Iowa's UCEDD Promotes Reading and Disability Representation as It Turns 50

March 10, 2022

Founded in 1972, the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD/Iowa’s UCEDD) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, the UCEDD is making a contribution to the Disability Resource Library (DRL) at CDD. The UCEDD will purchase a series of books for the DRL that promote reading and disability representation in books.

Last year, Wendy Spoon, a trainee from Oklahoma’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program wrote an article, “Disability Reads,” to share her suggestions for books that she and her family have enjoyed reading, and that include disability representation.

“Having representation matters, even on the page,” Spoon says in her article. “Whether it is a recounting of experiences in a memoir or a fictional account of growing up with a disability.”

Her list of 14 suggestions includes brief descriptions of each book. Four books on her list are in the DRL collection. Three of those are currently available: Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper; Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBride Johnson; and, A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures by Quinn Bradlee.

In recognition of its 50th anniversary, the UCEDD will purchase the other books on Spoon’s list for the DRL as part of its efforts to promote reading and disability representation. Derrick Willis, director of Iowa’s UCEDD, thinks this project shows why UCEDDs matter.

“As we celebrate our UCEDD’s 50th anniversary, we continue to look for innovative ways to support Iowans with disabilities,” says Willis. “Being part of the national AUCD network connects us to many new ideas and resources that we can use and share.”

Our UCEDD is preparing a concise history of the UCEDD, which will reflect on past efforts and accomplishments, and take a look at future opportunities. It will become part of the DRL collection later this year. We will be gathering other suggestions for great “disability reads” during this anniversary year. Please send suggestions our way, and we’ll put together a list to share!

Thanks to Wendy Spoon for inspiring this project! Read Wendy’s article on the AUCD website, which includes her complete list of recommended reads:

For more information about the UCEDD@50 anniversary, or to share suggestions for books, get in touch with Meredith Field at [email protected].