Oct 15, 2008    #098
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green

$4 million grant awarded for “A National Gateway on Self-Determination for Persons with Disabilities” UMKC and KU lead the project

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Institute for Human Development and the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities were recently awarded a $4 million grant by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. It will fund “A National Gateway on Self-Determination for Persons with Developmental Disabilities,” providing $800,000 per year for five years. The goal of the project is to establish training programs to assist persons with disabilities in practicing self-determination in their lives. The concept of self-determination encourages and assists persons with disabilities to make decisions and to direct their lives in ways that work best for them.

The program will also demonstrate the benefits available through advanced technology in creating more powerful training programs, in part by creating a national web portal that brings together users and that can be downloaded onto iPods or other portable media players.

Co-principal investigators are Dr. Carl F. Calkins, director of the UMKC Institute for Human Development and Dr. Michael Wehmeyer, executive director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities at KU’s Life Span Institute. The contract creates a five-member leadership consortium, which also includes The University of Illinois Chicago Department of Disability and Human Development; University of Oregon Center on Human Development; and Westchester (NY) Institute for Human Development at the New York Medical College. Each of these university departments are designated by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) as University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).

The “National Gateway on Self-Determination” will address this goal on a national level, in part through the formation of a “National Self-Determination Alliance,” which will include self-advocates, families, and national organizations including: AUCD, Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development, University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, University of Alaska Center for Human Development, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), National Leadership Consortium, College of Direct Support, National Association of Councils on DD, National Disability Rights Network, National Association of State Directors of DD Services, National Sibling Network, and National Family Voices including Kids as Self-Advocates.

Key to this initiative are the beliefs upon which this grant was developed — that development of self-determination is a lifelong process, a means to obtaining an improved quality of life, and most importantly, that people with developmental disabilities must be equal partners in the process.

“This is a great day for the power of partnerships and bringing research to practice,” said Calkins. “With the National Gateway, we can integrate the best research into a comprehensive training program that will affect the day to day lives of persons with disabilities.” Dr. Wehmeyer stated “Research has established that promoting the self-determination of people with disabilities results in a better quality of life, enhanced employment outcomes, and greater independent living. This important project will provide the impetus, nationally, to translate that research knowledge into practice and, in so doing, improve the quality of the lives of people with disabilities across the country.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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