AUCD 2016 Conference Report from HDI

HDI staff recently attended the Association of University Centers on Disabilities 2016 Conference in December and also actively contributed to the conference through sessions, posters, and increased attendance by trainees.

Dr. Harold Kleinert contributed to a panel on inclusive education and participated in a poster about “Building Capacity and Vision Among Faith Communities, Seminaries, and Disability Organizations.” In addition, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Dr. Allie Rhodes and Marylee Underwood shared a poster on “Using Statewide Needs Assessment Data in Building a Plan for the Future,” and Dr. Sheppard-Jones also facilitated the poster symposium on systems change. Further, Meada Hall, Ed.D., Vickey Reilly, MA, Tony LoBianco, Ph.D., Katie Whaley, MA, Annette Jett, MA, and Deedra Brown shared a poster about “30 Years of Transitioning Students into Employment,” and first-time attendee Lisa Dunkley presented a poster about “Living Learning Communities.” Stephanie Meredith also led a panel on “Facilitating Change through International Cooperation” with other leaders in the AUCD network engaging in international projects.

Lisa shares her thoughts about her first AUCD experience:

My AUCD experience was packed with excitement and tons of opportunities for learning. I had the opportunity to network with other trainees and gain insight into other areas and other UCEDD/LEND programs. Provided that it was my first experience it was a welcoming atmosphere where everyone was happy to help with any questions. It was most memorable to meet leaders in the field, educators, service providers and family of individuals with disabilities. It was a very good mix of persons that provided for an even richer experience at the conference.

The sessions were informative and provided research being done in a wide array of areas in working with and for people with disabilities across the lifespan. This was awesome for me as I obtained great ideas to develop new research. I felt motivated after each session to play a part in the fight for equal opportunity for all whether it is through education, service or advocacy. Attendees at the conference were strong advocates in their respective areas as well as active members in their respective efforts.

The most memorable part of the conference for me as a trainee was the trainee specific sessions. It provided me with the opportunity to connect with other trainees to learn from their experiences and to brainstorm ways to improve our overall trainee experience. It was encouraging to know that our opinions matter in the way activities and efforts are carried out for trainees. Through innovative ideas and working together, we were able to produce several suggestions on how AUCD can improve trainee experiences. Ideas included having a trainee specific volunteer opportunity, conference presentations and other service activities.