This article appeared in the School of Education’s 2020 Education Exchange Magazine

The Center on Disability and Inclusion (CDI) is a new disability-related research center formed to develop and implement initiatives promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of school and society—both locally and globally.

While maintaining a strong research focus, the CDI also leads in community engagement, technical assistance, and advocacy functions through a strategic collaboration of existing centers, including the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, the Center on Human Policy, and the Inclusion and Communication Initiatives.

Associate Professor of Inclusive Special Education and Disability, Christine Ashby, tapped to lead the Center on Disability and Inclusion

Christine AshbyProfessor Ashby’s teaching and research focus on inclusive education broadly, with specific emphasis on supports for students with labels of autism and other developmental disabilities, communicative diversity, disability studies, and clinically rich teacher preparation.

Ashby teaches across all levels of inclusive education programs and coordinates the undergraduate inclusive and special education program as well as the inclusive special education master’s programs. She is also the director of the Inclusion and Communication Initiatives.

“The CDI is the operationalization of an inclusive mission shared with many past and current colleagues at SU. The collaborative center will allow us to seek grants, share
resources and expertise, and broaden the reach of our collective work advancing
inclusive education and disability rights,” says Ashby, about the new center’s potential
for impact.


Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education: College is an option!

The The Taishoff Center is celebrating 10 years of promoting inclusive higher education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Center’s flagship program, InclusiveU at Syracuse University, is a 4-year inclusive college program with a residential living component that serves as a model for othr programs across the country. InclusiveU has reached its own milestone in 2020, with almost 100 students currently enrolled!

Center on Human Policy: Label jars…not people.

The Center on Human Policy (CHP) is entering its 50th year as a pioneer in disability education, advocacy and action. Rooted in the belief that all people have value, CHP, through its programs and activities, continuously strives to promote full community participation for people with disabilities. The CHP’s recent project, Community for All, created digital toolkits to help people with intellectual disability live in, and meaningfully engage with, their communities.

Inclusion and Communication Initiatives: Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say.

Celebrating 30 years, the Inclusion Communication Initiatives (formerly Institute on Communication and Inclusion) has distinguished itself as a national and international leader in research and training about typing to communicate for individuals without reliable verbal speech. In addition to training and technical support to typers and facilitators, the ICI’s  popular Saturday Series, coordinated for and by teen and adult typers, serves as a place to meet and learn.

Improving Graduation Rates and Post-School Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: The Mid-State Partnership

In 2019, the School of Education was awarded over $9 million in funding from the New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education to provide technical support and professional development in dozens of Central and Northern New York school districts. The capacity-building projects bring a community of practitioners together to support teachers, administrators, students and families in 51 school districts through services and trainings delivered by three new centers serving early childhood and school-age families and communities.

Faced with the challenge of school closures last spring, the centers delivered online trainings and resource fairs which resulted in an increased attendance by parents and professionals. The partnership will pair virtual trainings with intensive and ongoing embedded support to targeted school districts this year to support teachers and families in improving outcomes for students with disabilities at all levels.

Job Development for High School Students and Young Adults with Disabilities: Pre-Employment Transition Services

Students who have a disability have a much lower rate of high school graduation than their peers. The numbers of students with disabilities living independently and entering the workforce are also significantly lower than their non-disabled peers. The School of Education’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program, funded by ACCES-VR, hopes to improve these outcomes through community partnerships and support services, specifically focusing on underserved youth with disabilities in Central New York.

Program director Jayson McDowell is excited about the impact this grant can have on students in the community. “Providing early access to career exploration and work experiences is linked to higher outcomes of students graduating high school, attending post-secondary education and training programs, and higher rates of employment,” he says.

Jonah Henry“Vocational counseling changed the way I thought about life after high school in a way I could have never imagined. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what I really wanted to do after high school besides go to college and get a job. Through the Syracuse University Pre-Employment Transition Services program, I took a survey of careers I could do when I’m older, and there were so many options that I had not considered. They helped me by finding multiple sites to learn about jobs and also to prepare resumes for the future.

The Pre ETS program has given me an opportunity virtually to learn, strategize and problem solve. I am glad that Pre ETS gave me a chance to show my worth and potential for growth in any career path of my choice. After graduation, I would like to go to college and take classes and programs to become an engineer, a poet or a chef.”
Jonah Henry
Senior at Nottingham High School, Syracuse City School District