About the Institute for Disability

The Institute for Disability Research, Policy, & Practice (IDRPP) at Utah State University is Utah’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). It is currently a collection of four divisions and more than 160 projects related to disability, within Utah and nationwide. The Institute (then called the Exceptional Child Center) was established in 1972 by Dr. Marvin Fifield, and was the first UCEDD in the nation to be housed within a College of Education. It was also the first UCEDD focused on rural health and disability issues. We are proud to be a leading research and outreach center in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at USU.

Over its 50-year history, the IDRPP has grown into one of the largest UCEDD programs in the nation and is recognized as a pioneer in research, interdisciplinary training, technical assistance and services for people with disabilities and their families.  We are part of a network of 67 other UCEDD programs in every U.S. state and territory. We serve as a bridge between the university and the community, by ensuring that state and local government agencies, community providers, nonprofit organizations, schools, professionals, families, and most importantly, individuals with disabilities have access to the most up-to-date, evidence-based education, research, technical assistance and services.

We cultivate a lively, entrepreneurial culture that keeps us at the forefront of state and national issues related to disability services and supports. We are primarily funded through grants, contracts, and fee for service programs.  The IDRPP administers over 90-100 different research, training, technical assistance, and service programs every year in Utah and across 41 other U.S. states. 

Major activities of the IDRPP include

  • Community education and technical assistance to people with developmental disabilities, family members, service providers, educators, and professionals on a wide range of topics including web accessibility, assistive technology, federal and state special education policy, and professional development.
  • Research on the causes of disability and the implementation of evidence-based practices.
  • Educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, and advocates.
  • A broad array of services addressing family and consumer needs through clinical and community settings.
  • Dissemination of the most current research and information related to disability services and supports.

Consumer Advisory Council

Note: We are now seeking new members. Download the application and apply!

Agency Representatives

Everette Bacon, Vice President for Blindness Initiatives at Aira

Joey Hanna, Utah Parent Center

Wendi Hassan, Cache Valley Center for the Arts

Libby Oseguera, Utah Developmental Disabilities Council

Adina Zahradnikova, Disability Law Center

Chandler Menteer, Imber Services

Family Representatives

Michelle Hoggan (Chair)

Kimberlee Adams


Kayci Lynam (Vice-Chair)

James Steed

Eric Stoker

Autumn Cuellar

Mandy Kartchner

Ana Hernandez-Liquin

Non-Voting Member

Matthew Wappett, IDRPP Executive Director

pictures of Matt, four division directors and associate directors

Staff Division/Team Position Reports to
Dr. Wappett Administration IDRPP Director

Al Smith

Richard Jewkes Administration Director

Dr. Wappett

Dr. Tim Riesen Research & Training Director

Dr. Wappett

Nancy Strahan Research & Training Associate Director

Dr. Riesen

Dr. Curt Phillips Services Director Dr. Wappett
Dr. Tressa Johnston Services Associate Director Curt Phillips
Norm Ames Technical Assistance Director Dr. Wappett
Jared Smith Technical Assistance Associate Director Norm Ames

IDRPP Vision

We are becoming an international leader in creating inclusive communities and improving the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

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