Taylor Carley Named First Self-Advocacy Coordinator at Institute for Disability Studies (MS UCEDD)

November 30, 2015

Taylor Carley of Hattiesburg has been named self-advocacy coordinator at The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS). Carley is the first to hold this newly created position which highlights IDS' commitment to promoting self-advocacy in Mississippi with a focus on youth and young adults. "We are very excited that Taylor Carley is joining our staff as the first young adult self-advocacy coordinator at IDS," said Dr. Rebekah Young, associate director. "We have been fortunate to watch him mature and develop into a leader among his peers through his service as a TRIAD AmeriCorps member and involvement with the STEP Up to Leadership Council. We look forward to working with Taylor to further IDS' mission to enhance the quality of life for Mississippians with disabilities of all ages." Carley began volunteering at IDS in 2012 with the STEP UP to Leadership Council and with the youth-focused programs.

Later in 2012, he began his first service year with the TRIAD Service AmeriCorps Program, an inclusive service program that initially was focused on supporting the transition to adulthood for youth and young adults with disabilities. It was during this service year that he began to find his voice and had his first opportunity to share his story at an autism support group in Oak Grove. Since that first year, Carley has served two more years of national service. He has served as the co-president and is current co-treasurer of the STEP UP Council and was honored with the first Breaking Barriers Award presented by the Mississippi Special Education Advisory Panel in 2014. Carley has spoken at several local and state events and represented the STEP UP Council earlier this year at a regional higher education meeting and a self-advocacy council meeting, both held in Atlanta. He was a featured panelist at the 2015 Mississippi disAbility MegaConference and also co-presented on the benefits of employment for people with disabilities.

Through his role as self-advocacy coordinator, Carley will be able to represent self-advocates and educate his peers on the various opportunities as they transition to adulthood. He will continue serving on the STEP UP Council as well as the Mississippi State Self-Advocacy Team. He plans to continue promoting his motto that "a disability is an ability, and I am just like everyone else." IDS has been located at Southern Miss for almost 40 years and has satellite offices on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and in Jackson. IDS provides pre-service training, community services and technical assistance programs for individuals with disabilities of all ages and their families. IDS' areas of emphasis include education and early intervention, housing, health, recreation and assistive technology. For more information about the Institute for Disability Studies at Southern Miss, visit www.usm.edu/disability-studies. View this article at http://www.usm.edu/news/article/taylor-carley-named-first-self-advocacy-coordinator-institute-disability-studies.