This week, we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a watershed civil rights law that mandated the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
Since its enactment in 1990, the ADA has played a crucial role in expanding protection against discrimination in education. Schools across the country—serving students from pre-K through graduate school—must make their offerings available and accessible to all students, including those with and without disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Education welcomes Katherine “Katy” Neas as the new deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).
“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but children with disabilities and specially those of color experienced great challenges. I am over the moon to be at the Department of Education at this historic time and to be part of the team of individuals who are working to ensure all students succeed in the upcoming school year.”
Deborah Jackson is the proud mother of Desmond Jackson, a member of the 2021 USA Paralympic Track and Field Team for the 100m event and the long jump. Desmond was born with a congenital birth defect, which resulted in an amputation when he was nine months old. He was the first above-knee amputee to run on a high school track team in the state of North Carolina. Desmond encourages other individuals with physical challenges to “get off the sideline and into the game!”
Randy Johnson is a father and grandfather who was born into a large close-knit family. After graduating from high school, he attended Widener University before serving in the Army for four years. Randy worked in the power generation field for twenty years. He has been married to his childhood sweetheart for over thirty years and they have three children and one grandchild. Randy is known as Pop-Pop to his grandson, and they were featured in episode eight of the Preschool During the Pandemic video series developed by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.
Rich La Belle is the CEO of Family Network on Disabilities, which has served persons with disabilities and their families throughout Florida and the U.S. for over 35 years. Prior to becoming CEO in 2005, Mr. La Belle practiced law for nearly 20 years, concentrating in the areas of disability law, including special needs trusts. Mr. La Belle and his wife are the parents of four grown children, including those who have disabilities.
A Free All-Virtual Showcase of Game-Changing Innovations in EdTech
developed through ED and Programs Across Government
TheED Games Expois an annual showcase of game-changing innovations in education technology (EdTech) developed through programs at the Department of Education (ED) and across the federal government. Since 2013, the Expo has been an in-person event at venues across Washington, D.C. Because of the COVID-19 national emergency, the 2021 ED Games Expo is moving online, from June 1 – 5, for an entirely virtual experience. Hosting virtually provides the unique opportunity to engage a national audience and to present content mindful of the pandemic and useful for educational programming in the summer and going forward.
Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University have partnered on an interdisciplinary personnel preparation grant funded by the Department of Education. The program prepares scholars in the fields of audiology, deaf education, and speech-language pathology to meet the needs of infants and young children with hearing loss and their families. We interviewed one scholar from each university.
Nicole Brigham is a second-year Audiology student at Vanderbilt University on the pediatric specialty track, which involves additional coursework and practicum experience that prepares students to work with infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Shelby Fromm is a first-year student at Tennessee State University in the Speech-Language Pathology program, while also participating in a collaborative training grant at Vanderbilt University focusing on children with hearing loss.
ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?
During my undergraduate work, I completed an internship at the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program. From this experience, I knew I wanted to work with individuals with autism. I began my career as an inclusive preschool and kindergarten public school teacher. As a teacher, I was unaware of many specific interventions or resources used to support the social, language, and behavioral skills of students with autism. Fueled by my desire to support students with autism in classrooms, as well as the teachers serving those students, I began my doctoral program in 2008 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I was fortunate to be funded through an Office of Special Education Program leadership grant: Interdisciplinary Preparation in Teaching, Research, and Service focused on Young Children with Autism and Their Families. When I graduated, I accepted a postdoctoral research position at 3C Institute, a small business that focuses on research and development. After completing my postdoctoral work, I returned to the University of North Carolina as a Research Scientist at Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute. At FPG, my work focuses on supporting the use of evidence-based practices for children with autism using a variety of professional development approaches including coaching and interactive, online modules.