Young man with brown hair and beard wearing a black coat and brown flannel shirt seated at a library table in front of books. Multi-colored 3D printed objects are on the table.

Eagle Scout Project Supports Alternative Communication

Nate Slack, a senior at West Jessamine High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 473 at the Nicholasville United Methodist Church, completed his Eagle Scout project by leading volunteers to print 3-D tactile symbols developed by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – Project Core. Nate used resources provided by the Jessamine County Public Library to print these symbols that are an alternative form of communication for children who are blind. The 45 printed objects will be donated to the Human Development Institute Center for Assistive Technology Services (HDI CATS).

HDI CATS is the Assistive Technology Regional Center serving Lexington and the surrounding area. HDI CATS provides assistive technology (AT) activities in accordance with the federal Assistive Technologies Act of 1998, as amended. AT is any item or piece of equipment (both low-tech and high-tech) used to improve and/or maintain independence in the home, at work, school or play.

Nate will present his project to the Eagle Board of Review in the coming weeks. If the project is approved, he will be the 91st Eagle Scout from Troop 473. HDI CATS appreciates this extraordinary donation that will benefit the children and families that we serve.

Learn more about HDI CATS at

HDI CATS Contact
Christina Bard-Espinosa

Woman with long brown hair wearing blue tshirt presenting to a class

Summer Leadership Experience

The University of Kentucky (UK) Human Development Institute (HDI) and the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation invites Kentucky high school students with disabilities entering their junior or senior year to apply for the Summer Leadership Experience. This three-day overnight camp on the campus of the University of Kentucky equips young adults to be successful in higher education like college, technical school, or apprenticeship after high school. Students will participate in skill-building activities in a variety of areas including advocacy, health and fitness, accommodations, independent living, technology, financial management, preparation for higher education or training, and much more.

The Summer Leadership Experience is held at the University of Kentucky. Students interested in attending should complete and submit an application, letter of recommendation, and $50 for registration, lodging, meals, and a t-shirt. The Camp Director will begin contacting applicants in April; however, the registration window is open until June 21, 2020.

The application can be accessed at If you need the application in another format, contact

Project Contact
Teresa Belluscio

three dental mirrors

My Choice Kentucky: Making Decisions in Dental Care

The UK Human Development Institute (HDI) and the UK College of Dentistry have received a grant from the WITH Foundation, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry, and Ability Central to create materials to enhance the dental care of people with intellectual and  developmental disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). These materials will include videos and symbol sets that will improve communication and understanding for AAC users, their supporters, and dental professionals. Additionally, the materials will facilitate the use of supported decision making in dental care.

Applicants were encouraged to develop new partnerships or significantly enhance existing partnerships between disability organizations, advocates, community organizations, and healthcare providers. Laura Butler and Jacqui Kearns will represent HDI in this project that forges a new partnership between the HDI and the UK College of Dentistry.

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of HDI says, “This is a powerful collaboration with the potential to positively impact dental health for AAC users. The partnership shows how we can not only build capacity for success, but also bridge capacity across areas of expertise that ultimately builds stronger communities.

Follow news and HDI events on our website, and our social media accounts.
Facebook:  @ukhdi
Instagram:  @uk_hdi
Twitter:  @hdi_uky
Project Contact: Laura Butler
Photo by Cristina Romano

Kentucky Developmental Disabilities Network Logo

2020 Kentucky Joint Needs Assessment Survey

What is the survey about? Researchers at the University of Kentucky are looking at the needs of people with developmental disabilities in Kentucky. We know the needs vary by place, so we ask people across the state to help. We invite you to give your opinion about the issues affecting people with disabilities.

Who can complete the survey? Any person with a developmental disability or a medically complex condition, a family member of a person with developmental disability or with a medically complex condition, or a person who provides services to people with developmental disabilities and their families

How long will it take to complete the survey? It will take about 15-20 minutes to complete the survey.

Who will see my response? We hope to get surveys from about 600 people, so your answers are important to us. We are not asking any private questions and want only your opinion. Only the research team will see your answers. Your answers will be combined with other people’s answers and we will make sure that no one can tell who you are based on the survey results.

Am I required to complete the survey? No, you are not required to complete the survey. You can complete the survey only if you want to. You can quit the survey anytime. You can skip questions that you don’t feel like answering.

Is there any harm or benefit in completing the survey?  By completing the survey you are letting us know what things are important for people with developmental disabilities. There are no risks from completing the survey.

Do you need to help completing the survey? If you need help to complete this form or need another format, a staff member can help. Please leave a message at (859)257-8104.

Do you have questions about the survey? If you have questions about the survey, please contact Kathy Sheppard-Jones at (859)257-8104.

black graduation caps being thrown in the sunset sky

Kentucky Post School Outcome Center Begins Data Collection

The UK Human Development Institute (HDI) houses the Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KyPSO) to increase the capacity of local school districts, teachers, parents, and adult service providers to provide exemplary transition planning and increase student success. This is accomplished through the collection and reporting of data related to post school plans and outcomes, and the provision of training and technical assistance.

The Kentucky Department of Education contracts with KyPSO to collect secondary data about students with disabilities to identify factors that may contribute to successful transition planning and outcomes. Data are collected through the “Youth One Year Out (YOYO)” former student interview. The YOYO includes a series of questions about post school employment and education, the student’s personal experiences, involvement with other agencies, living arrangements, and community engagement. The KyPSO staff collect and analyze the data to create reports for district, regional and state-level staff.

Visit or follow us on and Facebook at to learn more about KyPSO and its resources.

Project Contact:
Tony Lobianco, PhD