Ellie smiling in front of a red brick building

Universal Design Student Spotlight: Ellie Fahey

UK junior Ellie Fahey was looking for a note to get out of class when she happened upon the Human Development Institute’s Universal Design Program. 

Ellie explained, “I got a notification through the College of Health Sciences about the Special Olympics med event that they do every year and it was conflicting with one of my classes, so I was trying to see if I could get an excuse note so I could go [volunteer].”

MedFest offers the physical exam that all athletes need to participate in Special Olympics sports and is led by volunteer physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medical students.

While trying to get her excuse note, Ellie expressed how passionate she is about working with people with disabilitiesand was referred to HDI because of her interest. She said, “It was kind of by chance that I even heard of it, but then once I started talking to people in HDI, I just took my first class [in Universal Design], and now I’ve decided to continue on with it and I really like it.”

In addition to the certificate program, Ellie is studying Human Health Sciences with a minor in health promotion and started working as a research assistant. Her next course in the Universal Design program is a practicum that she is doing with HDI’s Kentucky Inclusive Health Collaborative team.

Part of her practicum experience will involve working on awomen’s health project with women with disabilities. Ellie explained that “they don’t get breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings as frequently as people without disabilities, so we’re trying to figure out why.” Next steps will include overcoming barriers, encouraging screenings, and getting patients seen.

Ellie added, “Their rates [of these cancers] are higher and that’s just obviously not okay.” She has already applied some Universal Design principles to the project by using plain language in project documents.

When asked about her perspective on Universal Design Ellie said, “A lot of people think Universal Design is for people with disabilities… But I think it’s more like designing the world so it’s accessible for everybody, so we don’t have to necessarily have special things for people… [It’s] offering differentiation in the world to make it the best for everybody.”

Ellie plans to go into healthcare as a physician’s assistant working with underserved populations. She sees Universal Design as a way to make healthcare more accessible by using the plain language in health-related communication.

She said, “I think it’s super important to draw attention to what needs to be done to keep your body healthy. The Wellness Wednesdays that our team does, I think that those are really awesome… they’re always really informative, and teaching people about their health in a way that’s understandable to them is the most important thing.”

Ellie went on to describe how this approach will apply to her work:

As a future provider, what I want to do for my patients is to teach them about their health so that they can take control of their own health and be educated and empowered in their own bodies… I’d rather every patient be a part of the conversation and make sure they really understand what’s going on with their body and how we’re planning to help it get better. And I think Universal Design is a big part of that… because everyone has different backgrounds and different health, and everyone should be able to have the ability to understand what’s going on with their body… I think I’ll have a unique perspective going into healthcare fields with this Universal Design background and really focusing on each patient as an individual.

While shadowing healthcare professionals, Ellie noticed how important work is, for people with and without disabilities.She said, “When we take that opportunity away from people with disabilities, I feel like it kind of isolates them from society in a way.”

To support giving people that opportunity, Ellie is helping with fundraising and promotion for a nonprofit called Gerry’s Café in her hometown of Arlington Heights, Illinois.The café will employ young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

During high school in Illinois, Ellie worked with people with disabilities in a career life skills program. She said, “I just loved it and it was the best part of my day, every day… I really love talking to them. It was just like an instant connection… and then I just never stopped from there… I still have my students FaceTime me all the time.”

Ellie’s research assistantship at HDI and her studies in Universal Design are a way to continue what she started in high school. “I’m really grateful to be a part of the women’s health team… and I’m really excited to see where that project goes,” she said. “I’m really glad I found this, and it was totally by chance that I even heard of it, so I’m really excited to keep going.”

For more information on HDI’s Universal Design Certificate, click this link:
https://hdi.uky.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Undergrad-Certificate-One-Pager.pdf.

Article written by Amanda Corbin.

KentuckyWorks Presents “Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities

HDI in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation announce Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities, a four-part webinar series designed to support Kentucky school districts in their efforts to create meaningful work experiences leading to competitive integrated employment for students with significant disabilities. The webinar series will present learning from work with schools, employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, parents and families, and will include tools and processes to support students with significant disabilities in obtaining competitive integrated employment. Each webinar will be one (1) hour and will begin at 4:00pm EST/ 3:00pm CST.

Register for each session at the links provided below:
January 20, 2021 | Charting a Course Toward Improved Outcomes | https://bit.ly/35pMhM5
February 3, 2021 | Student Engagement | https://bit.ly/2UhXWGo
February 17, 2021 | Family Engagement | https://bit.ly/38zmYJ5
March 3, 2021 | Employer Engagement | https://bit.ly/3f0DdjX

Questions? Contact Johnny.Collett@uky.edu.

Virtual Retreat

HDI receives Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Grant

A team of HDI staff including Dr. Chithra Adams, Jason Jones, Lindsey Mullis and Abby Marsh have received $50,000 through Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s 2020 COVID-19 Quality of Life grants program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living. Their proposal, Recharging Resiliency Together-Virtual Retreat will help people with paralysis recharge their resilience and provide the necessary connections and supports that are needed to navigate in a COVID-19 environment.

This series of virtual retreats will be accompanied by three follow up group calls to build upon the skills learned during the retreat and to build a tightknit group of peers (pods) who are supportive of one another. Each session in the retreat will be universally designed, accessible and have expert presentation followed by a group activity. The purpose of the group activity is to participate in real time sense-making about how strategies presented can be used presently or in the future.

Contact Chithra.Adams@uky.edu for more information.

Alice Wang staff Photo

Alice Wang awarded the 2020 Shouse Service Award

Alice Wang, Administrative Support Associate for the University of Kentucky (UK) Human Development Institute has been awarded the 2020 Jacki Shouse Service Award. This award is given to an HDI staff member who demonstrates excellent job performance through their contributions to increase efficiency, provision of high quality customer service, increased cost savings, or enhanced daily operations. The candidate must be responsive, respectful, and work collaboratively with others. Alice Wang’s colleagues shared how she is deserving of this special award.

Alice is humble, hardworking, and detail-oriented.  Her strong work ethic and her integrity allow us to be consistently reassured that everything that needs to be handled in accounting is accurate and up-to-date.  She responds quickly to emails and offers strong solutions to problems.  She always knows the latest changes in UK systems and works hard to be sure that transitions are easy on those of us who just need things paid on time.

Alice is ultra-dependable, extremely reliable, and a super speedy communicator. She is incredibly detail oriented and keeps Early Childhood running like a well-oiled machine. She is consistently kind and patient when working with the Child Care Aware staff which has 80+ employees. It is very comforting to me to know Alice has our backs with our budgets. She is easy to talk to, helps us think through the proper protocol when making purchases and processing bills.

Alice does this with kindness and efficiency each step of the way. She is most worthy of this award that honors the spirit of Jackie Shouse. 

Jacki Shouse began working at UK in March of 1990. She accepted her first position with the Human Development Institute in February of 1998, where she spent the next 19 years until her retirement. Although we miss her greatly, giving this annual award gives us an opportunity to reflect on what she meant to HDI. Congratulations Alice and thank you! 

Employment First Kentucky Logo

Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute – HDI, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation are pleased to announce Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities, a four-part webinar series designed to support Kentucky school districts in their efforts to create meaningful work experiences leading to competitive integrated employment for students with significant disabilities. The webinar series will present learning from work with schools, employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, parents and families, and will include tools and processes to support students with significant disabilities in obtaining competitive integrated employment.

Each webinar will be one (1) hour and will begin at 4:00pm EST/ 3:00pm CST.Register for each session at the links provided below:

January 20, 2021 | Charting a Course Toward Improved Outcomes | https://bit.ly/35pMhM5

February 3, 2021 | Student Engagement | https://bit.ly/2UhXWGo

February 17, 2021 | Family Engagement | https://bit.ly/38zmYJ5

March 3, 2021 | Employer Engagement | https://bit.ly/3f0DdjX

Questions? Contact Johnny.Collett@uky.edu.

Image: text included in this post on a handout that includes sponsor logos