2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute Announced

UNI-ICI-Summer-InstituteThe University of Northern Iowa, in partnership with the Institute for Inclusion and Communication at Syracuse University, Inclusion Connection, and Disability Studies in Education, will host the 2016 Midwest Summer Institute – Advocating for Access: the Right to Inclusion, the Right to Communication on June 27 and 28. The event will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 101 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa.

The conference organizers, a handful of faculty from the University of Northern Iowa in collaboration with local advocates are have been working diligently to make a worthy conference happen. For five years, UNI has been host to the Midwest Summer Institute, where students, families, self-advocates, teachers, administrators, and educators of all sorts work the cracks and create fissures in a system that has long excluded the voices of those who desire inclusive educational spaces and opportunities for all.

Event Registration

Registration for the Institute is now open. The cost for the event is:


  • One Day – $100
  • Both Days – $175
  • Group of 3 (both days) – $300
  • Group of 4 (both days) – $400
  • Group of 5 (both days) – $500

UNI Students:

  • $15 one-day $25 both days

Professionals / Scholars:

  • $200 both days
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Schedule of Events, Presentations, and Speakers

While the Schedule of Events and Presentations has yet to be published, the list of scheduled speakers, many of whom have previously participated in Saved By Typing events and training programs, should make for an interesting and enlightening program. Announced speakers (which may be subject to change) include:
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  • Independent Typer Jamie Burke, a recent graduate of Syracuse University, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Arts and Science College. He is a member of the National Honor Society, and currently serves on Advisory Boards for the Hussman Institute for Autism and the National Advisory Committee for Autism Now.
  • Facilitated Communication Master Trainer Marilyn Chadwick, Masters in Speech/Language Pathology from Eastern Michigan University. She has worked extensively with families, school districts and service agencies supporting the communication needs of children and adults with severe disabilities, and is considered a leader in understanding Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) strategies.
  • Master Trainer Pascal Cheng, M. Ed. and C.A.S. in Special Education from the University of Vermont. He currently works for the Howard Center in Burlington, Vermont as an educational and communication specialist, providing training and consultation in the areas of augmentative communication, assistive technology and literacy for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
  • Micah Fialka-Feldman, a student, national speaker, and pioneer who fights for disability-pride, justice, and inclusion. He is a Teaching Assistant at the School of Education, where he takes classes for his 2015 Certificate in Disability Studies, and works at the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. In May of 2014, Micah was appointed by President Obama to President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
  • Master Trainer Darlene Hanson, a speech and language specialist with an expertise in working with individuals with severe communication impairments. She is the Director of Communication Services with Resource for Education, Advocacy, Communication, and Housing (REACH), formerly known as WAPADH, in the Los Angeles area.
  • Master Trainer Harvey Lavoy, who has worked for Community Developmental Services (CDS), a Division of Washington County Mental Health Services in Montpelier, Vermont since 1994. He has a B.S. in Special Education and has worked in the field of Human Services since 1973. He is currently the Director of Communication Training and Resources at CDS and provides education, training and technical assistance to adults and children with complex communication needs as well as their families, support staff, educational teams, schools and agencies.
  • Typer, Master Trainer, and Movie Star Tracy Thresher, a native Vermonter who began using Facilitated Communication in 1990 and was one of the first individuals with autism in Vermont to be introduced to it. Tracy and his friend, Larry Bissonnette, travel promoting the documentary they were featured in, “Wretches & Jabberers,” in an effort to change the World’s view of disability to one of positivity.
  • Independent Typer / Filmmaker Sue Rubin, who, at age 4, was diagnosed with autism and mental retardation. She attended public Special Day Classes until high school, where she was fully included and graduated with honors. In May 2013, after sixteen years, Sue graduated Whittier College with a BA in Latin American History on academic scholarship. Sue was the subject of two PBS Life and Times programs, and was the subject and writer of the 2004 Academy Award-nominated documentary “Autism is a World.”

For more information about the 2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute, contact:
Amy Petersen