Empower Kentuckians with disabilities this One Day for UK

One Day for UK is April 19th, 2023. One Day for UK is a 24-hour day of giving where alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends and fans can support their favorite college, cause or area. It is a day to celebrate the University of Kentucky’s achievements and to ensure the university’s future success.

What is the Human Development Institute?

Established in 1969, the Human Development Institute (HDI) is the state’s Center on Disability and is part of a nationwide network of University Centers for Excellence. Our vision is the full participation and contribution of all people with disabilities in all aspects of society.

What will my donation do?

This One Day for UK, your generous donation will impact countless people with disabilities in Kentucky and the nation. 

Your donation could:

  1. Equip a person with a disability to find employment
  2. Empower someone to learn how to support their own mental health
  3. Support expectant parents who receive a down syndrome diagnosis
  4. Encourage the recovery of families of the opioid epidemic
  5. Teach an educator sign language to use in their elementary school classroom

To donate, visit www.onedayforuk.uky.edu

One Day for UK is a 24-hour day of giving where alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends and fans can support their favorite college, cause or area. It is a day to celebrate the University of Kentucky’s achievements and to ensure the university’s future success. All gifts support our comprehensive campaign, Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, which increases opportunities for student success, funds innovative research, improves health care, strengthens the alumni network and enhances athletic programs.

Visit www.onedayforuk.uky.edu to track our progress and to make your gift.

Five high school kids are gathered round a table collaborating on a robotics project. Wires and white rolled poster paper are visible on the table.

New HDI project to use Universal Design to create inclusive student environments

Over the past several years, the mental health of students has declined. According to the CDC, the pandemic saw mental health concerns reach a crisis level. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in youth aged 10–24. Mental health emergency visits increased 31% in youth aged 12–15 from 2019–2020. Anxiety and depression rates in youth continue to rise. 

Universally designed, accessible safe spaces create a sense of welcome and belonging for all students, including those with mental health conditions, physical disabilities, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and those in underserved communities. 

The Human Development Institute’s new project will fund universally designed spaces for students at Berea Community School, a high school, to allow students to build meaningful connections. Berea is a Title I school that faces persistent poverty, low educational attainment, and low attendance and graduation rates compared to the state of Kentucky. 

At Berea Community School, 11% of students have intellectual and developmental disabilities including, but not limited to, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and are members of underserved communities.

Berea Community School has a respite time each school day. This project will create universally designed spaces at school to encourage connections during the respite time. Additionally, this project will support a peer student group that will receive training on strength-based activities and how to include them in the daily respite time. 

The use of  Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles will be prioritized to provide students with more options for inclusive learning. School staff and faculty will be given professional development sessions on universal design and universal design in learning. 

“Providing universally designed spaces will ultimately increase cultural responsiveness and create a healthier, more inclusive school climate,” Dahl, the Principal Investigator, says. “[That] is especially important for individuals in marginalized populations, including those with disabilities and LGBTQ+ students.”

Universal Design principles will be used to assess the space at Berea Community School. A wide range of body sizes and abilities, comfort, wellness, social integration will be prioritized for treating all groups with inclusiveness and respect and cultural appropriateness.

HDI’s mission is to advance efforts that build inclusive communities, address inequities, and improve the lives of all people who experience disability across the lifespan. We achieve our mission through leadership and community partnerships across Kentucky and the Nation. This project strives to build inclusive communities by ensuring all students feel welcome and safe.

Katie Wolf Whaley Photo. she is wearing a grey dress and speaking using a microphone in front of a black background

Kentucky Employment First welcomes Katie Wolf Whaley as new Council Chair  

On December 2nd, 2022, Kentucky welcomed Katie Wolf Whaley as the new chair of Kentucky’s Employment First Council.  

Employment First practices the idea that competitive integrated employment should be considered the first and primary option for people with disabilities who are eligible and desire to be employed. Simply put, it is the idea that everyone has the right to work!  

Competitive integrated employment refers to a workplace where people with disabilities work with people without disabilities and have the same pay, benefits, and opportunities for promotions.  

Katie Wolf Whaley, MSW, CESP, is the Director of the Kentucky Supported Employment Training Project and oversees other contracts with the state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute.  

Along with serving as chair of Kentucky’s Employment First Council, Wolf Whaley also devotes time serving as the President of the Kentucky Chapter of APSE (Association of Persons Supporting Employment First).  

Congratulations Katie Wolf Whaley on becoming the new chair of Kentucky’s Employment First Council. To learn more about Employment First, visit the Employment First webpage here.  


Employment First. Kentucky Career Center. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://kcc.ky.gov/Vocational-Rehabilitation/Employment-First/Pages/default.aspx    

series of gears and other design elements

A look into the Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design

Universal Design affects everyone—students of all disciplines, people with disabilities, and any other community members. Universal design creates spaces and products that are as usable as possible by as many people as possible. 

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design. In this program, students learn about and benefit from Universal Design’s broad set of strategies that promote inclusion and participation of all people.

A student in HDI 500: Practicum II, Ann Switzer, developed audio and video materials to increase accessibility of online and in-person events, and applied her knowledge to community musical events.

Students learn through hands-on experience to develop practical skills and knowledge, improving confidence, self advocacy, and professional skills. “For any future professional settings, this has given me a great start that I will always carry with me,” Switzer says.

At the start of her practicum experience, she felt overwhelmed learning new skills at once. “Being taught work-related computer and hands-on music equipment set-up skills can at first be scary and you cannot see how you will ever learn them,” she says. “I also realized that they can be learned when taken one step at a time and with great patience from instructors.”

A lot of us know what it’s like to be scared during our first week of classes, at a first job, or in a new environment. Switzer notes this is even more common with people with disabilities who often face societal barriers, like untrained instructors and inaccessible work and learning environments. 

Switzer says, “It takes going through this to gain the confidence to take on other new and scary challenges. This applies to everyone but especially to those with disabilities who may have heard more about what they are not capable of.” 

This practicum allowed Switzer to gain confidence before starting a job in the real world. She developed practical skills and coping mechanisms for when she feels overwhelmed. 

“I know to not be upset when things seem too much and too hard [at first],” she says. “To start with small steps and take it a day at a time. I learned to ask questions and for help when needed. I learned that these fears and insecurities apply to everyone and to remember this when I am asking others to help me with projects.”

At the Human Development Institute, it is always a goal of ours to ensure accessibility, self advocacy, and growth in our students. Switzer’s experience demonstrates just that. 

Are you interested in learning more about the UK Human Development Institute Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design? Visit https://hdi.uky.edu/undergraduate-certificate to learn more. 

table covered in photography supplies, like cameras, lenses, neck straps, and more

HDI’s new project aims to enhance photography of people with disabilities

Stock photography is a common tool used  by almost all businesses and organizations; however, stock photos featuring people with disabilities are often staged using models without disabilities, resulting in misrepresentation, unnatural scenes, and offensive images. 

For example, models using wheelchairs often only use manual and/or ill-fitting wheelchairs. Images showing American Sign Language often use nonexistent or nonsensical signs. 

A newly funded Fund for Excellence Project, the HDI Photo Library, aims to address this problem in the ever changing world of photography. 

This project will use three photographers to photograph people with disabilities in Central Kentucky. This will provide HDI and other organizations with accurate photographs of people with disabilities and will also provide a modeling opportunity for people with disabilities.

This proposal was written by Haley Potter who will serve as the Principal Investigator for this project. “This is a photography project on its surface, but accurately representing and appropriately compensating people with disabilities for their services are at the core,” Potter says. 

Three other HDI staff (Adam Potter, Eric Seale, and Kari Jones) will serve as on-site photographers throughout the project, completing at least five professional shoots.

“Inclusive communities do not stop at physical spaces. It includes online, virtual, and social spaces,” Potter says. “If our social media and online presence does not properly depict people with disabilities how they wish to be portrayed, we are not executing our mission.”

It is always a goal of HDI to provide people with lived experience opportunities to express themselves, showcase their talents, and build inclusive communities in all aspects of society.

For questions about the HDI Photo Library, contact Haley Potter at haley.potter@uky.edu