About Us > Accomplishments

Accomplishments July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014


In its 41st year as Pennsylvania's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service, the Institute on Disabilities. Co-Executive Directors Goldman and Feinstein are well-established in their roles, and are pleased to report significant progress toward the goals of the five-year plan. In July 2013, the College of Education welcomed a new Dean, after 2 1/2 years under the leadership of an acting Dean. We have educated Dr. Gregory Anderson as to the many contributions and "value added" work of the UCEDD.

Integration into the College as well as the University continues to be enhanced through the participation of Institute staff and leadership in academic, administrative and operations spheres. The Interdisciplinary Faculty Council is now fully engaged, as evidenced by the success of its "Disability and Change" mini-conference in April, and the financial and in-kind support for this event obtained from departments and colleges across the University. We also conducted our second annual "Poster Session Day" for our long-term trainees, expanding this event to include posters from students in another College of Education course.

While we still aspire to have the Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) become a self-governing body, membership changes in key agency representatives to the CAC deferred this initiative. We continue to have strong partnerships across the Developmental Disabilities network, engaging in collaborations with the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) [e.g. through a webinar series on funding assistive technology, work on the PA Waiting List Campaign and Independent Monitoring for Quality (IM4Q)] and the Developmental Disabilities Council (as grant recipients); in addition our respective DD Act programs have been planning for a series of public forums for FY 15 to solicit consumer input from across the Commonwealth. DRP and the Council have also co-sponsored our successful 2013-2014 mini-course lecture series events.

The Institute continues to be productive in acquiring new grants and contracts as well as the continuation of funded programs - some for more than thirty years! Of note is the acquisition of new funding partners and innovative disability-related work in the arts. We are confident of our financial future despite threats to public funding, and are excited to commence work in new areas, including the employment of people with disabilities.

Major Accomplishments

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University has experienced a productive 41st year. Having celebrated our 40th anniversary in Philadelphia in May, 2013, we felt it equally important to share this accomplishment with our partners across the state. On March 6th in Pittsburgh, we celebrated with our western region colleagues. In addition to a reception, the original Visionary Voices video was screened, along with a seven minute piece that was developed with a focus on western Pennsylvania. More than 45 people attended.

The following activities were accomplished this year:

  1. The Disability Studies Certificate program, a 4-course certificate approved by the University in 2006, was revamped after a several-year hiatus, and began its new course offerings in the summer of 2013. This on-line program offered a course in the summer, 2013 (Disability, Rights and Culture) one in the fall, 2013 (Disability Policy) and another offering of Disability Rights and Culture in the Spring, 2014. Eight students took the first course offered in the first summer session of 2013, seven took the second course in the Fall, 2013 and eight took Disability Rights and Culture in the Spring, 2014.
  2. As curriculum development work group members, the Co-Executive Directors participated on the committee charged with the development of new degree programs in the College at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A new undergraduate major has been created within the College of Education, entitled, Applied Development and Community Service, which includes a concentration in disability studies.
  3. Co-Executive Director Feinstein continues to serve on the Institutional Review Board (Committee B) for the University.
  4. A faculty member from the Special Education program in the Department of Psychological, Organizational, & Leadership Studies (POLS) is coordinating the Institute's Graduate Assistantship Program as part of her service to the College of Education.
  5. Our Interdisciplinary Faculty Council (IFC) with a current membership of 28 faculty and staff representing 17 departments and 9 schools and colleges within the University continues to meet on a regular basis. As its first collaborative project, the IFC submitted a mini-grant proposal to the Center for the Humanities at Temple to hold a mini-conference entitled, "Disability and Change". Scholars from several colleges and universities in the area, as well as a well-respected mental health advocate presented their perspective on the issue of disability and change. Several colleges and departments supported the mini-conference and more than 130 people attended. Of particular interest to attendees was a panel of Temple students with disabilities who related their experiences of transition to higher education.
  6. Institute staff developed and taught courses in the College of Education, including Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning (undergraduate) and a "general education" course, sexuality and disability, also an undergraduate course. Institute staff also worked to develop College of Education capacity in the area of Assistive Technology, providing technical assistance to a faculty member assigned to teach a "special topics" graduate seminar as well as a graduate level Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning.
  7. Co-Executive Director Goldman continues to serve on the Instructional Materials Accessibility Committee for the College, developing standards and processes for implementing the University's new policy on accessibility.
  8. The Institute created a robust schedule of fall, winter, and spring "Mini Course Lecture Series" with topics and speakers supporting our goal areas. The Fall/Winter calendar included:

    a. Heather Love, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania - Social Stigma and Disability Studies,

    b. Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift, British Columbia, Canada - Plan WITH Me, Not FOR Me! Honoring the Person's Voice in Transition Planning,

    The Spring series included:

    a. Michael Callahan , Mark Gold & Associates - Customized Employment,

    b. Amy Hewitt, Ph.D., University of Minnesota - Outcomes of Community Living (Pittsburgh); Issues facing the Direct Support Workforce (Philadelphia),

    Our mini-course lecture series included sponsorship from our DD Act partners (the PA Developmental Disabilities Council and the Disability Rights Network), Dauphin County Office of Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, AHEDD (a community employment provider), Vision for Equality (a family and consumer advocacy agency) and CLASS (a multi-service community agency). The popularity of the Mini-series has grown tremendously over the past year.

In addition to increased integration of the Institute into the fabric of the University, there have been many other accomplishments during the past year. Institute staff spent a great deal of time pursuing new grant opportunities and those efforts were rewarded through the following projects which began during this past year (FY14):

  1. Transition Discoveries, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, is a collaborative effort between the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, George Washington University and the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN). The three-year grant (with the possibility of an additional two years) is an effort to define the metrics for successful transition from school to adult life. Focus groups will be held with families, transitioning youth and those representing the service systems supporting transitioning youth. From the information obtained during the focus groups a survey will be developed and tested.
  2. Inclusive Leadership in Action is a project funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council involving collaboration among the Institute, Leadership Harrisburg, the Coro Institute for Civic Leadership, Self-Advocates United as One (SAU1) and John Tague Associates. This grant builds upon the Institute's previous work in leadership development; however, in this effort, the focus will be on providing training to boards of directors on how to create welcoming boards that are diverse and inclusive of people with disabilities.
  3. Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Management: A Seat at the Table, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, will identify opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in local, county, and state emergency planning, and prepare them for a leadership role in those venues. This project is in partnership with the Center for Preparedness Research, Education and Practice, Department of Public Health in the College of Social Work and Health Professions at Temple University.
  4. Person-directed Support Services is a three-year project, funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council, to research the public policy and expenditures related to self-directed supports and services. The project will support the development of supports brokerage for people with physical, mental health and intellectual disabilities and will develop a demonstration project for self-direction of services by people with disabilities.
  5. A grant from Bank of New York/Mellon Foundation funds "Access Beyond the Stacks", a project to place technology for people with vision impairment in community libraries; five area libraries have received equipment, training, and technical assistance.
  6. The Stabler Foundation is providing support for a regional conference and related activities to create a coordinated, streamlined "Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership", a network for connecting Pennsylvanians in need of assistive technology or durable medical equipment with quality resources for gently used devices, at low or no cost, in or near their own community.
  7. Take 5 was funded by the PA Department of Health to develop the capacity to provide respite support in faith-based communities and community organizations to families that include a child with special health care needs began July 1, 2013. It has been approved for at least an additional year of funding.
  8. Training to implement the Adult Protective Services Act involved collaboration between the IOD and Temple Harrisburg's Institute on Protective Services (IPS). The training is based on the training developed for investigators implementing the Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA).
  9. The Institute has been contracted to evaluate Pennsylvania's Lifespan Respite mini-grant program. The program is implemented by the PA Department on Aging's Office of Long-term Living.
  10. The First Responders grant, supported by the DD Council, has been funded for an additional year. The grant provides training and technical assistance to law enforcement personnel and other first responders.
  11. In December, the IOD received an unrestricted gift of $50,000 from the William Penn Foundation to continue the work in developing the play, "A Fierce Kind of Love". Based on the Visionary Voices project, the play is being developed using the stories told through the oral histories that have been collected. Actors with and without disabilities are performing the play.
  12. iCanConnectPA, the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for Pennsylvania, funded by the Federal Communications Commission under the 21st Century Telecommunications Act, has been continued for an additional year.
  13. The Visionary Voices project was invited to submit a proposal to implement the learnings of the planning grant awarded last year. The IOD requested two years of funding to develop educational programming and community engagement activities for the play "A Fierce Kind of Love." Notice of funding approval was received in May, 2014.
  14. A new sub award from the PA Department of Health to develop an actionable plan to obtain durable medical equipment for people affected by disaster represents a continuation of the Institute's partnership with the Center on Preparedness Research, Education and Planning (CPREP) in Temple's College of Health Professions, Department of Public Health.
  15. A grant from the Chester County Office of Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities will lead to the development of a Chester County Collection of Visionary Voices interviews with people significant to the development of the intellectual disability movement in Chester County.
  16. A new deliverable from Montgomery County to provide communication assessments for people with intellectual disabilities and complex communication needs was added to our existing work for the Office of Intellectual Disability.

Additional significant accomplishments include:

  1. Beverly Frantz, the director of our criminal justice initiatives, was interviewed by ESPN for their program entitled E:60. The segment focused on the sexual assault of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly those involved in sporting activities.
  2. The Academy for Adult Learning, our post-secondary education program, was featured on a local CBS-affiliate TV spot called "Brotherly Love". This program focuses on volunteerism in the Philadelphia area. One of the Academy students and a volunteer with whom he spends time were featured in the story.
  3. In collaboration with the Disability Rights Network of PA, the Institute conducted a four part webinar series related to funding assistive technology through Medicaid Managed Care.
  4. The Institute has revitalized its cultural competency committee, meeting on a regular basis to develop a plan to enhance the Institute's cultural and linguistic competence. A self-assessment has been done and the group has begun to develop a plan for the Institute.
  5. The Institute welcomed visitors from Dubai and Mexico who were interested in various areas of focus of the UCEDD, including adult and early intervention services, assistive technology and employment.
  6. The Institute has enjoyed increased visibility in the media through several articles written by the Temple press regarding the Visionary Voices project and the Academy for Adult Learning.
  7. Through new collaborations with AHEDD, a community employment provider and the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, a new effort, entitled "Employment Here and Now" has begun. This business-directed education-to-work training model, when funded, will result in increased employment of people with disabilities at Temple University.
  8. Co-Executive Director Goldman continued her work with UNESCO, promoting accessible information and communication technology (ICT) in education. Goldman participated in a "high-level" governmental meeting with officials in India's Department of Education in Delhi providing technical assistance regarding policies that support accessible ICT in alignment with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
  9. Co-Executive Director Feinstein testified before the Health and Welfare Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives regard the state's failure to develop and implement an Olmstead plan.
  10. Co-Executive Director Goldman participates on the Provost's Committee on Centers and Institutes.

In addition, several other grants written during FY14 have received approval for funding that will begin on July 1, 2014:

  1. Sibling Investigation, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, represents collaboration between the Institute and the National Sibling Leadership network. During this 18-month project, focus groups will be held to assess the most critical needs for training and technical assistance for siblings with and without disabilities.
  2. Aging Transitions, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council builds from the research conducted in our first 18-month effort which resulted in the identification of issues of importance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are aging. The next grant will implement programs related to successful aging through webinars, in-person opportunities and other web-based applications.


Although the Institute has experienced significant accomplishments during the past year, it has not been without fiscal challenges. Pennsylvania is one of 31 states that have experienced budget shortfalls this year (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2013). As a result of the shortfalls, several of our state contracts were subject to continued budget cuts. Some of our long-standing state contracts were subject to small, yet still significant cuts. Even where appropriations resulted in level funding, a net reduction was experienced (due to the increased cost of doing business, e.g. staff salary increments).

As of July 1, 2013 Temple University converted to a new budget model - Responsibility-Centered Management (RCM). Responsibility-centered management is a budget model in which individual units are directly responsible for the revenues and costs generated within their operation. The Institute has operated under this type of model for its entire history. With little direct financial support from the University, the Institute has always managed within the revenue it has generated. However, the University has provided core services such as rent, utilities, human resources, libraries, accounting, etc. without directly charging. Under the new model, a "tax" will be levied for the aforementioned services; it is not clear what the tax will be or how it will be assessed. Until this year the Graduate School provided tuition remission for our research assistants; under RCM, the responsibility is being "pushed back" to the College. Currently the College of Education is unable to sustain this level of support, forcing the Institute to support tuition remission for its research assistants through core or grant/contract funds.

The research coordinator position was finally filled in January, 2013, after having been vacant for several years. Unfortunately, the new coordinator left after only four months.

We spent the next several months revising the position, combining it with other programmatic aspects to create a full-time position. Several applicants were interviewed and a new coordinator began her employment on March 31st.

We received approval for our 12-13 carryover request very recently. As a result and in combination with having no research coordinator for more than half the year, it is unlikely that we will be able to expend the approved carryover request.

The following table presents those objectives and activities that are being amended, omitted or modified, along with rationale for all modifications.

Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
Pennsylvania's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service