University Lecture Series

The Human Development Institute has an extensive catalog of one-hour lecture and seminar style presentations available at the University of Kentucky. These lectures are being offered virtually through zoom for online classes as well. We welcome the opportunity to bring diverse perspectives to your classes. The lectures cover an array of topics that include: foundational lectures on disability, advocacy, health, employment, early childhood, universal design, and assistive technology. Presenters are people with disabilities, family members of people with disabilities, and other interdisciplinary experts. For more information or to schedule a lecture for your class, Contact to reserve a speaker.

Human Development Institute: University Lecture Series 2023-2024 [PDF]

This lecture will provide a chronological overview of the 100-year history of disability legislation in America that led to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and beyond. From forced sterilization to the independent living movement, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA and the most recent Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), learn about the people who were the catalyst of systematic change for people with disabilities and the disability rights movement. We will explore case law that continues to shape the reach of the ADA even today.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Jason Jones

As a member of the University of Kentucky’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Leadership Team, and with the entirety of HDI’s research and scholarly activity centering around inclusion, disability, and social justice issues, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones is uniquely qualified to help inform the University’s comprehensive DEI Plan. Participants will learn how HDI is contributing and how they can contribute to efforts that ensure disability is an intrinsic thread in our University’s plans to accelerate progress for diverse communities across campus.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones

This lecture provides an overview of the Kentucky Disability Resource Manual and online searchable Kentucky Disability Guide regarding services and supports available to people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. We provide information about how people with disabilities and family members can save money and still receive needed services, including information about STABLE Kentucky ( and Life Plan of Kentucky, Inc. (

Walt Bower, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Carolyn Wheeler

This lecture includes a snapshot of disability statistics for Kentucky, an overview of legislation and services with regard to education, employment and independent living for people with disabilities.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones and Carolyn Wheeler

Are you afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing when interacting with a person with a disability? Do you avoid those interactions because of that fear? Are you missing out on a huge part of the population that could be customers, employees, resources … friends? Explore the attitudinal barriers faced by people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Hear real life stories that offer examples for each barrier. Join in discussion around etiquette and myths around a variety of disabilities. Get comfortable.

Jason Jones, Christina Espinosa

Transition to postsecondary life represents a critical passage for youth with disabilities. Moving from a system of educational services as an entitlement to adult services based on eligibility can lead to transitions “to the couch” instead of success in higher education and the workplace. Kentucky provides an array of supports and resources focused on facilitating successful transition and improving postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities, with an emphasis on students with significant disabilities.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones

Foundational to the basic rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities in society, regardless of their level of disability, is an understanding of and commitment to the principles of universal design and independent living. A fully accessible environment is the foundation for independent living. Discussion will focus on resources and Centers for Independent Living.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Jason Jones, Christina Espinosa

Adopting principles derived from the Independent Living Movement can empower individuals with disabilities to strive to achieve their true potentials and be genuinely accepted and fully included in society. This lecture offers a brief history of the significance of the Independent Living Movement on rights and access to community living for people with disabilities. Topics will focus on select concepts related to helping people with disabilities take charge of decisions that affect the direction of their lives. An emphasis will be placed on core services provided by centers for independent living as complementary services to other available support services.

Ryan Guyder, Independence Place, Lexington

Millions of workers in the United States leave the workforce each year after experiencing an injury or an illness. This can result in detrimental outcomes to displaced employees, employers, and the economy. Stay at Work/Return to Work (SAW/ RTW) strategies provide customized intervention and support to help workers stay connected to the workforce and reduce their need for long-term Federal disability benefits. This lecture will provide an overview of national SAW/RTW policy and efforts here in KY.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones

This lecture provides a brief description of Medicaid waivers and the role they can play in helping people with significant disabilities move toward independence. Topics include: What is a waiver? Why did waivers become popular? Average cost of community services vs. facility services; Kentucky’s waiver menu; Supported Employment vs. Day Training; Design Challenges; Rate Structure Challenges; and Kentucky’s Employment First policy.

Jeff White

This lecture is designed to help learners understand the relationship between the benefits a person receives and their ultimate ability to live as independently as possible, with particular attention paid to the transition from child to adult status. We will work through the three subgroups within the transition age population: Students 14 to 17 years of age, students who are close to their 18th birthday, and students over age 18. As we do this, we will pay close attention to the important topics for each group to move toward independence and maintain eligibility, as well as prepare for future challenges

Jeff White

This lecture addresses the true impact of wages on benefits and patient liability. This presentation includes a comparison between benefit streams, an analysis of pass-through and how it can benefit recipients, a discussion of programs that help pay medical expenses, an analysis of substantial gainful activity and SSDI work incentives, real life examples of the impact of wages on SSI, a discussion of SSI work incentives, an examination of resource management strategies, examples of the management of patient liability, and a discussion of reporting requirements.

Jeff White