August TN IHE Alliance Meeting: It’s like you were there!

Members of the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance (TN IHE Alliance) came together in August, both in-person at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and from afar via an online meeting platform (btw, all photos in this post are screenshots. What?).

Alliance members and guests shared highlights from Tennessee’s inclusive college programs, updates on related-research projects, and announcements about new financial aid opportunities for students. A few highlights from the meeting are included below.

Program Updates

University of Tennessee FUTURE students recently took part in Sport and Inclusion Week on the UT Knoxville campus. Joining the students were 17 international disability sport leaders. Paralympic executives, social entrepreneurs, and advocates. Participants were tasked with developing an action plan that explains the life challenges faced by people with disabilities in their countries and how sport can be used to address these challenges to ensure greater inclusion and accessibility. You can read more about the event HERE.


The communications internship of a Lipscomb University IDEAL student led to paid employment at the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). Brad Bramlett compiles the Department’s electronic newsletter, composes internal communications for DIDD employees, and assists in some of the Department’s video projects. To watch a short video from DIDD on Brad’s employment journey, CLICK HERE.



Next Steps at Vanderbilt student Darko Osman organized an educational dinner event through the Vanderbilt Wond’ry called Dinner in the Dark. Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff gathered for the unique dinner experience designed to challenge participants’ perceptions, build empathy, and break down social barriers. To read a news item on Dinner in the Dark, CLICK HERE.



Research Updates

Dr. Erik Carter (Next Steps at Vanderbilt) led updates on collaborative research activities among TN IHE Alliance members. Carter and his colleagues recently published research that looked at the motivations and expectations of 250 peer mentors attending five diverse universities that have inclusive higher education programs for students with intellectual disability. Additionally, an upcoming  Union University project aims to learn more about the  experiences of faculty members who are including students in their programs and classrooms. An upcoming TigerLIFE  project will study family quality of life.



Financial Assistance for Students Updates

Representatives from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation provided information on how inclusive higher education students can access Tennessee PROMISE and Reconnect dollars. Currently students in three programs (Next Steps at Vanderbilt, UT FUTURE and Union EDGE) are eligible. Additional programs are currently applying for eligibility.

An announcement from the TN Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services program was met with enthusiasm as members learned this year’s stipend for students eligible for VR support will increase!

Effective fall semester 2018 VR has increased funding for the Transitional Learning Services (TLS) programs at many colleges, not to exceed $3,000 per semester, not to exceed two (2) years or four (4) semesters.

For VR, TLS are considered vocational adjustment training services which include activities that:

  • Assist an individual to acquire personal and work habits, skills and techniques that will enable functioning in a formal training or employment setting;
  • Develop or increase work tolerance; or
  • Orient an individual to the world of work.

Currently, the following universities in Tennessee offer TLS:


Next meetings:

  • November 2, 2018 – Union University, 1 p.m.
  • February 2019 – Lipscomb University, time TBD
  • May 2019 – University of Memphis, 9 a.m.