June 2023
The cover of the 35th anniversary issue of Impact, showing miniature covers of previous issues. The backdrop is a brick wall, painted white.

The Institute on Community Integration’s flagship publication, Impact, celebrates 35 years as a research-to-practice guide for the field of intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities in the current feature issue .

ICI Director Amy Hewitt, along with each former director, reflect on the publication’s growth and relevance over time. A “best of” collection of resources includes a foldout disability history timeline in the print edition, and several readers and former authors reflect on what Impact means to them and on their lives and challenges today.

From its beginnings as a 12-page newsletter on case management, Impact has grown to include personal stories, practical how-to articles, profiles of promising programs and practitioners sharing their best how-to tips as they work to implement the latest, best practices for people with disabilities to live lives of their own choosing.

Now available in print and accessible digital formats, with the digital edition available in English and Spanish, Impact has embraced continuous improvement to remain relevant, Hewitt said. In addition to several digital enhancements over time, the latest print issue uses 100 percent post-consumer waste.

Impact has stood the test of time because it stays true to its mission of focusing on community priorities and connecting research to policy and practice,” Hewitt said. “From its earliest days, the publication has included the perspective of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities themselves.”

Hewitt served as an issue editor, along with John Smith, a longtime ICI research specialist who has contributed to the publication as an author and as a knowledge translation specialist. Smith helped develop Impact’s clear-language translations, which accompany the publication’s articles that include more complex language.

Impact shares research-based information grounded in the stories of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families, and of the work of exemplary programs and DSPs,” Smith said. “One of its strengths is its ability to reach multiple audiences with information that is interesting, timely, and relevant. I especially like the way it shares ideas that are actionable in making our communities more inclusive of everyone. I am sure it will continue to raise everyone's expectations and keep people excited.”

Robert Bruininks, ICI’s founding director and a former University of Minnesota president, contributed an article for the issue that describes the earliest thinking about what the publication would address.

“The aspiration was to make ICI a force for change and reform,” Bruininks writes. “We felt that we needed to get relevant and clear information to people on a timelier basis [compared to the typical three-year research publication cycle].”

Ryan King, who was featured on a 2019 cover of Impact that focused on supported decision-making, contributed an update for the anniversary issue that shares his recent experience testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about his and his family’s efforts to end his guardianship arrangement.

“One of the important contributions of Impact has been to take on topics that are infrequently discussed or just not openly talked about at all,” former ICI Director David Johnson writes in his reflection for the issue. “We have never been afraid to put forward an issue that would challenge our audience.”

So, which topics should Impact take on next? Send your ideas to Janet Stewart, Impact managing editor, at stew0390@umn.edu.