UCEDD Public Policy Team

The VKC UCEDD Public Policy Team focuses Vanderbilt Kennedy Center resources on local, state, and national disability-related public policy issues. The research and clinical expertise of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center faculty, staff, and trainees are made available to educate elected officials and inform public policy discussions and legislation that impacts individuals with disabilities and their families.

The Team works closely with the both the Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Offices of Federal Relations. At the beginning of each legislative session, the team coordinates with these offices on key issues that affect individuals with disabilities and their families in the coming session. The team also coordinates regular visits and tours of the VKC UCEDD for local, state, and national legislative and congressional members and their staffs. Team members participate in public policy events such as the annual Vanderbilt Day on the Hill and the annual Disability Awareness Day with the Tennessee Legislature. Team members serve on national and state public policy and planning committees and task forces.

About the VKC UCEDD Public Policy Team

In addition to VKC UCEDD faculty, staff, and trainees, activities are coordinated by a team of partners that includes representatives from:

Additional Activities

  • Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disabilities
    Individuals with disabilties and families share their experiences with a variety of supports and services like health care, education, housing, and employment. Stories are collected by students at Vanderbilt University and are compiled in a topical booklet each year that is shared with Tennessee legislators and policymakers. Stories are housed in a searchable database and may be viewed here.

  • Educate to Advocate
    Every year, the Public Policy team hosts a training for students, researchers, health care professionals, service providers, educators, individuals with disabilities, and family members to provide information and tools to promote disability policy advocacy.

  • Disability Day on the Hill
    Disability Day on the Hill (DDH) is an opportunity to meet with state legislators at the Capitol to talk about issues important to individuals with disabilities and their families.

    2023 Disability Day on the Hill is scheduled for March 8 at the Cordell Hull Building in downtown Nashville. The theme of this year's DDH is "My Tennessee Life." Masks are not required. If you do not feel safe participating in-person, there is a virtual option.

    Tennessee Disability Coalition is sponsoring several DDH events. Dates to remember include:

    • March 2, 1 p.m. CT: DDH webinar with legislators
    • March 7, 5-7 p.m. CT: Community Party (heavy appetizers provided)
    • March 8, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. CT: Disability Day on the Hill (boxed lunches provided)
    • March 11: Light Up Blue for Disability Advocacy Day

    RSVP to any and all of these 2023 DDH events here. If you have questions about DDH dates or registration? Call 615-383-9442 or email ddh@tndisability.org.

  • Disability Policy Seminar

    Held annually, the Disability Policy Seminar is a three-day annual federal legislative conference co-sponsored by The Arc, Autism Society, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, United Cerebral Palsy, and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (the partners). Learn more here: https://disabilitypolicyseminar.org/.


    • To find your legislators and to learn more about their work and current legislation, visit the Tennessee General Assembly Website
    • To download the TN General Assembly Directory, Click Here.
    • Public Policy e-newsletter from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities
      The Council distributes a weekly public policy newsletter via email. Archived versions are accessible at the link above.
    • The Arc Tennessee
      The Arc’s network of national, state and local chapters impacts public policy at all levels. Through advocacy and grassroots mobilization, The Arc Tennessee works to protect the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families.
    • Tennessee Disability Coalition
      The central purpose of the Coalition is to advocate for public policies that promote equal opportunity, economic self-sufficiency, and independent living for children and adults with disabilities. Working with member agencies and their constituents, the Coalition organizes to influence public policy both administratively and legislatively.
    • The Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD)
      AUCD advocates for a number of legislative issues that are critical to individuals with disabilities and their families. The organization distributes a federal policy newsletter called Disability Policy News In Brief, hosts a policy Action Center, and produces a weekly video series highlighting current issues in disability policy called "Tuesdays With Liz." In fact, Liz Weintraub recently interviewed Patti Killingsworth (Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of TennCare) about long-term supports and services and the Federal Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Rule . You can watch that interview here.
    • Quick Start Guide to Educating Policy Makers
      The purpose of this guide is to provide members of the AUCD network and its allies suggestions for improving the effectiveness of their interactions with policymakers.
    • Public Law 106–402, 106th Congress: Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000
      In every state and territory, programs authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) empower individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to help shape policies that impact them. DD Act programs conduct important research and test innovative new service delivery models. They work to bring the latest knowledge and resources to those who can put it to the best use, including self-advocates, families, service providers, and policymakers.
    • Advocacy Toolkit for Families with a New or Potential Diagnosis of Intellectual or Developmental Disability
      This toolkit has been designed for parents or guardians of a child who has been recently diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), or caregivers who may be concerned about their child’s development. The toolkit includes a collection of frequently asked questions and helpful resources for families to promote best possible outcomes in their child’s development.

    For more information on the UCEDD Public Policy Team, contact Laurie Fleming, (615) 936-8852

  • UCEDD Co-Directors

    Core Directors

    The VKC UCEDD is funded by the Administration For Community Living Grant #9DDUC0077.