Project ACCESS: Innovative ACCESS to Curriculum for Students with Severe Disabilities

Supporting Graduate Students Seeking Specialized Training: Learning and Behavior Specialist I (LBS II) Program

The purpose of this part-time program is to develop highly skilled, innovative Multiple Disabilities Specialists who have expertise in educating students with severe and multiple disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury, complex health care needs, orthopedic impairments). The program prepares specialists to effectively (a) individualize the curriculum to address academic and life skills, (b) implement behavior focused interventions, (c) use curriculum and performance-based assessments to make instructional decisions, (d) create inclusive educational environments, (e) work effectively with culturally diverse populations, (f) incorporate research-based practices into teaching practices and curricula, (g) ensure positive educational and transition outcomes, and (h) build strong ties through collaboration with families, teachers, and other professionals. 

Program Features
  • Flexible and Convenient - Two courses are offered each semester after school, including summer, in order to accommodate part-time study.  Each course meets once a week.
  • Cohort Model – Teachers complete the program together as a cohort. Each cohort typically includes 10-15 participants.
  • Blended Program Delivery – Each semester one course is taught face-to-face and one course is taught through synchronous and asynchronous online learning. Teachers in Chicagoland complete face-to-face courses at a central location in downtown Chicago while teachers in the Champaign area complete face-to-face courses at the University of Illinois campus.
  • Specialized Coursework and Topical Seminars - Coursework is focused on educating students with the most significant disabilities.  Topical seminars address advanced skills.
  • Applied Assignments – Assignments focus on applying concepts learned in class to the actual setting(s) in which teachers work thereby promoting immediate changes in the delivery of services for students with multiple disabilities.
  • Fieldwork Experiences – Three practicum experiences are individually designed to meet the needs of the teacher and address the state standards.  Fieldwork experiences are completed in the context of the teacher’s own classroom.
  • Research Experiences – Teachers participate in a yearlong course that focuses on research methods.  The culminating activity of this course (and the program) is an applied research project focused on implementing interventions with students with multiple disabilities.
  • Mentoring – Doctoral students at the University of Illinois with expertise in multiple disabilities will be matched with each teacher to engage in an on-going mentoring relationship throughout the program.
Program Support
  • All courses taught by University of Illinois faculty members
  • Cohort model creates a network of practicing teachers of students with multiple disabilities
  • Mentoring from university doctoral students with expertise in multiple disabilities.

This program is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.  This grant, called Project ACCESS (Innovative ACCESS to Curriculum for Students with Severe Disabilities), and provides program participants with a stipend that covers three-quarters of the tuition cost of all courses.  Participants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify for funding.

For more information, please contact one of the members of the ACCESS Team