FYI, the Institute on Community Integration Staff Newsletter

April 2014

Disability Certificate Marks 26th Year… And Some Changes

In 1988, the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) began collaborating with the University’s Department of Educational Psychology to launch an innovative program offering students and community members specialized training in the field of intellectual and related developmental disabilities. Originally named the Interdisciplinary Studies in Developmental Disabilities Certificate Program, today it is called the Certificate in Disability Policy and Services, and through a collaboration of ICI and the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development it continues to enhance participants’ abilities to serve people with disabilities in various fields.

“The certificate program helps participants understand the complex network of policies and services that people with disabilities and their families navigate on a daily basis,” says certificate program coordinator Beth Fondell. “It has proven to be particularly beneficial to community advocates and future practitioners engaged in supporting children and adults with disabilities to lead healthy and meaningful lives.”

The 12-credit program examines the spectrum of education, health, policy, and social services impacting individuals with disabilities and their families, and surveys the public and private networks of disability services from an interdisciplinary perspective. While the program addresses the needs of people with all types of disabilities, it emphasizes intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan most closely. Certificate topics include:

  • Past and present inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities.

  • Significant legislation and laws impacting services and supports.

  • Exploration of school, residential, employment, and community programs.

  • Perspectives and roles of professional disciplines in providing services and collaboration.

  • Current trends and issues in policies and service provision.

Through a three-credit interdisciplinary core course, six credits of specialized course work, and an individualized learning experience, with interdisciplinary reflections, participants learn from the expertise of persons with disabilities and their family members, professionals currently working in the field, and faculty from academic programs across the University of Minnesota.

Effective July 2014, the program, which was previously open to undergraduate and graduate students, and community members, will now require that all applicants already have a bachelor’s degree for admission to the program. Also, the admissions process has been moved from the College of Education and Human Development to the Graduate Admissions office.

How does the certificate benefit participants? “The disability policy class is fantastic!” says ICI staffer Libby Hallas-Muchow, who took the core course, Disability Policy and Services in 2013. “The coursework is meaningful and enhanced what I learned from the lectures and guest speakers. I apply what I learned in this class to my work every day. I would recommend this class to anyone!” Shelley Kreibich agreed: “As a student and GRA at ICI who is new to the world of disability policy, I found the certificate program very helpful in giving me a glimpse into many areas of disability policy as well as how they interact with one another.”

The core course, Disability Policy and Services (OLPD 5356), will be offered this June in a two-week, half-day session (for details see FFI on the certificate program visit or contact Beth at or 612-624-6830.