Men with Down syndrome at work.

KentuckyWorks Post-Secondary Community Conversation

by Amanda Corbin

Nearly 100 people attended a community conversation on May 21 for self-advocates, families, and professionals to discuss how to increase post-secondary opportunities for youth with intellectual disabilities (ID). The conversation was held simultaneously in Morehead, Murray, and Lexington via video conference.

Guest speakers included Cate Weir, Project Director for the Think College National Coordinating Center; Dr. Harold Kleinert, former director of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute; and Dr. Erik Carter, Special Education Professor at Vanderbilt.  

Ms. Weir presented information on Comprehensive Transition Programs (CTPs), which are person-centered alternatives to a traditional college education. There are two CTPs in Kentucky housed at Murray State University, and Northern Kentucky University.

Dr. Carter explained the community conversation approach, which is adapted from the World Café Method for hosting a group dialogue. Attendees discussed possible answers to the following questions: “How can we expand post-secondary education opportunities for students with ID in Kentucky? What resources and partnerships do we need?” Through round table discussions attendees came up with ideas about how to create more post-secondary opportunities for students with ID.

Afterward, the group addressed a final question: “What action steps can we take now?” and at the end of the event, the best ideas were shared with the whole group. Themes emerged around academics, expectations for students, legislation, marketing, support, work, and university roles. Specific ideas included:

  • Advocating for additional funding for CTP programs
  • School and disability websites sharing links to higher education opportunities
  • Creating campus partnerships to provide social support for students with ID
  • Making sure ID is part of university diversity initiatives
  • Develop partnerships with businesses.

Another community conversation on family and youth engagement will be held on Tuesday, July 17 at 10am at Kentucky Community and Technical College System in Versailles. To register, log on to