Merge Logo.

HDI introduces new mental health project: Merge

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute introduces a new project: Merge. The project will strengthen the existing training framework serving Kentuckians with co-occurring mental health, and intellectual and developmental disabilities (MHIDD). By evolving current training, Merge aims to increase and improve the application of person-centered services and referral systems. 

Merge hopes to build stronger connections across systems in Kentucky, including state agencies, medical providers, medical service providers, LEND trainees, families, and individuals with MHIDD.

Merge will work with a team of state partners that includes people with lived experience. This team will identify existing resources, needs, gaps, and priorities. Existing resources will be strengthened and will address racial, health, and economic inequities in underserved communities. Once gaps and needs are identified, universally-designed supports will build a trauma-informed, and recovery-oriented framework for application. These efforts help fulfill Merge’s goal to increase understanding and improve the implementation of person-centered, culturally relevant services and referral systems.

For more information, contact Kristen Dahl at

AUCD Conference ad.

HDI Staff to Present at Annual AUCD Conference

University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) staff are preparing to present sessions and posters at the 2021 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference. The theme of this year’s conference is Learning Together: Connecting Research and Lived Experience.  

The UK HDI is Kentucky’s Center on Disability and is a University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). As a UCEDD and a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, we are a member of the AUCD organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs in every U.S. state and territory to achieve meaningful change.  Visit for more information about the AUCD Network and Conference.  If you are interested in learning more about HDI programs or the presentations being made, contact

Conference sessions presented by HDI staff include:

  • Echo collaborative on AAC: Supporting interprofessional collaboration to improve augmentative and alternative communication through case-based learning and information sharing

    Jacqui Kearns, EdD, Mary Jo Cooley-Hidecker, PhD*, Lou Ann Land, Patti Logsdon and Judith Page, PhD*

    *University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences Communication Sciences and Disorders Program
  • The Power of Your Story – How digital storytelling amplifies the voices of people with disabilities

    Morgan Turner, Adam Potter, Patti Logsdon and Patti Singleton
  • L.I.V.E from your virtual platform! How to engage every audience in your inclusive virtual event and program

    Lindsey Mullis, Trent Marcum, and Ellen Fahey
  • Recruiting and retaining researchers and evaluators with lived experience in higher education: A critical reflection

    Kathy Sheppard Jones, PhD, Chithra Adams, PhD, Jacob Mason, Taylor Bardon, Phillip Rumrill, PhD
  • Harnessing the power of inclusive higher education to improve employment outcomes for students with significant disabilities: a Kentucky story

    Johnny Collett, Erin Fitzgerald, Rebecca Gregory
  • Impact of COVID on individuals with disabilities: a mixed-method study driven by voices of people with disabilities

    Kathy Sheppard-Jones, PhD, Harold Kleinert, EdD, Kara Ayers**, PhD, Chithra Adams, PhD, Jian Li***, PhD

    University of Cincinnati**, Kent State University***
  • Human Development Institute’s Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design Program

    Walt Bower, PhD, Haley Potter, and Ellie Fahey
  • Inclusion of women with disabilities in research: Creating an inclusive community needs assessment 

    Ellen Fahey, Lindsey Mullis, and Trent Marcum. 
  • Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions and Developmental Disabilities: Including Individuals with Lived Experience as Experts in Their Care

    Kristen Dahl and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
  • Recruiting and retaining researchers and evaluators with lived experience in higher education: A critical reflection

    Kathy Sheppard-Jones,PhD, Chithra Adams, PhD, Jacob Mason, Taylor Mora, Phillip Rumrill, PhD
  • National Training Initiative: Implementation of the Project SCOPE – Site Experiences and Lived Perspectives

    Canyon Hardesty, Andrea Witwer, PhD, Stephanie Webber, PhD, Tai Baker, Caroline Gooden, PhD