Tennessee Developmental Disabilities and Independent Living Networks collaborate with Southeastern Inclusive Higher Education programs to share best practices


A new and free publication includes content from the Third Annual Inclusive Southeastern Postsecondary Education Capacity Building Institute to promote access to quality inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Manual cover

Click on the image above to download the Inclusive Higher Education manual

Inclusive Higher Education: Practices and Perspectives from the Southeast was developed through a collaboration of the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network*, the Statewide Independent Living Council of Tennessee, the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance, and the Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance (SEPSEA).

The booklet begins with an eloquent essay from Next Steps at Vanderbilt faculty director Erik Carter, Ph.D. (Special Education, VKC Investigator) that outlines a framework of nine commitments that he believes ought to mark the movements as a field focused on inclusive higher education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He challenges readers to take in these nine proposals as they “have important implications for the opportunities we provide, the supports we offer, and the perspectives we hold.”

The remaining content comes from student and program perspectives in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and beyond. Essays cover topics such as developing a mentoring program, ensuring education is affordable, and the importance of guidance from university and college administrators.

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities co-director Elise McMillan was excited to share the resource in a meeting with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s staff where the discussion centered around the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

“It’s always a benefit when we can offer resources to our elected officials that educate them on topics that are important to individuals with disabilities and their families, said McMillan. “The booklet is an effective tool and illustrates how inclusive higher education matters to our students and our communities.”

The booklet is free and may be downloaded here.


The booklet was disseminated at the 2018 SEPSEA Capacity Building Institute, held in April in Memphis, Tennessee. Next Steps at Vanderbilt was present, and staff and faculty presented sessions on topics such as capturing satisfaction data, tools and strategies for career awareness and expectation, and supporting the peer supporter.

Tammy Day is the director at Next Steps at Vanderbilt and was present and excited by the energy and content of the 2018 SEPSEA event.

“Being part of the inclusive higher education movement in the Southeast and seeing the energy, the commitment, and promise that so many people across our region are eager to share is thrilling to me,” said Day. “I am grateful to our colleagues in Florida for the legwork they are doing in designing a meaningful, industry recognized, statewide credential. I know we will be able to learn from their collected work and begin our own work on this issue in Tennessee.

Tammy Day, M.Ed.

Tammy Day, M.Ed.

“I also got really excited thinking about the future of the inclusive higher education movement. During a Community Conversation, when people were asked, ‘What would an inclusive higher education look like?’ several groups shared, ‘It would look the same as anyone else’s college education, but with added supports. There would be no need for programs.’ This is worth getting excited about and a dream for our future.”

To learn more about inclusive higher education in Tennessee, visit: http://tnihealliance.org/.

To learn more about SEPSEA, visit: https://www.sepsea.org/.

Save the date for SEPSEA 2019 in Charleston, SC,: May 16-17, 2019.

* The TN Developmental Disabilities Network includes Disability Rights Tennessee, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Learn more at: https://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/tnddsite/.

Courtney Taylor is VKC associate director of Communication and Dissemination.


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