HDI Tackling Appalachian Developmental Disabilities Problem With Distance-learning Scholarships

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 15, 2015) — According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, Kentucky counties in Appalachia have the highest concentration of people with disabilities in the state. Yet those same counties are experiencing a shortage of service providers, and many individuals with disabilities who live there are unable to access the care and resources they need.


To tackle the issue, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) is bringing education to professionals in those communities with its online graduate certificate in developmental disabilities, and the opportunity to earn the certificate for free.


Thanks to a National Training Initiatives (NTI) grant from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), HDI will provide three professionals from the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian region with full scholarships to its online certificate in developmental disabilities. The scholarships will cover tuition, travel and books required for the program. Selected students will also serve on HDI’s Underserved Populations Engagement Committee.


"We’ve been looking for ways to engage both professionals and individuals from the Appalachian region of Kentucky, and this will be a great mechanism to begin building relationships and identifying needs," said Christina Espinosa, HDI distance learning coordinator. "The certificate brings a lifespan perspective through presentations by topical experts, self-advocates, and families, and we feel confident that professionals are better equipped in their interactions and service provision after having participated in the coursework."


The certificate in developmental disabilities prepares professionals from a variety of disciplines to play a leadership role in providing services and support for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Since its inception, nearly 200 students have earned the certificate, representing disciplines from law and social work to health promotion and rehabilitation sciences.


The Eastern Kentucky fellowships will utilize the certificate's distance learning track, or online delivery of the program, which requires no relocation for those students who reside and plan to remain in the region, eventually serving as early adopters of best practices and becoming advocates in their own communities.


For those interested in applying for a scholarship, please email Christina Espinosa at ctespinosa@uky.edu for application materials and instructions.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu