Issue 5 | Spring 2023

Note from the Director

Sally Gould-Taylor, PhDSally Gould-Taylor, PhD
Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities

Welcome to Spring! Much has happened since our last newsletter. We celebrated our first year in our newly renovated office suite and our work has grown in both breadth and volume, including an exciting new Health Equity initiative. TechOWL’s work has attracted unprecedented media attention including a mention in Philadelphia Magazine’s annual “Best of...” edition.

Our leadership team has grown as well, welcoming Katey Burke, PhD as Associate Director of the Institute and Eva Weiss, PhD as the new Director of Research and Evaluation.

Be sure to follow us on our social media and sign up for our mail list to keep up with our news.

Thanks for reading!


Celebrating One Year in Our New Office Suite

Brick exterior of Ritter Annex beyond bubbling fountains and leafy tree

In October of 2022, we celebrated a full year in our new office. After years in the Howard Gittis Student Center, we moved into the Ritter Annex building, alongside our colleagues in the College of Education and Human Development. Our newly renovated office has proved to be a productive and collegial space.

Read the full story on Celebrating One Year.


Better Together Mural

Multicolored indoor wall mural with hand-lettered title #BetterTogether

The latest addition to our office is a thought-provoking new wall mural, created by local high school students with disabilities. The mural titled “Better Together,” is the final project of our Youth Advocacy Council (YAC) program and it addresses the current issues selected by the YAC members.

Read the full Mural story.


Upcoming Events

Institute Expo

Exterior of the PA State Capitol building

On June 21, 2023, Institute staff will return to the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg for its annual Expo. We will be distributing information and speaking with visitors to the Capitol about our programs.

This year, File/Life will be installed for the day at the rotunda, so visitors will be able to see this powerful exhibition while meeting with Institute staff. All are welcome!


File/Life: We Remember Stories of Pennhurst

File Life postcard includes vintage photos of people, illustration of green tree with long roots, and text: Each person at Pennhurst had a File. Each person at Pennhurst had a Life.

April 20 through April 23, 2023

File/Life community-led creative exploration and exhibition of the Pennhurst archives by seven archivists. People with disabilities or family members of people with disabilities, including two former Pennhurst residents, these community archivists share stories from select archived files.

More information about File/Life and tickets.


New Grants


Administration for Community Living Grant

The Institute has been awarded a new five-year grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The objective of the $575,000 yearly grant is to act as the core funding for the current work and to continue the search for new work.

As a Pennsylvania’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), one of 67 in the U.S., the Institute receives funding from ACL to “...accomplish a shared vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.”

A list of our goals and objectives as delineated in our grant application can be found on our website.


CDC Grant – Health Disparities

Nine people at conference table covered with tablets, boxes, and papers

Last year, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) awarded the Institute a large grant to support Pennsylvanians during, and in the aftermath, of the pandemic. The project has evolved into a multi-tiered Health Disparities initiative. A significant part of the project is TechOWL’s distribution of thousands of tablets to eligible Pennsylvanians to insure communication with family, friends and healthcare professionals.

Read more about the Health Disparities Initiative.


Media Arts and Culture Awarded Two Grants

3 dancers in gray garments in a white space lean forward in a triangular formation, watched by audience within the space

Our Media Arts and Culture was awarded two grants from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

In addition to File/Life - We Remember Stories of Pennhurst, described in the Upcoming Events section, Rhythm Bath is a unique collaboration with lead artists Susan Marshall and Mimi Lien to present a suite of immersive dance performance-installations developed in conversation and collaboration with neurodiverse communities.

Read the full story about Rhythm Bath.


Eye on Policy

Three people in a gym wearing shirts with matching logos look at a clipboard together

Disability Policy Spotlight

Jamie Ray-Leonetti, Associate Director of Policy

We are introducing a new section on our Policy web page, Disability Policy Spotlight, offering insight and education on disability policy issues.

Read about our first topic, Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act.


Western Corner

Scenic photo of Pittsburgh from the Duquesne incline

Activities from our Western Office

Guy Caruso, PhD, Western Coordinator

On March 28, 2023, I will present “Interacting with Individuals with Disabilities,” in Kittanning, PA. I will discuss ways to recognize the behaviors of a person with an intellectual developmental disability and how to interact in a supportive, trauma-informed way. Geared toward law enforcement, members of judiciary, prosecutors, probation/parole, advocates, social service providers, mental health professionals, and others, this training will help participants understand the unique circumstances a person with an intellectual disabilities may face when alleging abuse.

Interested in scheduling a training event for your organization in the Western Pennsylvania area?  Please email me at


TechOWL News


Black and TechOWL logo with owl illustration

ACES is BACK – In Person!

The Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports or “ACES,” is returning after a hiatus due to the pandemic.

ACES is a two-week program for young-adult (age 18 or older) users of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) on the main campus of Temple University. Scheduled for July 16 through July 28, ACES is currently accepting applications for both participants and volunteers.

More information about ACES is available on the TechOWL website.


Best of Philly

Tom holds up plastic grocery bags using a broad smooth plastic handle. Text: You can hold it in your hands or strap it over your shoulder

Philadelphia Magazine named TechOWL’s TikTok videos The Best of Philly, 2022 Best Use of TikTok.

See TechOWL's honor mentioned in Philly Magazine.


Partnering with Bike Shops for Wheelchair Service

Caitlin stands in bike shop with wheelchair, surrounded by shop equipment and several people

Many wheelchair users find it challenging to find service for their device. In a unique collaboration, TechOWL is working with local bike shops to offer wheelchair repair.

Read the full story about the Wheelchair/Bike Collaboration.


Giving to the Institute

How to give to the Institute


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Pittsburgh photo credit: Pittsburgh By Russell Sekeet -, CC BY 2.0,