UD’s commitment to diversity and its focus on community engagement dovetail with CDS’s aim to make Delaware communities more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities and their families.
UD President Dennis Assanis noted those ties and shared efforts at CDS-hosted Disability Mentoring Day ceremonies. And anywhere one looks at UD’s campuses and, increasingly, throughout Delaware, disability has or is becoming an integral and demonstrable part of everyday life. See it on campus in the growth of the CDS-run Disability Studies minor, the fledgling CDS-administered LEND training program for professionals supporting people with disabilities, and student-run organizations that assist people with disabilities. See it off campus in Delaware’s creation of new policies, partnerships and opportunities benefitting people with disabilities.
The largest research and public service center in UD’s College of Education and Human Development, CDS shares CEHD’s commitment to advancing knowledge through research, preparing future leaders, and serving citizens of Delaware, the nation and the world. Educational programs within the College integrate classwork with field experience. while CDS staff and faculty teach several courses within CEHD and engage undergraduate and graduate students from the College through assistantships, internships and volunteer experiences.
Students with intellectual disabilities who graduate from the CDS-coordinated Career and Life Studies Certificate program take part in CEHD’s Convocation ceremonies, while several graduates of the College and alumni of the Disability Studies minor have returned to CDS after their professional careers to share their knowledge and skills with a larger constituency.
AUCD serves CDS and its 66 sister University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) nationwide by telling the story of the UCEDDs’ collective impact on people with disabilities, families and society at-large. AUCD also launched the LEND training program that CDS and several other UCEDDs provide to graduate students, postdoctoral students and others.
Based in Silver Spring, Md., AUCD advocates for the civil rights of people with disabilities, and more equitable and responsive policies and practices that support them. AUCD also works collaboratively with its members in each state to promote grassroots innovations and progress at all levels. AUCD has called the Disability Studies minor that CDS administers a model for colleges and universities that don’t yet offer similar academic options for their students.
In 2021, a community needs assessment was conducted to inform CDS’s strategic planning efforts. More than 200 individuals responded to the survey.
Many respondents had multiple roles within the disability community, such as advocate, family member, and educator. About one-third of respondents were a parent, legal guardian, or family member of a person with a disability and about 20 percent were a person with a disability. Advocates and educators also comprised about 20 percent each. Other stakeholder groups represented in responses include service provider staff, state agency staff, elected officials, CDS staff, and CDS community advisory council members.