The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Accord learning portal for developmental disabilities is adding new brief educational modules for educators, service providers, families, and others – all just a “click” or “tap” away on your computer, tablet, or smart phone at vkclearning.org.
New resources include two modules developed by Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, one to assist individuals and communities in accessing services (an introduction to using Pathfinder’s services) and assisting diverse communities in accessing services, a module developed by Pathfinder’s Multicultural Outreach Program.
Parents and other caregivers can find training in ways to improve health care by using the toolkit for health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The VKC’s Treatment & Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), which first launched the VKC learning portal, adds and updates modules on an ongoing basis. Two new TRIAD resources are addressing mental health needs in students with autism spectrum disorder, and transitioning from early intervention services to preschool in Tennessee.
A learning management system is a software application designed to help organizations manage the training of their learners. It can accommodate various training elements, e.g., videos, webinars, resource documents; registration, quizzes, completion tracking; announcement.
“We wanted a learning system that was flexible, easy for learners to use, and that readily provided TRIAD and other parts of the VKC with information about its use, so that we can evaluate and improve training,” said Aislynn Kiser, M.Ed., BCBA, the TRIAD educational consultant who is leading TRIAD’s Accord LMS development and provides leadership for the VKC learning portal. “Many Tennessee counties are rural and have fewer resources for training. With this system, learners can access high-quality, evidence-based training at their convenience.”
“Training and dissemination are two of the four core functions of our VKC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities,” said Elise McMillan, J.D., VKC UCEDD co-director, director of Community Engagement and Public Policy, and senior lecturer in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. “The UCEDD portal now offers the Pathfinder and Health Care Toolkit modules, and soon our Volunteer Advocacy Program for training special education advocates will be available. We encourage folks to bookmark the VKC learning portal and check periodically for new training resources.”
Tennessee Disability Pathfinder modules
Introduction to Pathfinder provides an overview of the information and referral assistance available through Pathfinder’s statewide helpline, interactive website, and multicultural program. Navigating service systems and accessing community resources to meet individuals’ needs can be difficult for anyone – persons with disabilities, family members, caregivers, and professionals – so this training module explains how Pathfinder can help with that process.
The same is true for the Multicultural Program training module. Although anyone may experience difficulty accessing community services, language and cultural differences make it even more complicated for immigrant and refugee families. This course explains how Pathfinder staff helps address some of the challenges these families experience based on the information and referral assistance, Family Support Program applications, support group meetings, and trainings they provide.
There are more training modules to come from Pathfinder, so check often for new opportunities to learn more about different topics and resources such as the Family Support Program, Respite Care, ABLE TN Savings Program, and disability etiquette, as well as courses available in Spanish.
Helping caregivers use the IDD Health Care Toolkit
Adults with intellectual or other developmental disabilities, such as autism or Down syndrome, frequently face a cascade of health disparities. They may have complex, multiple, or difficult-to-treat medical conditions; they may experience difficulty accessing health care because of physical barriers or financial barriers, or due to difficulties expressing their symptoms and pain; and they may receive little attention to wellness, preventive care, and health promotion.
In 2014, the VKC UCEDD created Health Care for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, also referred to as the IDD Toolkit, www.iddtoolkit.org, based on Canadian consensus guidelines and published by Surrey Place Centre, in Ontario, Canada. The website provides medical information for the health care of adults with IDD.
The IDD Toolkit offers best-practice tools and information regarding specific medical and behavioral concerns of adults with IDD, including resources for patients and families. The website covers General Issues, Physical Issues, Health Watch Tables, and Behavioral and Mental Health Issues.
“Although the Toolkit is aimed at physicians and other health care professionals, many parts of it are useful to parents and other caregivers,” said Janet Shouse, UCEDD program coordinator for the IDD Health Care Toolkit. “We created eight short video modules to equip caregivers to ask questions and to provide information to the treating professional about the person’s conditions and behaviors—including when they occur and why they occur—that will help the clinicians better identify the most appropriate course of treatment, including interventions other than medication when possible.”
How the VKC learning portal works
First, learners visit the VKC learning portal and select a VKC doorway – currently TRIAD and the UCEDD – to view their learning choices.
The second step is for the learner to register the first time that the learner wants to view an online learning module within a specific doorway, currently TRIAD or UCEDD, where the Pathfinder and Health Care Toolkit modules are found. When the learner returns at later times to view additional modules, the learner logs in. Separate registration is required the first time (only) for each VKC doorway.
Finally, after the learner has successfully completed a training module, the learner is able to download a certificate of completion. The learning management system keeps track of modules that each learner has completed.
These training opportunities are available free of cost to learners.
Jan Rosemergy is deputy director and director of VKC Communications.