The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs, including the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Six UMKC IHD staff attended theAUCD 2018 Conference, which took place from November 11–14 and was entitled, “We ALL Belong Here! Achieving Inclusive Communities.”
The conference provides us the opportunity to network with and learn from UCEDD staff from other states who are doing similar work. It also gives UMKC IHD an opportunity to highlight our work on a national stage. One of the high points of the AUCD conference this year was the final plenary session, which was held on Capitol Hill. Attendees heard US Senators and House Representatives discuss work they are doing to promote inclusive communities. Speakers included Senators John Casey (PA) and Orin Hatch (UT), Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Jenniffer González, and Members of Congress Bobby Scott (VA) and Chris Smith (NJ).
George Gotto and Sheli Reynolds represented UMKC IHD at the UCEDD Directors’ meeting where they heard from the Centers on Disease Control, National Institutes for Health, and the Health Resources & Services Administration. They also heard from Julie Hocker, Commissioner on Disabilities at the Administration on Community Living. Each speaker addressed funding and policy issues within their organizations that impact the work of the UCEDD network.
George and Sheli showcased IHD’s work in a poster symposium with partners from the University of Kansas UCEDD, entitled, “Leveraging Natural Supports for People with Disabilities and Their Families to Achieve Inclusive Communities.” This presentation focused on the need to integrate natural supports with formal paid supports into the lives of people with IDD.
George also presented a concurrent session entitled, “Strategies for Providing Disability and Health Education across Varied Audiences and Settings.” He spoke about his partnerships with professors from the UMKC School of Dentistry and Eitas through which they train dentists and hygienists to provide improved oral health care to people with IDD.
Lastly, George attended the AUCD Council on Research and Evaluation (CORE) and was elected to a three-year term as Secretary of the Council. The purpose of CORE is to serve as a representative voice of the research and evaluation activities within the AUCD Network.