2018 TASH Conference has ended
Each year, the TASH Conference brings together a diverse community of stakeholders who gain information, learn about resources, and connect with others across the country to strengthen the disability field. This year’s conference theme, “Be Creative - Innovative Solutions for an Inclusive Life,” reminds us to think outside the box during times of uncertainty. Creativity, innovation, and determination can pave the way for meaningful and inclusive lives for people with disabilities.

Friday, November 30 • 2:15pm - 3:05pm
LINK: The Low-Incidence NetworK Seating Available

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Limited Capacity seats available

This presentation will describe the professional support network we created with teachers of students with low-incidence disabilities across Chicagoland to share ideas, resources, and research, as well as how other universities can partner with teachers to create their own local LINK. As the name implies, students with "low-incidence" (LI) disabilities represent a small portion of the student population and, therefore, the teachers who are experts in serving them are often spread out and separated from each other. General educators are able to meet throughout the school week to share ideas and resources by grade level or content area but teachers of students with LI disabilities, such as moderate to severe intellectual or developmental disabilities, and especially teachers in inclusive environments, may have no direct connection to teachers with similar experiences or students with similar needs. While they value and utilize the relationships they have with the general educators and other special educators in their building or district, they often lack associations with other teachers of students with LI disabilities. Without access to these teachers, LI experts are left reinventing the wheel, using more of their own valuable time and money than necessary, and burning out too quickly. To combat this issue and support these educators, we wrote a small, college-funded grant to start building a network of LI teachers that could sustain past our tenure as doctoral students. LINK officially began in the spring of 2018 and there are currently 76 members, including a 10-teacher executive committee. We hosted an end-of-the-year LINK Networking Event, at which 40 LI teachers met and shared ideas, tools, and resources about their day-to-day classroom activities as well as hot topics such as school shootings and other crises, sex and sexuality, and disability disclosure. After this meeting, the executive board planned a back-to-school event at which veteran teachers will showcase their classrooms for new or novice teachers and provide make-and-take laminating and Velcro stations so the new teachers can leave with resources in-hand and ready for the school year. Veteran teachers will display tools and tips for increasing the level of inclusion their students experience at school and in the community. LINK members have also created an online platform to encourage ongoing conversations and material swaps within and across districts in northern Illinois. The response from LI teachers has been overwhelmingly positive and we believe sharing the process we followed will empower others to create similar networks to connect otherwise segregated teachers. The presentation will include a step-by-step guide to building a LINK, open and honest troubleshooting about the process (including access to funding, the role of the university partner, and the road to sustainability), pictures and videos from Chicagoland LINK events, video-recorded testimonials from Chicagoland LINK teachers about their experience and involvement with the group, and updates about ongoing initiatives since this proposal was submitted. The presenters will also share their contact information and will be available as a resource to assist others in creating their own local LINKs. Part of LINK's purpose is to minimize the gap in services, practices, and resources experienced by students in low-income and under-resourced areas. Networks like LINK help relieve some of the pressure felt by teachers of students with LI disabilities in high-need settings by providing them with material swaps and ideas for low-cost supports they can implement with their students. A positive and unanticipated off-shoot of LINK has been smaller subsets of teachers who grouped themselves by community type, which helped individualize the type of support they received from each other and will hopefully, in turn, improve the quality of services a wider and more diverse group of students can receive.


Samantha Walte

University of Illinois at Chicago

Friday November 30, 2018 2:15pm - 3:05pm
Laurelhurst - Second Floor 1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97201

Attendees (6)