Inclusion celebrated, civic engagement championed at 25-year anniversary reception hosted by CDS
National, state and local leaders joined individuals with disabilities and their families at the University of Delaware on Oct. 9 to mark the occasion of the 25-year anniversary of UD’s Center for Disabilities Studies.
CDS Director Beth Mineo thanked those in attendance at a reception held inside UD’s Roselle Center for the Arts for sharing with CDS the aim of creating equitable opportunity for all. That’s something, she noted, everyone could more readily bring about with their advocacy.
"Our 25th anniversary afforded us an occasion to amplify the issue of civic engagement,” Mineo said. Earlier in the day, the Center hosted elections and disability advocacy experts in a civil liberties forum and presentation that examined barriers people with disabilities face as they try to vote and participate in politics. The experts also suggested ways to overcome those barriers.
State Sen. Anthony Delcollo, an attorney who has prosecuted Americans with Disabilities Act noncompliance cases, said at the reception that increasing civic engagement fits well with CDS’s mission. “I’ve seen the results of a society that doesn’t take seriously its own mandates to treat people with dignity and respect," he said. "Focus[ing] on civic engagement and involvement, ensuring that those voices truly be heard, is an exclamation point” on 25 years of advocacy.
Others at the reception highlighted ongoing CDS initiatives that empower members of the disability community to shape a more inclusive future. Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long sent word that “the center recognizes that a new generation of leaders is critical to advancing knowledge and serv[ing] the citizens of Delaware.” She praised the Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program for aspiring health care providers and educators. Carol Henderson, UD’s vice provost for diversity, added that the newly-launched Spectrum Scholars, a program supporting UD students with autism, is helping to “[lead] the charge in making our campus more inclusive.”
The CDS-run Disability Studies minor, UD’s most popular minor since 2014, is also ensuring tomorrow’s leaders are sensitive to disability, said Laura Desimone, associate dean for research in the College of Education and Human Development, CDS’s administrative home. The minor’s popularity “speaks very powerfully about the lens [through which] our young people are viewing their future,” she said.
Added Dawn Rudolph of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, a national advocacy and education network to which CDS belongs, “The minor [touches] a tremendous number of disciplines. It takes all of that, together, to make the most accessible society.”
“I guarantee you that CDS will continue its relentless pursuit of these imperatives in the years to come,” said Mineo.
CDS Director Beth Mineo thanked CDS leaders and advisors for their dedication to the center's mission of promoting empowerment and inclusion for people with disabilities and their families. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
Self-advocate Alyssa Cowin (right), a Division of Developmental Disabilities Services staff member and CDS advisor, speaks with guests at the reception. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson said that, with programs like the newly-launched Spectrum Scholars, CDS is “leading the charge in making our campus more inclusive.” (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
Delaware state Sen. Anthony Delcollo (left) spoke at the reception of the need to boost civic engagement among people with disabilities and their supporters. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
UD Contract & Grant Specialist Clarissa Roth worked with CDS on Spectrum Scholars, a new college-to-career program offered through a collaboration between UD and JPMorgan Chase. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
(From left) CDS advisors Terri and Brigitte Hancharick, former Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program coordinator Debbie Bain and CLSC instructor Melanie Sipko. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
Stanford Law School Assistant Professor Rabia Belt (right) headlined a CDS-hosted civil liberties event before the reception. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)
Megan Pell, a member of CDS’s K-12 Education unit, enjoys a moment at the reception. (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)