National Disability Conference Spurs Sense of Hope and Change

December 16, 2008

Michael Strautmanis speaks at 2008 AUCD Annual Meeting and Conference in Washington, DCSILVER SPRING, MD (November, 17, 2008)- AUCD recently concluded its highly successful annual association meeting and conference that opened with a video of President-elect Barack Obama's Disability Policy speech and concluded with an uplifting presentation by a member of the new Administration's Transition Team, Michael Strautmanis, Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.  Strautmanis provided the AUCD network a clear overview of the President elect's disability agenda and demonstrated a deep understanding and sincere commitment to disability related issues.

The conference, held annually in Washington, DC, was attended by over 500 participants. The diversity of attendees showed the range of those involved in the network, including of - faculty and graduate trainees, researchers and scholars, service providers and consumers, advocates and policy makers, practitioners and visionaries; all from throughout the country took part in the 3 day event. Michael Strautmanis talking with Kim Musheno, Sharon Lewis and Deborah Spitalnik"It takes this diverse group of individuals to forge our way forward in the field of disabilities;" said AUCD President Michael Gamel-McCormick, PhD, Director of Delaware's University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). "This year's conference theme, Paving  the Way, Pathways for Research, Education, Service and Policy, was a perfect fit to provide a context for the challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead as we work with the new administration." 

This year's meeting showcased the work of the network through over 35 concurrent sessions and over 80 posters presented by individuals with disabilities, researchers, educators and other interdisciplinary professionals in the field. (See conference home page for archived presentations: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=581.)   New this year, was a Media Room, where videos and films highlighted the work of AUCD members, celebrated the lives of people with disabilities, and addressed the sometimes difficult issues for those with disabilities.

In spite of the uncertainty of the times with major challenges in the economy , there was, nonetheless, a palpable sense of hope and expectation during the course of the conference and business meetings. Plenary SessionInstead of feeling like nothing can be accomplished during these faltering economic times, there was a sense of a willingness to work hard, to be part of the solution and to seek and help construct the opportunities which may emerge over the coming months and years. .

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), located in Silver Spring, MD, promotes and supports a national network of interdisciplinary centers on disabilities. The members of AUCD represent every U.S. state and territory.  AUCD and its members work to advance policy and practice through research, education, leadership, and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.  For more information, visit AUCD's website: www.aucd.org.