Welcome to the Sonoran UCEDD


Providing the Best Patient Care for People with Disabilities

March 3, 2021 

Dr. Tammie Bassford - A smiling white woman with short, blonde hair wearing eyeglasses. In the foreground is a cactus plant. Dr. Tammie Bassford, associate professor and Sonoran UCEDD faculty member, led a virtual training event with nearly 300 students from the University of Arizona health sciences to help them understand how to better care for people with disabilities.

Photo: Dr. Tammie Bassford led a training with UArizona health sciences students that focused on providing care for people with disabilities. 

Seventeen people with disabilities from Special Olympics Arizona and the community joined Bassford to share their personal experiences with their own health care to show how the students can better respect and work with patients who have disabilities.

The students from the UArizona Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health watched a pre-recorded scenario of an individual with a disability meet with healthcare professionals and a group home manager as they discussed her health care and wellbeing.

In small groups, the students were tasked with evaluating how the professionals facilitated an environment of universal communication, self-advocacy, self-determination, independence, and person-centeredness for the patient.

To help provide insight into the perspective of the patient, a member of the disability community joined the students. Paavlena Madhivanan was among the individuals who shared her healthcare insights with the students.   

“I connected with Vicky (the patient in the video) because people in my life have talked to my parents and not me,” she says. “It’s not right to be put aside. Doctors should talk to me.”

Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health senior Bekkah Lerman participated in the training and is also an intern with the Center for Transformative Interprofessional Healthcare. She says every health care professional should participate in this kind of training.

“The training can only improve the community we work in and the scope of care we provide for our patients moving forward,” she says.

After graduation, Lerman says she will pursue a master’s degree in nursing and will fall back on what she learned during the training.

“A lot of times within healthcare we think we know everything,” Lerman says. “But after the event I was proven that we don’t know everything and there’s no need to go out of your way to make a patient with disabilities feel as though they are different.”

UArizona is among 18 other institutions across the country chosen by the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine to improve the experiences of individuals with disabilities in health care settings and situations.


Diversity Fellows Incorporate Disability Awareness, Resources for TOCC Students

March 1, 2021

Sonoran UCEDD Diversity Fellows Raeshaun Ramon and Jolene Santos have created a universally designed brochure for Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC) students interested in transferring to the University of Arizona.

The brochure was created as part of a Minority Serving Institution Partnership Grant funded by the Administration on Disabilities to jointly develop a disability information, education and student exchange partnership.

Ramon and Santos worked with TOCC Student Services to incorporate disability awareness and resources for TOCC students interested in transferring to UArizona through resource sharing and joint student engagement events.

The collaboration has also created a stronger partnership between Sonoran UCEDD and TOCC staff to integrate disability resources and information into typical student engagement activities.

With the goal of making the partnership and fellowship sustainable, the Sonoran UCEDD is creating a pipeline of indigenous students as disability advocates in their respective fields through inclusion of TOCC students and those who transfer to UArizona. Ramon and Santos were transfers from TOCC, now in their second year at the university.

Learn more about our TOCC Partnership.

Photo (From left): Sonoran UCEDD Diversity Fellows Jolene Santos and Raeshaun Ramon worked with Tohono O'odham Community College Student Services on a universally designed brochure with information for students interested in transferring to the University of Arizona. 

Sonoran UCEDD Joins National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network Project

February 1, 2021

The Sonoran UCEDD Project I-AADAPT (Identify and Address Alzheimer's and Dementia in Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities through Prevention and Training) is joining the Arizona Center on Aging for ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network project.

The ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network project is funded by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and led by the ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

This one-year program, in collaboration with local and national experts, provides training and support to nursing home staff in Arizona on best practices for protecting patients, staff and visitors from COVID-19 infection and spread.

Nationally 15-16.5 percent of nursing home residents are younger than 65 years old, a majority of which are individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Yumi Shirai - A smiling Asian woman wearing glasses with long, dark hair. To ensure appropriate and equitable support are addressed for the unique needs of people with I/DD who are residing in nursing home, Dr. Yumi Shirai will join weekly virtual learning and resource sharing sessions with other content experts from a wide range of clinical and health education fields (infectious disease control, geriatric, palliative care, quality improvement specialist).

Photo: UArizona Sonoran UCEDD Affiliated Faculty member Yumi Shirai will ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are represented in the ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network project.