ASL Team standing in front of SERID Conference poster

ASL Team delivers services at Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness

This past October, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting Team, housed at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, traveled to Orlando, Florida to deliver services at the Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID) Conference.  SERID is an annual conference that OVR State Coordinators for the Deaf in the Southeastern United States coordinate and deliver to health professionals, employers, consumers, educators, and others who provide supports to the Deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind and/or late Deafened individuals. 

Kentucky was well-represented by Lisa Amstutz, Tara Eversole, Sarah Grubb, Chelsea Naugle, and Christina Vice who provided communication access to conference participants and gained knowledge from colleagues in their field to enhance OVR consumer services.  

The 2023 SERID Conference will be in Charlotte, NC and will return to Kentucky in 2025.  For more information about the conference, visit

Photo of Mineral Industries Building with UK blue overlay and UK HDI logo in white

A Statement from the Human Development Institute

As you are likely aware, a violent racist assault took place at UK over the weekend. We at HDI stand with the University community voices in strongly condemning this incident that has no place on our campus or in our world. We know that we are better together. Our actions must authentically and genuinely express the values that we hold dear. We strive for diversity and inclusion in all our efforts, value all identities that shape the experiences of people with disabilities, and demonstrate respect for all individuals. We will continue to use our collective voice at HDI to build inclusive community.

We are actively working to create an inclusive environment and culture in the workplace by recognizing, appreciating, celebrating, and respecting individual differences and perspectives. We do this by providing activities for learning to take place, and actively engaging in these opportunities. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion are key components of our work in reducing barriers and fulfilling our mission, to advance efforts to improve the lives of people who experience disability across the lifespan. We challenge everyone to constantly take advantage of opportunities for learning at HDI to gain exposure of diverse ideas, identities, and perspectives to continue to make the Human Development Institute a great place for all individuals to work, learn, and grow together.

If you need support as a result of the event on Sunday, please find resources shared by Provost DiPaola.


Dr. Nicholas Wright, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director

RETAIN Exhibit Table

RETAIN Kentucky Goes to the 2022 Kentucky State Fair

The Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN KY) Team recently participated in the Kentucky State Fair to raise awareness about a Department of Labor funded research study that examines how an early, intensive vocational intervention impacts recovery and the likelihood of remaining employed for people with non-work related injuries, illnesses or impairments.

Lynn Robbins, Nurse Navigator for RETAIN at UofL Health, organized the effort and coordinated booth staffing by RETAIN team members including Bethaney Curry, Kristina Kirk, Paula Kinzer, Michelle Graham-Smith, John Victor, Derek Vincent, and Mackenzie Wilson.

RETAIN Kentucky services are free to participants who receive support to identify their stay-at-work and return-to-work goals and connections to community resources, as needed.

Eligibility criteria to participate in RETAIN Kentucky research study are:

  • 18 years of age and older
  • Kentucky resident
  • employed now OR employed in the last 12 months
  • have a non-work related illness, injury or impairment that could prevent them from keeping OR getting a job
  • not currently receiving SSI or SSDI OR not applied for SSI or SSDI in the last three years

RETAIN Kentucky also works with employees, employers and healthcare providers to address issues related to successful return-to-work and stay-at-work.  This study aims to build capacity, provide direct services, and embed practices that will continue to improve employment outcomes long after the funded project ends.

Participants can enroll in the study through March 2024. Individuals interested in RETAIN Kentucky can get more information by visiting, emailing or calling (859) 562-3251.

RETAIN Kentucky is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and implemented by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training and the University of Kentucky. Project partners include the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board, local Workforce Development Boards, UofL Health, UK HealthCare, The Council of State Governments, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Kentucky Hospital Association, and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

4 women standing behind a conference table under a tent

DeaFestival 2022 features the Julie Beth Hayden Job Fair

Interpreters from Kentucky’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) Branch, in partnership with the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH), hosted the inaugural Julie Beth Hayden Job Fair at DeaFestival 2022 on September 3 at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College in Danville, KY.

DeaFestival is a biennial, one-day event where Deaf people from all areas of Kentucky come together in a fully accessible environment to meet and enjoy artists, performers, and exhibitors who are Deaf. Tara Eversole, Lisa Amstutz, Sarah Grubb, and Tina Vice, HDI employees, were members of the interpreting team who provided services to allow hearing people to fully participate in the event.

Approximately 7,000 people attended DeaFestival and were given an opportunity to meet DHHS staff, learn about their services, receive assistance with job fair activities, and network with employers.  The job fair will be part of DeaFestival in years to come! In addition to meeting the needs of the community, the event will honor the memory of Julie Beth Hayden.

Julie Beth Hayden is remembered for serving the students at Kentucky School for the Deaf and the Deaf community at large.  She was an advocate, counselor and, role model to anyone who met her.

If you want to learn more about services available to people who are Hard of Hearing, Deaf, and Deaf/Blind, visit or call 502-564-4440 or 800-372-7172 (V/TTY).

Bethaney Curry staff photo

Bethaney Curry receives 2022 Burberry Award

The University of Kentucky (UK) Human Development Institute (HDI) has awarded the prestigious Paul Kevin Burberry Award to Bethaney Curry. Bethaney is a Senior Return-to-work Specialist for the RETAIN project and is enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of HDI explained that “We offer the Burberry Award to highlight the achievements of students at the University of Kentucky who exemplify the achievements and life of Paul Kevin Burberry, himself a UK student. As both a UK student and staff at the HDI, Bethaney carries on the strong tradition of awardees. We are proud of her accomplishments and cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her”.

The award was presented by Dr. Tony Lobianco at the HDI All-Staff Meeting who said that “Bethaney writes eloquently about how support systems vary from person to person, and how a change in perception can make all the difference in a young person’s life trajectory”.

Dr. Natalie Pope, Associate Professor and PhD Program Director was excited to hear about Bethaney receiving the 2022 Burberry Award. “As a social work PhD student, Bethaney exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of the profession. She brings with her a background in occupational therapy, public administration, and therapeutic sciences. Bethaney is a student who truly seeks to advance social justice through an interdisciplinary lens”.

The annual Paul Kevin Burberry Award honor is given to a student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to people with disabilities, academic excellence, and the leadership qualities exemplified by Burberry’s own life. It is named in memory of the Berea native who was the first student with significant physical disabilities to graduate from Berea Community High School. He went to Berea College and UK, as a philosophy major. While a student at UK, Burberry worked with HDI to create training modules to train medical and allied health students on developmental disabilities. Though his life was cut short before graduation, he was posthumously awarded his UK degree with highest honors in 2004.

Congratulations, Bethaney Curry!