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Center on Disability Studies

2021 - 2022 Annual Report

Table of Contents

Director's Message

Image of Kiriko Takahashi

Kiriko Takahashi, Ph.D.
Interim Director

I am pleased to present the FY 2022 Center on Disability Studies (CDS), Hawai‘i University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (HI UCEDD) Annual Report. This past year, there was a continued need for our Center’s expertise in the COVID-19 response to support our communities in various ways. We have all been impacted by the pandemic, but our staff has truly shown their commitment and dedication to our mission and the people we serve. This is demonstrated by the continued funding stream, the number of projects/programs we implemented and the number of people we reached as described in our report. 

As a UCEDD, we have identified three emphasis areas: Early Intervention, Employment and Community Living. In each of the areas, we work with persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups. Our Center’s uniqueness is to capitalize on our location to serve not only those in Hawai‘i but throughout the Pacific. 

CDS has fully embraced these goals in our work plans. In this Annual Report you will read how we have worked during the pandemic to continue to strengthen collaborations with various state agencies and partners. As you navigate the report, we invite you to please explore our stories of impact, identified as highlights from work toward these goals, and spotlights on individual projects and core activities of our center. 

Thank you for helping us to live out our mission to promote diverse abilities across the lifespan through interdisciplinary training, research, and service.

Kiriko Takahashi's Signature
Kiriko Takahashi, Ph.D.
Interim Director 

About the Center on Disability Studies

Image of the sign outside of the Center on Disability Studies that reads Center on Disability Studies College of Education.

The Center on Disability Studies (CDS), College of Education, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is celebrating its 37th year as a Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The Center supports people with disabilities, their families, and the community writ-large through research, training, and demonstration activities, proactively disseminating the results of its work to consumers, professionals, students, government officials, policymakers, and advocates. Stakeholders have a critical voice as CDS sets priorities for addressing the needs of persons with any type of disability, across all ages and needs. With the continuation of the pandemic, CDS spent a substantial amount of time revamping how it delivered its activities to our target populations and taking on new responsibilities to assist the state with both new and ongoing challenges.

2021-2022 CDS Report Card

FY 2021-2022
Total Extramural Funding Generated


Funding Sources

A pie chart comparing federal and state funding. Federal funding is about 90% of the pie.

Funding Overview


Proposals for Grants & Contracts Submitted


New proposals and continuations funded
as of June 30, 2022

Goal 1: Education and Early Intervention

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The primary objectives in the area of Education and Early Intervention are wellbeing skill development of professionals and parents of young children with disabilities; increasing STEM and literacy skills of K-12 students through student interventions and parent/educator trainings; improving the school experiences of children with significant behavior challenges by training supervisors of applied behavior analyst technicians and other professionals; fostering positive behaviors for students with mental health challenges through training and resources for professionals; creating a positive educational experience for students with hearing impairments who are Deaf and Deaf-Blind in Hawai‘i and in the outer Pacific Islands; and offering graduate and undergraduate courses on disability and diversity including the graduate certificate program in Interdisciplinary Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies.

Education and Early Intervention Spotlights


NSF INCLUDES TAPDINTO STEM, an alliance grant funding 3 separate sites at UH-Mānoa, Kapi‘olani Community College, and Northern Marianas College with the objective of increasing the number of students with disabilities graduating with STEM degrees, recruited 20 students to participate in its summer pilot bridge program.

Interdisciplinary Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies

176 students were enrolled in 12 courses in Disability and Diversity Studies (DDS) across the Fall 2022, Spring 2022 and Summer 2022 semesters and this total reflects 9 unique course offerings. CDS supported 160 individuals in Hawai‘i pursuing a Special/Inclusive Education Certificate of Competence at Leeward Community College (LCC).

Hawai‘i Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP)

The Center on Disability Studies (CDS) project Hawai‘i Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP): SPARK Aloha offered 5 retreats serving 211 Native Hawaiian students, parents, and educators and their needs. The project seeks to build literacy while addressing toxic stress resulting from the pandemic.

Education and Early Intervention Highlights

Foundation Grants

CDS has been awarded two foundation grants: the first is a research grant from the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and the second is from the Oak Foundation. Both fund efforts to work with students with learning differences in higher education. This will begin in the new fiscal year.

STEM Projects

CDS housed 7 STEM projects working to ensure underrepresented groups such as indigenous students and students with disabilities can demonstrate STEM proficiency in K-12 or otherwise pursue a STEM pathway.

Swim Program for Children with Autism

CDS has hired a full-time clinical psychologist who specializes in supporting children with autism in order to offer a swim program for autistic children. CDS is in the planning stages for developing an autism research center.

Newborn Hearing Screening

CDS continues its newborn hearing screening efforts in American Samoa and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. All participating babies receive a hearing screening at birth. Babies who are referred are given a diagnostic evaluation and early intervention is provided for babies who are hearing impaired. The Center conducted the first successful telehealth audiology screening in the Republic of the Marshall Islands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CSPD Early Intervention Service System

CDS is working with Hawaii Comprehensive Systems of Personnel Development (CSPD) to develop a state early intervention service system workforce and recruit and retain highly qualified personnel in the field. 

Goal 2: Employment​

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In the area of Employment, our objectives were to implement benefits planning training (i.e., the impact of employment on Social Security benefits); provide coaching and supporting individuals with developmental disabilities in their postsecondary education experience; and implement an interagency collaboration model to support young people with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education and/or secure employment. With the benefits planning, we worked closely with our triagency – State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Hawai‘i Disability Rights Center, as well as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Employment Spotlights

Work Incentive Planning and Assistance​

Hawai‘i Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) enables beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work, and supports working beneficiaries to make their transition to self-sufficiency a success. WIPA project staff made 3 presentations to 104 participants about Social Security benefits and ABLE accounts and offered client interviews and meetings to 62 individuals.

Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Postsecondary Support Project

The Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Postsecondary Support Project (TPSID-PSP) held participant coaching meetings for individualized support, footsteps to transition fairs, DVR informational meetings, educational coach meetings, faculty meetings, intake meetings, mid and end of semester meetings, new staff orientations, peer job coach trainings and meetings, peer mentor meetings, rehabilitation counseling practicum meetings, as well as summer employment interview, training, and collaboration sessions. They made presentations at the statewide Leadership in Disabilities and Achievement of Hawai‘i Conference and National Association of University Centers on Disability and State of the Art conferences.

Employment Highlights

Professional Development

Many projects that involve students include professional development for teachers and often administrators to enrich and advance current practices and sustain CDS efforts in the community. Examples include offering teacher credit to increase their salaries. Three courses were offered as a PDE3 course.

DDD & DVR Contracts

We are continuing to be able to receive other contracts with the HIDOH. In addition, CDS continues to receive contracts from Developmental Disabilities Division and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Many of these projects promote employment of individuals with disabilities.

UCEDD Emerging Leadership Trainee Program

CDS hired an Outreach Coordinator and has been able to offer the UCEDD Emerging Leadership Trainee program in which 5 graduate and professional students have been accepted into from January 2022. With the new Outreach position, we have also been able to conduct partner seminars where we invite CDS partners to share about their agency/organization to deepen our understanding of the partner agency/organization to deepen our rapport and contribute to seamless work towards inclusion of people with disabilities.

Goal 3: Community Living

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Lastly, in the area of Community Living our objectives included promoting the inclusion of visitability standards to increase the availability of accessible, affordable housing, including a website; training individuals with developmental disabilities in wellness areas such as yoga, exercise, and nutrition; and strengthening the state’s approach to emergency-preparedness through collaborations between individuals with and without disabilities. Community living is still an on-going effort and we hope to address some of the needed issues. 

Community Living Spotlights

Disability Studies Initiative

The Disability Studies Initiative (DSI) held two campus-wide workshops on the use of disability studies across the curriculum and one guest lecture. The initiative held a campus-wide film disability festival to promote interest in disability studies.

Hawaii & Pacific Deaf-Blind Consortium

The Hawai’i & Pacific Deaf-Blind Consortium provided technical assistance to 18 parents, teachers, Educational Assistants, and Service Providers in the Pacific and 64 in Hawai’i.

CDS Wellness and First-Aid Trainings
In Collaboration with the Hawai‘i Self-Advocate Advisory Council

28 adults with disabilities participated in a wellness training and 19 attendees First Aid/CPR/AE training in collaboration with the Hawai‘i Self-Advocate Advisory Council.

Community Living Highlights

Hawai‘i Family Engagement Center (HFEC) is the result of CDS partnering with the Hawai‘i Department of Education (Hawai‘i DOE) and Leadership in Disabilities & Achievement of Hawai‘i (LDAH) to strengthen and sustain meaningful partnerships between schools, families, and community-based organizations for student learning and development. HFEC provided a series of family engagement webinars, made presentations about home and school partnership assessments, strategies, and resources, assessed the home and school partnership, and offered a pre-service teacher preparation course and school cohort training series.

CDS hosted the 37th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity. The virtual conference was a success with about 500 individuals attending online internationally. We had Judy Heumann as the keynote speaker and the theme of the conference was Innovate and emphasized diversity issues.

Disability Benefits Community Outreach

CDS has a number of projects that educate beneficiaries and their families to better understand their disability benefits, and the impact of employment earnings to these benefits. The primary goal of these projects is to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed decision about work, and to support working beneficiaries to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency. Our Benefits Planner works with individuals receiving public benefits and provides in-depth counseling about benefits and the effect of employment earnings on these benefits.

CDS provides services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Deaf individuals. During the pandemic, CDS was a lead on ensuring COVID-19 information was available in ASL and provided captioning services for all video related content.

Pacific Rim Service

CDS continues to expand its service beyond the state of Hawai‘i, including American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. In addition, through the International Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity, CDS work reaches world-wide.

CDS publishes Review of Disability Studies – an International Journal, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal. The journal publishes research articles written by scholars of disability studies from around the world. The journal showcases select conference Proceedings. In addition, the journal now includes plain language abstracts.