RTC/CL Happenings, Spring 2015

Mark Your Calendars for Our Summit: May 2-3, 2016

We have begun planning for the Center’s Summit in the Washington, D.C.-area next May 3, with an opening reception May 2. A sub-committee of members from our advisory panel is helping us plan the knowledge translation event, which will bring together disability researchers, policy makers, advocates, and consumers. Stay tuned for details.

Remembering David B. Gray, PhD

A memorial symposium was held for our late colleague on May 22 at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The Program in Occupational Therapy organized the event to honor his work and countless contributions to the disability community through his career. Center Director Glen White was one of the attendees who shared comments about his experiences with Dr. Gray. The OT program published a tribute to Dr. Gray in its Spring 2015 O.T. Link MagazineO.T. Link.


Glen White received the Distinguished Service Award from NARRTC at its national meeting in May. This award is generally given for sustained contributions or an accumulation of lifetime achievements, awarded to individuals who have made impressive contributions to the field of disability through research, teaching, service or advocacy. This is the highest recognition conferred by NARRTC, whose members include current projects funded through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The ultimate mission of NARRTC is to promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in American society.

Bob Michaels was awarded the Spirit of ABIL Award from Arizona Bridge to Independent Living in March. The award honors a consumer or advocate who exemplifies the Independent Living Philosophy of consumer control, advocacy and peer support.


E (Alice) Zhang successfully defended her master’s thesis in February. She also presented a poster on her work titled “Analyzing the Effects of Different Signs to Increase the Opportunity of Designated Van Accessible Parking Spaces” at KU’s Applied Behavioral Sciences (ABS) graduate student proseminar and at the 2015 Graduate Student Poster Session, where she won the Outstanding Poster award.

Publications & Products

Bob Michaels published the book Strong Medicine: A Roadmap for Creating or Improving Your Independent Living Program in February. The book contains ideas and lessons he has learned over 29 years working in the field of IL. 

Center researchers published “Clinical preventive service use disparities among subgroups of people with disabilities: A scoping review” in Disability and Health Journal, (Oct. 2014). 7(4), 373-393. Authors are Jana Peterson-Besse, Megan O'Brien, Emily Walsh, Amalia Monroe-Gulick, Glen White, and Charles Drum. 

Amanda Reichard published “A comparison of two weight management programs for adults with mobility impairments” in Disability and Health Journal (Jan. 2015). 8(1), 61–69. Coauthors are Muriel D. Saunders, Richard R. Saunders, Joseph E. Donnelly, Eric Lauer, Debra K. Sullivan, and Lauren Ptomey.

The Center has produced a new fact sheet about Alice Zhang’s master’s thesis study. “Parking Equity: Encouraging Reservation of Van-Designated Spaces for Lift- or Ramp-Equipped Van Users” is now online.


Dara Baldwin spoke at the National Bike Summit on March 11 in Washington, D.C. She was a panelist for the topic “Successfully Addressing the Root Causes of Inequity,” which provided recommendations on policy actions that the transportation community can use to make positive social change.

Center researchers and advisors presented at the annual NARRTC conference in May:

  • Glen White, Tom Seekins and Kelly Buckland were panelists for the keynote session “Rehabilitation and Independent Living: Exploring Models for Building Successful Collaboration and Outcome.”
  • Lillie Greiman, Craig Ravesloot, Bob Liston, Marky Olson and Parker Sanders presented their research paper “Life Starts at Home: Home Usability, Health and Community Participation.”
  • Amanda Reichard, Deborah Brucker, Andrew Houtenville, Vidya Sundar and Eric Lauer led the symposium “Using Nationally Representative Datasets to Identify and Learn About the Lived Experiences of People with Disabilities.”

Dot Nary co-presented “MFEI Assessment: Overview, Process and Planning” at the Kansas 2015 Home and Community-Based Services Summit in May. She and RTC staff Martha Hodgesmith and Val Renault are collaborating with KU’s School of Social Welfare to develop a Medicaid Functional Eligibility Instrument (MFEI) for the state.

-Nary gave a lecture in March to students in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). For the class titled “Diversity in Health” she focused on health disparities and access to health care for people with disabilities, and what future health professionals can do about it.

-Nary was a panelist in “Contested American Identities: KU Scholars Address the Challenge” at KU’s Watson Library’s Haricombe Gallery in Feb. She spoke about identity and disability.

-Nary and Norm White presented information on disability to students and staff in KU’s Counseling and Psychological Services program. This is the tenth year the two have presented for the program that provides personal counseling for KU students.

Val Renault spoke about disability language at the 2015 Heartland Genetics Services Collaborative annual conference in May for an audience of clinicians, consumers, parents, public health policymakers, and researchers. She was a panelist in a session titled “What If I Say the Wrong Thing?,” focusing on communication with and about individuals with disabilities. She also discussed the IL model vs. the medical model.

Spreading the Good Words

Each year the RTC/IL receives many requests to reprint and/or distribute our advocacy publication, Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities, and its companion poster, “Your Words, Our Image.” These organizations and individuals requested permission to share our content in recent months:

  • The Administration for Community Living (ACL), for its flyer and brochure geared toward people on Medicare with Disabilities
  • Project Canine, a Seattle-based 501(c)3 AVO that trains and certifies animal assisted therapy teams
  • Ann Turnbull et al for their special education textbook Exceptional Lives
  • SAGE Publications for Richard M. Gargiulo’s textbook Special Education in Contemporary Society, Fifth Edition
  • The city of Olathe, Kansas
  • Saline County (Kansas) ARC
  • University of Kansas Athletics, Inc.

In addition, individuals help disseminate our recommendations on respectful language by providing copies of the brochure and poster when they speak at events. (Please let us know if you’d like to distribute copies when you make a presentation, and we can work together to send hard copies or provide the link.) These are a few ways our advocacy has been extended:

  • KU Research Professor Anjali Forber-Pratt gave copies to faculty members at Texas State University, where she spoke at the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation and Research Institute about integrating disability into the curriculum.
  • KU alumna Amanda Thompson spoke on invisible disabilities as part of the TEDx talks at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, and also distributed our Guidelines at the April event.
  • Dot Nary distributed copies at her presentations (see above) at UMKC and at KU’s counseling program.
  • Val Renault provided copies to attendees of the Heartland Genetics Services Collaborative annual conference, where she spoke.