URLEND, IDASL trainees attend conference

October 24, 2012 by Sue Reeves

Trainees from two projects with the Center for Persons with Disabilities attended a major conference in Houston, Tex., last week without ever leaving home. The two-day conference, originating from Baylor Medical Center, focused on challenges and supports available to transition youth with significant medical issues from pediatric to adult care, said Dr. Judith Holt, co-director of the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (URLEND) project. Significant medical issues, Holt said, could include chronic medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis or cardiac problems to developmental issues like autism.

“Attendance at the conference was not required, but the trainees can use the hours toward meeting their overall hour requirement,” Holt said. “It’s an example of the opportunities the trainees have here at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.”

According to Holt, only a few members of the 2012 cohort of 48 trainees attended portions of the conference in the CPD’s distance learning room, but many more viewed it from eight different URLEND sites in five states. Trainees from the CPD’s Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning (IDASL) project also attended.

URLEND trainees participated in the 13th annual conference by invitation, Holt said, and the program was able to utilize a single access code for all of the sites because the trainees were so spread out.

“I was really very impressed with it,” Holt said. “The speakers were excellent. It’s another opportunity for trainees in our programs to participate in high-level conferences on significant topics.”

URLEND trainees from a variety of disciplines are brought together with faculty and families of children with special health care needs to form an interdisciplinary learning cohort. Each long-term trainee participates in didactic (classroom) learning, leadership research, and clinical learning. Disciplines include pediatric medicine, genetics, and dentistry; psychology; social work; nursing; audiology; pediatric audiology; health administration; nutrition; special education; speech and language pathology; occupation therapy; and physical therapy.

IDASL provides opportunities for students, as well as individuals with disabilities and family members of children with disabilities, to become part of interdisciplinary teams. These teams, with faculty mentors, provide services and supports to children with disabilities and their families, as well as adults with disabilities.

For more information, visit:



Tags: , , ,

Research & Evaluation Division is growing

October 5, 2012 by cpehrson

The Division of Research and Evaluation has recently added  a new area of expertise to their ranks.  The SKI-HI Institute has now become a part of the CPD and brings with it a wealth of experience in the field of sensory impairments.

Adolescent boy with hearing aid signing“I am thrilled to have SKI-HI as part of the R&E Division, states Division Director, Mark Innocenti.  “The CPD did not have an emphasis on sensory impairments and SKI-HI brings this expertise. SKI-HI also has a strong history of evaluating their trainings and products, and conducting research on what works for families and children with sensory impairments. This blends nicely with the mission of the R&E Division.”

SKI-HI has been around since 1972 when Dr. Tom Clark, a Communicative Disorders faculty member, wrote a federal grant that developed one of the first early home intervention programs and curriculum in the country for infants and toddlers who were deaf and hard of hearing.

Over the years, the Institute has expanded with new model programs, materials and training in the areas of deafblindness, blind/visually impaired, deaf mentoring and other disabilities. Through these grants, SKI-HI has helped to start six new programs in the state of Utah that are now permanently funded by the legislature and operated by the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. These include the Deaf Parent  (SKI-HI) program, the Rural Blind Parent/Infant program (VIISA/INSITE), the Deaf Mentor program, the Deafblind Intervener Services program, the At Home and At Day Care (AHEAD) program, and the Rural Teacher Consultant program for school-aged blind/visually impaired.

Innocenti has worked collaboratively with SKI-HI staff for several years on projects that focus on children with deafblindness and their families. “We have looked at tools for teachers and parents, and on training for those who work with these children. Linda Alsop and I recently Co-PI’d a grant titled: Online Training for Parents of Children with Deafblindness to Improve Children’s Communication and School Readiness Skills.”

Currently, Mark, Linda, and Lori Rowan are working on a project called: Project STRIPES (Sensory TRaining for Interveners and Paraprofessionals in Education Settings).  This training program offers either a Certificate of Completion in Deafblindness or an Associate’s Degree of Science in General Studies with a focus in deafblindness. This online program of study is the first and only one in the country to offer university credited coursework, which prepares interveners to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with children and youth who are deafblind.

Many of the SKI-HI Institute programs are implemented throughout the United States and Canada via trainings which are conducted by national and local trainers. The Institute also conducts trainings and provides technical support to local trainers across the country for their VIISA, INSITE and SKI-HI models.  Resource materials include user-friendly program manuals, videotapes, assessments, print materials, and much more are available on the Ski-HI web site.

Welcome to the CPD family, SKI-HI staff !


Tags: , , ,

CPD Legacy Story: Karen Borg

May 9, 2012 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story was written by Karen Borg, a trainee in the Multi-University Consortium for Teacher Training in Sensory Impairments (VISEP).  This project is a cooperative effort between the Special Education Departments of the University of Utah and Utah State University that provides vision-impairment certification training  .

Head shot of Karen Borg

 As special educators we encourage parents not to be too rigid in their expectations.  We worry that they might underestimate the potential of their children.  “It’s way too soon,” we say, “to try to predict your child’s future abilities today.  Let’s work hard, keep talking to each other and not pigeon-hole him just yet.”  This is surely a message of hope, but it is a realistic one. 

 Those of us that work with young children, particularly, can attest to the sudden and remarkable progress which can occur when we find the right gateways to access children’s potential. I wonder if sometimes we underestimate our own potential,too.

Fifteen years ago I was working as a signing aide in a preschool classroom for the hearing impaired in Logan, Utah. Steve Noyce, now the superintendent of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, came into the class and, for some reason known only to him, saw the potential for more in me. He encouraged me to contact the Multi-University Consortium Sensory Impairment Education Program (VISEP) at the Center for Persons with Disabilities. 

 Because of Mr. Noyce’s willingness to encourage a stranger and his commitment to the development of potential at every level, I made that phone call and was introduced to many, many people who were equally committed to the development of potential: Cyndi Rowland, then head of CECSEP (currently the Early Childhood Alternative Teacher Preparation Program, EC-ATP),  Marlene Deer, currently the head of EC-ATP, Jan Wiggins and Marilyn Madsen, Sensory Impairment faculty at the University of Utah.  These remarkable people’s vision for children included finding and “growing” the best educators they could.

VISEP’s flexibility in working with adult learners’ needs and responsibilities facilitated not only my being the first person in my family to go to college, but also the first to graduate. The compassion and tractability of the teaching staff at USU and the cyclical structure of the course offerings at both the U and USU allowed me to succeed at both the undergraduate and graduate levels despite my daughter’s multiple, serious surgeries and caring for ailing and elderly relatives. 

Dr. Judith Holt, Director of VISEP, and her “eye on the target” mentality helped to keep me focused on my goals and pushing forward to complete, not only my Bachelor’s, but a Master’s degree, also!!  This was almost unthinkable when I began!

Words can’t properly express the impact that the CPD programs have had on my life. Nor can they express appropriately my appreciation for all that I have learned, and the opportunity it has given me to share with others and nurture their potential for growth and progress.  I am profoundly grateful.


Karen Borg, Director

Parent Infant Program for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

Tags: , , ,

High tech switches for power chairs–free training

March 5, 2012 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, Alternative Input & High Tech Switches for Power Mobility, on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
This free training, presented by Lisa Rotelli from Adaptive Switch Lab, will provide an overview of the designs and manufacturer’s products that allow individuals with disabilities to use computers, communicate, interface with their environments and achieve greater independence through powered mobility. ASL products use optical, electronic, mechanical, and proximity sensor switches to access an individual’s wheelchair and accessories.
Lisa Rotelli has worked in the wheelchair industry for more than 25 years. She is currently vice president of Adaptive Switch Lab and provides training nationally and internationally.
In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access.   If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Friday, March 16, to Storee Powell via email storee.powell@usu.edu, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.
If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or sachin.pavithran@usu.edu,no later than Monday, March 19 to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training please let Sachin know by this date also.
Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think might be interested.

Tags: , ,

UCEDD Network benefits thousands of people with disabilities

February 29, 2012 by cpehrson

2012 marks the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ 40th year Anniversary.

We employ over 200 people who work on 79 projects that all focus on improving the lives of people with disabilities and their families through research, education, services and technical assistance. The CPD covers a 12-state area and has touched an entire generation of people with disabilities who have received services from our programs or have been affected by programs we actively support through training and technical assistance. An Annual Report outlines the accomplishments of the Center each year.

The CPD is also Utah’s University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).

UCEDDs were created in 1963 to support people with intellectual disabilities. Currently authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and coordinated by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), UCEDDs are a resource for Americans with a wide range of disabilities.

The AUCD has compiled their 2012 UCEDD  Brochure that outlines the functions and recent accomplishments and locations of the nation’s 67 UCEDDs.

The following are some of the accomplishments, on average, over the past five years, of the national
network of UCEDDs:

• Provided professional preparation for working in the disability field to over 2,000 students annually.

• Provided technical assistance and training each year to over one million health, education, mental health, and policy-making professionals, as well as people with disabilities and their families.

• Provided direct (clinical or other) services to more than 700,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and/or their families annually.

• Conducted nearly 3,000 research projects each year whose results may benefit people with disabilities.

• Developed and disseminated over 7,000 different publications annually to bring the most current information to professionals and the community.

The CPD is proud to be part of this valuable network.

Tags: , , ,