VKC at Tennessee Disability MegaConference

By: Courtney Taylor

The 13th annual Tennessee Disability MegaConference focused its sessions this year on the concept of thoughts becoming actions, and specifically on the theme of It All Starts With One!

A number of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center faculty, staff, and students were present to contribute their thoughts and actions through the delivery of presentations, conference planning, and volunteering.

A highlight of the annual 2-day conference is always the awards banquet, and Elise McMillan, Co-director of the VKC UCEDD, and Bud Sugg, a Next Steps at Vanderbilt graduate, were eager and enthusiastic hosts for the ceremony.

New this year was the preconference CapABILITY Career Expo, co-sponsored by the VKC administered TennesseeWorks Partnership. Jobseekers with disabilities were invited to network with employers who were present to share career information and to recruit viable candidates. TennesseeWorks videographer Kyle Jonas also was on site to collect photos of self-advocates sharing their strengths for the Hire My Strengths campaign that will be launching in October for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

Detailed information on Vanderbilt Kennedy Center representation at Tennessee Disability MegaConference is included below.*

*VKC-affiliated presenters are bolded.


What Matters in Health Care?

Tom Cheetham, Elise McMillan, Janet Shouse, Shayla Osborne, Nicholas Pinter, Nancy Everett, Ashley Miller

Self-advocates shared the results of several focus groups on what self-advocates would like doctors and nurses to know about caring for people with developmental disabilities. Cheetham, McMillan, and Shouse discussed how the IDD Toolkit can help health care providers better understand the special considerations in caring for people with IDD.

Phonological Awareness Standard Treatment Protocols: Aligning Intervention Pro-grams with Child Needs

C. Melanie Schuele

Phonological awareness (PA) is one's awareness of the sound structure of words that is important for learning to read. There are several published standard treatment protocols (STPs) that could be used in the classroom or in small groups to teach this skill for reading. In this session Schuele compared several of these approaches to consider their benefits (and risks) and how speech or reading interventionists can align STP to a reader's instructional needs.

Collaborative Conversations on Inclusive Post-secondary Education for Students

Kelly Wendel, Kyle Dickerson, Maurice Williams, Tom Beeson

This session provided the opportunity to hear from and engage with multiple stakeholders around the topic of inclusive postsecondary education (PSE). Topics for discussion included the history of the movement toward inclusive PSE, the vision for and purpose of PSE programming, research surrounding best practice and program outcomes, and student and parent feedback about the benefits of college.

Self-Advocacy: Understanding Our Roots

Hardin Manhein, Haley Kellar, Tammy Day, Tyler Lisowski

Youth advocates facilitated a disability rights history timeline activity. The disability rights movement is important because people with disabilities should be allowed to make choices. Participating in this activity highlighted the importance of self-advocacy. The Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT) is a national initiative to get more youth with disabilities and their allies involved in their communities.

What Core Indicator Data Tells Us About How Tennesseans With Disabilities Are Living

Lynnette Henderson, Jessie Baird

National Core Indicators (NCI) uses a survey to ask people how they feel about the services they get from DIDD and measures how life is going for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It assesses life in several areas, including: employment, community inclusion, choice, rights, and health and safety. NCI is a way for Tennessee to see how services for people with developmental disabilities are doing. Henderson and Baird shared what has been learned about how people are doing and what areas for improvement exist.

From Classroom to Career: Employment Strategies and Success Stories for Transition Aged Students with Disabilities

Lindsay Krech, Hardin Manheim, Cat Bernstein

This presentation highlighted the career development process used by Vanderbilt's PostSecondary Education Program, Next Steps. Presenters demonstrated how curriculum and internships develop job and employability skills, as well as successful tools for finding employment. Next Steps graduates shared their successes and challenges for maintaining meaningful employment in the community.

Planning Committee Participation:

  • Carol Rabideau served as co-chair of the Program Committee.
  • Lynnette Henderson served on the Program Committee.
  • Courtney Taylor served on the Public Relations Committee.
  • Megan Hart served on the Accessibility Committee.

The Tennessee Disability MegaConference is an annual two-day event that brings a wealth of resources for Tennesseans with disabilities together under one roof. Organized by The Arc Tennessee with support from a number of community partners, sessions are held throughout the two days and are designed to inform and inspire not only people with disabilities, but also their families and professionals.

For more information about the annual Conference, including a full conference program visit the Conference website.>

Last Updated: 5/29/2015 9:51:34 AM

Go to the news and video index