As March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we are proud to celebrate pioneering efforts towards inclusion Dr. Bryan Dague, faculty member at the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI), housed within the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont, was one of three delegates invited by the Zero Project to represent Vermont for its innovative work in supported employment. Dague and his colleagues presented at Zero Project's conference and were recognized for their work at the United Nations Office in Vienna on February 23, 2017.
Supported employment has a rich history in the state of Vermont beginning with one of the nation's first demonstration projects coordinated by UVM's Dr. Susan Hasazi in 1980. Dr. Bryan Dague has been an integral part of its success, providing training and technical assistance for the past 25 years. At CDCI he currently manages the Think College Vermont Program, originally a grant-funded project that provides students with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to take college courses with the support of peer-mentors. The inclusive program provides academic and social growth along with the skills and credits needed for gainful employment.
The Zero Project, funded through the Essl Foundation, is a worldwide institution that finds and shares models improving the daily lives and legal rights of people with disabilities. Each year the Zero Project focuses research on a specific theme from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The project publishes a report and organizes their annual conference around the selected theme. Its findings and practices are presented globally at events like the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN CRPD's Conference of State Parties in New York. Themes the Zero Project has focused on include education, independent living, accessibility, and this year's topic of supported employment.
Vermont’s Supported Employment Program was awarded based on its innovation, impact, and scalability. The selection process involved more than 1,000 worldwide experts with and without disabilities. More than 500 experts travelled from over 70 countries to attend Zero Project's conference and discuss innovative solutions, practices, and policies related to supported employment.
Fox 44 interviewed Dr. Dague and his colleague Beth Sightler on March 16. You can see the interview at the link below:
The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion is part of a national network of University Centers for Developmental Disabilities authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Human Rights Act of 2000. We congratulate Dr. Dague and his colleagues for their important work. For more information on the Zero Project and Vermont’s Supported Employment Program, please go to www.zeroproject.org.