For the last 40 years, there has been a Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) in the nation’s capital, organized and hosted by numerous disability organizations. This unique event cultivates champions on Capitol Hill and advances the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This unique seminar has offered the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key issues.
This year, teams of two from postsecondary education programs were invited to apply for the Think College Policy Advocate yearlong policy education program, including scholarships to attend the DPS sponsored by Think College and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). Each team had to include one student in a postsecondary program and one staff person, both with a desire to learn more about public policy and advocacy. They will continue after DPS to learn, expand, and apply their DPS lessons to the work they do to promote their programs with policymakers at home. Nineteen teams applied, and five were selected; those five are:
Edgewood College/University of Wisconsin
Ohio State University
University of Delaware
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Several other teams decided to attend, as well, including Kingsborough Community College, Georgia State University/Georgia Tech University, and there will be staff from the Think College NCC and AUCD in attendance, as well, to guide this group of budding advocates.
These applicants who were selected and those who are choosing to attend on their own will have a chance to attend a pre-conference session to prepare for sessions throughout the DPS and do mock Hill visits; they will attend the introductory policy track to learn about a variety of public policy issues, including inclusive higher education; there will be a separate meeting during the conference for the teams to discuss postsecondary education issues specifically, and to prepare for Hill visits; and teams will participate in Hill visits on postsecondary education on Wednesday of the conference.
It’s an exciting time for these teams to visit Washington, DC, and learn interesting and valuable skills relevant to shaping critical disability-related legislation and policy now and in the future!