The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Reflections on TEDxUSU

November 3, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Note: Senior researcher Vonda Jump was an invited presenter at the recent TEDxUSU event.

By Vonda Jump

Image of Vonda Jump

Vonda Jump

Being involved in the TEDx process and actual event was such an amazing honor and treat for me. It definitely created extra work and stress, but they were well worth it, and I learned so much from the TEDx producers, my fellow speakers, and all of the TEDx staff. I’ve never been involved in any type of production, and so everything was brand new for me.

It was such an honor to be associated with newly met colleagues from across the university, studying in the areas of gerontology and Alzheimer’s disease, folklore, ADHD and attention, climate, history, and ecology and wildlife conservation, and from the community, learning more about how to meet the needs of students with diverse abilities. Meeting Luciana from the Food and Drug Administration was also powerful, as she is a physician working on so many important issues around the world, including response to diseases that have the potential to affect millions of people. Yet she was very down to earth and excited to watch all of our presentations, and she complimented us on our work here at USU. I believe she left with a very good impression of USU, the high level of work that is accomplished here, and the wonderful welcoming that she received from all.

The overall tone for TEDx was probably what I enjoyed the most. Everybody was so supportive, and there was such a can-do attitude around every little detail, even though I know that many last-minute changes to slides created so much stress for quite a few people. But you would never know it, as they just said, “Yes, I can make that happen. Do you need anything else?”

The TEDx staff members are all so young, energetic, creative, and appear to be really excited for their work. I loved getting to interact with them, and am sad that that time together is now over. I would imagine that such a can-do attitude comes from Anna McEntire, who directed all things TEDx at USU. Anna is such a capable and positive person, and always made sure that we had the resources and supports we needed to be successful. She was willing to meet with us whenever we needed it and did everything she could to ensure that our needs were met. And of course, Brandon Couch was also a huge support in making everything that we needed to happen happen. TEDxUSU would not be successful without them.

As for my experience the night of TEDxUSU, I was just riveted. It was a magical evening, with so many stimulating talks that helped people think of different issues in a new or different light, and it seemed as if people chose our performance night for their night to peak! I had a moment where I honestly could not remember what I was going to say next, and the audience just patiently waited for me to pull myself together and continue on my talk. The support and engagement of the audience was really amazing as well.

My talk was originally how to build babies’ brains. Because we recently found out that my only child, Bianca, is going to have a baby (yes, I’m going to be a grandma! So exciting!), I decided to revise my talk so that I would be talking to Bianca about how to promote positive brain development in her baby boy. It suddenly became so much more emotional for me, as these issues are important to me, but my daughter and soon-to-be-born grandson are intensely personal. I enjoyed getting to talk to Bianca through a lens such as TEDx, and I hope that she also enjoyed herself and my message about building babies’ brains.

My 3 key points were the following:

Hold your baby (we help to regulate their breathing, heart rate, digestion, temperature, and crying, which helps to promote their positive brain development).

Talk with your baby (their brains are just exploding with activity when we talk with them when they are in our arms, as they hear us, see us, smell us, and feel us).

Observe your baby to understand his needs and how to respond to them (when we respond consistently and appropriately to babies’ needs, their brain development is facilitated).

I hope people can use this information, as building babies’ brains to succeed is very simple, but so important for everything that comes next for the baby.


Moving out

October 29, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of calendar.

The current plans for the relocation are on a white board in the main office.

The most current plans for the relocation of CPD personnel were announced yesterday in a late afternoon meeting conducted by Judith Holt and Sue Olsen. The current plans and any future updates are posted on a white board in the main office.

The meeting began with a discussion of what the CPD is, and is not. The CPD is a mission, said Holt, a collection of programs that contribute to the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families across the lifespan.

Olsen then explained the current timeline for the relocation.

The move begins next week as StartSmart moves from the third floor to the second floor of the Human Services Research Center (HSRC) so the third floor can be renovated. CPD Admin and IDT personnel will begin moving to the HSRC during the first week in December. ASSERT will move to the Early Childhood building, Aggies Elevated will move to the AT lab, and Project PEER will move to DSL before the semester break as renovations continue in the HSRC.

Over the semester break, Research and Evaluation will move from the second to the first floor of the HSRC, and during January, ECATP and WebAIM will move to the second floor of the HSRC, and business office personnel will move to the third floor.

Clinical Services and the Medical Clinics will move to HSRC during February, and Up to 3, Lil’ Aggies and the ABC preschool will move during March. At that point, asbestos abatement and lead removal will begin in preparation for demolition of the building.

Olsen and Holt credited Charlee Nealy for her work as liaison with facilities to ensure a smooth transition.

Construction of the new Clinical Services Building will begin in spring, with an expected completion date of Fall 2017.

My disability doesn’t control me

October 27, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of student watching a video.

A student stops by for a preview of the Drew Lynch show that highlighted Disability Rights Week.

By Riley Cochran, Aggies Elevated student

I went to a comedian show at the TSC in the International Lounge. The show was for the ADA week. ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. The two comedians both had disabilities, one of them had a stutter and the other had Tourette’s. They were really funny!

I learned that comedians can have disabilities just like anyone else. It made it an interesting night for everybody. I learned that disabilities can come from an accident, like the comedian with a stutter, or you can be born with a disability.

This event was important to me because I have a disability that makes it hard for me to read and it can be really hard for me sometimes. This event was cool for me to go to and see that people can further their dreams, even if they have a disability. Disabilities come in all different forms and are unique to each person and are what makes them who they are as an individual. The sooner someone figures out their disability doesn’t control them, they control their disability, then the sooner they can adapt to and work around their disability. I plan on furthering my dreams to become a photographer, no matter what it takes, even with a disability.

I feel that this helps us to be more culturally aware by knowing about the ADA and what it can do to help people with disabilities. People with disabilities have the same rights as any other person and sometimes they don’t always get treated the same way. That is what the ADA is for, to help people understand and protect people with disabilities.

Legal services to be topic of focus groups

October 22, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Focus Group Flyer(1)Non-profit legal services Utah Legal Services and the Disability Law Center will be conducting two focus groups in Cache County to better understand how to serve this area. One focus group will target professionals who work with vulnerable populations, and the other focus group will be open to the public.

Utah Legal Services provides free legal services to people with limited incomes. They can help with divorce and custody, especially when domestic violence is involved. They help people get certain types of public benefits, assist with wills and estates and provide a host of other services for people who can’t afford legal help.

The Disability Law Center assists individuals with disabilities with legal issues related to their disability.

On Oct. 29, professionals who serve vulnerable populations (e.g. those with limited incomes, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities) are invited to a focus group at Herms Inn. Lunch will be provided beginning at 11:45 a.m. The discussion will begin promptly at noon and will end at 1 p.m.

Also on Oct. 29, at 5:30 p.m., the public is invited to participate in a focus group at Options for Independence. Refreshments will be provided. All participants in that focus group will receive a $20 Walmart Gift Card.

To register for either focus group, contact Sheri Newton by phone at (435) 232-4269 or by e-mail at

If you are not able to attend either group, but would still like to participate, you may complete an online survey for a chance to win a $50 VISA gift card. Click here to complete the survey.



Crane celebrates 30 years with TAESE

October 20, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of shauna crane

Shauna Crane

Shauna Crane started her career at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities in September 1985, and recently celebrated 30 years of service. 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 now serves as a staff member at TAESE (the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education) 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). She also provides other technical assistance for a variety of TAESE projects.

“Shauna has been extremely efficient and effective in all her assignments and is greatly respected across the country,” said John Copenhaver, director of TAESE.

“I don’t feel old enough to have worked in one place for 30 years!” Crane said.

“I have really appreciated the flexibility,” she said, explaining how her work schedule has ranged from part-time to full-time over the years. “The flexibility and the way they worked with my situation made it so I could do it. This wasn’t in my field or even in my interest area, but it’s been a really nice place to work. I’m not sure how you could do it better.”