The Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance

The Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance is an alliance for the advancement of postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our mission is to increase the postsecondary educational opportunities for students on two and four-year college campuses and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

Tennessee offers six Inclusive Higher Education (IHE) programs located in four-year universities and colleges across the state.

IHE Programs in Tennessee

Access ETSU at East Tennessee State University provides students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with similar college experiences as their same-age peers. In partnership with area school systems, local agencies, and the ETSU Community, Access ETSU offers these students access to environments that will prepare them not only for smooth transition outcomes, but for enhanced life outcomes. Each student’s educational program is based on a person-centered individualized planning process. Each student chooses coursework and vocational preparation options based upon their interests and strengths. Read more about Access ETSU.
The EDGE Program at Union University is a two-year certification program for students ages 18-26 who have completed high school and who have a documented intellectual and/or developmental disability. The Union EDGE Program is a residential or non-residential program designed to aid in career development skills and employment skills. Students will audit college courses, participate in life skills classes, work in on-campus and off-campus internships, and experience the full range of college life. Read more about EDGE.
The IDEAL Program at Lipscomb University seeks to provide education and career development to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities while encouraging friendships and increased independent skills that lead to a better quality of life. Students between the ages of 18-26 who have completed high school and have an intellectual or developmental disability are eligible. Read more about IDEAL.
Next Steps at Vanderbilt University is a four-year certification program for students with intellectual disabilities, providing individualized Programs of Study in the areas of education, social skills, and vocational training. The goal of the program is to broaden the career options and opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities in inclusive, age-appropriate settings. Read more about Next Steps.
TigerLIFE at The University of Memphis is a two-year certification program for students with intellectual disabilities, providing individualized Programs of Study in the areas of education, social skills, and vocational training. The TigerLIFE program is administered by the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID) whose purpose is to assist people with physical and developmental disabilities find meaningful and lasting employment. Read more about TigerLIFE.
University of Tennessee FUTURE Postsecondary Education Program is designed as a two-year nonresidential program (with the option to stay for four years) culminating in a University of Tennessee FUTURE Program Vocational Certificate and job placement. Campus housing is available to all FUTURE students. The program provides individualized academic, social, vocational, and independent living skills to students ages 18-29 with intellectual disabilities and autism in east Tennessee who completed high school without earning a regular high school diploma. Read more about FUTURE.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), formerly known as Tennessee Technology Center, includes 27 campuses across the state. The TCAT at Nashville has partnered with the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program to enroll students with intellectual disabilities who are interested in pursuing supplemental certificates in approved technical training areas. To determine if training opportunities like this exist in your area, contact LeAnn Blevins.

Research Initiative Updates

Read the September 2020 Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance research initiative updates. The Google Doc will be edited as more information becomes available.