The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Advocates as Leaders

October 5, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon

By Eric Stoker    

Photo of Eric

Eric Stoker

My name is Eric Stoker and I’m a part of the Advocates as Leaders Self-Advocacy Speaker’s Network.  I have been a part of the network for one year, which is amazing.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Advocates as Leaders Network. This network is a part of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, in partnership with the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council.  The network has people with disabilities go out and train self-advocates, parents, professionals, community organizations and business about issues that we face every single day.  We have a total of nine presentations and are always developing new ones.

Each presentation is designed and presented by self-advocates who have expertise in variety of subjects that impact the lives of people with disabilities. We use our skills to dispel myths about what people with disabilities truly believe, cherish and value.  I present on several different topics, but the one I believe is the most important to me is Living Strong with Autism. I want people to know about the history of autism, and how people are successfully living with its challenges.  Another reason I like this presentation is that I can tell my story from when I was first diagnosed with autism and my current achievements.

The presentations the network currently offers are listed below. The new presentations that are in the works are Internet Safety;  Supported Decision Making;  and Managing Your Own Person “Directed “Plan.   The presentation that stood out to me the most is the student led IEP’s.  The reason why this presentation stood out to me was because students are now leading their own IEPs, and speaking out for what goals they want to work on and what they want to do for their future.

In our network, we have 10 speakers that have disabilities living throughout the state of Utah.  We are in the process of hiring 4 more speakers this year to join the network.  If you would like to learn more about our Advocates as Leaders Speakers network or want us to present a certain topic please contact Amy Notwell.

Here is a list of presentations that are currently offered:

Self-Advocacy Speaker’s Network: Living Strong with Autism

The Ins and Outs and Ups and Downs of running your own IEP meeting

Choosing a Supported Life

Language Matters: Respect is the new “R” word

No Limits: Raising Expectations

Self Determination is for EVERYONE

Fair Chance

About the author: Eric Stoker is the information specialist for the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council in Salt Lake City Utah.  He is a part of the speaker’s network and is the author of two books.  He is a big sports fan of football and basketball. Eric is a part of the Consumer Advisory Council and is also a part of the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental disabilities as the consumer faculty at Utah State University.

New Frontiers for Families needs your help

September 30, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon

The building that housed the New Frontiers for Families office in Panguitch was destroyed by a tornado earlier this week.

New Frontiers for Families staff members provide after school programs, direct services (wraparound teams and parent peer support), employment support, parenting and education classes for those with complex needs in rural Utah.

Despite the enormous setback, the office has continued to function, but they need your help. A Go Fund Me page makes it easy to contribute to their recovery.

Here is an update from Tracy Johnson, Executive Director of New Frontiers for Families:

The entire building was destroyed, the roof was peeled off and a fire started in the copy room where the furnace was.  The storm brought heavy rain and snow, which caused much of the damage to books, toys and training materials. We were renting the building and it sounds like it is a total loss, and that the building will be demolished.  We working for  no disruption in services so we are continuing to see individuals and families.

All of our books binders and training materials are ruined for upcoming classes (we have a week long training starting next Monday, so we are scrambling).  Some computers, copies, printers, projectors and paper that was is the copy room was destroyed.  We have another location were we provide after school programs that was not destroyed, so we are moving there for now. As we go about our work we are still finding things we have lost: staplers, hole punches, paper cutters,  files, training manuals, etc. We have also lost a lot of toys, books, blankets; things that we have for clients. These were all donations for this we are sad. Many were handmade and meant a lot to us and those who receive them.

We have had so much support from the community, partner agencies, clients and staff in the clean-up and rebuilding (moving things to the storage unit and the after school building). We are so grateful that no one was injured.  We are thankful for the help, donations of time, money and supplies.  Clients are worried about what will happen with their services and supports. They are afraid we will “go away,” so we have had so many calls and taken so much time reassuring them that there will not be a disruption in service.

We are doing ok and we will move forward.  Thank you again for concern!

You can find news coverage of the disaster and aftermath on the Fox 13 website.

Utah gubernatorial contestants agree: Utah health care coverage could be better

September 28, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon

Close-up of doctor holding senior patient hand sitting in wheelchair

Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert and Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz agreed on Monday that health care coverage could be better in the state.

They disagreed on plenty, including how to expand Medicare coverage and how much Utah policy makers should trust the Federal government to be a good partner. But both candidates said the Utah Legislature has under-performed in expanding Medicare coverage in Utah.

They addressed the issue during a televised debate at Utah State University on Monday, Sept. 26.

“I’m not satisfied,” Governor Herbert said (he was designated as the first to respond to the question). His proposed Healthy Utah plan would have allowed people to “come in and get some health care, but also to get some training and a job,” he said. The plan failed to get through the Utah Legislature in 2015.

“There are opportunities for us to get out there and work with the legislature,” he said. “We’ve got to convince them that that’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

Challenger Weinholtz argued that with the Affordable Care Act, Utahns are already paying taxes that would support extending coverage to many more Utahns–but the legislature has delayed doing so. In the end, he said, they expanded Medicare to an additional 9,000 people, but turned more than 100,000 people away. “It’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “That is a moral outrage.”

While the candidates agreed the Utah Legislature could do more for Utah’s uninsured, they disagreed on whether Utah should do more to implement the Affordable Care Act.  If the issue is using federal money for roads or education, lawmakers don’t ask whether the Federal Government would be a good partner, Weinholtz said.

Herbert said that under the ACA (or Obamacare), some health care companies have withdrawn from the ACA insurance exchanges, and some companies failed. He argued Utahns did support Healthy Utah–but the Utah Legislature did not listen to them.

Wanted: Your opinions!

September 14, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon


The CPD is seeking input from Utahns with disabilities, the professionals who work with them and their families on four key topics: transition (from early intervention to preschool; preschool to kindergarten; school to post school experiences, etc); health care for people with disabilities; mental health as it relates to disability; and employment.

This discussion will help the center’s staff refine its focus over the coming years, so they can better serve the needs of the community. That’s why your opinion matters. Participants can also enter to win a $100 gift card.

Cyndi Rowland, the CPD’s associate director, is hoping for information from a variety of communities in Utah. “We know that there are some particular issues in rural areas that might be different than in urban areas,” she said.

CPD staff members will also reach out to Spanish-speaking and refugee communities.

In hopes of reaching a broader audience, the CPD allows you to participate online and by a toll-free, call-in focus group. You can fill in the survey and participate in calls for each topic–it’s up to you.

For the online survey:


You can take this anytime from now until Wenesday, Sept. 28. The survey is broken up into the four topics, plus demographics. Each topic takes about five minutes, so depending on how many you choose to address, plus the brief three-minute demographic section, it should take between eight and 23 minutes to complete. The survey is on the CPD website.

The survey is also available in Spanish.


For the statewide call-in focus groups:

While registration is not required, it is encouraged so that moderators know who is participating. You can register, enter to win the $100 gift card, and find more information on the CPD website.  When you call in , you will need this passcode: 7200387#

Two call-in times are provided per day, per topic. Call 1-877-820-7831 at the times below to participate.

  1. Transition: Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  2. Employment: Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  3. Health care: Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  4. Mental health: Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Shauna Crane appointed as TAESE Associate Director

August 11, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Shauna Crane


The Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) announces the appointment of Shauna Crane as its new Associate Director. Crane has been part of the organization for over 30 years and brings a wealth of experience and skills to the position.

Crane began her career at the Center for Persons with Disabilities in September 1985. She was a staff member at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC), an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education project that provided technical assistance in special education to 11 State Education Agencies in that region. During that time, she served in library services, information services, program coordination, and technical assistance.

Crane then became the program coordinator for the entire Regional Resource Center Program and has most recently served as a program coordinator for two OSEP Centers, the Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) and the Center for the Integration of IDEA Data (CIID), work she will continue following her Associate Director appointment. Crane also provides other technical assistance for a variety of TAESE projects.

TAESE is the Technical Assistance division of the CPD. The main focus and purpose of  TAESE is to provide technical assistance in special education and to build the capacity of State Departments of Education, school districts, and charter schools to better serve infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.