Students win conference poster session

A pair of doctoral students in Washington State University’s College of Education won first place in the poster session of a national conference advocating for people with disabilities.

Katie Abrams and Kathryn Sheridan-Stiefel, both special education doctoral students, shared their findings at the TASH Conference in Phoenix on Dec. 1–3. The conference was hosted by TASH, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for human rights and inclusion for people with significant disabilities and support needs. This year’s TASH Conference theme was “Together We Rise!”

Abrams and Sheridan-Stiefel’s poster focused on inclusive living on a college campus. Their findings were centered around lessons learned from the WSU ROAR program.

WSU ROAR is a two-year program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In addition to their normal studies, Abrams is the program director, and Sheridan-Stiefel is the program coordinator.

Each student in WSU ROAR has an individualized program of study in education, vocation, social skills, and independent living. Students will audit various WSU courses and hold jobs or internships with a variety of community partners.

“Our students have opportunities to take authentic risks,” Sheridan-Stiefel said. “They participate in activities in natural settings across campus and access resources available to all Cougs. Through these opportunities, students grow their social, problem-solving, and self-advocacy skills that lead to independence and future competitive employment.”

WSU ROAR is the only inclusive post-secondary education program in Washington state that is residential. The students live communally on the WSU Pullman campus and that independent living was the focus of the duo’s presentation.

“We are proud that the ROAR program offers this extremely valuable component,” Abrams said, pointing to the necessity of good collaboration with WSU Housing.

“The ROAR relationship with Housing has growth and evolved over the years and we are so grateful for their support and continued partnership moving forward,” she said.

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