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KU Celebrates As The ADA Turns 30

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The University of Kansas community celebrates with a virtual event commemorating the Americans with Disabilities Act on its 30th anniversary, ADA 30 – Nothing About Us Without Us – A Virtual Celebration with Judith Heumann. The 2-day celebration (October 28-29, 2020) features events showcasing the work of leaders and advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities around a variety of topics including history, advocacy, research, rights, artists, and more.

But what happened before the ADA? For some 30 years before the ADA became the law of the land, life was much different for many people labeled in disability terms. Richard L. (Dick) Schiefelbusch, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, directed the Bureau of Child Research, Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas for more than 35 years.

Dr. Schiefelbusch died on September 23, 2020, at age 102. It was with his vision and under his guidance, that the Bureau of Child Research became one of the leading research centers focused on understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a point of interest, the Parsons’ Program was the first research site for the Bureau of Child Research. The new direction was life changing for many. Read more about the impact of his work in this article from KU Today, KU Scientist Richard Schiefelbusch Leaves a Legacy on Disability Research.

The University of Kansas lost another champion for people with disabilities when long-time research scientist Joe Spradlin passed on May 27, 2020 at the age of 90. In the article published by the University of Kansas, Joe Spradlin (1930-2020) Remembering “The Conscience of the Bureau of Child Research”, David Lindeman, director of KU Life Span Institute at Parsons said, “Joe was a central and critical figure in the early development of the Parsons research program and then guided the center into maturity. His love of the study of behavior and his quest for scientific integrity are the qualities that made Joe a consummate professional.”


Saunders, Kate, & Williams, Dean. (2020, Fall). Joe Spradlin’s pioneering career in behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 53, 1955-56.

Kate and Dean wrote: “Joe was a genuinely wonderful person. We are fortunate beyond measure that he had a very special role in our lives. Impressed by Joe’s work on stimulus equivalence, Kate came to Kansas to work with Joe as a postdoctoral fellow, and Dean followed to work on a funded project. We owe so much to Joe’s emphasis on scientific significance and generality in endeavors that also had social significance.”

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KU Today