2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute Information Update


As we reported in January, the 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 in Des Moines, Iowa on June 27 and 28. Since we published our first report, more details and new information has been released. [NOTE: For more information and conference details, including cost, registration, lodging information, scheduled speakers, and more, read “2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute Announced.”]

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About This Year’s Theme: Advocating for Access: The Right to Inclusion, the Right to Communication

“What does it mean to be an advocate? In its broadest sense, advocacy means ‘any public action to support and recommend a cause, policy or practice.’ That covers a lot of public actions, from displaying a bumper sticker to sounding off with a bullhorn. But whether the action is slapping something on the back of a car or speaking in front of millions, every act of advocacy involves making some kind of public statement, one that says, ‘I support this.’ Advocacy is a communicative act. Advocacy is also a persuasive act. ‘I support this’ is usually followed by another statement (sometimes only implied): ‘…and you should, too.’ Advocacy not only means endorsing a cause or idea, but recommending, promoting, defending, or arguing for it.”
John Capecci and Timothy Cage, Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference

Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most oppressed and marginalized in society, are able to:

  • Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.
  • Defend and safeguard their rights.
  • Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.

Advocacy is a process of supporting and inspiring people to:

  • Express their views and concerns.
  • Access information and services.
  • Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.
  • Explore choices and options.

It comes in many forms, including: self-advocacy, systemic advocacy, group advocacy, and individual advocacy. The theme for the 16th Annual Second City Disability Studies in Education Conference, which runs in collaboration with the Summer Institute, will explore the meaning and act of advocacy in two related areas – inclusive education and communication – as well as a discussion on the current state of disability studies in education:

  • Strand I – Advocacy and Access to Inclusive Education – Advocates for inclusive education uphold the position that all students belong, all students learn in different ways, and that it is every student’s right to be educated in schools/classrooms that openly recognize their unique competencies and contributions. How do we make inclusive education a reality?
  • Strand II – Advocacy and Access to Communication – Advocates for communication access uphold the position that ALL students for whom spoken language is not their primary or preferred form of communication deserve an alternative communication system whether that is sign language, supported typing, an AAC device, etc. How do we make access to communication a reality?
  • Strand III – The Theory and Practice of Disability Studies in Education – DSE welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the phenomenon of disability, work that privileges the interests, voices, and experiences of disabled people/people labeled with disability, and scholarship that promotes social justice, equity, inclusion, access, and competence.
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New Speakers Announced

While the Schedule of Events and Presentations has still not been released, additions to the list of scheduled speakers include National Speakers Norman Kunc & Emma Van der Klift, advocates for the disabled who have spent more than 30 years working to ensure that people with disabilities are able to take their rightful place in schools, workplaces, and communities. They are the founders of the Broadreach Center, which provides training, counseling and mediation on disability issues.

  • Born with cerebral palsy, Norman Kunc attended a segregated school for children with physical disabilities; then, at the age of 13, he was integrated into a regular school. From there, he went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and a Master of Science degree in Family Therapy.

    In his undergraduate years, Norman wrote a book about his experiences of going to a regular school. This book catapulted him into a career as a speaker, writer, scholar and advocate.
  • Emma Van der Klift is a mediator and counselor and holds a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University as well as certification in third party dispute resolution and negotiation from the Justice Institute in Vancouver, B.C.

    Prior to joining forces with Norman, Emma worked as a labor relations director for a non-profit organization on Vancouver Island.

    Emma is a faculty member at the Justice Institute, Vancouver Island University, and Royal Roads University.

For brief profiles of some of the other scheduled speakers, visit the 2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute website.

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Where to Stay, What To Do, Getting Around, and more

The 2016 Midwest Autism Summer Institute website has recently been updated with information about:

You will also be able to view the Schedule of Events and Presentations when it becomes available.

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