CPD Legacy Story: Deborah Blanchard

April 11, 2012 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story was written by Deborah Blanchard, a participant in the Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning (IDASL) classroom for the 2011-2012 year.

Head shot of Debbie Blanchard 

My name is Deborah Blanchard and I have participated in the IDASL class this year. I am getting my Bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders and hope to get into graduate school to be an Speech Language Pathologist. I hope to work in an early intervention program or in a school district.



I have been able to learn so many things in the weekly IDASL seminars and also at the different sites where we do service learning hours. I was also fortunate to be involved in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project that was focused on Traumatic Brain Injury and what affects it can have on people in their daily lives. 

I decided to take this class because in speech therapy you have to work with people that have a wide variety of disabilities and I wanted to be familiar with the different kinds of disabilities and understand a larger scope of what disabilities affect.  I have gained new perspectives on many issues,  such as accessibility and legislation that affects those with disability issues. I have felt more comfortable in approaching people with disabilities on a daily basis because my perspective has changed and I see the person first.

This class has changed how I am going to offer the best services to my future clients. I had never thought beyond the process of speech therapy for clients and did not realize that there would also be a need to use adaptive technology, or that accessibility might be an issue for the many unique people and learning levels that are out there. I have learned about the many different types of adaptive technology that will help in my future profession.

I will also be able to use this information on a personal level in my family as my parents’ age. This is by far the most practical and helpful class that I have ever taken.

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Watch for these faces on the Quad on September 1

August 30, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

Kelly Smith and Jeff Sheen will be on the quad at USU to answer questions on September 1.

If you are will walk through Utah State University’s Day on the Quad—or you know somebody who is—make sure you watch for these faces from the CPD on September 1. They’ll be there from 10:30 to 2:30.

Information specialist Kelly Smith and volunteer coordinator Jeff Sheen will be handing out information about our volunteer program, our undergraduate research program and the Interdisciplinary Awareness and Service Learning Class. All three of these programs have something in common: they’re looking for committed, good students. For more information, visit Kelly and Jeff on the Quad—and visit this website.

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CPD class is key in preparing USU students to work with people with disabilities

August 30, 2010 by cpehrson

By Becky Keeley, IDASL Training Development Specialist

Daniel Roberts, an IDASL student presenting his research during USU Research Week 2010.

The Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning Program (IDASL) offers opportunities for students from a variety of disciplines to increase their awareness, knowledge and understanding of people with disabilities and their families across the life span.

Seniors and graduate students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to enroll in the IDASL Program, which is listed as Special Ed 6500.  In the past, students from diverse disciplines, such  as audiology, elementary education, family and human development, music therapy, school psychology, social work, special education and speech pathology,  have participated in the IDASL Program which has a strong interdisciplinary component.  With the growing numbers of individuals with disabilities and their families, anyone going out into the professional world could have contact with people with disabilities.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly one in five people in the United States have at least one disability.  The possibility of acquiring a disability increases with age.  By retirement age of 65 years old, 44. 6% of the population report having a disability.  By old age, over 85 years old, 84.2% report a disability.  With numbers like these, disability will most likely touch everyone.  The IDASL Program prepares students to interact in a world, both professionally and privately, where disability is a part of life.

Individuals with disabilities and family members of children with disabilities are encouraged to participate and share their unique expertise in the IDASL Program. The real-life experience with a disability greatly enhances the disability awareness and understanding of the disability community for the college students taking the class.

A student related how much she learned from a mother of a child with disabilities with these words: “I learned so much when [the mother] talked about how important people-first language is.  Her daughter has multiple disabilities, but she isn’t defined by them.”

A community member with a disability who participated in the IDASL program responded that she wanted “to share about [her] TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury),” thus becoming an advocate.  After a seminar relating the history of disability and societal attitudes, she had this to say about how people have reacted to her disability: “I have a deeper understanding of my negative experiences.”  Including community members with disabilities has positively impacted both the students and themselves.

One student shared the most important thing he learned after participating in the IDASL Program: “Instead of focusing on disabilities, let’s focus on abilities.  Focus on the person—everything is about the person, bettering their life, helping them feel like they are doing something, feeling fulfilled.”

The IDASL Program offers students much more than the typical academic credits and stipend. Using their interdisciplinary skills and disability awareness, students can benefit people with disabilities they will meet and serve in their professional and private lives far beyond graduation.

For more information about the IDASL program, you can go to the IDASL project description or contact Alma Burgess or Jeanie Peck.

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