Council on Leadership in Advocacy (COLA)



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The purpose of the Council on Leadership and Advocacy (COLA) is to enhance the Association of University Centers on Disabilities by fostering current and new leaders with lived experience of disability, including their family members, to promote leadership in their programs and communities. Council membership will expand to include directors, faculty, staff, and advisers at center programs, and CAC members.


How COLA Relates to AUCD and Its Work

COLA works to enhance AUCD by fostering and supporting current and new leaders with lived experience of disability, including their family members in order to promote this same leadership in their programs, communities, and regions, and to serve in liaison roles with local disability leadership. The Council helps the association to:

  • Build effective partnerships with other AUCD Councils and Committees, federal agencies, and other national disability groups.
  • Build the capacity of UCEDD Consumer Advisory Committees.
  • Develop leaders and mentors that build the capacity of the network to affect change at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Assist in the development of standards for participation of people with disabilities and family members in AUCD network centers and programs
  • People with disabilities and family members participate in program planning, research, and evaluation.



The Council on Leadership in Advocacy, also known as COLA, is made up of individuals with disabilities and family members from each AUCD network center and program. COLA members are involved in Community Advisory Councils at UCEDDs, AUCD Councils and Committees, AUCD Special Interest Groups, and other advocacy opportunities. Membership is open to anyone in the AUCD network. However, each center will designate an individual representative who will cast one vote when a matter before the Council requires such action.


2018 Focus Areas

The 2018 COLA annual plan has been drafted to align with the AUCD 2018 Strategic Map.


  • Diversity & Equity: Utilize network resources to support COLA membership.
  • Leadership: COLA membership champions and model diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Research: 1) Increase visibility of COLA within AUCD network; 2) COLA is an integral partner to strengthen network engagement and collaboration; 3) People with I/DD &/or family members lead or direct research within AUCD network.
  • Policy: COLA contributes to AUCD network policy, practices, and research.

COLA Leadership


Upcoming Events
of Interest to
COCA Members

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Alternative Spring Break participants, from left to right: Jordan, Christian, Ameer, Hoy, David and Anna


Break for High School Students with Disabilities (MS UCEDD)

For one group of Hattiesburg-area high school students, Spring Break 2019 is not about the sand, the sun or the water - it's about preparing for the future. During the week of March 11-15, the Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL) Program at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) hosted an Alternative Spring Break on the Hattiesburg campus focused on preparing high school students with disabilities for employment.



Disability and Democracy: Barriers in Arizona Elections (AZ UCEDD)

The Institute for Human Development (IHD) at Northern Arizona University has been awarded funding to conduct a year-long, statewide research project identifying barriers to voting for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Arizona from the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC).



Explore Access with UA Partners' Social Media Accessibility Toolkit (Arkansas UCEDD)

University of Arkansas Partners for Inclusive Communities has a new resource to assist organizations in making social media outreach more accessible. The Social Media Accessibility Toolkit provides information about how to use built-in features on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instragram to create accessible posts and videos. Where features are not available to solve certain accessibility issues, the toolkit offers alternative solutions.



Linking Nutrition and Disability (MN LEND)

What does food have to do with disability? Kalia Thor wanted to know. She is a Fellow in ICI's Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) Program, but she is also a second-year Master of Public Health nutrition student at the University of Minnesota, a Maternal and Child Health nutrition trainee, and a nutrition educator for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. "During undergrad [in nutritional science], I always wondered why nutrition choices were so limited for certain individuals with disabilities and why they tended to be so 'picky' at mealtime," she says. Thor still wants to know, but her interests have become more specific. "I want to work with diverse populations and figure out the nutritional deficits and needs of people with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. Being part of MNLEND, I hope to use my knowledge and skills from previous experiences and apply them to children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their nutritional intake."

An SC LEND trainee and practicing nurse presented on information related to providing specialized training for school nurses working with students with disabilities.


SC LEND Trainees Attend the Nurturing Developing Minds Conference

The members of the South Carolina LEND program recently attended a state conference in March 2019 focusing on research and initiatives that are driven to create supportive environments to help children and their families flourish. The Nurturing Developing Minds conference provided several opportunities to the LEND trainees, including attending reviews of recent research and policies on developmental surveillance and screening (with a particular emphasis on the Help Me Grow nationwide initiative) and on the long-term risks of spanking and promising interventions (i.e., the No Hit Zone)



Autism Issue Briefs from Waisman Center UCEDD/LEND

Two publications describing evidence-based approaches to improving services for autism spectrum disorders are available online from the Waisman Center UCEDD/LEND programs as part of a series of Issue Briefs and Study Briefs.



A Woman's Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) is pleased to invite you to attend our annual special event to recognize National Autism Awareness Month, A Woman's Voice: Understanding Autistic Needs.



Caregiver Voices: Cross-Cultural Input on Improving Access to Autism Services

This study used qualitative methods to gather family and provider perspectives of perceived barriers and facilitators to obtaining an ASD diagnosis and accessing ASD-related services for underserved families. Themes from focus groups and interviews with families from three cultural groups (black, Hispanic/Latino, and Korean) and three primary languages (English, Korean, and Spanish) highlight specific barriers related to family, community, and systemic challenges as well as facilitators to accessing care for these populations.



Effects of Propranolol on Conversational Reciprocity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A pilot, double-blind, single dose psychopharmacological challenge study

Zamzow RM, Ferguson BJ, Stichter JP, Porges EC, Ragsdale AS, Lewis ML, Beversdorf DQ

Pharmacological intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an important addition to treatment, yet currently available agents target co-morbid psychiatric concerns, such as aggression and irritability. Propranolol, a beta-adrenergic antagonist with anxiolytic effects, has been shown to improve verbal fluency and working memory in adults and adolescents with ASD in single-dose challenges.



Family & Professional Resources & Developments for Rural and Underrepresented Communities within Northern California

Northern California is uniquely positioned to serve a diverse community of historically underrepresented children and families, as well as professionals within rural communities. As members within a majority minority state, we strive to continue learning about the complex intersection of disability, diversity, and inclusion as we actively develop culturally sensitive services and programs. We wish to highlight the strides that our staff members have taken in our diversity and inclusion efforts in several programs related to family support and service navigation, research and professional training specific to diverse and rural populations.

Pang Chaxiong, MNLEND, and Alefyah Shipchandler, MN ADDM GRA, will present at INSAR in May 2019, with ICI's Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande.


Improving Initial Age of Diagnosis for Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities: Asking Parents

Pang Chaxiong (MN LEND Fellow), Alefyah Shipchandler, (graduate research assistant), and Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande (researcher and MN LEND faculty), all with the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, will be presenting a poster-- Improving Initial Age of Diagnosis for Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Communities: Asking the Parents-- at this year's INSAR meeting in Montreal, Canada in May.



New Pediatric Sleep Education Modules - Developed by the Pediatric Pulmonary Centers

We are pleased to share a new resource, the Pediatric Sleep Education Modules, developed by the HRSA-funded Pediatric Pulmonary Centers. The modules are free, online, self-directed, training modules related to the care of pediatric sleep patients. CMEs are provided for completing the modules, which can be done individually or as a group.



Report: Low-Income and Minority Youth with Autism Face Worse Outcomes than Peers

Youth with autism are growing up in a world where awareness of autism and expectations for full inclusion in society are increasing. Today, one in 59 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder and no two youth with ASD are alike, their service and support needs vary and continually change as they age.



Now Archived: Winter Webinar Series from AUCD's Autism Special Interest Group

AUCD's Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) presented its winter webinar series. The goal was to share new and innovative work from AUCD member programs from across the country in brief, accessible presentations tied together across a common topic, and to support conversation around each.



Tuesdays with Liz: Happy Autism Acceptance Month!

April is all about autism as it is Autism Acceptance Month! Liz talks about why we need to advocate for acceptance of autism and not only awareness, what autism is, and briefly covers the Autism CARES Act.



Augmentative Communication & Empowerment Supports, or "ACES"

Developed in 1990 at the Institute on Disabilities at the Temple University Augmentative Communication & Empowerment Supports, or "ACES," is a program for young adults who use speech generating devices transitioning from school to work, to help develop and refine their communication.



AUCD President, Sachin Pavithran, Discusses the Invisible Crime of Disability Hate

"Violence against people with disabilities is too often dismissed as people just being immature. Hate crimes that get attention are against more historically known groups, and hate crimes against people with disabilities are shoved under the carpet because it is seen as a crime of convenience, not hate."



Call for Art Submission: Disability and Shame (HI UCEDD/LEND)

Genesis Leong University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Center on Disability Studies

The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal is issuing a Call for Art Submissions to be included in the special forum on the subject of shame and disability, broadly conceived. It is hoped that through critical discourse addressing the historical and current contexts, contributing factors, effects, and responses to shame, greater understanding of this phenomena will diminish discrimination and violence.

Disability Studies Minor Leaders, Katherine Mahosky and Matthew Wangerman at the 2017 Diversity Banquet with recipients of the Leadership Award Kaitlyn Roy (right) and Desiree Bruno (left).


IHD's Disability Studies Minor: Changing Perceptions, Encouraging Advocacy (AZ UCEDD)

The Institute for Human Development's Disability Studies Minor challenges its students to rethink their attitudes toward people with disabilities. Its goal is to encourage students to realize that people with disabilities represent a minority group, one that has historically been marginalized, but that is, in fact, the single largest minority group in our increasingly diverse society.



Study Finds that Psychiatric Emergency Room Visits Increased Among US Youth (MD IDDRC)

In a recent study published in Pediatrics, Luther Kalb, PhD, core faculty member of the IDDRC at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, examined trends in psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits from 2011 to 2015 among youth ages 6 to 24 in the U.S. Data for this study primarily came from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a national survey of ED visits across the US.



Comunico Con Mi Equipo!

Research suggests that parents need on-going support, training, and information in their preferred language on the applications and uses of AAC at home.



AUCD Emerging Leaders Map 2019

Website  from
"Centering People with Disabilities/Disabled People"

"Centering" means that PWD/DP are at the core of our work. It requires actively listening to and respecting people with disabilities/disabled people and their needs and wants within our communities. The Map highlights diverse trainees and early career leaders across AUCD's network. Each person was selected for inclusion on the map based on their contributions to the network, how they have demonstrated leadership, and their values and commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect for others.



Tuesdays with Liz: Episode 200!

Liz celebrates the 200th episode of 'Tuesdays with Liz,' and chats with a few AUCD staff about what 'Tuesdays with Liz' means for them and for disability policy.


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