Sonoran UCEDD at the 2018 AUCD Annual Conference & Meeting

The 2018 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Annual Conference – We All Belong Here! Achieving Inclusive Communities – was held November 11–14 in Washington, DC. Sonoran UCEDD faculty, staff and trainees attended the conference participating in a wide range of concurrent sessions, poster sessions, special interest group meetings, council meetings, awards ceremony and more!

Sonoran UCEDD Director, Wendy Parent-Johnson, was a panelist in four sessions including: “Promoting Employment Policy, Practice, and Outcomes: Individual UCEDD and Cross-Network Activities”, “FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders): What Your Program Can Do to Make a Difference”, “International Connections: Next Steps for the ADA Outbound Fellowship”, and “Are you WITH Me? Working Toward Inclusive Healthcare for All Communities”. She also presented a poster titled “Using Virtual Technology to “Expand Employment Supports: A Midwest UCEDD Collaboration” and led a meeting of the Employment Special Interest Group of which she is chair. Wendy shared her presentations with AUCD network leaders, members, trainees, advocates, and people with disabilities, based on her scholarly work conducted at the University of South Dakota’s Center for Disabilities which she will be continuing in her current role as director of our UCEDD.

Jacy Farkas, current Training Director at the Sonoran UCEDD, was elected as co-chair of the AUCD Multicultural Council (MCC). Her 3-year term as MCC Co-Chair includes serving on the AUCD Board of Directors. The Council provides leadership and assists AUCD to respond to the requirements for inclusion, diversity, and cultural competence as set forth in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. Jacy has been an active member of the council since 2012.

We were proud to have Diversity Fellows Austin Duncan, Zonnie Olivas, and Christie Kelly present their meaningful work during poster sessions at the conference. Their work includes:

Living 'The Social Life of TBI': On the Value of Embodied Research
Austin Duncan, MPA, Sonoran UCEDD

The poster presented Austin’s (the researcher) own embodied experience with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), contrasting it with research he is conducting on the injury. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a common yet poorly understood cause of disability. The project demonstrated embodied research helps us better understand TBI both physically and socially. This methodology can bring great value to Disability Studies and other disciplines. To view the poster, visit:

Increasing Cultural and Linguistic Competence of the Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Graciela “Zonnie” Olivas, Bachelor of Science in Public Health, UCEDD Diversity Fellow, Sonoran UCEDD

This poster presentation reported the general findings of the Sonoran UCEDD’s self-assessment of cultural and linguistic competence. Additionally, it outlined Zonnie’s specific project to develop a process, policy, and instrument for collecting race, ethnic, language, and disability data from recipients of UCEDD services. View the poster at:

Community Outreach and Education on Traumatic Brain Injury in a Southwestern Tribal Community
Christie Kelly, PhD Student, Sonoran UCEDD

The poster presentation outlined the process for collaborating with an American Indian tribal community to implement community outreach and education on traumatic brain injury. It discusses the process for creating partnerships and connections with community organizations and groups to increase knowledge on signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), incidence of TBI in tribal communities, and access to community resources for living with TBI. View the poster at:

Yumi Shirai and Melissa Kushner presented a poster on the work that they, together with Lynne Tomasa, have completed to date on implementing and evaluating an adapted national education program on dementia and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The evaluation concluded the training empowers family members and providers to advocate for health care needs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A task force was formed continuing to expand knowledge, help network, as well as address local needs of individuals with dementia and IDD. View the poster at:

The Sonoran UCEDD team gathered new insight, connected with network members, and contributed to a variety of discussions. Discussions included special interest groups, person-first and identity-first language awareness, multicultural and linguistic competency, open-source technology for audio description, trainee focus groups. One of the plenary sessions even included visiting Capitol Hill where we heard from a broad spectrum of congressional leaders and their work, priorities, and policies around achieving inclusive communities.

We had a meaningful experience and gained even more knowledge, new ideas, and enthusiasm to continue expanding our role in serving as a resource for people in the areas of education, research, and service relative to the needs of people with developmental and other disabilities.

For a full conference agenda and links to presentations, posters, and more, visit: