise. For instance, in partnership with the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) consortium, NCEO is collaborating with 10 states and other organizations to ensure that English language proficiency assessments and instructional supports are accessible for all ELLs, including those with disabilities.
- Dissemination. Through its newly-redesigned Web site, NCEO offers over 300 reports and briefs on topics ranging from an online accommodations decision-making curriculum to a new interactive report series titled, Data Analytics.
For more information about NCEO, contact Michael Moore.
Are you living where you want, with whom you want? Are you doing the type of work you want to do? Do the services and supports you receive help you achieve your goals in life? These are some of the questions that, when asked of people with disabilities, provide information about their quality of life as seen from their perspectives. Ensuring that information of this type can be gathered in a reliable and valid manner is a key part of the work of the new Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Home and Community Based Services Outcome Measurement (RRTC/OM) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI).
Federal and state policymakers increasingly speak of the importance of demonstrating the effectiveness (“outcomes”) of public investments in services for persons with disabilities. No longer satisfied with descriptions of money spent, staffing ratios, and movement of people from institutions to the community, they desire more specific information on the quality of life experienced as a result of receiving services and supports. And they desire outcomes information measured in a consistent and accurate manner nationwide.
In response to these needs, ICI has received a five-year, $4.4 million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to launch the RRTC/OM. The new center, directed by ICI’s Brian Abery and Amy Hewitt, is a partnership of five organizations: ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, the Research and Training Center on Community Living for People with Psychiatric Disabilities at Temple University, the Research and Training Center on Community Living Policy at the University of California San Francisco, The National Council on Aging, and the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University.
“The National Quality Forum recently unveiled a draft framework for HCBS outcome measurement for people with disabilities,” says Abery. “We will initially look at that framework to see whether it captures the perspectives of a wide variety of stakeholders, including people with different types of disabilities who are of different ages and from different cultural groups, as well as their family members, service providers, and policymakers. We’ll then recommend modifications to ensure the framework reflects what’s truly important to people with disabilities in terms of service outcomes.”
Five subsequent RRTC/OM studies will identify gaps in measurement areas and best practices in HCBS outcome measurement, refine and develop measures, determine the reliability and validity of measures, and study factors (e.g., age, gender, residential setting) that need to be considered in interpreting results.
Ultimately, the work of the RRTC/OM will result in a set of recommended measures and procedures that can be used for collecting data on whether the HCBS-funded programs do what they’re intended to do in supporting quality-of-life outcomes for individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities; individuals with traumatic brain injury; and adults with age-related disabilities.
“The U.S. spends nearly $40 billion a year on HCBS-funded services that are used by nearly 1.5 million individuals, yet, we have very little information on the outcomes of these services and supports for most HCBS recipients,” says Hewitt. “We hope this new center will lead to improvement in this area.”
For more information about the RRTC/OM, contact Brian Abery at email@example.com or 612-625-5592.
“We believed that the world was changing and that it should be our mission to push the boundaries of innovation in advancing the ideal of full inclusion for people with disabilities in all walks of life,” says former University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks, recalling the founding of the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) in 1985. “That focus put us in the forefront of the whole inclusion and community integration movement that really had its origins in the early Civil Rights movement, and the Rehabilitation Amendments of the 1970s.”
On November 10th, President Emeritus Bruininks, who is the Institute’s founding director, and over 150 other past and present ICI staff, community partners, and friends will gather to reflect on the Institute’s legacy, and look ahead to its future, at the 30th anniversary event: “Celebrating a Community’s Vision: 30 Years of Innovation, Collaboration, and Influence.” It will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. at the McNamara Alumni Center. David R. Johnson, ICI’s current director, will emcee the event.
The Institute is a federally-designated University Center for Excellence in Disabilities, part of a national network of similar programs in major universities and teaching hospitals across the country. In partnership with over 200 community advocacy organizations, state and federal agencies, K-12 schools, disability service providers, and professional associations nationwide, the Institute engages in research and knowledge translation that improves community services, supports, policies, and opportunities for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities and their families.
“The Institute has had the privilege to influence a wave of social change that has made great strides in supporting equality and inclusion for people with disabilities in the U.S. and around the world,” observes David R. Johnson. “On November 10th, we pause to acknowledge the progress of the past 30 years, and look to the opportunities ahead as we continue to innovate, collaborate, and influence a shared vision of inclusion.”
Speakers at the event include Bob Bruininks; CEHD Dean Jean Quam; Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education; and David R. Johnson.
For more information about the ICI’s 30th anniversary, contact Tony Baisley, Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-625-4789.