VKC survey explores how people find disability information and resources

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Supporting Tennesseans with disabilities and their families to flourish in all aspects of their lives is central to the collective work of disability agencies, organizations, programs, and schools. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) is facilitating a statewide Disability Services Survey asking Tennesseans how they find disability information and resources.

The formal and informal services and programs available all across this state are critical to ensuring the needs of people with disabilities and their families are met. Yet so many people with disabilities and families are unaware of – or still struggle to locate – the disability-related information, resources, training, and support they need. Likewise, so many professionals, teachers, and service providers working in the area of disability are themselves uncertain of who else in their community could be drawn upon as partners or provided as referrals to families.

The information and referral service, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, is the state’s central informational and referral program dedicated to helping people with disabilities, their families, educators, and other professionals find and access resources, support, and services available to meet their needs. Pathfinder includes a website that compiles every disability and community program in the state, has a toll-free call number for questions, offers workshops and resources, and provides multi-lingual support.

Next year, Pathfinder will be undergoing a significant revision to its website design and dissemination efforts in order to expand its reach across all corners of the state. In preparation for this revision, one of Pathfinder’s state agency funding partners, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, has funded a one-year evaluation via public survey to examine how the disability and professional communities across the state currently access information and to solicit their recommendations for making this process much easier.

The Disability Services Survey has been shared extensively across social media platforms and through Tennessee disability agencies with a goal to survey 3,000 individuals with disabilities, families, educators, service providers, disability advocates, and other community members.

The survey addresses research questions such as:

  • What are your most pressing needs and questions?
  • Where are Tennesseans turning now for information and resources?
  • What are your most insightful recommendations for improving Pathfinder’s reach and impact?
  • How do these answers vary based on who is asked, what they do, and where in the state they live?

The survey also asks about career motivations for professionals working in the field. In addition, coordinators will hold smaller focus groups with a selection of stakeholders to get more in-depth feedback on these research questions. Individuals who complete the survey can indicate their interest in being part of a focus group using a separate form.

Survey participants have the option to enter a drawing for one of one hundred $20 gift cards at the end of the survey. They can also request helpful resources for free.

Take the Survey


For more information on the survey, contact educational consultant Emily Lanchak.

Erik Carter, Ph.D., is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education for Vanderbilt Peabody College, and co-director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD).

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