Innovative ACCESS to Curriculum for Students with Severe Disabilities

Learning and Behavior Specialist I (LBS I) Undergraduate Program at the University of Illinois

This program is designed for undergraduate students who are accepted into the LBSI program in the Department of Special Education and express interest in obtaining additional specialized training in educating students with severe disabilities (i.e., severe intellectual disabilities, autism, multiple disabilities).  

Unique Features of the Program
  • Service Learning – In year 1, teacher candidates participate in a 2 credit hour, 8-week service learning course.  The course focuses on teaching students with severe disabilities within the context of inclusive high school settings that employ service-learning.  As part of the course, teacher candidates implement a service-learning project that includes students with and without disabilities at 3 local high need high schools.
  • Research Experiences – In year 2, teacher candidates participate in a research experience with faculty who are currently engaged in research in severe disabilities in order to learn evidence-based approaches to working with students with severe disabilities.
  • Externships in High Need Schools in Chicago – Each year, teacher candidates participate in a 2-day externship in the Chicago Public Schools to observe culturally diverse classrooms that include high need students with severe disabilities.  These externships are scheduled during the last week of winter break.
  • Optional Student Teaching in Chicago Public Schools – Teacher candidates may choose to complete their final student teaching placement in the Chicago Public Schools.  Individuals who choose this option will be placed in settings with students with severe disabilities.

This program is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.  Project ACCESS provides program participants with a:

  • Stipend for participation in the two day Chicago externship ($30 per day)
  • Stipend for completion of the program ($500)

Participants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify for funding and sign a service agreement indicating that they will teach for two years for every year of funding received.

For more information

Please contact Dr. Stacy Dymond, Professor and Program Director, at