CDS graphic logo.

Center on Disability Studies

2022 - 2023 Annual Report

Table of Contents

Message from the Directors

We are pleased to present the 2023 Annual Report. It has been energizing to see all the good work across our community and the opportunities to expand our work and reach. There were dozens of ways we worked together in our mission to promote diverse abilities across the lifespan through interdisciplinary training, research, and service. We want to draw your attention to our identified areas of emphasis in this annual report: (1) Education and Early Intervention, (2) Employment, and (3) Community Living. In each of the areas, we work with persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups serving not only those in Hawai‘i, but throughout the Pacific islands/jurisdictions and the continental US.

You will read about how we have worked to strengthen collaborations with various state agencies and partners, receiving contracts with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) Developmental Disabilities Division (DDD), the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), and the Hawaiʻi State Council on Developmental Disabilities (DDC). You will explore our stories of impact, identified as featured work toward our areas of emphasis, and the highlights of our individual projects and core activities.

We also celebrated the 38th Pac Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity’s year with a return to an in-person event welcoming over 650 attendees from around the globe. We continued to expand the reach of our UCEDD Trainees through formal Disability Studies coursework and community-engaged experiences, and we promoted research through our quarterly online, open-access journal, the Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal.  

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
Dr. Kiriko Takahashi
CDS Interim Director
09/2020 – 01/2023
Holly Manaseri Cropped
Dr. Holly Manaseri

CDS Interim Director
01/2023 – 07/2023

About the Center on Disability Studies

CDS is celebrating its 39th year as a UCEDD, authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. CDS continues its commitment to support people with disabilities and their families through research, training, and demonstration activities, and disseminating the results of its work to consumers, professionals, students, and policymakers. Stakeholders have a critical voice as CDS sets priorities for addressing the needs of persons with any type of disability, across the lifespan from birth through the end of life. This fiscal year, CDS was agile and responsive in the delivery of project activities and dissemination of information in response to the needs of our community partners.

2022-2023 CDS Report Card

FY 2022-2023
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, 2023

Goal 1: Education and Early Intervention

Education Header

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 Hawaiʻi 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 Featured Projects

Learn more about our Education and Early Intervention Featured Projects: (1) Project Hōkūlani, (2) Ulu Aʻe Transitions, and (3) STEM-Focused Projects

Project Hōkūlani - A star and full canoe of people paddling together

Project Hōkūlani

Project Hōkūlani (meaning heavenly star) is a 3-year, culturally responsive, strength- and work-based STEM enrichment and college transition project, responsive to the STEM workforce shortage among underrepresented groups such as NHs and individuals with disabilities.

Ulu Aʻe Transitions

The Ulu Aʻe Transitions project provided training to educators, families, and direct classroom instruction to youth in grades K-12. This includes digital media training, portrait drawing training, lessons addressing social emotional wellbeing, and culture-based education such as Growing Pono Schools lessons, #PonoPassItOn reflection cards, and Makahikis.

STEM-Focused Projects

CDS worked on seven STEM projects to ensure underrepresented groups (including indigenous students and individuals with disabilities) are exposed to, access, and demonstrate STEM proficiency in K-12, pursuing a STEM pathway.

Education and Early Intervention Highlights

Check out our Education and Early Intervention Highlights: (1) Interdisciplinary Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies, (2) CAMP+U Professional Development, (3) UCEDD Emerging Leaders Trainee program, (4) Visions, (5) Teacher and Administrator Professional Development, and (6) Public Health Workforce Development

Interdisciplinary Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies

CDS continues to offer a 15-credit Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies (DSS). It attracts graduate students with diverse majors, including education, business, psychology, health, and marketing. Approaching disability from a diversity perspective, the certificate program prepares students to better understand contemporary disability issues as well as interact and advocate for the needs of people with disabilities. Additionally, efforts like the Disability Studies Initiative continue to seek to broaden awareness of disability studies issues and course offerings across campus. 175 students were enrolled in 12 courses offered by Disability Studies (DIS) in FY 2023. The total number of courses reflects nine unique courses (two undergraduate courses and seven graduate courses)

CAMP+U Professional Development

CDS continues work on the Oak Foundation grant, which offers purposeful training for faculty, staff, and administrators with a mission to ensure students are successful in the postsecondary education environment and have a sense of belonging that meets their needs. The training has a special focus on students with learning differences and other students who are neurodiverse and with various intersectional identities.

UCEDD Emerging Leaders Trainee Program

The 2nd Cohort for the UCEDD HI Trainee program launched in January 2023. The goal of the UCEDD Emerging Leaders Trainee program is to build the leadership capacity of diverse individuals to collaborate and positively impact the lives of people with disabilities. Trainees will advance their knowledge of the core functions of the UCEDD by developing their leadership and communication skills to support their future careers; strengthening the community of emerging leaders through a range of community-based projects; and engaging with diverse stakeholders across partnering national networks.


CDS, in collaboration with HDOH-DDD, implemented Visions, the official training for Adult Foster Home Providers and DD Domiciliary Care Providers, for certification and compliance, with a focus on self-determination and person-centered supports and planning. There are nine courses for Visions, divided into three sections: (1) Orientation to Working with Participants, (2) Pre-Service Fundamentals, and (3) Service Provision Fundamentals. Over 400 caregivers completed all nine courses. In 2024, substitute caregivers will be required to complete Visions, reaching 1,000 individuals. CDS co-developed the curriculum, administers the training, and offers technical assistance to those completing the Visions courses.

Teacher and Administrator 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. These programs offer teacher credit that increases their salary. This past year, the following projects offered at least one PDE3 course: Hawaiʻi Statewide Family Engagement Center (HFEC), HFEC II, Ka Pilina No’eau II (KPN II), and Kākau Mea Nui (KMN) 2.0.

Public Health Workforce Development

CDS hired a staff member to lead the Public Health Workforce Development grant which resulted in the successful launch of the Health Equity and Disability Inclusion Leadership training program. This interdisciplinary training program aims to increase the number of professionals with the requisite knowledge and skills to address unique public health and healthcare issues affecting people with disabilities, across diverse communities. Toward this aim, the project seeks to develop professionals’ capacity to engage diverse people with disabilities as partners in health equity efforts. As such, the curriculum integrates models and perspectives from diverse fields, including disability studies, public health, healthcare quality improvement, implementation science, and organizational change, and include the development of 3 new courses: DIS 682: Advancing Health Equity & Disability Inclusion, DIS 687: Equity-Focused Quality Improvement, and DIS 699: Directed Research.

Goal 2: Employment​

Employment Heading

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, Hawaiʻi Disability Rights Center, as well as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Employment Featured Projects

Learn more about our Employment Featured Projects: (1) Kūlia Support Project and (2) Project Turn the Tables.

Kūlia Support Project

The goal of the Kūlia Support Project (KSP) is to enhance and adapt a promising support model to address the needs of Native Hawaiian students who are at risk of school failure. In order to demonstrate the viability of the model for supporting this population of students, KSP will perform direct support of students and professional development training activities for students and community college staff to support the development of skills and knowledge for students to persevere and succeed in postsecondary education and realize positive employment outcomes.

Project Turn the Tables

Project Turn the Tables virtual reverse job fair for high school students with disabilities on Oahu in 2023 was held as part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits Planning (Pre-ETS) project. There were 110 participants including 20 professionals and paraprofessionals, 64 students, and 26 local and community partners.

Employment Highlights

Check out our Employment Highlights: (1) Partner Agency Collaboration, (2) Disability Benefits, (3) Self-Determination Training, and (4) Hire Abilities Hawaiʻi.

Partner Agency Collaboration

CDS continues to work with partner agencies in Hawaiʻi and expand its collaboration and services. During the 2022-2023 year, CDS received contracts with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (HDOH) Developmental Disabilities Division (DDD), the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), and the Hawaiʻi State Council on Developmental Disabilities (DDC). Many of these projects promote employment of individuals with disabilities and community living.

Disability Benefits

CDS has a number of projects that educate families and consumers to understand their disability benefits and the impact of employment earnings on these benefits. The primary goal of these projects is to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed decisions 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.

Self-Determination Training

CDS provides training on self-determination, communication, academic skill building, and employment preparation to promote the postsecondary transition of students with disabilities.

Hire Abilities Hawaiʻi

Hire Abilities Hawaiʻi is a team of trained disability employment specialists working within the UH Manoa Center on Disability Studies (CDS). The Hire Abilities team has more than 35 years of combined experience working with disability employment and disability benefits issues for people with disabilities and has successfully completed a series of disability employment grants and contracts for the state and federal government.

Goal 3: Community Living

Community Header

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 is central to our mission and through our extensive partnership network and community facing projects, we have continued to research critical issues, provide platforms for community engaged summits and raise awareness of the direct impact on individuals with disabilities in areas of health, wellness, housing, and access in the community.

Community Living Featured Projects

Learn more about our Community Living Featured Projects: (1) Hawaiʻi Statewide Family Engagement Center, (2) Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Deaf Services, and (3) Institute for Creative Health & Wellbeing (ICHW).

Hawaiʻi Statewide Family Engagement Center

The Hawaiʻi Statewide Family Engagement Center (HFEC and HFEC II) is a leader in the field of family, school, and community engagement, promoting family engagement (FE) as a learning and equity strategy for student and school improvement. HFEC supports schools and families through training and professional development, technical assistance, and resource development.

Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Deaf Services

CDS provides services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Deaf individuals, including communication access (e.g., sign language interpreters and alternative format materials), disability accommodations, youth and family development, a range of employment services, and continuing education.

Institute for Creative Health & Wellbeing (ICHW)

The Institute for Creative Health & Wellbeing (ICHW) generated two video series. First, the Brain Boost through Music intends to bridge relationships between people with disabilities, their families, and the greater community that serves them through live musical interactions, training, and research in music-based approaches. The second video series is Finding Balance, designed to empower caregivers and families of individuals with disabilities on their wellness journey.

Community Living Highlights

Check out our Community Living Highlights: (1) Service in the Pacific, (2) 38th Annual Pac Rim Conference, (3) Health and Wellbeing Programs, (4) Newborn Hearing Screening Services, (5) Housing Summit, (6) COVID-19 Vaccine Access Project, and (7) Review of Disability Studies – an International Journal (RDS).

Service in the Pacific

CDS continues to expand its work and service in the Pacific beyond the State of Hawaiʻi, 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 annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity (Pac Rim Conference), the work of CDS reaches worldwide dissemination and audiences. We also have held a series of presentations by visiting international scholars on a number of global disability topics.

In another major international dissemination effort, CDS continues to host the Pac Rim Conference. This fiscal year marked the 38th annual global gathering for the event, which successfully greeted over 650 attendees from around the world for the first live in-person gathering of the conference since the pandemic. The event is a key global forum for disability scholars, advocates, policymakers, service providers, and entrepreneurs.

This past year’s gathering also featured a strategic partnership with the national advocacy group Deaf in Government, as well as featured international pre-conference events promoting disability studies, including an international Summit of Disability Studies Program Directors. The event also provided attendees access to the Superfest Disability Film Festival through a partnership with the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability. The conference also featured the last keynote address by the late Disability activist Judy Heumann.

Health and Wellbeing Programs

CDS offers health and wellbeing programs including Swim Safe, an aquatic skill development program for children with autism; the Wellness Matters Program, which offers adapted physical and paralympic activities for adults with I/DD; and the Institute for Creative Health & Wellbeing, which is committed to advancing health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation, and advancing the transformative benefits of creativity.

Newborn Hearing Screening Services

CDS continues its newborn hearing screening services in Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. All babies receive hearing screening at birth, all babies who refer from screening receive a diagnostic evaluation, and early intervention is provided for those babies with hearing loss.

Housing Summit

CDS provides data about the housing needs of people with accessibility and functional needs. A successful Housing Summit workshop was during the 2023 Pac Rim Conference. Information shared will continue to support important policy advocacy to the Hawaiʻi state legislative session through the Triagency partnership.

COVID-19 Vaccine Access Project

CDS aims to ensure that information about the COVID-19 vaccine was available in accessible formats, plain language, ASL, ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, and others that are needed in the community through the COVID-19 Vaccine Access Project. The project also worked to increase access to the vaccination for people with disabilities and other underserved populations by arranging behavioral support, transportation, and community access sites.

CDS continues to support the global dissemination of research in disability studies and relevant evidence-based practices through the peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal Review of Disability Studies – an International Journal (RDS). These efforts include curating and publishing volumes of work in neglected areas of international scholarship, including in neglected geographical areas, e.g., Sub-Saharan Africa and China. Continued efforts to give a greater voice to global authors include RDSʻs multilingual approaches in its Global Perspectives initiative as well as expanding accessibility measures of the journal more broadly, e.g., initiating plain language abstracts for all contributions to the journal.

CDS Project List FY23

Project Name

Principal Investigators

Aloha Independent Living Hawaiʻi (AILH) MOA

Areca Nut and Betel Quid Health Risk Reduction and Cessation: Intervention Development

Comprehensive Service Center (CSC)

Department of Health (DOH) – Developmental Disabilities Division (DDD) Contract

DOH Children with Special Health Needs Assessment

DOH Newborn Hearing Screening Program

Hawaiʻi & Pacific Deaf-Blind Consortium

Hawaiʻi Family Engagement Center I and II

Hawaiʻi Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP): SPARK Aloha!

Hawaiʻi UCEDD and UCEDD Public Health Workforce

Human Services Research Institute (HSRI): DOH – DDD Evaluation Project

Ka Pilina Noʻeau II

Kākau Mea Nui 2.0

Marshalls Newborn Hearing Screening Project

Nā Hokua Postsecondary Support Project (PSP): Kūlia STEM

Nā Hokua Project: COVID Relief Initiative

Neʻepapa Ka Hana: Transforming STEM Education for Native Hawaiʻian Students


Oak Foundation – Supporting Students with Learning Differences: CAMP+U

Pacific Basin UCEDD and UCEDD Public Health Workforce

Project BEAM (Be A Mathematician)


Project Hōkūlani and Project Hōkūlani Hui

Project Hoʻokuʻi III: Na Kumu Alakaʻi

Project Hoʻokuʻi IV: ʻOhana Lokahi

Project Hoʻokuʻi V: Kūlia i ka Nuʻu

PSP: Kūlia Support Project

PSP – Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)

Ulu Aʻe Transitions

Vocational Rehabilitation: Pre-ETS Benefits Planning

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance