KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 6/5/11, 10:30 AM, KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 6/12/11, 7:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Leslie Cohen, Director of the UA Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities,and Danielle Ayala, a recent graduate of the UCEDD Project Search High School training program.  CEDD programs work with people with disabilities, members of their families, state and local government agencies, and community providers in projects that provide training, technical assistance, service, research,  and information sharing, with a focus on building the capacity of communities to sustain all their citizens.  

Cohen says developmental disabilities are a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. She says these include nervous system disabilities (Down syndrome), autism spectrum, sensory-related, metabolic, and degenerative.  She says the UA program, Project SEARCH Arizona, focuses on two groups: High School seniors, in collaboration with the local JTED, and young adults.  

Ayala says her year-long training consisted of classroom work in the morning followed by interning in a hospital in the afternoon.  She says she had three cycles of internships that included training in radiology, behavioral health services, sterile processing, laboratory, and clinics.  She says she is now filling out job applications on-line.

Cohen says the Project SEARCH “business model” is to focus on jobs with high turnover.  She says people with skills training tend to get “comfortable” in their jobs and thus stay at them indefinitely. This means employers save money in not having to constantly retrain new hires.  She says the ultimate goal of the program is to provide training so people with disabilities can compete for real jobs and real work experiences.