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 150 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.
Click here to review the IDRPP Annual Report for 2020-2021

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

CEHS Dean
Al Smith

Richard Jewkes Administration Director

Dr. Wappett

Tim Riesen Research & Training Director

Dr. Wappett

Sue Olsen Services Director Dr. Wappett
Norm Ames Technical Assistance Director Dr. Wappett
Curt Phillips Services Associate Director Sue Olsen
Cyndi Rowland Technical Assistance Associate Director Norm Ames