UCEDD Success Stories - University of Alaska Anchorage Center for Human Development

November 28, 2022


University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) aim to positively affect the lives of people with disabilities by building and strengthening systems that support full community participation. These activities are carried out in alignment with the DD Act (hyperlink) through the UCEDD core functions which include: (1) interdisciplinary training including continuing education; (2) community service including training, technical assistance, model, and demonstration services; (3) research including evaluation, and analysis of public policy; and (4) information dissemination. The ExceLens series highlights the valuable work of the UCEDDs within university systems, the community, and in the lives of people with disabilities across the lifespan and their family members

University of Alaska Anchorage Center for Human Development

The mission of the UAA Center for Human Development (CHD) is to improve the quality of lives for people who experience disabilities and their families, across the life span, through interdisciplinary training, technical assistance, exemplary service development, applied research and dissemination of information. The goals and activities of CHD are guided by the values of integration and inclusion, self-determination, individual and family empowerment, cultural sensitivity, diversity, community referencing, independence, and productivity.

COVID Vaccine Champions: Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Access Through Storytelling

In the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, there was a big push to increase access to vaccines. In Alaska, a group of organizations came together and formed the Alaska COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility Partnership. This group focused on vaccine access for individuals with disabilities, completing projects and sharing information to better serve the needs of all Alaskans. This partnership was facilitated by Sondra LeClair, Community Services Director with the University of Alaska Anchorage, Center for Human Development (UAA CHD). The Partnership took on two major projects. The first project focused on the development and distribution of a survey by UAA CHD with input from individuals with disabilities as well as their support systems. This survey asked what these individuals see as the facilitators to getting the vaccine and what are the barriers. UAA went on to collect and compile the results of the study to distribute in a few different ways: a formal academic report and an accessible clear-language version of the report for the public. The second project was led by the Disability Law Center of Alaska, the Covid Vaccine Champions video series. These videos reflected the key points found in the survey and highlighted the voices and experiences of people with disabilities.  By engaging people with disabilities in the conversation both through the survey and the videos, their experiences were brought to the forefront of accessibility planning.

Sondra and other members of the partnership went on to share the report, findings, and Vaccine Champion videos with various groups of stakeholders including the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, as well as over 100 vaccine providers across the state through the COVID Vaccine Provider ECHO. Partnership members were also able to use the videos to make other connections in the community and further spread the team’s message. This included an interview on Line One, a medical radio show as well as a broadcast public media show with different groups who experienced vaccine access challenges. This broadcast became accessible on Facebook and ended up reaching over 13,000 views. Moving forward, they hope that their success in both their survey findings and video series can encourage change to bring disabled people into the conversation right away, so access is not a question from the start. They hope that the structures and ideas they found will be used to build even more inclusive and accessible options for everyone when new and different diseases come along in the future.

More Information:

  • For more information on the COVID Vaccine Champions initiative please contact Sondra LeClair, Community Services Director at UAA Center for Human Development.
  • For more information on the Alaska COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility Survey, you can find the report here: https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/12424
  • You can access the full playlist of COVID Vaccine Champions videos at https://bit.ly/COVIDVaccineChampions.
  • Please send any questions, comments, related resources, or stories you would like to share to the URC team at AUCD.