Kentucky’s OVR Interpreters in Action at SERID Conference

Interpreters from the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, in conjunction with others across the country, provided American Sign Language interpreting services at the 2021 Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID).

Since 1971, SERID has hosted this annual conference for health professionals, employers, consumers, educators, and people who are interested in issues affecting individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and/or late-deafened and to further knowledge concerning these issues through publications, studies, and educational programs.

200 attendees celebrated the 50th anniversary of SERID by participating in the 2021 hybrid conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. Participants had the opportunity to choose between a variety of tracks including Vocational Rehabilitation, STEM Education, Mental Health, Medical, Interpreting, and serving Deaf-Blind people.

HDI is proud of Lisa Amstutz, Tara Eversole, Sarah Grubb, Missy Miller, Chelsea Naugle, and Christina Vice and congratulates them on recognition by Rita Jo Scarcella, SERID Interpreter Coordinator, who said that “the Kentucky interpreters were fabulous! They were highly skilled, professional and flexible”.

Staff Photo of Chithra Adams

HDI Evaluation Unit expands Portfolio

Under the leadership of Dr. Chithra Adams, the HDI Evaluation Unit helps program staff, policy makers, and researchers understand how their work impacts policies, practice and the lives of others. The Unit has recently been awarded the following projects:

#TeamKentucky Emergency Grant to Address Mental Health and Substance Use grant will provide direct services to the following populations: (1) homeless individuals and families being housed in temporary shelters; (2) individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) including those with co-occurring SMI and substance use disorders (SUD) who are at risk of entering one of Kentucky’s four state adult psychiatric hospitals and those who are being discharged from a state adult psychiatric hospital and in need of transitional housing to self-isolate; (3) healthcare professionals and their families who require mental health care as a result of COVID-19; and (4) individuals impacted by COVID-19 pandemic who are experiencing mental health disorders less severe than SMI.

The Kentucky Disaster Behavioral Health Response Grant will provide crisis services, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, recovery services, and other related supports to adults and school-aged children in 21 counties in the Appalachian region of Kentucky impacted by natural disasters during 2019.

Freedom House Southeastern KY: Based in Manchester in Clay County, KY, VOA Mid-States’ proposed project will expand services for pregnant and postpartum (up to 12 months) women aged 18+ annually seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) with an emphasis on opiate use disorder and their infant and minor children age 17 and under. The widely-lauded, comprehensive, evidence-based approach will promote long-term recovery and safe, healthy, stable families

TN State Professional Development Grant: The TN SPDG will focus on increased graduation rates and postsecondary opportunities available to Tennessee students with complex needs including academic and communication skills. We anticipate a shift in high school culture to an inclusive mindset, all students engaged in meaningful grade level instruction, and the high quality use of instructional practices to meaningfully engage and teach diverse learners.

HDI will provide evaluation for the Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living’s new grant – Food for Thought: Equipping Senior Centers for the Next Emergency. The goal of this funding is to prepare the aging network to respond to catastrophic emergencies using strategies, actions and plans that have been tested in the aftermath of the only real-life pandemic experience within the last century. 

The HDI Evaluation Unit also will do the field work for the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (PI: Katie Wolf Whaley), ASL Intepreting Services (PI: Beth Potter), and the Statewide Needs Assessment project for the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Contact for more information.

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

2017 KentuckyWorks Transition Summit & Community Conversation

KentuckyWorks will be hosting two Kentucky events for family members, youth, professionals, and employers to discuss strategies for successfully transitioning students from high school to employment. A community conversation will be held at the Morehead Conference Center in Morehead from 5:30-7:30pm on February 27. A statewide transition summit, featuring national transition expert Dr. Erik Carter of Vanderbilt, will be held at the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort from 9am to 4pm on February 28. All who are interested in participating are welcome to attend. Continue reading